Retro Inspiration: Music

I love fashion.  I think we know this by now.  I find inspiration for my style of dress in many places.  The obvious ones are fashion magazines and blog sites.  I also find inspiration when I do my YouTube searches for live recordings of my favorite artists.  It just so happens that a lot of them were making music way before I was a twinkle in my mother’s eye.  Some were making music way before my mother was twinkle in anybody’s eye.  Either way, my greatest source of retro inspiration is the music itself and what the artists wore.

This video posted on YouTube showcases Tina Turner in a look that I love.  Enjoy!

Treat Yo Self

HEAR YE!! HEAR YE!!! This right here…

Now, I am not talking about once a year.  I am thinking more along the lines of once a month.

I am a single mother AND a PhD candidate.  I don’t think I need to go into much more detail for anyone to understand that there are certain things that I need to do for myself.  I am on a budget, so I have had to be pretty creative.  I gift myself a monthly massage or mani/pedi.  I am working on the whole falling back in love with my hair thing and I like makeup.  SO, I extended my monthly gifts to (drum roll) BEAUTY BOXES!!!!!!

I gave myself a budget of $40, which was my previous “me time” monthly budget after massage or mani/pedi.  I have to be creative with that kind of budget but it has really worked out well since I have started subscribing to beauty boxes.  Added bonus? I don’t really have time to go to stores to shop for new items (which also leads to overspending) and online shopping comes with inconvenient shipping costs.

I chose to subscribe to My Brown Box and Nappturalite Radio BOOMbox.

My Brown Box is a subscription service that focuses on beauty products for women of color.  At $20 which covers shipping, this is a great deal.  I received three full size products which, when added up individually, cost more than the monthly charge for the box.  I have been TOTALLY pleased with what I have used so far.  The samples are of a decent size; enough to actually get an idea of the quality of the product.  The selections seem to be really thoughtful:  BEAUTIFUL, versatile shades and good quality products.  I am not a lipstick everyday person, but I received a shade that is rich and luscious AND that has worked it’s way into regular rotation.  Check our their blog at http://www.mybrownboxblog.com, too.  I enjoy the fashion posts.

BOOMbox is a subscription service that focuses on hair and body products for naturals.  Nappturalite Radio is a long running radio show that revolves around black hair and natural lifestyles.  At $15 (shipping included), this box packs a punch.  You get a free music download (AND I AM ALL ABOUT INDIE MUSIC) and mostly full size hair products.  This month, I received a gorgeous HANDMADE headband!  I also, received a moisturizer that may save me from always having to make homemade moisturizer for my son, who has eczema.  Like My Brown Box, two or three products individually add up to the total cost of the box and the samples are sizeable.  Check out nappturaliteradio.com for the latest radio show.

So there you have it!  I think beauty boxes are a great way to TREAT YO SELF in a less costly way.  Also, it’s cool to share the products and samples with friends and family!!!

Falling back in love with my hair: Kitchen items

SO I posted a couple of weeks ago that I am taking some time to fall back in love with my hair.  This has meant shaping my styles and my routines around my hair’s specific nature.  I have watched videos and read blogs in order to get more information on what women are doing with their hair.  I’ll write a post on my favorite products soon, but I wanted to share a little bit on my foray into kitchen items.

Growing up my mother used kitchen items in my curly hair.  I remember conditioning sessions with olive oil very fondly.  I have come up with an arsenal of products that have proven to work very well for my hair.  Granted, I have purchased separate bottles for cooking and hair/body.  Click the links for additional information from a cool science/natural hair blog.

Unrefined coconut oil:  for my texture, this is a little heavy for styling.  I use it for pre-wash conditioning (w/ Rosemary, Lavender, and Tea Tree oils) about twice a month.  Since I store this in the fridge, I let a couple teaspoons sit at room temperature for a 5 minutes or more.  Then, I add a couple drops of each essential oil.  I normally braid and tie up my hair in a satin scarf and allow body heat to work some magic. Also, it is amazing for my son’s eczema!

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar:  along with aloe vera juice, I use this as a rinse after washing/conditioning.  I mix a 1:1 ratio in a spray bottle, spray on, then rinse out.  My scalp is flake-less for longer now that I have started this practice.  I also use apple cider vinegar and aloe vera juice when I do a bentonite clay mask on my hair and scalp.

Grapeseed Oil:  along with jojoba oil, I use this for a little pamper me hair treatment.  The main benefit of this treatment is the aromatherapy.  I add Tea Tree oil and other essential oils to a mix of grapeseed and jojoba oils in an oil spray bottle, spray on my hair and scalp, put on a conditioning cap, then a scarf.  I do co-wash my hair post treatment.  Tea tree oil has a strong scent, but it’s tingle is really relaxing for me (a little does go a long way).

Honey:  I use honey in my homemade deep conditioner.  I have changed this to use coconut oil and I warm the honey a bit so that the honey:coconut oil ratio is 1:1.  I may start to mix in a conditioner product containing protein (formulated to be left in the hair for a longer time).

There are a few other kitchen items that I use, but these are my staples.  Coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, aloe vera juice, honey and grapeseed oil can be purchased together for less than $30.  Stored properly, they last for months.  Prices for essential oils cover a wide range.  I use my essential oils with carrier oils, epsom salt and sugar for body pampering sessions, not just for my hair.

Gaultier Spring 2013 Couture: A girl can dream

When I think of Jean Paul Gaultier, I think of cone bras and safety pin dresses.  His work often conjures up images (from my teenage obsession “Fashion TV”) of women in black dripping in power.

As a womens wear designer, I like his point of view.  People call it S&M, but I think there is more depth.  I think it’s a rebellion against patriarchy and tradition.  Yes, it’s sexual.

I found myself trying to play catchup on fashion and came across his Spring 2013 Couture line on style.com.  It was what I enjoy about Jean Paul Gaultier in a way that I don’t recall ever experiencing.  This line is regal in a way that I don’t think he has done regal before.  (Or maybe I need to dig deeper in my mind and the archives of fashion websites.)  It is still powerful and edgy, but with a slight shift in perspective.  It’s JPG, just different.

from style.com

from style.com

jeanpaulgaultier2013spcouture2

from style.com

jeanpaulgaultier2013spcouture

from style.com

These pieces are the kinds of creations that get filed under “a girl can dream.”  They take me back to my childhood fantasies of my grown up self.  One day, maybe.

Lovely vintage

Imagine walking into a consignment shop and seeing a pair of gorgeous handmade velvet (REAL VELVET) pumps.  These pumps are so beautiful.  Handmade.  Olive green velvet with satin accents.  Leather soles and lining.  The size and style information are handwritten in wonderful penmanship.  I could not walk away from these shoes.

Then, imagine walking to the front to buy said shoes and being told that you have given the store so much business that you have earned a gift credit.  Gorgeous handmade vintage pumps…FOR FREE!  (At least that is how I thought of it once the credit was applied.)

vintage Delman pumps

vintage Delman pumps

I also picked up some tan leather platform stilettos and a cute leather flower ring.

Love second hand shopping.  Between Goodwill and consignment shops, I should have no problem finding a dress and pearls to go with these beauties.

Taking the time to fall back in love with my hair…

I am a curly girl for life.  Yeah, I straighten sometimes and that’s just fine.  I would say that I love my hair.  I think that, over the years, I haven’t been so “in love” with it.  I’ve resorted to hair management.  No enjoyment; it’s just there, on top of my head.

I’ve fallen into these routines.  Wake up and put it in a top knot.  Wake up and put it in a pony tail.  Oh it’s summer time?  Wash and go.  Tired of combing it out?  To the salon.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with such routines, I’ve just realized I’m not making the most of my hair.  Like, I said I love my hair.  It’s the one aspect of myself that has miraculously escaped judgement by my adult self due to evaluations through the lenses of mainstream beauty.  I should treat it better.

Various hair-carnations.

My various hair-carnations.

I have been natural almost my whole life.  I yielded to the pull of the creamy crack for a little bit as an undergraduate.  I ended my relationship with relaxers for a year, then decided to chop my booty-length hair off.  All off.  [See bottom left of above picture.]

Combined with my interest in having more knowledge of what I put on and in our body, I have put a lot more energy into nutrition and the products I purchase for myself and my son.  More than choosing things that are labeled “organic” or “natural”, I have started to do more of our diet, hair care, and body care from “scratch”.  I am also more selective of what I use that isn’t home made.  I tend to purchase products after careful deliberation and research of a product line’s reputation.  Even though it’s not feasible to 100% convert my hair care over night, I appreciate the natural hair blog world for the information that is available at my finger tips.  Sites like CurlyNikki (check out her new book) and Hairscapades are AMAZING!

I have challenged myself to resist the heat and straightening in order to get to know my hair again.  It hasn’t been very difficult with products from companies like Curls and Trader Joe’s.  Also, thanks to the natural hair blog world and what I learned from my mother, I am armed with my grapeseed oil, aloe, essential oils, raw apple cider vinegar (just to name a few things).

I’ll keep posting some of my findings on the blogs.

P.S.  Grapeseed oil is good for curly hair and oily skin!  I would start there!

Michelle Obama: Galactic gladiator…and I love it!

Today marked the second Inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States.  It falls on the day that we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It also falls on the first full day of this conference I am attending…fun times.

I used the morning coffee break to catch up on the “goings on” across the country and in DC.  I felt proud, encouraged, challenged and a little bit envious.  THEN I saw Michelle Obama!  Poised and regal as ever, Mrs. Obama was channeling something a little different today:  galactic gladiator.  I think of Star Trek and The Matrix with elegance.  The queen of the day who is ready for any battle that comes her way.  I am sure I am flexing my geek muscles, but I don’t care.

From the bangs to the metallic jacket and THOSE BOOTS!!  The aubergine gloves and jeweled belt were amazing touches.  It’s an inspiring look.  And more than a look, it’s a message.  Powerful.  Intellectual.  Strong.  Individual.  Intentional.  It’s a message in a beautiful, glowing package.

michelle-obama-thom-browne-inauguration2-h724

from glamour.com