So I Got Fired Yesterday

Yep, I got canned. It’s kind of the worst feeling, and it’s embarrassing, and my first instinct was to not let anyone ever know this really humiliating thing happened to me. In fact, I fibbed to one of my closest friends yesterday when I told her I couldn’t make it to the girl’s night out we’d planned because I’d “quit” my job and was upset about it (really sorry, Shadin).

Then I talked to my husband, who also got fired last year. He decided then not to take his employer’s offer to say it was a mutual agreement, not really a firing. I asked him why he would not take that opportunity to save face, and he said because it’s liberating to tell the truth. The job wasn’t right for him, and he got fired, why sugarcoat it? That got me thinking about my own hesitation to admit the truth of my shitcanning.

Then we picked up our daughter from daycare. As I waited for her caretaker to open the door, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that what’s on the other side of that door is what’s most important. Then it opened, and she gave me that smile and ran to me like I was the the most awesome person on earth.

I see quotes about how failure is good and necessary all over social media every day.

Here’s a great one from Maya Angelou:

“Courage allows the successful woman to fail-
and learn powerful lessons-
from the failure-
so that in the end,
she didn’t fail at all.”

Various outlets publish tons of lists of quotes on failure every year—but hardly anyone talks about their actual failures (Here’s one exception).

While reading the quotes makes me feel not as terrible, facing what’s real feels even less terrible. I want to live up to that awesome-person status, which would seem to require being an honest person. I got fired yesterday, y’all. I did some good writing at that job and I’m proud of my work. In the end it wasn’t enough, and it’s time to move on. So here’s to what’s next… omg what is next? I’ll try to figure that out over the weekend. Check back Monday, won’t you?

A Case for Counting Calories

photo A Case for Counting Calories
All those teaberry ice cream cone calories went straight into My Net Diary! Photo by my awesome cousin Bobbi Ann Bowen

It’s probably the least popular method for losing weight, because reality is just not that much fun. Admitting that you have to eat less and exercise more to lose weight is a truth that most of us, including myself, don’t like to face. But it’s how our bodies work, like it or not.

I’ve written about this before, yet I recently fell for another trick: I cut out all sugar from my diet for two weeks, expecting the pounds to fall off. I gained 4 pounds.

The problem is, tricks don’t work—except, of course, the tricks that actually result in eating fewer calories, which is what some of the low-carb, Weight Watchers and other methods do. But I find it so much more straightforward to simply log my caloric intake. You have control—you’re not relying on someone else to provide your food, or following some mysterious and weird regimen. People will try all sorts of complicated plans, from cleanses to paleo, anything but keeping an honest tally of how many calories they’re eating and burning off. It’s a little too real.

Don’t take my word for it, experts say the same thing. A calorie is a calorie. Some calories taste better than others, and some are better for your health than others. But, bottom line: if you eat more of them than you burn off, they will turn into fat. I know, bummer.

But, chin up, it can be fun to take control of your body by counting your calories! Recently, my scale approached my heaviest weight since back in college after I’d gained the freshman 15, and I wanted to nip that progression in the bud. Clothes weren’t fitting, I wasn’t eating healthy, and I didn’t feel good. So I started using My Net Diary (no, they are not sponsoring this post!). Over three weeks, I’ve lost about four pounds, and I’m committed to sticking to my plan.
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This Is My Skin on Technology

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Just a picture of me and my face.

It occurred to me recently that my vanity is crowded not only with makeup, nail polish, curling irons, and various skin creams, but also quite a few items that can be reasonably categorized as technology. It also occurred to me that I love not having to go to a spa to use these devices. That’s exactly how lazy I am: going to a spa is even too much work. Luckily, if you throw a little money at the situation (though less than it would likely cost for a few spa treatments), you, too, can use these treatments in the comfort of your own home. Here are my tried and true beauty technologies. Note: when my husband looked at this post, he said: “They all look like pain machines.” I promise only one of them hurts (only just a little).
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Procrastinators, Unite

local take Procrastinators, Unite

You can order these cute Maggie Hurley giclee prints on wood and have them delivered on the same day with Six Doors

I am probably the worst procrastinator I’ve ever known. And despite limited scientific evidence that procrastination might actually help you get things done, I’ve always felt it’s mostly a bad trait of mine, especially around the holidays. Baking, decorating and, of course, shopping, end up getting done under duress. But it doesn’t have to be that way anymore, thanks to the amazing advances in shipping speed our civilization has seen in recent years. Case in point: Six Doors lets you ship on the same day as you order from a slew of  San Francisco boutiques, including Aldea Home + Baby, A&G Merch, Local Take, Urban Mercantile and tons more.

The folks at Six Doors asked me to curate a collection for them, which you can check out when you download the app. It’s entitled: “California Cool: Gifts cool kids of all ages will love.” It includes a beer bottle belt buckle, antler bottle openers, a really cute toddler dress, a terrarium, and lots more. All of these things you can not only have delivered on the same day as you order, but Six Doors will DELIVER FOR FREE in San Francisco until Christmas Eve—if the store’s open, they’ll deliver. Don’t you feel super ahead of the game all of a sudden?

Science of Style Friday: Do Horizontal Stripes Make You Look Fat? The Debate Rages

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I’ve written about the science of stripes before, but new research has emerged and it’s time for an update. Especially since it’s summer, when nautical vacations call for sporting nautical blue (or red, or whatever) stripes. 

It’s a long-held belief that stripes going across the body will make you look short and fat. But a researcher in the U.K. seemed to have proven that’s empirically untrue. He showed that quite the opposite is actually the case. 

In 2008, Peter Thomson, a “perception expert” at the University of York took up the issue. He showed study volunteers 200 sets of pictures featuring women, all the same size, wearing horizontal and vertical stripes (in two separate outfits, of course). The vast majority of volunteers perceived the horizontally-striped women as thinner. He dug even deeper and found that even women wearing horizontal stripes who were 6 percent larger than those wearing vertical stripes could appear to be the same size. Audrey Lustig, who studies cognitive neuroscience, breaks the matter down even further at Ionpsych, if you’re interested.

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I know you ain’t callin’ my baby fat. 

The idea (which is counter-intuitive today) that vertical stripes make you look wider and horizontal stripes make you look thinner goes all the way back to Hermann von Helmholtz, who theorized as much in the 19th century. But we’ve been ignoring the “Helmholtz effect” for more than 100 years. Isn’t that that is just rude? But we may have good reason. 

Last year, a woman named Val Waltham won the BBC Amateur Scientist Award for showing exactly the opposite. She put women in vertically and horizontally-striped outfits, took them out on the street and asked 500 passersby what they thought. In this case, the majority thought the horizontal stripes made women look bigger. 

The difference between the two studies is that the 2008 version used images, while in 2012, Waltham used real women. It would seem the latter is a more accurate way to judge. But, as scientists always say, a single study doesn’t prove anything, and more research is needed! 

Personally, I love Breton stripes and I feel strongly that if you find a stripe you like, you should wear it. Mama is Haute says even the French don’t find them too cliche to wear oftene—so you know they’re très chic. 

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Wired Magazine 20th Anniversary Party

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So it’s bee 20 years since Wired magazine launched and the DIGITAL AGE began. Can you believe the digital age only started 20 years ago? Or maybe that seems like really long ago to you if you’re a whippersnapper. But it’s a short time for so much to change. I mean no one had a cell phone then, there was no Google, and people used fax machines regularly.

To celebrate the beginning of it all, Louis Rosetto and Jane Metcalf, the couple who launched Wired in 1993 and who now own TCHO chocolate, hosted a 20th anniversary party on Saturday night. Here is a picture from the party. I worked at Wired with all of these lovely women. JenSul, the tall one in the back wielding the gun, was an intern when I started as a fact checker at the print magazine. Laura, on the left, when we first met was a producer at Wired Digital, which was pretty much the first website ever that had original content with ads from Fortune 500 companies. Can you even believe that? She also wrote a book about cocktails that was published by Wired (yep Wired even had a book publishing company), and JenSul and I fact checked it. Can I just tell you that job was really fun? And it’s where JenSul and I solidified our friendship, which is still going strong today. We still have sleepovers, though these days they include small children that are not us.

Alison, on the right, was the publisher at Wired News, where I was a reporter for eight years, and where I later was the science editor for three years. Goddamn can you believe that?

Above, we are pretending to be Charlie’s Angels, even though there were only three Charlie’s Angels and there are four of us in the photo. It is just so weird to look at this photo, not because there are four of us, but to think back on how much time has gone by. I can’t even tell you.

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Michael, at the top, made sure everything worked properly in the office. Judy, on the right, was the culture editor at Wired News, and Anne in the blue dress was an editorial assistant at the print magazine.

Literally, I can’t. A lot of people at the party had gray hair, which is totally normal because we are all the age at which peoples’ hair often turns gray. But still it was a profoundly weird experience. 

One potential reason is because many of the parties I go to these days, meaning in the days since I starting writing about fashion, are populated mainly by people in their 20s and early 30s. So I start feeling like I’m that age too. But the reality is I’m closer to the age of the folks who were at the Wired 20th anniversary party. It’s so weird, this progression of time thing. 

On that note I think I will change the subject. I wore a Mara Hoffman dress to the party. You can purchase a similar one below if you’re interested! She makes garments with really rad prints. I also met her once and she seemed like a really lovely human and said she thought we were from the same tribe which made me happy. 

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Why I’m Using Monogram to Blog

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Photo by Jarda Brych

First thing’s first: yes, they’re paying me. My good and very smart friends asked me to consult for their startup, Monogram, at a time when I had been woefully neglecting my blog Stylenik. The timing couldn’t have been better, because Monogram is a tool that makes blogging way easier, and now Stylenik is back on track with posts going up almost every day. And anyway I’m honest and don’t say stuff I don’t believe, even when money is involved. I mean obviously. Look at this photo of me with my 1-year-old.

Specifically, here’s why I’m loving using Monogram to blog. First, I can connect my blog with Monogram in about two seconds, so that when I publish a post on Monogram, I can also publish it on Stylenik—I can save it to my drafts first, so I have an opportunity to make sure everything is in order before I publish. Or I can just publish immediately, which I’ve been doing because everything is always totally in order. See below on the right, I can just click and connect with Blogger, Tumblr, WordPress (which I’m on), as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Reward Style (more on that in a sec). 
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Why would I want to do that? Partly because it’s for real so much easier to create a post in Monogram than in WordPress. Here’s one example: as I write, I am seeing almost exactly what I will see once the post is live. I don’t have to save, preview in a different window, then go back to the previous window to edit. I’m seeing everything, even what the photos will look like, as I write. 
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If I want to create a link, I highlight the word I want to link to, and a series of wysiwyg icons shows up (including bold, italics and other formatting options) right next to the word. I don’t have to hunt for the icons at the top of the page somewhere. Voila:
And then if I want to upload a photo or embed a YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram or Vine video, there’s another icon I can use right next to where I’m typing: 

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And this might be the best part: I can upload a photo directly from my Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, Picasa or Dropbox account. Check it out: 
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I just uploaded this photo straight from Instagram: That took two seconds. And yeah those treats were as yummy as they look.
The other reason to use Monogram is because you can add shopping to your blog posts like a boss. Like as if shopping were your job. Literally. If you’re also a style blogger, or are in any way connected to the online content world, you’ve probably heard about affiliate services bloggers use to make money. Bloggers use a personalized link to products they like, then if their readers use that link to shop, the blogger makes a commission. One of the most popular affiliate services is Reward Style, which I use, but their search can be a pain in the neck. I have to go to a new browser window, log in, search for products (which can be slow and have weird results), then I have to copy the link, then go back to my blog post and paste the link. But with Monogram, I can link my account up directly, search within Monogram using a much more efficient interface, populate my post with merchandise with a few clicks, and I’ll still get all my commissions. I don’t even have to leave this page. I just use the “Search & Add Products” field at the bottom—here’s what it looks like: 
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Say I’m writing a post about maxi skirts. I type “maxi skirts” in Monogram’s search field and get a slew of results from RewardStyle (if you don’t have a RewardStyle account, you can also shop using ShopStyle, another shopping search engine). Then I click on the ones I want my readers to be able to shop from my post, click submit, and they’re added without ever leaving this page. Voila:
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Below, you can shop those maxi skirts. Cool, right? 

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One last thing I want to tell you about is Monogram’s bookmarklet. Say you do the above search for maxi skirts, but the particular one you had in mind isn’t showing up in the results. Just go to a page where the skirt’s for sale and use the Monogram bookmarklet to upload it to your post. You can download the bookmarklet by clicking on your profile photo at the bottom left of your screen, then clicking “Get the Bookmarklet.” 

Just follow the easy and superfast installation instructions (you just drag the icon to your bookmarks menu) from there. Once it’s installed, go shopping (in another browser window) for the item you’re interested in. Say it’s this awesome black David Michael skirt at Totokaelo. From that page, click on the bookmarklet. You’ll get a choice of images to use in your post that looks like this:  

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Click on as many images as you’d like your readers to see in your shopping listing (Make sure they’re all the same item. You can only clip one item at a time), then click submit. You’ll get a pop up that lets you add more information, including price: 

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Make sure to click on which post you’d like to add it to, then click “Clip to Monogram.” The item will join the rest of your shoppable items in that post. Check it out below, it’s totally there. 
And on top of all of this awesomeness, you can repost other peoples’ posts, like them, follow people, and just browse all the other super-stylish content on Monogram. And there you have it! Why I’m using Monogram. It’s really cool.  
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Step Into My Closet

A little while back a lovely young woman named Sara Washington got in touch with me asking if I’d mind if she interviewed me on-camera about my closet and style. Obviously that’s one of my all-time favorite things to talk about so I said YES. The result is the video below, which I think Sara did an amazing job on. It’s part of a series she’s creating called Dressed, so stay tuned for more installments on her blog, She was so much fun and so easy to work with, and I’m so excited to have this keepsake—especially since I’m going through a MAJOR closet overhaul at the moment. I just listed 20 items on Poshmark, and many more are to come!

In the video, I talk about my style evolution, from hippie college student to fast fashion addict to now, which I don’t know how to define exactly, but I do know that I’m finally taking Tim Gunn’s excellent advice from his Guide to Quality, Taste and Style. He says something like: “Nothing in your closet should made you sad.” In the video I share several pieces that make me happy, but I also have SO MANY things in there that make me sad, mostly because they’re uncomfortable and/or unflattering. They are evidence of me succumbing to a trend that doesn’t work for my body, or ordering online and being too lazy to make the return when I realized the item didn’t look great. And it is TIME TO PURGE!

ANYHOO, I’m slightly embarrassed but honored that Sara made this video below. I’d love to hear what you all think, and about all of your style evolutions. I feel like whether you were a hippie or a goth or a prep, a little bit of that always stays with you, do you agree?

Fashion Plus Technology: Discuss, Tomorrow Night at Zappos HQ!

 Fashion Plus Technology: Discuss, Tomorrow Night at Zappos HQ!Fashion and technology is a crossroads where more and more startups are finding themselves. And it’s the one place in the fashion realm where the Bay Area has a leg up on New York. So we’re very excited that Third Wave Fashion, a New York consulting firm that focuses on the fashion-tech space, is partnering with local startup Poshmark and the Ahead of Fashion, an incubator program for early-stage startups. Together they’re hosing “Silicon Valley: Embracing Fashion in Tech” at Zappos Lab HQ, 121 2nd Street in San Francisco.

Poshmark’s co-founders, Manish Chandra and Tracy Sun, will be on the panel along with Enrico Beltramini, managing partner at Ahead of Fashion, and Ligaya Tichy, head of brand strategy and an advisor at Threadflip. There will also be networking and cocktails to get those tongues wagging.

Tickets are $20, but if you hurry could score a freebie! The first 50 registrants on Eventbrite who use the code TWFPoshmark Poshmark get gratis entry! The fash-tech extravaganza starts at 6:30 and runs through 9pm.

Plan Your Holiday Outfits Now! Anna Sui on MyHabit Is a Great Place to Start

Anna Sui is one of those designers who has a super strong, immediately recognizable aesthetic, and one that is so close to what I would likely create if I were talented enough to design clothing. And despite having such a recognizable style, she still manages to create pieces for a wide range of personalities. The adorable romper below, for example? Absolutely not for me, but I would love to see it on perhaps the twenty-something or teen version of myself (who unfortunately favored army shorts and tie-dye T-shirts). The coat above, on the other hand: YES, please. Same goes for the lace-trimmed cargo jacket. [Read more…]