Saturday, December 27, 2008

Getting To Know YOU


Valentine's Day, 2006 - Exactly 10 days after the biggest breakup of my then 29-year-old life. This has become one of my fave pics of myself. (Overbite and all, lol.)

A few weeks ago, I blogged about my eventful evening with Diane von Furstenberg. In this post, I mentioned what I think is a profound piece of advice from Diane:

Have a really good relationship with yourself.

I've been thinking about that quote a lot since I posted it here. Like most of you, the end of the year is a time for reflection and planning/setting goals for the coming year. Also, the domino effect of our grim worldwide economy has truly started to kick in. Several people I know have been laid off from their jobs recently, most companies had minimal to no bonuses for their employees this year and corporate holiday fiestas were basically non-exsistent.

What does this have to do with Diane's quote you're wondering? A whole lot. We put so much focus on our jobs (Note the difference between a job and a career - you can never be fired/laid off from a career.), our relationships and yes even our families that we too often forget the one guaranteed constant in our lives is always us. We must stop giving all our power to others. Jobs come and go. Sure, most of us have to work to eat and provide for ourselves and our families. But we can redefine what "work" is and recognize that our skills and gifts can be applied to more than one thing or place. We say things like, Oooh, he lost his good job at the bank and he and his wife just bought that new house. I feel so sorry for them. Let's change this mindset. Think of all the people who started successful, groundbreaking businesses after they got fired.

Sadly, significant others, spouses and family members can come and go too. That sentence might seem surprising coming from me as I'm always raving about the importance of family. But guess what? Marriages don't always last. I witnessed my mother become a widow when she was still fairly young. But she didn't wither away and become some shrinking violet. She lived and continues to live out her dreams like purchasing a home, traveling the world (she just informed me of her latest big excursion this week) and creating the type of life she wants for herself. Many of the things I've witnessed my mother accomplish solo are things I know she discussed doing with my dad but she has continued to roll with the punches. Ladies, (I hear women say this much more than the fellas) be careful of professing things like I'm nothing without you to your husband or boyfriend because you might actually start to believe it.

Children shouldn't dictate happiness or a total sense of purpose either. No matter how many Oprah episodes you watch and Dr. Spock books you read, children do disappoint their parents. (And sometimes parents disappoint children.) I don't have any offspring of my own but I've witnessed teenagers of Cosby Show like families become pregnant or father babies barely out of middle school. (Having a child as a teenager is not a death sentence by the way.) And even children come and go. I know someone who has had to bury 5, yes FIVE of her own children. So statements like My children are my everything are dangerous words to utter as well. Yes children are a blessing and I imagine can offer a renewed sense of self but they should not be the only thing that makes life worth living. Seems to me that in order to "raise" someone else it helps to be as complete as possible first.

I hope I haven't made anyone sad or somber and as everything else here at PPT, what I write is all my mere opinion. The beauty of this realization, for me anyway, is knowing that every area of my life: my career, my relationship with Mr. TK, my family; they are all sweeter when I'm good with me. Even the sour stuff is easier to swallow when I'm working on being a better Bsquared.

Thanks again Diane. And folks have the nerve to say that fashion designers are empty.

P.S. - I scored two fabulous DVF wrap dresses this Christmas! Anyone in the Charlotte, North Carolina area should head to the sales racks on the second floor of Neiman Marcus in South Park Mall immediately. Amazing deals folks.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Procrastinator’s Official Holiday Shopping Guide

Six Wallet-Friendly Tips For Scoring Great Gifts on Christmas Eve: From One Procrastinator to Another



I pride myself on giving thoughtful gifts. But I’m admittedly also a (recovering) procrastinator. For those of you who are trying to scramble last-minute gifts for your folks, this post is just for you.

Card ‘Em!

1 – Forget trying to get clothes or tech items at this late hour. All the good stuff has been picked over. Head straight for the register and pick up a gift card. But think outside the box this year. What about a gift card for a grocery store (Who wouldn’t appreciate that with the price of food these days?) or a loaded up gas card (ditto)? Airline gift cards are excellent as well. Think about the places that the recipient really frequents and don’t worry if you only have $25 to put on the card. That is $25 less for them to spend.

Letter Love
2 – Are you struggling over what to give that person who you love dearly and already has everything? Why not write them a heartfelt letter? If you know someone who writes decent calligraphy, pay them a few bucks to copy the letter for you on a snazzy sheet of paper from a store like Kate’s Paperie. If no calligrapher is available, just opt for a fancy-smancy cursive font on your computer. Keep it short and sweet and write from the heart. Roll the letter up like a scroll and tie a festive ribbon around it or place it in a pretty frame.

Regal Regifting
3 – Try the white elephant gift exchange. Kathy Finney over at thebudgetfashionista.com hipped me to this and I think it is such a cool idea. You and your loved one agree to exchange gifts that are items you already own of equal value. Hey, one man’s junk is another’s treasure! To add a personal touch, try including a note stating why you think the recipient would enjoy the item and why you wanted them to have it over keeping it for yourself.

Picture Perfect
4 – Have an old picture of you and your best friend during your high school senior ski trip? Is there a picture of you and your sister making Easter baskets when you were six that you both adore? Run to the nearest scanner, enlarge and copy the picture then mount and/or frame it. It will be cherished for years to come; trust me.

Reading Is Fundamental
5 – I am part of the rare breed of humans that still enjoys reading magazines in hardcopy form. Truth is, most people do. Websites are a fantastic supplement to print publications but are far from a replacement. Purchase a magazine subscription for your loved one(s) and try to think of something they will really enjoy but for whatever reason, haven’t purchased for themselves. Ideas to get your juices flowing are Golf magazine the Tiger Woods wanna be or Fortune mag for the budding business tycoon. (Shameless hint: I would love a subscription to ELLE D├ęcor, ahem.) Purchase a newsstand copy and wrap it up with a note alerting your recipient that they will be receiving their own copy in the mail over the next year. (Visit this site for discount mag subscriptions.)

Don’t Believe The Hype
6 – Do you really have to get all your gifts by tonight? Chances are, you won’t see all your people by midnight on December 25th anyway. Prices will be cut drastically on the morning of December 26th. Take advantage of the after holiday sales; this year there will be tons of them. If you can wait…Wait.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Reason For The Season

With Christmas officially less than a week way, lots of folks are doing last minute shopping for their loved ones -- especially kids. A few years ago I would have been one of those people too. I've opted not to purchase any Christmas gifts this year. Are you clutching your pearls? Well stop. I do plan to give my nieces and godchildren savings bonds next month when all of the hustle and bustle is over and I resolve a couple of personal financial matters. But the Christmas of 2005 forever changed the way I view buying Christmas presents, especially for the children in my life.

My nieces came up to NY to visit me for the Christmas of 2005 and I was beyond excited. For the first time since losing my father in 1990, I wanted to decorate and really get into what I thought was the holiday spirit. See my dad made Christmas decorating a production in our household. My brother had to hang lights on our terrace (he hated doing it), we hung our cards all over the apartment, a train set and the gingerbread house my father purchased for me annually were arranged on the dining table, we decorated our tree to the nines, all four of us wrote and exchanged wish lists, Christmas carols were played constantly -- basically our home became a mini-Christmas village. But after my father passed, most of this stopped and for years I didn't feel the same about any of it. But knowing that my nieces were spending the holiday with me caused a serious change of heart. I went overboard with their gifts, I bought them stockings, I purchased ingredients for us to bake Christmas cookies (we never did), I tried to anticipate their every desire and within my budget (and probably over my budget) I met it.

Well, fast forward to Christmas day. First of all, they slept until about 10am. My brother and I always woke up ridiculously early on Christmas morning to open our gifts (go figure). Once their gifts were all open, I soon realized I was a lot more excited about what I had purchased for them than they were. And then the next evening, I had a true A-HA moment.


My Little Bsquareds, December 2005. This picture stays on my fridge to help me keep life in perspective.

My brother (their dad), had them get dressed for bed and like most kids, they were fighting it as much as possible. While avoiding going to bed, they discovered my old hoola hoop. Well they got such a kick out of that thing! Seriously, no Wii, Dora doll or Limited Too gear could have come close. They loved it so much that I let them take it back home. For the rest of their stay, they played with that darn hoola hoop more than any other toy they received that year. And they received quite a bit.

So yet again, my nieces (at the time they were only 2 and 5) taught me something that I don't think any adult could. Sure they were fascinated by the hoola hoop but they were a lot more excited to have something that belonged to their Auntie B. Not only did I get a valuable reminder on what is most important about this holiday in the first place, but it made me realize why I had enjoyed those Christmases with my father so many years ago. It was never about the "stuff" - truthfully I don't even like gingerbread - but it was about the time we spent together. The laughs we shared, hearing my dad yell at my brother for the lights being crooked, counting who broke the most ornaments; the bonding is what I cherished the most.

I might not physically purchase gifts this year but I hope to spread lots of love and definitely want to soak some love up.

Think about what you already have to give before you spend money on another gift. You just might have an orange hoola hoop of your own.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Shopping In Your Own Closet



I've been shopping in my closet a lot lately. I know it might seem lame or even impossible but it is actually kinda fun and most of all cost efficient. Since recessionista has become active in our vocbulary, I thought this post was very timely. Normally I only do this around Spring Cleaning time but I've put the practice into use more frequently and want to show you how to do the same. Check it:

TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON

Rethink your seasonless clothing and layer, layer, layer. Growing up, my family went through a daunting twice a year ritual of putting away our spring/summer clothes in the fall and putting away our fall/winter clothes in the spring. Perhaps it is because I have a lot more space now, but I don't really feel the need to do this anymore. I wear over half of my wardrobe year-round. But I've lately noticed that some items I've been reserving for the warmer months can work now in the dead of winter as well with the right manipulation. Dark tights under floral skirts and dresses, cardigans over tanks, even dresses over slim pants are all ways to effectively pull this off.

EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN

By now we all get that fashion is cyclical but the tricky part is knowing when things are going to come back into "style". I don't think there is a hard and fast formula to this and why would we want one anayway? This season, I've pulled out items that I literally haven't worn in years and put them back in rotation. They include my black leather motorcycle jacket from college (I remember wearing this jacket to a Howard Homecoming weekend excursion) and an olive green Coach duffle sac. The result? Crazy compliments and Where did you find that? queries. That question was primarily for the Coach bag. Wearing these items is nostalgic and adds some personality to a look. Always keep items that are classic (like my motorcycle jacket) because they are guaranteed to be more interesting as they get older. By the way, I like popping mine over an ultra feminine dress.

BACK IT UP

Americans are generally over-consumers. Most of us have more than we realize, even those of us who are struggling. Go to the back of your closet and dresser drawer to re-evaluate what you own. Guaranteed you'll find at least one item you can add to the wardrobe rotation you had forgotten about and at least one other thing you can donate to folks who really don't have what they need. The other day I wore a belted denim dress that I have had for about a decade (it's by Espirt) and haven't worn in years and I wondered why I don't wear it more often but I quickly realized that I had forgotten about the darn thing.

REMIX WHAT YOU HAVE

Go to the tailor and make your favorite dress that is now a little too snug in the hip area a top. Cut a pair a jeans at mid-calf and wear them with knee length boots. Wear your favorite adjustable waist skirt as a dress over a turtleneck. (See the first tip.) Break up a suit - it's okay to wear that blazer with jeans every now and then. Switch out the belt of your favorite dress or coat for one that is a completely different color or texture.

HOST A SWAP PARTY

Admittedly I still haven't been to one of these yet but I just might throw one in '09. Folks have been raving about them for a few years now and with the economy being what it currently is, I predict even more people will be planning these types of fiestas. Basically, everyone brings a designated number of items of a set retail value to the party and the attendees then swap items that they no longer want or need for someone elses . Apparently, when done correctly, everyone leaves happy, no one has spent any money and it is a great way to declutter.

Have you been shopping in your closet lately? What did you find?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

8 Things I'm Happy About Right Now

Happy Hump Day!

Today's post doesn't have much to do with anything. This right here is just for sh*ts and giggles. Okay maybe just for giggles. With so much depressing stuff in the news (If I hear about one more corporate layoff -- geesh!) I have decided to post a list of things I'm happy about. Feel free to leave me a comment and tell me what is on your happy radar today.



1 - This is the time of year that everyone plays Christmas carols and I love it. I actually listen to them all year (my poor coworkers can vouch for this) but for the next few weeks I can play Little Drummer Boy without the funny stares.

2 - My first article has been published in Real Simple magazine. This is a big deal for me folks. Be sure to check out '7 Ways To Return Anything' on pages 71-73 of the January 2009 issue. Not just because I wrote it, but because there are some useful tips in it too. Remember, I'm a returning queen.

3 - I had the willpower to pass on the Tracy Reese sample sale this week. Gotta keep saving for a rainy day.

4 - Two stories that I wrote for the j-o have been very popular with readers this week. See for yourself here and here.

5 - Did you hear? We have a Black First Lady to be that isn't the pastor's wife. Still wrapping my head around this y'all.

6 - While I'm bummed about my throat being extremely sore, I'm thankful and happy that I have health insurance and can call my doctor to hopefully get some relief for tihs bug. Real talk - I've been without health insurance before.

7 - Last week I attended the Victoria's Secret store opening in NYC, got a cute little gift bag filled with goodies and bonded with my dear friend Mija. It was one of those classic Big Apple moments as we had no plans to go five minutes before we rolled up. Oh and the Ugg store opening last week with my friend Eddy was pretty cool too.

8 - I found my all-time favorite song sang by my church's choir on YouTube this week. You have no idea how much I plan to listen and watch this now. Everything in me gets right after I hear this.

Monday, December 1, 2008

My Evening With Diane von Furstenberg


Last week I had the pleasure of spending an evening with Diane von Furstenberg. It was lovely. She is just as charming, funny and fly as you would imagine. Diane shared her journey from being young, pregnant and clueless about the fashion industry, to landing on the cover of Newsweek at 28, to getting divorced, losing her mother (who was a Holocaust survivor), getting remarried, becoming a grandmother, moving to NYC's meat-packing district before it was sexy, virtually losing her uber-successful business due to over-saturation and rebuilding it to the cult label it is today. She even gave her predictions for what Michelle Obama should wear Inauguration Weekend. By the way, Diane thinks Michelle is just as gangsta as we do. Yes folks, she shared all of that (and then some) with me in midtown Manhattan last Wednesday and even gave me a cute little parting gift bag.

Okay so there were about 100 other people present too.

Last week Diane von Furstenberg was interviewed by Kate Betts (a bad chick in her own right -- Google her) for an event hosted by a women's organization at my job. The venue was packed. Radio personality Wendy Williams even showed up. How random? I guess everyone wanted to hear what the woman who created "the wrap dress" had to say. Well, while I stil have tremendous respect for her as a designer, I have even more respect for her as a woman after hearing her speak so candidly about her journey. She dropped several words of wisdom on the crowd that night but I'll share these with you now:

Have a really good relationship with yourself.

So simple yet so profound. I think I'll end on that note. Expect more gems from 'ol Diane to pop up in my Quote of the Week in the near future.

Below are a pic of the program from the night and Diane chatting it up with guests after the event.





Confession: I do not own a DVF wrap dress. Tragic, I know. But I might break down and get one soon (on sale of course) because it is such a classic that over time it will more than pay for itself.

Do you agree?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Budget Beauty Buy: BOOTS Bath & Body at Target


I cannot believe that I haven't blogged about this before! During my stay in London, I grew to fancy several High Street staples: Topshop of course, Marks & Spencer (the U.K.'s sexier answer to Target) and Shelly's for funky footwear. These were pretty likely suspects for an American gal into fashion though. The unlikely suspect that I developed quite a crush on while across the pond however was Boots.

There is literally a Boots on every other corner in Central London. Sorta like there is a Duane Reade on every other corner in NYC. But Boots is like Duane Reade meets C.O. Bigelow with a sprinkle of Sephora and much better customer service. It was fabulous. My roommate and I would make excuses to go. The packaging on everthing they sold was sleek and cool looking as if it were from the first floor of Henri Bendel but carried a price tag of Conway.

Well, last year Boots decided to bless their American fans by offering a select group of their products in Target. Perfect fit as the companies seem to have similiar philosophies. Boots current bath & body collection contains one item that I have to sing the praises of and that is the Amazon Forest Mango & Babassu Bath Cream. Folks, it is heavenly. Containing mango butter and babassu oil, it leaves my dry skin totally moisturized and simply smells delicious. Plus, it retails for $8.99 so it won't break the bank. Unfortunately I take showers much more than I do baths but this product works equally well for both. All of the items in the Amazon Forest line are available in body scrubs, lotions etc. so they're great for gifts.

It is worth checking out the other bath & body lines available from Boots presently at Target like the Mediterranean as well. They also offer an extensive make-up line too but since I only really fool with lip gloss and mascara, I can't comment it.

I'm telling you, if you have a gift to buy for anyone who has spent significant time in London recently, consider giving them something from the Boots collection at Target. You're guaranteed to put a smile on their face. And if you treat yourself to a bottle of the Mango & Babassu Bath Cream, write me and let me know if it changed your life. Or at least made you and your bathroom smell really yummy.

P.S. - My niece digs her stationery. Looks like I'm back in the running for Auntie of the Year after all.

P.P.S. - Congrats on the engagement Kesha. If you like it then put a ring on it -- HA!

Friday, November 28, 2008

10 Holiday Shopping Tips & Tricks

Hey, hey, hey!

Hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving. I certainly did. I have loads to blog about too but Mr. TK will have my head if I don't hurry up. (In his defense, he is always waiting for me.) I plan to post a few things this weekend but in the meantime, it is Black Friday. So, check out the story I wrote for the main gig ASAP. I interviewed my girl and best-selling author Kathryn Finney aka The Budget Fashionista for the article and it has some really informative tips. I even learned a few things.

Gotta go -- happy reading! ;-)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Is Solange a Trendsetter?

I hadn't thought so until earlier this week when I spotted these pics on YBF. (Don't front, you read it too.) I love the idea of pairing a chic, sophisticated pencil skirt with a playful tee shirt like Solange did for a recent NYC performance. The high heel grey booties in what appears to be suede is a fun addition and really complete the look as black would have been so expected. Normally I feel like the younger Knowles tries too hard to be the anti-Beyonce (with the exception of that Texas hair neither can seem to let go of). I rarely, if at all, look to Solange as a style influence but I'm totally impressed by this get-up.


A pencil skirt never fails to make the wearer feel sexy...


The sleeves on this shirt are S-I-C-K!

I might have to pay more attention to what Solange is rockin' these days. What do you think? Lovin' this look to pieces or think it is straight up hideous? Leave me a comment with your two cents.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Living Within Our Means: What We Can All Learn From Dame Dash


Damon Dash with his driver next to a luxury Macbach in 2006. These rides typically go for $400,000.


Music mogul Damon Dash has some serious money issues. How serious you ask? Well, according to The New York Daily News, it's pretty daggone serious. Check it:


* Last week, a Manhattan judge ordered the city to seize Dash's Chevrolet Tahoe, since he wasn't making the $714.99 monthly payment on the leased SUV.

* Eastern Savings Bank foreclosed on the $7.3 million mortgage for two trendy Tribeca condos where the monthly $78,504.26 bill went unpaid for months.

* Dash faces an outstanding $2.1 million tab with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, a $4,500 bill from the state for not paying workers' comp and a suit that says he stiffed the law firm that handled his child-custody case.

* Dash even got dumped by another firm representing him in a $3.5 million suit against accountant-to-the-stars Barry Klarberg, who is accused of bungling his tax returns, costing him millions.


Dang Gina.

Now I know there are folks right now saying (or thinking) that Dame is getting what he deserves. Apparently he hasn't always been the easiest cat to get along with. I can't do that though. Never actually met the dude and he hasn't done anything to me.

But what I can do is remember Dame tossing around all that expensive champagne a few years back in music videos. And I believe I caught some crazy spending on his BET reality show The Ultimate Hustler a couple years ago (Yes I watched it once or twice - forgive me!). Then there was the New York magazine article that quoted him stating he had 1,300 pairs of sneakers.

Hmmm.

Doesn't take a genius to figure this out folks. Dame spent more than he had. And hopefully he will dig himself out of this hole. We've seen this before though - MC Hammer anyone? Truth is, he's still probably not broke. His wife Rachel does have a clothing line which is seemingly doing well but the fashion biz is more gangsta than the music industry so who knows what kind of deal she has. Still, I think broke is sending your kid to bed hungry or wondering if your rented or borrowed furniture will be waiting for you on the sidewalk after you get evicted, again.

My girl E told me the other day that we are all living better than we have to (materialistically speaking) and now I agree. And some really wise person once said that the more we make, the more we spend. Let's all learn from Dame's mistakes people.

Living beyond our means is so not stylish. At all.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

And The Auntie Of The Year Award Goes To... (The Beauty of Stationery)

Not me. My oldest niece's 8th birthday was last Friday and I forgot it. The next day my mother informed me of my oversight so I called my niece immediately. She came to the phone sluggish, still tired from her slumber party the night before, and listened to me apologize profusely. Then she says, cool as a fan mind you, "It's okay Auntie B." After we discuss her big day: how being eight doesn't feel much different from being seven, the cupcakes at school and her cool new bookbag, I ask her what she wants from me. Nonchalantly she responds, "It doesn't really matter. Whatever you want to give me is fine." This kid and her sister never cease to amaze me. But she does add one important caveat: "I would like something girly though."

No prob. Auntie B can handle this...right? As I start to rack my brain about what to get - nothing too expensive (I'm trying to save more), not clothes (she doesn't need 'em) - I remember that I never got her the stationery I wanted to buy her and her sister last Christmas. Perfecto! It's certainly girly (at least the design I pick out will be) and American Stationery has a plethora of affordale options for children. Plus, while I am always buying my nieces books, I also want them to learn and appreciate the joys of writing; especially in this digital age. No email, text message or IM will ever take the place of a handwritten letter. Ever. Furthermore, I will be continuing a special family tradition. Her grandfather gave me my first set of stationery when I was about her age.

Letter writing is an art that I'm happy to expose my nieces to.

I'm hoping to make hers personalized as well. How fun! I'll be sure to let you guys know what she thinks of her belated birthday gift especially since many of you will be searching for frugal gift suggestions (if you're not already) in the next couple of weeks.

Check out American Stationery items for yourself as well here. My red stiletto notecards from Smythson are a must and I also love the detail of Atlanta-based Bluorchid designs. Are you into stationery? If so, where do you score your finds?

Monday, November 10, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: Michelle Obama's Fashion Stylist Speaks

Gotcha!

I don't have any exclusive with the stylist of Michelle Obama. The last I read, the Chi-town native wasn't officially working with one but I'm sure that is going to change very soon if it hasn't already. Now, let's get a couple of things out of the way. I am officially a proud member of the Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama Fan Club. Need proof? Read this and this. But even I think constructive criticism is appropriate when it is well, constructive. In the words of fellow Chicagoan Common, "If I don't like it, I don't like it. That don't mean that I'm hatin'."


A runway shot of Michelle's election night frock.


Runway to Realway: The much-talked about Narcisco Rodriguez dress on Michelle.

So, here it is - Michelle usually gets it right in my humble opinion. I think she is always dressed appropriately for her age and she has figured out her body type (she has an hourglass shape). But she does have the occassional miss (like on election night) and I have a few suggestions of things her stylist might want to adopt (and a few things she should continue doing) to make her look even more fabulous consistently.


Lady in Red - Michelle is not afraid of color.

Hometown girl Maria Pinto has been holding it down for Michelle and should certainly continue to do so (she is responsible for the fab red dress Michelle wears in the above pic) but below are a few other folks worth our future First Lady's consideration. These designers also create clothes for real women with real bodies:

Lafayette 148 - Edward Wilkerson is slept on by the masses. His tailored pieces will take Michelle from power lunches and brunches to PTA meetings for Malia and Sasha.

Donna Karan - This NY native has long been Seventh Avenue's darling and for good reason. Karan's innovative usage of jersey will compliment Michelle's curves.

Oscar da la Renta - The Dominican designer should be a go-to guy for Michelle when she starts preparing for the black-tie dinners that will quickly start to fill her calendar come January.

Other Style Notes...

Shoes with a heel - Michelle steers away from heels and at 5'10 one can only assume it is because she doesn't want to tower over her husband. Still, a 2-3 inch heel can be slipped in every now and again to give her look more of an overall polished punch.

Hair - Michelle's tresses are always shiny and healthy looking. Keep doing what 'cha doing Michelle!

Make-up Artist - Michelle's make-up can be hit or miss - early on in the campaign her brows were a bit hard. I suggest she get one great make-up artist and stick with him/her then get an equally fabulous back-up. Someone she should consider is Sam Fine.

Lastly, I think that Michelle should continue to embrace bold color as it looks so right with her complexion but prints can be tricky and don't always read well on camera. Solids are probably best when cameras are around (which will be the next four years...).

Now when all is said and done, Michelle probably doesn't give two hoots about what me or any other blogger, critic or reporter has to say regarding her style. And why should she when she has this?


Awwwww!

Still, this was fun to write. Do you agree or disagree with my advice? Did you like the dress she wore last Tuesday night? Leave me a comment and sound-off.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

If You're Gonna Be In Chocolate City This Weekend...

This could be a cool lil' event to check out. A co-worker put me on to it yesterday since I was considering going to D.C. today myself. Well, my plans changed so I won't be able to make it but I thought I would share the wealth.



Designers you can expect to find at this shindig include fashionista faves like:

Diane von Furstenberg
Jill Stuart
Botkier
Gucci
Marc by Marc Jacobs
James Jeans
J Brand
Juicy Couture
Hudson
Kooba
Theory
Loeffler Randall
Mike & Chris
Tucker
Tory Burch
Lewis Cho
Prada
LeSportsac
Catherine Malandrino
Tracy Reese
Wayne
& more!


RSVP to val@valstyleonline.com for location address.

Just remember ladies (and gents), sometimes 30% off means paying 70% for something you really don't need. Now more than ever, we need to live within our means.

Have a GREAT weekend! I'm looking forward to mine. (hee, hee)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

President-Elect Barack Obama - A Picture Is Worth A Thousand and One Words

Hello PPT fam. I am still numb. Tuesday night and all-day Wesnesday, November 5th was filled with so much emotion that I honestly don't know what to write today. Yesterday, friends and colleagues happily emailed loads of pics that evoked what people across the world were feeling about this historic win. They all struck a cord with me, even after I started to get the same pics multiple times.

But the one below of an adorable little boy in Indonesia says it all.




Yes. We. Did.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's SHOWTIME!


They didn't complain about waiting in long lines...


V-O-T-E.

(For Barack Obama and Joe Biden. This is my blog and I don't have to be objective.)

Questions about where to vote? Visit this site NOW!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Project Runway's Korto Momolu: Losing Never Looked So Good


Korto Momolu: The People's Champ

I admittedly am not a huge fan of Project Runway. Reality tv just isn't really my thing. But I had the pleasure of interviewing last season's runner-up Korto Momolu from the popular Bravo series for my day gig and I must share with my PPT folks. I was so inspired by Korto's can-do attitude. She is a sweetheart, she's driven (has that immigrant do-or-die spirit) and clearly loves her family. Oh and Ms. Girl is way talented.

Read the interview and leave a comment here or on the other site to let me know what ya think. As I get updates on her collection, I'll be sure to pass them along.

I'm about to get ready for church but I hope to make some calls to PA for Barack Obama later today as we are in the final stretch of this historic election. If you would like to do this as well, visit this site for the deets. You can make calls from home or go to a phonebank center in your area. We're almost there!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Every Ghetto, Every City And Suburban Place I've Been

L-Boogie declared that traveling always took her back to growing up in Jersey. Well, I haven't traveled nearly as much as she has but I've done my share of country hopping (toot, toot) and like Ms. Hill, I always think about my family when I do. Like last month after one of my South African safari excursions, I couldn't wait to share the leopard chasing story with my big bro. (By the way, I gotta blog about that; it was a real doozy.) Or when I quit my job to live in London and though I was scared as all get out I remembered what my father always told me about what it meant to have our last name. (It was much more about tenacity and less about the slave name.) And when I saw how green the grass was in Scotland during the middle of winter I wanted my mother to be with me to witness it too. Those of you who read PPT regularly probably know how much I adore my fam but sadly I still take them for granted at times.

Last week, I along with most of you, received a painful reminder of how precious family is when Jennifer Hudson's mother and brother were found murdered. And then Monday when her nephew was found shot to death as well? Shucks, I don't even know how baby girl is coping to be honest.

I decided to share with y'all a little something I have found so much solace in over the last year or so - especially in times like this. Aside from my journal, I keep a gratitude book. Everyday or more like every few days, I write down five things I am grateful for. These things range from getting a raise at work to catching a train I was sure I would miss to having healthy godchildren. Yesterday, after crying on the bus thinking about Jennifer and her recent loss, I made a list of five things I am grateful for about mi familia. Sadly, I won't have them forever and I feel like giving them some roses to smell before it's too late. I highly suggest you do the same for your loved ones.


Sweet Sweet has been with me through it all. And no I don't sleep with him.

1 - I am grateful for my mother's undying support. It is so comforting to know that she is always praying for me.

2 - I am grateful that my nieces know their dad loves them. Hopefully, this will help them spot the real from the fake when they get older.

3 - I am grateful for still having Sweet Sweet. He was a gift from my dad about 25 years ago.

4 - I am grateful that although he has been deceased for 18 years, I am still benefiting from lessons my dad taught me when I was a child.

5 - I'm grateful that my mother has her own laundry room and garage. Sure they are both teeny tiny, but for most of my life she sacrificed not having either. No more pushing carts or lugging groceries for my mama!

6 - I am grateful for the pure joy that my nieces bring to my life. They never fail to make me smile. At five and seven years old, they still get excited over things like bubblegum and butterflies. The teenage years might change that though, huh?

7 - I am grateful for all the wonderful, hilarious and crazy memories my family has to reminisce about like my bro locking himself in the bathroom, the Plantation Inn in Selma, AL and sweat inducing visits to Aunt Julia's HOT house in the dead of summer.

I couldn't stop at just five. Betcha you can't either!

P.S. - I was gonna apologize that this post wasn't about "fashion" but I won't be doing that anymore. Style goes way beyond clothes and gratitude is ALWAYS in style.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Beats, Rhymes and Fashion: Q-Tip, H&M and Realizing That NYC Still Rocks!

Thursday night. It was one of those times I am a little more thankful for living in NY and working in media. While I am a proud native New Yorker, I have a growing love/hate relationship with The Big Apple (the working/middle-class here is shrinking fast!) and I’ve already expressed my complicated feelings about my full-time gig here on PPT. But Thursday night made even a semi-jaded homebody like me cheese from ear-to-ear and remember once again how great this (dirty, overpriced, crowded) city is.

Around 6:20pm, my girl Big C asks me if I want to roll with her to a Q-Tip taping for VH1 Soul. WHAT?!?! I’m all about it even after she firmly tells me we have to get there by 7:30pm. Love Tip and the opportunity to hear him spit in an intimate setting is more than enough to make me hustle and finish up my work before we catch a taxi down to 26th Street. On our way there, I remember an email my friend Mija forwarded me about the H&M fiesta for Comme des Garcons. We plan to check that out afterwards. Then C also recalls a "little shindig at Bergdorf Goodman" that we can roll through too if we have enough time. Fashion parties usually have good gift bags. (The next day I read that the "little shindig" was actually the launch of Le Metier De Beaute cosmetics hosted by L.A. Reid. Ha!)

So C and I arrive to the VH1 taping about 15 minutes before Tip hits the stage. The show was dope. He gave the performance his all and while I steadily tapped my foot to his new joints (the upcoming album drops on Nov. 4th by the way) I kinda lost it when he did the classics. Check the Rhime (Q-Borough STAND UP), Award Tour (the soundtrack to my senior year of high school), Vibrant Thing (my first girlfriend getaway to MIA) - I, along with the rest of the place, was two-stepping like it was nineteen ninety something again. Margeaux Watson was there too and also covered the show on her new EW blog. Good, good times.

Before we made our way to the H&M function, one of C’s colleagues tells us about Stephen Hill’s birthday party later on that night. Dang, there is a lot of stuff going on in the city tonight I think to myself. Apparently Stephen’s bday festivities are always loads of fun and he often sings (yes, he sings) for his guests. We continue as planned though and make our way to the H&M party. For reasons I don’t care to go into, I end up doing H&M solo. I wasn’t by myself very long however; soon I see some familiar faces and start chatting up folks. The small but well edited collection is primarily black and white and is very true to Comme des Garcons. I see a couple of pieces I would consider buying but personally the line is nothing to blog much about.

Mr. Allen has styled Selita Ebanks and Takashi Murakami.


Veteran fashion scribe Lynn was a sweetheart and happily posed for my camera phone.

But seeing legendary fashion journalist Lynn Yaeger (that’s her above) and fabu stylist Alexander Allen (he’s sporting the sick Louis Vuitton gear) in the spot? Always worth blogging about. Lynn has been covering fashion for The Village Voice and other publications for over 20 years and never bites her tongue. Digs her. A lot. I bump into Alex pretty regularly but what made my encounter with him Thursday night special was the wisdom he so willingly shared with me. And it had nothing to do with fashion or styling and everything to do with gumption and faith. Thanks again Alex!

After H&M I decided to call it a night and headed to mi casa. Honestly, the H&M gift bag was just eh. And for the folks that hang out at "industry" parties all the time, this is probably the norm (or maybe even lame) but I haven’t really party hopped like this in a minute. For me, getting to hear a member of one of my all-time favorite groups perform and checking out an affordable new clothing line while catching up with genuine folks at a fashion industry party is a beautiful rarity.

All of this and I was still home by 11:30pm in time get a little phone QT in with Mr. TK before bed. Life is good.

Below are my favorite pieces from the Comme des Garcons for H&M Collection which is scheduled to arrive in stores early November.



Sunday, October 19, 2008

Beyond Barack: We Need To Be More Aware And Get Involved Folks


Other other day Mr. TK said something that has been on my mind kinda heavy since. He was frustrated about a business situation when he mumbled, "Sometimes knowing a little about something is worse than knowing nothing at all." After I let his statement marinate for a bit, I realized how much it related to the way I (and most of the folks I know) associate with politics. While it is fantastic that we are all on Team Obama and eat, sleep and dream about the presidential election, I think most of us have forgotten about the other politicians who have a strong impact on our lives as well. Everyone (even my five and seven year old nieces) knows the importance of voting next month. And it is certainly important - without a shadow of a doubt important. But guess what? The pothole on your block that took six months to get filled? A local politician tends to that. The disgust I often have when shopping in my local supermarket because of a lack of fresh(er) veggies and poultry? A local politician. Your kid's after-school program slipping with quality extra-curricular activities? A local politician yet again.

In light of Mr. TK's comment, I want to make it known that I am far from knowledgable about politics. But, over the past year or so, I have been much more aware of what is going on with the federal government simply because of Barack Obama. And yes, this is a beautiful thing. But, me not knowing who my councilman, congressman, borough president, school district president (it shouldn't matter that I don't have children), local judges, and even the folks who run my co-op board are is pretty pathetic. NEWSFLASH: Even after Obama gets to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, we can't go back to being zoombies. Having just returned from South Africa, I am reminded of how much most Americans take democracy for granted. (Yeah, our democracy is f**ked up but try voting in Jamaica.) Add to that I'm a Black American, and there is an entire extra layer of guilt for me because some of my folks truly fought for me to have this right. And I know they didn't intend for me to just exercise it every 4 years.

Michelle Obama was on Larry King a couple of weeks ago discussing how great it is that this election has gotten people engaged again. As if we have been awoken from a deep slumber. And now I really get what she meant. (Told y'all I have delayed reactions.) I have challenged myself and I challenge you to research your local politicians so that you can really be educated. And after November 4th, keep up with what elected officials are and aren't doing in your 'hood. Yes, I'm busy, you're busy -- everyone is busy. But we all make time for the things we find important.

We've been sleeping long enough.

Sorry I have yet again posted about something not related to "conventional style" but this is what is on my heart and mind to blog about today.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

PPT EXCLUSIVE: Beyonce and Solange Rocking MINX - The Latest Nail Trend








Everyone is buzzing about Mrs. Shawn Carter’s new video for Single Ladies (I am predicting a lot of hush engagement rings will be doled out this Christmas…) so I managed to get the insider scoop on some behind-the-scenes action of Bouncy and her younger sis Solange. These days, they are both sporting a new development in nails called MINX. My girl, celebrity manicurist Lisa Logan gave me the 411 on MINX recently and admitted that she is quite excited about this creative treatment because of the versatility it offers. (Know that Lisa doesn’t easily excite.) Obviously both Beyonce and Solange have ridiculous schedules: shooting ad campaigns in Bermuda one week and videos in NYC the next. With MINX, Lisa is able to take her clients from sizzling gold metallic to striking platinum in mere minutes without sacrificing the nail’s health which is of utmost importance to her.

Basically, MINX is a film; not a polish so there is no smudging, no chipping and no drying time. This flexible film is applied with heat and pressure and also allows for logos, graphics and other designs to appear on the nail in much less time and effort than the airbrushing of the 1990s. Plus the nails don’t look fake. Ladies, you can even apply MINX to your toes to enhance a pedicure as Beyonce did with the Gold Lightening film in the pic below. Solange showed her support for our next president Barack Obama on her MINX nails (peep his image in the 5th pic from top) while shooting her latest video T.O.N.Y. How freakin’ cool is that? Guess we can expect a cameo from Cee-Lo in that upcoming T.O.N.Y. video, huh?



The "glove" above made an appearance in Beyonce's Single Ladies video...

For more information about how you can be the first person in your town to rock MINX, click here. Are you willing to try this latest nail trend? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Get Shorty: Victoria "Posh" Beckham's Fab Haircut

Happy Monday! Despite not accomplishing everything I wanted to this weekend (when do we ever), I had such a good time: ate at a cool Brooklyn restaurant that helped me relive my recent South African vacay, partied at a friend of a friend's bday celebration in a sexy little nightclub (I rarely party on the weekends), caught up with some of my favorite folks on the horn, worked on a story and even chillaxed for a bit. Pretty productive all in all.

But this post isn't about my weekend, it's about hair! Victoria "Posh" Beckham's tresses to be exact. With all that is going on in the world, the specifics of Victoria's new-ish haircut seems trivial but I really wanna know how you guys feel about it. I'll be honest that I was a tad late to learn of her cut since she debuted the look during Spring 2009 Fashion Week in NY when I was on the other side of the world. Never one to shy away from risks, Mrs. Posh has long been a chameleon when it comes to her strands. Some people are still debating on whether she or Rihanna are responsible for the infamous bob trend of 2007. (I'm leaning towards Victoria myself.)



Well, the reason for this post is as much as I'm feeling Beckham's new 'do, many are saying that she went too short this time around. I beg to differ. And something tells me that before long, copycats galore will be rocking the same cut. True trendsetters are rarely understood in the beginning. Read what the glamazon had to say to London's Telegraph about her hair:

"You know, I just like to change things up. I get bored very, very quickly and I just fancied a change."

I so dig this chick.

What do you think about this new cut? Love it or loathe it? Leave a comment and let me know.

P.S. - I must come clean and admit that I might be bias since I cut my hair super short earlier this year. Too bad I don't have a hairstylist on call like I'm sure Posh does to help me on bad-hair days like today...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Najwa Moses Fly Accessories Line: Add A Little SALTE To Your Wardrobe

You know that feeling you get when someone you know, and have known for a minute, does something real good for themselves? It’s kinda nice right? Well, I’m feeling like that about a few of my folks as of late. One of my best friends D (I’ve known him since we were 14) just became a father on Wednesday. He’s going to be a great dad and I’m so proud of the man he has become. And then my girls Nicole and Cocoa just purchased homes. (This is the second for Cocoa!) I am always proud of my friends but sometimes there is an extra sense of pride for the amigos, ya know?



Well, my girl Najwa Moses (that's her in the upper left corner) hit me last week about her fly jewelry line and I had that feeling yet again. Najwa and I went to F.I.T. together many moons ago and she has been creating her own path in the fashion and media lanes for a few years now. Her latest baby, SALTE, includes a collection of bold hand-painted, one-of-a-kind earrings, necklaces and other funky accessories. She has given each style cute names like "the blogger", "the stylist", and "the publicist". I like the idea of pairing her unique designs with an understated white tee and blue jeans or even a simple black turtleneck and slacks. Prices start at just $25.75.

So check out Najwa’s SALTE collection and this weekend be sure to tell someone you care about how proud you are of them.

*** Today is the last day to register to VOTE in New York so please, please do so if you haven't already. And if you are registered, encourage someone else. Yes, I'm begging. Click here, for more info.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My All-Time Favorite Hip Hop Moments

This really has nothing to do with style or fashion. Sue me. I was inspired by the VH1 Hip Hop Honors that aired tonight. I couldn’t watch it but a couple of my peeps went to the taping last week and said it was pretty good. I’m sure I’ll catch it later. Hip hop has been with me for most of my life and although I rarely listen to new stuff lately, I have some very fond memories of the genre. Every generation has a golden era and loves to harp on the good ‘ole days, right? I recognize there are some dope artists on the come up - most of whom I’m not up on, but right now I just want to reminisce.

(in no particular order)



2004, Nas and Olu Dara at VH1 Hip Hop Honors, NYC - Since I mentioned VH1 already, I figured I should start with this one. Nasir and Olu Dara crushed stereotypes about Black father/son bonds when they did Bridging the Gap live for what I believe was the first time ever. I darn near cried watching this performance. The love and mutual respect between the two of them was palpable. Nas told us about the complicated relationship with his dad on Poppa Was a Playa so to witness their chemistry as two musicians on stage was incredible.

~1985, Jamaica, Queens - I scored my very first autograph from DMC of Run-DMC while walking with my mother to the store. Living in southeast Queens, I would go on to see the trio countless times later on. (Jay, R.I.P., apparently dated to a girl who lived in my neighborhood.) I was over autographs shortly after that but I will always cherish that first one. D wrote: Go to school don’t be a fool. I know that is beyond corny now but I was a freakin’ kid and that autograph stayed on my bedroom wall for months.

1997 or 1998, Philly - One of my best friends went to the University of Pennsylvania so Penn Relays was a must-do every spring during my college days. I saw the best concert (and I’ve been to some pretty good ones) of my life for all of ten dollars , at most twelve. Jay-Z, Foxy Brown, The Lost Boyz, Redman, The Fugees - there was even a couple of dancehall artists thrown in the mix. The line-up might not seem that hot but the energy each act brought to the stage was the best part. (Tress, help me out on the year. It’s all a blur now, lol.)

Spring 2002, Guinea, West Africa - During my first trip to the motherland, I got into a pretty intense convo with some local dudes about the then Jay-Z and Nas beef. This was such an eye-opening experience for me. Sure, I’d heard/read rappers describe the love they got overseas. But to witness in person the passion these cats in Guinea (a very small, underdeveloped country by American standards) had for the artform was priceless.

Summer 2008, Central Park, NYC - The 25th Anniversary of Video Music Box Concert was without a doubt one of my highlights this summer. And it was free! Anyone who grew up in the NY tri-state area in the ‘80s and/or ‘90s understands the sincere love and admiration I have for VMB. Ralph McDaniels was honored for his contribution to hip-hop and NYC and there were performances from Nice and Smooth, Special Ed, The Lost Boyz (Hey, I’m from Queens.), Naughty by Nature, Chubb Rock (He murdered the stage!), and a bunch of old-school acts my brother would have loved to see. By the way, in the early days of VMB, Uncle Ralph played videos from Madonna (yes, Madonna) to Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. It wasn’t solely hip-hop.

I have many, many more but I gotta go. What are your fave hip hop moments folks?

P.S. - Why does this post feel so Brown Sugar-ish?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Halle Berry Is Going To Have Another Baby?


Halle Berry is giving birth to another bambino soon! Well, sorta kind of. The Oscar winner isn't actually pregnant (that I know of) but WWD reported yesterday that she plans to launch a fragrance in conjunction with Coty. Halle by Halle Berry is scheduled to hit stores in March of 2009 and will be fairly affordable by my standards. Prices are reported to start at $17 for .5 oz.; maxing at $35 for 1.7 oz. A shower gel and deodorant spray are also going to be in the mix.

Top notes are supposed to be Sicilian bergamot, fig leaves and pear blossom; the heart is of freesia petals, hibiscus flower and ultra mimosa, and the drydown is of sandalwood, driftwood, cashmere musk, olibanum absolute and sensual amber. I have no idea what that will smell like. It seems like a lot though. I think I'm sticking to my fave oil, Kai. Anyhoo, the new mother had this to say about her scent: "I have a baby and this baby -my fragrance- is about to be born. If I'm going to call it Halle, it had better be something that I'm really invloved with and proud of."

You guys know how I feel about celebrity designed lines. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Halle is the face/name behind this new scent and not really "creating" anything. Coty produces half (give or take) of all the other celebrity scents on this very saturated market. When I was studying at FIT, there was actually a major called Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing. This is a very serious (and lucrative) business and takes much more skill than 'add a little more vanilla here'. But, I cannot be mad at Halle for this venture at all. Kudos to her for making (more) moves.

By the way, if you are really into fragrances, be sure to check out my friend Barney's blog. He gives the lowdown on all things scent related.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I Know What Men Like, Part Dos

So as promised, below is the second part of the candid convo with my friend Anslem in a quest to find out what men truly think about what women wear. In part one, we got an idea of what he liked (sweatpants!) and didn’t like (make-up) among other interesting tidbits. We also played a game of Rate This Look. Here are Anslem’s responses to pictures of some women who generally have a style I dig. Anslem didn’t always agree. Check it out:


Michelle Obama: Michelle falls into like the Wall Street type and that can be extremely sexy. She’s an older woman and she definitely has it going on.








Vanessa Simmons: She looks approachable here. To me, this is sexy even though she’s just wearing a [basic] top and jeans with her hair in a ponytail under a hat.






Rihanna: Rihanna is tricky because she has a lot of different styles. Sometimes she is too much for me. The yellow jeans look is the cutest. I could talk to a girl wearing that. And the white dress on the right is extremely elegant. The haircut works for her too, she has a big forehead.






Lauryn Hill: She just has a beautiful face. Some might argue that she looks like a little boy here [with the hat and scarf] but she has gorgeous lips, eyes and complexion. I knew her style better back in ’98 when she was wearing locks but she’s still an attractive woman.

































Kelis: She can be a hot mess sometimes. To me, this is not attractive. She’s trying too hard. That side hike is too high. Sometimes different isn’t good. I had to hold my laughter in when Ans responded to this one. I happen to love Kelis in this dress!






Gabrielle Union: This dress is form-fitting but not too much. She’s wearing it well; the color compliments her skin. When she smiles, her whole face lights up. By the way, Gabby is still my girl crush.







That’s all folks. Some of Anslem’s responses were kinda expected: confidence is sexy, trying too hard isn’t. Ya know, the sorta thing men say "on record" all the time. However other stuff really surprised me: sweatpants and long , flowy skirts can be a turn-on, over-the-top lingerie (often) is not. How many times have I freaked out in the past because (ahem) I didn’t have on a "matching set"! Geez…

Were you surprised by any of Anselm’s thoughts? Why or why not? I wanna know so leave me a comment and share your own opinions por favor.

I Know What Men Like (Garter Belts and Bright Red Lipstick ? Nope. Sweatpants? Absolutely!) - Part 1 of 2


I hoped that title would get your attention. Truth is, I interviewed one man, Anslem (at length) to get his opinion on what women wear - from our hair to our shoes. I got this post idea while having dinner with Mr. TK one night and him calling me out (he’s good for that) about looking another woman up and down. I know, I know: shame on me. But, it got me to thinking that women often check out what other women are wearing much more than men notice what we’re wearing. And just in case you still think that your crush will notice your Nine West pumps are actually Christian Louboutin knock-offs, I interviewed my friend Anslem to prove you wrong. (Oh and if your crush does notice the difference well, you might need to re-evaluate some things…)

I interviewed Anslem because I think he’s honest, has his ish together and is representative of many guys I (and you) know. But again, he’s one man. I cannot confirm that his opinions reflect those of your man or even the man you want to be your man. But, if you continue reading ladies (and gents since I do have some male readers - what up Barney!), I guarantee you’ll learn a few things. I surely did. And by the way, Anslem holds down a blog himself called Naked With Socks On where he skillfully writes about everything from politics to relationships. Good stuff.

So, I started the interview off by asking Anslem what female celebs always make him do a double-take in the style department. Here’s what he said:

Kerry Washington: She glows. And she has a very warm smile and a cute overbite but it works for her. Her teeth are sparkling white.

Jill Scott: She seems real through her voice and her words. She carries herself very well for a full-figured woman.

Jada Pinkett Smith: She’s getting older but she is even more attractive. When I think of her, I think of strength and confidence.

Ciara: Surprised? Me too. Seems Anslem is mucho impressed by Ciara’s maturity and grace. He claims that she is very level-headed for her age. He also said he likes the way her style has evolved from tomboyish teenager to classy young woman.

And although he didn’t mention her during our interview, apparently Res makes him do a triple-take…

Next, I had him tell me his preferences on a few things that almost always seem to come up in grown folks convos…

natural hair vs. relaxed hair - Natural hair is his weakness -- locks, twists, afros, he loves them all. He also appreciates a woman with a short cut. There is a certain confidence that she evokes he says.

lingerie vs. a wife beater and boy shorts - Both have pluses according to Anslem but those over-the-top va, va voom corset, garter belt situations make him think of hookers. Which he goes on to admit might not be a bad thing depending on his mood, but generally isn't his preference.

heels vs. flats - He's not opposed to flats but thinks woman strut differently when they're wearing heels. There is even something sexy about the 'clicking' noise they make.

make-up vs. well, no make-up - I wanna know what you look like says Ans. He no likey the foundation and powder plus he thinks it makes a woman seem like she's trying to cover up something.

I also found out his biggest turn-ons and turn-offs:

turn-offs- [tight jeans/pants that create] muffin-tops
- panty waste (You gotta read his hilarious post about this.)
- ashy feet/heels in sandals

turn-ons- sweatpants (without words or logos on the butt area) - Anslem says, "If you can attract me when you’re wearing sweats, then when you’re really dressed…"
- high heels - They add to her walk, they raise her bottom, draw attention to her calves. Who knew that heels alter the way our butts look????
- long, flowy skirts (The way it moves around the body is what gets him.)

So it looks like men (or at least men who think like Anslem) certainly do notice what we wear and how we wear it but couldn’t care any less about labels or even trends. The fact that you managed to score the same clutch that Rihanna carried during Milan’s Fashion Week certainly might impress your girls. But that cutie pie you’ve been eyeing in the gym? Not so much. And please know that I’m in NO WAY encouraging anyone to dress (solely) for a man’s attention. How lame would that be? Mr. TK loathes my animal print rain boots but that surely hasn’t stopped me from wearing them. But, I do hope that everyone keeps this post in mind when agonizing over what to wear on that date with the cutie pie from the gym. I’m not suggesting you wear sweats (although that just might be what got you the date), but don’t fret because you don’t have a new DVF wrap dress to rock either.

Ladies (and gents), what do you think? Did you learn anything? Are Anslem’s views similar to yours or those of your significant other? Discuss, please. And Anslem, muchas gracias for your patience and letting me pick your brain!

Don't forget to come back tomorrow for part 2!