If you are traveling to New York City in 2018, you don’t want to miss these gastronomic gems that Mel and I uncovered in a recent trip. Now fine dining this is not, but these tiny treasures were a great experience all the same. Alice’s Tea Cup, Cafe Habana and Nom Wah Tea Parlour were off the beaten path for tourists which was fine for us, because we got a real taste of a few places locals seem to love.
Alice’s Tea Cup, located at 102 West 73rd Street, is a precious little cafe whose theme is derived from the classic literary confection, Alice in Wonderland. Much like the setting in the novel, the surroundings are filled with whimsy and surprises. You will want to fall down this rabbit hole to discover a variety of tasty teas, sugary scones, samplings of tiny little sandwiches and more. Tea is served in small brown tea kettles accompanied by delicate and petite porcelain tea cups. Breakfast, lunch and tea time are available and reservations are highly recommended. Children and adults love Alice’s Tea Cup and I hear birthday parties hosted here are a treat.
Whenever I visit New York I like to sample flavors from the neighborhoods. New York is a melting pot of ethnicities which makes it such a unique and colorful place, a window into America.
We stumbled upon Cafe Habana, located at 17 Prince Street, one evening when looking for a quick bite to eat before turning in. When we climbed out of the uber we still were unsure we had reached our destination. Nothing stood out as a restaurant; however, all we had to do was squint our eyes to discover the tiny hole in the wall that was Cafe Habana. It was barely big enough to even be considered a cafe, but was warm and cozy like your grandmother’s kitchen. We wedged our party of six into two booths and began to peruse the menu filled with Mexican, Caribbean, Latin, Cuban, and Central American fare. Although the cuban sandwich and the Cuban corn on a stick came highly recommended, I settled on the chicken enchiladas which came quickly with a whopping side of the best rice and beans I’ve ever tasted.
Latin music played in the background, and I had the feeling that a little later into the evening that this place could double as a pretty cool little night club.
Nom Wah Tea Parlour
You will not believe how long people will wait in freezing weather to have a taste of Nom Wah Tea Parlour, which is located at 13 Doyers Street, and is known for its vintage dim sum and it’s extensive tea menu.
Our wait in the alley in the front of the restaurant was long but the jovial hostess with jokes kept us entertained, and she kept the line moving. Everything on the menu looked good, and even though we were warned about the large portions, we still ordered way too much. We realized upon being served that plates of fried rice were big enough to share with two or three people and the egg rolls were super fat, and super light and crunchy. Don’t miss out on the seafood dumplings. They were the highlight of the visit.
Reservations are recommended, but do not try to make them over the phone. You will be directed to online reservations which we found a pain to navigate, so we just showed up. So glad we took the gamble. This was not your ordinary Chinese take out from home. The food was as authentic and the servers and the atmosphere. It is a neighborhood restaurant experience that you will never forget.
Other places not to be missed include, but definitely are not limited to, the over-sized pizza pie at Lombardi’s in Little Italy, the cannoli at Ferrara’s in Little Italy, the lobster fried rice at Hotel 50 Bowery in Chinatown, Margherita and Sicilian pizza at Grimaldi’s and L&B respectively in Brooklyn on The Brooklyn Pizza Tour.
So what does this roof photo have to do with hair care? Keep reading to find out.
When I went back to natural, I never thought much about the care of my hair. When my hair was chemically treated, I relied mainly on a professional stylist. I initially thought that taking care of my natural hair would not be that difficult. After all, I only had one inch of hair after my big chop! In the beginning, it was indeed very easy. When my hair started to grow, I found myself scrambling to do research about how to care for my new mane.
Information-wise there was the internet, books and multitudes of YouTube videos, but I soon learned that each head of hair is about as unique as a fingerprint. No two people have the same hair, not even family members. What works for one person may not work for the next person. Natural hair care can be very complex. Even many professional stylists do not know how to care for naturally curly or kinky hair because traditional beauty schools do not teach stylists how to care for it. Most stylists learn by trial and error and this is exactly how I learned.
Curly hair care, especially for kinky curly hair, is largely dependent upon three factors: hair density, hair texture and hair porosity. Hair density refers to how many strands of hair are located on a scalp. High density hair is very thick or dense. Low density hair is thin (scalp is visible). Hair texture refers to the individual strands of hair. If the strands are thicker than fabric thread, the hair is considered coarsely textured. If the strands are thinner than fabric thread or barely visible to the naked eye when held up to the light (think spider web), then the strands are considered fine. Hair porosity refers to how much or how little moisture can get into the hair. I will discuss porosity in this post. Contrary to popular belief, curl pattern, which is how loose or tight the curls are, is of very little value to hair care.
First it is important to begin with a tiny bit of scientific hair anatomy. Individual strands of hair are made up of an outer cuticle, middle cortex and inner medulla. Oddly enough, not all strands of hair have a medulla. Even on the same head there may be some strands with a medulla and some without. For the purpose of this post, I will discuss only the cuticle layer.
The cuticle layer visually appears similar to overlapping roof shingles. If the roof shingles are lying flat and it rains, the water runs down the roof with very little water getting underneath the shingles. This is analogous to low porosity hair which is the type I have. It’s hard to get moisture in this type of hair because it just runs down the hair strands like water off a goose’s back. If the roof shingles are sticking up, then water can get in easily, but can also escape easily. This is analogous to high porosity hair. Both low porosity and high porosity strands are thus difficult to moisturize. Normal porosity hair is easy to moisturize, relatively that is.
So you may ask, “How do I find out my hair porosity?”. Take a strand of clean, dry, shed hair (still has a bulb on the end) and place it into a glass of water. If the hair sinks to the bottom, your hair is most likely high porosity. If your hair stays floating at the top (even overnight), then your hair is most likely low porosity. If your hair stays in the middle, then your hair is most likely normal porosity. This method bothers me because it is oversimplified and does not always work. Using the following characteristics may better help:
Low porosity hair usually takes forever to dry—sometimes a day or two if left to air dry (no blow drying, etc). When applying product, the product (conditioner, moisturizer, gel) just sits on top of the hair sometimes appearing white. Also, your hair usually feels dry as hay despite your best efforts. High porosity hair dries very quickly – less than an hour if left to air dry. This type of hair absorbs product extremely well even appearing to drink hair products. High porosity hair does not remain moisturized for a long duration, despite your best efforts.
Did I lose you yet? Okay, I will simplify the care for these hair types. If your hair is low porosity, you must use warm everything! This means warm water, warm rinse out conditioner, warm protein-free deep conditioner AND warm leave-in conditioner. Yes, many low porosity hair types are sensitive to protein. (See prior post on Building a Hair Care Regimen). Placing the bottle of conditioner upside down in a cup of hot water should suffice. I would not recommend the microwave for heating conditioners. Sitting under a steamer, hooded dryer or heat cap will also safely heat up conditioners and assist with penetration into low porosity strands. If your hair still feels dry as a bale of hay, try squeezing warm water and warm leave-in conditioner into the hair. This can be done by twisting or twirling small sections of hair. The warm temperature helps to lift the cuticles that are closed down tightly. The squeezing and twirling ideally is forcing moisture into the strands. There is also the acronym L.C.O. which stands for Liquid (water or leave-in conditioner), Cream (conditioner or another moisturizer) and Oil (jojoba, argan or sweet almond oil). This acronym refers to the order in which these products are applied to the hair. Additionally, low porosity hair sometimes responds better to air drying. It may take a couple of days to fully dry, but it will be worth it because your hair will stay moisturized longer. If it is winter time, try using a dryer on low heat.
If your hair is high porosity, try doing the final rinse with cool or cold water. The final rinse is done after cleansing, conditioning +/- deep conditioning with a protein-rich deep conditioner. Yes, high porosity hair types usually do well with protein-rich deep conditioners (See previous post on Building a Hair Care Regimen). A final cold rinse will close down the cuticles and help to seal in the moisture. The preferred acronym for high porosity hair care is L.O.C. which stands for Liquid, Oil and Cream applied in that order. Heavy oils such as olive, avocado and castor oils are recommended for high porosity hair. The oil and the cream are thought to further seal in the moisture and help the hair to stay moisturized for a longer period of time.
If your hair is normal porosity, Congratulations! Just cleanse, condition and style your hair. You are so lucky!
You survived this post! Leave comments or questions below.
Photo of my low porosity mane. Photography by April Buffington.
Mel and I thought it would be fun to take a road trip to the city to shop and take our own pics of our favorite designer bags for our budding blog. So we ditched our day jobs and headed for Saks Fifth Avenue in New Orleans.
I was a little apprehensive as I was not sure what the store allowed in the way of taking pictures to post on a blog. I thought about clandestinely snapping photos with the camera on my phone while sales associates were pulling out merchandise for us to view. Luckily my apprehension was unwarranted and I quickly found that stealing pics was unnecessary.
At 11:00 a.m. on a Thursday the store was calm and relatively unpopulated, but dotted with smiling sales associates like Oscar, a well coiffed and neatly attired sales associate for Fendi. I have never owned a Fendi bag, and quite honestly never considered one, but Fendi’s new look is definitely worth a second glance. Oscar explained that the original canvas double F monogram had long since been traded for a sleeker more tailored look but that the monogram was popping up here and there on detachable bandoliers and select bags. Mel and I gasped at pearl studded pocket books, fringe hanging from front flaps, and color patterns on straps, twillies and bag charms. And then there were the bags with the gold F monogram encased in a gold circle on the front of bags which were simple and classic looking.
We moved onto Marc Jacobs’ petite and rectangular shaped cross body creations which also featured the bandolier trend. As we admired trendy and classic bags by Marc Jacobs, Sara of Celine joined our conversation. By the time we finished in Celine with Sara, Mel had modeled runway bags from sleek to outrageous. Most interesting was the runway bag that practically kissed the floor and which can be owned for a small fortune. We were told this bag was bought and paid for by an anonymous NFL professional as a gift for his mom just days prior to our visit.
In the Louis Vuitton boutique we began snapping pics of small leather goods which are good starter pieces, but are also quite popular among the Louis Vuitton addicted who purchase these items to organize and fill the larger bags in their collections. (Check out LV YouTubers to see how dedicated purists are to this trend) When Marcus in Louis Vuitton spotted us from the men’s section of the boutique he came right over to search an exhaustive list of hard to find items that Mel requested. Many of the items were not in stock at the boutique, and are even quite difficult to acquire on the website, but if you know what you are looking for, Marcus will gladly order it for you. Watching the dance between Mel’s requests and Marcus dashing around pulling out drawers in search of an item, any item, was amusing to watch. Mel was focused but playful, and Marcus, who I might mention was a dashing dude in well tailored suit, was very accomodating.
Although not as well versed in Prada as Mel is in Louis Vuitton, I am a fan, and so the Prada boutique is where I had the most fun. The sales associate treated us to a video of the runway show which as I expected was avant garde and chock full of designs that mixed unlikely color palettes with a trend toward feathers and oversized detail. Mel modeled Prada fanny packs (yes the fanny pack is back!) in velvet and nylon, but these bags ain’t your daddy’s fanny packs from the 80’s. They are posh and purposeful and one even includes hanging rings to be used for multiple Prada bag charms.
We ended our tour around the semi-circle of bag collections at Chanel and Gucci. I own a few vintage Chanel handbags so I was interested to compare my mini collection to the updated versions. Everything was simply gorgeous AND PRICEY!, except the tweed bags for spring that come with signature entwined gold and tweed straps. There is also the smaller version which is fashioned as a clutch. If you’d like to own a Chanel, your best bet is to buy it in a Chanel boutique. They are difficult to purchase online unless you have interest in the pre-loved market, which I will detail how to navigate in another post. And even the pre-loved market is a challenge because authentication is tricky.
Mel bought a reversible bandolier at Louis Vuitton, one side of which was in her favorite color, PINK! She also lucked up on a brown Gucci belt which we were advised is selling quickly, so of course Mel had to buy said belt for fear the opportunity would pass by the end of the retail day.
I was weary from trying to be too fabulous, shopping for three hours in 4-inch heels, but I still sacrificed my feet for a stroll to the shoe section on the second floor in pursuit of the ever elusive Valentino rock studs that were on my Christmas list. At least in this store they exit almost as quickly as they arrive, but fear not rock stud lovers, they can be ordered in your size if you are sure of what that is. I typically wear a 9 ½ but take a 41 in Valentino.
The shoe boutique was fantastic with much to see at every turn but alas, we glanced at our watches and realized that kids had to be collected from carpool, so we were off to smooth traffic and much about which to chat on the drive home. We’ll be back! Stay tuned…
Photo by huyenxu94 from pixabay.com
I mentioned that I have natural hair in an earlier post. Some of you may be curious about how I care for my hair. If so, please continue reading.
There are three main parts to a hair care regimen for any type of hair: Cleanse, Condition and Style.
Photo by nitanever from pixabay.com
Everyone will eventually clean their hair, I hope. Our hair and skin protect our bodies from our environment. It is important to cleanse our strands and scalps regularly to keep pathogens from entering our bodies. A hair cleanser can be a shampoo, conditioner, a cleansing conditioner, clay, or even plain water for some. Try different types of cleansers and record how your hair reacts to each one. Choose one that gives you the best results. Cleanse your hair daily to monthly. It will be different for each individual person. I cleanse my hair with a shampoo bar every 5-7 days.
Photo by bijutoha from pixabay.com
Conditioning the hair helps to counteract the stripping effects of the cleanser. Those that use conditioner to cleanse their hair may choose to skip this step. Conditioning can be further broken down into a rinse-out conditioner, a deep conditioner and a leave-in condition. This is the usual order, but can be adjusted based upon your hair’s individual needs.
A rinse-out condition is usually marketed to follow your shampoo. A shampoo and a conditioner of the same brand are formulated to work together. It is best to use the same brand because they are ph balanced. If you choose not to use shampoo, then you may not need a rinse-out conditioner. I use a shampoo bar which is not as stripping as shampoo. I skip this step and go straight to deep conditioning after cleansing my hair and scalp with a shampoo bar.
A deep conditioner is just what it says—a deeper conditioner. It tends to be thicker, more concentrated and more expensive, LOL. It can be protein-based for hair strengthening or protein-free for hair moisture. It is usually left on from 10 to 30 minutes based on the directions listed on the packaging. Different hair types may choose a deep conditioner with or without protein. Some people chose to do a protein deep conditioner and follow-up with a moisturizing deep conditioner. Some people choose not to deep condition at all. People with high porosity hair usually respond better to protein-rich deep conditioners and people with low porosity hair respond better to moisturizing, protein-free deep conditioners. Note: a post about hair porosity will follow shortly. Often the hair is covered with a plastic bag or processing cap while deep conditioning. Heat from a heating cap or overhead dryer can also be used to further penetrate the deep conditioner into the strands. Try deep conditioning at least a few times and determine if you will add this to your regimen. I deep condition my hair with heat after each cleansing and I NEVER skip.
Leave-in conditioners or leave-ins for short are conditioners that are formulated to be left in the hair. It is applied and not rinsed out. Why? It helps to keep the hair moisturized for a longer period of time. I ALWAYS apply a leave-in or my hair will become dry as hay in about 24 hours. Try adding this step to your regimen and assess your results.
Photo by Lovesevenforty at pixabay.com
Styling is different for different people, but basically it is putting your hair into a state that you wish to maintain. It is how you would like to wear your hair. Stylers include gels, mousse, leave-in conditioners, moisturizers, oils, hair spray, etc. If you want to wear your hair in its naturally curly state, use gel or mousse to set the curls and make them last longer. Some people braid or twist their hair with a moisturizer, conditioner, gel or a combination of products. Some people use a silicone-based heat protectant to blow-dry and/or flat iron their hair. Your styler may change based upon the style you choose. It will almost always be the last step of your regimen. I usually style my hair in a wash-n-go using gel. A wash-n-go for me is not as quick as it sounds. After applying a leave-in, I apply a gel to small sections of soaking wet hair and let my hair air dry.
That’s it. Make your regimen as simple or complicated as you choose! There are multitudes of hair products on the market to keep you experimenting for days, months or even years. Have fun building, tweaking or changing your hair care regimen.
I am definitely a lover of luxury fashion, but I don’t frown upon designer-inspired fashion. Let’s face it, not everyone has unlimited funds. Even those that do may not choose to spend a lot of their money on depreciating assets such as clothes, shoes and handbags. For those that want the look for less, I say more power to you!
In honor of all frugal fashionistas, I decided to go on a designer dupe hunt at my local sister stores, Marshalls and TJMaxx, just for fun. I wanted to see how many designer-inspired looks I could find just in these two stores. Let’s see what I found!!!
Michael Kors bag priced at $149.99
Compare to Louis Vuitton’s Speedy 25 in Damier Azur Canvas $950
La Terre Fashion Handbag $16.99
Compare to Chloe Nile $1790
Aldo Fashion Handbag $12.99
Compare to Chloe Drew $1950
Plinio Vison Handbag $179.99
Compare to Valentino Garavani Rockstud Small Bag $2295
Report Black Mules with fur $16.00
Compare to Gucci Princetown Leather Slipper $995
Jessica Simpson denim pumps $34.99
Compare to Manolo Blahnik Hangisi Denim $965
Black Fashion Boots $39
Compare to Chloe Susanna Short Boot $1380
Notice that the dupes are not identical to the luxury items, but merely reminiscent. High-priced luxury items are expensive for a reason. They are usually made from quality materials, meticulously constructed and of course designed by the best artistic geniuses in the industry. It would not be fair for a lower-end designer to simply steal the design stitch-by-stitch, would it?
Then I saw these:
I saw the stripe and the bee and said to myself, “Wow, they really just stole Gucci’s symbols!”. I tried them on and was so impressed by the quality and the similarities. I then looked at the price $829.99. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s not a dupe! I just ran across a pair of authentic Gucci boots in TJMaxx! It’s true! As the sister store says, “You never pay full price for fabulous!”
Gianvito Rossi is the talented son of famed shoe designer Sergio Rossi. He learned the craft of designing shoes under the tutelage of his father and struck out on his own in 2006. His creations are beautiful and show great attention to detail. His stilettos often include the signature high back.
He strives to make alluring shoes that are also functional and minimize foot pain. Hooray! I can attest to their comfort. I wore the stilettos pictured below to a holiday ball and was able to move around between my guests and dance the night away!
Mr. Rossi designs for the “strong-minded woman who wants to dress in a modern feminine and elegant way.” He wants his shoes to stand the test of time to be enjoyed for years to come. At the $700-$1,000 plus price point, Gianvito Rossi designs are an investment, but seem to be a shoe where you will get your money’s worth and more. They also go on sale when the next season ushers in a new collection. Celebrity collectors include: Gwyneth Paltrow, Penelope Cruz, Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Jessica Parker.
You can shop this designer at BergdorfGoodman.com and Saks Fifth Avenue
Credit to: Blue Carreon, Contributor to Forbes Magazine.
I spend a lot of my free time on YouTube. I am so impressed with the amount of information I have learned with very little effort. I am relatively young, but I still finished college before there was the Internet. I had to do research the old fashioned way using the Dewey Decimal System and microfiche film. I am used to working hard to find information so I am just in awe with the ease of YouTube.
I started off watching hair videos of all things and slowly started delving into other practical topics thanks to my pre-teen daughter. Just when I thought the vloggers I followed were successful with 200,000 followers, her vloggers have millions of followers! While her choice channels are mainly for entertainment value, I still choose channels that are more focused on teaching me at least a little something.
I’ve been a Louis Vuitton fan far before I could afford one of the handbags, but I never knew that there were vloggers who dedicated entire channels to their love of this fashion house. I stumbled upon many of these LV fanatics and I am now totally obsessed. I even felt inspired to dust off a few of my carefully stored LV handbags and carry them again. During my search to learn how to clean the vachetta (untreated leather) on the LV Monogram Canvas bags, I stumbled upon a clever lady who restores old LVs. Now my creative juices started to flow because I love many of the classic styles which are no longer made AND I am always down for a project.
YouTuber Michelle from Little Mammas House, buys pre-loved LVs and transforms them into the gems that they were made to be.
Since the bags are very well-made, usually they only need a good cleaning to make them acceptable to be carried without fear of embarrassment. Little Mamma does not stop there! She even paints/dyes the vachetta mainly to cover blemishes but also for personal preferences. Customers send their bags to her and she works her magic for a fee of course. I love when women find a way to make money doing something they truly enjoy. I didn’t want to start a business of this, but I did want to try to transform a busted bag back into a beauty.
I did my research and found out roughly how to authenticate a Louis Vuitton handbag. I learned about date codes and how to interpret them. Click here for an easy guide: http:/https://www.yoogiscloset.com/authenticate/louis-vuitton
I got on Ebay and started looking at the Japanese sellers. Apparently, there are some good deals from Japan because they reportedly have high standards for rating bags. They may think a bag is trashed when it’s redeemable and sell it for a really good price. You must be very careful because the risk is great. When buying from someone in another country, it will be more difficult to track them down if they sell you a fake. I found an Alma PM that I determined was an easy first project.
The seller’s Ebay pictures showed many signs of authenticity. For example, the date code matched the country that was stamped on the bag. None of the LV letters were “cut off” on the Monogram Canvas and they all lined up perfectly. (It’s far more complicated than this, but I won’t get into it in this post). The Monogram Canvas was in perfect condition too (no rips or abrasions). The vachetta was a mess though. Worse case scenario, I could pay Louis Vuitton to replace the vachetta or send it to Little Mamma to paint it a nice chocolate brown. Note: some true LV lovers frown upon defacing the bag by painting the vachetta. Also, Louis Vuitton will not repair a bag that has been altered. The seller was asking $195 with free shipping from Japan. He was a 28K+ seller, 99.6% positive feedback AND he had his own Ebay store with all high-end luxury bags. I took a leap of faith and bought the bag.
I suppose you are wondering, “Why so cheap?”. The older Almas in the Monogram Canvas print do not keep their value as much as other models mainly because the vachetta on the older bags got stained on the handles and at the base of the bags. The older models did not have metal “feet” at the base. Not having metal feet facilitated the direct contact of the sensitive vachetta leather on the bottom of the older bags with surfaces causing stains and damage. Also, the zippers on the older Almas were known to have problems getting stuck. Many people choose to purchase this bag in the Damier Ebene print (checker board) because the dark brown shiny vachetta leather is treated and more resistant to stains and physical damage. The Alma is a very beautiful bag in my opinion and I did not own one. The price of a new Alma PM in Monogram Canvas print is currently $1500. The frugal, creative side of me had to try this and $200 was definitely not a bad risk for me. I paid the Japanese Ebay seller by PayPal and he shipped the handbag that same day. I was shocked when the bag arrived at my doorstep two days later. I shop online regularly and I rarely get merchandise within the continental U.S. that fast!
I ripped open the package expecting to see a hot ass fake mess, but it was just as shown in his high definition photos. I chose this bag because only the outside was worn and dirty; the inside of the bag was spotless! I started with a cursory wipe-down of the bag with fragrance-free, alcohol-free baby wipes. Then I used cotton swabs to clean the metal with Barkeepers Friend just as I saw on the Little Mammas House YouTube channel. I then conditioned the leather which was so dehydrated near the straps. It looked as if someone had used sandpaper on the leather near the buckles! I quickly started to have buyer’s remorse. I should have used that $200 to buy a small leather good or put it towards something brand-new. I kept cleaning. After I felt the leather was softer, I used saddle soap to clean it and let it dry overnight. The next morning the leather was so dry to the touch and the cracks were more visible on the handles. I then conditioned it three more times over a two day period. Finally, it was acceptable, at least in my eyes. My husband even agreed and he thought I was crazy when he first saw the bag. Here are some before and after shots:
Not bad for an amateur. It doesn’t even look like the same bag to me. The bag is not perfect, but note this bag was made in 1993 and over 24 years old. The craftsmanship speaks for itself. Think of the things this old bag has seen in its lifetime. It was carried presumably by a lady in Japan for many years. I imagine that the Japanese lady loved it nearly to death and now it gets to live with me in the United States. She is one of my favorite bags to carry now. I don’t have to baby her and I feel comfortable knowing that I’m not going to mess her up more than she was when she first came into my life, LOL. Besides, she has so much character!
The lesson is you can own a piece of history for a couple of hundred bucks and some elbow grease. Keep the pre-loved community in mind when you want to purchase a luxury item without breaking the bank. Also, beware that there are a lot of fake bags out there. The only way to know for sure is to pay for the bag to be authenticated or purchase from a reputable preloved website such as The Real Real, Fashionphile, Tradesy or Yoogi’s Closet to name a few. Happy Hunting!
Stock Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/afro-beautiful-fashion-fashionable-573317/
I can’t remember when I first got a relaxer, but I can guess by looking at school pictures. My hair looked at least “texturized” on my kindergarten picture. According to my mother, my hair was super thick and super long. She said we would both cry in the mornings before daycare. My grandmother tried to help by taking me to the salon with her biweekly to get a press-n-curl. As the story goes, one day I arrived home with the best press-n-curl ever! It was indeed a permanent relaxer!!!
My mom was happy that my hair was easier to comb, but not happy to have to maintain a relaxer. This required that I get my new growth “retouched” every 2-3 months. I enjoyed going to our neighborhood salon and listening to the adults gossip about the happenings in our small community. I learned many things little ones should not know (Close my eyes by Mariah Carey)! I was the little girl that no stylist wanted to tackle because my hair was notoriously hard to detangle. I usually got skipped and often was the last one in the shop.
Despite the strong chemicals that were applied to my sensitive scalp every couple of months, my hair grew longer and longer. My hair rollers grew larger and larger which made my hooded hair dryer time longer. There is a photo somewhere of young me sitting on two phone books under the dryer with my feet dangling from the chair. This was just a way of life for me.
This drama continued for 30 more years until I became a mother of two. My first child was a boy and I thought I had it easy. I could get up, brush his hair and go! Shortly thereafter, my little diva was born. Things were not so easy anymore…
The Diva was an easy baby but a not so easy toddler. She was into everything and made her wants known. Everything was going well until she wanted to be Cinderella instead of Princess Tiana. She told me she wanted blonde hair and blue eyes. Wow! I was in for a whole new challenge.
I never remember wanting to be White when I was a little girl. I always accepted me for me. Was it because my hair was already straight and long? I went to a predominately White school just as she did. What was I doing wrong?
This all happened during the dawn of the natural hair movement. A pharmaceutical representative in my area opened a natural hair product store. Back then natural hair products could only be purchased online. This pharm rep had the novel idea of making these online hair products available on the ground. I thought that maybe if I made my daughter’s curly hair look better, she would stop asking for her hair to be flat-ironed. The pharm rep now store owner dropped some serious knowledge on me during my first visit. She gave me a scientific journal article that discussed the adverse effects of hair products marketed to Black girls with texturizers and relaxers. These “drug store” hair products were laden with harmful chemicals that may cause Black girls to enter puberty at a younger age. These chemicals are also known as endocrine or hormone disruptors. I was horrified because I understood the article too well. This was right up my proverbial alley. Not only did I learn about the possible effect of the chemicals, I also learned that I was the reason for my daughter wanting to have straight hair! The store owner told me that my daughter only wanted to look like me.
I honestly never thought about it! I was walking around in my own fog with my light brown eyes and below bra-strap length, straight hair. My daughter not only wanted to be like Cinderella, she also wanted to be like me! I was horrified to say the least. I was also panicked. Could this be true? I had a decision to make. I could get her hair texturized/relaxed or I could go back to natural.
As I pediatrician, I could not recommend anything to my child or anyone else’s child that could be potentially harmful. There had been articles in the scientific literature showing a possible link between relaxers and fibroid tumors. Ever wonder why Black women suffer with them so often?? I knew that I would not allow my daughter to get a relaxer. That meant that I had to go back to natural.
I tried to transition back to natural by stopping the relaxers cold turkey. My stylist said she was fine with it but I think she thought I was going through a phase. Up until this time, I was addicted to the creamy crack (a colloquial term for cream relaxers). As soon as I felt one wave or kink, I was begging for her to relax my hair. I had a standing weekly appointment. I looked forward to going to the salon every Tuesday afternoon. Everything worked out until my stylist got tired of detangling my new growth. She finally said that my perfectly healthy relaxed hair was breaking off and I needed to just get a retouch. I was determined to go natural so I changed stylists. The only natural hair stylist I could find was so busy that I could no longer have a standing weekly appointment. I certainly did not want to deal with two different hair textures! After three months, I big chopped in Atlanta on a girl’s trip. Everyone thought I was crazy or getting a divorce. Remember the movie, Waiting to Exhale? I went from straight long hair to a teeny, weeny afro in two seconds flat.
Fast forward to now. I have been natural for 5.5 years. My daughter rarely asks for her hair to be straightened. In fact, she loves her curly “puff” and gets upset when it is not curly enough. She is very tender-headed and hard-headed too. She walks around with either a puff or a bun all the time with the perimeter looking like the Statue of Liberty. She is a preteen now and wants to do her own hair. She is still a pain in my backside, but she is fine with being Black and curly haired. I am fine with my curls and have only straightened my hair three times in the past five years. I guess natural was good for both of us.
Actual photo of my daughter and me by Bernie Saul Photography, Inc.
While on holiday in NYC with our young daughters Mel and I, along with our life of the party friend Rose, made a list of the places we wanted to visit. You already know that we share a penchant for all things luxury, and that Mel is a Louis Vuitton aficionado. So after making sure that the girls enjoyed watching the Rockettes at the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, ice skating in frigid temps in Central Park, and getting their sugar rush in Dylan’s Candy Shop, it was time to brave a long line in 24 degree weather for the Louis Vuitton experience.
Still on a high from snagging the ubiquitous yet elusive Speedy B 24 in Damier Ebene in the World Trade Center Louis Vuitton Boutique , Mel was as determined as ever to visit the museum.
On the first day of our trip we passed a ridiculous stretch of museum hopefuls outside the entrance of the museum and wondered if there was a way to avoid that madness. I checked online and found that reservations could be made and guided tours were offered. In my haste to obtain any reservation I skipped the guided tour option and went straight for a 5:00 p.m. reservation on our last full day in the city. This is a decision I regretted when a surly museum nazi directed us away from the ease of the VIP entrance and we were relegated to freeze our fannies in the line of everybody. What good did the reservation do? Don’t ask me. I cannot be sure, but the wait turned out not to be terribly unbearable and when the velvet rope was lifted and we were ushered into the vachetta hued wonderful world of Louis Vuitton, we were transported into the consciousness of the original trunk artist who built this luxury brand off of the foundation of sturdy traveling trunks and high quality luggage.
Exhibition Louis Vuitton, which premiered on 10.27.2017, and runs until 01.07.2018 is curated by Olivier Saillard and is housed in a multi-leveled magnificent warehouse-esque building at 86 Trinity Place in NY, NY. Guests journey through the evolution of the House of Louis Vuitton from 1854 to present by visiting 9 rooms which begins with The Trunk of 1906 Room, and ends with The Music Room. The story in each room grows more intriguing, and gives guests a heightened appreciation for craftsmanship, design, quality, luxury, and cultural influence. Highlights of the tour are the history of the 1920’s Golden Age of Travel and Louis Vuitton’s significant role in it, and also the rage of Louis Vuitton in America and its reciprocal influence on American popular culture.
I do not want to spoil the surprises and so I hope this peek into Volez Voguez Voyagez gives you some insight into the decadence and the allure of this fashion brand and its well deserved impeccable reputation. My personal favorite part was the window into the 16 years under the direction of Marc Jacobs which I opine is unmatched in the modern tale of Louis Vuitton.
For me the story of Louis Vuitton is just another solid example that art imitates life, and that passion for quality and luxury is not a shallow desire but a sign that the one who truly appreciates this brand has appreciation for art in one of its purest forms. If your travels take you to New York City before the close of Exhibition Louis Vuitton New York on 1.07.2018, do not miss out!
I am Nat, a lawyer by trade, and the other half of the BeFabDaily dynamic duo. Although I have practiced law for many years my background is in English, journalism and creative writing. I am a creative spirit and have a passion for fashion and all things fabulous. My motto is Be Fabulous Everyday, a positive outlook that always makes me smile. I’m witty and goofy and fashionable and my inclination toward all things fabulous started early.
I was cluelessly wearing Calvin Klein Jeans in the first grade when an older kid pointed out that I was only 6 years old and wearing Calvin’s. That was because I have a stylish and fabulous mom that outfitted me in designer jeans and monogrammed sweaters from Saks Fifth Avenue practically from birth. I often joke that I emerged from the womb in 4 inch heels and that I am never fully dressed without red lipstick.
Every fall of my early years my mom and I did a huge shopping trip at Saks. And when I wanted to branch out to Bloomingdales to be like my bestie my mom and I made weekly Saturday trips to White Flint Mall in Bethesda, Maryland where we expanded our fun to I. Magnin and Lord and Taylor. Other favorites growing up were the Neiman Marcus at Mazza Gallerie and Garfinkles.
I spent much of my childhood watching my mom buy scores of Ferragamos from a dapper shoe salesman named Nick and when my mom evolved into personal shopping in the late 80’s, I frequently tagged along. As a tween I lunched on caviar and creme fraiche at private designer trunk shows and watched well dressed men teeter trays of champagne to hand out to invited guests.
We were not rich but we were fortunate and shopping for designer clothes was both an outlet and an art form. Beautiful clothes and shoes made my mother’s eyes sparkle and I was equally smitten.
Each time I shopped with mom I would get something too. My mom cultivated my love of beautiful things and my sense of style. To this day my makeup is usually by Chanel, my nails are always polished, my bags are usually designer (although I am not above a good schlep tote from Target), and I am frequently well heeled.
When I entered college in Washington, DC and my parents moved to the south, my mom matched me up with a personal shopper and a Nordstrom credit card. Although I am sure heaven is better I can’t imagine how much. I was well outfitted for campus life. Being well put together on the outside certainly influenced how I felt on the inside.
As an adult living in a small town in the south I do not have as much access to the fine stores that surrounded me in my youth. I have learned to navigate the world of online shopping as times have changed. Still nothing beats the pure euphoria the personal experience of shopping for fine things brings. I love to touch the beautiful fabrics, try on fabulous shoes and dress my dreams. Although I love luxury brands, I do enjoy fashion on many levels and believe that true style comes from within. A good friend of mine often muses that I can put together a fantastic outfit from any number of stores, low end to high end, and still be well styled.
Some may find the love of beautiful things to be shallow, and that is ok. To each his own. But to those who share my passion I say this……
Dressing well is an art form and you must have an eye for it. Your own stamp and your own signature style is a gift, and you can create your own style while drawing ideas from many places. Being stylish comes with icons. All of us stylish girls have them. Chief among mine are Gabrielle Chanel, Iman, Catherine Deneueve and my mother. Modern day style mistresses for me are Olivia Palermo, Amal Clooney, Huma Abedin and more.
Through BeFabDaily I invite you to journey with me from fashion’s past to examine vintage style and travel all the way to modern times. Then use your imagination to evolve into becoming fashion forward. The art of fashion reflects our culture, what we believe in and who we are. As with everything in life it changes often yet stays the same and lives through the souls that breathe it to life.
If you’re into luxury fashion, I’m sure you’ve seen everybody and their cousin rocking these popular looks in 2017. While they are gorgeous to look at, will they still be hot in 2018? Will you get your money’s worth? Let’s discuss!
First of all, Gucci has really made a comeback in all three categories discussed in this post including Footwear, Handbags and Accessories.
The Gucci pool slides. Although it’s very cold outside, these are still sizzling hot! People are buying them now and saving them for summer!
The Gucci Princetown mules with or without the fur. I KNOW I will see the furless ones come summer.
I predict the Gucci footwear will stay
Valentino Rockstuds which come in a variety of colors and heel heights. These have been around since 2010 and I don’t see them going away anytime soon.
Valentino Rockstud slides. I’m certain these will be poolside come Summer 2018.
Rockstud Jellies. Yes, these too!
The Stuart Weitzman over-the-knee boots are the bees knees! They come in different colors and heel heights. Many stores had them on sale for Black Friday. They are definitely a great investment for many Winters to come.
The Gucci Soho Disco bag has been popular for years now. Some of the past colors are no longer available on the website. Popular in 2018? Yes!!!
The Gucci Marmont bag is definitely all the rage. The chain strap slides and lengthens enough to wear cross body. Critics wouldn’t stop talking about the heart on the backside. I think it’s adorable but perhaps a bit too cute for such a serious price point? No! I find it quite charming and whimsical! Regardless, I predict this will become a Gucci classic.
The famous LV Pochette Metis is the coveted bag again for 2017; So much so that the Monogram Canvas print is currently unavailable on-line and in the boutiques. Rumor has it that LV is decreasing the amount of canvas prints in the stores. I’m certain it will continue to be popular mainly due to the increase in popular demand.
Following the bucket bag trend, this remake of the classic Noe which was originally made to hold 5 bottles of champagne, will predictably be popular in 2018. Dust off your vintage Noe bags ladies because they are back in style. Don’t forget about the preloved market if you don’t have a vintage Noe. The Neonoe is becoming difficult to find on the website and in boutiques.
The Celine Luggage Phantom bag was still popular in 2017 due to its distinctive shape and exquisite design. I believe it is a true work of art. Considering dupes of all of their luggage bags are popping up on the highstreets, it probably will continue to stick around for at least a few more years.
Of all the popular Chloe bags which include the Drew, Faye, Marcie and Nile, The Chloe Nile bag with its “bracelet” feature is my absolute FAVORITE. This bag can be worn cross body with its leather strap or on the wrist with its bracelet handle. I predict it will continue to be popular and maybe even iconic. I HAVE to add this to my collection for 2018!
The Gucci belt with the double G buckle! Seen on Instagram, YouTubers and regular people all over the place. Wasn’t there an early 90s version that was popular too? I fondly remember clowning my friends who jumped on this pretentious bandwagon. I’ll admit that it is definitely eye catching. It’ll stay for 2018!
It’s baaaack! Yes, the fanny pack which now is called a belt bag. I suppose it’s a hybrid between a handbag and an accessory. Nearly all of the major luxury brands including Chanel have their versions. Since Gucci is on fire this year, of course their GG Marmont matelasse leather belt bag version would made the most popular list.
There are so many designers of these bag charms that I had difficulty choosing which to feature. I included the above Burberry and Laduree charms that I saw on my Holiday NYC trip. I love Tory Burch’s heart-shaped pom poms too. I have to admit that my inner fabulous child has gone crazy over bag charms. I mean you can go to any high end boutique such as Louis Vuitton and Fendi and find a vast selection. They are in the contemporary high street boutiques such as Kate Spade and Michael Kors. Don’t forget about Claire’s, Ebay, Etsy and even Walmart! I don’t care if they go out of style, I will continue to put these on my high end bags and backpacks.
Okay, so I know I missed some others but I at least hit the high points. If you think I missed some major hotties, comment below!
When I was a little girl, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. We would always do things together that I did not get to do with my mother. Despite having a car, we would take a city bus or a taxi cab downtown to shop. That was so exciting to me because I never got a chance to do such things. She had a red wallet with a kiss lock that I always admired and wanted. It looked a little like this:
Well any hoo, I was browsing through Ebay one evening using my new favorite search “vintage Louis Vuitton handbags” and stumbled some vintage Louis Vuitton wallets. They reminded me of the wallet my grandmother carried when I was younger and I just HAD to have the small wallet to hold my coins. Now Louis Vuitton no longer makes these and initially I could not find one iota of information on these coin purses. I had my eye on one that had a starting bid of $100. I looked at reputable pre-loved luxury sites and the small coin purses were $200 and up. The seller of the one that I was interested in did not have a good description nor any additional information. She did have a decent set of photos. I then decided to check out the pictures on the reputable sites and compare them to the one I was interested in on Ebay. Well in the process, I found out that Louis Vuitton could not keep up with their demand in the United States during the 1970’s. For this reason, Louis Vuitton developed a special relationship with a luggage company located in the U.S. called the French Luggage Company. From approximately 1976 to 1991, The French Company manufactured LV handbags with permission from Louis Vuitton. Back in those days, all of the Louis Vuitton factories were located in France. The French Company made Louis Vuitton bags here in the United States for the first time and sold these American-made bags in prestigious American department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. The coin purse I was looking at was one of those special American made items!
Since these items were made in the U.S., they did not have date codes as the merchandise made in France. The French Company used a sewn-in tag that was similar to paper instead of a date code. This tag was easy to remove or damage so items that were made during that time more than likely no longer have that original tag. Some of the items were stamped or embossed which faded with time. Items still around today may have no evidence of the original tag, embossing or stamps. Also, the hardware was different! It was silver in color instead of gold or brass. Basically all of the usual signs of authenticity were not used. The French Company even used a darker brown leather and not the pale untreated vachetta that we are familiar with today. (follow the link at Ebay.com for a more in depth explanation).
I read all of this and got overwhelmed. After all, the kiss lock was nostalgic to me and I love Louis Vuitton. I decided to compare the Ebay pictures to the sites that I knew were strict with authentication. The photos that my seller provided matched those on the more reputable sites. I felt comfortable and I really wanted the wallet so I placed a bid and won the wallet. I was the only one who place a bid though. Was that a bad sign?
This is my wallet:
It’s clearly as old as I am. It has the silver hardware. It has some red rayon-like lining. It looked exactly as the ones that were authenticated. Good enough for me. Besides, I love her! The seller I bought her from says she found the wallet in her aunt’s attic after she died. She just wanted to get rid of the piece. Lucky me, I guess!
So I suppose you may ask, what’s my problem? Why can’t I just go buy a brand-new LV wallet from the website or boutique? Well I already have a brand-new one but coins are dirty and they discolor the new bags and wallets. This piece is cute and rare and I can’t mess it up much more than it is now. Plus, not that many people have it and there is an interesting story behind it. I see where my son gets his fascination with history from!
Will this be my last adventure? No way. I have a list of old LV bags that I can only get through the pre-loved market. Now I’ve been lucky with Ebay but many people have not. I may decide to use my closed Facebook group for future purchases. Please don’t try this at home and blame me if you get a fake. Remember there are plenty of sites such as Fashionphile, TheRealReal, Tradesy, etc that guarantee authenticity. Don’t be a crazy addict like me! LOL!!!