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Posted on 2009.04.26 at 14:19
Well, it turns out that Livejournal is not such a great interface for shop-blogging.

I have moved to Shopperellainboston.blogspot.com

Where I am ATTEMPTING to post at least once a day. We'll see how long that lasts!

Sayonara suckas!

Posted on 2007.11.06 at 21:20


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For All

Prices range from $10 or less to $120 or more and everywhere in between

Book to Buy

Posted on 2007.04.11 at 02:02
Looking for a great book for your own personal enjoyment, to give as a great gift, or to keep around on the coffee table? The Peacock's Egg (available at Amazon.com) is a collection of ancient Sanskrit poems translated into English. Many are along the theme of love and sex and, despite their age, can be very racy, so I wouldn't recommend it as a gift for parents or teachers. For a SO, a friend, or an admirer of literature, however, this book can make a very sophisticated present.

An example of one of its tamer selections:

My husband
before leaving on a journey
is still in the house speaking
to the gods and already
separation is climbing like
bad monkeys to the windows

Unusual finds: Communist Underwear

Posted on 2007.03.30 at 17:36
The joy of internet shopping is the sudden availability of unusual or unique items you wouldn't find at your neighborhood Macy's.

This unusual find is gras a susanchopnick.

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Hammer and sickle merchandise, including this black bra, available at www.hammersicklestuff.com.

Ironically, this bra is entirely made in the USA.

Kind of cute, but not so great for anyone with a budding political career.

Featured Product: Dream Cream

Posted on 2007.03.27 at 17:33
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Lush is a brand that boasts "fresh handmade cosmetics" which started in the UK is now opening new locations all over the place. Their marketing is quirky to say the least, set up more like a cheese market with chalk-board inspired labels implying that the products are the fresh catch of the day.

Dream cream is, in my opinion, the best lotion out there. It's pricey, 8.4 oz. for more than $20, but will last forever because such a small increment can go so far. A thimble can take care of an entire leg after shaving.

The product label calls it "The Hand and Body Lotion," claiming that it includes every essential oil that could help skin. With its incredibly silky texture and slight lavender scent, it truly is amazing. This is the ultimate pampering gift, either for yourself or for anyone else, especially if you know someone who battles with dry skin.

Dream cream can be purchased at the Lush website or, if you live in the Boston-Cambridge area, at the location I frequent in Harvard Square. Other lush products you may wish to pick up while there are ocean salt scrub, hair henna, thick lip balms available in incredibly delicious flavors like honey-trap and whip stick (chocolate), a buttery massage bar, shampoo bars (I suggest them in their amazing karma fragrance), all natural deoderants or choose from a variety of sparkly and funky-scented bath bomb fizzies.

Shopping Scene: Provence

Posted on 2007.03.27 at 02:58
I spent the first half of 2006 living in Marseille, the second largest city in France and the largest city by far in the region of Provence. Provence is home to its own culture which grew up quite apart from the somewhat colder culture which Americans often think of when they think of France, that of Paris and Northern France, where the weather isn't quite as warm and sunny. Provence has its own ethnicity, language (Provencale, though it's almost dead) and thick accent.

Marseille itself offers what you would expect from any major European city. It is home to large shopping boulevards and malls which host everything from celebrated French stores like Les Galleries Lafayette to international and American brands. Le Canebiere is a major thoroughfare which hosts crepe shops, currency exchanges, the local tourism office and the official store of the Olympique de Marseille, Marseille's football (soccer) team. ALLEZ OM!

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Typical OM merchandise

It is also the site of a very large, yellow and happy-looking biscuiterie, a store dedicated entirely to cookies and candy, situated directly in front of a shopping mall. This biscuiterie has a wide selection of cookies including traditional treats like a leaf-shaped buttercookie called a navette and realistic-looking olives made of chocolate.

Le Rue St. Ferreol, a major pedestrian shopping street (though unkind to stiletto heels one is apt to wear while in France with its large cobblestones instead of pavement) is flanked by numerous shoe stores and sandwich shops as well as recognizable shops like Sephora, Claire's and H&M.

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Le Rue St. Ferreol

Le Rue St. Ferreol begins at a gorgeous, domed baroque government building and the city's major police station and ends where it intersects Le Canebiere at Le Centre Bourse, the city's large shopping mall located directly in the middle of the "centre ville" at the division between more affluent areas populated by native French-persons and the Arab quarter.

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Le Centre Bourse

Interestingly, in laying the foundation for Le Centre Bourse construction workers found the very large leftovers of some ancient Greco-Roman ruins. Marseille (ancient name Masillia) was founded to celebrate a marriage between a member of Greek family and the daughter a local Provencale tribe leader. Apparently stumbling upon ruins by accident happens a lot around there. No worries; they let the ruins be in a garden-type area which can still be viewed from inside the mall, a major portion of which is dedicated to a museum about Marseille's vivid history and ongoing tradition of internationalism.

Speaking of internationalism, Marseille's prime location on the Mediterranean leaves it a very traditional spot for international commerce and immigration. While waves of Italian immigration occurred in the past few centuries, the most recent immigration waves come from Arab North-Africa, leaving Marseille home to large Arab quarters which also boast large, Arab and Mediterranean markets. At certain points Marseille no longer even resembles France, its shops offering fragrant Middle-eastern spices by the pound, massive olives, Arab pastries, belly-dancing costumes, Halal meats, amazingly cheap produce, Halvah, hookahs. Unfortunately I have not been able to locate my photos dedicated to these vibrant sections of town.

Another distinctive marketplace in Marseille is its fish market, located right on the vieux port, centre ville. Marseille's fishing population is traditionally Italian and fish are sold literally feet away from the boat, often still moving.

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Fishermen selling their fresh catches at Le Vieux Port

A traditional product still sold in Marseille is the celebratedly Savon de Marseille or soap of Marseille, an olive-oil based soap known for its softness and ability to not irritate the most sensitive skin. My host mother and host brother were both very sensitive to soaps, fabric softeners and detergents. Savon de Marseille is all she was willing to use.

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Savon de Marseille for sale

Marseille also offers plenty of good boutique shopping as any major French city should, especially along Le Rue Paradis, the ritzier "old money" area road which runs parallel to Rue St. Ferreol and is home to one of the most incredible florists I've ever encountered. I could kick myself for forgetting the name, but not only does the inside of this quite delightful smelling little shop look like a rainforrest with cut flowers sometimes towering taller than myself, but it is home to a little dog who often sits in the window on a bed of moss under a ceiling of lush greenery as though he is a moving part of the window display. Also of note is a boutique dedicated entirely to the selling of white, tailored blouses and dress-shirts for women starting around 150 Euro.

But boutiques and tiny shops are all the more specialized outside of Marseille. My absolute favorite small finds were located in Cassis and Roussillon, the latter located in neighboring Languedoc. l'Eau de Cassis is a small store selling a variety of types of eau de toilette and eau de parfum made entirely out of ingredients found in and around the small and delightful town of Cassis. It is truly one-of-a-kind and intrinsically linked because of the ingredients to the geographic region. I picked up an eau de toilette titled "soir d'ete"- summer evening- which really does have the fresh and almost grassy smell of a walk through down a dirt path in June at 7 PM. They also offer raw scents such as violet, rose and mimosa, soaps, and a variety of floral or musky concoctions.

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Eau de Cassis, label and store interior

Luckily for you, you don't have to go all the way to Cassis to pick some up as their perfumes are available to order online at leaudecassis.com. Unfortunately, you do have to go all the way to France to smell the perfume before you buy. Still, it's easier to get to than the much larger Fragonard, whose factory and factory store are located up a misty mountain in Eze near Monaco and whose products are worth their own article.

My other favorite place to buy products completely unique and tied to the geography of the region is the pigment factory in Roussillon. Rousillon is a beautiful little area to spend an afternoon, unique because of the bright red, yellow and white sediments of the earth on which it is situated. These pigments are then extracted and made into powders which, mixed with water and gum arabic, become extremely thick, extremely bold paints. I adore the earthy colors, if only because my host mother had her entire kitchen and bathroom done up in bright ochre yellow and terracotta red using these very colors.

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pigments from Roussillon

And because these pigments are abundant throughout the region, there was plenty to coat the entire town, which glows a deep red in the afternoon sunlight on its hill overlooking the whole of the Luberon valley which strikes a deep, contrasting green.

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Typical buildings in Roussillon

Painted shutters like the ones you see above are also a typical feature in Provence. The lightish blue on the left is made from lavender. Roussillon is also a great place for thyme and lavender flavored ice cream if you stop by.

But what would Provence be without its famed open-air markets?

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Soaps for sale at the market in Apt

The most fragrant and delicious soaps in the world are a staple product at any Provencale market. You can get a taste for them here by hitting up a local L'Occitane (or L'Occitane.com) but at a much greater price- still, almost worth it, especially if you happen to be an American urbanite desperate to return to the leisurely agrarian lifestyle of southern France and almost able to do so over a whiff of Verbena hand-lotion or lavender soap. Apt is a charming and rather ancient town in the Luberon valley. It is also home to a massive open-air market offering a wide selection of produce, olive oils which come in a number of varieties and tastes, much like wine, and provencale textiles like these:

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The yellow-and-blue prints that typify French table linens

Another city definitely worth going to is Avignon, home to the papal palace from when the popes lived in France. Go to Avignon for the palace (a giant, medieval fortress of a place which looks much more like a "fairytale castle" than monarchs' palaces such as Chambord or Versailles- it is here that you truly realize the papacy was at one point the most powerful government in all of Europe), but stay for the market, which is quaint, urban and somewhat more high end and antiquish than other more agricultural-based markets in other cities.
Even so, it is still home to a fragrant flower market and a fish market- watch out for dripping water.

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Fish for sale in Avignon

Aix-en-Provence is the French version of a college-town and is often what Americans tend to think of when they hear the word "Provence." Its market is famous for long rows of sunflowers, mimosa and lavendar though it is also home to a variety of agrarian products and Provencale textiles.

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A market stall in Aix

One more product, of course, comes to mind when we think of France. Wine, of course! Southern France is not as celebrated for its wine as other regions such as Champagne (yes, it's a region, and sparkling wine is NOT champagne unless it is actually from Champagne), Bordeaux and Alsace. The southern regions do, however, specialize in great rose, and are a great place to find wonderful table wines at much more moderate prices, mainly because its weather is conducive to healthy vines.

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Bandol is one town of many that produce a variety of wines, including rose

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An American friend sampling wines at a small vineyard we passed just outside Cassis

Shopping is certainly only the tip of the iceberg in terms of things to do and see while visiting Provence, but it is not to be missed because Provence is home to so many unique products that cannot be replicated elsewhere at the same quality and prices. Additionally, the bright, airy and colorful nature of the Provencale shopping experience is accurately representative of Provencale people and culture. Southern France is a laid back, relaxed, leisurely, bright, sunny kind of place with friendly people in touch with their roots. The shopping mimics this; it is less a mission and more a cultural experience.

To Buy or Not to Buy? The Gab on Gold Glam

Posted on 2007.03.26 at 03:58
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Lamé Legging, American Apparel

I was in the Aldo in Harvard Square searching, innocently enough, for the perfect shoes to go along with a gown I plan on wearing to an upcoming black tie-optional event, when something flashy and potentially tacky caught my eye.

Metallic, gold, leather pumps. 3.5 inch tapered heels, peekaboo tips. I don't know whether I should laugh or cry, but it was love at first sight- or was it?

A few hours and $80 later I was hobbling around at home in my shoes that are so horrible they're fabulous, not looking unlike the kind of woman you'd expect to see in tight denim pedal pushers, a sleeveless checked shirt tied around the midriff and a big corn-yellow bouffant, Virginia Slim dangling gracefully from her lips. I showed them to two different girlfriends. The first, a conservatively bobbed Martha's Vineyard type with a penchant for J. Crew and Ralph Lauren basics accented with a few mod accessories, made as if to wretch. The second, a polka-dotted party-girl with wild hair and a quirkily preppy fashion taste co-mingled with bright fruity colors and chunky beads, shrieked in admiration and enthusiasm. And it certainly wasn't the relatively classic styling of the shoe that was receiving such mixed reviews, as it was the conservative friend out of the two of them who tends to prefer four-inch stilettos for an evening out while the other often opts for ballet flats or galoshes. It was, without question, the color. The manager who helped me at Aldo informed me that gold in all its bright and tacky glory comes back into style every five years or so. The question then became whether or not it would be worth the investment to shelve these babies after one short-lived season for five years and yank em out again from whatever bin or shelf or shoe-Siberia to which they had been relinquished.

But more important than the question of whether or not gold is in style is this: is it attractive?

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Balenciaga does C3P0

I suppose that to a certain extent it's a matter of what's most flattering on the wearer. Very few women can pull off skintight, light-reflecting, golden leggings. A gold embellishment here or there, however, could be just the necessary je ne sais quoi to an otherwise bland or shall we say "less garish" outfit. For instance, a black pinstripe pant suit over a standard white button-down may be the lawyer's uniform but a fabulous flashy handbag with the shoes to match can add a fashionable pop for days spent outside of a a conservative-dressing courthouse. This is exactly how I plan to team up my new golden beauties, which would also look delightful with a white a-line skirt, though I would stay away from jeans to avoid exactly the kind of image described above.

It appears, however, that it isn't just gold this season but bright metallics of all colors as part of what style.com calls a space odyssey trend for Spring 2007.

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Here Versace pairs a metallic gold coat with simple, basic, classic black and white

But there's one difference between the art of high fashion and the art of shopping, and that is practicality or, more specifically in this case, wearability. I can't deny the fact that my gold shoes, though I do after about 48 hours of ownership still take them out of their hiding place and get giddy wearing them at my computer desk all by myself where nobody can see me, were an impulse buy. I was not in the market for a lamé look when I walked in, nor are they a classic that will never go bad like a pair of conservative black pumps. I can envision a million outfits full of golden fabulosity, but how many of my own clothes can I really wear these shoes with? How often am I really going to pair them up with my suit for a day about town given that I wear jeans five out of seven days a week? This was a fun splurge and they're a great addition to my already very wide repertoire, but this was not a sound investment.

Maybe that's how the gold fad works. Maybe that has to do with why, as Aldo lady tells me, it appears to be coming back on a fairly regular cycle with long gaps in between. There's something about gold that catches the eye. It's a color associated with riches in pop culture, fables, idioms, and jewelry throughout the world and throughout time periods. It's immediately flashy, striking, and just tacky enough without being too much so. It inspires impulse buying because, really, how often are we all going to have the opportunity to just go and pick up a pair of fabulous lamé pumps? (every five years, apparently)

Or that handbag. Or that shiny new pencil skirt. Or that wallet.

The issue with gold is that too much is too much, which is precisely why it is not a staple that sticks around. We casually integrate it into our fashion vocabularies when the fad hits and one dose in a blue moon is apparently all the fashion doctor called for. Remember next time you're out shopping and something a little flashy catches your eye, only buy it if you really love it, because when you take the accent out of "lamé" it spells "lame." All that glitters is not gold.

First Entry!

Posted on 2007.03.26 at 02:43
Hello and welcome.  This is the first entry on what I hope will turn out to be a long-lived and well-read blog dedicated entirely to the fine art of shopping.  Assuming all goes as planned, future "articles" (aka entries) will include:

*featured products
*featured stores, lines, brands, etc.
*News-type articles
*Top ten lists
*Shopping tips
*Gift ideas and how to's
*Shameless plugs for desiring f-list members
*Shopping scene: <i>name of city or country here</i>
*Critiques of magazines, fads, styles, seasons
*Featured websites
*Personal shopping stories and shopping-related literature
*Advice on knockoffs, substitutions, and replacements
*Price advice

What is my level of expertise?  I'm a twenty-something female, only-child, spoiled rotten, materialist, magazine-loving, shoe-crazed, fashion-crazed capitalist zombie who was born to do nothing but spend money on bath and body products and lipstick.  As I live in the Boston-Cambridge area my shopping stories will reflect what's available in Boston and Cambridge as well as my own tastes, but I will do my best to scour the internet for universal shopping opportunities, pay attention when I'm abroad, talk to people, and diversify as much as I possibly can for the greatest overall shopping adventure blog I can possibly make.

Stay tuned.