Category Archives: test case

a good night’s sleep

loom & leaf mattress review

| My Loom & Leaf mattress posing with my world-famous ginger scones. How much do I love those glasses? Quite a lot. |

As most of you know by now, I have a few little health glitches to deal with from time to time. (Said the girl currently rocking a case of hives that would make the Elephant Man hightail it to the nearest exit.) Anyway, the latest in this Lifetime miniseries is a star-studded cast of inflammatory hijinks which generally add up to a pretty uncomfortable life more often than not. Joints spontaneously swell, muscles ache despite my total aversion to physical activity, and pain pops up in the most random of places (who in the world gets sore toes, for Pete’s sake?).

A few months ago, I started noticing that things were remarkably, undeniably worse when I first woke up in the morning. Initially, I blamed it on my pain meds…how dare they wear off! But slowly, I came to terms with the fact that it might be my mattress. Read on

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test case: the best silk shirts

You know how they say a man’s wardrobe freezes in time at the moment he marries his wife? (This basically means The Hubs will be wearing polo shirts and jeans when he’s 97, but I suppose it could be worse.) I think women experience a similar phenomenon, but it’s not tied to any particular life event. It’s that eye-opening day when you realize “Hey, trends are fun, but I have 19 versions of this outfit, it’s a complete no-brainer, and I think I look pretty great in it to boot.” As Stanford’s grandmother from Sex and the City once said, if the Chanel suit still fits, and it never goes out of style, buy it in every color.

In recent months, I’ve had my “Chanel suit” realization, but it’s in the form of a silk tunic and skinny/straight jeans. Given the chance, I could easily, happily wear this combo – in its infinite variations – for the rest of my life. (And can you imagine how easy life would be if you never had to think about what you were wearing? I’d be like Michael Kors or Vera Wang…almost.) It’s easy, comfortable, figure-flattering, and works for darn near any occasion. I’m just doing a rough estimate here, but there are at least 15 silk shirts hanging in my closet right now (not counting the one from Rachel Mara that I’m wearing today).

All this to say that when it comes to silk shirts, I know of what I speak. Since the fit is different each and every time, and drape and cut really matter on a silk shirt, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned from the contents of my closet.  Read on

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test case: the best black leggings

That’s right – no clever title, no beating about the bush. This post is a mission. It’s also ungodly long, so settle in.

For all of the shopping I do (and believe me, it’s a lot), I’ve never been able to find truly perfect basic black leggings. I’ve tried just about everything, but nothing hit the mark. Either it was a ponté knit that pilled after a few wears, or a matte knit fabric that quickly looked worn and gross, or a fabric that looked too shiny and athletic, or it was too thin and showed more than it should. I’m pretty sure this makes me the Goldilocks of black leggings, but that’s okay.

All of this is compounded by the fact that…well, I don’t really believe in leggings. That is – let me say this loudly, and with gusto – leggings are not pants. No matter how many celebrities or 19-year-olds we see doing it, I have a real problem with any sartorial use of leggings in which my ass is that plainly visible to anyone. Sorry, but I need layers – or at least pockets, for the love of god – to cover that sh!t up.

But of course, the tunic-and-leggings pairing went out with the ’90s. So, what’s a girl to do when she wants to wear her PJs out into the world without being judged?

Read on

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test case: opi pure lacquer nails

I have been dying to try these clever little patterned stick-on applications of polish ever since they debuted…but I’ve waited. Waited patiently and loyally, until OPI came out with them. I try a lot of polish, friends…a lot of polish…and (other than Chanel), OPI just always comes out on top.

So, I finally heard they’d launched Pure Lacquer Nail Apps, and absolutely had to try. The results? Adorable, thanks. And not that hard to do, once you learn the ropes.

A few application tips I learned the hard way (in case you’re as clueless in these matters as I am):

  • The patterns are more sheer than they look in the package, so the brights are much more wearable than they look.
  • Cuticle scissors are infinitely useful for removing the excess along the sides and base of your nail.
  • They apply upside-down, so the tab you hold onto while applying is at the top of your nail, not the bottom.
  • The strips are actually a little bit stretchy, so feel free to manipulate them a little while applying.
  • There are more than 5 nail strips to a row for a reason – check your nail size before just blindly applying. Not that any sane person would need to be told that.

In all, excellent fun – and definitely worth it for a fun night out or an event. The magic lasted about three days…though I suspect a layer of top coat would have given me a few extra days. But then, the novelty wore off around the time the polish did. Just about perfect, I think. Next time, I’m taking that snakeskin version out for a spin.

Because these are only supposed to be sold at salons, I shall not tell you they’re available on Amazon. Go to, check them out, and then buy them from someone with a license!

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test case: stylemint tees

A few of you might have noticed my annoyance with StyleMint, as I vented pretty liberally on Twitter (have you noticed that social media has become the official place to whine?). But, for all of my customer service woes (not to mention my serious irritation with their response-challenged public relations team), I somehow managed to buy a tee to test out for the blog.

For those that don’t know, the basic premise is this: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen design tees, and sell them in a “club” setting. So, you pay $30/month, and you get one tee for that price, which has been selected for you based on your style preferences. Of course it would be easier to just charge $30 for the tees, but this gives them an air of exclusivity (each is limited edition, and new pieces come out every month). Plus, they charge you the $30 whether you buy a tee or not, unless you “opt out” sometime between the 1st and the 5th of the month.

Confused? Me too.

But, I somehow navigated all those waters and tried out the Prince tee, because I was in the market for a white crew neck tee to pair with my pretty, pretty Valentino jacket from the Outnet $2 sale madness. As we know, crew necks and busty silhouettes don’t mix…so I’ve had a hard time finding a winner.

Turns out, it was worth the work. The Prince tee is pretty excellent. Good shape, sheer without oversharing, and the neckline is sort of a wide crew, so it still shows a bit of skin, which is much more flattering. The cut is great, the fabric is soft, it washed well…two thumbs up to the Olsen girls. If I had one complaint, it’s that I’d be even happier if the tee were an inch or two longer, but then, I’m a tall girl at 5’8″.

So, the upshot: Not so great customer service, but good tees. In fact, I bought a second of the white Prince (if you find a perfect white tee, always buy in multiples!) when they launched a 50% off discount, good today only. If you’re at all interested in testing out StyleMint, it’s a great chance to try the brand, and it’s the first coupon I’ve seen from them. Use code SUMMER50 to nab the deal….just make sure you keep an eye on that account so you don’t get billed for September unless you really want the tee!

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test case: rebecca and drew

confession: it’s been literally years since i’ve owned a button-down shirt. i’ve never been able to find one that fits well, being a girl that’s blessedly endowed. if it fits in the bust, it’s unflatteringly baggy everywhere else. and a trim fit in the body leads to that oh-so attractive button gap issue. since i refuse to wear clothes that regularly require the use of double-stick tape, i’d just accepted that button-downs, like turtlenecks, are not something i wear well.

but then, genius! i came across the brilliant minds of rebecca and drew, and it was like i’d found kindred spirits. they understood my plight, and – even better – had a solution! button down shirts sized by bra size, and reinforecd by double-button closures in the dreaded “gap zone”. (seriously, how has no one thought of the double-button thing before? it’s life-changing, i’m telling you.) suddenly, i’m wearing button-down shirts again, with everything from blazers to boyfriend jeans. (i’m also now seriously coveting one of their shirt dresses, but that’s another story.)

my only caution would be about length – i’m on the tall side (5’8″), but even though i tried the long size, it’s just barely long enough. i’d order long if you’re 5’5″ or taller, and if you’re much over 5’9″, you might want to try their tunic length (as i probably should have). but otherwise, go forth and be chic (and gap-free!).

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test case: ivanka trump footwear

when i heard that ivanka trump had started designing shoes, i was so curious to try them that…brace yourselves, now…i actually went out and bought a pair.  at full price.  i know.  while i tend to think of ivanka trump’s dad as more cartoon than reality, i have to admit i’ve always had a bit of a style crush on his little girl.  she seems to have risen above the family circus with all her poise and grace, but has that killer, badass business side i so love in strong women (see eg, martha stewart, hillary clinton).

but then, her dad sells suits at mens’ wearhouse.  so this really could have gone either way.

it also helped that, just as her new shoe collection launched, i realized i had a major gap in my shoe collection:  no classic black heels.  can you believe it?  i mean, yes, i have a few pairs of heels that are black, but nothing that’s the classic, go-to pair you absolutely have to have.

so, when i walked into nordstrom recently and saw a display holding pair after pair of exactly what i wanted, in all sorts of classic colors, and then they turned out to be from ivanka’s line, i had to try them on.

turns out, it’s exactly the shoe i’d expect her to design:  a no-nonsense, high-functioning classic.  the heel is a perfect 2.5″, so you can actually walk comfortably, but still get all the aesthetic advantages of a higher heel.  the footbed is really well padded, especially in the ball of the foot – almost as if a girl who wears heels every day designed them (imagine!).  the sides of the shoe come up high enough to give your foot a very slender look, the leather is soft, but i can tell it will be durable, and the heel is leather-covered as well (a must if you want your shoes to look high-end).  plus, it comes in black and a great classic nude, in both matte and patent leathers (there’s also a coral shade that feels a little ’80s to me, but you can’t win them all).

the rest of the collection…well, mixed reviews.  i don’t love any of the casual styles – this girl spends a lot of time in heels, and it shows.  and several of her styles are, shall we say, strikingly similar to some by certain other designers.  hopefully they don’t mind one of their best customers taking some liberties…

{left, ivanka trump ‘dimund’; right, manolo blahnik ‘sedaraby’}

{left, ivanka trump ‘asteria’; right, manolo blahnik ‘suw’}

in fact, now that i think about it, even the heel i bought looks a little familiar, which i’m starting to feel badly about.  but then really, how different can you make a black pump?

all that said, if you have a formal event to attend, this little bejeweled, strappy number would be absolutely flawless.  and you’d definitely net a second date if you wore these sky-high red peeptoes on the first.

otherwise, if you happen to be in my boat, and are missing a classic pump, this is one of the best i’ve seen, particularly in the $100 range.  snap them up now…i have a hunch they’ll jump to $150 next season.

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