29 June 2007

Where the cherry pie tastes like childhood...

Unlike the last time I tried to take a break from my editrixing duties, this time around I've promised myself to make like double-sided tape and stick to that commitment. My darkened undereyes and throaty bedroom voice brought on by the seven months of no more than six-and-a-half hours of sleep a night run in direct contrast to the it's-important-to-take-care-of-your-physical-appearance dogma on which ASJINE was founded, and as you know, I find almost nothing more repulsive than a hypocrite.

Therefore, for the next six days, I vow to do nothing but sleep 'til noon, go directly from my jammies to my bikini, sleep lakeside on the chaise, watch my city-pup discover life off the leash and complement my mug of morning coffee with a slice of tastes-like-childhood Cherry Hut cherry pie.

And then sleep some more.

See you next Friday!

A *different* kind of wishlist item

Though it is one of the least labor intensive responsibilities of my ASJINE work day, selecting an item to showcase in the daily "If I had a sugar daddy..." feature consistently ranks as one of my most satisfying.

In fact, it's often one of the most satisfying parts of my entire day.

I'm a masochistic dreamer, I guess you could say, one who draws deep-down-in-her-belly pleasure from wanting things so painfully out of reach - the option to place a $1,540 cocktail dress into her virtual shopping cart, Hollywood moment-filled days every day, among others - that the usual how-can-I-swing-this? next-step isn't a consideration. For in my current and most likely forever future, there will be no "swinging" a dress that costs as much as my rent and there will be no cut-and-paste function to insert into my every morning the piano scene from Pretty Woman, the "Escort me by all means, but don't follow me...it's so predatory" slow dance from The English Patient and the Jonathan-finally-finds-the-copy-of-the-Marquez-book-and-goes-after-Sarah realization from Serendipity. Yet day in and day out, I give into those cravings that are not only unlikely to ever be sated, but in some cases, like the one I'm about to describe, where doing so is a physical impossibility.

Both here in my blog and in my daily life, I've always been very forthright - much to my parents' dismay, I'm afraid - about my impassioned views on female beauty. Particularly those lovely bits that rest just below the collarbone and just above the ribcage. Like some men are "leg guys" and some guys are "ass men," I'm without a doubt, in the purely admiring sense, an unabashed "breast girl."

And until a few weeks ago when I came into close contact with perhaps the most enviable pair DNA ever did link together, this affinity, like that which I have for the price-upon-request runway clothes and the tidy romantic comedy endings, was very much an abstract appreciation -- something I could safely dream about without any expectations and without the complication of having to watch others enjoy in front of me that which I could not - and would never - myself be able to enjoy.

But for better or worse, K and her perfectly symmetrical, perfectly teardropped, as perfectly primed for a push-'em-up-and-out bustier as a faded university tee breasts came smack dab into my life. My real life. My daily life. And now I have to deal not only with the awkwardness that is unconsciously staring at my new friend's bosom (though she assures me this is a common "problem" with which she has grown comfortable over the past decade) but I also have to confront an extreme wanting-what-I-can't-have-edness - a desire even the most impressive implants couldn't palliate - not only when I'm in her presence but even when a "K"-scribed e-mail pings my inbox.

Like I would with any uncomfortable quandary, I forced myself to face the problem head-on, and as a result transitioned through several phases, including the disingenuous just-be-happy-for-K phase, the futile what-can-I-do-to-make-mine-more-like-K's phase, the selfish maybe-I-should-stop-being-friends-with-K-so-I-can-go-back-to-pretending-my-breasts-are-the-most-perfect-I've-ever-seen phase, and finally, where I am now, the Dove commercial inspired channel-this-energy-to-finding-something-about-myself-I-love-just-as-much-(or-more)-than-I-love-K's-breasts phase.

So I'm still figuring out exactly what that "something" is upon which I can redirect my singular focus, but at least I'm now at a place where I can genuinely look forward to seeing K (and her beauties) without secretly hoping my memory of their fabulousness was colored by beer gogglery or my tendency toward selectively-positive recall.

Because frankly, as I look at the pictures she sent me as part of my informal therapy, they are that fabulous. There's no getting around it. Her rack is the Monica Bellucci rack of DC.

And as such, they're to be celebrated bra-free in a backless T-Bags graphic print maxi not only by lustful hetero and style-conscious Logan Circle men but also by women who can truly appreciate the beauty that is a large and lovely pair of lay-your-head-here ladybits.

28 June 2007

If I had a sugar daddy...

Cotton brass button shorts by Milly

Since I don't (yet)

Pleat front shorts by Lauren Moffat
unfortunately, this item is no longer available


It's been brought to my attention there are more than a few technical kinks that still need to be worked out with the new URL, so until someone more capable than I am diagnoses and fixes them, I strongly encourage you to continue to use the dot-blogspot address.

To make this disappointing news go down a little more easily, here's a very intense Maggie Q brandishing a semi-automatic machine gun:

Pretty face + hot body + 9 tatts + porn pout = hung jury

There's no doubt about it, up-and-coming actress Megan Fox (seen here at last night's Hollywood premiere of her new film, Transformers) is one of those stunningly beautiful women, who, even when tatted up and giving off an unmistakable yeah-I-could-be-into-that porn pout, still looks just that -- stunningly beautiful.

But assuming the just-turned 21 year old has the acting chops to move on from '80s cartoon remakes to scripts requiring more range than making "Holy shit! There's a giant primary-colored plastic manbot after us!" faces, she's at a clear disadvantage from other young actresses who don't look as...shall we say, rough and ready. Even with all that natural beauty - her eyes really are that color - even with all the silver and ivory beaded feather-adorned art-deco Collette Dinnigan cocktail dresses and pairs of metallic Louboutin pumps, Megan can't expect to be taken seriously in the Glenn Close, Cate Blanchett, even Penelope Cruz sense if she doesn't hire a glam squad that can:

(1) Teach her a new signature look that does not include sex-me eyes and an "insert here" mouth

(2) Spackle some foundation onto her "shoulder poetry"

(3) Find a way to spin her marriage to Brian Austin-Green - David Silver from "Beverly Hills 90210" - as more a charitable gesture than an actual marriage marriage

For more of Megan looking like a top-earning Vivid Video vixen, see below:

White linen: good in theory, R-rated in practice

Note to all women with darker skin tones who brave the world of below-the-belt white linen -- buy a slip.

As the Sweetness and I came around the corner of ConnAve/K yesterday evening around 7:30, we noticed a pretty young thing in a pretty young Summer outfit. Petite, fit and tan, the sunglasses-bedecked Georgetown University student - believe me, once you've spent time on campus, you just know - complemented the humidity with a very weather appropriate ensemble of a coral-colored cap-sleeved boatneck tissue tee, metallic ballet flats, a worn caramel satchel over her left wrist, a crisp, well-fitted-at-the-ass, white linen skirt, and oh yeah, royal blue bikini briefs so visible even I, without glasses, could clearly identify where the cotton material met its silken piping.

You never know with a girl like this; this was, in my immediate opinion, an intentional act, an act of calculated entrapment meant to invite a confrontation in which she could justifiably accuse a man caught at the latter end of the implicit five-second am-I-really-seeing-what-I'm-seeing? stare-at-a-stranger window of being a pervert.

You know, like we all do with our university-emblazoned booty shorts?

Why am I so convinced this wasn't a typical DC fashion miscue?

If there's one thing I learned in my days up on College Hill and then again behind the gates of Georgetown, it's that girls with Tod's handbags and subtle diamond jewelery know every inch of their appearance before they leave their luxury apartments. Front, left-side, right-side, and most assuredly, back-side.

And to her credit, the plan worked. For the first time in recent memory, Monte's patrician good looks and self-important gait weren't the center of attention.

27 June 2007

Because it was for sale, and I like to buy things

But be forewarned, the individual posts' direct links don't work quite yet.

If I had a sugar daddy...

Scoop neck cap sleeve top by Dior
$375 at eluxury.com

Since I don't (yet)

Retro ballet neck sweater
$58 at bananarepublic.com

Chivalry or Lechery?

Time - just past 9am

Location - 17th and M, National Geographic side

Weather - 90 degrees/90% humidity

Characters - gentleman in his early-60s/myself

Costuming - his: Savile Row quality navy pinstripe suit, French cuffed, spread-collared light blue dress shirt, matte silk burgundy with gold and navy fleur-de-lis patterned tie, solid silk burgundy pocket square and seamless chestnut wingtips; mine: high-waisted black pencil skirt, wide black belt, tucked-in sleeveless silk-jersey v-neck shell with deep scoopneck back and gunmetal matte-satin peeptoes.

The Encounter:

(tap on the shoulder from behind)

(turning to my left and slipping off my headphones) "Yes?"

"Miss, you're perspiring."

"Excu...what?" I asked, genuinely unsure of what he had said due to the fact I still had my music - "Sweet Escape" by Gwen Stefani - at full-volume.

(pulling out his pocket square) "You're perspiring -- on your back, you're perspiring."

"Oh, I...I..."

Taking my half-bemused half-shocked open-mouthed expression as sure-go-ahead permission, the man, who looked like a cross between a character out of a Guy Richie film and JR from "Dallas," took his kerchief and proceeded to gently whisk away the beads of sweat off my exposed back and shoulders. There was no awkwardness or glint of I-know-I'm-crossing-the-line guilt in his blue-gray eyes. He wiped me down as if the gesture were as commonplace as a mother wiping dried ice cream crust of her child's chin. When he completed his task, he simply replaced the cloth to his suit, assured me the rest of me looked "just fine," nonchalantly crossed 17th St., turned left and entered AEI.

No creepy post-wipe sniff, no initiated flirtatious banter (the "fine" he used was clearly the ambivalent kind of "fine," not the you-lookin'-fine "fine") , no feeble attempt to exchange cards, no over-the-shoulder lookback -- no nothing.

And I just stood there, let an entirely new 24 second countdown expire, and wondered to myself if I'd just encountered the last truly chivalrous man in DC or perhaps the most lecherous.

Petra's poor performance

She must have also known I'd been questioning lately exactly how it was she got my dream life of jetting around the world to do little else but smile through a neutral gloss, wear beautiful evening gowns night after night and sorta kinda talk about like, charities and stuff.

There's no other explanation than throw-it-in-my-face spite why Ms. Nemcova would take such a stunning regal purple textured-satin lantern-neck column gown and ruin it with ten pounds of down-in-front Farrah feathering, a not-skim-but-drag-on-the-floor hemline and what from most angles look like a pair of Old Navy flip-flops.

Sorry Petra, I know I'm being tough on you, but like a stripper, your only job requirement is to look wish-I-were-you hot, and when you can't even do that properly...well, let's just say it's disappointing.

Especially for the children.

How to pop your Big Apple cherry right

"In mid July I am going to be making my first trip ever from DC to your favorite city to visit my best friend who is a grad student at NYU. Let me emphasize *first trip ever*. The main event plans are to do some shopping, catch a show on Broadway and check out some art at a gallery she organized. I am a little on the worried side that I won't be stylish enough for New York...but then I thought of asking you for a little inspiration and knew I'd be alright! Any advice? I'd like to find an outfit that could transition a semi-casual day to night glamour. Ideally I'd like to not order online as I'm a little time-constrained. I'm a 36-D and not stick thin so try to think of something more for your more voluptuous of readers :) I know I'm being specific but I'm sure you'll think of something!"

Walking around New York for hours on end? Potential triple-digit temperatures? Transitioning between day and evening without an outfit change?

Clearly, we’re looking at a multi-purpose sundress.

Since you say you’re on a short timeline and prefer not to order online, I’m going to suggest a few silhouette guidelines, a few stores for you to visit, and then it’s up to you to go out and find that perfect outfit to impress all the celebrities you'll surely run into.

But I should remind you, most online stores offer 2-3 day standard shipping, which means if you placed your order within the week, you’d definitely have your dress well before your mid-July departure. Just sayin'.

Not knowing your height or budget complicates my style prescription a wee bit, but at least you told me your general shape – I’m translating “not stick thin” and “36-D” as “hourglass” – and from that I already have a few ideas in mind for exactly what kind of dress I think you should wear.

First, because of your proportions, the best dress – the most flattering dress – is one that draws attention to your waist. This is achieved most easily with a waist cinch, but another option is a dress like this one from Anthropologie that instead of a belt cuts a clear line between top and bottom with color.

Second, because of your larger chest, I strongly suggst avoiding dresses with empire waists. You know why, and it begins with an insensitive man approaching you and ends with you saying, "No, I'm not pregnant."

Third, also because of your chest, we’re not looking at a halter, backless or any other style that might have you considering a bra-free Manhattan experience. Even if those D-cups are perky as can be, after 12 hours free on the range, your back is gonna wanna kick your ass for this decision.

Fourth, I don’t know what your preference is when it comes to baring cleavage, but I’m going to assume since your schedule includes venues ranging from daytime casual (shopping) to family-friendly (art gallery) to evening semi-formal (Broadway theater), we’re going to want to limit the boobage to at most a “peek”.

Fifth, since we’re covering you up on top, let’s opt for a knee-length or just-above-the-knee-length dress so that we might see some skin. Due to the sticky heat and extensive amount of walking, don’t make things worse for yourself by selecting a fitted skirt. Go for flowy, go for A-line, go for anything other than pencil.

Oh, and if you don’t mind, I’d also like to recommend you bring two pairs of shoes – one for walking during the day (cute and flat like these or these) and one for your more glamorous night out in Manhattan (cute and not flat like these or these). If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my stints in NYC, it’s that at the end of the day - literally, once the sun sets - you’re either going to need access to a water source for a quick de-grime scrub-down, or at the very least have on hand a fresh pair of completely enclosed shoes that’ll hide from others just how black the sides and soles of your feet are.

Without further ado, here are a few dress silhouettes I think would look smashing on you and that would be venue-appropriate for your jam-packed first day in the Big Apple:

Paisley wrap waist dress ($128 at freepeople.com)
Hollywood dress by Lux ($48 at urbanoutfitters.com)
Tie around dress by L.A.M.B. ($285 at shopbop.com)*
Striped seersucker dress by Kay Unger ($144.01 at saks.com)
Rose red mini dress by Anna Sui ($238.80 at saks.com)
Poplin sundress by Max & Cleo ($118 at nordstrom.com)
Swiss dot sundress by Calvin Klein ($138 at nordstrom.com)

*your editrix's top pick
Stores to hit up:
1. Zara
2. Anthropologie
3. French Connection
4. South Moon Under
5. Macy's
6. Nordstrom
7. Macy's
8. Banana Republic
9. Urban Chic
10. H&M

26 June 2007

If I had a sugar daddy...

Ernesta t-straps by Christian Louboutin
$650 at net-a-porter.com

Since I don't (yet)

Arve patent t-straps by Marc Fisher
$89 at amazon.com

The new beauty trend: post-clink glow

Paris Hilton bores me, and this whole prison saga bores me even more than her usual comings and goings (except for when Nancy Grace and her crazy-ass cast of characters do a segment on it - then I am gleefully entertained), but can we all agree that three weeks in the clink certainly did her face some good? I mean, I'm half convinced I should set aside this and this and all those other trannied-up pics of her and admit she is indeed a natural beauty.

It almost makes me want to indulge in a product-free lifestyle for the better part of a month and revert back to a time when it was just my bare-freckled face, a bar of Dove and a pump or two of hand lotion rubbed over the apples of my cheeks for good measure.

But then again, given that I almost cried when I thought I'd left my makeup bag at the office this morning (I didn't - Monte had strategically hidden it in one of his four beds to delay my departure), I think I'd better just let this nostalgia pass, not follow through with my get-in-jail plan to "do whatever it takes" to show Dick how good my rack looks in my XS "Cheney in '08" babydoll tee, and instead, for the now sixth time today, strut my butt to the little cowgirl's room to touch up my eyeliner.

"To walk away I have no capacity..."

Just released yesterday, here is Amy Winehouse's David LaChapelle-directed video for my favorite track - "Tears dry on their own" - off her freshman album, Back to Black. Listening to this just-walk-away croon isn't as comforting to me as it was say, before Amy married the man who ripped her heart out and inspired some of the most painfully familiar lyrics to which this girl has ever sung along. It's no wonder, in only four months on my iPod, this track burned past longstanding top-played songs to now land at number seven on my 'Top 25 Most Played' playlist with 243 listens.

Girl's lookin' awfully skinny here, but boy, can she belt it out:

The investment piece -- a jersey dress.

You keep telling us that "everyone needs a reliable jersey dress," but I, like others, need some direction. Options please!

My apologies, this is indeed a long overdue post.

Jersey doesn't wrinkle, it's lightweight, all-seasonal, universally venue-appropriate, drapes well on just about every frame, can stuff neatly into your handbag to make that Sunday morning walk home a little less shameful and a little more stylish, and best of all, jersey is a fabric that does not require dry-cleaning.

Every professional woman needs at least one -- I recommend investing in a traditional black or navy and another in a fun geometric print.

Don't forget to hand-wash and line-dry all your jersey items to avoid premature fading and loss of shape.

Happy shopping!

Jersey boatneck dress by Lewis Cho ($198 at ronherman.com)*

Jersey dress by Voom! ($178 at blondette.com)Jersey gathered-waist dress by Mint ($121 at revolveclothing.com)
Jersey draped dress by Mint ($137.50 at pinkmascara.com)
Jersey dress by Graham & Spencer ($228.90 at pinkmascara.com)
Scoop neck bubble dress by Rachel Pally ($220 at shopbop.com)
Jersey dress by Twelfth St. by Cynthia Vincent ($99 at activeendeavors.com)
Belted jersey dress by David Meister ($285 at dillards.com)
Belted jersey dress by Adrianna Papell ($99 at dillards.com)*
Printed matte jersey dress by Donna Morgan ($99 at dillards.com)
Ruched jersey dress by David Meister ($135.90 at nordstrom.com)
Cap sleeve matte jersey dress by Anne Klein ($150 at nordstrom.com)*
Ruched waist jersey dress by Lily ($88 at nordstrom.com)

*your editrix's top picks

25 June 2007

If I had a sugar daddy...

Handkerchief hem skirt by Escada

$850 at saks.com

Since I don't (yet)

Flared hem skirt by JS Collection

It's no wonder guys need nights off from us

I'm well aware of and by no means immune to that distinctly female instinct whereby witnessing another woman's failure brings with it a twisted, indulgent pleasure. And I don't just mean hush-hush failures divulged over cocktails in a "please-don't-tell-so-and-so" manner but failures that are brought to light in a very public way, during the lunch-rush, in front of your ex, his new girlfriend and that handsome older man who oh-so-subtly schedules his Cosi run every Wednesday to align with your own.

The degree to which female X wants a particular failure to hurt female Y depends somewhat on the nature of their relationship (e.g. acquaintances, friends, good friends, very good friends, etc.), but not as much as one - a man - might think. I've found, through both my own unconscious reactions and the voiced reactions of the few women in my "very good friends" circle, that even after years of holding back hair following rowdy nights at the Big Hunt and lying through our teeth and agreeing that yes, of course it was his fault, we still relish a wee bit of the as-long-as-it-didn't-happen-to-me female failure.

Because it is the portal to a female's inner-dialogue, let's discuss "the look." Ladies, you know what "the look" is. You get 'em and give 'em on a daily basis. On the subway, on the street, in a staff meeting, at a restaurant -- no venue is impervious to a situation in which the bitch-stare may be deployed. Each woman has her own signature variation of "the look." Most of the women with whom I associate have not just one but an entire arsenal of oh-no-she-dih'int looks, all of which have the same three-letter endgame that starts with "W" and ends with "F." Some are delivered with a lip-bite and an eyebrow-raise, some with a smirk and a just-barely audible hmpf, and some, like the ones I most often launch at women who teeter around ConnAve Spanx-free in their wrap-up-the-calves evening shoes and metallic halters at 12:30pm on a Monday, are all about the deadpan, "you're aware of what you're wearing, yes?" eyes.

So anyway, the point is, I'm so well-versed in recognizing these kinds of expressions that when an itty-bitty blond in a light brown pantsuit and black Reef flip-flops stood next to me on ConnAve/M and turned her face toward me as I returned to my office from lunch this afternoon, I knew exactly what was on her mind.

I didn't need outside confirmation or a second look to know what it was she was throwing my way. With my keen peripheral vision, I saw her glance down at my admittedly very tall 4.25-inch vintage croc-embossed peep-toes, then give me (or my shoes, rather) the exaggerated eye-roll where your entire face can't help but get involved, and followed that up with the slow-mo head-shake -- it was without a doubt an "I don't know who you think you are, but I hope you fall flat on your fantastic ass in front of the entire intersection" look she was burning white-hot into my right temple.

Okay, maybe I imagined the "fantastic ass" part, but you get the point.

This woman didn't know me, she didn't know whether I was good-natured or the kind of person who would give a homeless man pocket change, and yet there she was, secretly hoping I would fall and raspberry my knee or full-on break an ankle. Judging from the severity and persistence of her look, I'm guessing it was not just the latter but a full-on projected fantasy in which the broken ankle led to full-body atrophy, bed sores and the loss of my dog who, quite realistically, would soon run away in search of a more attractive owner.

Ironic thing is, given different circumstances, she and I probably would have gotten on quite well. We still might some day. In DC, you never know. We were both young professionals with Treos, both runners (Asics Kayanos tied and slung over her daybag), both readers (Auster hardcover tucked neatly between her laptop and a three-inch accordion folder) both in the black toe polish club -- heck, she and I had more in common at first blush than most of my friends and I do.

Yet there we were, I to her, the uppity bitch in sky-high heels, and she to me, the lazy bitch who needed flip-flops to walk three blocks for a burrito.

In an attempt to deescalate the situation for the remainder of the 14 seconds the gymnast and I were to share the curb, I turned off the side-vision and went to click from Gwen's punchy-poppy "Rich Girl" to the soothing calm of Phil Collins' "One more night." But just before my right index finger could counterclockwise its way from 'Playlists' to 'Sofitel Mix' to 'Track 1,' a woman in a two-sizes-waaay-too-small Granny-Smith-green terrycloth jumpsuit, filthy white wedged flip-flops, and a shock of platinum blond fuzz inserted her at least mid-50s, gum-snapping, cell-phone-on-speaker self between the two of us.

And that's all it took. Our pie-eyed stares locked and instantly all the vitriol and all the judgment we'd each built up for the other over the course of a two-block walk Care-Bear-Stared into a single stream aimed at the much larger problem.

There are offenders, after all, and then there are offenders.

The inevitable "didn't you wear that yesterday?" look

There's no doubt about it, I'm one of those women who notices right away when someone, be it a colleague, friend, family member, celebrity, or celebrity dog, wears the same ensemble twice.

And I'm not talking about recognizing the same patterned DvF wrap dress two days in a row - anyone can do that - I mean my capacity for fashion recall is so vast and so quick that as soon as I came across this photo of Ice-T's wife Coco at the Die Hard premiere yesterday, I immediately woke Monte out of his afternoon slumber with an outside-voiced, "Look, it's a knock-off of Gwen Stefani's L.A.M.B. dress from the 2005 MTV Music Awards!"

Point is, there are lots and lots of women just like I am, who, despite your carefully-planned wardrobe rotation, are gonna know you wore that blouse with that skirt and those shoes to work last month, to the bar a week before that and to a housewarming party the season before that. That's just life, and unless you're Sarah Jessica Parker playing Carrie Bradshaw and you have a well-connected stylist who manages to wrangle 365 hot outfits for you a year - every year - we're all bound to be caught by someone's watchful, observant eye.

So, what is a resasonble amount of time in between professional wears? A week? Two weeks?

This is a complicated question, because there are several variables to consider, including color, cut, season, complementary options, among others.

For most solid pieces, especially those in neutral colors, the minimum duration with which I'm comfortable is somewhere between two to five days. Honestly, two days. I own nine black at-the-knee-length skirts, all of which, when paired with different permutations of shoes, tops and accessories, lead to a seemingly infinite number of very different-looking, very cute work-appropriate outfits. As I do with workout songs ("Pour some sugar on me") and reality shows ("Bridezillas"), often I'll go through phases where I become so one-track-minded that I just have to wear a high-waisted, pencil or tulip-hemmed skirt and nothing but a high-waisted, pencil or tulip-hemmed skirt. Problem is, I only have four, three and one of each, respectively, and since I just spent last month's, this month's and next month's allotted mad money on two dinners in New York, I'm stuck with what I got for the forseeable future. But instead of sulking and wearing that which doesn't satiate my current style obsession for the sake of maintaining wardrobe rotation integrity, I say "f**k it" and wear that one tulip-hemmed skirt on Monday, re-wear it on Tuesday and re-wear it again Friday night. As long as you mix up the complements, a neutral solid is free and clear to see the light of day and candlelight of evening as frequently as you feel inspired to let it.

For extremely bright and patterned pieces, however, I advocate a much more disciplined approach. The rule of thumb I follow - because yes, I do own a few - is one wear per two full work weeks. This is a tough schedule to swallow when you're just starting out in the workforce and don't have a lot of options, but that reality is exactly why I believe in investing early on in blacks, browns, ivories and navies, and then once you've created a solid foundation on which to build a wider clothing rotation - and once you're in a position to increase your wardrobe budget - you can introduce the less stylishly malleable leaf-green graphic print sheath, red swing jacket with gold piping, pink boucle Jackie O. skirt-suit or the eyelet peasant blouse. A woman who only has the funds to purchase five work outfits is much better off, in my opinion, buying high quality mix-and-match neutrals than than five shocking, easily-burned-to-memory, one-trick-pony pieces.

I suppose that means I'm more a Miranda than a Carrie. But again, I should remind you we're talking professional, not weekend wardrobe here.

I realize this isn't going to be a popular prescription for those of you who build your identities around wearing rainbow polks dots and animal prints, but you have to understand, I'm writing from the perspective of and primarily for a professional woman with a conservative bent who believes in sacrificing quantity and trendiness for quality and versatility. I love bold bursts of color and pattern, and I think there is definitely a place in the professional world for that kind of creativity, but I'm so (yawn) over DC fashionistas who claim all-black or all-neutral to be tantamount to "lazy," "easy," or "typical." An all-black or all-neutral outfit certainly can be lazy, easy or typical (just as a loud outfit can cross the line from eccentric to haphazard), but the trick is to find the unique sleeve, hem or embellishment, not to mention the perfect fit, that sets this black blouse apart from that one and the one that not only complements this pair of grey wide-legged trousers but those nine black skirts and that pair tweed city shorts as well.

In the end, there is no set timetable one should follow for when to wear and re-wear an outfit other than the timetable with which you feel comfortable.

Because I can promise you, even if you change up the look of your jersey dress from chunky turquoise jewelery and patent leather pumps one day to simple pearls and tweed ballet flats on another with a two-month window in between, there's always going to be someone like myself who watches you walk in the door and thinks to herself, "Didn't she wear that on Tuesday...back in the first week of March?"

Why I want to live free and die hard

In just two and a half days, one of 2007's most anticipated cinematic events will be realized: Bruce Willis' fourth and final bow as Detective John McClane in Live Free or Die Hard.

The more trailers, interviews, movie clips and premiere photos I sift through, the more pleased I am that I Fandango-ed two in-advance tickets and lined up a spectacular post-work Wednesday for R and me (which includes this dress and this piece of meat) all in honor of an action hero whose legacy, in my opinion, ranks only behind that of Lyon Gaultier, John Matrix and of course, Casey Ryback.

But in addition to Bruce, who looks far more sextacular at 52 than he ever did at 33, 35, or 40, there is another ass-kicking, one-liner-delivering, rapid-firing reason to fork over your $10.25 and spend your entire day's calories and carbs on a jumbo box of tropical Mike & Ikes.

And this one's half-Asian. And looks killer in an evening gown.

I first noticed - correction, I was first entranced by - 28 year old half-Chinese Maggie Q last year in Mission Impossible III when she so elegantly and athletically stepped out of a yellow Lamborghini Gallardo in a Roman courtyard wearing a stunning red satin cut-out dress.

Just like you, I've been waiting nearly 14 long months to see more of her.

To tide you over until Wednesday night, here's a rainbow of Maggie Q in all her hapa gorgeousness in a series of gowns that range from stunning (see sixth and third from last) to highly uneasy on the eyes (see rest):