Fair trade flash sale!

October 2, 2014 in Style by alliemcc


Just for you, I've got the hook-up on fair trade artisan jewelry from Faire Collection.

Because you, Fine Person, are here, now, reading this, you get early bird VIP super special access before the 24-hour sale starts at midnight.

Annnnnnd, go!



Camp Story (Fire optional.)

August 21, 2014 in Self-Health, Social Responsibility, Style, Sustainability by alliemcc

I would like to tell you a story about summer camp.

For a good chunk of years when I was a wee thing, I spent my summers at Camp Laurel-In, the summer day camp at the Waterbury Girls' Club. (If you're under age 20, Girls' Clubs were what Girls Inc. is now– they rebranded in '98.)

The Waterbury Girls Club/Girls Inc. is located on a one-way side street in downtown Waterbury– a block that's half residential and half commercial, with a few lawyers' offices. It's on the same block as the Y, a museum, and within walking distance of the library and several parks.

Ah yes, imagine the awkward-cuteness of a pre-teen Allie. The Girls' Club was around the block from my mom's shop and, being a working mom, it was very convenient– my siblings and I also went to nursery school at the YMCA, which is on the same block as the Girls' Club, and from time to time, went to art classes at the Mattatuck Museum, ditto.

Mind you, we lived in podunk Burlington, across the street from protected watershed forest. So it wasn't like I needed to spend my summers in the great outdoors, because that's where I lived. But I have always felt like I half-grew-up in Waterbury because we spent so much time there as kids. It's also why I am not afraid of cities like Hartford and Bridgeport that scare the alligators off the polos of my suburban peers. But I digress.


Image (c) Lataz34

My little campmates and I ran around in the gymnasium, did arts and crafts, went on field trips to state parks, made MILES of lanyards (which we called gimp– you might know it as boondoggle), and played a card game called Spit. We played a LOT of Spit– we had Spit tournaments.

Camp was also where I was first introduced to punk rock (OK, so it was The Offspring, give me a break!) and the music of Tori Amos, thanks to my friend, Katie S.

We made up dance routines, sang repetitve songs in school buses, ate dozens of brightly colored frozen desserts, and played Marco Polo in manmade lakes.

And then we became teenagers and stopped going to summer camp. 

It's about 20 years since I was a camper.

It's also the 150th anniversary of the Waterbury Girls' Club– now Girls Inc. of Southwestern Connecticut. My little Girls' Club was the first one EVER! And they've been located at 35 Park Place for over 100 years.

Leavenworth House

Image via Historic Buildings of Connecticut

But the foundation that owns their building wants to sell, and has put the property out to bid. All the other bidders intend to take down the gymnasium and the original historic house, most likely to create a parking lot.

Girls Inc. has also entered a bid, and has the backing of the Connecticut Historical Society. They are also looking for the support of parents of current members and, more importantly, generations of alumnae whose lives were impacted by being a Girls' Club Girl.

I will be penning a letter of support, and helping with a social media campaign to try to convince the Leavenworth Foundation to accept Girls Inc's bid and keep the facility open and accessible to the girls of Waterbury– and girls from the suburbs whose parents work in town and have the foresight to put their kid in contact with diverse new friends.

It's important not just for the sake of nostalgia and warm-fuzzies, but because young girls benefit immensely from gender-specific programs, a safe, fun place where they can learn and play and gain confidence. And it's important that Girls Inc. has a home in downtown Waterbury so that low-income girls from around the city can get there safely and conveniently for after-school programs and summer camp.

If you were a Girls' Club Girl in Waterbury, or anywhere else…

If your daughters or neices were or are Girls' Club Girls…

If you or your girls were Girl Scouts or benefitted from other gender-specific programs…

Or if you're a feminist, humanist, womanist, or other sane person that cares about girls in Waterbury or anywhere else…

Please consider writing a letter of support and/or an op-ed to keep Girls Inc. on Park Place in Waterbury, Connecticut.

Margaret Lawlor
Elisha Leavenworth Foundation
P.O. Box 1032
Middlebury, CT 06762


Girls Inc. of SWCT

35 Park Place

Waterbury, CT 06702




Image via Girls Inc. SWCT

Lifehack: DIY Poo-Pourri

May 28, 2014 in DIY, Style, Style Tools, Sustainability, Travel by alliemcc

By now, I sincerely hope you account for at least one of the 27 million views of the first Poo-Pourri commercial that took the world by thunderous storm last year.

The ingenious, hilarious, and gross campaign recently released another video, which I repost here, in case you haven't yet had the pleasure:



It's a concept so damn simple, I don't know why we had to suffer through decades of toxic, ozone-killing aerosol sprays that really just fill the bathroom with a combination of poo and Tropical Mango Breeze that should be prohibited by international law. Or worse, when someone actually sprays regular perfume out of desperation to try to cover her deed — pretty sure that's a recipe for a chemical weapon.

It's literally just citrus oil that creates a layer over the water in the bowl, preventing the noxiousness escaping into the air.

If you are are still not a believer, I can assure you Poo-Pourri is really for real, and really works. 

I started using Poo-Pourri a couple of years ago, because it seemed like a good thing to have when interning in the fashion industry, as a person with GI issues stemming from wheat and dairy. Holler if you hear me (and my swamp gas).

I purchased it from this lovely catalog, but instead of buying a second bottle when that one ran out (and it took a good 2 years of regular use to go through the 4 oz. bottle), I made my own. And so can you!

DIY Poo-Pourri

You will need:

  • A travel-sized (+/- 4 oz.) spray bottle, glass, plastic, or stainless steel (fancy amber glass, better for home use; or perhaps you have an empty product bottle you could reuse? Last resort, drug stores do sell plastic ones in the travel section.)
  • A citrus oil-based home cleaner (I used Citra-Solv.)

Just fill the bottle with the citrus oil, no need to dilute it as you would for cleaning. To use it, spray 3-5 spritzes on the surface of the water in the bowl, and then do your business.

You can make up a large batch in a larger bottle to leave in the bathroom at home or work. Your life will be so much better.

You're welcome.



This week on the web.

May 24, 2014 in Self-Health, Style by alliemcc

Links I liked this the last couple of weeks.

You can keep up with who, what, and where I'm linking during the week by following me on FacebookTwitterTumblr, and Pinterest. (My Pins also populate in the Inspiration tab, above.)


Andy Warhol's early digital art.

Some intrepid artists, museum professionals, and computer nerds discovered new-to-us works by Warhol that he created on an early-80s Amiga home computer. Click through for the video demo (with Debbie Harry!) that started the search.

warhol aphrodite


Make like Madeleine Albright and wear your brooch collection. All of it. At once.

I loved this NPR interview with Secretary Albright when her book came out. And recently I found this image on Pinterest, which I think is really great styling inspiration.


brooches neckline


A cool behind-the-scenes at Burt's Bees.

Elle Magazine gives us the scoop, from the hive to the tube.

burts bees log hive


Danielle LaPorte has some tips on how to unplug and unwind.

"Just one small analogue choice a week can silence, soothe, and interrupt patterns that need positive interruptions. You can do it. You must. To cool your mind, to feel your own rhythm. To hear your thoughts. To let life find you in-between."


ICYMI: Denim Mending by Mail, and my first video!

May 21, 2014 in Craft and Art, Fashion, Style, Sustainability, Textile Addiction by alliemcc

In case you missed it, Oceana posted a video and recap of our mending collaboration at her site last week.

She found my listing on Etsy, sent me her husband's well-loved Levi's to mend so she can wear them. We documented the process, and she wrote more about her rationale for mending, rather than tossing.


If you have some denim that  you'd like to have given a 2nd life, give me a shout! You can see the listing in my Etsy shop.

Hangers 101

May 20, 2014 in Style by alliemcc

Received a Facebook cry for help from a friend IRL*, so I wanted to share some tips and tricks on the utilitarian, yet essential clothes hanger.

neon hangers

  • Try WardrobeSupplies.com for clippy hangers — they're called pant/skirt hangers.
  • As far as dents in shoulders, are these knit/jersey tops? Better to fold them and put them on a shelf. 
  • Otherwise, look at Wardrobe Supplies for shirt hangers in different sizes to match your shoulder measurements. I'm very small in the back, so I actually buy kids' hangers sometimes.
  • Try to invest in some with a thicker profile, or even padded, to reduce the stress on shoulders. You can do this piecemeal, as your budget allows. :)
  • Velvet/flocked hangers will allow you to sort of hike up the collar on the hanger so that the weight of the shirt isn't hanging off the shoulder point, but these tend to be really wide, leading to shoulder creases and stretching, regardless.
  • There are also rubbery attachments that can be attached to the ends for this purpose. In a pinch, wrap a rubber band around the ends to keep the fabric from slipping.
  • When I'm out at thrift stores or tag sales, I always snatch up old wooden hangers to swap out.
  • NEVER EVER hang on to the wire hangers from the cleaner. Always switch your clothes onto a more substantial hanger at home, asap! Then bring the wire ones back to the cleaner for recycling. :)

*(in real life)


Looking for more advice about organizing and maximizing your wardrobe?

Contact me for a free consultation to learn about my styling services.






Art & fashion at the Aldrich Museum

May 18, 2014 in Craft and Art, Design, Fashion, Style by alliemcc

Took myself on an art date today (thank you, Julia Cameron) to see a talk on the connections between fashion and fine art at the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, CT.

As part of the Museum's 50th anniversary and celebration of founder Larry Aldrich, himself a veteran of the fashion industry, the panel featured designer Leo Narducci, Kate Irvin, Curator of Costumes and Textiles at Rhode Island School of Design, and Laleh Khorramian, painter and animator (more on her later). 

photo 4

I missed Kate Irvin's talk because I arrived late– I was literally waiting for a drain to unclog. (I know you've all been there…)

Mr. Narducci spoke about his apparel collections in the 1960s, his love of prints and innovative fabrics, his current work on staff at RISD and his new jewelry line. He explained that in the 60s, he felt that clothes were getting too expensive, and women wanted clothes that would travel well and be able to wash at home. He was driven to create clothing "that becomes part of your life," not just an evening gown or a jacket for work.

Laleh Khorramian spoke about her work as a trained painter and video animator, and her really interesting path to designing handpainted apparel. She described learning to sew as a child and having grown up sewing for herself and making mini collections, and the role of costume and persona in her fine art work. Her influences include 1970s futurism and cinema, including Terry Gilliam's work, Time Bandits, and Solaris.


khorramian senator dress

Image via Laloon.

When a 3,600 year old tree burned down in the area of Florida where she grew up, (as she described it, "a tree I grew up with", girl after my own heart) Khorramian was inspired to paint an image of "the Senator" on a sheer jersey gown. She went on to open an atelier in Hudson, NY, Laloon, featuring her expanded line of handpainted dresses and bodysuits.


khorramian year 1393 dress

Dress from the new Year 1393 collection. Image via Laloon

I felt the discussion could have been better directed, but I realize that a discussion amongst creative people is a challenging beast to wrangle, and that discussion-wrangling is a skill that requires mastery.

I was very excited to have discovered Laleh Khorramian, and hope to make a trip to Hudson to visit her atelier. And I ended up chatting a bit with another Parsons alum (we're everywhere!) who had a remarkably similar path (from International Affairs in Washington DC to Parsons, years later, and not [yet] working in the fashion industry…) and the value of a t-shirt in explaining what fashion designers actually do.

See also:

This slideshow of work from the RISD MFA Textiles student exhibition.

PYOM: Print Your Own Makeup.

May 15, 2014 in Style by alliemcc

The trendy tribes of beauty, fashion and tech media on the web creamed their collective panties last week over video of Grace Choi's presentation at the TechCrunch conference in NYC. Choi's concept, presented to a panel of 4 men, is a printer that uses 4-color inkjet inks to create cosmetic products that can be matched to any web image or digital photo.

TechCrunch Disrupt, held May 5-7, sought contestants who were startup companies "live for less than three months", with heavy preference for companies launching at the event.

Choi's printer, called Mink, aims to disrupt both mass market and luxury beauty sales, by offering the color selection of Sephora at Walmart per-unit prices. While the printer itself is not even in beta testing yet (and, let's remember, may never reach market in its current iteration) the pink world of fashion and beauty and the blue world of tech and DIY united for one shining moment of open-mouthed enthusiasm. 

Mink proceeded to be one of 6 finalists at the NYC tech startup contest.

Choi, who is Korean American, is a Harvard MBA, who has previous product development creds in medical technology and a BB cream, as well as a stint on Home Shopping Network with a modular jewelry line.

Among my own circle of acquaintances, the response to Choi's presentation was gung ho, with a feminist flavor. One Facebook friend raved, in all caps, "I love girls […] I am totally buying this!"


It's like we're living in the future. Illustration via Whitelight.

There are technical questions as to how Mink will actually perform. A makeup artist friend pointed out that the swatch of eyeshadow Choi showed on her hand did not match the vibrant pink of the digital image she selected to print. One commenter on a news site that picked up the story pointed out that by using Hex code vs. CMYK for the digital swatch, the printed outcome will be less faithful. Another commenter pointed out just how tricky it is in general to get a good inkjet printer to print colors faithful to what is shown on an RGB screen.

In her presentation, Choi explained that as the product goes forward, she will seek partnerships with an established printer manufacturer to refine the process. As a product that relies entirely on the presentation and performance of color, I'm sure she knows that if Mink can't get this right, it will fail.

Other commenters (ladies) questioned the quality of the product– there is a widely held perception that products from luxury brands are of better quality, with a better hand texture, performance, and wear-time. Again, this is something that will have to be developed from the constraints of price point and technology.

One commenter had a great idea, related to the question of price. Not every family will be willing to drop $300 on a printer, plus periodically replenishing the substrates. Perhaps Mink could adopt a drugstore photo printing model, where a customer could order her color and product online and pick it up in store. I think this is fucking brilliant.

A few commenters inevitably chastised Choi for her bravado and brash language. I, myself, couldn't give a shit. If she were a male, or even if she were a white female, those few comments would have been fewer. I actually found it charming, and even entertaining, that Choi seemed to be putting on a bit of an edgy act. But with so little time to introduce yourself and your product, I can see that she felt she had to be impactful to a mostly male audience– and a panel of 4 white dudes assessing her– by persuading them of her credibility and the viability of her product, while also showing how it would be disruptive to an established industry. Nothing summarizes the luxury beauty industry like "bullshit".

My reservations are from the health and safety standpoint. I myself would not be a potential customer until and unless she offers a food-grade, certified organic (preferably certified fair trade) substrate AND pigment medium. The FDA does not regulate cosmetics, and even if inkjet ink is "non-toxic", or even, as Choi claims, FDA-approved (?), that does not mean it should be going on your sensitive facial skin.

But she doesn't need me to buy her shit. I don't even wear that much makeup. I definitely have a skeptical eye for the 3D printing "revolution" as it has manifested so far. I actually think critically about the products going on my skin as much as the food that goes in my mouth. And I'm old.

She's strategically targeting young girls who learn how to do makeup by watching Youtube videos (her presentation cites phenom Michelle Phan) and try new looks based on Instagram selfies, who are hungry for non-traditional colors and effects, and are not buying cosmetics in traditional ways. Hence the disruption.

But I'm excited for this product, and I'll be eagerly watching the development of Mink as it makes its way to market.


This week on the web.

April 19, 2014 in Style by alliemcc

Links I liked this week.

You can keep up with who, what, and where I'm linking during the week by following me on FacebookTwitterTumblr, and Pinterest. (My Pins also populate in the Inspiration tab, above.)


That's so analogue: Today is Record Store Day!

I have a Treasury of cool vintage and new must-haves for vinyl collectors over at Etsy, featuring my padded LP tote bags, in honor of today's international celebration of independent record stores. <3

padded lp tote



Yum: Carolina Chocolate Drops

Saw them play at Infinity Hall in Norfolk, CT this week. They are crazy good, on so many levels.



This week's words of wisdom from Erin McKean.

Erin writes a very amusing blog, A Dress A Day, about sewing and fashion and fictional stories based on pattern envelope illustrations (trust me, they're hilarious). This quote is from an early piece of hers, but it never gets old.


you don't owe pretty quote erin mckean dress a day


Side Note: Dress Obsession

April 5, 2014 in Costume, Design, Fashion, Fashion Anthropology, Textile Addiction by alliemcc

The more I look at that dress, the more it feels so 18th-century.

stripe orange pink sheath A line dress


I'm thinking of Watteau…


via the British Museum



stripe c18 robe a la francaise sack back

via The Met

This Week on the Web

April 5, 2014 in Costume, Fashion, Link Lounge, Social Responsibility, Style, Sustainability by alliemcc

Links I liked this week.

You can keep up with who, what, and where I'm linking during the week by following me on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest. (My Pins also populate in the Inspiration tab, above.)


A 2nd life for prom gowns – and a more budget-friendly prom for you. (See my other prom ideas here.)

This year’s event, which features an inventory of more than 1,800 new and gently-used formal and semi-formal dresses, takes place April 4 – 6, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Windsor. Advance registration is required at PrincessandtheProm.org. No financial information is required, but girls must bring a valid high school ID. Attendees are assigned a time slot and can bring a friend to help them choose the perfect gown, as well as purse, wrap and jewelry.

In Southington, Kristen’s Kloset, a seasonal prom-gown giveaway program, provides dresses and accessories to Connecticut high school girls with financial need. The annual pop-up shop, open through May 10 at the Town Hall Annex, 93 Main St., stocks more than 750 gowns in a variety of sizes and styles. Those who can afford to make a donation pay $25 for a dress; those who can’t get a gown for free. Girls can also bring a current-style gown in good condition and swap it for a different dress at no charge. Hours are Tuesday, 2:30 to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 2:30 to 8 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. No appointment is needed.


I found this dress on Pinterest, and it has me thinking outside of the box for a July wedding I'm going to…

stripe orange pink sheath A line dress

Dress by Emilia Wickstead on Moda Operandi.


April 4 is international Mine Action Day, against landmines. One of my longtime favorite jewelry brands, Article 22, held a promo sale for the day. But their prices are reasonable year round, and their jewelry– made from upcycled military ordinance and other recycled metals in Laos– are timeless.


And finally I leave you with this thought from RuPaul, encouraging you to take style (and gender binaries) less seriously. :)

rupaul drag

Prom Panic

March 15, 2014 in Style, Sustainability by alliemcc

Overheard a mom stressing about planning for her daughter's first prom when I was at a Dr's appointment the other day.

She was worried about their budget for the dress, and her daughter having a meltdown the day of, and her having to take the whole day off work to help her get ready…

Everybody take a deep breath…. and let it out slow…


rockwell prom_dress

Norman Rockwell, Prom Dress


Let's be honest, many (most?) girls have spent a LOT of time thinking about prom WAY before it gets close. That's more than half the battle.

Daughter-Dear should do research in magazines and online to narrow down some dress styles and some hair and makeup. Focus on colors and silhouettes of dresses, rather than the full package, so no one's disappointed if you can't get that exact dress on page 247 of TeenGlamShop Magazine.


Where NOT to spend gobs of money on a single-use dress:

1. Secondhand prom dress sales— these events are cropping up in a lot of towns, usually arranged by community organizations, right around this time of year. Get an almost-new dress, plus shoes, bag, and a wrap, for less than you'd spend on weekly groceries. Expect to spend a few dollars extra on alterations to get the fit just right.

2. Consignment shops and online consignment sites— get to Googling.

3. Rent-the-Runway (which I've mentioned here before) and other online rental sites— not just for tuxes anymore! Wallet-friendly, closet-space-friendly, and up to the second trends.


How NOT to spend gobs of money on hair & makeup:

1. DIY. Youtube videos will guide you through it.

2. Cosmetology schools.

3. Friends. There may be that one girl at school who is a budding makeup artist. Or one of Mom's friends/neighbors/coworkers who has a steady hand.

NOTE: Skip the tanning booth/spray/bronzer. Trust me.


How NOT to have a miserable prom:

1. Take lots of pictures.

2. Keep the dress, hair, makeup, and especially the shoes, simple.

3. Dance your ass off.

4. Drink lots of water.

5. Call your parents before and after you get in a car, every time you get in a car that night.