Man Repeller

Seeking Love. Finding Overalls.

by Leandra Medine

The Man Repeller was probably the first hugely popular fashion blog. I was an intermittent reader at best because, even though her aesthetic didn’t appeal to me, the concept of embracing your personal style even if it repels men was kind of funny. This is not a style guide, but rather a fashion biography of sorts where Medine uses articles of clothing as chapter titles and jumping off points to tell the high points (mainly surrounding love) of her life thus far. 
Her sometimes wacky “I Love Lucy” style anecdotes that take her from her first crush in elementary school to joining the adult job market are at once endearing and annoying in a Carrie Bradshaw kind of way. Medine’s clear devotion to fashion are what kept me reading long after I decided that I couldn’t relate to her at all.


Disclaimer: I received a complimentary e-book of this title in exchange for my honest review

Begging Forgiveness

Please forgive the lack of posting here. I started a new job in February and after  almost 8 months of unemployment (where I settled into a very nice groove), I am still getting used to actually having to be somewhere everyday along with the non-traditional hours of the retail industry.

But this hasn’t affected my reading schedule and I have several books to review and hope to do so soon. Also, I now work in fashion retail and my current wardrobe is far from adequate for this situation, so I may live up to the name of this blog and post some sewing as well.

Thank you, readers, for your patience!

Handmade Chic

Fashionable Projects That Look High End, Not Homespun
by Laura Bennett

There has been an explosion of books and blogs lately as a part of a DIY (do-it-yourself) movement. Now, with just a little money and time, you can recreate designer looks at home without mortgaging it in the process. Sometimes, though, even at the hands of highly skilled artisans, the resulting items look a little too “homespun” and not like the things you see on current runways. And that’s fine for people who want that look, but there is a void in the market for chic diy books.

Laura Bennett’s latest book fills that void. Best known for her sleek, elegant designs on season 3 of Project Runway, Bennett has compiled a collection of accessories that are easy to make and incredibly stylish. What I loved most about it is the inclusion of materials that many shy away from: leather, fur (faux or real), feathers, and beads. Her instructions for buying and using them definitely take the intimidation factor away. The 40 projects include covers for electronics (e-readers, iPads, etc.), wallets, purses, and much more, including embellishing ready-to-wear garments.

This book is a valuable addition to any sewing and craft book library, especially my extensive one!

My Top 20 Books of 2011

As of this writing, according to Goodreads, I have read 266 books this year. That’s a lot. A good number of them are romance novels that only take a few hours to consume and since losing my full-time job in May, I have lots of extra hours in the day. None of those appear on my “best of” list, however, so those of you who don’t read that genre don’t have to worry.

This list is in no particular order and consists of the books that I gave 4 and 5 stars this year on Goodreads. I have included links to the full reviews on my blog. Here goes:

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

My Soul to Take by Tananarive Due

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Hurricane by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Pym by Mat Johnson

Surrender the Dark by L.A. Banks

Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman
A very clever novel about an man who aspires to leave the corporate world and be a great American novelist. Unfortunately, his father has already achieved great notoriety as just that. Lots of funny anecdotes about the workplace.

The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens by Brooke Hauser
Exactly what the subtitle says. Interesting stories about teens who have emigrated from all over the world and the lengths they have to go through to get an education in this country.

Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools by Steven Brill
Outlines the real problems in our schools today and gives a great history lesson on how they got that way. Especially eye-opening was the information about teacher’s unions and the power they wield.

The Gift by Elle

The GQ Candidate by Kelli Goff

The Shopping Diet by Phillip Bloch

Voice of America by E.C. Osondu

The Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate

Peace From Broken Pieces by Iyanla Vanzant

 If Sons, Then Heirs by Lorene Cary

Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World by Kathy Freston
An easy way to ease into the vegan lifestyle.

So, there you have it. Sorry it was so long, but I just couldn’t limit it to just 10. 

The Shopping Diet

by Phillip Bloch

Because of my chronic underemployment, I’ve never had a shopping problem. I am definitely not a shopaholic and upon initially reading this I thought this book wasn’t for me. But I think that this book can be helpful for anyone.

Phillip Bloch is a fashion stylist to the stars and regular people who can afford him. As a professional shopper he is more than qualified to offer advice on curbing your overspending and cultivating a closet that works best for you. Written like a diet book including sections called “Digest This” and “Battle of the Bulge”, Bloch even has a clothing pyramid based on the FDA’s old food pyramid.

Unlike other books on shopping and fashion, Bloch doesn’t bog you down with a lot of glossy photos of clothing that may be out of style in a season or two. Instead he packs real world advice on being stylish without landing in debtor’s prison.

Nina Garcia’s Look Book

What to Wear for Every Occasion
by Nina Garcia

The bookstore where I worked for the past 11 years recently closed. So I am embarking on a new job search. The other day while fretting over having to update my resume, it occurred to me that not only do I not have an outfit to interview in, my current wardrobe is only appropriate for a Starbucks employee. Because of the dress code at my former job, my closet is full of black polo style shirts and khakis. Right now the only social invitation I can accept from you is one where I’ll be making lattes at your dinner party. (And I can, because I am Starbucks/Seattle’s Best trained).

It’s hard to know where to start when your wardrobe has so many holes in it, so I’m turning to my library of fashion books to help me out. I chose this one for no other reason than it was the first that I laid my eyes on. While it really does cover what’s appropriate for certain occasions (job interview, a Netflix night, volunteering, etc.), it also gives some pointers on the appropriate etiquette in those situations. 

It wasn’t very helpful in setting up a core wardrobe, but once I have that in place, I will refer back to this on how to put it together. And as always, the illustrations by Ruben Toledo are divine!

73. Oh No She Didn’t

The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them
by Clinton Kelly

I’m a huge fan of the television show What Not to Wear and watch it since the very first season with Stacy London and Wayne Scot Lukas.  For some reason (probably because of his unkempt appearance – purely my opinion) Lukas was replaced in Season Two with Clinton Kelly.  Good decision, I think. Clinton is way more put together, fashion-wise, and his rapport with Stacy is engaging.

Clinton has written two other books: Freakin’ Fabulous (I reviewed it here), and Dress Your Best, co-authored with Stacy. This new book, like the others, focuses on style, but it is more in keeping with the show and what not do do.  It hilariously countdowns 100 things that women do wrong in fashion with accompanying photos (please don’t miss the camel toe picture).  

While it’s not a book that I will go back and refer to for fashion advice, it made me laugh out loud often and I’m glad I read it.

Catching Up

My reading has slowed down a bit because I picked a couple of lengthy tomes last month that I’m still working on. I will post about those when I finish them. But in the meantime, here’s what I’ve recently read:

 66. The Night Gardener
by George Pelecanos
Pelecanos is in my top 2 favorite mystery writers (Walter Mosley being the other) and I am never disappointed with his work. In The Night Gardener, a teenager is found dead in a community garden and the crime is reminiscent of a series of similar ones that took place in the same manner around 20 years earlier.  And while the crime at the center of the novel is important, the main focus is on the three policemen working the case.  All were around when the original crimes occurred and recognize that this could be related.  Their lives have since taken them in different directions, but this morbid trip down memory lane rejuvenates them somewhat.  As always with Pelecanos, the city of D.C. is a major character as well. I will read anything this dude writes.

 67. What a Westmoreland Wants
by Brenda Jackson
Another must-read author for me when I want a really well-written romance book.  Callum Austell is a ranch owner from Australia, here in America to help a friend run his own ranch. He falls in love with his friends little sister and waits three years to let her know how he feels by offering her the opportunity to decorate his newly built home.  Oh, and the house is in Australia. Callum hopes that by getting her on his turf he can convince her to take him seriously.

 68. Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self
by Danielle Evans
That title alone is awesome. Need I say more? Magnificently well-written books like this are the reason that I’m beginning to really like short story collections. With the exception of one or two, most of these stories focus on young African-American or mixed-race women who are struggling with their current or past realities.  In one, a mixed-race teen who is sent to spend the summer in the South with her White grandmother is faced head-on with issues of race and family.  In another, two young girls sneaking out to the club with fake i.d.’s make radically different decisions that affect the outcome of their night.  I loved that each of these stories are not wrapped up with a pretty bow and they can easily stand alone as novel when fleshed out. Treat yourself to this book.

 69.  Twice the Temptation
by Rochelle Alers
In the latest in The Eatons series,  Denise Eaton is faced with the abrupt news that the rent on the building that houses the day-care center she worked to hard to open is being raised to a level that she can’t afford.  The company that is her new landlord is owned by her ex-boyfriend from college who offers her a deal to pose as his girlfriend for the summer in exchange for keeping the rent affordable. It’s all a part of Rhett Ferrell’s revenge plot to pay her back for breaking up with him and dating his sworn enemy.

70.  The Style Checklist:  The Ultimate Wardrobe Essentials For You
by Lloyd Boston
Although you wouldn’t guess it by seeing me in my work “uniform” every day, I read a lot about fashion.  There are a lot of books out there to help to build your wardrobe, but none as well thought out or comprehensive as this one.  Boston gives you timeless essentials to help you get dressed for all occasions and even shows you how to mix and match and add in more trendier options when they arise.  The best thing about this book is that you can pick it up again in 10 years and the clothes and accessories will still be relevant.  Loved it!

A Busy Month (Hopefully)

If I act like a good girl and honor my commitments to myself, then September should be a busy month for me.  That’s because it is National Yoga Month, National Sewing Month, and Monday starts the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine’s (PCRM) 21-Day Vegan Challenge

Now, ideally, I would like to commit to practicing yoga and sewing everyday, but as I’m notoriously lazy, I doubt that will happen but I will do my best.  The one thing I can commit to doing is reading more about the subjects.  You know I’m always down to read a good book.  So here are my choices to commemorate this busy month:


The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga In America
by Stefanie Syman


 Solutions to Every Problem You’ll Ever Face, Answers to Every Question You’ll Ever Ask
by Barbara Weiland Talbert

I have a lot of books on sewing in my library, but I rarely sit down and read them cover to cover. I just reference them when I have a question.  This little book is just full of tips and tricks and I will go through every page.

Because New York Fashion Week is also this month, I will be reading this:

Nina Garcia’s Look Book:  What to Wear for Every Occasion

This is the one thing that I will definitely be doing everyday. I get recipes from all over the place but will use a couple of books and cookbooks as well.

Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Romero

Quick & Easy Vegan Comfort Food: 65 Everyday Meal Ideas for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner With over 150 Great-Tasting, Down-Home Recipes
by Alicia C. Simpson

By Any Greens Necessary:  A Revolutionary Guide for Black Women Who Want to Eat Great, Get Healthy, Lose Weight and Look Phat
by Tracye Lynn McQuirter

Join me if you want. Inspire me if you will. Support me if you can!

Fabric Purchases

A few posts ago, I talked about creating a core wardrobe including some nice boring pieces for work.
Right after that had an incredible sale and it just so happens that it was my payday as well.
This is what I got:

Nice and plain, right? The top piece is 5 yds of black wool stretch suiting material that I think was about $5 a yard.  The second piece is 5 yards of a Ralph Lauren chino fabric that I have been stalking since they got it in a few months ago. It had been marked down to $1.95/yd! There is still some left, but don’t everybody take it all!  The third piece is about 2 1/2 yds charcoal grey wool stretch suiting – same as the first piece.  The last piece is a couple yards of black poplin probably for a button down shirt.  I only wanted to spend $40 and with a 30% off coupon and free shipping under $35, I was able to stay within budget!  I ordered it on Friday and received it on Tuesday – even with that Monday being a holiday.  Plus they send you some motivation: