Friday, August 31, 2012

C.G.G.C Weekend Shopping Splurge: Peplums

Basic rule of fashion: Detract attention from one area by accentuating another.

If you're totally covering up on top, one way to do that is to show-off a great pair of legs. I previously posted a few LBD's that did just that here.

Peplum looks however are currently trending and are a great way to shift the focus down and away from your chest.

Hold on. Before you say, "Woah...way too girly for me" or "Are you frickin' kidding? Extra stuff around my hips!" Just breathe. Now trust me. We already know I don't do girly and my lower area is not exactly pin-up worthy.

The key is making sure the seam for the peplum is precisely placed to provide you with just the right proportion: low enough so that your torso isn't truncated and high enough so that you don't look frumpy.  This can vary a little depending on the height of the peplum itself.

via: The Street Style

Peplum and Stripes...this could be the holy grail of t-shirts.  (Editor's note: she's wearing a statement necklace for even more camouflage.)

Here are this week's picks for cool peplum pieces:
(and all have great coverage on top as well!)

1-Alexander McQueen // 2-The Row // 3-Marni // 4-Cushnie & Ochs // 5-Phillip Lim // 6-Phillip Lim

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Knitting For Breast Cancer

Knitters at Staten Island's Naked Sheep Yarn Shop

As a knitwear designer and breast cancer survivor myself, this event makes me really happy!

Last week in Staten Island, NY, local knitters congregated at the Naked Sheep Yarn Shop in Travis to knit special items to raise funds for the Staten Island Breast Cancer Research Initative. The items will be sold at SIBCRI's 2nd annual Breast Cancer Walkathon being held on Oct. 6th at the College of Staten Island in Willowbrook.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of death among women on Staten Island.

While there were definitely a lot of pink items being created, Dr. Donna Gerstle, director of the SIBRCI, says, "Not everything needs to be pink." She indicated that there are plenty of men who would probably prefer a pair of blue fingerless gloves to a pink scarf.

Personally, I'm on the blue bus myself.

Operation Pink, while it has got to go down as one of the all-time best branding campaigns in history, riles me up in much the same way when I can't find a pair of running sneakers with blue or yellow instead of pink or purple. I'm all for the cause, I just wish there were some alternatives.

The Naked Sheep will be hosting another gathering tonight, Tuesday 8/28 from 5:30-9pm. They indicate refreshments-pink lemonade and all-will be served :)

For more details about knitting for the cure call: 718-477-YARN (9276)

Monday, August 27, 2012

The One Gold Medal Lance Armstrong Can't Be Denied

This week Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and his Olympic Bronze medal from the 2000 Sydney games after deciding he would no longer fight the doping charges that have plagued him for years.

He will probably also face lawsuits from the dozens of corporate sponsors who have paid him handsomely.

But the one fight Lance will never back down from is his commitment to finding a cure for cancer.

His organization, LIVESTRONG, who's mission statement, "We fight to improve the lives of people affected by cancer," has raised close to $500 million from over 215,000 annual contributors.

LIVESTRONG has several exceptional programs and partnerships including the Anti-Stigma campaignLivestrong at the YMCA, Livestrong Young Adult Alliance, and Fertile Hope.

Sure, the foundation leveraged Lance's incredible athletic achievements to self-promote but it's outreach after 15 years has extended well beyond any cult-of-personality status initially attached to it.  Let's not forget that at the age of 25 Lance was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer, which had already spread to his abdomen, brain and lungs. Not only did he beat cancer and start his foundation before winning any of his titles, he went on to compete at an elite level few people can even conceive of.

Would he have won first place without alleged performance-enhancing drugs? 25th? 102nd? Who knows. But he still would have been a world-class athlete by any standard and anyone battling back from cancer knows how hard it is to walk 2 blocks much less cycle 2000 miles.

Still, while he's passed every single drug test he's ever taken, former teammates and assistants insist that Armstrong was part of the same complex doping scheme in which many of them admitted to being involved. The scathing 60 Minutes piece with former teammate Tyler Hamilton does make you wonder.

For my two cents, I can't seem to wrap my head around someone who cops to a crime when he knows he's unequivocally innocent. It's your legacy, your children's inheritance, and your ancestors' re-written path of succession that will forever be tainted. But then again, I have no idea the stress such intense scrutiny can have on a person.

Regardless, while it's hard to deny the possibility that Armstrong participated in some sort of performance enhancing activity (the definition of which can span a whole range of activities, legal and not, in my book) and despite the cloud of scandal that will forever be attached to his name, Lance deserves a gold medal for being a fervently devoted champion in the war against cancer.

You can read Lance's statement to his fans regarding his decision on the blog and decide for yourself where you stand.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Miley Cyrus' Hair Needs A New PR Agent

As much as the gossip magazines have had a field day psychoanalyzing Miley Cyrus and her recent punk-rock haircut, it's hardly a sign that she's spiraling out of control. Can everyone just take a collective breath and remember what they were like as a teenager? Hair experimentation is pretty much standard stuff people.

Personally, I think she looks quite cool and her plump, 19-year old skin allows her to pull off almost any cut or color she may want to try.

So, no. Miley Cyrus didn't pull a Brittany Spears and chop of her long, silky locks in some rash, desperate rebellious moment but she did mess up.

What Miley should have done is contact Locks of Love and donate her beautiful hair to a worthy cause.

Locks of Love is a non-profit organization that provides wigs and hair pieces to financially disadvantaged children under 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. The goal is to return a sense of self-esteem and "normalcy" to these children by providing the highest quality hair prostheses available.

It takes 6-10 donated ponytails of 10" or longer to make 1 hairpiece so volunteers are constantly needed. Donating is actually quite a simple process and you need not make any greater effort than sitting in the chair at your regular hair salon. As long as you meet the basic requirements all you need to do is seal your chopped, braided ponytail in a plastic baggie and mail it off to the following:

Locks of Love
234 Southern Blvd.
West Palm Beach, FL  33405-2701

If you would like to be recognized for your gift, you may download and fill-out a very short "hair donation form" and enclose it with your package.

Fear not Miley, your hair will grow back in no time and you can do it right the second time around.  I mean, if Snooki from the "Jersey Shore" can donate her famous poof to Locks of Love, you can too.

And for anyone who's about to undergo chemotherapy, it might feel very empowering to deal with your impending hair loss by cutting it off yourself and donating it rather than watching it fall out strand by strand. Tie on a gorgeous headscarf and find strength knowing that you're helping a child in need.

Pictures courtesy of Miley Cyrus' Instagram feed

Friday, August 17, 2012

C.G.G.C Weekend Wardrobe: Olatz Schnabel Pajamas

If you've hesitated buying yourself a pair of pajamas because you think you won't get enough mileage out of them to warrant the expense, have no fear! Pajamas are totally in fashion right now.

Olatz Schnabel, wife of artist Julian Schnabel, makes some of the coolest pajamas around.

This is exactly the kind of "effort" I plan on putting into my outfit this weekend...I am zonked.

Some chic shots for inspiration:

Olatz Schnabel wearing Olatz

Gwyneth Paltrow-Vogue August, 2010

Shala Monroque

Amanda Brooks

casually cool with denim cut-offs

Check out Olatz' site for great lounge wear as well as items for your bath, table, and how about a bed in purple to lift your spirits?

Olatz Palermo Bedding

Scroll through the "Picture This" page for the great photo by Miles Aldridge posted on 07.11.12 (And check back often.  Updates are posted on Sunday.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

12-Year Old With Cancer Inspires On YouTube With Make-Up Tutorials

Talia Joy Castellano
When someone finds out you have cancer words like "courageous" and "strong" get thrown around to describe you. But when you watch the inspiring videos on YouTube by 12-year old Talia Joy Castellano it's "moxie" or "fierce" that first spring to mind.

In 2007, Talia was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma, a form of cancer which develops from nerve tissue and is most commonly seen in children under the age of 5. Researchers are unsure as to how and why it develops and often by the time it is discovered, the cancer has already spread.

Like most patients, Talia lost all of her hair when she began chemotherapy. She eschews wearing a wig, preferring make-up instead to detract from her baldness, and now the plucky, confident 7th grader offers tips on how to apply blush, eye shadow, mascara, and lipstick to over 100,000 subscribers on her channel, taliajoy18.

Her lessons are peppered with lots of "likes" and "yeahs" typical to any kid her age but don't let that fool you; Talia delivers her advice with as much deftness and artistry as any hardcore professional I've witnessed backstage during Fashion Week.

Unfortunately, all the glitter and gloss belies a very grim reality for the wise-beyond-her-years internet star. On August 2nd, in her video titled Vlog: Bad News, Talia tells her fans that she has recently developed pre-leukemia; a cancer affecting her bone marrow. The combination of her two aggressive cancers is rare and a bone marrow transplant is one of the only treatment options available. The procedure is grueling however, and with all that this young tween has already endured she candidly states in her follow-up episode Vlog: IDK, what to say :(, "right now...I'm leaning towards not doing it."

Without treatment, Talia's decision would give her only four months to one year more to live.

In the meantime, she says she'll continue making videos and assesses her short-life so far with the introspection, candor, and maturity that left black streaks running down my face.
"Having cancer has been a gift yet a horrible, horrible, terrifying thing but I've gotten so many benefits from it...Having a YouTube channel, [inspiring] people, and having people look up to me...explaining to you guys how I love and adore's just amazing. But every journey has an end. I really, really hope you guys understand what I'm saying, and understand where I'm coming from."  
Talia's vehicle may be cosmetics, but her poignant message is beyond skin-deep: find joy in the things you love, find ways to make yourself feel happy and alive, and play the hand you've been dealt even when the odds favor the house.

Remember she's only 12.

In honor of Talia, go buy yourself a tube of Chanel's Rouge Coco, take yourself to a new restaurant you've been hankering to try, and stop worrying about all the stupid errands that won't get done today.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Great Design Stimulates Medical Research

I'm known to have an interest in a million things but art and design have always been the gateway to my specific path. I work in fashion, love to write, crave academic environments, live by excel spreadsheets, and come from a medical family...and then I got cancer and thought, these things just don't add-up to anything focused.

So it amazes me that I can make all my worlds collide and do it through the lens of cancer and hopefully help people in the process. Kind of like when friends from different groups come together and find out that they feel as connected to each other as you do to each of them.

Seek And Ye Shall Find

I previously wrote about Maggie's Center and recently came across the very cool O.A.S.E Medical Library at Heinrich-Heine-University in Dusseldorf, Germany.

photo credit: HPP Architects

The project, completed in June, 2011, is the work of HPP Architects. The name is a German acronym, essentially a play on the word "Oasis," and aligns with the University's charge to create a space which would serve as a "lighthouse" for innovative teaching and learning among the existing, more industrial style buildings on campus.

Mission accomplished. With it's crisp, white exterior and undulating panels of glass, the modern building beautifully mimics our own internal network of blood vessels and arteries and stands out among the more staid surroundings. Open and airy common areas provide light and space promoting an atmosphere conducive to long hours of studying. HPP describes the structure as follows:
With the new Medical Library, Dusseldorf's Heinrich-Heine-University receives a pulsating space for studying, reading, learning, inspiration, and social encounter. The design for the 38 meter high structure stacks the various functions on top of one another and is the architectural expression of a capillary system. This idea is very effectively displayed through the smooth, white skin of the facade that forms a network of organic glass shapes over the slender cube - a lively building with high identification and recognition value.
In addition to state-of-the-art equipment such as electronic white boards in the lecture halls, color and modern furnishings create a space where people actually want to spend time.

Are you kidding me? I both teach and take classes at two different colleges in NYC and I can tell you, there is nothing even remotely as modern, clean, and inspiring a place in which to study as this.  Even at Cornell where I went to college, as pretty as the grounds and external architecture are, the inside of many of the buildings is pretty run-down...and Cornell's Department of Architecture is among one of the most well-respected.

I'd hang out late in the stacks just to see how those windows cast shadows on the ground after dark. I hope all this awesomeness inspires students and researchers to do some amazing work.

All photography unless otherwise noted courtesy of Jens Kircher

Friday, August 10, 2012

C.G.G.C Weekend Shopping Splurge: Draped Black Dress

Coco Chanel once said, "Scheherezade is easy; a little black dress is difficult."

What Mme. Chanel meant was that it's way harder to manipulate a plain piece of black cloth into "the" archetype of chic, cool, sophistication than to charm the pants off of a jilted king so he doesn't chop your head off.

There's an L.B.D appropriate for every situation in which you might find yourself and this explains why most women probably have at least a dozen of them in their closets of varying lengths, materials, and silhouettes. Everyone also knows that black masks whatever "problem areas" one might be fixating on at a given moment.  I just finished my fifth inflation and I can safely say, "Houston, we have a problem." I am definitely in need of something a little more strategic than a statement necklace to camouflage my upper region.

All of these silhouettes offer a lot of coverage without looking like you have something to hide (not to mention they are timelessly elegant and effortlessly cool.) The draping allows the fabric to gracefully float across the body without creating any sharp outlines. More fullness on top begs for a little skin reveal below.  If you've got great legs, this look should be your go-to. Personally, I think the mid-calf length dress from The Row (look #2) is absolutely sublime.

Here are this week's picks for draped black dresses:

buy here: 1-Helmut Lang Prism Drop Dress // 2-The Row Semaj Dress // 3-Martin Margiela Convertible Dress // 4-Halston Heritage Belted Asymmetric Dress // 5-Zero Maria Cornejo Adio Dress

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cancer Patient Wages Twitter War to Make Aetna Pay

Arijit Guha
photo courtesy
Being a graduate student getting a PhD in sustainability is an admirable pursuit. Now imagine doing it at the same time you're battling stage IV colon cancer.

Upon returning from a trip to India with his new wife, 31-year old, Arizona State University student Arijit Guha began suffering from severe abdominal pain. When the school's health center couldn't figure out what was wrong with him, he sought help from a local gastroenterologist. A colonoscopy revealed a 6 cm tumor almost completely obstructing his colon. During surgery to remove it, doctors quickly discovered the situation was far worse: Guha had metastatic colorectal cancer.

With some chemotherapy treatments costing as much as $11,000 a pop, Guha quickly racked-up some hefty bills. When he reached his policy's lifetime limit of $300,000 his insurance carrier, Aetna, unceremoniously dropped him.

To help pay for the high cost of treatment, Guha founded selling funny t-shirts and other goods and within three short days received donations of $20,000 from over 1,500 people. Still, Guha knew he had to take a more aggressive approach than what his friend called "the world's most important bakesale" if he was going to continue getting the proper care he needed.

Encouraged by the outpouring of support, Guha harnessed the power of the internet tweeting about his predicament and quickly found himself embroiled in a Twitter war with none other than Aetna CEO, Mark Bertolini. Guha not only was able to shame the healthcare provider into covering the cost of his care for the past year, over $118,000 worth of bills, but was also successful in having the powerful CEO come as close to a Mea Culpa as we've seen in the healthcare debate. In his final twitter message Bertolini wrote:
"The system is broken, and I am committed to fixing it.  I am glad we connected today and got this issue solved.  I appreciate the dialogue no matter how pointed.  I've got it and own it!"
Guha's battle with cancer is far from over but removing the very real possibility of having to declare medical bankruptcy allows him and his loved ones to concentrate on what's really important. He has updated his website to state that 100 percent of the proceeds from all items sold will be donated to charity while Aetna is picking-up the tab.

Guha's victory embodies the struggle that so many people with major illnesses face. The heated discourse that surrounds our current healthcare system is mostly debated amongst policy makers and big pharma who reduce thousands of individuals to statistics and potential causalities of the unlucky gene lottery.

President Obama's Affordable Care Act, which goes into effect in 2014, would no longer allow health insurance companies from imposing lifetime limits on coverage and is aimed exactly at preventing this kind of thing from ever happening again. Guha struck just the right chord to personalize the issue and hopefully marks a significant milestone in forcing those in power to see patients not as a number but rather as their friends, spouses, parents, and children and fix our broken healthcare system.

No one should have to incur a lifetime of debt to pay for necessary medical treatment.

Full disclosure:  My health insurance carrier is also Aetna and the EOB I received post-op totaled more than $88,000. While I opted for the highest level plan my employer offers, until I reach my deductible, coverage follows a 90/10 schedule (i.e. I am responsible for 10 percent of all costs.) There has been a steady stream of small bills for the past several months, which, while no where near what Mr. Guha has had to cover, make me wonder how exactly the policy's terms are decided. I have no idea what my current "lifetime" limit is, but I intend to find out.

And for anyone who still doesn't fully comprehend how effective social media can be, let this serve as a prime example.  For every frivolous thought tweeted into the ether, ordinary citizens such as Guha, are proof that one person's voice can actually be heard.

Friday, August 3, 2012

C.G.G.C Weekend Shopping Splurge: Statement Necklaces

If you're having reconstruction with tissue expanders, your constantly changing silhouette will require you to re-work your wardrobe styling nearly every time the plastic surgeon blows you up.

I'm fairly short (5'2") and there's not a lot of surface area for these growing globes to occupy so after four inflations, my boobs look and feel like they're jammed against my collarbone. The plastic surgeon assures me they will sit much lower when all is said and done but for now they have what I refer to as the "Baywatch Bump."

(You know what I mean...that very defined, protruding perimeter you see on super skinny women who go from an A to a D. It kind of looks like a cantaloupe vacuum-sealed in latex.)  

Basically, they don't look so natural and I've become increasingly self-conscious of this temporary distortion. I've been wearing my beloved button-down shirts and clothes with much higher necklines but my silhouette is awry and it offends my sense of good taste!

The Solution:  Statement Necklaces

Necklaces add a layer of camouflage to your upper area. Anyone looking at you will simply be mesmerized by the tangled web of sparkly, shimmering objects rather than fixating on the buxom milkmaid action that's happening up top. Longer necklaces will also draw the eye down, helping to lengthen and stretch your overall appearance.

This one can be tricky though since with each inflation there will be renewed tenderness and sensitivity and anything too heavy or bulky may hurt. For at least 5-6 weeks post-op, the thought of anything resting on my chest was inconceivable but as the muscles stretched to accommodate the expanders, the pain subsided. The recovery after each inflation is much, much faster; essentially one or two days max. You're going to have to try out different options and lighter jewelry probably makes more sense. One of my favorite necklaces is something I bought at J. Crew Kids for a mere $16.

If you're into color, this one on Olivia Palermo is kind of gorgeous and it's definitely a lot of statement. You can easily wear this over a plain t-shirt or any basic shell top with a crew neckline.

via: Classy In The City

Here are this week's picks for cool statement necklaces:
(clearly I'm feeling green!)

buy here:  1-J. Crew // 2-Marni // 3-Orly Genger // 4-Marni // 5-Dannijo