5x5: DC's First Citywide Public Art Festival Launches

"Home Mender" art installation curated by Justine Topfer.  Photo: Todd Seelie

Last Saturday night, the Capitol Skyline Hotel hosted the launch party for DC’s newest art endeavor, 5x5.

Over the course of April, many of the District’s neighborhoods will be decorated with temporary art pieces from “25 notable artists from around the world,” (according to the website). This is DC’s very first citywide public art festival.

5x5, which is funded by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, got its name due to the five curators who are each in charge of five artists (hailing from countries such as Germany, the UK, Canada and the US), making a total of 25 art installations.

“This is definitely something you haven’t seen in Washington before,” festival project manager, Mary Beth Brown told Meets Obsession. “But, since its launch, the project has been fairly well received.”

The idea for 5x5 came out of the city’s Public Art Master Plan that was created in 2009. “We spent two years working out the details,” says Brown.

It wasn’t until this past summer that the call for curators was released. The panel process began in September to select the final five.

"Home Mender" art installation curated by Justine Topfer.  Photo: Todd Seelie

All the artists—handpicked by the five curators—were notified by mid-December and many of them started their pieces within the month. “It’s been an ongoing process,” says Brown. Artists were selected in various different ways, “budget, site availability, and some of the selected artists are part of preexisting collectives, and so instead of choosing one artists the entire collective was chosen.”

Exhibits have been places all over the city, including less traveled areas such as the southwest waterfront and Anacostia. Other installation areas include Capitol Hill, and the upper northwest quadrant.

“One of our goals with 5x5 is to get people to think of DC as more than just a city of monuments,” says Brown. “We partnered with the National Cherry Blossom Festival because there are so many tourists visiting right now. Hopefully, we’ll get people—tourist and locals alike—to explore the city’s neighborhoods.”

Though the festival is only scheduled to run for five weeks—until April 27—some pieces will be available for viewing afterwards.

In fact, the last piece won’t be dismantled until July 20. Brown suggests looking on the map of exhibits and making a day of seeing them. “It can be a lot to take in,” she explains. “Especially since some of the projects are moving.”

However, some of the artists have scheduled events and workshops that must be attended in order to view the work, such as Monica Canilao’s tree-house-esque sculpture made from discarded materials, located in Anacostia’s abandoned police warehouse. “But the more sculptural pieces are there for you to visit at your own pleasure. In fact, we might try to organize some sort of bus tour during the last scheduled week of the festival.”

What adds to the uniqueness of 5x5’s debut—besides the fact that it coincides with the 100 year anniversary of the National Cherry Blossom Festival—is that it’s “exciting!” exclaims Brown. “That’s the great thing about public art—it leaves as quickly as it appears.”

For more information, please visit the 5x5 Project at  www.the5x5project.com

How Reality Television Has Shaped a Generation

How Reality Television Has Shaped a Generation

How Reality Television Has Shaped a Generation

[dropcap]G[/dropcap]o channel surfing on any given night of the week and it’s guaranteed that at least one reality television series will be playing.

Today, reality television fans have unlimited viewing options with shows  like “Real Housewives” (pick a city), “Jersey Shore,” “Bad Girls Club,” “Toddlers and Tiaras,” and almost all of the shows on networks like Bravo, VH1  and MTV.

In fact, MTV’s baby, “Jersey Shore” has the power to draw over eight million viewers per episode.

Now the average Jane can Tivo into other’s lives—albeit, lives that have been edited and produced to look wilder and crazier than typical reality. Still, reality television has made voyeurism easier than ever.

But, let’s face it: MTV’s viewer demographic is young teens to mid-twenties.

So how are these shows affecting American youth?

“Adults watch [reality shows] because they’re entertained by them; teenagers who watch these shows can be influenced by them,” says Dr. Michael Osit, clinical psychologist and author of "Generation Text: Raising Well-Adjusted Kids in an Age of Instant Everything," to Meets Obsession.

How Reality Television Has Shaped a Generation
Theresa Giudice in Bravo's "Jersey Shore"

“Teenagers today have tremendous access to the world. They’re exposed to a broader scope of behavior than previous generations because of all the access they have—Internet, social networking, texting—it’s a general cultural issue that’s going on.”

Osit, who has been working with children and families for nearly 35 years, says that in the last 8 to 10 years, he’s witnessed a major change in the behavior of both children and their parents. “Younger kids are asking for and getting things that older kids used to get, like cell phones. Drinking seems to be an accepted part of youth culture—so many parents are now buying their teenagers alcohol.”

The most concerning issue about shows like “Jersey Shore,” according to Parent eSource.com,"  is the promiscuous sex with random partners that often follows a night of clubbing and binge drinking. […] Despite all of the featured sex with multiple partners, not once on the show is the subject of birth control or other forms of protection mentioned.”

Furthermore, shows like “Jersey Shore” consistently display an alarming amount of sexism and “objectification of women.”

How Reality Television Has Shaped a Generation
Vinny Guadagnino in MTV's "Jersey Shore"

How does this treatment of women, juxtaposed with a bombardment of female characters as emotional, manipulative, airheads effect up and coming generations?

“There’s potential for women to lose respect and feminist footing,” says Osit. “I don’t know if adults will change their behavior, but teenagers have the potential to act this way as adults because they’re at the age where they’re looking for behaviors to emulate. They’re searching for who they want to be and, if they’re attracted to people in media, then they’re going to start acting like that.”

“The long-lasting effect of these types of shows is that youth become desensitized to this type of behavior,” says Osit.  “The moral fiber of culture is slowly eroding,” especially in regards to sexual behavior, work ethic and how we treat others. “Everyday in my office I ask ‘can you say that differently?’ in regards to kids speaking rudely to authority figure. The heroes on these shows are the one that breaks the rules.”

In a country that praises itself for freedom of speech, where does this leave us?

Is censorship the answer?

Not necessarily. Most parenting sites recommend using these shows as tools to talk to their children about inappropriate behavior.

On the website Parenting Advice Written by Kids, one adolescent seemed to have very grounded sense of the topic. “Everyone likes to party, granted. But on the hit reality show “Jersey Shore,” they are paid to do nothing but party and create drama. With partying comes drinking, mistakes and confusion. I’m sorry, I know I’m 15 and this show is designed to ‘appeal’ to me, but I honestly think MTV is glamorizing a lifestyle of drunken mistakes.”

The driving fact is that censorship rarely works, education and dialogue often times does.

Osit agrees that parents have a lot of control in what their children take away from these shows.

"Another reassuring note is that—especially depending on parenting—if adolescents of today are given the right tools from adults, they’ll essentially grow out of reality television behavior. They’ll return to a more ‘calm,’ ‘normal’ behavior and become more moral and treat people well.”

Has Diversity in the Fashion Industry Improved in the Last Decade?

Has Diversity in the Fashion Industry Improved in the Last Decade?

Has Diversity in the Fashion Industry Improved in the Last Decade?
Designers that use diverse models on the runway include Nomia (left: photo courtesy of Nomia), Kevork Kiledjian (center: photo courtesy of Kevork Kiledjian), Tracy Reese (right: photo courtesy of Tracy Reese)


[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen it comes to diversity, America is often regarded as a melting pot of cultures, backgrounds and colors.

Obama is up for re-election, and Oprah is one of the most powerful players in pop culture. But as fashion weeks are wrapping up all over the world with runways—and photo shoots— awash with white faces, has the fashion industry really become that diverse?

January 10 through the 14, 2012 was the Rio de Janeiro Fashion Week and, according to the Daily Glow, it was one of the whitest events of the season, even though Brazil “has the largest black population next to Nigeria.”

Of the 200 female models employed by Rio’s 40 Degrees Modeling Agency, only eight of them were black women. A quick scroll through their model listing shows a sprinkling of dark skinned faces amid rows upon rows of white and light-skinned ones.

Luana Genot, a model and advertising student at Rio Catholic University, told Agence France-Presse that she is only called if an event is connected to black culture.

Genot added that the few times she did get a fashion week gig, she was “chastised” for the texture of her hair and the makeup requirements necessary to match her skin tone.

However, this year’s fashion week in New York was reportedly more racially diverse than it’s been in years.[pullquote_right]Models of color finally topped 20% of the models booked for fashion week shows.[/pullquote_right]

Jezebel’s Jenna Sauers reports that, “models of color finally topped 20% of the models booked for fashion week shows.”

Of the 141 shows Style.com covered this year, “20.1% went to models of color.” As opposed to the Spring 2008 collection presentations where over two thirds of the 101 shows employed zero black models (New York Times, October 2007).

“I've seen a lot more diversity in fashion over the years” Michael Solomon, a consumer psychologist and the Director of the Center for Consumer Research for Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph's University, told Meets Obsession. “I attribute this to demographic changes; (the U.S.) population is a lot more diverse than it used to be as the numbers of African American, Hispanic American and Asian American consumers grow.”

In fact, African Americans spend an estimated $26.9 billion a year on fashion (according to TradeMarketNews.com). “Representatives of these subcultures are starting to gain more power in business,” explains Solomon. “Obviously they're not on par with Caucasians yet—but I think media executives are more aware of the need to provide a range of ‘templates’ when they run fashion spreads, film commercials, cast TV shows, etc.”

[pullquote_left] Marketers have learned that there are huge underexploited markets in cosmetics and other personal care products for women of color.[/pullquote_left]Of all the ethnicities, Asian faces made up the second highest during NYFW (after Caucasian), but black models were a close third. Diane von Furstenberg, Betsey Johnson, and Tracy Reese were three of the designers whose shows “had numerous models of color,” along with Tommy Hilfiger “whose shows have not always been terribly diverse,” reported Jezebel.

Calvin Klein, on the other hand, used one black model out of 33. The rest were white. The Olsen Twins’ Row and Reed Krakoff, formerly of Coach, featured entirely white casts.

Has Diversity in the Fashion Industry Improved in the Last Decade?
Joan Smalls covers this month's Vogue Italia

In the print world, this month’s Vogue Italia features Joan Smalls on the cover. She is the first non-Caucasian woman to grace the cover in nearly half a decade.

A positive step, but a small one, which Solomon attributes to the fact that “marketers have learned that there are huge underexploited markets in cosmetics and other personal care products for women of color. Everyone is rushing to adopt a ‘diversity’ or ‘multicultural’ marketing strategy,” in order to tap into this market.

Between the late 1980s and early ‘90s, Solomon did a series of studies involving the editors of major fashion magazines and the language they used to describe different types of beauty.

“I found that there were about six dominant categories used to classify models; one of which was ‘exotics.’ Referring to any non-white woman –or a code word,” says Solomon.  He doubts that today—if he were to do the same study in 2012—“that all non-Caucasian models would be lumped into one category.”

Progress is being made every day by many well known and loved designers, but America, and the world at large, still has a long road ahead before runways—and fashion magazines— reach equal levels of diversity.

The Real Deal On Eating Disorders and the Growing

The Real Deal On Eating Disorders and the Growing "Thinspo" Trend

The Real Deal On Eating Disorders and the Growing "Thinspo" Trend
A compilation of images posted by "thinspo" blogs for inspiration

Girls want to be skinny. Boys want to be muscular. It’s a long-running American tradition that, even as young children, we all obsess about our bodies.

But at what point does the obsession become extreme?

At the “It’s Our Turn” conference held in February at Los Angeles’ Brentwood High School, Lady Gaga reportedly opened up about her experience with bulimia as a teenager.

According to the Huffington Post, the pop diva admitted to throwing up all the time in high school, revealing, “I'm not that confident. I wanted to be a skinny little ballerina, but I was a voluptuous little Italian girl whose dad had meatballs on the table every night.”

While she urged the girl in the audience (who brought up the topic of body image) to seek help for her own weight issues, Lady Gaga said, “weight is still a struggle. Every video I'm in, every magazine cover—they make you perfect. It's not real life.”

But that “perfection” is what many young girls (and boys) crave.

Back in the early days of the internet, hundreds of “pro-ana” (short for pro-anorexia) sites were started with the goal of coaching and sharing tips on how to lose weight and stave hunger.

According to the Huffington Post, in 2001, Yahoo! removed “115 sites citing violations of the company's terms of service.”

The Real Deal On Eating Disorders and the Growing "Thinspo" Trend
One thinspo blogger posts photos to
tumblr to"encourage"other followers

Today, these same types of blogs can be found most readily available on Tumblr, under the new name “thinspo” (thin inspiration).

The girls on Thinspo blogs post pictures of tiny actresses and models—often times highlighting the visible bones or thighs that don’t touch.

Many of the users keep track of their (dangerously low) daily calorie intake on their home page. Their site URLS demonstrate the level of their obsession with page names such as “Hooked to Hospital Machines,” “The Journey to Paper Thin” and “Vegan-Orexic.”

But all this would have the general public pointing the blame at pop culture.

In fact, in March of 2010, Lady Gaga herself—at the beginning of her stardom— told New York Magazine in an interview, that “Pop stars should not eat.”

And anyone who watched the Oscars this year should be contemplating the last time Angelina Jolie ate a full meal.

But according to Samantha Zylstra, a Marriage Family Therapist in San Francisco—who holds a specialty in treating eating disorders—actresses like Jolie and the media are not the only contributing factor to anorexia or bulimia.

“Research is showing that the people who struggle with eating disorders have many similar traits in their brains,” says Zylstra. “Brain function, personality, family or origin, biological traits and the media are all contributing factors in creating an eating disorder.  One factor is not a determining factor.”

Meanwhile, eating disorders are so often considered a “girls” disease so much that men are frequently overlooked.

 Special MSNBC segment on males and anorexia.

"The Daily Nightly on MSNBC recently reported that roughly one million males in the U.S. —between the ages of 12 and 25—suffer from eating disorders.

It’s speculated that men may, in fact, be at a higher risk of suffering serious effects from eating disorders because it often takes them longer to seek help. “There is a huge need for more public awareness about men struggling with eating disorders so that they too can get treatment,” says Zylstra.

What’s possibly the most worrisome, is the dichotomy of “health” in America today.

Models, and actresses are thinner than ever (according to DoSomething.org “twenty years ago, models weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today, they weigh 23% less”).

Meanwhile, “American children are, on average, 15 pounds heavier now than they were 20 years ago,” says Zylstra. Yet, “there are more reported incidents, as far as eating disorders are concerned, and anorexia remains the mental illness with the highest death rate. I would say as a whole, we are not getting healthier.”

As Americans, we are taught to glamorize thin, muscular bodies and rich/fast food, and sometimes figuring out how to be healthy is difficult.

But there’s nothing sexy about starving yourself. “Eating disorders are very dangerous,” says Zylstra. “Anorexia does claim more lives than any other mental illness,” and recovery—if left untreated for too long—can take up to seven years.

Zylstra stresses how important more public awareness is and also points out that “getting treatment as soon as possible” can make a huge difference.

Zylstra recommends “finding a therapist whom the client trusts and feels safe with and who is very familiar with eating disorders.”

As Lady Gaga summed up to Maria Shriver at “It’s Our Turn,” “I'm gonna say this about girls: The dieting has got to stop. Everyone just knock it off. Because at the end of the day, it's affecting kids your age -- and its making girls (and boys) sick."

Our Best Places to Shop Vintage in D.C.

The Best Places to Buy Vintage Clothing in D.C.

Best Places to Buy Vintage Clothing in D.C.

There’s more to the fashion scene here in the District than meets the eye.

In fact, this city is surprisingly filled with some fabulous finds, including a good selection of those sometimes-elusive vintage stores.

Finding the best place to shop for vintage apparel in the District can be a task, and if you step into the wrong store, more often than not, you''ll find more trash than treasure.

For you vintage vixens, we put together a list of our favorite local vintage haunts.

So, this Sunday, why not have brunch with your friends and spend your day visiting some of our favorite shops.  You'll be glad you did.

Annie Creamcheese

Annie Creamcheese

Located in the heart of Georgetown, Annie Creamcheese is a below street-level store that never fails to impress.

The racks are constantly filled with clothing from different eras—including a few new pieces—while the counters are adorned with everything from vintage jewelry to fun, plastic earrings for only $8 (the same price as H&M, and often cheaper than Claires).

It’s a great alternative to Georgetown shopping, especially if you’re looking for an out-on-the-town, not to mention one-of-a-kind, kinda dress. They also have a huge collection of sunglasses, some vintage,  some just plain cool (or bizarre).

Perhaps this is why celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, the Kardashian sisters, and Betsey Johnson all get their vintage on at Annie Creamcheese..

Annie Lee opened the “flagship” store in 2004 (five years later a sister location was opened in Las Vegas, but is now moving to Los Angeles), giving M Street a small but crucial slice of “individuality” in a neighborhood filled with Vineyard Vines and Banana Republic.

Find it across from Dean and DeLuca at 3279 M Street, NW. Open daily (Monday to Saturday 11-8pm, Sunday 12-6).

Pretty People

Pretty People

Coincidentally, the woman who brought fashionable vintage to Georgetown is also responsible for the second store on this list.

Lee, who is currently the creative director and head buyer of Pretty People, opened the Old Town Alexandria shop just last March. In the past 11 months, Washingtonian Magazine awarded the store "Best Women’s Vintage, 2011,"  and the store was also voted "Best of Old Town."

The shop is divided up into several rooms, giving it a quaint, maze-like quality filled with beautiful clothes documenting different eras from the 1940s through the shoulder pads of the 80s.

“I like the décor because it matches the clothing—quirky, funky stuff—without being tacky,” one Monday afternoon shopper told Meets Obsession. “There’s a really thin line between cool and tacky, and they nailed it.”

The store also buys vintage, but check the website before bringing just anything in. They have guidelines.

Pretty People is located at 108 N. Patrick St., in Old Town Alexandria. They’re open 7 days a week (Monday to Saturday 11-7pm, Sunday 12-5pm), but leave the boys behind. There’s nothing in there for them.

Dr. K's Vintage

Dr. K’s

On U Street, is a gem of different color. Unlike Annie Creamcheese and Pretty People, this space feels cramped and somewhat dusty.

In fact, the store that opened in fall of 2010 was almost left off this list until one shopper pointed out why it was worth including:

“Dr. K’s has a really large selection of menswear,” says Sarah Wassel. “Most vintage stores seem to focus on women’s stuff, but this one even has men’s accessories, like cufflinks.” Wassel also pointed out that the store was well stocked with unique shoes and even vintage luggage pieces.  “Besides, I liked that it was kind of cramped and musty—it felt like I was shopping in a real vintage store.”

Located at 1534 U Street, NW, Dr. K’s does not currently have a website, and according to their Facebook page, the shop  is “usually” open every day from 12-9, but they suggest calling first, just to make sure.

Meeps Vintage


Meeps is the oldest running shop on the list, but ownership has changed hands several times.

Currently, Danni Sharkey and Leann Trowbridge own the decade old store.

According to their website, the two owners “scour the mid-Atlantic region and beyond” to find “unusual and evocative vintage clothing and accessories.” And the results speak for themselves as soon as one walks inside.

The brightly lit, cute store has been featured in Lucky Magazine, as well as on NBC’s DC Scene. It has both men’s and women’s apparel (and sometimes kids stuff, too), and the goal of the buyers is to find “wearable” vintage that goes with today’s fashion.

Meeps also features handmade fashion and jewelry created and re-worked by local designers.

The Adams Morgan shop is found at 2104 18th Street, NW and is open seven days a week (Monday to Saturday 12-7pm, Sunday 12-5pm).

Fashion’s Enduring Love Affair with Androgyny

Fashion’s Enduring Love Affair with Androgyny

Photo left to right: male model Andrej Pejic, female model Agyness Deyn (photo: Mark Fisher).

Recently, the fashion industry has delved into the mystery of androgyny.

The fashion shoots of this fall portray dozens of models dressed in drag—recall Kate Moss dressed up as David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust on the cover of the Vogue Paris December issue—and the spring runway shows had men wearing women’s clothes, women wearing men’s clothes and some clothes that seemed to be entirely genderless.

But is this a new fashion epiphany?

Transgender model Lea T poses on Givenchy ad

Kate Moss for Vogue

 Kate Moss covers Vogue magazine as David Bowie

Andrej Pejic for Schon!

 Male model Andrej Pejic on the cover of Schon!

Laura Stone in Calvin Klein Ad

 Lara Stone in Calvin Klein Ad

Grace Jones

Model Grace Jones embraced an androgynous look in the 70s and 80s

In the days of “modern” fashion, Hollywood starlet Katherine Hepburn was one of the first women to publicly play with gender roles, and according to The British Mancunion, James Dean was a “pioneer to the metrosexual fad with his elaborate hairstyles, hip dressing and quirky stance.”

The 60s showcased the elfish Twiggy, and a glam David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust. Men grew their hair long, and donned bell-bottoms from the era of hippies to disco, and the punk-inspired fashion of the 80s blurred gender-lines with lots of black, studs, spikes, tight pants and makeup, regardless of gender.

“Androgyny is a trend that is reinvented in each decade,” says DC Fashionista, MB to Meets Obsession. “The 80s leveled the gender playing field with the power suit. The 90s grunge scene had no boy or girl. The 2000s brought the skinny jean which feminized straight men on every coast.”

Though fashionable androgyny is nothing new, this time around it’s not just the girls’ tuxedo jackets that are blurring genders, it’s the models, such as the Serbian native, Andrej Pejic.

Last January, Pejic walked in both the women’s and menswear runways shows for French designer, Jean Paul Gaultier.

Pejic is ranked 11 out of the 50 Top Men Models on models.com, and he continues to book editorials in Vogue Paris and L’Officiel. In fact, Pejic was the muse for Gaultier’s collection, James Blonde, presumably due to the long blonde hair often sported by the model.

Pejic is not the only gender-blurring model found in fashion magazines either.  Ethan James and Thomas Penfound both dabble in androgyny and can be found ranking alongside Pejic in the Top 50.

As for the other side of the spectrum, models Agyness Deyn, Freja Beja Erichsen, and Eliza Cummings all have slightly boyish looks, and all three of them are among the top 50 female models today.

“We’re seeing models and it-girls and boys taking on the [androgyny] trend because we're in an era of re-envisioning gender,” says MB. “Not only is there finally more public discussion of what it means to be queer, but there are public debates about what it means to be a man or a woman, even absent gender identity crises.”

The gender revolution of today’s fashion industry has even allowed for the emergence of some big name transgender models, such as Givenchy designer, Riccardo Tisci’s muse Lea T who was featured on the cover of January 2011’s Love Magazine. The cover, which has T locking lips with super model, Kate Moss, however caused some controversy, especially on the FHM.

Last May, a staff writer released a comment—after Pejic was “accidentally” ranked 98 on their 100 Sexiest Women in the World—that was not only insulting to Pejic, but also transphobic towards T.

“Though his sexual identity is ambiguous, designers are hailing him as the next big thing. We think ‘thing’ is quite accurate…More troubling is the fact that Andrej is not the only one when it comes to supermodels that are not all what they seem. The current face of Givenchy and ‘lady’ locking lips with Kate Moss on the cover of Love magazine is transgender model Lea T, who began life as Leandro. One fashion trend we won’t be following,” (from Grrrl Beat).

Pejic’s write-up brought on a slew of transphobic remarks and was quickly removed from the FHM site, which now reads “Regrettably the copy accompanying Andrej’s online entry wasn't subbed prior to going live. Once we realised, we removed it immediately and apologized for any offence caused. FHM has spoken to the individual concerned and taken steps to ensure this can never happen again.”

Androgyny scares people.

If someone’s gender is not easily distinguishable from the first take, we’re taught to make a judgment based off the person’s clothing.

Isn’t this why we dress girl babies in pink and boys blue, respectively?

However, fashion—like any art form—takes comfort in pushing the limits of the general public’s comfort zone.

Models like Pejic, T, and Erichsen are not only changing the face of fashion, but also helping change the way America and the world at large view gender expression.

One fashionable step at a time.

The 10 Cool, Creative Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

10 Cool and Creative Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is less than three weeks away and already restaurants are prefixing menus and flower shops are upping their prices. But if you’re anything like me, you’re the anti-typical Valentines Day dinner date.

So if you’re looking for creative Valentine's Day date plans, take note and check out our 10 off-beat options for you and your Valentine (whoever he or she may be).

The 10 Cool, Creative Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

1. Instead of getting your Valentine cheap chocolates from CVS, or nice but typical Godiva chocolates, make a night out of dessert. Get fancy artesian gelato at Dolcezza and pair it with their espresso drinks. There are several shops in the DMV area, including one in Georgetown and Dupont Circle.

True, the Georgetown location is the flagship, but the Dupont shop’s atmosphere is much more romantic. The coffee is top notch, and the thick wooden tables and country-style artwork make it feel like you stepped into a little coffee shop on the Tuscan coast.

The 10 Cool, Creative Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

2. For a couple looking for a thrill, the Crime and Punishment Museum is bringing back “Crimes of Passion.” Upon entering the Chinatown museum, couples will be tied together and led through the exhibit. Paired with the regular exhibits, there will be special features on “various crimes of passion, many of which took place in the DC area,” explains the website.  The exhibit even includes the "Valentine's Vampire."

Crimes of Passion” will be run from February 11-14. Tickets are $45 per couple (18 and over only) and include handcuffs, temporary “Love” tattoos, and a “special treat.”

The 10 Cool, Creative Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

3. Looking to dance the night away instead? Head to the Black Cat for their 13th Annual Valentine’s Day Rock & Roll Dance Party.

DJs Tariq, Max, Sean, Glenn and Chad America will be spinning 50s and early 60s rock & roll, doo Wop, rockabilly and more. And best of all: it’s free.

The 10 Cool, Creative Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

4. Want to avoid crowds of people but still want to be out? Try driving out to Gravelly Point in Virginia. If it’s chilly out, leave the car running, recline the seats, put on a special play list (my new favorite song is the Stills' “I’m With You” from  the film Restless), and watch the planes take off and land from Reagan National Airport.

For a romantic Valentine’s Day car picnic, grab takeout along the way. If you luck out, and it’s unseasonably warm, there are picnic tables and a waterfront to enjoy. For amazing sushi with takeout options, try Kotobuki.

The 10 Cool, Creative Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

5. For the ladies that love the ladies, LezGetTogether.com is putting on Lez Lovers and Friends: A Valentine's Day bash at Buffalo Billiards in the Adirondack Room from 7:30-11:30. With games like pool, ping pong and darts, LezGetTogehter.com promises that it will be the “Valentine's Day bash of the century!” $5 online, $8 at door.

The 10 Cool, Creative Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

6. If your date is the artsy type, sneak out of work early (the museum closes at 7pm) and head over to the American Art Museum for the new Annie Leibovitz exhibit, “Pilgrimage.”

The famous photographer’s newest exhibit strays from her well-known portraits to the homes and wildlife locations of many American icons such as Elvis and Thomas Jefferson.  Consider making reservations for afterwards at the nearby Zaytinya. It’s one of the District’s best restaurants with a modern yet romantic atmosphere and has lots of small plate options. It’s the only prix fixe menu that I’ll suggest.

The 10 Cool, Creative Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day


7. Turn the typical dinner and a movie date into an artsy night at the cinema—with alcohol—at E Street Cinema. They’ll be playing most of the same movies AMC offers, for the same price, but they offer a bar, a coffee shop, and “gourmet” chocolate. Starting February 10th, E Street will also be presenting a special showing of the 2012 Oscar nominated short films. Tickets are available online at landmarktheatres.com.

The 10 Cool, Creative Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

8. If you’re looking for a gay-friendly male scene, Nellie’s Sports Bar is throwing a special Valentine’s happy hour.  Special buckets of Starr Hill Love Beer will be available at “Be Mine Sweet Potato,” and in honor of the name, they’ll be handing out free sweet potato fries. With two stories, three bars, and a large roof deck—adorned with heaters—it’s great for a date, or a group.

The 10 Cool, Creative Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

9. Dating a movie buff? In honor of the Academy Awards (on February 26), preview some of the Best Picture nominations (Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, Tree of Life, and The Help are out on DVD) and sample food to compliment the nominees.

I suggest Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris with a baguette and cheese, “The Bronx,” a popular 1920s cocktail in honor of The Artist (2 oz gin, 1/2 oz dry vermouth, 1/2 oz sweet vermouth, and 1 oz fresh orange juice), and because The Descendants is set in Hawaii, try this quick and easy Mahi-Mahi with Pineapple Mango Salsa.

The 10 Cool, Creative Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

10. But if cooking is your specialty, instead of cooking for your date, make the date cooking! Pick out several simple and quick dishes, buy all the ingredients and then come home and cook together.

Pair with a good glass of wine, bourbon or a six-pack from Alexandria’s Port City Brewing.

Remember: Valentines Day is Tuesday, February 14.

Girls Rock, Girls Rule: Women Rockers Aim to Change an Industry

Girls Rock: Groups Aims to Highlight Women Rockers in the Music Industry

Girls Rock, Girls Rule: Women Rockers Aim to Change an Industry

Photo: Courtesy of Girls Rock & Girls Rule

Last month, the New York-based Girls Rock & Girls Rule celebrated 10 years of highlighting women who play rock music. The event—an anniversary concert at Manhattan’s Parkside Lounge—was free to all.

NY local Gail Silverman started Girls Rock & Girls Rule in 2002. “I was playing in a rock/punk band G-Spot, and we were on the heavier side of rock music,” Silverman told Meets Obsession. However, most of the venues for girls playing music were focused around the singer-song-writer type. “It would always be this really strange transition from a girl with an acoustic guitar to us.”

That’s when Silverman decided to create a place to highlight women in music with a “heavier” sound. She approached the managers of Meow Mix, a now extinct lesbian bar in Manhattan, and put together a show with four other women rock bands. “It became a yearly event for four or five years, ranging from all different types of music. And we always donated the money we made to local organizations.”

In 2006, Silverman quit her day job, traveled to Africa and returned ready to take Girls Rock & Girls Rule on tour.  “At first we put together several travel shows, taking two other bands on the road with us, and then we would ask local bands to play in each city,” says Silverman. “But I was doing everything: the PR, the booking. I needed help and luckily three women approached me for just that.”

Girls Rock, Girls Rule: Women Rockers Aim to Change an Industry

 Photo: Courtesy of Girls Rock & Girls Rule

Michele Jaffe of Loki the Grump; Rew, currently of the Rewd Ones; and Marisa Torrieri, a journalist and also a member of Marisa and the Underage Hotties; joined up with Silverman. Together they toured the east coast extensively for the next two years.

“We had some amazing bands,” says Silverman. “Women playing drums, playing bass, wailing on guitar. We wanted to give women playing instruments exposure and press. We love girls who play instruments.”

After summer of 2008, the group downsized. “Since then we’ve done less shows but we built a new website that we want to keep running,” explains Silverman about the current status of GRGR. “Now we’re trying to figure out how to sustain the site, and grow it and maybe even be able to pay the people working on it.”

Silverman, who relocated to Florida a year ago, would also like to bring GRGR to her new home base in Sarasota as well as set up a Girls Rock camp. GRGR has worked closely with New York’s Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, a non-profit summer camp serving girls 8-18 (DC has its own version Girls Rock! DC). “Now it just comes down to funding,” says Silverman.

Jaffe, Rew, and Torrieri are also still involved with GRGR, and were all in attendance at the anniversary show, at which the four core bands played, as well as two others.

In fact, one of the female musicians at the showcase had been a previous camper and then counselor at Willie Mae. “It was a really uplifting show,” says Silverman. “The kind that makes you want to keep going.”

Today, the main focus of Girl Rock & Girls Rule is to keep the site active in order to promote other bands, “even if we’re not playing as much,” says Silverman. “We want to continue to give recognition to girls making rock music.”

Silverman encourages women in this field to get online and contact GRGR. They offer a monthly newsletter, and resources for “lady rockers and their fans.”

DC Fashion Incubator Aims to Create More Fashion Jobs in the District

DC Fashion Incubator Aims to Create More Fashion Jobs in the District

DC Fashion Incubator Aims to Create More Fashion Jobs in the District

Today is the official start of the DC Fashion Incubator's (DCFI)  phase one. The four budding designers who currently live and work in the District had their first day of orientation at the Convention Center in Shaw and received their keys to the studio where they’ll be working for the next 12 months.

These four designers will be mentored by 12 Fashion Ambassadors including Lynda Erkiletian, president of THE Artist Agency, and of course the president of DCIF, Christine Brooks-Cropper, who kick-started the project back in 2007 when she formed the 501(c)(3) DC Fashion Foundation.

Brooks-Cropper was inspired to start the non-profit due to her work with DC designers who had complained about  the lack of people and press at their events.

“Coming from a public policy background, when I see that something isn’t working for a community, I get in there and fix it. Fashion is economical,” Brooks-Cropper told Meets Obsession.

One of the main focuses of DCFI is to “keep and create jobs in the District by widening opportunities for creative professionals to develop and exercise their talents locally,” says Brooks-Cropper.

Based off of a successful model in Toronto, Canada, Brooks-Cropper hopes to commercially revitalize the fashion industry here in DC.

The Incubator will hopefully become a cornerstone of small business development and entrepreneurship within the fashion industry. Each phase of the program, with new mentees for each phase, will last a year and focus on educational programs, workforce training, and mentoring opportunities, as well as networking for aspiring fashion professionals.

“There is a thriving creative community here,” says Brooks-Cropper. “We hope to spotlight those that are already accomplished and mentor whoever will be the up-and-coming new fashion business and design stars in our community.”

DCFI could easily pave the way to “additional economic growth opportunities for the city, including a retail resource guide for industry professionals interested in the DC market, access to ‘Made in DC’ manufacturing facilities and specific trade instruction,” explains Brooks-Cropper.

In fact, Brooks-Cropper is already in contact with colleagues in multiple cities including San Francisco and Chicago, and even some over-sea professionals in Australia and South Africa, all of whom are looking to do something similar and work together.

The original four designers went through both an application and screening process by a “neutral, objective panel from both the business and art community,” explains Brooks-Cropper. As will the next phase. However, come this summer, Brooks-Cropper is already planning on expanding to what will be their permanent location in Southeast Anacostia.

At this time, 24 “students” will be admitted and will also pay a “very low” monthly fee to participate in the program.

The 12 Ambassadors will act as business leaders and mentors to the Incubator program via DCFF.

According to Brooks-Cropper, each of the other 11 ambassadors, “all came to me. I had a business plan, I had a mission, and I’m about business. In our industry it can get very social focused—I work full time and I’m a mom—I don’t have time to be social. I’ve made a point of being business focused.”

The four designers are Isaiah Butler of DOYOU Clothing, Gennet Purcell of MAVEN, Azadeh Tajdivand of 3rd Eye (who recently relocated to DC from Germany), and shoe designer Tatiana Kolina of My Moody Booty/Sympatyashka LLC.

This first phase is called “"Culture Couture" and is being funded by a yearly grant gifted from the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities, explained PR person, Jessica Hoy.

“Fashion is not just about style and looking good, it creates jobs and tourism,” Brooks-Cropper summed up.

New Year, New You: 5 Ways to Change It Up In 2012

New Year, New You: 5 Ways to Change It Up In 2012

New Year, New You: 5 Ways to Change It Up In 2012

New Years Eve is over, the glitter is finally out of your hair, and the hangover has finally worn off.

Often, it is said that insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.

So, for a new year, why not try something new?

Now really is the perfect time to revamp your look and your life.

Not sure where to start?  No worries, we’ve put together a few tips for you. After all, a new year deserves a new you.

1. Change your hair.

New Year, New You: 5 Ways to Change It Up In 2012Sometimes the best way to change up your look is to go directly for the hair. April Barton, hairstylist to stars Jake Gyllenhaal and U2 and owner of the well-known salon Suite 303 (located in Manhattan’s Chelsea Hotel), told Meets Obsession that extensions are “a great way to add body and volume to your hair during the winter months. They can completely revamp your look for the season.”

Platinum Seamless is Barton’s brand of choice. If you’re craving a cut, bangs are in, but Barton urges “If the shape of your face works with bangs, now is the perfect time of year to get them. That way, they have three months to grow out and not be in your face by the time summer rolls around.”

2. Get a little funky on your nails

New Year, New You: 5 Ways to Change It Up In 2012If changing the locks is too extreme, nail color is a safer way to get creative. “Mix and match nail color,” says Barton. “And don’t get complacent. Dare to be different and make a stand for what you like.”

In fact, Nicki Minaj’s nail color collection for OPI  will hit shelves this month in five new shades ranging from neon to glitter.

But what color is currently donning Barton’s fingers? Cobalt blue with the new OPI sparkle keeps her nails—and her style—on the cutting edge.

3. Find a new of-the-moment fashion item

New Year, New You: 5 Ways to Change It Up In 2012How else can you change your style without adding to your wardrobe?

Of course, timing is everything, and who isn’t a bit strapped for cash in January.

So, instead of buying everything in sight, find that one piece that can be worn throughout this season (and maybe even into the next, sans some layering).

Danielle DesBordes, a visual associate at Madewell, suggests the new and improved shift dress.

“Everywhere I look, shift dresses are popping up to wear now or for spring...” DesBordes told Meets Obsession. “The must-have shift dresses for 2012 aren't the traditional black silk that made them so unappealing in the past. I'm seeing wild patterns, neon colors, interesting textures, and new silhouettes!”

Her favorite is Henrik Vibskov's brown and yellow patterned shift dress, “It’s updated with a shorter length and clingy knit material, plus a scoopneck.”

4. Get greener

New Year, New You: 5 Ways to Change It Up In 2012Updating your look isn’t the only thing you can focus on. A new year—and especially one that’s so politically charged—is the perfect time to start thinking about how you can make a difference.

The Worldwatch Institute has an extensive list of the things you can do to make your life more ecologically friendly.

For example, shopping at locally owned stores (like Moms or Yes Organic) and farmers markets is not only a great way to support small business, but the food is often times “fresher and more flavorful.”

For a greener way to buy clothes, consider spending a day thrift shopping and exploring some of the local DC vintage shops (such as Meeps in Adams Morgan, or Georgetown’s unexpected Annie Creamcheese). And don’t forget Buffalo Exchange will be in the District shortly.

5. Find a new workout routine

New Year, New You: 5 Ways to Change It Up In 2012According to USA.gov, getting in shape is consistently one of the most common resolutions made annually in America, and the best way to get motivated (besides that cute new shift dress sitting in your closet) is to try something new.

The trending workouts of 2012 are all about getting back to the basics, “push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, and sprints,” Ken Locker, MA, ATC, a spokesman for the National Athletic Trainers Association, reported to medicine.net.

Looking for something more complex?

Medicine.net also suggests combining “opposing workouts” such as Cy-Yo, an hour workout that starts with 10 minutes of yoga, followed by 40 minutes of stationary speed cycling, and winding down with 10 more minutes of yoga.

Living in the District and Working in the Fashion Industry

Is Living in the District While Working in the Fashion Industry Sustainable?

Is Living in the District While Working in the Fashion Industry Sustainable?

In a city known for its politics and politicians, how does DC fair in the world of fashion?

The industry has players here, and, at least a handful of dedicated and passionate talent working and living in the DMV.

“DC has always been a leader in the fashion industry composed of major department stores and retailers, photographers, public relations firms, advertising agencies, production companies, models, stylists, and so on” Booking Agent Sondra Ortagus of THE Artist Agency  tells Meets Obsession.

“Our industry has grown a tremendous amount from what it was 20 years ago. Vehicles such as the internet, social media, blogs, and reality shows have all helped in the expansion of the industry.  Do I think we will surpass cities such as Paris and New York?  No, but we have always been a leader in this billion dollar industry.”

In fact, the DC Fashion Foundation and the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities are currently investing in Cultural Couture, a “fashion incubator” that will be composed of 12 Fashion Ambassadors who represent “DC's brightest fashion business leaders and designers.”

Coincidentally, one of the 12 Ambassadors is Lynda Erkiletian, president and founder of THE Artist Agency and reality star of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of DC.

Erkiletian will act as a mentor for up and coming designers as well as other fashion professionals. The goal of Cultural Couture is to allow more opportunities for a rapidly growing pool of professionals who are hoping to work locally in the fashion industry.

The market for both Bridal and Active Wear is “booming” here in the District, says Ortagus. THE recently worked with Apifeni—a new active wear brand—that’s locally based. “They’re marketing themselves globally, but want to remain loyal to their city so they’ve hired our local talent for their national marketing campaign.”

Ortagus also notes that in the past year, she’s worked with more new clients (and designers) than ever before. “There’s been a big difference between this fall and last.”

James Cornwell

Local stylist James Cornwell's work as Art Director for Tim Coburn Photography. Courtesy Photo.

Having grown up mostly in Virginia, Cornwell loves the DMV and his job. “I try not to take things too seriously, and I have a lot of fun,” he says.

His nickname, “Triple Threat” refers to the fact that he’s not only a stylist but also does hair and makeup. Besides that, Cornwell co-hosts the radio podcast “fashionBS” and is the PR Fashion Director for PR at Partners Salons and Spa. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s also the art director for Tim Coburn Photography.

Similar to DC’s art scene, being in the fashion industry here is frequently described as “big fish in a small pond.” Which Cornwell says is one of the perks of working in the area.

However, 20-year-old model, Chelsea Taylore says this perk is also the downfall, “people are easier on each other here, and everyone knows one another. But I see a lot of people not progressing in their work.” Taylore began working in the DC Metro area a year ago after moving to Fairfax with her boyfriend.

Juelles Chester, 26, a model who is from the District and now works here, says her career began four years ago and, while she spends half of the year traveling for work, she plans on staying in “her” city.

“It’s a good market for me because I'm not six feet tall and 110 pounds like the majority of [the] girls up north.” Though she can list off a handful of fall backs, including less opportunities and lower pay, she loves being a model in DC. “We have really talented, creative people around and things are more relaxed in this area,” she explains. However, Chester believes that DC will never be a “true” fashion city. “That honor is reserved for NYC and LA, our fashion capitals.”

But DC is frequently noted as a great city to start out in. “It’s an awesome place to gain experience—either as a designer or model—without the pressures of being in a very competitive city like New York,” says Chester. She also considers DC’s proximity to New York to be a perk. “It’s more economical to visit Manhattan for auditions without having to pay to live there.” Taylore, on the other hand, is currently looking to rent an additional room in New York even though she considers Virginia to be her home base these days, because the overnights are “killing me” she says.

Chelsea Taylore

 Model Chelsea Taylore says that she’s currently the only full-time, freelance model she knows knows. Courtesy Photo: Lauren Taylor.

Taylore also notes that she’s currently the only full-time, freelance model she knows, “and I work my butt off to maintain that status.” Because many of the designers located in the DMV are new, the rates they offer their models are lower than that of established designers. “I’m always networking and traveling,” says Taylore. “If I’m not shooting, I’m scouting for the next job. But being a model here is nice because you are recognized in the industry, as it's not flooded. You are so much more applauded than in a major market area.”

According to Cornwell it’s important—and often difficult—to make the right connections here, however,  at times, it’s a challenge to be taken seriously.

“You have to hustle a lot harder, but you can make your statement and you can show your fashion here. It’s fun, challenging, and it keeps you at the top of your game. But GOOD work does not come easy in DC. ” As a local, Cornwell doesn’t foresee leaving. Despite the hustle, he loves the industry in the District. “It's so diverse. I rarely ever do the same thing over again.”

Ortagus, who’s been with THE Artist Agency full time for nearly two years now, points out that in general, the fashion industry does not run on normal hours. “We’re constantly working 24/7 in order to go above and beyond. As a booker, I’m the middleman. It’s my job to keep the client and the talent happy.” THE Artist Agency currently works with 100s of clients, roughly 150 runway models, and another 50 stylists (including Cornwell).

One of the more unique things about the District’s fashion industry is how connected it is to the local community. Besides the glamorous aspects which Ortagus highlights as “going back stage, meeting the fashion designers and public figures,” she also cites “many of the nonprofit [organizations] use fashion as entertainment and it’s exciting to be a part of these events, knowing that you are supporting a worthy cause.”

Cornwell agrees, “this town has a lot of philanthropy and I rarely turn down the opportunity to donate my talents. I love that DC allows me to give so much back the community.” But most importantly, “if you have talent, patience and perseverance you can grow anywhere,” says Cornwell. “DC is not too small to grow in and there are designers here doing some amazing things.”

Taylore sums up DC’s current industry as a great place for people to start out. “I'd recommend starting at a smaller place with a relatively large fashion scene before migrating to New York or even LA. It takes a few months (years for some people) to get to a place where you can confidently act like you know what you're doing.”

Music Duo Hi-Fashion in High Demand

Rick Gradone (left) and Jen DM (right) of Hi Fashion. Photo: Kate Reeder

The music duo, Hi-Fashion, recently took Manhattan by storm.  Comprised of band mates Jen DM and Rick Gradone, Hi-Fashion has a flair for the avant-garde.

DM and Gradone first met at a gay bar where Gradone flirted with DM, thinking she was a man. Despite this mishap, the two became fast friends and eventually forged their band. Since then, Hi-Fashion has been in high demand due to the airing of their music video for the single, "I'm Not Madonna." Gossip blogger, Perez Hilton posted the video and suddenly, Gradon and DM were "getting invitations all over the place."

"The response has been incredible," said Gradone.

Hi-Fashion, as described by DM, is an “electro pop explosion that combines big analog beats with world sounds” to create a wild dance party. The band hopes to play huge shows all over the world and continue making incredible videos. “My husky soulful voice and hard-hitting raps along with Rick's stratospheric falsettos makes for a pretty unique sound,” says DM. “We want to promote the idea of fun for everyone.”

While DM and Gradone hail from New York, Hi-Fashion is based in Los Angeles where the pair has top-secret day jobs. “In an alternate universe, we are both full-time astrophysicists doing experiments on time travel devices,” DM hints. “But its all super top secret and we can’t really talk about it other than that.”

Rick Gradone (left) and Jen DM (right) of Hi Fashion Preparing for Show at Industry. Photo: Kate Reeder

Like the band, Gradone himself is big on theatrics.

His work as a part-time hairdresser on fashion shoots--including Victoria Secret shows--inspired him to write "Semi-Permanent," a one-man show about being (you guessed it) a hairdresser.

He performed the piece in the New York Fringe Festival in 2007 and won the title of "Outstanding Solo Show."

Hailing from New York, and living in LA has supplied the duo with a love of fashion. They originally named themselves Hi-Fashion $5.99. "It was based on a crappy clothing store in L.A. because we loved the idea that anyone thought High Fashion could cost $5.99," said DM. "Then a lawyer told us we should change the price for legal reasons and we became Hi-Fashion $9.99 upon the urging of an astrologer."

The pair soon dropped the price tag when they realized the irony they needed was already in the name. “We've become a lot more expensive since then so it's kind of like when you go to a really expensive store there are no price tags,” sums up DM.

So what are their must-have fashion items?

Unsurprisingly, their choices and reasons for selecting them are a bit far out. Gradone cites his mouse ears and Rick Owens men's skirt, while DM’s is fond of her Nick Cave Soundsuit and “anything unwearable by Gareth Pugh.” She also admits to liking comfortable shoes because sometimes her feet hurt from stomping on stage.

As far as their music career goes, they agree that everyday has been a highlight. Their EP, Sprechen Sie Hi Fashion? was released in July and is available on iTunes.

Also, for their fans, they want them to know that cinnamon should be used as often as possible in cooking “because it helps regulate [the] body's natural insulin production.”

Photos by Kate Reeder.

15 Gifts for 15 Fashion Archetypes For Under $50 Gift Guide

15 Gifts for 15 Fashion Archetypes For Under $50 Gift Guide: The Punk Rock Girl

Looking for the perfect present for the edgier girl in your life? You know, the one who’s always going to shows, with the smoky eye-makeup, and black leather jacket?

This wallet by Southern California designer, Lux De Ville, is the perfect option. The metal anchor in the lower corner keeps her grounded while the inside—covered in cheetah print—stores everything she needs for a night on the town. The red stands out but it’s also available in black.

But most importantly, Lux De Ville is hard to find, especially on the east coast, which will make your rocker chic friend stand out among the rest.

High Seas Wallet Red Pearl | $35

15 Gifts for 15 Fashion Archetypes For Under $50 Gift Guide: The Eco-Fashionista

15 Gifts for 15 Fashion Archetypes For Under $50 Gift Guide: The Eco-Fashionista

Sometimes the best thing about the holidays can be re-gifting. No, not in the recycle someone else’s present way, but in a recycled materials.

For the lady on your list who’s trying to save the world one re-usable bag at a time, try these shiny snail-shaped earrings from PURPOSE.

The hand-made earrings are crafted from vintage Spanish wine corks (which explains the vibrant colors naturally stained from the grapes). If that wasn’t enticing enough, they’re made in Spain giving them an exotic, one of a kind feel.

And if you looking for more recycled options, PURPOSE is the way to go. Everything on their site is made directly and solely from “re-purposed” materials such as fruit skins, rose petals, and found wood: great for any eco-fashionista in your life.

Snail Earrings | $17.00

Your MO Approved Guide to Holiday Shopping on a Budget

Your MO-Approved Guide to Holiday Shopping on a Budget

Your MO Approved Guide to Holiday Shopping on a Budget

Temperatures are dropping and the White House Christmas tree has been lit.

It’s officially the season of shopping...which means, stress and extravagant expenditures.

Or does it?

We've got some gift tips for you to make the holidays less stressful and help you keep some money in your bank accounts for the new year.

Your Guide to Holiday Shopping on a Budget

Pick up a Magazine Subscription

Magazine subscriptions make great, affordable gifts for the everyday fashionista.

We suggest Vogue for the YSL girl, the Economist for the brainiac and the New Yorker for the hipster looking to decorate his coffee table with something smart.

For the music snob, there’s always Under the Radar (discount right now on magazine.com), or Magnet, which had recently relaunched their monthly print edition.

Your MO Approved Guide to Holiday Shopping on a Budget

Get Artsy

Purchasing art doesn't need to be an extravagant expenditure. At least, not with 20x200, a website devoted to selling limited edition art at low prices.

Local blog, A Matter of Delight, explains exactly what’s great about this site: “As a current (and future) poor person, who also likes art, I like that 20×200 wants me to be able to own art and not pay lots of money for it.”

Well said.

Every week, 20x200 releases at least two new prints, and most are available in three or four different sizes and can cost as little as $20.

Your MO Approved Guide to Holiday Shopping on a Budget

Buy Vinyl

Another great, but often forgotten idea, is the vinyl record. Most thrift stores are overstocked with these gems and they can cost as little as $.50. The condition of the record itself might be questionable. But at the very least, your friend can use it to decorate her wall.

Your MO Approved Guide to Holiday Shopping on a Budget

Screw Gift Cards, Try Groupon

Living Social and Groupons are the new gift card. With so many options to choose from, you can buy great packages, stocking stuffers or awesome deals at half the price.

Though, as Cynthia Chen, a public relations professional who lives and works in Washington, D.C. cautions that Groupon gifters should pay attention to the packaging. “People should buy it as a gift, print it out as a gift voucher and put it inside a nice card.”

No one likes getting just a piece of paper for Christmas--even if it's a deal to their favorite restaurant.

Your MO Approved Guide to Holiday Shopping on a Budget

If All Else Fails, Bake

When in doubt, baked goods always make a great present. We suggest that you get your besties together, crank up the iTunes and make three batches of cookies. The tradition crowd pleasers include chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin or peanut butter cookies. Package them in a nice basket and bow and you got yourself a tasty gift!

Just ditch the fruit cake.