Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Return of the Unitard

I wrote an article for the Financial Times on the return of the unitard. Blame Lady Gaga, blame the Olympics, blame whoever you like for the trend, just don't try wearing one without well-chosen layers unless:

1. You are Lady Gaga, Rihanna, J.Lo, Beyonce or Pink. (LOVED her performance at the Grammy's!!!)
2. You are my daughter's age or younger. (She is 3.5, peeps)
3. You are competing in the Olympics.
Click HERE to read the whole article.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Trouble With Red

I wrote an article for the Financial Times about the difficulty of wearing red around the holidays and really any time of year. It's a spotlight-grabbing color. It's sexy and powerful, and happens to look great on most people. (Just find the right hue.) The trouble is, you have to be careful when you where it and where, as the following anecdote illustrates:

A woman wore a brand new, bright red cocktail dress to a friend’s book launch party. Her husband and nanny complimented her on her way out of the house, and she arrived at the event feeling confident and pretty. It was only when the author greeted her with a tight smile and the words, “That’s right, you like red,” that the woman realised her mistake. Now, she cringes when she recalls the evening and that thunder-stealing dress. “It was as if I had worn white lace to a wedding,” she says.

Guess who the lady in red was that evening?

To read the whole article click HERE

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Newsnight Review

The BBC Two's Newsnight Review came to New York to film a special on the impact of the recession on various forms of culture--art, books, film, and so on. The producers tapped me to discuss the state of consumption-fueled chick lit. We also chatted a bit about the upcoming Sex and the City movie but that didn't make the air.

Click HERE to watch the video.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mad for Banana

Like almost every other woman I know, I'm addicted to J.Crew (aka J.Crack). There's just something about all those pastel colored cardigans and comfy cordoroys that makes me want to reimagine myself as a horse-jumping heiress living in Martha Stewart's Connecticut.
Alas, I'm no Betty Draper, but I do have something in common with her husband: I've developed a shamlessly wandering eye. My cords? They're from The Gap. My day dress? Banana Republic. (See me in one above.) Ditto for my date night dress.

But my shifting loyalties shouldn't be attributed to any shortcomings on behalf of J. Crew. With two exceptions--the schoolboy blazers, which were cut from less than stellar wools, and the boyfriend jacket, which was constructed from an even cheaper feeling material, a polyester if memory serves--the fall collection was perfectly fine.

No, the real reason my devotion to J.Crew has waivered is because the other brands are getting so much better. So kudos to Banana Republic and The Gap for making affordable, well-made closet staples.
And please keep them coming.
And for those of you not already watching the best show on television, Betty Draper and her husband, the philandering, existentially befuddled Don, are characters from Mad Men.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Some Notes on Writing

Recently, the editors behind the ChickLit website asked me to write a short essay about how my background as a journalist helped me become a novelist. They also wanted me to address the particular challenges involved with writing about people you know.

Here's what I wrote:

My career as a novelist began after I’d given birth to my first child and was freelancing from home for a variety of newspapers. Working on my fiction felt like an indulgence because while I was paid to write for the newspapers, I wasn’t guaranteed compensation for the novel. It was something I did for me and for fun. And that’s probably why I kept at it—because writing fiction didn’t feel like work, but play.

That said, I don’t think I would have been able to become a full-time writer if I hadn’t first worked as a journalist. In terms of process, journalism teaches you discipline. It also helps you deal with criticism and rejection, which are as much a part of novel writing as anything else. In terms of relevant skill, journalism teaches the basics of writing and writing well. Those are: communicating ideas clearly; writing with efficiency; and appreciating detail. If you can master all these, your work will be easy to read (that’s where the clarity comes in), engaging (the plot moves forward at an nice clip) and dynamic (the scenes and characters come alive through visual and sensory details).

Readers may also note that my books are peppered with characters that work for magazine and newspapers. For example, Jill Tischman, a character in my second novel, Hedge Fund Wives, was inspired by a handful of women I know who work for glossy magazines in various capacities. Jill, in her role as an editor, is a trendsetter, but she’s also a slave to her own materialistic impulses. Even worse, she’s power-drunk and has no sense of loyalty, which are, unfortunately, character traits I see all too often in publishing.

I will say this: It is tricky writing about types of people who are in your life. No one has ever come up to me and said "Oh that character is based on me and how could you!” because, as my good friend, the author Karen Quinn once told me, “people only recognize themselves in the good.” It’s human nature not to see how nasty and weak we are, so how can we recognize those aspects of ourselves in a fictional character? Most of us, and especially those of us who have some, shall we say, personality issues, aren’t self aware enough to know when we’re being satirized.

My books are fun and fictional, but I do like for them to ring as authentic, which is why I try to use real-life anecdotes and base characters off of composites of real-life people. Perhaps it’s the journalist in me that wants the reader to feel like they are getting inside access to a world they wouldn’t otherwise get to know.

Still, as a novelist, my first goal is to entertain. I’m a mother of two young children. My days are long and sometimes trying. At night, all I want to do is get in bed with a mug of tea and read something enjoyable. I write books that I’d want to read, and it’s my theory that if something is fun to write, it’s also fun to read.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tatiana's Secret

This weekend I was on my way home from yoga class when I decided to pop into a Victoria's Secret for a new pair of underwear. Walking into the store, I was greeted by a young woman who informed me that if I tried on a particular bra, I would receive $5 off my purchase that day.

"You mean, $5 off the price of the bra," I said. Ha, ha, thought you could get one past me, didn't you!

"No, anything you buy today," she replied.

I thanked the sales girl and spent the next ten minutes looking around the store, finally honing in on the pair of underwear I wanted. (I'll spare you the details, but let's just say I was not shopping for comfort...) At the register I smiled sweetly and tried to cajole the sales assistant into giving me the $5 discount for trying on the bra even though I hadn't.

She refused.

"But look at me," I said, gesturing at my sweat-soaked t-shirt and yoga pants. "You really don't want someone sweaty like me trying on one of your bras, do you? I'll get it all wet."

She shrugged.

"So you're not going to give me the discount?"

She shook her head.

"Give me the bra," I grumbled. Five dollars is five dollars, darn it.

Long story short: I got the discount; the husband-pleasing panties; and somewhere in the Victoria's Secret on Third Avenue and 72nd Street is a bra that smells a little iffy.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

U.K. Cover of Hedge Fund Wives

I think it says it all.