Musings on the culture of keeping up appearances

All the Rage

Category: Gifts

Mother's Day is the second-highest gift-giving day of the year

Cinco de Mayo
In only a few hours, it will be May, and that means a lot of interesting dates will be coming up. Tuesday, for instance, is May Day, which could mean something sweet, like leaving posies on a friend's doorstep, or something strong, like participating in a worker's rights march. But I don't get excited till the somewhat more fashion-focused events come along. Cinco de Mayo, for instance --- ok, so I consider margaritas fashionable -- on Saturday. And the celebration does involve colorful costumes, like the one shown here. Saturday is the same day as the Kentucky Derby, and I'm looking forward to the hats we'll see in the stands.

Then there is Mother's Day, celebrated in the U.S. this year on May 13. I was surprised to learn it is the second-most gift-giving day in the country, after Christmas. Consumers are expected to spend an average of $152.52 on Mother's Day gifts, up about 8% from $140.73 last year, according to a survey conducted on behalf of the National Retail Federation, with total spending expected to be around $18.6 billion, CNBC reports.

Check out our gift guide if you're looking for ideas.

May 19 is Armed Forces Day (who can resist a man or woman in uniform?) and May 28, Memorial Day, which ushers in summer and a change in our basic wardrobes to swimsuits, sandals, sundresses and shorts.

All in all, it seems that May will be a busy month indeed.


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Virtual pinboard Pinterest is attracting lots of interest

-- Susan Denley

Photo: Lazaro Arvizu, of Xipetotec Dance Aztec, plays a flute during a performance that was part of the Cinco de Mayo festivities at El Pueblo de Los Angeles on May 5, 2010. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Your Stylist: Chic Valentine's Day treats you'll love


Buying a Valentine's Day gift can be a daunting task (or simply something that makes you roll your eyes with disdain for the occasion in general). But, perhaps it's about finding the perfect token of affection for a loved one that will ignite a desire to present your sweetheart with something you're excited about giving.

PHOTOS: Valentine's Day gift ideas

It doesn't have to be red or pink or heart-shaped or trimmed with lace -- in fact, it would be best to avoid the predictable stuff that basically says "I got this thing last minute at the grocery-store checkout" and go a more stylish route.

Here are some ideas for Valentine's Day presents, fit for the fashion- and beauty-loving person in your life.

-- Melissa Magsaysay


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Photo: These stylish time tellers are a chic spin on "his and hers" watches and sure to capture the heart of your fashion-conscious sweetheart. From left, Balenciaga Montre Acier gold watch, $1,945 at and Uniform Wares watch, $600 at Credit: Barneys NY and Mr. Porter.

Holiday Shopping: Stud earrings, small but chic

If you’re looking for a last-minute gift for your sister or best friend, think about small stud earrings. They make an elegant and practical stocking stuffer and can be found at various price points, for those on a budget to those with no limits.

Here are a few favorites that can still be bought in time for the holiday or saved to give as a Valentine’s Day gift.

$38BingBangRoyal Duet

Bing Bang jewelry designer Anna Sheffield has created a Mini collection of cute and tiny baubles. Her stud earrings come as whimsical pairs like a diamond for one ear, a dollar sign for the other. This Royal Duet features a Cardinal cross and a crown, perfect for the princess in your life. $38 at

30Belle Noel Star Stud Earrings

These Belle Noel star stud earrings are small but pack a lot of punch done in this festive star burst design. $30 at

28Creme Brulee Posts -

For the person who likes something more dainty and conservative, but certainly casual enough to wear every day, these dotted gold circle “Crème Brulee” studs from Anthropologie are pretty sweet. $28 at Anthropologie stores and

Pave Moon Stud Earrings

If budget is no factor, then give her the moon. These diamond pave moon studs from FINN Jewelry are truly out of this world. $1,995 at

--Melissa Magsaysay


Holiday Shopping: Take note of stylish stationery

Holiday Shopping: Cosmetics filled ornaments for the beauty lover on your list

Holiday Shopping: The Mulberry Travel tote

Photos: from top: Bing Bang Royal Duet earrings. Credit: Bing Bang. Belle Noel Starburst earrings. Credit: Anthropologie Creme Brulee earrings. Credit: Anthropologie, FINN Jewelry diamond pave moon earrings. Credit: FINN Jewelry

Holiday Shopping: Take note of stylish stationery

Most people find it much easier to type and click their sentiments to friends and loved ones, rather than take a pen to paper. Understandable, but I will never stop sending handwritten notes — especially as thank-yous or just-thinking-of-yous (that is, of course, as long as there’s some way to get the letter sent, seeing as the U.S. Postal Service seems to have fallen on hard times).

Stationery also makes a stylish holiday gift and seems to be one of those things someone may not necessarily buy for themselves, but would definitely use if they had something chic and inspiring.

Here are a few favorite fashionable sets:

Oscar de la Renta stationery
Oscar de la Renta – Mrs. John L. Strong stationery. This recent collaboration (the collection just came out last week) has elegance written all over it. The creamy white card stock adorned with a delicate and feminine gold bow is perfect for the fashion lover on your list. Notecards in gift box with envelopes (set of 12). $125 at Oscar de la Renta stores and

Barneys Connor "Love Guns"
Connor “Love Guns” stationery. The cheeky design (of little gold guns shooting out XOXO) conveys affection without being overly saccharine and the cards can be sent for any occasion. Set of 12, $85. At Barneys NY, Beverly Hills and

Smythson Skull and Crossbone
Smythson Skull and Crossbone correspondence cards. Smythson is the go-to brand for fashion editors and insiders to jot down their show notes and predictions for the season. These skull and crossbone cards from the British company are edgy and work for a guy or girl. (set of 10) - $50 at

-- Melissa Magsaysay


Holiday Shopping: The Mulberry travel tote

Holiday Shopping: Cozy knits for guys and dolls

Holiday Shopping: Cosmetics filled ornaments for the beauty lover on your list

Photos, from top: Oscar de la Renta & Mrs. John L Strong/Oscar de la Renta. Connor "Love Guns"/Barneys. Smythson Skull & Crossbone correspondence cards/Smythson.

Holiday Shopping: Cozy knits for guys and dolls

Soyer knit vest
A sweater seems like a ho-hum holiday gift but really, it’s so practical and with this recent cold and rainy weather who wouldn’t want to receive a cozy knit item to stay warm?

This knit vest from Soyer, above, is a cute, warm layer, plus it’s versatile enough to be styled and worn several ways. Throw it over a dress and under a skinny belt for a color-blocking effect or pair it with wide-leg jeans and a soft, patterned blouse for a fancy boho vibe.


For the guys in your life, how about this Fair Isle crew-neck option from Vince. The pattern is festive without being over the top and the neutral colors make it easy to wear after the holiday season.

If he’s not a pattern-and-print kind of guy, Vince has some super soft and solid cashmere versions.

People may complain, but I think everyone is secretly hoping for a new sweater as long as it's soft to the touch and of course, very stylish.


Soyer knit vest, $358, comes in teal or taupe, at Des Kohan, 671 Cloverdale Ave., Los Angeles. 

Vince Fair Isle sweater, $295; Vince Classic cashmere sweater, $295, at Vince, 112 S. Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles.

-- Melissa Magsaysay


How tastemakers dress for the holiday season

Special holiday shopping destinations around town

L.A. Times stylish holiday gift guide, inspired by fairy tales

Photos, from top: Soyer knit vest/Des Kohan. Vince men's Fair Isle sweaters/Vince, Vince men's classic cashmere sweaters/Vince.

Holiday Shopping: See some of the items in our Fairy Tale Gift Guide


There are fewer than a dozen shopping days till Christmas. Hard to believe, but true.

If you're still looking for that perfect something, check out our Fairy Tale Holiday Gift Guide. There you'll find something for your princess, your prince or even the evil witch in your life, as our Melissa Magsaysay told viewers when she appeared on KTLA Sunday Edition this week.

I'm thinking the chocolates are something I should give myself!

--Susan Denley


Your Stylist: Best in brass jewelry

How tastemakers dress for the holiday season

New Nike Kobe VII  System Supreme drops Dec. 22

Video credit: KTLA

Holiday Shopping: The Beeracuda from Burton

We’re not exactly sure that the Beeracuda from Burton sends a message of safety, but it’s a fun gift idea for the avid snowboarder in your life.

The contraption slings across the body and is able to hold a stack of five beer cans securely across the back. There’s also a little koozy placed on the front of the Beeracuda to stow a can for easy access, so it can presumably be cracked open and consumed as soon as you’re at the bottom of the mountain.

Of course an energy drink or water would also fit in the tube, and those beverages seem more practical for stamina and hydration while doing physical activity in the cold. But beer may seem more appealing to snowboarders on holiday.

The Burton Beeracuda is $19.95 and available at Burton Snowboards and Channel Islands, 8175 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles.


Holiday dressing: photos

Fairy tale-inspired gift guide

Special holiday shopping destinations in the L.A area

-- Melissa Magsaysay

Photo: The Burton Beeracuda. Credit: Burton


Los Angeles' stylish holiday gift guide, inspired by fairy tales

Lily Collins as Snow White
The Image holiday gift guide is here, inspired by Snow White, among others.

That's because our cultural obsession with sexy vampires and teen wizards has been eclipsed by the recent influx of fairy tales in pop culture.  For starters, there’s NBC’s "Grimm" (recasting fairy tales as crime procedurals), ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” (the fairy tale as family drama), and two films based on Snow White that are set for release next year. (That's Lily Collins, above, portraying Snow White in one of them, "Mirror, Mirror.")

We here at Image took that cue and spun it into our 2011 gift guide, complete with presents inspired by a princess, an evil queen and even three bears.

We’ve selected some stylish accessories, beauty items and home decor items that have a little fairy tale magic to them. For a closer look at some of the items, I’ll be talking about the gift guide live this Sunday at 8:30 p.m. on KTLA Channel 5. And don’t forget to check out the gift guide for yourself.


Add a little sparkle to your holiday wardrobe

Independent L.A. boutiques are holiday shopping deals

Custom capes: a super idea for the hero on your shopping list

--Melissa Magsaysay 

Photo: Lily Collins as Snow White in Relativity Media's "Mirror, Mirror." Credit: Relativity Media


Custom capes: A super idea for the hero on your holiday list

If you're stumped on what to get for the kid -- or kid at heart -- on your holiday shopping list, we have just one question: Have you considered a superhero-style cape?

We recently discovered the somewhat silly but totally custom cape-making operation that not only makes its wares in the U.S. (Detroit to be exact) but, according to its website, employs moms to hand-make each one. (We have no doubt that this is the source of the capes' superpowers.)

Capes can be personalized by choosing from among 11 different cape colors, eight emblem designs (a crown, shield, heart and lightning bolt among them) and 29 emblem colors, with the option of putting a letter smack in the middle of the emblem (go ahead, you know you want a big, red "S") starting at $24.99. If you're super-sized (i.e. an adult) it'll cost an extra $10.

But you'll need to be faster than a speeding bullet if you want to give a custom cape for Christmas since the order needs to be placed today (Dec. 9) at the latest (unless, of course, you can get Superman to fly around Earth and turn back time like he's been known to do).

But if you decide to order one of its 3,000 pre-made capes, you can wait as late as Dec. 21 and it'll still arrive under the Christmas tree in time to make you look totally heroic.


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First photo: Superman's new suit unveiled

Wonder Woman and MAC lasso a cosmetics deal

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: Detroit-based employs moms to make custom superhero capes for children and adults. Credit:

Carmageddon: What a great idea for some gifts!


"Carmageddon" is upon us. The dreaded closure of the bustling 405 Freeway for 10 miles through the Sepulveda Pass is scheduled to start at midnight and is expected to go on for more than 48  hours.

Angelenos are full of angst. And perhaps none more so than my boss. Yes, she lives on the Westside. Yes, she is hosting in-laws for the weekend. And yes, she expects an end to life as she knows it. At least for these two days. 

What can I do, I wondered, to help her make her way through it? Or give her a little reward for being a tough soldier once it's over? Why, a T-shirt, of course. Or maybe a coffee mug. An iPhone case?

Luckily, as in any California crisis, there are vendors ready to oblige with the requisite "I survived the fill-in-the-blank" merchandise.

So I'm thinking an "I survived Carmageddon" tee, water bottle, coffee mug or bumper sticker might do the trick. The folks over at, a website that specializes in such things, has a supply at the ready, including a small pin for $3, a bumper sticker for $5, a mug for $15 and an assortment of tees starting around $15. I could also be creative and design one of these items myself by using their customization service.

Now note: These items are all available now. They presume everyone will indeed survive Carmageddon. My boss doesn't seem so sure.

But I have no doubts. In fact, maybe I'll make a little something for myself that says "Carmageddon, Schmarmageddon. I live in the O.C."



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One side of debate over Arizona's immigration law is boiled down to a tee

-- Susan Denley

Photos: Top, T-shirts, left, $30, right $15; Middle, iPhone case, $25; mug, $15; Bottom, bumper sticker, $5. Credit:


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