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WHAT’S IN MY SJ? By guest blogger Karla Sugar of

Me and Stephanie Johnson bags go way back.  I first spotted them years ago on an endcap in Neiman Marcus.  It was the pattern that made me stop, but I fell in love with how sturdily and thoughtfully they were built.  (Stain-resistant interiors!  Why doesn’t everybody do that?)

I dislike cavernous makeup bags — I just don’t like products rattling around.  I have visions of shattered powders (and scuffed packaging just isn’t as pretty).  But it seems like the cosmetics bag category (in general) is trending larger and flimsier.  My response has to become a total nut for SJ bags.  So when the lovely folks at Stephanie Johnson asked if I’d like to guest blog, my answer was obvious.  But I realized I couldn’t express myself in fewer than three bags. Most of the time, I do my makeup at home and leave it at home.  But there are occasions when I have to work my magic on the fly.  Maybe some of you work out before heading into the office (I applaud you), or you want to look presentable post-facial, or you’re going out in the evening.  Enter the Mini Pouch (seen here in candy-colored Malibu Coral crinkle patent).  It’s the perfect size for my minimum kit:

Prestige Waterproof Eyeliner in Charcoal Brown A cheap, excellent, dark brown eyeliner. The formula is soft enough that it’s a breeze to apply (but not so soft it breaks), and once it’s on, it stays put.  Eyeliner is the first (and most important) product I put on — the difference between feeling pretty and people asking me if I’m getting sick.  $5.25,

Sephora Slim Pencil Sharpener  $2,

Cle de Peau Beaute Concealer I’m the first to admit this product is expensive, but dang, it’s potent.  The formula is so full coverage, you need only the tiniest amount to erase any discoloration.  And because you used so little product, there’s nothing to crease.  This is you without undereye circles.  Click here for swatches of the different shades.  $70,

Kate Somerville CytoCell Eye Cream I like to put on eye cream first, let it dry halfway, then put on concealer (the Cle de Peau is thick; this just makes it a little more emollient).  I love Kate’s products because they’re lightweight and dry quickly, but they’re effective.  $75,

Mascara The mascara in my bag changes on a regular basis; GWP sizes are convenient. Recent favorites have included Guerlain Noir G, Burberry’s mascara, and Chanel Inimitable Intense.

Tweezerman iLash Comb Silly name, brilliant product.  It’s basically a row of sewing needles mounted into a plastic handle (which folds shut to protect the tines).  Apply any mascara, then comb through your lashes with this metal comb, and you will be utterly clump-free.  $9,

Lipstick The shade depends on the time of year and city I’m in, but bright lipstick makes up for times when I’m not wearing too much else.  In this photo:  L’Oreal Volcanic. Swatches here.  Regular price is $8.95 at, but it goes on sale all the time.

Q-tips You can correct almost any mistake with a q-tip.  Uneven eyeliner application? Smudged a little mascara on your lid?  A dry q-tip will take that right off.

Now makeup application at home is a completely different story — I am an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink kind of girl.  And those tendencies also come out on blog-related travel (fashion week, conferences, anytime I’m representing the category of beauty).  I need options.  And the only way to pack it all in one bag is to use the ML Traveler, a makeup travel case par excellence. The ML Traveler features two flat mesh pouches (which snap into the case) and one big plastic pouch that velcroes in.  The flat pouches hold everything securely (and make it easy to find stuff).

I won’t subject you to a full accounting of the contents, but this is how I build on the basics I carry in the Mini Pouch.  (If there’s a product you’re curious about, ask, and I’ll reply in the comments).

One last bag I have to mention (because I LOVE bags that can be two things):  the Large Pouch.  I often imagine myself attending cocktail parties and brunches and afternoon weddings — but I’m bad at shopping for these events (maybe because I actually attend them so rarely).  The Large Pouch has become my go-to clutch.  I use it for travel, too — it’s the perfect size for a medium amount of makeup (say, a trip to wine country, just me and Mr. Salt).


Karla Sugar is a beauty blogger in Dallas, Texas. On her blog, she swatches makeup on her arm and takes pictures of it — outside, in sunlight, so you can see what something “really” looks like before you buy.  She spends the rest of her time drinking coffee, chasing her dog Domino, and exhaustively researching Dallas’s taco offerings with her husband.

I hit Dallas three or four times a year for trade shows (we exhibit the Stephanie Johnson line in the lovely Codarus showroom in the World Trade Center), and to check in with some of our favorite clients.  I’m embarrassed to admit that after a decade of travel here I never saw much outside my hotel room.  Fortunately, this trip changed all that.


A creature of habit, I’ve been staying at the Crescent Court for years.  It’s nice to find a spot you can return to trip after trip and call home, and it doesn’t hurt that Stanley Korshak is next door and Nobu is in house.

I did venture out this trip and check out both the Ritz-Carlton and the newly renovated Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek.  Both are winners.  The Mansion is cozy with a fireplace burning in the intimate lobby and the Mansion Bar is the place to unwind after a long day.  The Ritz is bigger with an expansive lobby filled with contemporary art and a hot restaurant to boot.

Any of these three properties will have you tucked in with a smile at night.


Ok, so I frequent Nobu Next Door in my TriBeCa neighborhood so who needs Nobu when I’m in Dallas?  For starters, it’s in my hotel, and secondly, Dallas Nobu is the home of the Matteo Roll.  What’s the Matteo Roll?  Glad you asked.  Nothing short of perfection:  this $25 cut roll features spicy tuna and asparagus wrapped in soy paper topped with more spicy tuna, guacamole, chili oil and topped with dry miso.

Another Uptown favorite is Fearing’s.  Dean Fearing is swathed in Texas charm and makes a mean tortilla soup.  Anything he cooks up is sublime in a gorgeous setting.  The staff here is as AMAZING as the food.

When in Texas, eat Tex-Mex.  Beauty blogger extraordinaire Karla Sugar, aka ‘The Swatcher,’ brought me to Chuy’s and I was instantly entranced.  The weather was warm enough for us to dine in a booth outside in ‘the garage’, sipping margaritas (Sugar ordered ‘the dot’, a frozen lime margarita with a shot of strawberry in the middle), and feasting on chipotle enchiladas.  Insiders know to ask for the creamy jalapeño sauce.  It’s not on the menu, it’s free, and I had two.  Sugar also explained that you get a free appetizer if you bring a framed photo of your dog.  That explains that!

For breakfast try The Dream Cafe after a walk along the Katy Trail and order the popover or Cloud Cakes.  A newcomer directly on the trail, try Company Cafe for outside picnic tables and farm to table fare.  The Ice House sits next door and has games, fire pits, and a backyard BBQ feel.

Shinsei is a must stop for sushi.  Anywhere that hands me the check tucked into a Nancy Drew novel has my vote.  And if you’ve overstuffed yourself on Texas BBQ and are looking to detox, don’t forget the Gem Juice Bar inside DUO.  They feature juice squeezed to order, smoothies and house made cashew milk.  YUM.


Dallas has great modern art.  I was privileged to have a private tour of the Rachofsky House, a private home designed by Richard Meier.  It’s one beautiful white cube sitting on 3 acres of the most beautiful lawn I’ve seen maybe ever.  The views from inside are stunning from every vantage point and the private collection rotates annually.  I was struck most by the work of Janine Antoni, which included a bust of the artist made entirely from chocolate and another of the artist made from soap (Lick & Lather).  Very special.

Lucky for me the Dallas Museum of Art had the Jean Paul Gaultier show, a retrospective of the designer’s work that included pieces he did for Madonna, Kylie Minogue, and Gaga.  A sensation.  Catch it if you can.

I really enjoyed getting out in the morning and walking the Katy Trail, a paved path that runs 3.5 miles from SMU to downtown, crossing bridges and connecting to nature.


I discovered that my TriBeCa neighbor Lela Rose is a Dallas native and had just opened her first Dallas outpost days before I arrived.  A small shop in Highland Village with to-die-for dresses in gorgeous prints with perfect detail, I got to walk away with a tiny recipe book and biscotti that Ms. Rose made herself in her kitchen back home.  (Lela, when are you having me over?)

Of course no shopping trip to the Big D is complete without a visit to the original home of Neiman Marcus downtown.  Go at holiday time when the store is transformed into a space odyssey with tubes the kids can shoot through and their restaurant The Zodiac rolls out the most extraordinary holiday buffet.

Stanley Korshak is also a Dallas institute.  Go there to stock up on all your Stephanie Johnson this season and make sure to tell Mary that I sent you.

 2011 marked my entrance into the blogosphere with SJ’s Style Compass, and one of the most exciting things about my first foray into blogging is all the inventive, inspiring and creative blogs I’ve run across.  There are far too many to list here, but I thought I would highlight a few that may be new to you as well as a few that have been good to us.  I’m so grateful to be a part of this amazing community and hope to share more of my great finds with you in the months ahead.  Happy reading this holiday season!


Le Catch From the uber best-dressed Marlien Rentmeester, West Coast editor for Lucky Mag(!), comes Le Catch.  My go-to for fast fashion on a budget, and it even tells me what to wear with it.  J’adore.

What is James Wearing? James Andrew chronicles his life in fashion of the day.  Decked in Tom Ford, Gucci, Etro and the like, he shares his serious stare (why no smiles James?) while musing at the Frick, perusing at Christie’s, and shmoozing at the Ocean Club.   Wouldn’t dream of starting my day without seeing what’s on his style radar.

Blueprint for Style I love image curator Monica Barnett’s enthusiastic passion for fashion, and the blog’s great resources like its alphabetized style dictionary.  I was fortunate enough to be featured here in a designer profile in October.


Stripes & Sequins Blogger Grace Atwood is unabashedly girly in her love of all things sparkly, and her bright and bubbly persona shines just as much as the pretty, glittery things she adores.  Added bonus:  the DIY Archives section of her blog is a-mazing, with step-by-step instructions to walk you through tons of super cool projects (love the aptly-named striped, sequined sneakers!)

Closet Vanity Samantha Fodrowski brings you the best of what’s in your closet and on your vanity, and always manages to find and feature beautiful pieces that are so not everywhere.  My favorite reads include her Closet Confidential profiles of up-and-coming and established designers (I was delighted to be featured here Nov. 2), and her Thankful Thursday posts (because gratitude is always in style!).


Firestone Sisters These twins (o.k., they are not twins), have a passion and love for travel that I can appreciate.  They share a peek into their rooms (for the voyeur in you), recipes for the season (thanks for Paula Deen’s Monster Christmas cookies!), and their thoughts on what to wear.  Daily posts include other posts you may like as well as an interview with yours truly. . . thank you!

In-Flight Insider With over 20 years of experience in commercial and corporate aviation, travel guru Carolyn Paddock offers not only an abundance of practical (and spot-on!) tips, but she makes it her mission to source the most useful and luxurious products to make your frequent flying more comfortable and more elegant.  As someone who logs a lot of time at 30,000 feet, I appreciate her in-flight (as well as pre-flight and post-flight) insight!


the glossarie O.K., so I’m a little biased as I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging with the delightful Lara Ramos at Lucky Magazine’s FABB conference last September (see the pic of us mugging in the J.Brand booth)!  That being said, her blog is as perfectly pretty as the treasure trove of beauty products she features.  Because a beauty blog should be beautiful, and hers is!

Karla Sugar The next best thing to going shopping yourself, indeed!  Your best friend at the beauty counter, the affable Karla Sugar tests out top brands in easy-to-see swatches (on her own skin!) of makeup and nail polish, so that you can accurately get a sense of color before you buy.  Incredibly useful and practical, there’s no other beauty blog like hers out there.

Beauty 411 Nancy Houlmont has her finger on the pulse of all things beauty, skincare and fragrance and I love her no-nonsense product reviews and makeup tips.  A true encyclopedia of beauty knowledge!


What Katie Ate From down under comes Katie Quinn Davies’ photographic food essay and love letter to all things culinary.  Foodies and photogs alike will go gaga for her recipe share.  I only wish she posted more, but alas this blog is done in her spare time which very understandably she has little of.

Anatomy of a Dinner Party Atlanta-based hostess with the mostest and modern day Miss Manners, Patti Davis serves up Southern hospitality with a smile.  I love her down-to-earth musings about food, fun and fetes.  Having been fortunate enough to attend one of her famous dinner parties (held in my honor!), I can certify that she knows how to throw a truly superb soiree!

Lulu Powers LuLu’s blog is clean and direct just like I like them.  Sharing everything from before and after party tables, to party tips (ribbon candy placeholders anyone?), to the perfect hostess gift (personalized enamel bracelets!), she covers your party planning A-Z.  Leaves me wanting more. . . xo 


Coco+Kelley My hat’s off to designer Cassandra LaValle for this truly gorgeous blog!  From fresh color palettes to fab fashion finds, Coco + Kelley does it all well, but where this blog really shines is its focus on stunning interiors.  My faves are the Room of the Week and Interiors to Inspire series!

Happiness is a Pink Foo Dog Hillary Thomas might be the happiest gal I know.  She’s finally taken her happy design out of the house and onto the web where she shares her secrets and takes you shopping.  Travel with her to Round Top to go antique-ing or to Palm Beach where she gives you the insider view of shopping for her One Kings Lane container sale.  Did I say she’s chic personified?  Oh yeah, that too.

Good Bones Great Pieces Mother/Daughter team Suzanne and Lauren McGrath are so gifted at finding amazing and unique accents for your home.  While they feature their fair share of pricey pieces, I’m endlessly inspired by the treasures they’re able to unearth at flea markets, consignment stores and estate sales.


Very Good Looking A tribute to her late mother, Very Good Looking is just that.  Sally Horchow vlogs about everything from giving, mania, neatness and style, giving them her VGL stamp of approval.  Whip smart, I love her unique posts on everything from how to hang a salon-style wall at home, to how to buy a bra ( a favorite of my 3 year old).  Very Good Looking indeed.

Design Love Fest Inspiration abounds on uber-creative graphic designer Bri Emery’s blog.  Whether she’s featuring fashion finds, home decor, or a peek inside one of her fab Blogshop workshops, you can count on her posts to be fresh, fun, and (a tad) quirky.



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