Nina Garcia Quarterly (#NGQ03): July 2014 (An ode to a tiny rubber shoe)

So friends, this was supposed to be one of the four times a year when I get super excited because my favorite subscription box shows up at my door: the Nina Garcia box from Quarterly. If you’re a beauty or fashion enthusiast (or a Project Runway fan) then you know who Nina is. Her first box (Fall 2013) had a “glam grunge” theme and to date is my favorite sub box that I’ve ever received. Her last one in March, was a bit more of a hodge podge, but that was expected since it was a “favorite things” box. It had a couple misses, but overall was quite excellent. I’m giving you this background so you know where we’re coming from and that way maybe you can tell me how we ended up with this July box.

Box
I tried to think of many themes for this box and the one that features most prominently in my mind is: “What the #$&*%#&* Nina?” I usually don’t give you my overall opinion so early on in my review, but you need to prepare yourself. Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Open Box 1 Open Box 2
So where should we start…I know with one of my oh so favorite items…

Cap
Muito Cool Baseball Cap: (Estimated Retail: $55.00)
Nina’s Description: I worked with SP϶NGLISH to design this custom Muito Cool baseball cap for you. As one of the coolest accessories for this summer, it is not only perfect for the moment, but will also serve as memento of the 2014 World Cup for years to come.”
Verdict: What the @&*#$&(!
Cool – I do not think it means what you think it means.
You know what all the fashion and beauty obsessed ladies who are willing to fork over $100 for a beauty sub, want? A baseball hat. And not just any baseball hat. One to commemorate the World Cup. It’s what every American woman dreams of receiving. We spend all that time doing our hair and all that money on hair products just so we can shove it all under an ugly hat. This is the same brand featured in the last NG box, only that shirt was a million times better designed and infinitely more useful. Putting aside that we didn’t need a repeat of this brand so quickly, this item is just absurd. There were so many other fashionable options if you really needed a “memento of the 2014 World Cup” like a sophisticated charm bracelet with a removable World Cup charm or maybe you just don’t need to bring sports into this box at all. Maybe.

Let’s move on to another winner…

Clutch
Koku Pouch: (Estimated Retail: $108.95)
Nina’s Description: “The other accessory that every fashionista must have every summer is a go-to bag. Whenever this item of year hits, I set aside my usual lady-like purses and opt for a lightweight clutch. One of my personal favorites is a Koku pouch that doubles as a summer clutch. All of Koku’s products are handmade in Greece. This clutch…features raffia fringe and a plexiglass decoration—giving it an unparalleled summery feel”
Verdict: Seriously?
Nina says ‘Unparalled summery feel” I say “dollar store reject.” I cannot express to you enough how much cheaper this looks in person. It’s like something you put together from odds and ends of the Luau aisle of Party City. I couldn’t find my exact version so I linked to a similar pouch with a plexiglass decoration and raffia. The linked one is much more attractive than mine, but if you’re willing to pay over a $100 for either one, I have some land in Florida I want to sell you.

Oh, so what’s our next high end fashion, oh so unique find?

Sunblock
Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration SPF 30 (Estimated Retail: $10.79)
Nina’s Description:“Of course with the onset of summer, most of us go through ha change of routine and encounter new priorities. At the top of my list is protecting my skin. For that purpose I have included Hawaiian tropic silk hydration spf 30. Its classic Hawaiian Tropics scent evokes the feeling of summer and its broad spectrum protection will keep your skin safe, helping you stay worry-free.”
Verdict: Sigh, are we even trying anymore?
I’m going to put aside the fact that SPF 30 is really not high enough for a lot of folks and point out that you can pick this up at any drugstore. Hell, you can probably pick this up at a gas station. I highly doubt that Nina is spraying herself with this sunblock. If we’d gotten a luxury brand or even a new emerging one, sunblock would have been a great addition. Because of the low SPF I won’t be able to use this.

Oribe
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray: (Retail: $21.50)
Nina’s Description: “It acts like a dry shampoo in that it absorbs oil at the roots, but adds volume and texture to your hair. It gives it a ‘just done look, and will keep your style looking fresh for a couple of days….”
Verdict:
Hit! (Finally)
I actually have a big can of this courtesy of the Popsugar Neiman Marcus box. It works amazingly well for updos and this travel size is perfect for summer. It’s just the thing for keeping your hair looking fabulous during an August wedding and the small size is great for traveling. Finally, something I can actually use!

Shave Cream
Organic Shave Gel by Surya Brasil (Estimated Retail: $20.39)
Nina’s Description:“..an incredible, vegan, organic shave gel by Surya Brasil. Your legs will be super smooth, and you can rest easy knowing that it doesn’t contain any GMOs and is cruelty free.”
Verdict: Hit!
A useful product from an interesting new brand. Hot Damn! A shave gel is perfect in a summer box and I’m excited to try out this new company that has vegan products. Progress, we’re making progress!

Hydrator
Joico K-Pak Intense Hydrator (Estimated Retail: $16.00)
Nina’s Description:“It will moisturize and calm your hair, making it healthier, shinier and just overall more manageable when styling.”
Verdict: Like
A hair moisturizer isn’t super exciting, but it seems useful and this is another new brand for me. I’ll try adding to my hair routine once or twice a week.

LipstickLipstick Swatch
ck One Lipstick in Entice: ($8.97)
Nina’s Description: “No summer look is complete without a bright lip and nail—‘tis the season for bold, intense, saturated colors!.”
Verdict: Hit!
I actually really love this shade and the color stayed put for a surprisingly long time. I’ve never tried any ck One beauty products so it was nice to add this to my collection.

Polish Polish Swatch
Formula X Nail Lacquer in Push the Limits (Retail: $10.50)
Nina’s Description:“No summer look is complete without a bright lip and nail—‘tis the season for bold, intense, saturated colors!..”
Verdict:
Like
Despite my plethora of polish, I don’t have any of the Formula X so it’s nice to try this one out. I tend to favor blue reds, while this one is an orange. I don’t have anything like it so it’s a nice addition to my giant polish hoard. The color applied smoothly and I think the shade will be fabulous for pedicures.

Pouch
Palm Tree Print Clutch by Print All over Me (Retail: $20.00)
Nina’s Description:“It’s summery pattern makes it the perfect pouch to hold all of your summer essentials.”
Verdict:
Gift
What is this trend with calling pouches, clutches? This is a pouch. It is a cute and lovely pouch, but it is not a clutch. I don’t ever see people walking around with these things as bags. They are what you put your makeup in and then in turn throw into your actual bag. So putting that aside, this isn’t a bad pouch, but the Popsugar Summer LE Box had a much nicer one that is very similar. I’ll be gifting this one since there are only so many ocean printed pouches that I can use at a time. This is yet another editorial choice I just don’t understand. Nina already included that hideous, I mean quirky “clutch”. Why not do a tote bag instead? There are plenty available from Print All Over Me. I couldn’t find any pouches on the site, but it’s very hard to navigate. Their tote bags cost $28.00, so I’ll estimate this at $20, since I would think a tote bag would cost more that a medium pouch.

Towelette
Red Flower Italian Blood Orange Refreshing Hand & Face Towelette
(Sample Estimated Retail: .71; Estimated Retail: 7 pack/$5.00)
Nina’s Description:To freshen up when you are on the go…”
Verdict:
Like, but…
Really, just one towelette? Maybe you could have omitted the terrible baseball cap so we could have a couple of these instead. I like this item, I think it’s a great addition, but just one seems very stingy to me. This is what I expect in a Birchbox sample, not in a $100 box. And a 7 pack is only $5.00 so it’s not like the uber expensive Revive sample from last time…

Gift Card
OtterBox Brazilian Pop! Symmetry Series Phone Case (For iPhone 5/5s or GALAXY s5)
(Estimated Retail: $49.95)
Nina’s Description:“…your device deserves an upgrade in the accessory department too! In the spirit of Brazil and summer, I worked with OtterBox to design this protective case inspired by Brazilian street art.”
Verdict:
Miss
I have an Iphone 5 so I was one of the folks who could actually use the gift card for a case. (Apparently you don’t need a case if you don’t own an Iphone or a Galaxy). The design is bright and cheerful but I just don’t love it. I did redeem it so I may just pass it along to someone else or save it for when I want to take my super hardcore case off my Iphone.

Shoe
Desk Ornament from Melissa (Retail: ???)
Nina’s Description:“I have also included a desk ornament from the Brazilian shoe designer Melissa. Melissa creates vegan, rubber shoes and has collaborated with designers such a Vivienne Westwood, and architect Zaha Hadid. On the shelf at home or on your desk at work this little shoe is the perfect item for the fashion obsessed.”
Verdict:
Somewhere there is a sad doll, searching, just searching for her missing shoe.

I don’t even know where to start. Really, this is a tiny rubber shoe. One tiny rubber shoe. It’s more like the beginning of a sad beatnik poem, than a “desk ornament”. Does Nina really keep this on her desk? My desk only has things I can use or things I adore. And I can’t imagine adoring one miniature rubber shoe. Maybe I’m missing something? Maybe fashionistas all over the world truly believe this is the perfect desk accessory? Maybe I’m out of touch? Maybe I should quit being a blogger and roam around the world visiting shoe stores until I can fully appreciate the craftsmanship of this tiny piece of art. Wait, it has inspired me! Here it is, an ode to the tiny rubber shoe:

So much depends upon,
a black rubber shoe,
wrapped in tissue paper
beside a red polish.

Headphones 1 Headphones 2
In-Ear Headphones from Frends (Retail: $99.00)
Nina’s Description:“There’s no better way to get you in the mood for summer than with some great music. That’s why I’ve chosen to include these super chic white, in ear headphones decorated with a gold wire overlay from Frends. These beauties are so pretty that they almost look lik ea piece of jewelry—why shouldn’t your tech gear be super stylish?”
Verdict:
Love!
Finally! A big ticket item that actually feels like Nina Garcia would use. These headphones are so pretty and while I have a bunch of earbuds these are the nicest. I’d never splurge on these myself, but am so excited to try them out. If you love them, they are available on Birchbox so you can hoard your points to get them.

Candle
Vanilla Orchid & Almond Classic Candle by Nest (Retail:12.00)
Nina’s Description:“I absolutely adore these candles and the summery scents are incredible..”.
Verdict:
Miss
I would have loved this in another scent. This one is way too strong and it’s not summery at all. I noticed others got scents like “orange blossom” and I would have infinitely preferred that.  I own a Nest candle I adore that came in that Popsugar Neiman Marcus Box which also had the Oribe spray. Except that box had larger sizes of both items. I find it very odd that Nina would include two items that were already packaged together in another box. It just seems poor planning to me. I would have held off and included the Nest candle in the Fall box and left the Oribe spray in this one. She just set herself up for a comparison where her box was going to look worse.


Full Box
OVERALL:
I sit alone in the corner, sobbing, clutching a tiny black rubber shoe to my chest…


Oh Nina, what happened here? Did someone hold your dog hostage and demand you include that hideous “clutch” and baseball cap? I don’t understand this box. It leads me to (gasp!) question your taste level. I cannot imagine you running around with that yellow raffia clutch and spraying yourself down with Hawaiian Tropics sunblock while wearing a baseball cap. As you so often ask on project runway – who is the woman you’re designing for? Would the woman who wears that baseball cap also be the one who needs a super pricey texturizing hair spray?

Theoretically this box is valued at $$455.76 (excluding the shoe and with my estimated cost on the pouch), but that’s with items like the shark clutch priced at over a $100. I paid $100, and there were a few items I liked (like the pricey headphones), but I can’t shake the disappointment I feel. In my opinion, I didn’t get what I signed up for. Nina is known for being chic and sophisticated and only a few items in this box fit that profile.

I am not canceling since I have faith that Nina will turn it all around and offer us a fabulous Fall box, but if it comes with a tiny rubber hat, I’m out.

What did you think of this box and what would you do with one tiny black rubber shoe?

Neiman Marcus Popsugar Must Have Box – November 2013

So it came.  Finally.  The holy grail of subscription boxes.  The now infamous Popsugar Special Edition Neiman Marcus box that cost $250 and sold out in 12 hours.  I have one and now it’s time to see what’s inside it.

BoxBox Half Open

To start, this frick’n box is so heavy that there has to be something breakable in there.  Only stuff fragile stuff can weigh this much. If I thought the $100 Fall style box was luxurious, this was like it’s uber snobby, super rich, older cousin. The box itself is really high quality and I plan to reuse it for storage, so we’re already off to a great start.

Neiman Box Open Wrapped

Blanket
Chevron Printed Throw:(Retail: $195)
Verdict: Hit!
This item was the spoiler Popsugar released when the box was first announced.  The big question was what color you’d find in your box. I ended up with the gray which is the shade I wanted.  I had planned to gift this if I ended up with certain colors, but sorry suckers, this one is mine.

Adler
Jonathan Adler Carnaby Zebra Stacking Dish:
(Retail: $24.00)
Verdict: Gift
We’d been told this box would include something by Jonathan Adler.  Now I love me some little dishes for rings, keys or paperclips, but I’m just not feeling the design.  I got the navy blue and, something about the navy + animal print just isn’t working. It’s like nautical, but not. I think if this had come in the shiny gold they offer on the Jonathan Adler site I’d have loved it.  As is, I’m putting it in my Christmas gift pile.

Eyeshadow
Le Métier De Beauté –  Pretty in Punk Eye Shadow Palette:(Retail: $95.00)
Verdict: Love!

The last clue Popsugar gave us is that there’d be a Le Metier De Beauty item in this box.  This punk palette was made exclusively for this Popsugar collaboration so I don’t have a link to the item itself, but I’ll price it the same as their similar palette on the Neiman Marcus site.  Before I signed up for this box, I was unfamiliar with the brand but now that I’ve seen it, I’m so excited to try it out.  These folks are so fancy pants, I can’t even figure out how you order from their site (apparently everything is in sets?).  At first I was startled by the colors  and was afraid that my translucent self would be unable to use anything but the shimmery gold.  After googling I came across Le Métier’s video of their Couches de Couleur technique.  (You know it’s super fancy because the name is in French).  It seems that you layer these colors on top of each other to achieve a smoky eye.  After watching the whole thing, I think I can actually attempt this!  It has totally rocked my beauty world.  Just keep your fingers crossed that I don’t waste a $95 eyeshadow palette making myself look like I got punched in the face.

Treat
Neiman Marcus “Twist” White Fudge-Covered Corn Twists:
(Retail: $19.00)
Verdict: Hit!
This tube of calorific goodness is described as “white fudge-covered corn snacks.”  I’m game for trying all kinds of food items and while I’m normally not a fan of white chocolate this looks intriguing and will be a perfect to munch on when I put up my Christmas tree and decorations.

Plates
Slim & Sage Dinner Plates:
(Retail: $99.99)
Verdict: Gift
So these porcelain dishes are supposed to help you lose weight by being smaller (9 inches versus the standard 12) and with super secret portioning via geometric design (two quadrants for veggies, one for protein and one for carbs).  I seriously love dinnerware, but I’m just not in love with this pattern.  For the most part I’m not a geometric person and I don’t think I’d get much use out of these.  Another disappointment is that on the bottom of this beautiful box it reads “made in china” (as does the Jonathan Adler).  I don’t mind stuff being “made in china” when I buy it at Target, but for a super luxury box from Neiman Marcus, I’d kind of like to see it come from France, or Italy, or some other place that makes crap I can’t normally afford.  The plates are packaged really nicely and there are a few people on my Christmas list who I think would really love them, so they most likely will be gifted. ( Although the red is so perfect for Christmas I still might change my mind!)

NecklaceNecklace Closeup
SHY by Sydney Evan Love Pendant Bezel Diamond Necklace
: (Retail $125.00)
Verdict: Hit!
This is a 14K gold plated (over silver) necklace with an itty bitty diamond.  Yes, I said DIAMOND.  (Apparently Neiman Marcus is well aware of what’s a girl’s best friend.) I don’t own any word jewelry so this is a nice addition to my collection.  It’s really the offset diamond that makes it interesting.  The strange thing about this necklace is that it is very, very tiny.  It’s pretty much choker length. I think this could actually be a really cute gift for a tween aged girl, and if mom wants to go super cutesy she can get one for herself and they can match.

Candle
Nest Candle in Birchwood Pine:
(Retail: $34.00)
Verdict:  Love!

First, I love candles.  Second, this one has a really authentic pine tree smell.  This is perfect since I have a fake tree and every year my compromise with my boyfriend is that I’ll burn a pine candle and get a real wreath (he complains that there’s no Christmas smell with my fake one).  The glass container is adorable and has this fabulous mid-century modern holiday vibe to it.  This will be making its way into my holiday decorations come November 29th.

Hairspray
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray:
(Retail: $39.00)
Verdict:  Love!
The description makes this sound like magic for your hair: “This invisible dry hair spray builds in incredible volume and sexy texture. Patented polymers absorb oil at the roots, leaving you with just-styled hair for days (and nights).” So as I’ve mentioned in other posts, my hair is my final beauty frontier.  This year I conquered nails (thanks to Julep) and 2014 will be my hair year.  The last couple years, I’ve been going with a short bob, but I’ve been growing it out in search of long hair.  Right now I’m having an Ally Sheedy Breakfast club moment, so I’m hoping this item is as amazing as it sounds and will give me some much needed help with styling my hair.  I mean people it has patented polymers  which is so sciency it just has to work.

Full Box
Overall:

With tax I paid a whopping $267.50 for this box, but the value tops out at $630.00.  Now under normal circumstances I don’t splurge this much, but every year since I turned thirty I allow myself one luxury purchase at my birthday.  It should be something high end and special that will last a long time.  This year I decided to gamble on this box.  I’m actually quite happy I did.  Not only did I get a diamond, but I got a fabulous throw and candle that will look great in my apartment, a yummy treat to have during my holiday tree decorating, hair and makeup products that will totally help me try out new looks and a couple of fabulous Christmas gifts.

Popsugar also has a sold out Holiday box, but I snagged one so if you want to see what’s in it, be sure to check back.  Currently available along with Popsugar’s regular subscription there is also a Must Have Holiday Box for Men

So what did think of the Neiman Marcus Popsugar box?  Was it as luxurious as you thought it would be or did you expect more?

The Backstory

Popsugar is a women’s lifestyle subscription that delivers a monthly box of fun, full-size products hand-selected by Popsugar editors.

In addition to Popsugar’s monthly must have boxes, they have some seasonal special edition boxes that contain uber luxe items.  The price tag on these boxes is higher, but the products you receive are high end.

Popsugar Subscription Pricing:
Monthly – $39.95
3 Months – $109.85
6 Months – $214.70
12 Months – $404.40

Coupon Codes:  REFER5 = $5 off sitewide
POPSUGAR10 = $10 off a 3 month subscription

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