Playing Dress-up with Electronics Is Fun!

Dressing up our dogs and carrying them around in little purses stopped being weird back when Paris Hilton had a career. There was barely a flutter of the national eyelid when someone dressed up her kid like Julia Roberts' hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold for a beauty pageant on Toddlers & Tiaras. So by comparison, accessorizing our electronics seems positively normal -- at least they are inanimate objects, and immune from the stress/strain/humiliation of our tendency to bedazzle the shit out of the things around us.

The electronics accessories market is growing at a rapid pace. Big retailers and small, boutique operations are creating covers for everything from laptops to cell phones to iPads, appealing to our desire for style in every aspect of our lives. It's no longer enough to simply protect our talking machines with a layer of rubber or cloth, we need these things to say something about ourselves. (Something other than "I can't put this thing down, not even for a minute, not ever.")

Communicating something about ourselves by accessorizing the devices we use to communicate? So meta!

Smart phone coversiPhone Cassette Tape Skin: This cassette tape will prompt endless, hilarious "mix tape" jokes among your friends. This joke is probably only going to be funny to folks over a certain age; say, 35-ish. We suggest assigning a different '80s song as a ringtone for everyone in your contact list to add to the amusement. If you're the only one laughing you need new friends. • iPhone Vintage Camera Case: The degree to which these Funny iPhone Cases on Zazzle are funny is debatable, but this vintage camera case is pretty cool looking. This is perfect for those of us who spend more time taking photos with our phones than we do actually talking to people. • Leather smart phone cases: For those of us not trying to be funny, and who want something sleek, stylish and classic, these leather smart phone cases from Fortte are a good choice. Fortte offers six collections to suit your personal style: Sport, Business, Executive, Classic, Eco, and Diva.

iPad Covers

iPad Smart Covers by Apple: Apple offers iPad covers in polyeurethane and leather, and closing them automatically sleeps the device, saving battery life. They only come in ten basic colors, but from a functional standpoint these offer a lot of benefits: protection, convenience, and a magnetic alignment feature that keeps the whole thing secure. A bonus: they bend to create a triangular stand so you can prop the screen up for video chat or to use as a keyboard. • Sleeway Studio Waxed Leather Case (Etsy): For extra protection and a lot of added style, we love this waxed natural leather iPad case from the Sleeway Studio shop on Etsy. The hand-stitching and custom look give the case a very luxe feel for an incredibly affordable price--just $59 plus shipping costs. • Meilingsketchbook Chevron-printed iPad Cover: Paired with faux leather, the chevron pattern is reminiscent of the Missoni craze, but without a hefty price tag or mob-scene trip to Target at 8 a.m. This iPad cover is lined with foam and costs just $32.

Laptop Bags

Dao Chloe Dao: The Houston-based designer recently opened her new boutique in Rice Village, and while the dresses were stunning, it was the laptop bags that caught our eye. In addition to her boutique you can find Chloe's bags online through retailers like Zappos and eBags. • Timbuk2: We love Timbuk2 bags, which come in a huge selection of styles (messenger, backpack, tote) and offer customizable features as well. They are extra-tough, too, making them well worth the price tag. (Our bag has been back and forth, and back again, from Alaska, Europe, Halifax, and all over the Lower 48--and it still looks great.) • Culture Phit Leather Dowelrod Portfolio/Computer Case (Zappos): This bag is roomy and has lots of compartments for organization--important when you travel -- and has a cross-body messenger strap and a top handle for grabbing on the run. The buckle accents on the front just look awesome; a classic bag that will earn its $159 price tag in no time.

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Christina Uticone