And the winner is...

...PD of the wonderful food blog Baking in the Rain! Congratulations on winning the beauty prize pack. I'll be sending you an email requesting mailing info shortly.

Here's what she had to say about her ultimate fall essential:

"Being a Vancouverite and a UBC student at the same time, my fall essential is rainboots. They help me maneuver the many puddles at UBC with ease and I don't have to worry about my pants getting wet!"

As a UBC grad and proud Thunderbird, I know exactly what she's talking about. Those campus puddles can be treacherous.

Thanks to everyone who entered!
1

Today's Outfit: Keeping The Romance Alive

  • Blazer (Gap)
  • Sheer green blouse (Plenty)
  • Beige camisole (Uniqlo)
  • Earrings (Claire's)
  • Necklace (Forever 21)
  • Ring (Babe Belangere Boutique, Yaletown)
  • Pumps (Colcci via Fine Finds, Yaletown)
  • Purse (vintage Saks Fifth Avenue)
  • Lipstick (Tom Ford lip colour in 'Bruised Plum')

Friday night is date night. After a week of work, fitness classes, social events, and other engagements, it's a time when the boy and I can have dinner together and unwind. Last Friday was particularly exciting because we had reservations at The Corner Suite and had never been before. I even dressed up a bit for the occasion! Having a Groupon for it seemed like the perfect excuse to try this much lauded restaurant known for its extensive cocktail list and delicious interpretation of French bistro food. The best part was the tarte tatin à la minute that we had for dessert, a delectable upside-down apple tart garnished with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Think of it as apple pie's sexier and superior French cousin. We were so impressed that we vowed to return for drinks and dessert some other time.

Then it was off to see The Expendables. Are there any other girls out there who are as clueless about action movies as I am? When the boy talks about the finer points of the dialogue in Die Hard and I say I've never seen any of the Die Hard movies, his jaw will drop and his eyes widen like I've uttered something blasphemous. Anyway, despite his penchant for action movies (or maybe because of it), I ended up enjoying The Expendables much more than he did because I went into it with zero expectations. We came out of the movie and walked to his car discussing how great Mickey Rourke was. At one point I ranted about the implausible banana republic plotline and how, as a director, Stallone alienated me with the poorly lit chaotic opening sequence about the Somali hostage situation.

"He threw away my verisimilitude and had to earn it back in the rest of the movie! What kind of director does that?!" I fumed.

"Honey, you can't use words like 'verisimilitude' when you're talking about movies like The Expendables" was his reply. "Just enjoy the explosions."

P.S. Don't forget to enter my beauty prize pack giveaway! The giveaway ends tomorrow at noon Pacific time.

Yup, that's us, keeping the romance alive one date night at a time.
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Introducing Alexia From Garage...Plus A Beauty Prize Pack Giveaway!



Nothing beats coming home from work to discover a mysterious unexpected parcel waiting for you! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it. Was it a product I'd promised to review and then forgotten? Something I'd bought online and forgotten? Nope. The surprise package turned out to be a round box from Garage. Inside, nestled amongst layers of fuchsia tissue paper, were a full-size fragrance and lip gloss in 'Dream' from their Alexia line. Thanks Garage!

The Alexia makeup line is named after the fictional persona which represents Garage's customer demographic. She's a teenager going back to school and she has a crush on a boy named Josh. Alexia is more sophisticated than many teenagers though; in Garage's press materials, they envision her putting on lip gloss and a last-minute coat of polish before throwing on a military-inspired coat and vintage charm necklaces and running out the door to meet Josh (who hopefully has an iced coffee in hand).



Fictional persona aside, how do the products stack up? I was pleasantly surprised by the lip gloss, a light peachy pink with a hint of gold shimmer. It's moisturizing without being sticky and the formula has good pigments, and although I declared myself to be a "lipstick only" girl, I'm definitely keeping this gloss around to layer on matte lip colours when I need a change. The Alexia fragrance features top notes of peach, bergamot, orange and apple; middle notes of green leaves, rose and heliotrope; and bottom notes of musk, vanilla and amber. I spritzed some on the fuchsia tissue paper and a sweet fruity gourmand scent filled the air. It's perfect for the young or the young at heart. Both items are very affordable: the gloss retails for $5, while the perfume is $26.50.

Talking about the perfume brings me to my next topic...

It's giveaway time!



I tend to accumulate more beauty loot than I could ever use, so I'm bundling together some fantastic items for one lucky winner:
  • Alexia eau de toilette (50 ml)
  • Shu Uemura white recovery EX+ brightening cleansing oil (50 ml)
  • Shu Uemura UV under base mousse SPF 30 (30 g)
  • Oliver + Lilly's pink lip gloss
  • Mary Kay heated eyelash curler

Think of it as a thank-you to readers and followers. I've been blogging for almost three years now and a big part of why I continue is the blogging community itself. You guys rock! You're some of the most supportive, positive, and intelligent people online.

The rules:

  1. This giveaway is open to all readers--Canadian, American, international. That's right, I'm shelling out the dough to ship to you.
  2. Leave a comment telling me what your favourite fall essential is. (Also, if you don't have a blog or Blogger account, leave your email address so I know how to contact you.)
  3. In your comment, mention the ways in which you follow updates from Solo Lisa for additional entries: Hint: If you want to maximize your chances of winning, follow me on every tool listed above.
  4. The giveaway closes on Tuesday August 31st at noon. I'll choose a winner randomly from all the entries.
Good luck!
18

In My Bag



The last time I did one of these "in my bag" posts, it was the middle of winter and I was using my Chanel 2.55 quite often. Now that it's summer I've reverted to my coated canvas Coach tote. This 3-year old tote is perfect for daily use: The material is low-maintenance, the size is large enough for everyday use as a work tote, and the compartments are practical (love the side pockets!). Canvas seems more summer-appropriate than leather somehow so I've been using this bag almost daily. So what do I have in it now?
  • UBC alumni business card holder (filled with blog business cards)
  • Daiso polka-dot makeup pouch
  • Moleskine notebook and pen
  • Ferragamo wallet
  • iPod nano
  • Cell phone
  • Chanel sunglasses
The Ferragamo wallet is a newish purchase from Canada Day and it still give me a giddy little thrill whenever I take it out of my purse. The scratch-resistant red leather is bold and sophisticated, while the hardware adds a touch of luxurious refinement without being too showy. It's a good size too--plenty of card slots inside but not overly large when the snaps are done.



The polka dot makeup pouch ($2 at Daiso) is just as satisfying a purchase for different reasons. I love the classic pattern and how it's the perfect size for what's stashed inside: Daiso blotting papers and rose-shaped mini mirror, hair elastics, bobby pins, Aveda hand lotion, Visine eyedrops, keys, Chanel Rouge Coco lipstick in 'Ruban Rose', and Burt's Bees pomegranate oil lip balm.



Your turn! What's in your bag these days?
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Odds & Ends

Being a fashion blogger means that I'm privy to a lot of news, upcoming events, and sales. Here are just a few of the things that have landed in my inbox and caught my fancy recently.

*****




This Wednesday from 6:30 to 9pm, join Vancouver's eco-fashion industry insiders as they congregate at body politic (208 E. 12th Ave., near Main Street) for Eco Shops For A Cause. This one-night only event promises "organic eats, treats, and a fun night of shopping for a cause with proceeds to benefit the David Suzuki Foundation." The evening also marks the launch of the new Dutzi Designs handbag collection. To attend, RSVP to kristin@thevanguardpr.com.

Every $200 purchase earns you an entry in a draw for a $500 prize pack. Want another way to win a prize? You can win a makeover sponsored by Aveda and body politic by entering Granville Mag's contest here.

*****




For the little girl in all of us, local designer Dace has commissioned artist Dallas Shaw to create free downloadable paper doll PDFs. Download the dolls--and their Dace outfits--and have fun mixing and matching! Keep checking back for new doll clothes too.

*****


From now until August 31st, enjoy 70% off spring/summer sale merchandise at Wear Else. An insider source tells me that most of the sale merchandise is consolidated at their W. 4th Ave. location, but there is some stock available at the Oakridge and Park Royal locations as well. That's not all: Print off this post, bring it into the store, and you'll receive an additional 30% off the last ticketed price of sale items. That means you could save up to 80% total. Happy shopping!
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From Solo Lisa's Kitchen: Pork Chops With Cognac Mustard Cream Sauce



Ta da! My first attempted new recipe in a long time turned into a simple yet satisfying Saturday dinner for the boy and me: pork chops with cognac mustard cream sauce (based on this recipe) topped with sautéed organic mushrooms. It was so easy and delicious, and the sauce and mushrooms proved to be tasty complements to the pork chops. For a side salad, we had spinach tossed with raspberries, cubes of the Tomme D'Or cheese we bought on Saltspring Island, and a storebought raspberry vinaigrette dressing. We also cut up some French bread and enjoyed that with more Tomme D'Or cheese and the ash-ripened Camembert.

14

Oliver & Lilly's Celebrates Their Two-Year Anniversary



A hot summer's day, stylish guests, and a store full of cute covetable finds...what more could you ask for at the Oliver & Lilly's two-year anniversary party? Last Thursday I had the privilege of attending the store's celebration along with other stylish fashion bloggers, guests, and well-wishers. It was my first time visiting this gem of a shop on South Granville and West 13th Avenue, and I definitely liked what I saw: lots of on-trend pieces with quirky feminine charm merchandised alongside vintage objects to create an atmosphere of whimsy and fun.

Some of the items that caught my eye: a black ruffly chiffon blouse with a balloon print, skinny cargo pants, and a white tiered ruffle dress.


I love the vintage mirror and accordion in this wall installation. The wooden chair with orange plates stacked on top of it adds a nice colourful touch.


One of the highlights of the party was the refreshment and "build your own sundae" bar. Vodka lemonade anyone? Or chocolate wafers, mini marshmallows, and gummy bears to go with your ice cream?




Oh, and the other highlight: Running into lots of familiar faces and catching up with them, including Carolina, Ace, Erin, Niki, and Nicole.



Nicole tweeting from her new iPhone 4.


Congratulations to Oliver & Lilly's owner Leighann! Thanks for hosting such a great party. (P.S. I might have to come back for the black ruffled blouse.)

20

Saltspring Island Photo Diary





  1. The rain-soaked patio of our bed and breakfast.
  2. My jewelry and the boy's phone on the B & B room's side table.
  3. Navy blue Keds: walking shoes for the weekend.
  4. I wore a blue dress with coral trim for Megan's wedding.
  5. The beautifully decorated reception area at Beaver Point Hall.
  6. The bride looked radiant and the groom was so dapper in his red polka dot bow tie. Congratulations Megan and Michael!
  7. "Let's do a shoe shot for my blog!" My Kelsi Dagger ruffle sandals, Megan's sunny yellow Fluevogs.
  8. Since Megan and Michael have been wearing their engagement rings for the last year, they thought it was silly to take them off and pretend to exchange them during the ceremony. So they exchanged ring pops instead while proclaiming "I'm sweet on you!" and "I choo-choo-choose you!"
  9. Harbour in Ganges village
  10. Random mural in the village
  11. Forest fire sign over the fire department
  12. Stopping for organic jersey milk cheese at Moonstruck Farm. The boy and I bought Tomme D'Or (a hard yellow cheese with some fruity and nutty notes) and an ash-ripened Camembert.
  13. One of many picturesque views
  14. Browsing the new and secondhand books at Black Sheep Books in the village.
17

Today's Outfit: Just Another Shirtdress Outfit

  • Shirtdress (Aritzia)
  • Belt (Buffalo)
  • Skirt (Lady Language)
  • Sandals (Pour La Victoire)
  • Earrings (Swarovski, a gift)
Take this season's shirtdress, pair it with a white eyelet skirt and a Carrie Bradshaw-inspired studded belt from seasons past, and voilà! You have a new outfit that mixes masculine and feminine elements and feels edgy yet work-appropriate at the same time. I've been looking for new ways to wear my existing shirtdresses so that they feel fresh and versatile, and this was an excellent way to incorporate pieces I already owned and haven't touched at all so far this summer. As for the sandals, you're probably sick of seeing them by now, aren't you? I've been wearing them so much I had to get them re-soled; one of my favourite summer staples is a flat sandal in a neutral leather that goes with everything, and these Pour La Victoire 'Nanette' sandals have been working overtime.

Shirtdresses and flat sandals have been my summer staples this season. What are yours?
10

Solo Lisa Reads: Glamour: Women, History, Feminism by Carol Dyhouse



The word "glamour" has lost a lot of its allure and power these days, bandied about by fashion writers who use "glamour" interchangeably with "polished," "chic," "elegant," and "sophisticated." (Hey, I've been guilty of this occasionally!) That was the conclusion I came to after reading Glamour: Women, History, Feminism by Carol Dyhouse, a scholarly and well-researched book by a social historian. I first heard about this book via an email from the publisher and requested a review copy; the press release just made it seem so interesting.

Society's attitude towards glamour has changed depending on the fashions of the time, Dyhouse argues. And although it might be easy to peg glamour as a male-manufactured concept that traps women with rigid concepts of female attractiveness and breeds a vicious consumer cycle, she sees glamour differently. Instead, glamour is a force associated with "women on the make": women who use the trappings of glamour--clothes, cosmetics, furs, feathers, and lavish jewelry--to transcend class and gender barriers and prescribed societal norms, and to escape the drudgery and burdens of everyday life.

To support her arguments, Dyhouse looks at the evolution and vilification of glamour throughout the 20th century. Screen sirens and Hollywood films popularized it in the 1930s and 40s and inspired working-class girls to emulate the styles of their favourite actresses. However, even when glamour was at its peak, conservative societal elements objected to it. Older generations deemed wearing cosmetics immodest. The editor of British Vogue encouraged young girls to sport a "natural English look" instead of the crass painted-on look of American actresses. The upper classes disapproved of working-class girls dressing "above their station" in the hopes of attracting suitors who were better off.

Glamour fell out of fashion in later decades. The 1950s saw the rise of Dior's New Look and domestic femininity, which stressed demure, elegant beauty over artifice and excess--more Grace Kelly than Gloria Swanson. The 60s marked the rise of the gamine girl (Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, Audrey Hepburn), whose mod clothes and doe-eyed innocence stood in marked contrast to the womanly aura of glamour girls. The emphasis on natural looks in the 70s meant an even more radical departure from glamour. But there were some signs of a resurgence: musicians, Motown acts, and the founding of Cosmopolitan magazine paved the way for the glamazons of the 1980s and the resurgence of full-blown glamour.

I realize I'm being glib in my summary of Glamour, but a short blog post can't do justice to the wealth of detail and research that Dyhouse presents here (with lots of illustrated examples, no less!). A scholarly book can easily slip into joyless perfunctory prose full of -isms and jargon, but she writes with a genuine enthusiasm for her subject. I really enjoyed this glamorous romp through the twentieth century, and hey, if anything, I will never take the word "glamour" for granted again.

Special offer! Get 20% off your copy of Glamour: Women, History, Feminism when you order it from the palgrave.com website. Just enter the code P356ED. Happy reading!
8

Product Review: Butter LONDON Nail Polish



Confession: I didn't start wearing nail polish until 2008. It's weird to think that this is a fairly recent development because these days I feel weird when I don't have it on. For special occasions, I also like to colour-coordinate my manis and pedis with my dress. Before I left for Saltspring Island last week, I gave myself a DIY manicure using butter LONDON nail polish in 'Big Smoke', a beautiful shimmery deep blue shade that would go well with the navy coral-trimmed dress I planned to wear. I'd picked up the polish at local boutique Ishara several months ago. It lasted well in a pedi, but I knew the real test for butter LONDON would be how well it stayed on my fingernails.

The pros: butter LONDON has become a huge hit among Vancouver fashionistas looking for their next great nail polish purchase and it's easy to see why. Its "3 free" formula contains no formaldehyde, toluene, or DBP--"colour, not carcinogens" as the bottle says. The line also scores major brownie points for its range of wearable colours (classic beiges and taupes, bright fun jelly shades, and darker hues that are oh-so-perfect for fall) and adorable Anglophile motifs. According to the company website, my shade is called 'Big Smoke' because it's an affectionate nickname for sometimes-smoggy London. Other names alluding to British slang and pop culture are equally charming.

The formula is thinner than that of OPI, Essie, or American Apparel polishes and the brush is smaller than OPI's pro-wide brush, resulting in a smoother, more precise application. Faster drying times mean fewer bubbles and scratches and less likelihood of scratching or denting your nails as the polish sets. My nails looked professionally done at the end!

The cons: As evidenced by the photo above (snapped five days after the DIY mani), it's not exactly chip-proof. To be fair, I usually have better luck maintaining a chip-free pedi than a mani, but I was still disappointed with how 'Big Smoke' chipped at a rate comparable to OPI, Essie, and AA polishes. It's an especially big letdown when you consider that at $15-20 a bottle, butter LONDON polishes cost much more than their counterparts.

My verdict: If you really love a butter LONDON shade that you can't seem to find anywhere else, go for it, but there are affordable 3 free alternatives out there.

Has anyone else tried butter LONDON polish? What are your fave shades? What did you think of the formula?
21

Today's Outfit: Summery Black & White

  • Tunic and necklace (Forever 21)
  • Belt (from a CiCi dress)
  • Leggings (American Apparel)
  • Sandals (Pour La Victoire)
  • Lipstick (Tom Ford lip colour in 'Bruised Plum')
I just spent last weekend on Saltspring Island attending the wedding of a very close friend. (Congratulations Megan and Michael!) It was wonderful to escape Vancouver for what seemed like another world: a small town filled with farms and independent artists' studios where produce and flower bouquets are sold at unattended roadside stalls and customers drop their money into makeshift banks, where most businesses are situated along a main street in a small picturesque village. Aside from consuming copious amounts of food at wedding functions, the boy and I spent a leisurely weekend wandering around the Ganges village, checking out the wares at the Saturday market, browsing bookstores, and buying organic artisanal cheese. I'll post some photos from my trip as soon as I get my act together, I promise.

Although the mini getaway was nice, Saltspring Island only reaffirmed my belief that I'm an urbanite to the core. For one thing, an outfit like the one above would be pretty out of place in a town where sensible walking shoes, waterproof rain gear, and fleece jackets are de rigueur. This outfit was something I wore one or two weeks ago when the weather was still balmy but just a tad chilly for summer. Although it draws heavily on black and white, the graphic pattern, floaty tunic silhouette, and sandals make it more summer-appropriate, not to mention the touches of colour in the necklace and belt. As comfortable as this outfit felt while I was at the office and window shopping at Holt Renfrew after work, I'm pretty sure it'd make me feel awkward and out-of-place if I wore it to buy organic cheese from a farm.

Do you like the city or the country? Or do you prefer small doses of the country when you get sick of the city, or vice versa?
18

Today's Outfit: Nothing Like A Sundress

  • Dress (some boutique on W. 4th Ave.)
  • Stud earrings (Claire's)
  • Shoes (O Oscar de la Renta)
  • Purse (Chanel)
Despite the ubiquitousness of sailor stripes, lacy tops, layered looks, and hipster everything this summer, I still think that there's nothing quite like a perfectly fitting sundress in a fun pattern to make you feel pretty when the mercury rises. It's the simplest outfit you can imagine--just throw it on and go--but you look put-together despite the minimal effort. I wore this halter number to the most recent Holt Renfrew event I attended. It's 4-5 years old and definitely an attention-grabber because of the feminine silhouette and the bold pattern, so I try to keep accessories to a minimum.

Do you have a "I'm having a lazy day and need to look put-together instantly" dress in your closet? Many of these dresses? Do share!
22

Holt Renfrew Fall 2010 Preview

Holt Renfrew's VP of Fashion Direction Barbara Atkin


Summer is still going strong in Vancouver, but all thoughts were of autumn as Holt Renfrew presented their Fall 2010 trend preview event last week. Fashion industry insiders, media personnel, and bloggers gathered in the personal shopping department for a quick cocktail reception before being whisked away downstairs. Once we were seated, Vice President of Fashion Direction Barbara Atkin gave an articulate presentation summarizing the top trends of this coming fall and winter:
  • The Greats: A return to investment-worthy classics and the iconic heritage of famous designers.
  • Wild Thing: All sorts of animal prints add visual interest to neutrals.
  • Knit Picking: Knit pieces in different fabrications, gauges, textures, and patterns will keep you cozy this fall.
  • Marching Orders: Military-inspired detailing and colour continue to be huge.
  • Crimson All Over: Whether it's poppy, tomato, or scarlet, red in all its iterations will be the 'it' colour of the season.
  • Proportions: For women, fall 2010 marks a return to modesty with elongated hemlines and fit-and-flare silhouettes (hello, ladylike dressing!). For men, cropped jackets and lots of versatile layering pieces are perfect for experimenting with and creating a cozy interesting look.
  • Colours And Fabrications: Camel is "the new colour of luxury" and the colour for fall (aside from red, of course). Sooty darks and harvest/autumn-inspired colours return as perennial favourites, as do British fabrications such as tweeds, checks, and flannel. Prints--animal, floral, paisley, stripes--continue to be popular.
The key words this season, she noted, would be authenticity, comfort, ease, intelligence, and classics. "Authenticity [today] will be tomorrow's heirlooms." A fashion show styled and modelled by Holts staff members followed, featuring beautifully put together looks. An expert panel was also present to comment on the clothing, accessories, and beauty looks. I didn't manage to get photos of everything, but here are a few of my favourite looks from the show.

Outerwear and cozy knits for fall. The green military-inspired men's coat is by Burberry Prorsum.


Red is the new 'it' colour for fall. I lovelovelove the look on the far right. With the beehive 'do, oversize sunglasses, and gorgeous Lady Dior handbag, this model could easily be a modern-day Holly Golightly.


More gorgeous ensembles


A bold DvF wrap dress and an Alexander McQueen scarf styled as a cravat keep things ladylike and gentlemanly, respectively.


Planning your shopping list for fall? Here are Ms. Atkin's must-have items:
  1. A great coat
  2. Knits
  3. Pants in an extremely slim or fuller silhouette
  4. Masculine shirts and feminine blouses
  5. Skirts with very short or very long hemlines
  6. Long-sleeved dresses
  7. Statement shoes
  8. Handbags: satchels, saddle bags, and small crossbody bags are all on-trend
  9. Pearls, pendants, and brooches
  10. Knit accessories: berets, headbands, scarves
  11. Extra long belts (you can knot and tuck the excess length)


Thanks to Holt Renfrew for a great event!
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