Lipstick Love: Think Pink

Today marks the beginning of a blog post miniseries devoted to my love of lipstick. Loyal readers know that I've been addicted since the release of Chanel Rouge Coco last year marked its comeback; I've amassed a number of standby shades since then. Some were sent to me by companies to try out, but most of them were purchased. With autumn well under way and most of us reaching for serious lip colours instead of sheer glosses, now seems like a great time to share some of my favourites.

First up: pink lipstick. In a season saturated with reds, oranges, burgundies and fuchsias, pink seems like a pretty bland choice. But for the uninitiated who are just taking the lipstick plunge, pink is an easy way to experiment. Pink looks equally appropriate at the office or during a dinner date; it's relatively low-maintenance compared to bolder hues; and the right shade can brighten up your entire face when you want a more natural makeup look--all very compelling reasons to have at least one shade (or four) in your beauty arsenal.

My ideal shades (left to right) are a bit on the warm side. They complement my fair skin tone and brighten up my face:

  • Chanel Rouge Coco in 'Ruban Rose' ($38 at Holt Renfrew or The Bay). This was my first lipstick purchase in almost a decade and a well-loved one. It's been used so often, in fact, that I've gone past the 'Chanel' stamp in the middle of the bullet. The pink is just slightly pinker than my normal lip colour and has a slight shimmer to it. The formula is fairly moisturizing as far as lipsticks go, but on days when my lips feel drier I do dab some lip balm on top.
  • ILIA Pure Lip Care in 'Shell Shock' ($24.95 at LYNNsteven or BeautyMark). ILIA's organic formula is as moisturizing as any balm, and it leaves a sheer, slightly glossy wash of colour on the lips. I like to use this one as an all-day lip colour. In the morning, the first application goes on light and pretty. As I reapply during the day and the residual colour pigments build up, my lips are stained a bright shell pink by the evening.
  • Mary Kay Beauty That Counts Creme Lipstick in 'Give Dreams' and 'Give Joy' ($16.50 each). These were sent to me for review, and admittedly I was skeptical because these were makeup colours concocted purely for fundraising purposes. Such colours are rarely nice, and if I wanted to donate my money to breast cancer I'll find an organization to donate to rather than buying nail polish in a tepid pink hue, thank you very much. But the Mary Kay Beauty That Counts lipsticks were surprisingly flattering. The formula isn't as moisturizing as ILIA's, but it's nothing that a dab of lip balm can't fix. The fact that $1 of each lipstick sold between now and December 15th goes to the Mary Kay Ash Foundation--which assists women living with cancer and helps end violence against women--is just icing on the cake.

What are your favourite pink lipsticks?

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Boots!

The post title's pretty much self-explanatory. When temperatures drop, nothing beats a pair of beautiful leather boots. Dress them up with skirts and tights, dress them down with skinny jeans, pair them with wool blazers, peacoats and scarves. Whatever you have in your wardrobe, you'll find a leather boot that can go with almost everything.

These boots all feature high-quality leather, minimalist lines and a few unexpected details like an origami bow. My favourites are the Pour La Victoire and See by Chloe pairs, although I really like the Madewell and Marc by Marc Jacobs boots too for their simple, no-fuss style and rich tan and burgundy hues.

Which pair is your favourite?


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Dakota Group Sample Sale Starts Today

The legendary Dakota Group sample sale returns for another season starting today. At the pre-sale, I spotted lots of boots and shoes from the likes of Pour La Victoire, Kelsi Dagger, Matiko and Faryl Robin. (I also found the Pour La Victoire 'Marne' boots in cognac leather with brass hardware that I've been eyeing since forever at 50% off retail. Score!) If it's outerwear you're looking for, there were plenty of great coats from Mackage and Soia & Kyo too.

Click the flyer above for full details. Happy shopping!

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Nicole Bridger Fall/Winter 2011

I am heads-down working away on an important project (due Friday!), so today's post will just be a quick one highlighting my favourite look from the Nicole Bridger fall/winter 2011 lookbook. Love the neutral tones, the colour-blocking effect of the olive shorts against the burgundy tights, the peep-toe platform booties, and of course, Bridger's signature draping. Simple, stylish, dramatic.

Note to self: remember to wear shorts with tights more often this season.

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Product Review: Mary Kay 'Redefining Elegance' Limited Edition Collection

After the terrible review I gave Mary Kay's new products last time, I honestly doubted whether their publicist would ever send me product again. But evidently Mary Kay is a company of integrity that appreciates honest feedback, because their publicist surprised me with another parcel full of new products to play with! Among these products were offerings from their new limited edition 'Redefining Elegance' collection. I was happy to see that the collection contained just the sort of makeup I loved using most: liquid liners, nail polishes, lipstick and pretty palettes.

The gold-flecked Filigree Eye and Cheek Powder palette ($22, in 'Stunning' and 'Splendid') contains 3 eyeshadows and a blush and fits perfectly into the mini compact ($20). The powder formulas go on sheer, making them ideally suited for day wear. I preferred the colours in the 'Splendid' palette--lavender, plum, gold and light pink--because they seemed to suit my fair skin tone better.

I was pleasantly surprised by how fashion-forward their new nail lacquers ($10) were. 'Plush Plum' (deep purple) and 'Gold Leaf' (shimmery gold) would look so pretty for holiday parties, but my favourite was 'Lavish Sable', a grayish-purple shade similar to OPI's 'You Don't Know Jacques' and Sephora by OPI's 'Metro Chic'. The nail polish lasted a week before I noticed the first chip, probably thanks to the base coat/top coat ($10), which gave my nails a glossy finish.

The Luxury Liners ($17.50) in 'Black Velvet', 'Classic Sable' and 'Rich Plum' also impressed me. About the size of a lipstick, these compact eyeliners are portable and easy to apply with their precise felt tips. Although they're not as budge-proof as my beloved Geisha Ink, they still hold up pretty well against oily eyelids.

I had mixed feelings about the Lip Suede lipstick ($16.50) in 'Polished Pink' and 'Luscious Plum'. The formula felt great on the lips--just as smooth and suede-like as the name promised, plus it had a light vanilla scent reminiscent of how my Tom Ford lipstick smells. But the colours didn't seem as universally flattering as hoped. I usually prefer my pinks and plums on the warm side, and the Lip Suede shades were the exact opposite: they were cool as though they had too much blue to them and were slightly subdued.

Overall, I liked how all the plum hues in the 'Redefining Elegance' collection complemented each other without looking too matchy-matchy.

Wearing: Filigree Eye and Cheek Powder palette in 'Splendid', Luxury Liner in 'Rich Plum', Lip Suede in 'Luscious Plum'.

My eye makeup. Normally I prefer more pigmented eyeshadows, but the sheer formula works well with the deep plum lipstick.
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Today's Outfit: Cougar Boots

My latest outfit post is brought to you by: a patient boyfriend who agreed to take my photo last Saturday; caffeine; gorgeous fall foliage in the most lovely shade of orange-red; and last but certainly not least, my new 'Marla' Cougar boots, sent by Matchstick.


High-heeled hiking boot styles caught my eye last fall, but because I thought they were going to be a fleeting trend I never bought a pair. I should have known that a look like this--a seemingly perfect mix of cozy, functional, casual and chic--would stick around for at least another year! The 'Marla', though, is much more functional than its fast fashion ilk. They're breathable, insulated for temperatures ranging from -10°C to -30°C, and waterproof, meaning they'll stand up to rain, slush, snow and harsh winter temperatures just fine. The chunky 2.5" heel, cushy insoles and sturdy soles make these shoes very comfortable for everyday wear, although admittedly my feet sometimes felt a little too toasty in them. I'm looking forward to wearing them in the first snowfall of this year!

Speaking of fall foliage, you should take a walk and enjoy the crisp autumn air and brilliant leaves before they're gone!

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Blogosphere Love

Lately I've been the lucky subject of two different profiles on two different blogs.

Gorgeous blogger Petite Adventures featured me in her series of Vancouver blogger style profiles. As she put it, "This week, in honour of my being on holidays at home in B.C., it's five consecutive days of style profiles featuring some of Vancouver's most fashionable and influential bloggers." Click here to find out who my style/beauty icons are, where I like to shop, and what my 5 style essentials are.

The Girlie Blog also contacted me for an interview for her new blog Geekette Gazette, which profiles successful career women and how they've gotten to where they are today. After I got over the surprise of having become someone that others are supposed to look up to, I quickly said yes and submitted my answers. Click here to find out what a typical weekday in my life looks like (hint: it's busy), my take on the struggles inherent in toggling between two industries, and what I think the Victorians can teach us about good writing.

Have a good weekend everyone!

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Introducing Boxx Cosmetics

Imagine the simple charm of a perfect capsule wardrobe being applied to your makeup case's contents, and you'll understand the appeal of boxx cosmetics, a new Canadian beauty line now available at BeautyMark. Created by hair and makeup artist Sandra Milligan, this mix-and-match makeup system reduces waste by letting customers only buy the products and colours they'll actually use and place them in a magnetic reusable compact. I had the chance to see the makeup collection up close during a media preview and complimentary makeup application a few weeks ago.

Any beauty lover will be quick to point out that boxx's concept is nothing new; refillable palettes have been around for ages. But what is novel about boxx is the cleverness of the design. The patented large boxx ($59) has clear plastic interior doors to keep your products safe, while the milli boxx ($12) lets you bring a few select shades in your clutch for an evening out. Both boxx compacts come with a square pick; use it to slide between or under products to pry them out of the case easily. The stout-handled makeup brushes are designed to travel well in handbags and luggage.

Another distinguishing factor is the exceptional selection, versatility and quality of the products. The entire boxx line consists of 90 shades for face, eyes and lips, all of which have vitamin E but are paraben- and formaldehyde-free. Some even have ceramides, peptides and hyaluronic acid to smooth out wrinkles and plump up skin.

BeautyMark makeup artist Kendra Lovick applied my makeup while explaining how versatile the products could be. When used with a fluffy powder brush, the pressed powder gives skin a glowing finish, while a foundation brush yields more coverage. The lip/cheek colours go on sheer when applied to the skin, but look more intense on the mouth. The highly pigmented eyeshadows can be applied with a dry shadow brush or a wet liner brush. My entire face only required 7 products, all of which fit into the large boxx with room to spare.

The products Kendra used on me: Pressed Powder in 'Gwynn' ($25), Cream Corrector in 'Evelea' and 'Melina' ($22 each), Bronzer in 'Eldora' ($18), Eyeshadow in 'Mauli' and 'Darva' ($18 each), and Lip Colour in 'Garnet' ($14). All available at BeautyMark.

The polished and pretty "after" shot. Thanks for doing such a great job, Kendra!

As a parting gift, Kendra let me choose two products to put in my own milli boxx. I chose the 'Garnet' lip colour and yellow 'Melina' cream corrector. The lip colour, as beautiful as it is, has to compete with the other reds in my lipstick collection, so sadly it's sometimes overlooked as I reach for a MAC, Chanel or NARS shade. But the colour corrector has become an indispensable part of my morning makeup routine. A little bit goes a long way in evening out my skin tone. Some concealer and SPF loose powder on top and I'm good to go.

Thanks to BeautyMark (1268 Pacific Blvd.) for the chance to preview this great new line.

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The Bay & FLARE Present the Fall/Winter 2011 Trend Report

Friday, fashion and FLARE proved to be a winning combination as I wrapped up a hectic week by attending a fall/winter 2011 trend presentation by Suzanne Timmins, vice president of fashion direction for The Bay, and Lisa Tant, editor-in-chief of FLARE magazine. Over the course of an hour, the two fiercely engaging and stylish women reviewed all the major trend stories of the season. Each story was followed by fashion show segments using pieces from The Bay to illustrate. Let's take a look at the event in pictures, shall we?

Timmins (left) and Tant onstage

The 60s segment was my favourite.

Loved the insouciant cool of the 70s-inspired looks.

Menswear-inspired looks. The second model's outfit was quite similar to mine (scroll down), don't you think? Her two-toned blouse was See by Chloe; mine was Madewell.

Patterns and brights prove that wintertime dressing need not be drab.

I was delighted when Lisa Tant caught my eye from backstage before the presentation, smiled and mouthed a silent "hello" to me. I was even more delighted when we said hello to each other in our complementary "black and white with a touch of red" outfits and I asked for a photo. (I have a history of asking for a photo with her, and each time she's obliged me very graciously. See here and here for proof.)

Isn't her Prabal Gurung dress amazing? Kudos to friend and photographer Kevin Kinisky for helping me snap this photo.

Special thanks to Suzanne Timmins, Lisa Tant and the Hudson's Bay Company for the lovely event.

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A Chat with Jeanne Beker

I first met Jeanne Beker in November 2010 when she was promoting her new clothing line of carefully considered basics, EDIT by Jeanne Beker, at the Hudson's Bay Company. It was EDIT that brought Beker back to Vancouver last week as she showcased her fall/winter 2011 offerings. The line continues to deliver staples that Beker deems essential in any woman's wardrobe, but this time around it also includes plus-size offerings and a denim line "cut for women of a certain age." $5 from every pair of "Jeanne's jeans" sold will go to the charity Dress for Success.

Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of meeting Beker again in an intimate setting with a handful of other bloggers. It was such a treat to see her, and even better to do so while sitting in resplendent comfort in The Room's Platinum Suite for almost an entire hour. Beker proved to be just as personable, lively and well-spoken in person as she is onscreen and in print. Her career may put her among fashion's high-flyers and haute couture superstars, but as she demonstrated during our conversation and the ensuing EDIT presentation, she was still a down-to-earth Canadian gal at heart.

On fashion's influence on the self: "Fashion can be a feel good thing. It can also be a victimizing thing."

On Vancouver being voted one of the worst dressed cities in the world by MSN Travel: "This is the kind of city you live in when you realize that there's more to life than appearances and material things. This city is about living with a capital 'L'. I just think you should dress how you want to dress."

On her favourite Twitter follows: Beker admitted that for the thousands who follow her on Twitter, she doesn't follow anyone, although at one time she did consider following her daughters.

On fashion's next generation: Beker also confessed to being taken aback whenever she meets young fashion fans who say to her "I want your job!" When she started with Fashion Television 26 years ago, such a job didn't exist; she was a pioneer who forged her own path and created a niche for herself. She hopes that the next generation of fashion lovers will push fashion to the next level and invent new roles for themselves rather than repeat what she's already done.

For the last question of the interview, I asked Beker what was in her bag, and as soon as I asked I worried that I'd overstepped my bounds. But Beker was a great sport about it and began rooting around in her bag on the spot. Watch to find out what shade of lipstick she wears. (Thanks to StyleStruck for the video!)

Bloggers who met Beker (left to right): Rachelle Morgan, Olivia Lovenmark, May Globus, Valerie Tiu, me and Christie Lohr

A big thanks to Susan Tyndall and the Hudson's Bay Company for arranging this amazing opportunity, and of course to Jeanne Beker for her time! Check out her EDIT fall/winter 2011 collection (in stores now exclusively at The Bay) and her latest book, Finding Myself in Fashion (which, incidentally, I reviewed earlier this year).

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Event Snapshots: Vancouver Fashion eZine, H&M Grand Opening, Birks x Steve Nash x Roberto Coin Launch

Whew, it's been a busy few weeks! Work and writing deadlines and a slew of events have kept me on the go. Here's a quick look at what I've been up to.

A new print edition, a new name: Two weeks ago, Vancouver Fashion eZine presented its third annual print collectible with a fun launch party at JC Studios for advertisers, well-wishers, and anyone who had been involved with the magazine. I spent most of my evening chatting with these great people: Yves Gauthier, Jenny's fiance; Jenny Yen, one half of the Two of Hearts design duo; Fiona Louie, jewelry designer behind Filou and L'arbre Love; Jim, Fiona's husband; and the boy, whom I actually managed to drag out to an event me.

Tabitha Savoie, the other half of Two of Hearts, posing for a photo with Jenny.

Co-founders Marilyn Wilson and the rather more elusive Renat Toichev said a few words before they presented awards and raffle prizes. The evening was also punctuated by fashion shows.

Since September 2011 marked my last month as a contributor at Vancouver Fashion eZine, Marilyn presented me with a book of my own tearsheets as a parting gift: 20 articles over almost 3 years. Such a sweet gift.

From the local to the international: Some of Vancouver's most stylish ventured to Metropolis At Metrotown last week to celebrate the opening of the vast new H&M store there. Plenty of happy shoppers enjoyed a 20% discount (and stocked up on fall clothes) as well as a bright, clean, well laid-out store space. Here I am with Nicole of Le Mode Du Jour and Jen of Her Waise Choice. (Note that Jen is wearing the same blue lace H&M top I wore to the Vancouver Fashion eZine party and featured in this blog post.) The photo is from Jen's Facebook page, which you should definitely check out if you're curious what the store looks like. Or better yet, just drop by and shop.

My one purchase from that evening: an orange skinny belt with a gold buckle.

Last night, I was also at Birks to celebrate the launch of a fine jewelry collaboration between the Steve Nash Foundation and Roberto Coin. The capsule collection of 18 karat gold and diamond jewelry (priced at $420-3400) features earrings, pendants and even cufflinks shaped like hoops and basketballs. 40% of the proceeds go to the Steve Nash Foundation, a charity which assists underprivileged children.

"Hoops have always been a big part of my life in Canada, and to now have this line with Birks--such a big part of the Canadian landscape--feels very integrated into my Foundation's platforms here at home," Nash said of the collection. I loved the sense of fun and elegance in the basketball shape: even if you don't recognize it for what it is, it's just a lovely geometric design. My favourite pieces in the collection are the white gold and diamond basketball cufflinks.

Of course, the evening wasn't complete without a photo op with Steve Nash himself! He was very kind and down-to-earth.
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Product Review: Sweet Leaf Bath Co. Lip Balm

Lip balms are a year-round essential for me, but they're especially important during the colder months when even the hint of a chill in the air can make my lips chap. I'm sure many other women feel the same about their lip balms too. But did we lip balm addicts ever stop to think about the millions of little plastic tubes we discard every year? Probably not.

The Sweet Leaf Bath Co. did though. Founded in 2007, this small Canadian bath and skincare product company specializes in organic, all natural, fair trade products. They recently sent me three of their lip balms to try; the lip balms are packaged in 100% post-consumer waste compostable tubes which hold 30% more lip balm than the average plastic tube. At a mere $4.75 per tube, it's a beauty indulgence that's friendly to the earth and your wallet.

The formula--a blend of beeswax, avocado oil, shea butter, jojoba oil and vitamin E--feels like what you would expect from a typical beeswax lip balm. It's moisturizing, but it also goes on very light and requires frequent reapplying. The flavours (peppermint, pomegranate and chocoberry) smell pleasant but not overpowering, probably thanks to the essential oils and natural ingredients.

The eco-friendly tube is a departure from any sort of beauty packaging I've ever seen, and for that reason Sweet Leaf Bath Co. should put some sort of explanatory text on the cap or body telling people how to use it. The cap comes off and can be put back on like any other cap. To get more lip balm out of the tube, you squeeze from the bottom like you would with a tube of toothpaste. I'm used to squeezing gel-like lip balm formulas from tubes, but not solid ones, and I imagine others might find themselves in the same boat. Better package labeling would help.

Forgetting what the publicist told me about squeezing the lip balm out, I resorted to peeling the top of the lip balm like you would with a Crayola crayon's paper wrapping. Talk about a frustrating experience. The tube was hard to peel evenly and I ended up smushing lip balm under my nails. Not fun. The prospect of having to peel my lip balm prevented me from taking it with me in my purse, but now that I know how I'm actually supposed to use it, I'd be more open to bringing it with me when I'm out and about.

Have you tried these lip balms? Would you consider trying them?

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Eco Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2012: Sofia Clothing

I've had the pleasure of following fledgling label Sofia Clothing since its eponymous designer, Sofia Mendez Schenone, won the Generation Next competition for up-and-coming designers in 2010. (You can read my thoughts on Sofia's debut collection here and her first Eco Fashion Week show here.)

For spring/summer 2012, Sofia showed a collection which pretty much encapsulated exactly what I'd like to be sporting right now and well into next season. It's on trend and oh so pretty, marketable and wearable. Think cropped trousers and capris, tulip-hemmed dresses, 3/4 sleeve frocks and lots of sheer textures. The refined colour palette--mostly cobalt blue, orange, black and white with a bit of lavender in the form of a sleek trench--makes for clothes that can be worn year-round. The dresses would look great with dark tights and tall boots for winter, while the blue trousers would work well with leopard-print pumps and a camel-coloured sweater.


If you're eager to get your hands on this season's Sofia pieces, I've been told she's stocked at Dream and One of a Few among other stores. Happy shopping!

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Eco Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2012: Nicole Bridger

After winning the FTA's inaugural Eco Designer of the Year award in 2010 and opening a new flagship store on West 4th Avenue, Nicole Bridger returned to Eco Fashion Week with a collection sure to please her devoted fans. Titled 'Allowing Grace', the soft, pretty separates in eco-friendly fabrications were full of Bridger's style signatures: muted sorbet hues, ruched waistlines, inverted drapes on skirts, drawstrings, minimalist silhouettes.

"Allowing Grace is about having a desire for something in life and then completely letting go and allowing the universe to put it into place in its own time and way," said Bridger of the theme for this collection. "One day in meditation, I asked for a guiding image to help me through this part of my life and I saw a rising sun. Have faith that it will all be ok, just as you have faith that the sun will rise every morning. Let your own light shine as bright as the sun. Be who you are and allow for grace."

Grace was certainly in evidence during the presentation as yogis and interpretive dancers shared the runway alongside barefoot models. The innovative show really highlighted the fluid ease and down-to-earth quality of Bridger's designs.


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