Greetings, dear readers! Hope you're enjoying what's left of the holidays. My plans for a blissful 12-day vacation have been waylaid by the flu, sadly. I started feeling aches and chills on the evening of Christmas Day (um, thanks, Santa?) and have been hibernating indoors ever since, camping out on the couch with Netflix, tissues, and lots of tea.
But now that I have some of my energy back, it's time to look back at 2013 and round up some of my favourite posts from what turned out to be a great year.
I'M ON VACATION UNTIL THE NEW YEAR! In case you couldn't tell, I'm positively ecstatic about having twelve whole days off. I haven't had this much time off since last year when I moved into our condo, and moving is hardly a vacation. That means I haven't had a real vacation in two years. Eep! Maybe now I'll be able to do things like lint-roll my black clothes. (Seriously, my blazer is disgraceful in the second photo.)
While we're on the subject of NYE beauty ideas, check out this stunning eye makeup by the director of the Blanche Macdonald makeup program, Jon Hennessey, for the fashion school's 2013 design graduate show last month. It's intense, graphic, and elegant, playing on light and texture. And if it was avant garde yet versatile enough to go with dozens of fashion graduate designs, you can be sure it'll pair well with whatever NYE frock—edgy, romantic, classic—you have in mind.
Is it too soon to talk about New Year's Eve beauty? Because I think Lise Watier's winter 2013 Jardin de Givre collection merits serious consideration for the big night. Inspired by "a shimmering world of white feathers," what you see here is everything needed for mesmerizing, dramatic eyes and luminous skin, coupled with alluring-but-neutral lips and nails.
Judging from this holiday guide full of gilt-y pleasures, I've come a long way from being a recovering gold-phobe! Whether you're looking to entertain or gift in style, these picks are sure to put the Midas touch in your festive season.
No matter how prepared I think I am for the holidays, the first two weeks of December always sneak up on me and cause their fair share of panic. So many things still left to do: Christmas cards, blog posts, putting together the bar cart, prepping a holiday brunch. Eep! Simple outfits have been my way of coping: buffalo plaid and my go-to jeans, dressed up with glitzy earrings and Chanel.
With work, parties, Christmas shopping, and a never-ending holiday to-do list, this time of year can send a girl's schedule into overdrive and force her makeup to work overtime. One solution to making sure your skin is as dewy and fresh-looking at 9pm as it was at 9am? Adding a primer to your beauty routine. Not only do they subtly illuminate skin, correct tone, and blur imperfections, they create a smooth canvas for foundation, powder, and concealer. Here are four I've tried and liked, each for very different reasons.
What girl would say no to these gifts? Whether you're looking to thank a hostess, complement a girlfriend's ever stylish look, or keep someone's home cozy and bright, these under $50 finds are sure to please.
No matter how many sweaters I own, I always have some excuse for buying a new one. The rationale behind my latest acquisition? I loved the proportions (boxy fit, three-quarter sleeves), the hunter green (so flattering on cool-toned, fair-skinned gals), and the navy blue starburst jewels (they take the guesswork out of accessorizing). Also—looking at these photos now—I'm impressed with how I'm not wearing anything black. Surely it's these sunny, chilly days inspiring me to live (and dress) colourfully!
If last week's holiday hair tutorial from TRiM Hair Salon whetted your appetite for more, you're in for a treat! Today's tutorial features another lovely braided updo by stylist and owner Sarah Stach. I love how my friend Paula's hair looks here. The upside-down French braid has a raised 3D texture, and gradually thickens and culminates in a ladylike side bun. Talk about drama.
This style is more advanced than the easy braided updo, but still something you can do on yourself with practice and patience. Or better yet, gather some girlfriends at your place, have a glass of wine, and braid each other's hair before your next big holiday party.
Ready for the step-by-step breakdown?
First off, thanks for all the positive feedback on Tuesday's $10 gift guide! I'm glad you enjoyed that post as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Today's round-up of gifts is at a slightly higher price point, but still very affordable. I particularly like the idea of cute potholders, stationery, or a scented candle as a hostess gift.
It's officially December, which means it's time to make your lists and check them twice! No matter what your budget is, there always seems to be room for a few inexpensive presents. (Think stocking stuffers, Secret Santa exchanges, and coworkers.) These finds—all $10 or under—will gladden the heart of any stylish, beauty-loving girl without breaking the bank. Attach one as an add-on to a larger wrapped gift, or combine several items into a fun and eclectic present.
The boy and I both had our office Christmas parties during the last weekend of November, and even though I was feeling under the weather and skipped mine, we made it to his party on Saturday evening. We managed to last until 11-ish before we called it a night, cabbing home and curling up in PJs by midnight.
Christmas seems to come earlier every year, and with it the pressure to find the perfect present, throw the perfect party, and look darn near perfect at all the soirées to which one is invited. To make getting ready for your next glam fete easier, I enlisted the help of stylist and owner Sarah Stach from TRiM Hair Salon, and my gorgeous friend Paula, to show us how to get polished, party-ready hair in a hurry. This deceptively elaborate updo takes about 20 minutes and is novice-friendly to boot.
Ready to learn how? Here we go!
This season of all seasons, I think, it's all too easy to focus on the external, whether it's the warm coats, boots, and sweaters that make up our outermost layers, or the holiday parties and events that take us away from the quiet comfort of nights at home.
But to stay sane as daylight hours get shorter and schedules get busier, it's worthwhile to pay attention to the internal too. No matter what sort of coat, sweater, or holiday dress we wear, the right underpinnings make all the difference. Meanwhile, cozy staples make unwinding at home infinitely sweeter. Here, a round-up of red-and-white finds that celebrate the life internal.
Coat, bag, shoes. To me, they're the holy trinity of investment purchases and the quickest, simplest route to pulling together a polished look, especially during the winter. I'm feeling very lucky to be adding new versions of each of these staples to my wardrobe. First, there's this cobalt blue cocoon coat, sure to brighten up any gray day (and you know how much I love cocoon coats).
Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado ($35-56) is a little pot of creamy green bliss. I picked it up out of my sample drawer when my favourite eye cream ran out a couple weeks ago, and have been using and loving it ever since. Avocado oil, shea butter, and beta-carotene give the formula its emollient and antioxidant-packed potency. I've already noticed an improvement in dark circles, puffiness, and fine lines.
But the biggest—and most unique—selling point is its texture: slightly watery and tacky to the touch, the eye treatment sticks to skin upon contact and doesn't migrate into eyes or lashes. It's a godsend for contact lens wearers like me who dread the slightest bit of product in their eyes.
Other tips: Pat the cream into your eye area gently (don't rub because the formula won't budge), and buy the smaller jar (once open, it only has a shelf life of 6 months).
It's no secret that women's bodies change over the years thanks to the realities of life: weight gain or loss, stress, hormones, childbirth. So it's puzzling why so many of us still opt for a tailored, fitted style when it comes to investing in a quality winter coat. (I include myself in this category: this winter I realized that my much loved Soia & Kyo coat was a little too snug for comfort.) Why pay so much for a staple that might not even fit the year after next?
That's why I'm advocating wrap and cocoon styles for your next big coat splurge. Not only are the slouchy, oversize silhouettes trending right now, they tend to be more forgiving as the waist and hips fluctuate over seasons. Plus, they accommodate artful layers and chunky sweaters so much better than slimmer cuts, and depending on the style, can be cinched with a wide belt for a fitted look. When shopping, look for a coat that fits well at the shoulders; the rest is downhill from there.
Are you ready to try on one of these coats for size?
1. Day Birger et Mikkelsen knitted coat ($500)
2. Zara coat with large lapel ($79.99)
3. Theory 'Elizabeth' wool blend coat ($675)
4. J. Crew stadium cloth cocoon coat ($400)
5. Zara checked coat ($249)
6. Zara hooded wool coat ($139)
Why are the short work weeks always the craziest? The frenzy hit after a relaxing long weekend: a product release at work, seven media previews in two days, an overflowing inbox, and then an anxiety-inducing weekend agenda. If I look tired, it's because I am.
To cope, I've been relying on staples like this Propaganda pullover sweater from Plenty. The neutral hues and heart intarsia knit mean it goes well with jeans and ankle boots on its own, or layered with a (new) favourite flannel shirt and statement necklace. I'd recommend sizing down for a more flattering but still slightly oversized fit. Throw my laptop and notebook in my bag, put my hair in a ponytail, apply some red lipstick, and I'm good to go.
Here's to another week. Happy Monday!
I've reviewed enough mascaras in my time to keep my talking points brief on this one. Estee Lauder Sumptuous Waterproof Mascara ($27) delivers the sort of noticeably longer, more voluminous, fanned-out lashes I want from a mascara. The large brush, surprisingly, doesn't clump at all.
The only downside? Despite being a waterproof formula, it flakes and smudges around the 10+ hour mark. Because the benefits are so great though, I've been using it far longer than I should be. If you don't have uber-oily lids like I do, consider this one a must try.
I very rarely say "Run, don't walk!" when it comes to snagging a limited edition makeup collection, but in this case I'm going to make an exception for the heart-stoppingly gorgeous holiday offerings from Dior. The collection, titled "Golden Winter," is inspired by shades of pink and gold and the opulence of Versailles in wintertime. The result: glam, classic colours that flatter a wide variety of skin tones, all done in the most sigh-worthy packaging.
Now, onto a closer look at each product in the collection!
The great thing about a little black dress is that it goes so nicely with classic items when getting ready for a night out in a hurry: a neutral-patterned clutch, leopard-print pumps, pearl studs, and a swipe of red lipstick, and I'm good to go. And when it's a little black sweater dress, the benefits only get better. Not only does it feel like wearing cozy pajamas (especially when paired with leggings), the forgiving drop waist and stretchiness on this number mean I can indulge in popcorn at the movie, after the special dinner.
Hope you're all enjoying the long weekend.
Since BB cream first hit the North American market in a big way, I've tried multiple BB and CC cream formulas. And most of them are good, but very few delivered on the complete package: colour, skincare benefits, hydration, and sun protection.
Olay CC Cream ($29.99 at London Drugs) is one of the select few that has it all. Aside from looking cool, the double-helix formula delivers a multititude of benefits: fighting fine lines and wrinkles; evening out tone; reducing the appearance of age spots and discolouration; exfoliating gently; fighting dryness; and increasing luminosity. The active sunscreens that make up the SPF 15 protection are all chemical-based, although I did spy titanium dioxide (a compound commonly used as the active ingredient in mineral sunscreens) on the ingredients list.
The formula doesn't boast a lot of colour pigment, so concealer is a must if you have dark undereye circles or spots. But it's also so emollient-rich that I found myself skipping moisturizer during the weeks I tested it. What's more, my complexion had a luminous, like-my-skin-but-better glow to it. This one is definitely a keeper.
Disclosure: I am a #BeautyUnited blogger. As part of my affiliation with this group I receive products and special access to P&G events. The opinions on this blog are my own.
Happy Wednesday! Although I don't usually post mid-week, I thought it'd be kind of fun to show you what's in my beautiful new Roots bag. I've been toting it Monday to Friday because its size is so practical and, as I predicted, the metallic bronze adds visual interest but is neutral enough to go with everything. It's very roomy too, holding all the things you see below—plus dance shoes, a water bottle, or a couple of notebooks depending on whether I'm getting work done at a coffee shop or going salsa dancing.
What's in your bag?
Now that winter is on its way and cold-weather pallor along with it, I thought it'd be a good time to talk blush—specifically, Diorblush Vibrant Colour Powder Blush, a new range of blush compacts from Dior in 12 shades of pink, red, coral, and nude. Like almost everything Dior does, you can expect superior formulas and luxurious packaging (the glossy palette, the velvet pouch it slips into, the soft beveled brush!).
The boy and I have been two ships passing in the night lately. His evenings are filled with dance practices, coursework for his certification program, and kickboxing; mine are occupied by events and blogging. Throw work, household chores, and a busy social life into the mix, and there isn't much time left for each other, I'm afraid.
It's been almost a month since Nicole Bridger kicked off the most recent Eco Fashion Week season with one of her most high-concept shows to date. Bridger's fall/winter 2013 collection, titled "You Are Not Alone," emphasized themes of connection and empathy, seeing beyond first impressions and snap judgments to form genuine and meaningful bonds with your fellow man or woman. To push this theme, male and female models alike—long of limb, sleek of torso, possessed of a graceful sense of androgyny—took to the catwalk in Bridger's signature womenswear. Their gender was almost indistinguishable upon first glance, inviting lingering gazes and, hopefully, a genuine connection.
Add this one to the list of gentle facial cleansers that err on the gentle side. LUSH Let the Good Times Roll facial cleanser ($12.95-28.95) was introduced as a holiday limited edition, but was so popular that it became part of the regular roster. It's easy to see why: the maize flour and cornmeal-based scrub smells like a sweet, corn-based dessert confection that's good enough to eat, and provides gentle, natural exfoliation to boot.
The instructions say to pinch off a pea-sized amount and combine with water, but I've been using twice that with damp hands and damp skin so that the cleanser forms a thicker paste. If you wear makeup, I also advise using cleansing oil and eye makeup remover beforehand and following up with a toner afterward. Like I said, Let the Good Times Roll errs on the gentle side in spite of its exfoliating action, and it won't do everything by itself.
As a beauty/style blogger who works in software, I love seeing technology intersect with fashion and beauty in novel, interesting ways. Here, a new app and website that will make shopping local and finding natural and organic products that much easier.
When I clapped eyes on the 'Shirley' bag at the Roots Autumn/Winter 2013 preview back in July, I knew it was the bag I had to have for the colder months. At the time, I was so bewildered by the myriad wonderful items I was seeing that I mistakenly thought the bag was available in gold saffiano leather. I was pretty bummed when I later realized it was available in black, navy, and oxblood, but my disappointment was shortlived when I learned something else: Roots offers full customization on most of their leather items for a small fee. Do I want a one-of-a-kind custom 'Shirley' in gold saffiano leather, the folks at Roots asked? Yes! I was thrilled to be getting my dream bag, but my happiness truly brimmed over when they told me it would be a gift.
Spontaneously going to the P!nk concert at Rogers Arena last night was just the thing for curing Monday night blahs. My tickets to The Truth About Love Tour came courtesy of concert sponsor COVERGIRL and P&G Beauty's #BeautyUnited program: twelfth row, floor, centre stage. Talk about an amazing opportunity!
In my opinion, a good sweater coat is a necessity for Vancouver condo dwellers: comfy enough for lounging at home; presentable enough for quick trips to the mailbox or to take out garbage and recycling; cozy enough for an afternoon stroll in autumn sunshine or a coffee run. And in a super-relaxed neighbourhood like Mount Pleasant, a good sweater coat is even enough to see you through a laid-back brunch with girlfriends and some window-shopping. Since the days have cooled, I can't seem to stop wearing mine, a gray-and-ivory belted Aztec style purchased from LYNNsteven last year. It's the perfect sweater coat for every casual weekend occasion.
My hair's in a constant state of shedding and regrowth, which often means that any ponytail is subject to a halo of fine flyaways by mid-day. The John Frieda Full Repair Touch-up Flyaway Tamer is pretty ingenious for anyone who finds themselves in the same boat.
Think of it as a giant clear mascara for your locks. The clear formula, which features Inca Inchi Oil, brushes flyaways in place for a more groomed look and doesn't feel stiff like gel or hairspray. The brush applicator allows for precise application. What's more, the Flyaway Tamer's tube is portable enough to fit in any makeup bag or evening clutch, making touch-ups on the go a cinch.
It's with great pleasure that I introduce you to two silk scarf designers, both named Mona, who are creating keepsake carrés true to their artistic vision an ocean apart. Vancouver-based Mona Sultan favours bold graphics and on-trend colour combinations in her designs, and draws inspiration from such eclectic sources as graphic design, architecture, and history. Meanwhile, Mona Roussette—who hails from France—weaves surrealist, kaleidoscopic dream-scapes into hers. Find out what makes each Mona's silk scarves, well, uniquely Mona.
I just got back from a food-fueled two-day road trip with the boy, his brother, and his sister-in-law. From eating fresh local Penn Cove mussels in Coupeville (where these photos were snapped), to enjoying a whole Dungeness crab dinner at the Port Angeles Crab Festival, to stumbling on the best garlic fries I've ever had from a small gastropub, it was hard to pick a favourite meal. (If my jeans are looking a little tight in these photos, now you know why.) We had beautiful weather while traipsing around Coupeville, Port Townsend, and Port Angeles too: nothing but blue skies and sunshine all weekend.
With so much time spent exploring and in the car, I wanted to be comfortable and to keep things simple. Warm layers seemed like the way to go, along with basics like dark wash jeans, a pair of Chucks, and a pair of shades when the autumn sunshine became a little too bright.
Where skincare is concerned, I've always believed that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A healthy, moisturized complexion protected from the elements means less makeup most days and a fewer worries down the road that require professional intervention.
Shiseido has certainly taken this to heart with their new Shiseido Ibuki line, a complete skincare collection to take you from day to night. Shiseido Ibuki is for twentysomething and thirtysomething skin, which typically needs moisture, rebalancing, and sun protection, but not heavy-duty wrinkle and age spot fighters. So how do the individual products in the line stack up?
Since buying a condo with the boy, furnishing and decorating it has been one of the funnest parts of being homeowners, so you can imagine how excited I am for this. If you're moving out on your own, buying your first home, or simply looking to spruce up your current digs, I definitely recommend checking out the Vancouver Home + Design Show October 17-20 at BC Place Stadium. Exhibitors include everything from renovation companies to home decor stores, which means you're sure to find what you need to turn a house into a home!
Looking for home decor inspiration? I'm giving away a pair of complimentary tickets to the Vancouver Home + Design Show to one lucky Solo Lisa reader. To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post by Wednesday October 16th, 12pm PST. Good luck!
[UPDATE - October 16, 2013] The winner is evo! Please email me at email@example.com to find out how you can claim your prize. Happy redecorating!
This pair of 3.1 Phillip Lim loafers marks the third pair of silver shoes in my wardrobe and counting. I'm surprised and bemused by the fact that "silver shoes" constitute a legitimate category in my footwear wardrobe, but they're just as versatile as black shoes and so shiny. My magpie-like obsession has gotten to the point where the boy rolls his eyes when I'm inexplicably drawn to the J. Crew mirror metallic oxfords while shopping. (If he's reading this, I'm still eyeing those *hint, hint*.) I also have friends sending me links to their own silver shoe finds.
Tell me: Are you as obsessed with metallic leather shoes as I am?
Rouge Dior holds a special place in the history of Dior. When it was first introduced in 1953, the collection of 8 universally flattering lipstick shades was, Christian Dior declared, a way for women to "dress their smile" in the sumptuous shades of Dior's couture fabrics. 1500 shades have come and gone since, and 60 years later, the lipstick is celebrating its anniversary with a revamped 32 shade range and improved formula. (Think lip-plumping hyaluronic acid, rock samphire extract to stimulate cell renewal and combat chapped lips, and a texture akin to lip balm.)
I couldn't resist punning on the title of one of my favourite shows while sporting the blazer I bought during Shop 'Til You Drop. (The boy and I haven't seen the second half of season 5 of Breaking Bad yet, so no spoilers, please!) In all seriousness though, the green and blue tartan, which I later learned is called Black Watch, goes with so many things in my heavy-on-the-blue wardrobe. I'm looking forward to wearing it all season long.
There's nothing like a magazine partnering with retailers for a big party to lure shoppers out in droves, as VOGUE proved with Fashion's Night Out. But while FNO fizzled, the third annual Metropolis at Metrotown x LOULOU Magazine is going stronger than ever. Last night, more than eighty retailers offered one-night-only discounts to hundreds of fashion-hungry spenders looking for deals. Complimentary beauty treatments, a candy bar, gift bags, and the chance to win gift cards only sweetened the deal.
With a constant influx of beauty products to test and review, sometimes limited editions fall through the cracks and I don't get around to posting about them until too late. But of the times I have done this, I've never felt as much regret as I do with the Dior 5 Couleurs Mystic Metallics Eyeshadow Palette in 'Bonne Etoile'. Those of you who didn't get your hands on this one really missed out, and for that I'm sorry.
The star-embossed eyeshadow palette is a thing of beauty. The eyeshadows themselves have an eye-brightening, metallic finish and seem to work equally well with or without primer. (I would expect nothing less from Dior.)
Now that fall is officially here, I'm very excited about re-acquainting myself with deep, dark lip colours. (Mattes, reds, purples, how I've missed you!) Evidently MAC feels the same way because they're rolling out some beautiful new shades this season, shades which I can finally share with you now that the embargo's been lifted. Here's a look at three captivating reds and a bewitching plum you'll want to add to your lipstick collection, stat.
After a summer of too much work and not enough exercise, I was dismayed—but not at all surprised—that my skinny jeans were feeling snug. I've since resolved to get back to a healthier routine: salsa, yoga, and using the elliptical in my building's gym twice a week. I'm not expecting miraculous overnight results (I'm no fool), but there are tangible benefits already. Better sleep, more energy, and improved digestion are enough to keep me on track.
Until I'm back to my old self, I'll be wearing Things With Forgiving Waists in heavy rotation, of which this drawstring waist silk tunic is a prime example. It's a perfect transitional closet staple, season-wise and weight-wise. So glad I also bought this in another colour.