TRiM Holiday Hair Tutorial #1: The Easy Braided Updo

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!

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Underneath It All

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.

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Latest Outfit: Coat, Bag, Shoes

Cobalt blue cocoon coat worn with graphic black-and-white sweater, grey ankle trousers, burgundy pony hair smoking slippers, and a structured top-handle bag.
J. Crew stadium cloth cocoon coat | Banana Republic sweater and pants | Onna Ehrlich 'Chloe' bag (c/o) | Sam Edelman 'Alvin' smoking slippers (c/o StyleNV) | Maison Birks earrings (c/o) | Lipstick: Rouge Dior 999

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).

Cobalt blue cocoon coat worn with graphic black-and-white sweater, grey ankle trousers, burgundy pony hair smoking slippers, and a structured top-handle bag.
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Product Review: Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado

Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado

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).

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Wrapped and Cocooned

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)

7. Mason by Michelle Mason leather-sleeved wool-blend coat ($775)

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Latest Outfit: Get Cozy with Plenty

Charcoal grey heart intarsia sweater layered over red check shirt and black matte statement necklace. Skinny dark blue jeans, black ankle boots, red lipstick, gold saffiano leather bag.

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!

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Product Review: Estee Lauder Sumptuous Waterproof Mascara

Estee Lauder Sumptuous Waterproof Mascara

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.

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Dior Golden Winter Holiday 2013 Collection

Dior Golden Winter Holiday 2013 Diorific Collection

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!

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Latest Outfit: Little Black (Sweater) Dress

Little black sweater dress worn with black leggings, leopard print pumps, pearl stud earrings, red lipstick, and a black-and-tan polka dot clutch.

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.

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Product Review: Olay CC Cream

Olay CC Cream - Total Effects Tone Correcting Moisturizer with Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 15 Light-to-Medium

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.

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In My Bag

The Bag: Roots 'Shirley' custom tote in gold saffiano leather (c/o)

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?

The Contents: MAC illustrated bag by Anja Kroencke (perfect size for all my sundries) | Lipsticks: Fresh Sugar Cherry lip treatment, Rouge Dior 999, MAC Mineralize Rich Lipstick in 'Lush Life' | John Frieda flyaway tamer (reviewed here) | Anna Sui blotting paper case (used to hold business cards) | Moleskine notebook | Umbrella | iPhone 5 in a Tory Burch case | Ferragamo wallet
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Diorblush Vibrant Colour Powder Blush

Diorblush Vibrant Colour Powder Blush

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!).

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Latest Outfit: Hello Moto

Vancouver blogger Lisa Wong of Solo Lisa wears a black moto jacket, black/grey colourblocked jersey scarf, burgundy sweater dress, leopard print belt, black tights, and cognac leather booties.

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.

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Nicole Bridger Fall/Winter 2013 at Eco Fashion Week

Three models show off the punk/androgyny-inspired hair and makeup look by La Biosthetique at Nicole Bridger fall/winter 2013 at Eco Fashion Week.

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.

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