Dress Like Blair Waldorf!

A while ago, I did a couple of blog posts about how much I admire the wardrobe of one of the characters on Gossip Girl, Blair Waldorf. According to the show's costume designer Eric Daman, Blair's style can be broken down into these elements:

  • Classic and elegant

  • Audrey Hepburn-inspired

  • Lots of red, white, and navy--"Americana colours"

  • Nautical and preppy staples

  • Bows, pearls, diamonds, and headbands

It seems as though the East coast prep school princess look has caught the imagination of retailers this season as more and more pieces that look like something Blair might wear pop up in stores. Forever 21--that bastion of the uncanny knockoff--has a great selection of demure and preppy pieces in particular. Here are some of my favourites.

Monroe chiffon dress, $29.80. This dress would look smashing with a thick red headband, a simple pearl necklace, and pearl studs or small pearl drops.

Woven wrap dress, $24.80. Blair often sports very chic-looking little black dresses on the show. The ruffles, bow-tie sash, and knee length make this LBD demure, ladylike, and classic. Pair it with textured black tights, black pumps, and a chic updo.

Metallic silk tunic, $19.80. Nautical-inspired with the gold rope and navy shade, this top would look good with a black miniskirt and red tights, or a pair of slim-cut dark denim jeans.

Pleated satin dress, $24.80. Blair Waldorf's clothes are classic but young and fresh, contemporary but never overtly trendy. While Serena seems to like the trapeze neckline tunic-style dresses that are so popular this season, Blair seems to favour A-line dresses more.

Argyle sweater, $24.80. Argyle is a preppy staple. The bright yellow hue and navy diamond lines on this sweater mean it'd go with anything navy.

3/4 striped anchor sweater, $19.80. Classic black and white striped sweater, but the tunic length, 3/4 sleeves, and varying stripe width lend it some freshness. Extra prep points for the crest!


Too Cute for Words

I really wish this shirt came in a women's small, but it's available for men only. Sigh.

Japanese Tony tee from Urban Outfitters, $28

Not-So-Dressy Dress Shirts

What a strange incestuous fashion blogging circle I write and exist in. Yesterday afternoon a guy friend told me he wanted to find a dress shirt that was a bit on the casual side, appropriate for clubbing or an evening out, and preferably with some standout detailing to make it unique. Little did I know he'd broached the same question with my friend mizzj over at Being High Maintenance, Not Bitchy, who put together this great post of her top picks and tips for choosing an appropriate shirt.

Her picks are classic and versatile, but I instantly gravitated toward shirts that had a little more attitude and edge, browsing for versions that had screened designs, distressing, embroidery, embellishments, etc. on sites like Parasuco Denim Cult, Mavi, Rock and Republic, and Buffalo. My search took me to Roar Clothing USA, a brand which isn't as notorious but should be because they have awesome men's casual button-down shirts. As David Kogan, the CEO of eModa.com, says on the Roar website, Roar has the type of highly detailed men's shirt that could retail for upwards of $200 but actually sells for $90 or less.

These were my favourite Roar men's shirts. Enjoy!

Renault shirt, $82.95

Noble shirt, $88.95

Duel shirt, $88.95


Revamping My Closet Space

After I returned from Boxing Day shopping, stacked my purchases in one corner of my room, and surveyed my available closet and drawer space, I realized I had no room for all of the cool new stuff I'd got. Unless I seriously rethought my clothing storage solutions, I was going to end up with a closet and dresser that explode clothes all over me...a bit like the scene in Shopaholic Takes Manhattan where the heroine misuses vacuum seal storage bags.

I let my Boxing Day gear sit in a pile on the floor for as long as I could tolerate before I thought about my options:
  1. Buy a new dresser and move one of the desks in my room to another part of the house. Possible cost: $100-200, plus a full day devoted to going to Ikea, putting together the dresser, moving the desk, and filling the dresser with clothes.
  2. Buy one of those clear plastic storage dresser units on castor wheels and put it in the space under my desk. Possible cost: $50.
  3. Move around my books so that a couple of shelves on my bookcase are empty, and then take clothes out of my dresser and put them on the empty bookcase shelves. Possible cost: $0-15, plus a full day devoted to moving books and bookcase shelves, shuffling clothes around.

Thinking of my Visa bill for the next month with a pang, I chose the cheapest most hassle-free option, #3. As it turned out, the project quickly snowballed. I moved the clothes out of the bottom two drawers in my dresser: thick sweaters I don't wear unless it's below -10 degrees Celsius outside, and old clothes I no longer wear out and become my lounge-around clothes because they're too good to throw away. Seeing the stacks of clothes on my bed made me realize how tacky they might look just piled up on the shelves, and how it might be hard to keep them organized and accessible. I took a detour to the dollar stores near my house and picked up several white plastic storage bins which became makeshift drawers on the bookcase.

This is what my bookcase/dresser looks like now:

I'm pretty proud of this storage solution if I do say so myself. I don't feel too bad about putting my clothes in plastic bins because the contents of these bins are clothes I rarely wear but don't want to throw out or give away. Right behind the polar bear and the penguin are a box full of clothing care items (spare buttons/sequins/thread, a sweater shaver, pins, etc.) and a lint brush. Sheer genius.

After I finished, I had an extra storage basket left over, which I used to toss scarves and gloves into on the top shelf of my closet:

As I said, the project snowballed. It wasn't enough to make room in my dresser for more clothes. I assessed my closet and thought my clothes looked a bit crowded inside, and the closet floor was absolutely cluttered with purses and shoe boxes. I folded up some items and instantly my jackets and coats looked like they had room to breathe:

My issue with purses is they're all different sizes and shapes and I never know quite how to store them because they take up so much room. In the past I sorted them into small vs. medium handbags and just put them in big paper shopping bags and left the large ones out, but then the large ones took up a ton of room on my closet floor, and all the handbags in the shopping bags sank into a mess at the bottom. This time around, I put all of them in a huge laundry basket under my desk. I also stacked some of my shoes in the empty space right next to laundry basket, which freed up more closet space:

I'm pretty happy with my room configuration now and glad that I now have a more functional, organized clothing storage solution. Phew. Now maybe I can work on filling up some of the space I made when I go to New York next month.

Product Review: St. Ives Collagen Elastin Lotion

The winter season makes me appreciate a strong, effective lotion even more than usual. Dry air and high heat indoors and wind and cold outdoors can really take their toll. During these months, I never go outside without a swipe of lip balm and some hand lotion to prevent chapped lips and hands. Using a body lotion post-shower is another must.

I also switch body lotions during the winter, replacing my usual Lubriderm SPF 15 lotion with Lubriderm Advanced 24 Hour Moisture and thereby sacrificing some sun protection for increased moisture. Last month, though, I noticed that my stand-by winter body lotion didn't seem to penetrate my skin. The top layer of my skin was soft, but it didn't have the glowing healthy look of my summer skin and I felt as though the soft outer layer of my complexion was floating over dry, lined, and unhealthy skin. When the bottle ran out, I was on the lookout for something that would hopefully make my skin healthier-looking. I picked up a bottle of St. Ives Collagen Elastin Lotion. It boasted two proteins--collagen and elastin--that were found in young, healthy skin and promised to firm up skin's appearance.

I wasn't impressed with the texture or the smell (an artificial lotion smell that wasn't nearly as yummy as the cucumber melon or Swiss vanilla St. Ives lotions) the first time I used it and I still think the smell takes getting used to, but to be fair to any new lotion I try out I decided to give it a couple of weeks and see. After about three or four weeks of daily use, I have seen a definite improvement in my skin. My arms and legs have a more vibrant glow, and that dry leathery look is gone from my calves. My skin even seems smoother and firmer, so I suppose there is something to the lotion's claim that it'll give you younger-looking skin, although the difference is subtle and not that dramatic.

My only complaint is that this lotion seems to clog my pores more easily than the Lubriderm stuff I was using before. Granted, I only have a couple of blemishes on my chest and my back that have gone away quickly, so it could be unrelated. Overall though, I think this is a great effective winter lotion; a huge bottle that costs less than $7 will last you for the entire season.

If Shoes Were Desserts...

The Valentine's Day cupcake...

Christian Louboutin heels, $374.40

Grape Jello...

YSL slingbacks, $359.99

The brightly frosted Halloween cookie...

YSL slingbacks, $316.80

The slice of key lime pie...

Kate Spade loafers, $70.39

The chocolate truffle...

Gucci boots, $700.38

The cookies n' cream flavoured Italian gelato...

Prada pumps, $332.80


Flowery Finds

Whew, it's been quite a week and once again I've slipped into sub-par blogger status. Somehow 55-60 hours at the office in front of a computer ensuring that there are no glitches in the manual I'm working on doesn't make me super-excited to sit in front of a computer at home and spend another 2 hours blogging. I'm very relieved that the big push for my project is over and excited to return to my blog!

One of the things I like to do at work when I need a bit of an eye-candy break from fixing invalid cross-references or shoddy index entries, or waiting for an extremely slow program to load, is online shopping and browsing some of the end-of-season sales. Yes, it's well into January and a lot of the good stuff is gone, but you'd be surprised at some of the sweet deals still left to be had. Another post-holiday sale cliche that is mostly true but not entirely is that all of the stuff that's marked down is overstock from the winter season. That means the best deals are on sweaters, flannel pajamas, wool coats, boots, scarves and gloves, and so on.

As these three finds indicate, that's not always the case (thankfully). I came across this sweet cream-coloured patent leather heel on the Kitson website's exclusive sale.

Mia cream patent leather bloom heel, $34

This shoe also comes in black, but imagine how lovely the cream-coloured shoe will look with the lighter, brighter colours of the spring season, and how demure the chunky heel and brown tweed-edged flower will be when paired with skirts! You can feel like Sarah Jessica Parker in that girly pink Gap commercial from a few years back, singing about how she loves being a girl when she has a brand-new hairdo and her eyelashes are all curled.

My next find isn't quite as explicitly floral as the shoe, but it still gives off a very spring-like and feminine vibe.

Tocca clutch, $119.99

I love the classic shape and the idiosyncratic pattern and bead details. I also love the visions of this clutch paired with a white eyelet dress and a jean jacket that are dancing in my head.

And now drumroll, please, for my last flowery find of the day...

Kenneth Cole New York blue stitched rosette clutch, $101.99

So lovely, classic, and chic. This clutch would also work with the aforementioned white eyelet dress and jean jacket outfit. But imagine it with a brown jersey halter dress, or maybe gray satin.

Eye Candy: All About Blair Waldorf

Readers of my more recent blog entries will know that I've been obsessed with Blair Waldorf's Park Avenue Princess look and her preppy ensembles lately. I love how she manages to look classic, polished, and put-together while still maintaining a young and fresh vibe. Some of her outfits strike a nice balance between preppy and trendy, such as her navy/red/white ensemble with the blue shorts and bright red tights.

Now that the first season of Gossip Girl is winding down and Blair's reign as queen bee has crumbled under the weight of rumours and a pregnancy scare, it seemed an appropriate time to pay homage to her inimitable style via a compilation of my favourite Blair looks from this season. Enjoy!


Post-Holiday Sale #3: Anthropologie

If you trawl through the Anthropologie website coveting their clothes and wistfully hoping they'll go on sale soon, wistfully hope no longer! These are some of my favourite picks from their sale section.

AG Plush Angel pants, $79.95

Beadbloom V-neck, $49.95

Bubble Tea dress, $99.95

Cordial tieback, $49.95

Fog Shadow dress, $165.95

Intermissions dress, $99.95

Thinning Moon dress, $79.95


Product Review: Biore Self-Heating Mask

As long as I'm on this January self-improvement "try new things" kick, I've decided that in my neverending quest for perfect hair and skin I should try new products and new tricks. On a scale of 1 to 10 I think I'm about a 6.5: I know my skin and hair could be a lot worse than they are now, but I realize there's room for improvement, especially with the occasional breakouts I experience and the slight natural waviness in my hair that makes it frizzy.

My current skincare routine and the one I've been following for ages consists of a mild cleanser (Aveeno), a mild moisturizer (Neutrogena or Cetaphil depending on how my skin is behaving), and my skin medication (a prescription I've been slathering on since I was 14). I use a spot treatment that contains salicylic acid (Garnier) to dry up present and potential blemishes. Every once in a while, though, I love the deep cleansing and invigorating pampering of a good facial mask. In the past, I relied on the Freeman white grape and antioxidant peel-off mask for that. The alcohol and glycerin mixture in the formula dried out any blemishes and oil on my face and still left me with soft, smooth skin. After a good night's sleep, my face would be glowing.

Lately, though, my skin has been a little more rebellious than usual, and the last time I stopped at the drugstore I was on the lookout for a product that packed a little more punch than my mild Freeman mask. I was intrigued by the Biore Self-Heating Mask and its promises: "Absorbs and purifies. Turn up the heat on dirt and oil. One-minute facial warms on contact to purify pores, exfoliate skin and combat shine." A package of 8 single-use packets cost about twice as much as a huge tube of the Freeman's mask which would've lasted me about six months, but I figured that it sounded more powerful and was thus worth the price.

I've used it twice so far and been disappointed both times, sad to say. According to the instructions, you smooth the mask onto wet skin and it warms on contact with the water; then you massage it into your skin for about a minute until it turns blue, and you rinse it off. The mask did indeed heat up a lot on contact and it was a really neat invigorating feeling, quite different from the cooling sensation of my Freeman mask. The warming effect only lasted about a minute, though, and then I was left furiously massaging a lukewarm blue paste into my skin. I used a face towel to get all of it off, including the residue, then waited about 5-10 minutes before I examined my skin in the mirror and applied my skin medication and moisturizer for the night. What I saw appalled me: instead of the glowing skin I was expecting, some patches looked red, dry, and irritated, and the blemishes that were already there seemed bigger. It even looked like it caused more blemishes! In the morning those signs of skin irritation were gone, but I think that was more due to my trusty Garnier anti-blemish pen (great spot treatment; highly recommend it), my skin prescription, and a good night's sleep.

As I said, it is neat to try it if only for the satisfaction of the warming sensation and seeing the mask turn blue, but for the price and the aftermath it caused my skin I wouldn't buy it again. I think I'll stick to Freeman for now...apparently they've reformulated the peel-off mask and it's made with cucumber instead of white grape now.
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