Product Review: Ecotools Bamboo 5-Piece Makeup Brush Set

I've never been much of a beauty product junkie. The first set of makeup brushes I ever bought was an impulse purchase when I was 17, just 4 days short of prom when I realized I didn't even have a lipstick to my name and I was supposed to glam myself up for the event. Along with the drugstore eyeshadow and blush, I threw a cheap 5-brush set into my shopping basket. Fast forward six years, and those brushes have held up pretty well, but they've definitely seen better days.

This time around, I was older and wiser and knew exactly what I wanted out of my new brushes:
  • More luxe materials. My first set had plastic handles and synthetic bristles. The bristles were passable but not exactly soft, and they'd keep falling out of the brush. Plus, after a while, the plastic struck me as kind of tacky. My new brushes would preferably have wooden handles and better quality bristles.
  • More useful brushes. Specifically, I wanted a rounded eyeshadow brush, an angled eyeliner brush, and an eyelash comb.
  • An affordable price. Because I'm not a serious beauty product addict, I can't justify spending upwards of $20 on one measly brush, no matter how great the quality is.
Along came the Ecotools bamboo 5-piece brush set like a mirage that satisfied all of my makeup brush requirements. When I first saw these, it was the pretty packaging that drew me in, but as I kept reading I was definitely impressed by the product's green factor. The brush set boasts sustainable, recycled, and cruelty-free materials. The handles are made of bamboo; the metal bits are recycled aluminum; and the bristles are made of soft synthetic fiber. Plus, the cute reusable storage case that's included is woven from hemp. Pretty cool. I quashed the consumer's guilt associated with having to throw out my old brushes, and rationalized that the set was better quality and likely to last a decade in order to justify forking out the $15 for the set.

Once I opened the package at home I was even more impressed. The brushes are "I can't believe it's not bunny fur!" soft. The blush brush is a good size for providing even and non-streaky coverage on the apples of my cheeks, and the shape of the shadow and liner brushes is perfect. I used the shadow and liner brushes last week to apply bright green eyeshadow before going out for salsa, and loved how it gave my eyelids a perfect wash of sheer colour as opposed to the unblendable streak you get when using the swabs that come in the compact. Unlike other cheap brush sets that come with too-similar brushes and useless swabs, every brush in this set is actually useful, good quality, and works well. I also really like the hemp case, which rolls up and can be tied--a stylish and hygienic way to store the brushes when they're not used.

Update: I was just going through my receipts for July and noticed the price for the brushes at London Drugs was $12.99, not $15. Oops. But the good news is, they're even cheaper than I thought they were.

Lovely Links

Miss Couturable lets us in on her headband-hunting secrets.

Speaking of Miss Couturable, her blog introduced me to a new favourite read, A Bite of the Big Apple. Teresa documents her daily life as an intern at a major magazine in NYC, and offers hilarious insights on everything from the 5 questions a girl should ask herself about a prospective boyfriend to the source of New Yorkers' blood cholesterol (buttered bagels).

After polling her readers, Daddy Likey gives us the final word on whether wearing black to a wedding is alright.

If you were anything like me growing up, you probably devoured Sweet Valley High and Baby-sitters Club books by the wheelbarrow, didn't you? Come on, admit it, you enjoyed them; I know I did. It's been so long since I've read any of them that I forgot how fashionable Claudia Kishi of the BSC is. Luckily, I have What Claudia Wore to capture all of Claud's fabulous outfits and take me on a trip down memory lane.

I'm just spreading the word, so don't shoot the messenger: WendyB has a vendetta against the overused "EC" phrase in fashion writing.

Finally, my first post for Stylefinds is up! Check it out here.

Luxe For Less: Carrie's Studded Belt from the SATC Movie

A week ago, this request came to me from Wild Thyme:

"Have you seen the sex in the city movie? Carrie has the best outfits and I love the rent to own bag concept! Let me know if you can find a 'cheaper' version of the black studded belt Carrie wears a few times throughout the movie."

Wild Thyme, darling, of course I've seen the movie! I gushed about the girls night out I'd planned for the day the film came out here. The wardrobe was droolworthy indeed, although I'm more of a Charlotte at heart. I too initially thought the "rent to own" bag concept was neat, but changed my mind after debating its pros and cons. Oh, and as soon as I received your request, my own curiosity got the better of me and I started hunting for lookalike belts at cheaper prices.

Some light investigative research yielded bad news: The actual belt that Sarah Jessica Parker wears in the film is a one-of-a-kind vintage creation. That being said, thank goodness for knockoffs and Patricia Field's entrepreneurial spirit. She's offering an exact replica of the belt for $120 on her website.

Before you pump your fists in the air and shout "Huzzah!", I have more bad news for you: The Patricia Field replica belt is completely sold out. You're not the only girl in the world lusting after it, and apparently there are Carrie fans out there who are willing to fork out $120 plus shipping to look like their idol. However, the good news is, I've found similar versions of the same look from ASOS and Target at more wallet-friendly prices.

Pyramid stud waist belt from ASOS, 15 pounds

Mossimo for Target pyramid studded belt, $19.99

If there's a fashion item out there that makes your heart ache with its desirability and unattainability, I'd love to hear about it. Who knows--I just might find a more affordable version for you. Email me at

My Shopping Sabbatical, Money Matters, and First Impressions

I had an entirely different post scheduled for today, but I've been feeling more than a little indignant lately, so let me get on my soapbox for a moment and rant.

My shopping sabbatical (no clothes or accessories purchases for 5 months) has almost reached the 3-month mark, with the incentive/reward at the end of the 5-month haul being a Chanel purse. I figured spending the money I'd saved during that period on an extravagant purchase I otherwise wouldn't be able to afford would be great motivation for staying on track. I'd have one purchase that would last me until I become a little old lady, as opposed to lots of cheap trifles that would break or wear out and end up in a landfill. In other words, I'd start buying for quality from now on, not quantity. This rationale was my way of easing my consumer's guilt associated with such an extravagant purchase.

Most of the friends I've explained my rationale and my shopping sabbatical to have applauded my decision and been excited for me. However, I've also had loads of judgemental disapproval heaped on me. "I think that's a ridiculous amount to spend on a purse," said one friend. "You could, you know, use that money to see the world," said my friend E.

The comment that stung the worst, though, came from my ex: "You are stupid beyond belief. No words can describe how stupid you are." We were talking online; he'd just returned to Mexico after a 5-week trip to Alaska. He said that if he'd had the money, he would've flown to Vancouver to see me, and then jokingly asked me to pay for his flight. I jokingly replied that I was saving up for a purse, then added, "I like you, but I like the purse a little bit more" in Spanish. When I told him how much the purse was, disbelief turned into anger and he uttered those words.

The more I thought about what he said, the angrier I became. We had broken up and we still had residual feelings for each other, but at the end of the day we were just ordinary friends. We weren't obligated to each other in any way, and we certainly didn't owe each other face-time. He chose to spend his hard-earned money on a trip to Alaska instead of seeing me. So what's wrong with me choosing to spend my hard-earned money on a luxury I've fantasized about for months instead of seeing him? If I spend my money on the bag, at least at the end of the day I'll have the bag, whereas with him...I don't know what we have, but it doesn't exactly smack of long-term commitment.

I vented to my friend E, and after getting some of that rage out of my system, I began to sympathize with my ex a bit more. The cost of a Chanel purse is obscene in the eyes of someone from Mexico City who's used to a low cost of living and couldn't give a hoot about designers. Plus, he was probably more hurt than anything else that I'd choose to spend the money on a bag instead of subsidizing his visit to Vancouver.

E pointed out something else when I complained about how I was sick of being judged and taking flack from people: When I step out with the purse once I get it, I'll inevitably invite stares and attention and negative snap judgements from people, many of whom might dismiss me as some spoiled high-maintenance Asian girl. "Let's just say you see a 24-year old driving a BMW," he reasoned. "What do you think [immediately]? Parents bought it." And E has a point. People aren't going to care that I paid for it myself with my full-time job, that my credit rating is stellar, or that I've never been in debt once in my life. They aren't going to care that I'm quite frugal normally and that this is a one-off purchase that's intended to curb my excessive consumption habits in the long run. They'll look at me with disgust in their eyes as though they were looking at a BMW-driving 24-year-old.

When all is said and done, I'm going to do what makes me happy despite what others may think. As any fellow shopaholic will know, it's taken a lot of willpower for me to come this far. That purse at the end of the road will be all the sweeter as a reminder of my discipline.

Alright, rant over. Thanks for bearing with me. I'll return to the regular scheduled programming.

Lisa's Most Coveted List

You know the drill! 5 things I'm loving or lusting after right now.

1. Reik's Secuencia album. Reik's sentimental pop rock en espanol makes me absurdly happy when I'm at work.

2. 'Scent of summer' tunic, $45.99. Purple? Check. Pleated chiffon? Check. Demure floral details? Check. I can't stop envisioning this top with my dark denim circle skirt.

3. Frying pan-da, $34.99. Grilled cheese sandwiches taste a wee bit better when your adorable frying pan is smiling back at you. Along with the Hello Kitty toaster, the panda frying pan might actually turn me into a breakfast person.

4. Gold and blue multi-flower hoops, $25.89. Oversized gold hoops are usually associated with a ghetto fabulous vibe, but these earrings transcend any association with hip-hop music video style. Sweet blossoms and gem and enamel details make these the accessory of choice for swishy summer skirts.

5. Colin Firth. BBC miniseries fans swear that Firth is the definitive Darcy. For me, his appeal lies in his ability to convey straitlaced British breeding while cutting loose in hilarious ways. My love for him was renewed while watching him rock out in a black tee and leather pants in What a Girl Wants (hey, it was on TV and there was nothing else on!). And who can forget the sissy fight sequences in Bridget Jones? I can't wait to see him belt out ABBA songs in Mamma Mia!

Update: I've just discovered that track 6 in the embedded playlist above skips. If you want to listen to "Invierno" (and trust me, it's worth a listen!), watch the video below.


Good and bad news...

I've been posting every day so far this month, which is completely unprecedented for my blog. I knew this pace couldn't continue for long, though; producing content seven days a week is quite demanding. I really admire bloggers like WendyB and The Clothes Horse who can do multiple updates a day, seven days a week. So, the bad news is, after this post, I'll be cutting back to 3-5 posts a week on weekdays only. But the good news is that I've been accepted as a regular contributor to local style blog/website Stylefinds, so in a way, you can still get a near-daily fix of my blathering. :P

I'll mostly be writing about special sales happening in and around Vancouver, but hopefully in the future I'll be doing more substantial features for Stylefinds. Stay tuned.

Nautical-Inspired AE Goodies

American Eagle Outfitters is flying high in my books lately. Before my shopping sabbatical began, one of my last purchases was a couple of tees at AE, and later on I drooled over some of their spring merchandise online. Whatever they've been doing with themselves lately, I say keep on doing it because they're becoming more than just a destination for basics.
I'm proud to say that my shopping sabbatical is more than half over, but in the face of temptations such as these demure, stylish pieces--well, I don't know if I can last until the end of September.

Tie-front skinny blouse, $39.50. This blouse initially caught my eye because it reminded me of my friend's United airlines uniform. Upon closer examination, however, I think the stripes, puffy sleeves, and tie-front make this AE version the perfect piece for the office and a sushi dinner and movie after work.

Striped zip hoodie, $49.50. Every year, thousands of Vancouverites flock to English Bay on summer nights to watch the Celebration of Light's free half-hour fireworks displays, whether it's on the deck of a yacht out in the open water, or as part of the hordes on the beach. AE's nautical-themed hoodie is perfect for keeping you cozy no matter where you're watching the pyrotechnics display from.

Pretty bow dress, $59.50. If Blair Waldorf ever shopped at American Eagle, I imagine she'd buy a dress very similar to this one.

3-button blazer, $59.50. For those times when a hoodie is too casual but the evenings are too chilly to go without another layer, the blazer is the answer. This is by far my favourite of all these picks. The 3/4 sleeves, classic styling, and playful white trim are just plain appealing. Note to self: When meeting friend who works at AE, avoid looking at the mannequin wearing this blazer and resist urge to whip out credit card.


Translated: Belanova

A while ago, The Clothes Horse did a wonderful blog post where she pondered what the colour pink represents to herself as well as society at large. I left a less-than-articulate comment in response, but her blog post did remind me of something else entirely: the equally wonderful song "Rosa Pastel" by Belanova.

This song is on regular rotation at work as I fix index entries and edit release notes. The simple melody drew me in initially, but after a couple of listens I could discern the lyrics a bit better and was drawn to the melancholy yet sugar-sweet vocals of Denisse Guerrero. In fact, after watching the music video, I think I might have a bit of a girl crush on Guerrero. As the super-stylish and charismatic lead singer for an all-guy group, she's a bit like the Mexican synth-pop version of Gwen Stefani.

The video:

Rosa Pastel ("Pastel Pink")

If I would like to be this woman
the mother of your children
and walk together toward the altar
direct towards death
and at the end not speak
we destroyed the two
and to that end
you and I now don't exist

No, I don't want to be this woman
she was at the abyss
and you
you're not what you promised
you'd be my superhero, and
everything ends, there's nothing left,
we'll be two strangers, I
will forget you, you'll forget me
Good riddance

And where I left, this button
that leads to happiness
honeymoon, pastel pink
cliches and stupid things
and at the end not speak
we destroyed the two
and to that end
you and I now don't exist

No, I don't want to be this woman
she was at the abyss
and you
you're not what you promised
you'd be my superhero, and
everything ends, there's nothing left,
we'll be two strangers, I
will forget you, you'll forget me
Good riddance

Update: I've discovered where Guerrero's impeccable sense of style comes from. Before she joined Belanova, she honed her artistic eye as a fashion design student, according to Wikipedia.

Mixing Patterns in One Outfit

Tory Burch's Resort 2009 collection is probably the most concise pictorial guide known to woman on how to mix patterns in one outfit--all the while looking chic and polished. Let's analyze why these looks work, shall we?

  1. One print (the floral) is a lot larger and more attention-grabbing than the other (the stripes) so that they don't clash.
  2. The clothes stay in the same colour family (navy and white, or similar shades of blue); this creates a sense of unity across the pieces.
  3. Accessories in solid colours--such as handbags, belts, and shoes--help ground the outfit and let the eye maintain focus on the more outrageous print.
  4. A body-flattering cut that shows off your legs lets you wear large prints without making you feel overwhelmed.

Guys' Style Advice: What to Wear with Colourful Sneakers?

Recently, a coworker of mine sent me a link to a pair of great blue, yellow, and green Adidas sneakers with a brief message that said, "So I bought those, but what do they go with?"

Hmm interesting question. First off, I have to commend him on his sartorial flair and choice of footwear. While I know my share of stylish guys, I also know many guys aren't adventurous enough to try a colourful sneaker. He's taken the plunge and bought the shoes, and his outfits will be the better for it.

Some fashionistas and more daring dressers would tell him to wear the shoes with anything, including lots of bold clashing colours, and just own the look. However, it's a well-known truth that guys are notoriously afraid of looking stupid in front of other guys. Whereas girls may admire the Olson twins for their eccentric sense of style and "try anything once" attitude, guys will and do rag on each other, especially after a couple of pitchers at the local watering hole.

That being said, here are two looks--one for cold weather, one for hot weather--that could work with such fabulous statement shoes.

Polo/shorts combos. For the summer, nothing says casual cool like a pair of shorts that comes to the knee and a polo. I like how these shorts are in relatively lightweight fabrications that slouch and crinkle a bit. The neutral colours don't detract from or clash with the sneakers, while small details such as ties, zippers, and grommets add visual interest. I like how the side cargo pockets don't bulge out and add unnecessary bulk to the leg. As for the polos, a crisp white number is always classic, but ones with bright green stripes or black graphic embellishments (with a touch of pink embroidery) are fun alternatives. The key to pulling off this look is white ankle socks: no tanlines, no tackiness.

From left to right:

The fun prepster. Sneakers and jeans go together like cookies and milk; they were great when you were a kid, and they still deliver today. To add some polish to a tried-and-true combo, take a cue from Ralph Lauren and layer a classic zip-up cardigan or a V-neck sweater with a crest over a collared white shirt and a tie. Avoid predictability and up the ante with some funky premium denim and the aforementioned sneakers.

  • Big Pony collection black zip-up cardigan, Ralph Lauren
  • Polo crest rugby sweater, Ralph Lauren
  • True Religion 'Joey Super T with Flap - Dark Wash' jeans
If anyone else has advice for my coworker, we'd both love to hear it! Leave your two cents in the comments.

Today's Outfit: Sunday Salsa

Today's outfit is brought to you by Sunday afternoon salsa at the Law Courts last week, and my friend S, who was kind enough to snap this pic while I was taking a water break in between dances.

  • Brown embellished skinny-cut tank (H&M)
  • Black shorts (Smart Set)
  • Gold leaf earrings (Claire's)
  • Ballroom shoes (Bloch)

'The Paper' Makes the Grade

Is it just me, or does it seem like nowadays celebrities get famous for the sake of being famous, and then do something somewhat useful with their lives? Apparently, having your own reality show or being a party girl is ample qualification for releasing an album, acting gigs, or designing your own clothing line. Meanwhile, talented artists and designers might struggle for years without a lucky break. The unfairness of it all is enough to make you cry.

MTV has long been a perpetrator in this vicious phenomenon, garnering attention for their reality show stars (e.g. the girls from The Hills, Jessica Simpson after Newlyweds) and providing them a launchpad for subsequent ventures. So imagine what a welcome break The Paper is from the rest of MTV's reality fluff. The Paper chronicles a year in the lives of kids working on an award-winning high school paper. The documentary crew deftly captures the in-fighting and clique-y mentalities that dominate, which makes for good drama on TV.

What impresses me most, however, is that these kids are smart and ambitious, and they know what they want. They put in long hours at the paper before heading home to complete assignments for AP courses. They worry about SAT scores and getting into college, and even whip out calculators to figure out their GPA around report card season. Of all the idiots they could idolize, they actually worship "superteen" Michael Jan, a fellow student and well-rounded overachiever.

The Paper hits closer to home for me than any other MTV show. I didn't go to high school with rich attractive white kids like those on Laguna Beach. I don't lead a lavish life like the ladies of The Hills. Cribs and My Super Sweet 16 depict lifestyles that are so far beyond my reach they might as well be Pluto. But I did go to an alternative high school with an enriched curriculum designed to challenge advanced students, and I do remember the clique mentalities, the competitiveness, and the stress over extracurriculars, transcripts, and university admission letters. The Paper is practically a trip down memory lane--albeit in a parallel universe.

The first season has just ended, but I hope the show picks up where it left off soon. In the meantime, you can catch full episodes online here if you're in the US, or here if you're in Canada.

Happy 250th Post!

It all started with a pair of green shoes.

Over a year ago, I was chatting with a friend about a pair of green canvas wedges I'd bought at Payless and searching for a picture of them. My search took me to Meg's (now defunct) beauty/fashion/pop culture blog Faking Good Breeding. I stole the image off her post and sent it onward, but not before reading her blog and thoroughly enjoying her writing. It wasn't long before I started reading other fashion blogs, and from there it seemed like a natural leap to start writing one of my own.

I know bloggers usually mark momentous occasions like their 100th or 200th post, but I missed those anniversaries because at the time, I was blogging on Live Spaces and Live Spaces doesn't keep count of how many posts you've done. (Damn them.) Instead, I've decided to celebrate my 250th post with a picture of the shoes that launched Solo Lisa y Nada Mas.

Eye Candy: Chanel Paper Dolls

I mentioned ages ago that I'd ordered a copy of Tom Tierney's Chanel Fashion Review paper doll book and promised scans of my favourite looks in an upcoming Eye Candy post. Well, after two and a half months, I've brushed the dust off my scanner and delivered on my promise.

The book was a brilliant purchase as a time capsule of Chanel's most notable vintage looks, but as an actual paper doll book, it wasn't that great. The dolls and outfits are printed on heavy paper that feels like a glossy lightweight cardboard--a very difficult material to cut, especially since some of the dolls have very fine details that you have to cut around. Also, none of the dolls or outfits are perforated, making cutting out the dolls and outfits without mutilating them even harder. In the end, I didn't want to ruin the book and the lovely captions detailing each outfit and left it alone. This book isn't just eye candy, though; the inside cover features a brief biography of Coco Chanel's life.

These are just some of my favourite looks in the book and what I love about them.

Details, details. The subtle white bow headband and chunky costume jewelry add interest to the head-to-toe white ensemble on the left. The outfit on the right is the iconic Chanel suit, but the oversized bow and two-toned pumps add extra flair.

Still stylish today. The black flower on the hip of the left outfit reminds me of Carrie Bradshaw's oversized silk flower corsages. The little ribbon tie on the right ensemble is a look that Sienna Miller and Sarah Jessica Parker have both sported.

Black dresses and pearls are timeless. Just look at the outfits below! Enough said.

Roots run deep. Chanel began her career as a milliner. This deep orange cloche hat with the pleated embellishment is so simple yet perfect, and is evidence of her humble beginnings.

Drop dead gorgeous. Chanel is best known for introducing the world to the LBD, but even she knew nothing stops admirers in their tracks like a jolt of jaw-dropping colour, as evidenced by this purple evening gown designed for Gloria Swanson.

A cinched waist. I love how full this coat is at the bottom. You just don't see high drama like this in coats anymore.

Cue the drool. I love everything about this outfit, period. I'd wear it in a heartbeat.


Today's Outfit: From the Office to Salsa

The power of layering never ceases to amaze me. Take this red dress, for instance. I bought this dress as a cheap colourful dress that I could wear out to clubs; hence the eye-catching colour and the low V-neck. With layers, however, it became a funky yet office-appropriate outfit that I could easily wear out salsa dancing after work. The white cami raises the neckline, while the brown jersey skirt layered beneath the dress adds fullness and length. I like how the layers heighten the interest level and depth of this dress, giving it an entirely different look.

Some detail shots for your viewing pleasure.

  • Red dress with turquoise sash (Mantique Outlet)
  • White cami (RW & Co)
  • Brown jersey skirt (from some boutique on W. 4th)
  • Red/turquoise bead shell earrings (from a little store on Granville Island)
  • Black flat sandals (Stitches)

NaCo Cool

Yesterday a reader, Serg Riva, left a comment encouraging me to write more about Latin pop culture and how I think it relates to fashion. To tell the truth, I'd never really thought about the two in relation to each other. Sure, I admired and envied the ease with which my Mexican ex-boyfriend's sisters could look feminine and sexy with minimal effort. On my trips to Mexico City, I surreptitiously checked out the graphic tees and laid-back cool of my ex and his friends. I've written about what I think epitomizes Latin girl chic during the summertime. On the whole though, I don't think I've let these two sides of my blog overlap much. Fashion is fashion, and my fervent interest in Latin pop culture falls into the "anything else that catches her fancy" category.

Serg's comments spurred some thoughts which are still percolating in my head, waiting for a more articulate moment in the sun. In the meantime, my more immediate thoughts jumped to NaCo brand T-shirts.

NaCo started off as the brainchild of two Latin art students in design school in Pasadena, California. The name of the company is a play on the Mexican slang word "naco," which is closest to something like "hick" or "white trash" in English. NaCo's founders wanted to re-appropriate the term "naco" and turn it into something positive: in their view, a naco is someone who is unabashedly himself and self-accepting, no matter how tasteless or low-class others think he is. The result? A collection of subversive, tongue-in-cheek graphic tees and a following among Latin entertainers such as Molotov, Cafe Tacuba, Juanes, Diego Luna, and Gael Garcia Bernal.

(Random shoes hanging off electric wires; how much more naco can you get?)

("Guey" is another bit of Mexican slang and sounds exactly like "way." Every time I've asked a Mexican guy what it means, he's had trouble giving me an exact definition. I consider it something close to "dude" in surfer-speak because it gets appended to the end of sentences randomly, almost reflexively.)

A quick look at the NaCo website instantly threw me into full-on Mexico nostalgia. Even NaCo's Spanish-language URL ( made me laugh: "Chido" is Mexican slang and means "awesome." When you see something really cool, you say "Que chido" or "Esta bien chido."

(Translation: "Being naco is awesome." Indeed.)

Some really chido links:

Luxe For Less: Anne Hathaway's Summery Look in 'The Devil Wears Prada'

About a month ago, I found a copy of The Devil Wears Prada on sale for $6 at HMV. (Bargain DVDs are such a great guilty pleasure.) Since then, I've watched it in English, in Spanish with Spanish subtitles to improve my aural comprehension, and with the audio commentary on. No matter how many times I watch the film, though, I fall in love with the fashion again and again.

In particular, I love the outfit Anne Hathaway wears during a frantic work-day sequence. She just looks so effortlessly chic. If her ensemble can hold up to a day of finding the unpublished Harry Potter manuscript, grabbing a takeout steak lunch from Smith & Wollensky, fetching coffee, running around in NYC summer heat, and non-stop panicked cell phone calls, it'll certainly carry you through a summer day of errands in style.

(Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada.)

Of course, we can't all afford Chanel sunglasses and Calvin Klein sundresses. I whipped up a Luxe For Less version of Hathaway's outfit with the help of Polyvore. However, one detail of my outfit is slightly different from Hathaway's: I traded in her gold pumps for flat gold sandals.

Tiered halter dress from Old Navy, $29.99
Isaac Mizrahi for Target 'Liz' gold gladiator sandals, $24.99
ASOS wood heart necklace, 8 pounds
Erica Weiner necklace from Urban Outfitters, $34
Gold bangle set from Alloy (price unknown)
Black sunglasses from Old Navy (price unknown)
ASOS four buckle wide belt, 12 pounds
Nine West 'Deco' quilted clutch, $75

As if this week hasn't been bad enough...

(Image from Andy Riley's Bunny Suicides comics.)

...I discovered that I've lost my ID inexplicably--it's not in my wallet, in my room, in any of my wristlets, anywhere. This is the cherry on top of The Week From Hell. At this point, I'm beyond the help of any lucky stars. Maybe rabbit's feet will help me, but I think even the bunnies are calling it quits and declaring me a lost cause. Just look at that little guy trying to decapitate himself with a DVD player! He knows it's true.

Old Navy Denim Pencil Skirt

Sometimes fashion is so focused on the next big thing--the little-known designer about to hit the stratosphere, the It bag of the season, or the hot trend in shoes--that it's easy to forget about the classic standby pieces upon which a wardrobe is built. Thankfully, Old Navy hasn't forgotten that fashionistas still need flattering, affordable basics they'll wear season after season. I can't wait to see what their New American Classics collection looks like in-store.

In the meantime, check out this great dark denim pencil skirt priced at $26.50. A bit of back story to explain my admiration of such a basic piece: Years ago, I found a knee-length asymmetrical hem skirt in dark wash denim in Chinatown for next to nothing. It has since formed the basis of many outfits. When it's cold, I wear it with tights or leggings and my black leather boots. When it's warm, I throw it on with a colourful tee and some strappy flat sandals. For going out, it looks great with a low-cut black top and some platform heels. Ah, the virtues of the humble knee-length denim skirt!

Lucky Stars

Oy, what a week it's been. On Tuesday, I got stepped on and kicked in the calf within 8 counts of music while salsa dancing. Thursday was the bad day to end all bad days, capped off by me falling, ruining my sandals, and bleeding through my skirt. Then today I find out from my guilt-ridden mother that she accidentally got stain remover on the brown pattern of that skirt, and it leached away some of the dye, leaving a faded yellowy spot on the pattern. She felt so bad about ruining the skirt she's given me money to buy a replacement skirt. I think I'm going to keep the skirt anyway because it's irreplaceable (I bought it in Mexico), and the damage isn't immediately noticeable. The money will go towards a trip I'm planning for October.

Given all that's happened to me this week, I need a couple more lucky stars shining over me. Until the universe gets its act together, I'll settle for the stars on these YSL star sandals.

YSL star sandals, 560 pounds

Prim and Pretty

Lace and chiffon, bows and ruffles...oh my! At less than $100 each, these demure dresses from Forever 21 and Bluefly are sure to set your inner Blair Waldorf aflutter while leaving your pocketbook intact. Warning: May induce Gossip Girl-style social scheming, as well as an extreme weakness for headbands and pearls.

Pinstriped minidress, $24.90

Simone chiffon dress, $27.90

Chiffon ensemble dress, $32.80

BCBG Max Azria white stretch poplin bib dress, $74.99

Sweetees camel crinkled chiffon 'Tina B' dress, $92


Today's Outfit: July 10, 2008

Today was one of the most frustrating days in recent memory for me. I won't go into too much detail, but it's getting close to deadline time. On top of that, I've had to deal with at least one unhelpful person, programs crashing or stalling, and the ordeal of T-shirt distribution for a pub crawl I've been helping organize. I felt drained by the frustration of little things building up all day. I went home a bit early and chose to walk, and that was when I fell.

Literally. The strong winds in the morning knocked some still-green horse chestnuts out of the trees, I stepped on one of them, and I fell. Hard enough to scrape my knee, scuff my sandals, and send my Coach purse flying. Hard enough for a woman slowing down at the intersection to ask me whether I was okay as I picked myself up and winced at the pain in my knee. I gingerly walked the next block to my house, holding my skirt up so I wouldn't bleed on it. Once inside, I dabbed at the blood spots with a Tide to Go pen and surveyed the scuffed toe of my sandal with dismay.

Methinks I should've stayed home today. But hey, I should look on the bright side. The pub crawl will be a roaring success and the T-shirts are selling like hotcakes. I didn't damage my Coach purse or my Chanel sunglasses, or do a face plant on the sidewalk. The fall didn't sprain my weak left ankle. Tomorrow will be another day, and I have the pub crawl to look forward to. In the meantime, I'm going to hide at home until this day is over with some tea and a good book.

  • Green military-inspired belted jacket (RW & Co)
  • Teal tank top (RW & Co)
  • Brown and beige floral skirt (from Mexico)
  • Blue cloisonne bead leverback earrings and necklace (a gift)
  • Now scuffed gold leather cork wedge sandals (Gap Kids)

Product Review: OPI Nail Lacquer

What with all the sandals and peep-toe shoes out there, pedicure season is upon us! I've resisted the idea of a pedi for the longest time, thinking that it was a high-maintenance bit of nonsense. Lately, however, seeing how much better pampered tootsies look in sandals has made me rethink my resistance, especially since my feet are in rough shape from dancing.

I deferred to the pedi advice of my friend Megan, who swears by home manis/pedis and trash TV as the ultimate relaxation therapy, and picked up a bottle of OPI Nail Lacquer in Rosy Future from a little makeup place on Robson for less than $9. I figured the shimmery light pink hue was pretty neutral and a good starter nail polish. I also bought a bottle of Revlon basecoat/topcoat, toe separators, and a pumice stone from London Drugs.

After the prep work, I got to the part that I was most excited about: applying the actual lacquer. The wide brush that OPI boasts is superior to standard brushes actually annoyed me. The nailbed on my toenails isn't that big and the brush fanned out too wide. I ended up getting lacquer on the skin around the nail. In fact, in the shower the next day, I was peeling little bits of pink off my toes to conceal my pedi skill deficiencies. The next time I do my toes, I'm going to have to use a lighter touch so the brush doesn't fan out as much. On the plus side, it worked a lot better on my fingernails, creating a smooth coat of colour.

I was also surprised at how sheer the colour was; it left a translucent hint of pink on my nails with the faintest bit of bluish shimmer. It took two coats before I noticed a distinct difference. This is good and bad: it doesn't stand out as much as a bright opaque shade, but when it eventually starts to peel, the peeling polish won't be as noticeable.

Overall, though, I'm pretty pleased with the polish's texture and hue, and a quick gander at all of the fun pretty colour collections on their website confirmed why OPI is the cream of the crop when it comes to nail polish. The bottle will last ages if it doesn't dry out first. I'm already contemplating the purchase of a second shade that's more opaque and distinctive, just to switch things up a bit. These are the winners from the current collections on the website, although seeing the collection of colours at that store again might make me pick a different colour entirely on a whim:
  • Sea Ya Later, Sailor! (Retro Fun in the Sun collection; a shimmery medium teal)
  • Charmed by a Snake (India collection; a shimmery bronze)
  • Brights Power (Mod about Brights collection; a bright orange)
Do you have any nail polish shades or brands you swear by? Please share your recommendations in the comments!

How Do You Wear It: Leaf Belt

It's time for another edition of How Do You Wear It! This time around, MizzJ and I are both creating outfits around this leaf belt ($29.99) from

With its blue hue and eye-catching leaf details, this patent belt is a whimsical riff on the wide statement belts we've seen a lot of lately. The leaf motif is straight out of nature, which reminds me of being outdoors, which reminds me that this is wedding season and many people are probably going to be attending wedding ceremonies or receptions outdoors. (Isn't free association wonderful?) So, my outfit is going to be a breezy ensemble for a guest at a casual West coast outdoor wedding in the afternoon, followed by an outdoor reception.

As a wedding guest who'll be spending a lot of time outdoors on a hot sunny day, the last thing you want to do is sweat profusely or fuss with a constricting outfit. I kept things simple and loose by pairing the belt with the flowy Vila dress from Oli. The silhouette is loose enough to disguise any belly bulge from overindulgence at the reception and lets you breathe, while the vertical lines elongate your body. Cinched over the dress, the blue leaf belt defines a narrow waistline and makes a distinctive accent piece.

Next, add some cute shoes and a wristlet. I chose these vintage yellow wedge sandals for their looks, comfort, and practicality. The straps are wide and soft-looking so they won't dig into your feet, and the wedge heel won't get stuck in the lawn during photo sessions. Also, as a salsa dancer, I appreciate how the ankle straps keep your feet in place while you're on the dance floor.

Wristlets are just large enough for some essentials but not so big that they'll be bothersome later in the evening. I went for a Coach wristlet ($48) with some gold accents to play off the warmth of the beige in the dress and the yellow in the heels.

When dressing for a big night out where you can expect to perspire (whether because of the weather or the dancing), I like to skip the statement necklaces. Instead, I prefer dangly statement earrings. These gold leaf-shaped filigree earrings again play off the warmth of the other pieces in the outfit, and echo the leaf motif of the belt.

Finally, I chose a black bolero cardigan to keep bare shoulders warm at night, and Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Mist Sunblock for some much-needed sun protection and refreshment. Share the sunblock with other guests at your table; they'll be grateful you were smart and sensible enough to bring it!

Update: MizzJ posted how she'd wear the green version of the leaf belt here.
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