Month: June 2010


I keep seeing stories about how leopard print is going to be the next big pattern trend come fall. Can anyone confirm? I am a little surprised by this because it doesn’t seem like that long ago that animal prints were “big”, but perhaps my memory fails me. Or perhaps fashion’s ‘recycle’ function is set on “rapid” at the moment.
Anyway, leopard print. Yes or No?
It’s a “yes” for me. Done right, leopard print isn’t at all tacky and, in fact, can be quite sophisticated. It’s a fine line, though, and it pays to toe it carefully, lest you find yourself in Courgarville. My thoughts are: stay away from head-to-toe leopard, and anything that too too closely resembles an actual animal, and you should be fine.

How to wear leopard? Well … the July issue of Harper’s Bazaar suggests that mixing animal spots with floral patterns is very “in”. I was skeptical, so I decided to give it a try. 

I am still skeptical.

But maybe I’m just mixing the wrong patterns here. 

What do you think?

The beauty aisle

In my early twenties, I was something of a beauty product junkie. My two greatest weaknesses were eye-shadows [so many pretty colours!] and face creams [Oh, laboratory studies show 150% wrinkle reduction! Sciency!]. Reminders of those bygone days still lurk under my bathroom sink, incurable pack rat that I am. However, with age, my obsession has mellowed; I’ve finally figured out what (legitimately) works for me and what doesn’t. Nowadays, I can fast-forward through the back third of magazines and can safely walk by (and into) Sephora — although I’m still a sucker for brightly-coloured eye-shadows.

Here are some of my favourite things:
1) ROC cleansing milk and toner. An important turning point for me was realizing that one’s face-cleansing routine is more important than the cream one slaps on. Now, I splurge a bit on my cleansing products and save on my no-name brand cream. I’ve always washed my face before going to bed, but it wasn’t until I finally found a toner that worked for my dry/sensitive skin that my routine was complete. I used to be afraid of toner because I thought it would be too harsh for my skin, but I was pleasantly surprised when I finally tried it. The toner takes away the last bits of make-up that the regular cleanser leaves behind, and it really helps to keep the blemishes at bay. I was really sad when Shoppers Drugmart stopped stocking the ‘blue’ ROC skin toner (specifically for dry/sensitive skin), but I’ve found that the ‘pink’ version (regular skin) works relatively well too (and it is on permanent “sale” for under $10). 

2) Mineral powder foundation. For years, I was a devoted liquid make-up fan. I never wore a lot, but even so, I started to notice that, as I got older, my face would break out more and more under my foundation. I had always stayed away from powder foundations because I was afraid that they would be too drying. However, I eventually decided to hitch a ride on the mineral powder bandwagon … and never looked back. I find it much easier to apply (and control the degree of coverage) and my skins feels a lot less gunky. 
3) YSL Touche d’Eclat. Look, there is a reason why practically every model who is ever interviewed about her make-up bag mentions this little highlighting pen. It costs an arm and a leg, but it is amazing. Dab a little at the inner corners of your eyes, and you will look as dewy and well-rested as an 18-year-old Russian model. Or something pretty close. Another trick is to highlight the little dip in your cupid’s bow — makes the lips appear fuller. The more you know …
4) Rose oil. This is a godsend for cuticles in a place where the weather tends to alternate between ‘cold and dry’ and …  ‘colder and drier’. I keep some at home and some at my office; it can do things no hand cream will ever do.

5) Essie nail polish. It is, hands down (pun intended), the best nail polish I’ve tried. It dries quickly to a glossy, shiny finish and it doesn’t leave a yellow tint on your nails afterward. Their top coat is also a thing of wonder — it delivers on its slogan  as “the fastest drying top coat”. The colours are great; some of my favourites are Mod Squad (the perfect pink), Rose Bowl (a cool, non-tomato red), and Sole Mate (a vampy but not trampy plum).

6) L’Oreal lipglosses. I’m a lipgloss girl; lipstick is usually too intimidating. L’Oreal is owned by the same company as Lancome, which means that you can get practically the same product for half the price. So, if you don’t want to spend $20 on a Juicy Tube, consider some Colour Juice Sheer Juicy Lipgloss. My personal favourites are the Glam Shine (sparkly) and Colour Riche (non-sparkly, grown-up version) lines of lipglosses. 

7) Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Miracle Cream. Basically, this is a luxe version of Vaseline. Except even goopier. It moisturizes like a mo-fo, although it’s way too thick to be used as a regular moisturizer. I’ve heard that frequent Trans-Atlantic flyers (i.e. those models again) use it to avoid the effects of prolonged exposure to dry cabin air, but I find it quite handy for Alberta winters. I use it mostly on my lips and forehead, but it also helps with “flu-nose”. You know, the dry, red, flaky skin around your nostrils after a week-long tango with the flu.

Stay tuned for part two … and feel free to share your tips in the comments!

The style directory pt. 2

This week’s installment is all about dressing for the office. If there is any topic about which I might be said to know a thing or two, it’s this one. I spend most of my time in an office, after all. [And, yes, that was a depressing realization – figuring out that I don’t need to qualify that statement in any way. Sigh.] First up:
The Conservative Office
There is no getting around it. The suit. Yes, there are still some places where a suit is the only acceptable uniform. Hopefully, your office is not one of them. At the start of my career, I had to wear a suit every day. For over a year. By the end, I was ready to burn each and every one of my suits. All I can say about suit-buying is that, as difficult as it might be at times (especially for people just starting out), you should always buy the best quality that you can afford. Listen, just between you and me, there was a time when I bought the $49 special at Suzy Shier; fresh out of school and making the not-so-big bucks, that seemed like the only viable option. Sure, budget-wise it made sense, but boy-oh-boy did I pay for it in other ways. It isn’t so much that a cheap (women’s) suit necessarily looks terrible – they don’t always – but they don’t feel all that great, especially after a while. Suit pants, in particular, were the worst for me – all that unlined polyester – shudder!
Luckily, no one has to suffer like I did. At Winners, you can now regularly find Calvin Klein and Teenflo suits starting at around $100 (and less on clearance). I’m especially fond of Teenflo jackets because I find them perfectly tailored for my waist – great for avoiding the ‘boxy’ look. It is always worthwhile to buy suits in classic colours – black, grey, and navy (either solid colours or subtle pinstripes) – because they will be more versatile in the long run and because they are more appropriate for a conservative office than, say, fire-engine red. Personally, I’m not a big fan of brown suits; I prefer olive/khaki, which is particularly flattering for fair complexions.

Having burnt all my traditional suits (see above), I can’t offer you any visual inspiration. I would add only this: have fun with your accessories. Unless you work in an office where peep-toes is scandalous (oh, I have), shoes are a nice way to still feel just a little ‘Carrie Bradshaw’ even at your most conservative.

The Contemporary Office
Here, you are not a slave to the suit. You can exercise some creativity in mixing and matching your separates (or your suit pieces), subject to the very basic rule of “nothing too short, nothing too low cut, nothing too tight, nothing too sheer”. You can pair a fun top with more conservative pieces, and replace the suit jacket with a cardigan. I have to admit, I’m really partial to this look, mostly because I find cardigans a lot less constricting to wear than jackets. Also — so many options!

  The key piece is a black pencil skirt, flattering on almost all
body types. It can anchor any number of outfits. Total cost: $140
The Creative Office
This poses its own difficulties. Sure, on one hand, you are not tied down by too many rules, and you can probably get away with wearing some version of “business casual” (hello, jeans!). On the other hand, you probably don’t want to be seen schlepping around in any old thing. This is one place where you can take a risk with your work attire – colours, accessories, silhouettes, everything (but maybe not all at once). If you go the opposite way, and opt for an all-black look, then it’s important to pick the best fabrics and the best cuts; black can conceal a lot of flaws, but not those in quality and/or construction – it will, in fact, accentuate them. Again, I love colour, so my pick should not surprise you:

 There is a whole lotta “bold” happening here, so you can always go with more
discreet accessories if you’re not a ‘statement necklace’ person. Total cost: $114.
The Casual Office
Here, the pressure is off, right? Well … maybe not. Here’s my “two cents”: Lululemon, no matter how comfortable, is not office-appropriate attire. Unless you work at a gym. Even at the most laid-back office, make the extra effort and put on some jeans. Or a skirt. Or pants. Anything but ‘yoga pants’, really.

The key piece is the sweater — so cozy — to balance out
the skinny jean. Total cost: $167

Next time … dressing for a night out.