Month: December 2010

The beauty aisle – holiday edition

Putting an outfit together for a holiday party is only one part of the equation. After all, it’s not just your clothes that have to look great – you do too. Parties (the more festive, the better) are a great opportunity to experiment with bolder make-up looks. Here are some of my favourites.
The babydoll look
The key is pink. Lots of it. For eyes, find a shade that complements your skin tone and doesn’t make you look like you have, well, pink-eye. The shade I use is a Benefit loose powder that looks pretty intense in the jar, but goes on fairly sheer. After applying your foundation, sweep on the shadow over the entire eyelid, stopping just above the crease. Then, using either black eyeshadow or black liner, line the upper lash line. You can draw the line outwards and upwards, but without doing an exaggerated cat’s eye – the look is supposed to be wide-eyed and innocent, not sexy.
[As an aside, I find that pencil liners are easiest to maneuver, but I hate having to sharpen them (the self-sharpening ones are never sharp enough). So I stick to using eyeshadow for liner, which requires a fairly deft hand; an angled eyeshadow brush helps, but I usually just use Q tips. Liquid liner is strictly for the advanced.]

Next, brush on two or three coats of black mascara. Apply a pink blush to the apples of the cheeks. You can go more intense with the blush for this look than you might for every day. Pink lip gloss (not lipstick) completes the look.

This look works well with flirty, girly frocks.

The smoky eye

This doesn’t  have to involve pounds of black eye makeup. There are lots of colours that can be used to create it, depending on skin tone, and the key is layering. For green eyes, I like using purples and chocolate browns; dark blue (navy or midnight blue) and grey can be good options for other eye colours. Pick shades that have similar undertones but are not the same, as this will create depth. 

My “3-minute smoky eye” is pretty basic: sweep the lighter shade across the entire eyelid up to the crease, blending upwards and out, then layer the darker shade on top close to the lash line. Use the dark shade to also line the bottom of the eye. Don’t be afraid to be more heavy-handed than usual – the look works better when it’s a little bit messy, rather than precise. Some people are wizards at lining their lower lash rims with liner or kohl, but for me the stuff tends to end up on my contacts and it’s altogether too much bother. When working with dark eyeshadow, be careful about flecks ending up on your cheeks – not a good look. Make-up professionals often dust extra translucent powder under the eyes to catch fly-away specks and then brush it off after everything else is done. A simpler approach is to place a napkin right under your eye while you’re working.

Because the eyes are the focal point for this look, I keep the rest pretty basic. A very light dusting of blush and some pale lipgloss. I love the “nude lip” look, but I find in works best on medium to darker skin tones – I tend to look more dead than sexy. So a light pink or caramel is a good alternative.

I love pairing the “smoky eye” look with anything that has a slightly retro, 60s or 70s vibe. It also looks great with any outfit that calls for a little edge – like a combo of sequin skirt and leather jacket. 

The classic

The basic approach is very similar to the “babydoll” look. Instead of pink shadow, go with a shade close to your natural complexion; you want a clean, almost-no-make-up feel. Highlight the brow bone and the inner corners of the eyes with an even lighter, shimmery shadow, then pile on the liner. Here is where you can really perfect your cat’s-eye manoeuvre. Then, of course, add the mandatory two (or three) coats of mascara. 

Finish off with some blush (not too heavy) and – the pièce de résistance – red lipstick. The key is precision. Ideally, use a lip liner to line the contours of the lip, then go over the entire lip to create a base. Then pick a red lipstick that suits your complexion (I’m wearing MAC’s Lady Bug). I don’t really have any tips for that except … try, try, and try some more on, until you find one that doesn’t make you feel like a clown. [Of course, if you’re already comfortable wearing red lipstick, this will be a breeze for you.] After applying the lipstick, blot with a tissue, wait and then re-apply. This will help give the lipstick staying power. Some people also (lightly) blot their lips with powder before applying lipstick for the second time, but it’s really up to you. The reality of red lipstick is that you will probably need to do a mirror-check and re-apply at some point in the evening anyway.

This kind of classic look work well with almost anything, but I love pairing it with equally classic, elegant dresses. 

Got a style question? Contact me at or on Facebook.

The magnificent obsession

Those who have been following this blog for a while know of my obsession with this fall’s Prada bow belt. It’s been turning up in fashion spreads since the summer, and is still going strong – inspiring lust in fashion editors (judging by November’s Glamour) and regular folks alike. Here it is, gracing the pages of August’s Vogue in one of my favourite spreads of the year:
I thought I came as close to getting the Prada “look” as my budget would allow a few months back with a Hilfiger belt; it was tomato red (not lipstick red) and the bow was much wider and flatter, but it was definitely cute … and versatile. However, as much as I loved my belt, it was not so much a sibling of the Prada as a third cousin twice removed. But, as luck would have it, I think I stumbled onto a much closer relative at Holt Renfrew yesterday. Check it out:

Admittedly, this did set me back twice as much as the Hilfiger model ($45 versus $19) but it’s still a fraction of the price of the Prada. For anyone interested, it also comes in black, plum and dark teal.

‘Tis the season

… for office holiday parties and all kinds of other festivities. Which begs the question: what dress are you going to wear? 
With a plethora of choices out there, how does one even begin to pick? Years of watching What Not To Wear and its many reality-TV cousins have taught me that there dresses out there for every body shape … and that shiny satin favours no one.
Pear shapes look great in dresses that highlight their slim upper bodies and flow right over the hips – usually anything with nipped in waist and a flare skirt. Strapless dresses are also great (provided you are comfortable with bare shoulders and arms) because they serve to make shoulders look broader, which balances out the lower half of the body. Of course, people with already broad shoulders may need to give them a pass.

Talbots US$209

H&M CDN$40

Hourglass shapes really shine in 50s style wiggle dresses. In fact, it’s the body type that truly does justice to that style – just think of Marilyn Monroe. If you want something less overtly sexy, pretty much any style can work as long as there is some structure and the waist is emphasized. Any dress that is too shapeless will just add (visual) weight to the body frame.
BCBG sequin dress, US$348

BCBG asymmetrical dress, US$218
Apple shapes look smashing in empire-waist dresses, but it’s important to make sure that the fabric sits close to body from the band under the breasts all the way down – avoid the “pregnant” look of fabric that puffs up and out. For smaller busts, an A-line shift dress can also look fab.
BCBG tiered dress, US$248

J. Crew, US$79.99

Slim/straight shapes can look good in many things (just look at most of the models walking the runways), including things that other people might avoid – like bubble skirts and body-con dresses that emphasize curves, or tank dresses that emphasize a slim line and mile-long legs.

Ricki’s CDN$99


So … what will you wear this holiday season?