Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

I had the good luck this year to make a quick trip to the US to see family just before Halloween, which is one of my favorite holidays. I haven't had a reason to put on a costume in years, so this year, when my sister decided we should do the Minnesota Monster Dash 5K, I was all in.  My sister went as jazzy death, I as the dead girl from Goldfinger (inspired by this post, no less). Although I wouldn't do the 10 mile or half marathon in body paint, it was just fine for a 5K. Turns out, gold lamé spandex is a lot more sports friendly than one might think (those 80s glam rock metal bands knew something we didn't). Also turns out, I do not make a good blonde.

We capped off our highly sophisticated evening with a round of zombie paintball at the Trail of Terror Festival.  Because one can never be overly-prepared for the apocalypse.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Styling Statement Glasses

Once again, I'm pleased to be working with the good people at, this time helping them showcase a few of the styles from their Holliday Collection which will be launching next week. As I am inclined to do, I selected a few styles that would probably be considered statement glasses; they have a definite point of view and a very nerd-chic, retro feel to them.

As with any statement pair of frames, to really balance the look, you have to think about the whole package. After all, a pair of heavy, wayfarer-style frames such as these Dean Wayfarers (above) look a whole lot different paired with an old sweatsuit (shudder) than they do with a thoughtfully put together ensemble. The good news is that you likely already have things in your closet that you can put together to create the look you want. Really, it's all about balance when dealing with heavy frames.  A strong pair like the Dean Wayfarer looks great paired with strong, simple pieces with a bit of feminine flair. As we hurl ourselves into the festive season, this is a great strategy that will really set you apart from all of the cocktail dresses, lurex and sequins that start to appear at this time of year.

I also couldn't resist these Jet Setter brow line specs (below). The retro style reminds me of the assistant principal of my junior high school, who was your classic relic from the 1950s and still wore the same buzz-cut, short sleeved dress shirt, skinny tie, and brow line specs he likely was wearing thirty years prior. I think that on a woman, these glasses have a strong yet flattering effect; they sort of imitate a thick swath of black liquid liner across the top of your eyelid without the effort or margin for error.

While this is still a strong look, it is less so than with the slightly heavier Dean, and therefore it makes a great pairing with a softer, more girly look. The frames are perfect to add just the right amount of edge and masculinity to keep a sweet dress from becoming too saccharine, yet they don't overpower the face in the process.  So if you're a gal who is drawn to florals, ruffles and lace, you can still rock a pair of retro statement glasses during the upcoming party season. Again, it's all about the balance.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Blanket Scarf

Okay, so these things are everywhere right now. Looking at a street style blog from one of the Fashion Week shows, one could easily think that maybe the photograph was taken in Bolivia, what for all the hats and blanket scarves worn as ponchos floating about the place. I suppose it didn't hurt that Burberry pulled a pretty slick marketing Coup d'Etat when they gave a personalised version of their Heritage blanket scarf to every single model and celebrity in the known universe. Whatever you may think about blanket scarves, it is a trend, and therefore we should probably talk about it.

As trends go, you could do a lot worse (one word: overalls). It's comfy, cozy, and pretty easy to wear. I say pretty easy, because as effortless as it may look to see someone sort of nonchalantly swaddled in an oversized wrap, there can be a bit of fuss involved. High winds, other people...there are things around you that can pretty easily make your look come unhinged. You also have to give a little thought to what you put underneath so that you don't completely obliterate your figure, as this is a trend that adds bulk. I went with a shorts look, which is a bit out of character (the last time I wore tights with shorts I was about 18), mostly because it is unseasonably warm right now. Turns out I kind of liked it. The shorts, that is. And the scarf.

From my extensive field research which involved standing in front of the mirror outside the bedroom for like, five minutes, I have decided that there are three main ways to wear this look. Loose, wrapped, and belted. Belted gives your figure the most love, but can be fussy. Loose is certainly easy, unless its windy. Wrapped is probably the most effortlessly elegant, but can look overdressed if you aren't careful.

So much to think about. So very much. What are your thoughts? Yea or Nay? Discuss.

See? I'm already fussing with it. 

Next scarf (last season), similar / Neiman Marcus cashmere turtleneck (old), similar / David Tate boots (old),  similar / Forever 21 shorts (old), similar / rose gold bangle (old), similar / rose gold and topaz ring (old), similar

This post has been happily shared with Mis Papelicos' Share In Style

Blanket statement

Friday, October 24, 2014

Xtreme Antlers, Korn Bands, & The Other Perils of Blogging

Last week I went into the blog's spam folder to see if I could tidy things up a bit, and I was shocked to find I had over 6,000 entries. So I guess it's working. At first, I was just blindly deleting them, but after a while, unable to help myself, I started reading them. Then I started enjoying them; there is some seriously good material in there.  So without further delay and for your weekend amusement, I bring you highlights from the Highland Fashionista spam folder.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The 10-Step Skincare Routine

If you're like me, right now you're saying "I'm many steps!?" And you would be right. Ten steps is way, waaaaaay too many steps for a skincare routine. It's exactly seven or eight too many, in my opinion. And that is exactly why I am totally going to do it.

Earlier this week I stumbled-upon some articles from this past summer about Charlotte Cho, who has turned her lifelong obsession with beauty products into a business in which she brings a carefully-selected edit of Korean beauty products to the masses. Korean beauty products are supposedly light years ahead of the rest of the world (it was the Koreans who brought us BB creams, although I would argue that they are really next-generation tinted moisturisers, but I digress). Apparently in Korea, the ritual of skincare is engrained in everyone from a very early age, from intricate cleansing methods to so much layering of products it's unclear to me how any one of them will work.

You can read about the Korean skincare routine in Elle, Lucky, or Into the Gloss, among other places.

While I am usually very good about taking care of my skin, I'm not obsessive-compulsive about it (I often bring just the bare minimum when travelling as to avoid spillage and hassle).  I'm hoping that this little experiment has enough of a positive result to make me stick to a routine. Especially sunscreen. Athough I apply it religiously when I'm in a sunny place, I rarely wear it when I'm at home. Because Scotland.

So here is the alleged magic routine:
  1. Cleanse - using an oil-based cleanser, remove all eye makeup, lipstick, basically everything.
  2. Cleanse again - this time using a foam cleanser that doesn't strip the oils from the face. Apparently this 2-step cleansing is one of the hallmarks of the Korean routine. 
  3. Exfoliate - but maybe not every single day. You can decide how much is good for you but from what I've read, twice a month is what is recommended. I do more than that now, so this will be interesting. 
  4. Refresh - This is the "toner" step. I've never really been into toners, because historically, they are always so drying. Apparently I am missing out, as a lot of really great skin-communicating ingredients can be absorbed at this step. The Korean toners are supposedly less drying than their western counterparts.  That said, I do have an expensive toner that I've been "ageing" in my medicine cabinet, so I'm ready to go on that front.
  5. The Essence - Okay, this step sounds very Harry Potter doesn't it? Like Ralph Fiennes is going show up one day in my bathroom and cast a spell on me that will tighten my pores (porous constrictus!)...maybe that's why Valdemort has no nose...because his pores shrunk so much the whole structure of his nose just sort of disappeared. Just a theory. I will use a serum in place of this until I can get my "essence" on. 
  6. The Ampoule - Apparently an ampoule is a concentrated essence. So if Valdemort dipped his wand in espresso (or maybe meth) before tightening my pores, this would be it. Basically it's a night serum. Note to self: get night serum. 
  7. The Sheet Mask - This you use twice a week. A sheet mask is what I am wearing in the photo above, even though I didn't know that's what it was until yesterday when I read the articles. I ordered some contact lens cases online and they came from Korea, and they threw these under eye sheet masks in with my cases. I was afraid to try them until the day I read the article. They look like the stuff we put on burn victims at work. That said, the eye masks work, although the benefits are short-lived. The good news is they look hilarious. I can't wait to get one for my whole face and sneak up on my husband. 
  8. Eye Cream - patted-in. I don't use eye cream, because I've read numerous articles that tell me that it doesn't work any differently than a normal moisturiser. So I'm technically going to blend steps 8 and 9, although I promise to pay due diligence to my eye area.
  9. Moisturizer - Yes. Again. I know, right!?
  10. Night Cream - I imagine at this point I will be feeling like that woman who was found dead on the bed in Goldfinger, dripping in gold paint. 

Anyway, that's the plan. I've decided to use mostly products I have, and introduce new ones one at a time as and when so that I can tell what works and what doesn't. Wish me luck. I'm going to give it a few months, so we'll meet back here after the holidays, okay? Okay.  And now, as much as it pains me, here is the makeup-free selfie that will serve as the control group for the experiment. Please minimise your screens now.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


I was recently contacted by Maria, who asked me if I would be willing to review this David Emanuel Butterfly Print Dress from Bonmarché. As those of you who follow fashion will already know, David Emanuel is the Welsh fashion designer who co-designed Princess Diana's Wedding Dress back in 1981.  He has had a long and varied career and his ready-to-wear line has been available at Bonmarché since 2007.

Bonmarché is the largest UK retailer that caters to mature women...not to be confused with the American department store Bon Marché, which I believe was absorbed by Macys years ago. Back in the day I did a brief stint at the latter as a seasonal hire for the men's fragrance department. As a result of that gig, I can name just about any men's fragrance circa 1997 with a mere sniff, and from a distance of no less than 10 feet. I actually consider myself somewhat of an expert on the subject. My advice? If you or someone you love wears Joop for men, wear less. Seriously. Less.

But I digress. Back to the dress. When I opened the box, I didn't think it had a lot of hanger appeal, despite my love of all things printed and colourful. That said, jersey knits often don't have a lot of hanger appeal, and jersey is exactly what this dress is made of. My hanger appeal concerns were laid to rest once I put the dress on my body. The dress fit absolutely perfectly, and the fabric is of an excellent quality; heavy enough to not show lumps and bumps, yet soft and drapey enough to create a body conscious silhouette without being overly tight. This dress is supremely comfortable, and I would go so far as to say you could even wear this on a long-haul flight, be completely comfortable, and hit the ground looking chic and ready to go.

David Emanuel dress / Dune booties (old), similar

Friday, October 17, 2014

Some Required Reading

There were quite a few interesting bits and bobs around the fashion industry's slice of the internet this week, but perhaps none more so that this NPR interview with Joanna Coles, Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine. In it, she shoots-down the (often unspoken) assertion that women cannot possibly talk openly about fashion or sex and expect to be taken seriously. I've always found that type of double-standard to be complete bollocks, and it's nice to see someone in a high-ranking position in the fashion industry echo the sentiment so eloquently. Here's the link, in case you missed it. 

After all, it wasn't that long ago that for us members of the gentler sex *snicker*, the mediascape of our lot in life was a whole lot different.

Yes. Blow in her face. Go on, try it. See what happens.

And that last one. How in the blue blazes was that ever ok!?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Himself Steps Out for Jacamo

Meet Ronnie. Ronnie is my husband, and that's Fergus in the background, who you've likely met from one of the many photobombs he has provided for the blog . A few weeks ago, I was speaking to a representative for some of the UK clothing brands that I collaborate with, and in the course of the conversation she told me she was looking for a few men to trial some items from one of the retailers she represents, and wanted to know if my husband would be interested. I put the question to my husband, not thinking for a minute that he would say yes. He said yes. And so with no further delay, I give you his internet debut.

Ronnie was asked to trial this pair of Label J Lace-Up Brogues from Jacamo, a UK internet retailer with a huge variety of menswear on their website, as well as sports clothing, accessories, and even a selection of home and electrical goods.  This was a very fitting road-test for him, as he is notoriously hard on his shoes. Wearing through the soles of shoes, ripping a hole where the leather meets the sole, scuffs, tears, water name it, it is a part of the tapestry of life for the members of his shoe closet.

I'll admit I was a bit dubious about the white contrast soles on these shoes, but when he opened the box, my concerns evaporated. The white sole gives them a more casual look which is perfect for day to day wear. Ronnie also wanted me to tell you that they are really comfortable, soft, and the leather feels like it is of good quality. I can corroborate this claim, as the shoes both look and feel like they may even be able to withstand Ronnie's shoe tough love. Time will tell.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fully Autumnated

I look suspicious here, don't I? Like I gave you my ice cream cone to hold while I posed for the picture, but didn't trust you not to eat it. Our cat looks at us like this when we change something in the house or move a piece of furniture. It's a look that says, "J'accuse!"

Today I decided that since Sacramento over at Mis Papelicos is hosting her Bloggers Sharing Style linkup with a print theme, I would try to take one of my favourite printed items and try to bring it along into more of a fall look. So here it is....the botanical tunic. Ta-Daaa!

This tunic was actually marketed as a dress, which makes me laugh hysterically. This is only a dress if you're about 5'5" or under, and even then, I think it would be a bit....gynecological, to say the least. Lets get real here. This is a tunic, last seen here. I love this print; slightly Asian, slightly tribal, slightly menacing (all those pointy bits!), it's got a little something for everyone. I've always sort of categorised this as a summer piece in my wardrobe, although I don't really see why. It's super easy to layer this up and make it more autumn appropriate. Paired with jeans and boots, the print is so strong you don't really need to do anything. It's ideal, really. The whole not doing anything bit, I mean.

Zara dress tunic (last season), similar / Mango "Electra" jeans / Nine West boots (old), similar / H&M scarf (old), similar

Make it happen

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Why You Should Always Check

Turns out, sometimes a little hyper vigilance is a good thing. I never thought I'd say that, let alone write it. Our entire lives, we women are constantly being told to engage in a series of checks: visible panty lines, whether appliances have been turned off, whether someone is loitering in the shadows of the car park, whether you are wearing clean underwear in case there's an accident...the list is exhaustive and if you're like me, you realise at a certain point that such exercises are absolutely pointless and immediately stop giving a crap.

That said, every once in a while that little voice in your head tells you that you should just pay a wee bit more attention to something. That's the voice you actually need to listen to - that's the universe calling. That's the instinctive voice, as opposed to the hyper-anxious, socially-dictated one. Like when that little voice in your head tells you that even though you've been away at the conference for two days and really want to crack on with the 3 1/2 hour drive back home through the highlands before it gets dark, you really should stop in at that TK Maxx you saw downtown, just in case there's something good.  You're tired and hungry from the conference where the food was rubbish and earlier they made you play with a Mr. Potatohead doll for a full hour (no, not kidding), but you do it anyway, because the voice says you should.

And that is how you come away with a £5 pair of Gerard Darel corduroy trousers that fit like a dream. All the things that work on your body are there: flat front, bootcut leg, a long inseam, and just the right length to wear with heels. You can make a groovy 70s-inspired look out of these without even trying. If fact, you can make it by pairing it with the exact same silk shirt you wore to the conference.

Thanks voice.

Gerard Darel corduroy trousers, similar / St. John silk shirt via eBay, similar / Sofft shoes (old), similar

Make it Happen

Sunday, October 5, 2014

We Cougars Love Animal Print

This is a Michael Kors dress that I recently found on Ebay. I was overjoyed to find it, as I remember seeing it in the stores ages ago (at least 7-10 years maybe?) and being drawn to it, but thinking at the time that it might just be a bit too much. Bright orange, tiered, zebra-striped. Too much!? Ah, the folly of youth. 

Continuing with the animal print theme established last week, I am reminded of the time I was on vacation in Mexico with my husband. We were staying at one of these adults-only resorts (and you can get your minds of the gutter...not one of those kinds of places....just a resort with no kids). It was a lovely place, and about halfway through the week a group of late twenty-something (?) friends arrived at the pool, shattering the serenity of the environment with their spring break-like approach to vacationing. It was apparent that although these were not college students, they had not yet successfully made the full transition to adulthood that gives one the capacity to read one's environment. They were an interesting mix of midwestern friendliness mixed with frat party obnoxiousness, and upon chatting at the pool bar one day, one of the women in the group took great interest in my husband's Scottish accent and wanted to know how we ended up together. 

A barrage of overly-personal questions followed (considering we had only been talking for two minutes and didn't even know each other's names), and it was pretty clear to us that this woman was trying to figure out if I was a kept woman or not. You could practically see the thought bubble over her head. In her romanticised version of Scotland, the one from the Harlequin romances that must have made up a great deal of her formative reading curriculum, Himself was a rich Scotsman and I was squired-away on some estate somewhere, wearing tweed and instructing the servants where I would like to take my tea. We did what any well-mannered citizens of the world would do. We played her. 

While giving the (somewhat embellished) account of how we met and married, we let it drop that I was older than my husband (I am). We joked that I was a cougar, and we all had a laugh, although you could see her mentally typing-up the last pages of her script of our lives in her head; cougar marries younger rich Scotsman and settles for a life as The Lady of the Manor. For the record, I am a little over two years older than my husband. 

For days afterwards, I would feel her eyes on me at the pool, looking at my hair, my body... she was trying to quantify my age and worth before turning to her group of friends for consultation.  I always made sure I had on at least one expensive-looking (looking) piece of jewellery for these little performances. I may have even referred to my husband as "Lord MacKillop" once or twice, I'm not sure. One day, I had on a very in-character animal print bikini (hey, it was on sale) and I overheard her say to her friends, "why do they always wear animal print?"

Because cougars always wear animal print. 

I suppose some people might find this stuff upsetting, but the writer in me loves it when this kind of thing happens. This stuff is comedy gold. 
And then The Scotsman grabbed Her Ladyship around the waist, pulled her to him, inhaling her lavender scent, and whispered in her ear, "Aye lass, you're a daughter of Scotland now. Whit's fer ye'll no go by ye."
And then he ripped her bodice. Of course he did. 

Michael Kors dress via Ebay / H&M shoes (last season), similar

Escape to a land where no means yes