Friday, January 30, 2015

The Fairisle Rip-Off Artist

It wasn't until after I put this look together and was headed outside to shoot some pictures that I realised how very J. Crew it is. It's almost as if I forced my way into the company's headquarters, raided the samples cupboard, thumped Jenna Lyons over the head, and stole her glasses.  But then I suppose there's a reason why the retailer is so popular. Under Lyons' tutelage, the brand has become quite adept at knowing exactly how so many of us want to dress; it's that preppy classic mixed with something a bit irreverent look...that look that illustrates our ongoing attempt to achieve that ever-elusive "effortless" vibe you always hear so much about.

I should point out here that the only piece that I am actually wearing that is from said retailer is the chambray shirt. The rest is all stuff I had lurking in my closet. I suppose that kind of accessibility is exactly what's great about this type of look. You can achieve a look like this for a whole lot less than it's being sold to us for by mainstream retailers. I make no apologies for being a rip-off artist. Jazz musicians quote other musicians when they take a solo, painters learn the techniques of the masters, and fashion designers get schooled in the work of those who came before. That's just how it works. I suppose you could take it one step further and argue that there is no true originality in fashion, or art in general for that matter - only derivation and evolution.

Am I getting carried away? Sorry. You probably clicked on this link to look at some clothes, and now you've been sucked into a discussion about the herd-animal nature of human creativity, and really all you wanted was to enjoy your latte and have a wee internet browse, and now you're left wringing your hands and wondering WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN!?

My bad. 

thrifted fairisle cardigan, similar / J. Crew chambray shirt / Durango harness boots (old), similar, similar / mother of pearl ring (old), similar / frames / Max Studio skirt (old), similar

Monday, January 26, 2015

The K-Beauty Trials: Mask Edition

Back in October, you may remember I decided to give the 10-step Korean skincare routine a try.  If you're unfamiliar with what I'm talking about here, take a minute to click on the link and have a read. It's interesting stuff if you're into beauty and skin. And you're here, so you must be.

Anyway, it was my intention to re-evaluate the effects of my experiment after a few months and assess how it has improved my skin. As it turns out, I have been enjoying the process of trying these Korean beauty (called K-beauty on the net) products and techniques so much that I am still playing with them. So while I have definitely seen a noticeable improvement in my skin, whether it be because of the 10 steps (okay, more like six or seven in my case) or just the newfound due diligence to maintenance, I'm not quite ready to end the experiment just yet. I'm still having too much fun playing with this stuff.

There are quite a lot of places you can go to try K-beauty products on the net. I'm a fan of Memebox, where you can order up specially-edited theme boxes of products to try. Soko Glam is also a good resource, and I find the reviews especially helpful. If you know of a specific product that you want to try, you'd also probably be surprised by how many K-beauty products you can find on good ol' standbys Ebay and Amazon.

That brings me to today's topic - masks. Historically, I have not really put a lot of stock in masks; their claylike finishes always seem so drying and the drama of wearing one always seems to far exceed the results. To me, they have always seemed a bit of a parlour trick. But these Korean masks are lovely. Sure, some of them are still claylike (I suppose they have to stick on somehow), but many, if not most of them are not only quite effective at (temporarily) plumping things up, they're actually quite relaxing to wear. Sure, there's still a bit of an element of the parlour trick to them (especially the sheet masks...the ones that look like something out of a Friday the 13th movie), but it's a fun parlour trick, and one that encourages you to just sit and be quiet for a few minutes, which can't be a bad thing.

Here are four masks (ok, technically three and one scrub that you can leave on for a while) that have caught my fancy do far.

Malie Green Tea Ultra Hydrating Essence Mask

Granted, this one might be a little hard to find. I got mine in a sampler box of masks, and was expecting just another run of the mill cool, gloopy sheet mask experience. While it did meet my expectations for coolness and gloopiness (they all do), it surprised me in that it felt so. darn. good. This mask had a relaxing, soothing quality that I was not expecting, and it left my skin hydrated and rosy. Yes please.

If you want to track this one down, you can find lots of K-beauty sellers on Ebay.

Purederm Kiwi Yogurt Pack

This mask has the consistency, and the smell, of the carton of yogurt you may have eaten at breakfast. While it is not as thick in consistency as other masks, it's cooling, refreshing, and you can leave it on and not have to worry about it sliding off. I leave this one on while I do household tasks and whatnot, sometimes forgetting about it for almost an hour. No harm done. Your skin soaks it in, and it's left feeling as soft as a baby's butt. Plus, it smells so good.

This is another one that I got in the mask sampler box, so again, it is kind of hard to pin down. Again, look to Ebay for international sellers. There are plenty to choose from, and the prices are fair.
Banila Co. Claypatra Salt Mineral Clay Pack

This is a hybrid mask that blends a clay mask with a very fine salt scrub. When I saw this one, I figured it would be too drying for my skin, but I was wrong. The salt granules are super fine, and the mask leaves your face feeling soft and hydrated.

Get it here, or on Ebay.

Skin Food Black Sugar Wash Off Mask

The black sugar granules in this leave-on scrub are quite large, so those with sensitive skin might find the exfoliating quality a bit much, but I found that I could get around this by adding a bit more water to the scrub (which you have to do anyway to get it to spread easily on the face). The best part of this scrub? The smell; like a caipirhina without the threat of a hangover. This one migrates a bit, so it's best done when you can be still for the time you wish to leave it on, or you'll find the granules working their way into the corners of your mouth. It won't kill you, but it definitely smells better than it tastes.

Get it here or here.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cruising with Kaleidoscope

I am so very exited to review this dress by UK retailer Kaleidoscope I almost don't know where to start. So I'll start with the thing that one always starts with when one lives in Scotland - the weather.

It's so bad. I mean, it's, Armageddon bad. I was hoping for an outdoor shoot to highlight this lovely dress, but that is just not going to happen any time soon. As soon as I finish this post, I'm heading back to the living room to resume construction on my ark (anyone know where I might find a pair of nesting Eurasian Spoonbills?)

It is exactly this type of weather, at exactly this time of year that sends the inhabitants of the Isle of Great Britain scampering off in droves to find some sun. We emerge from the aircraft on the shores of Florida, Mexico, and the Canary Islands shielding our eyes from the sun and hissing at everything for the first day or so, until our vitamin A-deprived eyes have had time to adjust.

While we may not be able to see very well (at first), it doesn't really matter. Before we left, we took advantage of the Kaleidoscope Cruisewear Collection. We know we look good.

I selected this Embroidered Mirror Dress to review. Admittedly, at first I was a bit wary of ordering something in white. I always feel a bit vulnerable in white (Red wine! Marinara! Panty lines!). I needn't have worried. The dress is beautifully made, fully-lined, light as a feather, and has a bit of stretch about it so a gal can move about freely. This dress also has the ability to be dressed up or down; flats, a sun hat, Kaleidoscope's Short Beaded Necklace, and a cross-body bag for sightseeing, or a pair of heels and some sunny gold bling to show off that holiday tan for an evening out. Perfect whether you're cruising, boozing, or just hanging' around looking awesome.

Well, we're 99.9% sure we look awesome. Our eyes haven't quite adjusted yet...

Kaleidoscope embroidered mirror dress (as above) / Kaleidoscope short beaded necklace (as above) / vintage coach bag, similar / River Island flat sandals (old), similar / Elie Tahari gold open toe pumps (old), similar / sea life bracelet, similar / sun hat (old), similar / Ray-Ban Jackie Ohh Sunglasses

Visit the Kaleidoscope Cruisewear Collection for more exciting options!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Batwing Returns


Nobody loves a slouchy, cozy cashmere sweater as much as I do, and all the better if it's a super-thrifty find. This tomato-red cashmere batwing (or kimono sleeve, I suppose) sweater was a secondhand find, and I'm loving the shape, feel, and slightly 80's bent to it.

The jewel tone, the mock neck, banded bottom, and batwing sleeves...they're all things that if you're not careful, could easily make you look like you are going for the full Alexis Carrington. Which might be fun for a day if you could also go around throwing an Alexis amount of shade at everyone who crossed your path. That would be fun. Especially in conjunction with the 80's hair. Anyway, I like to pair something this slouchy (okay, potentially shapeless) with something sleek, so I chose a black mini I found at H&M last year on the £5 rack. It's really quite a nice piece; it's fully lined and has an Aztec print in matte sequins. Oddly, I hardly ever wear it (I definitely need to wear it's kind of awesome). Speaking of awesome, between the sweater and skirt, I think I spend a total of £25 on those two pieces. Niiiiice.

With a piece like this, a look can quickly appear dated if you're not careful. Generally, I try not to overdo it with the accoutrements. Too many accessories on a piece like this, and you're a cast member from Falcon's Crest. For the sake of the photos, I wore a pair of oval gold hoops, a long station necklace, and a gold cuff. Almost immediately after the photos, I lost the necklace. I am fastidious about taking one thing off before venturing out.

I also detest a matchy-matchy approach of lip colour that matches a garment, and I always wear a nude lip when I am wearing a bright colour - especially red. I love the way red looks against a nude lip and smoky bronze or grey eye. That (along with my usual under-styled hair) keeps things from looking overwrought, and gives it a bit of a modern, unfinished vibe. At least, I think so.

thrifted cashmere batwing sweater, similar / H&M skirt (last season), similar / Nine West boots (old), similar / thrifted necklace, similar / thrifted cuff, similar / 14k oval hoop earrings (old), similar 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Accepting the Challenge

Admit it. You're harbouring a secret desire to wear some gold sequinned pants. The first thing you need to know is that it's okay. Just about everyone has these urges once in a while. You are not alone.

It's kind of like when someone offers you that last glass of wine. You know it's probably not the best idea, you know you're not seventeen any more and theoretically you shouldn't, but somehow, it just, so you think to yourself, "screw it...I'm having that." Sometimes, things should just be fun, don't you think? A pair of gold sequinned pants is nothing if not fun.

These are actually legging-type trousers that I found on sale at H&M. As a matter of principle, I hate leggings, but I thought that these sort of read as trousers due to the relative thickness of the sequinned material. That, and I bought them in a size larger than I wear so they wouldn't be super skin-tight, giving them more of a cigarette pant appeal. I decided that they needed to be classed-up a bit, so I paired it with a classic structured wool jacket and crisp white blouse, although equally I could see myself wearing these with a big wool sweater and some Converse sneakers.

The other reason that I decided to be brave was the price. I mean, for £15, you can afford to accept the challenge of the gold sequinned pant. In fact, for something as crazy as this, I would say that £15 is probably about right.

H&M trousers / Stuart Weitzman pumps / Lilly Pulitzer button-down (old), similar / Giorgio Armani wool jacket (old), similar / gold plated ring (old), similar

Can't get enough bling? Check out This Week's Picks

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Modani Winter White

The folks at modern furniture retailer are hosting a blogger challenge which involves putting together a mood board that captures one's sense of style. The challenge: to create your ideal modern living room. Of course I'm going to have a go at this - I'm a list maker, so mood boards and wish lists and whatnot are right up my alley.

This particular offering would be my perfect modern living room for a crisp winter's day...if I didn't own a bearded collie and have such a penchant for red wine. And coffee. And then spilling said red wine and coffee.

I chose to use this beautiful sofa from their Modern Sofa Collection because I have a bit of a thing for an austere, cleanly-designed piece of furniture. I have always lived in small(ish) spaces, and a simple, clean, and modern aesthetic really makes the most of a small space. A sofa that is elevated on legs (as this one is) also leaves a bit of negative space around it, giving the illusion of more space in the room. This is a great trick if you are trying to kit-out a small apartment, it really works!

Modani Winter White

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Cozy Sweater Layers

Man, it's cold out here. Are you guys cold? I'm totally freezing. That's why I'm wearing not one but two sweaters. Or jumpers, as they call them over here. To me, a jumper is one of those one-piece dresses that you have to wear another shirt underneath. Whatever you want to call it, I have on two of them.

Every magazine on the planet does a "sweater dressing" piece or two when the fall and winter collections roll out, and I always look forward to them. Up here in the Highlands, you can wear knitwear pretty much year round. I tend to look to secondhand outlets like Ebay and thrift stores for mine. As I've said many times before, the quality of both high street and high end knitwear has taken such an incredible nosedive I actually find myself getting angry when I'm shopping for knitwear anywhere else.

I found this one on Ebay. It's 100% soft Merino, and it's my go-to schlumping-around sweater, although It's still presentable enough to be able to make a look out of. I think you last saw this sweater here.  Underneath it I'm wearing a sleeveless cabled cashmere turtleneck, last seen here.

Not exactly high art, sure...but it still looks like you put some thought into it, even if you're just going to run back inside and drink lattes and wash dirty socks and whatnot.

Merino sweater via Ebay, similar / Neiman Marcus sleeveless cashmere turtleneck (old), similar / Tamaris boots / Jones New York skirt (old), similar / oval gold hoop earrings (old), similar / gold plated ring (old), similar

Make it happen.