Friday, November 29, 2013

What to Wear to Holiday Parties - 7 Outfit Ideas for Work, Cocktail, Family & Kids Parties!

As the holiday season approaches, I've found myself playing around in my closet, trying to figure out the best outfits for the different events I'll be attending. Since sharing inspiration is always a good thing - here are some of my outfit ideas for holiday parties!

Work Parties - Layering an interesting top (sequin tank/peplum) over your existing work outfit makes getting ready for a work party SUPER easy! Add in a statement necklace, intensify your makeup, and you're good to go!


Necklace - F21 / Shirt - H&M / Sequin top - Express (similar) / Skirt - J.Crew Factory (similar) / Heels - Target



Necklace - H&M / Shirt & Peplum - Smart Set / Heels - ZARA (similar)

Cocktail parties - Depending on the venue, you could dress warmly and add in a statement necklace to glam up your look OR you could wear a sparkly dress and cover up with warm outerwear (can you tell that being warm is SO important to me?). If you don't want to invest in a dress you'll only wear once, consider renting a dress. My sparkly one below is from Rent Frock Repeat (read about my rental experience here).



Dress - Smart Set / Necklace - ZARA / Booties - Old Navy (similar)


Dress - Badgley Mischka (in LOVE with this one) / Heels - ZARA (similar)

Family Parties - Skirts & Button-downs paired with cozy tights are an easy choice when you want to look pretty but not too dressed up.


Shirt - Garage / Skirt - Dynamite (similar) / Booties - Old Navy / Clutch - GAP (similar)


Shirt - Express / Necklaces - F21 / Skirt - Smart Set / Boots - Old Navy (this year's version here)

Kids parties - The difference between family parties and kids parties is that you'll probably be on your feet more (helping your kids enjoy various activities...cookie decorating, games & bouncy castles - fun stuff) so I paired this festive and glam sweater with my comfiest boots!




Scarf - Old / Sweater - H&M (similar) / Jeans - Garage (similar) / Boots - Old Navy (this year's version here)

 

Hope you liked my outfit ideas! Do you have any tried-and-tested Holiday Party Outfits?



Disclaimer - I purchased all of these outfits myself - although I used a gift card balance (from Spark Sessions) towards some of my Smart Set clothes. I had a promo code to use on my rental from Rent Frock Repeat (detailed in my original post here).

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Need a Stylish Best Friend? There's an APP for that!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of ANN INC. CAREERS for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

ANN INC. ( the company behind Ann Taylor and LOFT) want to help you put your "Best Foot Forward". They have recently launched the BFF app - a stylish source of inspiration, motivation and career advice. What more could you want from a virtual best friend?

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Feeling unmotivated? The mantra section provides "Fashion quotes, dates and wisdom" with gorgeous graphics and a cheerful color-scheme:



For people interested in a career in the fashion industry, there's a multitude of resources for you - from career advice and fashion news - to position you ahead of the game, to local internship and job postings with ANN INC. companies.


Of course, as a devoted Instagram user, my favorite feature is the Trendspotter. Just hashtag your best pictures with #bfftrends and you will be featured on the BFF app! Since Ann Taylor and LOFT have only been recently introduced in Canada, I haven't had the chance to go in-store and try on their clothes in person yet. However, I've been a fan of their aesthetic for years - admiring their famous crochet dresses and ruffle shells on many of the US-based bloggers I follow. I chose my most ladylike "ANN INC. - inspired" outfits and hashtagged them on instagram - and was SO excited to see them pop-up on the BFF App - check me out on the top row!


If you would like a Stylish Best Friend of your own - download the BFF app - it's completely free and available either on iTunes or Google Play.

(ANN INC. is represented by two of the leading women’s specialty retail fashion brands in North America: Ann Taylor and LOFT.)


 photo AnnInc_BFF_Banner_300x2501_zps9896a4d1.jpg


Visit Sponsor's Site

Friday, November 22, 2013

L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Butterfly Mascara - Win Your Own #ButterflyFX

This gorgeous package fluttered into my mailbox last month:

L'Oreal Paris Infallible Super Slim 12H Eyeliner

L'Oreal has introduced a new mascara to their ever-popular Voluminous line: Voluminous Butterfly. The unique flared brush resembles a butterfly's wing - with short bristles on one side to boost volume and length, and tapered bristles on the other to create a flared finish. The fiber-rich formula cocoons individual lashes to provide 6x more volume than regular mascaras.

L'Oreal Paris Infallible Super Liner Blackbuster
Up close (L-R): Voluminous Butterfly Mascara, Super Slim 12H Eyeliner & Super Liner Blackbuster

Along with the Voluminous Butterfly mascara, the package also included 2 Eyeliners: the Infallible Super Slim 12H Eyeliner - which features a tiny brush head that allows you to draw the thinnest lines EVER - and the Infallible Super Liner Blackbuster, a thick marker that easily applies bold lines.

We were also sent instructions for creating our own Butterfly eye looks - here's my attempt at the Flying Fluttery Look.


I've really enjoyed trying out this set of mascara and eyeliners. I'm especially in awe of the Infallible 12H Super Slim Eyeliner - it draws such pigmented and precise lines! I've been using it daily to draw a thin line above my lashes. It doesn't even look like I'm wearing eyeliner - but it leaves my lash line defined and gives the illusion of thicker lashes - which I of course supplement with multiple coats of Voluminous Butterfly mascara! In my experience, I found the mascara to be lengthening and super-long lasting, locking-in the look of curled lashes until I removed it at night.

If you are craving long, thick, flared-out lashes - you're in luck! I have 2 L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Butterfly Mascaras to give away to my Canadian Followers.

Here's how to enter:
  1. You must follow me on Twitter (click here) and Facebook (click here)
  2. Retweet this tweet
  3. Come back here and leave the following comment below: "I tweeted - my Twitter handle is ("@....") and my Facebook username is ("...")"
This contest is ONLY open to Canadian residents. If you're under 18, you must have your parents' permission to enter this contest.
Good Luck! This contest runs until  Friday, November 29. I will verify all the entries and use random.org to select a winner.

DISCLAIMER: I was sent these products by L'Oreal Paris. They will also be sending mascaras to 2 of my readers.

UPDATE

P.S. The winners of my L'Oreal #ButterflyFX contest are: @skyalive1976 and @kimsdharma. Please DM me on twitter with your mailing address!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Attending SPARK Sessions, Toronto's 1st Fashion & Beauty Blogger Conference

I spent an amazing weekend at SPARK Sessions, Toronto's first Fashion & Beauty Blogger conference.

With TOBeautyReviews, CrazyStyleLove, ChicDarling, DaintyGirl, RockThatLook, MyFashAvenue & SummerXSkin

I met SO many people - from bloggers I had admired from afar, to key PR and Brand representatives. With our shared passion for fashion and beauty, it was such a pleasure chatting with everyone!

Closing Keynote with LaineyGossip!!!

The panels were so comprehensive and informative. Top bloggers and industry insiders provided numerous tips to help navigate the constantly evolving world of blogging. Topics ranged from  'How to monetize your blog?' (banner ads, affiliate links & sponsored posts) and 'How to find a brand's PR contact?' (google "company name+press release") to unwritten rules, expectations and etiquette.


I really enjoyed the location and set-up of the event - there was a lot of attention to detail and everything looked so chic and glam. After the panels ended on the first day, the venue was transformed into "Speed-Dating" tables with Brands and PR companies - we got the opportunity to network and make valuable industry connections!


Almay (one of the title sponsors of the event) were SO generous - each attendee got to choose a makeup kit personalized just for them - including foundation, blush, mascara, eyeshadow and lipbalm. I'm already enamored with my Color + Care Liquid Lip Balm (in Just Plum) - and I can't wait to try the Smart Shade Blush (in Coral).


SMART SET (another event sponsor) challenged us to #StyleLikeSwag and create a look from their clothing racks. We uploaded our final looks to Instagram for the chance to win the outfit we styled (and a duplicate to give away to one of our followers!). I'm in love with the pieces I styled - especially the drape-front blouse and the sequined camisole top - they're both SO me!


We left the event with AMAZING gift bags - including jewelry, skincare, makeup AND giftcards to clothing stores. The swag bag alone more than covered the ticket cost of the event!

Here are my event OOTDs - wearing all-black is a rare occurrence for me, but since I ended up helping with registration at the event, I followed the volunteer dress code!

ZARA necklace, Old Navy Cardigan, Tights & Boots, Dynamite Lace Dress

Ily Couture Necklace (similar), Old Navy Sweater & Flats (similar), Garage Jeggings and GAP clutch (similar)

If you're in the Toronto area and looking for insider tips to take your blog to the next level, I would highly recommend attending this event - follow @sparksessions on twitter to be the first to find out about future events - tickets sold out early this year and it's not something you'd want to miss out on! And for ALL bloggers, scroll down the #sparksessions feed on twitter for tips that were livetweeted during the event - it's the next best thing to attending the event itself!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Accessories Haul - My Luxe Looks for Less!

When it comes to my clothing style, I splurge on a few classic pieces and save on the trendy & fun items. However, no matter what I buy, I'm always looking for good quality - cheap prices shouldn't automatically mean bad workmanship. Here are some trendy accessories I've purchased recently - they mimic the look of designer items for a fraction of the price!

Leopard Clutch & Leather Cuff:

Target Hermes Bracelet Cuff CDC Collier de Chien

Everyone's obsessed with the Clare Vivier Foldover Leopard Clutch - I love this GAP real leather option - especially for it's sale price of $30 (first noticed it thanks to Lilly). I don't think it's available online anymore, but here's a cute alternative for only $12 or wait for a promo code for Banana Republic's equally gorgeous but pricier version here (also seen on the lovely Noelle). The Navy Target Cuff ($12) is reminiscent of the Hermes CDC - without being an exact copy (although Target WAS selling the exact copies as well - pic here). 

Ankle Booties:

Old Navy Buckle Ankle Boots Old Navy Textured Short Zip Boots

I remember wearing ankle boots under my boot-cut jeans in college - and I had no desire to revisit that look. BUT the bootie trend has slowly grown on me - they look lovely worn with skinny jeans, cuffed boyfriend jeans and even dresses! I picked these 2 pairs up on sale at Old Navy for around $25 each: Buckle Ankle Boots (my friend Parveen pointed out that these are a dupe for Rag & Bone Harrow booties) and Textured Short Zip Boots.

Any long-term blog reader will know how much I love Old Navy shoes - they're trendy, comfortable and don't fall apart.  My cognac boots (featured frequently in outfit posts) are still going strong 3 years later. And their ballet flats are so chic yet feel like slippers!

Leopard & Nude Patent Heels:

Target Nude Patent Heels

One could argue that leopard heels and nude patent pumps have crossed over from trendy into classic territory - but since I don't wear heels that often, I preferred buying these shoes at Target rather than investing in more expensive options. Furthermore, something about Target's shoe design (especially their padded soles) make their shoes SO comfortable (unlike ZARA's shoes - which are beautiful but need lots of gel insoles!)

Lip Print Scarf:


Glossy lipstick prints have been an unexpected trend this season - I've seen this Forever21 sweatshirt and its designer counterpart by Markus Lupfer EVERYWHERE! This scarf by H&M is a more subtle graphic option - though I'll admit I was drawn in more by the grey and pink colorway than the 'lips' design. As we all know, I have a scarf addiction - and I couldn't leave this scarf behind! It comes in a more bold 'black with red lips' option too.

Have you picked up any Luxe-Looks-For-Less recently?

By the way - I'm a candidate for best Fashion Blog in the Canadian MIB awards - if you enjoy reading my blog, PLEASE take a second to vote for my blog here. Voting is SO simple, there's NO need to register, just click "vote for me" under my name. If you've voted already - THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

DISCLAIMER: I purchased all these items myself.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Has the Philips Epilator replaced all my other hair removal methods?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am 1 of 10 Canadian Beauty Bloggers chosen to be part of the 30 Day #PhilipsDaretoBare Challenge. I've had the Philips SatinPerfect Epilator for over 2 months now, and I'm ready to share my findings! The zones I targeted for testing the Philips SatinPerfect Epilator were: underarms, arms & legs. Here are my thoughts on using the Epilator versus my previous hair removal methods:


Emjoi Travel Epilator (old method) versus Philips SatinPerfect Epilator
Who wins? Philips SatinPerfect Epilator
Why? The Philips' Epilation surface area is MUCH bigger than the Emjoi - so hair removal was lightening fast (5 seconds rather than 20 seconds per side). Also, the Philips is cordless and rechargeable so its more powerful than the Emjoi (which uses pencil batteries).


Veet Easy to Use Wax Strips (old method) versus Philips SatinPerfect Epilator
Who Wins? Philips SatinPerfect Epilator
Why? Waxing is messy and sticky and leaves your skin feeling gummy. You also have to use a lot of strips to cover the whole arm area, so it can get expensive (around $8 per box). My arm hair is light and fine, the epilator is easily able to pick up the hair - leaving my arms soft and smooth. I probably need to go over each area 2-3 times to capture each hair, but it's a quick and simple process.


Venus Razor (old method) versus Philips SatinPerfect Epilator
Who Wins? Venus Razor
Why? My leg hairs are coarse and don't come out easily with the epilator - I went over my shins 5-6 times and STILL didn't manage to remove all the hairs. Also, epilating a large area (lower legs, knees, thighs) is SUCH a time-consuming process! I much prefer quickly going over my legs twice a week with a razor in the shower - it's fast, effective and I never have to worry about stubble!

General Thoughts
  • How do you use it? One shortfall I noticed (and mentioned in my feedback to Philips) was the inadequacy of the manual provided (lots of labeled technical drawings with only a few sentences, written in a multitude of languages). Luckily, the website features clear instructions and videos (view here). Rather than a vague "one-size fits all" insert for global distribution, Philips should consider producing a more detailed insert per country, as it may not occur to everyone that they should search for instructions online
  • Does it hurt?  The pain or discomfort you feel during epilation is dependent on factors such as your personal sensitivity level, coarseness of hair being removed, and speed at which hair is removed. I personally don't find the SatinPerfect Epilator painful because it is powerful and has a large epilation head which is able to cover large areas in a short amount of time. I feel a prickling at first, but after I've gone over an area once, it doesn't hurt at all.
  • Time it takes? This also depends on the coarseness of your hair as well as the zone you're covering. As posted above, epilating my arms and underarms was super-fast, but epilating my legs takes too much time and effort.
  • How long do you have to grow your hair before you can remove it? The rotating discs can remove hairs as small as 0.5mm - so you don't have to wait for much visible growth before you can epilate again.
  • Would I purchase it myself? Yes - 100%! I was in the market for something to replace my Emjoi underarm epilator - and am so pleased to have found something cordless yet so much more powerful and fast. Am also relieved that I no longer need to purchase cold wax strips for my arms...my hair removal process has gotten a lot more streamlined now!

Have you used an epilator before? Do you find it easy to use?



DISCLAIMER: Philips sent me the epilator to review so that I could share my experience with my readers. As always, the provision of products doesn't affect my reviews - my opinions are 100% my own!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ladies Who Brunch - What I Learned from Dr. Lisa Kellett

Everyone has their own comfort level when it comes to anti-aging skincare - from using injectables (botox and fillers) to applying medical-grade topicals or simply embracing the natural route - we all fall somewhere on the spectrum. For me personally, I combine advanced ingredients (such as retinol and glycolic acid) with facial exercise and massage. In the future, I may look into dermatological treatments such as microdermabrasion, chemical peels and/or laser treatments - but I stop short when it comes to injectables. That's just my personal choice - and everyone is entitled to choose what works for them!


From The Skiny Instagram with Helen Vong and Mehreen

To stay informed on the latest skincare products and ingredients, I follow The Skiny blog. Editor Helen Vong covers a wide range of topics from Sun Protective Clothing (am buying one of these hats before my beach holiday!) to decoding celeb-favored treatments such as IPL, I'm always learning and loving what I read. When Mehreen and I learned that Helen was hosting a Beauty Brunch in Yorkville, we RSVP'd in a heartbeat!

Gorgeous Venue - the Beauty Brunch was held at Dyne Restaurant
 
One of the reasons I wanted to attend this event was because of the opportunity to meet Dr. Lisa Kellett - she is one of Toronto's top dermatologists and has been featured on the Marilyn Denis show, etalk and the E! Network. I LOVED learning from her - Dr. Kellett is so approachable and easy to talk to. You can tell that she has such a passion for what she does, and for the dermatology industry in general.

Chatting with Dr. Kellett!!!

And now for the highlights of what I learned from Dr. Kellett:
  • The Holy Trinity of skincare we should be using: Retinols (Vitamin A), Antioxidants (Vitamin C) and Sunscreen!
  • Acne sufferers should use a sunscreen spray - spray on hands then pat over face.
  • Keep a stick SPF (such as a lip balm) in your bag at all times to use as emergency SPF - so you're never caught short without sunscreen! 
  • Don't forget to apply SPF to these areas: under eye area, neck, hands and chest.
  • Do not spot treat acne - apply treatment all over your face to prevent and treat blemishes.
  • Stem cells are the future of skincare - using your own collagen to regenerate your skin.

My question for Dr. Kellett: What topical treatment would you recommend for light acne scarring (looks more like enlarged pores than pitting)? Her answer: Retinols. My follow-up: Would Adapalene (a retinol derivative in my current skincare routine) be effective for this? Her answer: It is effective as long as it doesn't irritate your skin.

 Other Highlights from the Event:

Clockwise: With Louise, Stylish Mehreen and a spy pic of Mehreen's gorgeous arm candy!

  • Finally getting to meet Louise - we've been reading each others' blogs for a long time.
  • Hanging out with Mehreen - she's so much fun to talk to...beauty products, Youtubeland, marriage...we covered it all and could have kept going!
  • Registered Nurse Diana's response when asked about the right time to start treatments to prevent aging: When it bothers you enough to make a change - and for some people, that is never. Loved the supportive attitude towards everyone's skincare choices and decisions.
  • The generous gift bag featuring Dr. Kellett's skincare line. Especially excited about the sunscreen and the Vitamin C and Retinol Serums - thanks Helen!


What I wore:

Old Navy Dress, F21 Necklace, Old Navy Boots (this year's version), Balenciaga City Bag

Hope you enjoyed reading about my experience! I'm curious - what is your approach to anti-aging skincare?


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Shopaholic Tag, Monthly Must-Reads & Sparks Sessions Conference


Question of the month: Lots of questions because it's the SHOPAHOLIC TAG!!!

THE QUESTIONS:

1. Would you consider yourself a shopaholic?

Totally - when it comes to fashion/beauty items - I love shopping for myself and helping others too. My friends know that my eyes light up when I'm asked to recommend a product or to help them find an item. But when it comes to buying electronics (yawn) - I'm the one asking for help!

2. How would you classify your style?
I wear classic staples paired with cheap & cheerful trendy items. As long as I have a nice bag and comfortable shoes, I'm happy.

3. What store can you not leave without buying at least one thing?
H&M - they always have ONE thing that gets me - a fluffy scarf, a fitted button down or a sweater in that perfect shade of blush. Plus, their prices are so reasonable that there's no need for buyer's remorse.

4. Where do you find the best deals?
Usually online at GAP-Banana Republic-Old Navy...their sales/coupon codes/in-store return policies/quality make shopping there really worthwhile.

5. What designer are you willing to splurge for?
Not really a specific designer - but I tend to splurge on classic items that I'll wear a lot - such as my Alexander McQueen Skull Scarf and Hunter Boots. And of course I splurge on my beloved designer bags!

6. Do you have a "go to" shopping outfit?
Yes - skinny jeans, a camisole & a v-neck top plus shoes that are easy to slip in and out of. And sometimes a scarf - because if I'm not wearing one, I always end up purchasing a new one! 

7. What is your guilty pleasure? (Aside from make up)
Bags...necklaces...scarves!

8. What is one staple clothing piece you cannot live without?
Skinny jeans
 
9. What is a trend you hope never goes out of style?
Skinny jeans worn with knee-high boots.

10. A trend that you loved that passed way too quickly?
Skinny cargo pants (like these) - by the time I realized I liked them, most of the "fast-fashion" stores had stopped selling them - and I'm not going to spend $80+ on them. 

11. Who is your fashion icon?
I have a LOT - Kate Beckinsale, Kate Middleton, Lauren Conrad, Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow - the list goes on and on!

Recent OOTD showing a lot of my shopaholic loves - Old Navy...H&M...skinny jeans + knee-high boots! Speaking of shopping - I have to give a quick shoutout to the sweetest blog reader I met at the mall today - thanks for stopping to say hi and letting me know that you voted for my blog - you're lovely! It's funny that my MK Selma helped you figure out that it was me LOL!

Sweater: Old Navy, Shirt: H&M (similar), Jeans: Garage, Boots: Old Navy (this year's version)



By the way - I'm a candidate for best Fashion Blog in the Canadian MIB awards - if you enjoy reading my blog, PLEASE take a second to vote for my blog here. Voting is SO simple, there's NO need to register, just click "vote for me" under my name. If you've voted already - THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

 

SPARKS SESSIONS INFO:

If you're a Toronto-based fashion & beauty blogger, you'll WANT to attend Spark Sessions on November 16 & 17 for seminars on blogging and the opportunity to network with PR reps and other bloggers. I have my ticket and am very excited about this event especially because Lainey (from LaineyGossip, eTalk and The Social) will be the keynote speaker! To find out more about the event click here and buy tickets here. Event sponsors include Smart Set, Almay, Benefit Cosmetics and Charming Media.

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