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Friday, June 28, 2013

Nailed It

"I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick. I believe in pink." ~Audrey Hepburn

I've never been able to wear nail polish on my fingernails. Never. This has always made me unhappy. I can wear it on my toenails, no problem. But whenever I try it on my fingernails first the polish chips, then starts to peel, then the nails themselves chip and peel. When I go to take it off, my nails are also horribly dried out and I know from past experience that it'll take weeks for all this damage to grow out. So several years ago I simply gave up conventional polish. Completely.

Of course, on some shopping channel, or beauty store, there's always some new, fantabulous formula, GUARANATEED to make any nails grow and look beautiful- and I fall for it. I buy the new magical elixir and of course it never, never works. But I keep it. Takes me a good year to throw it out. Don't ask me why- I guess I just don't want to admit to myself that it's not working, and that leaving it in with my cosmetics isn't going to somehow, magically make it work. I never gave up hope.

Finally, FINALLY I've found a nail polish that I can wear on my nails. It's a 'natural' polish called Mineral Fusion (link below.) I've been wearing it now for a couple of months, so I'm quite sure about this. I put it on, it actually stays on my nails without chipping as much as conventional polish. That's right, it has more staying power than conventional polish- at least it does for me.  I cook every day, and seeing as how I don't have a maid I have pots and pans and dishes to wash. I'm not good at remembering to use my rubber gloves either, so my nails are exposed to harsh dish soap and water every single day. Yet they don't chip or peel, and when I take the Mineral Fusion polish off, my nails aren't chipped, or peeling, or dry. They're just fine. 

I did a little research and read that the chemicals in nail polish considered most likely to cause the kind of damage I experienced are formaldehyde (!) toluene and dibutyl phthalate. Mineral Fusion polish has none of those, and also doesn't have camphor. Maybe it's the toxic cocktail these ingredients make together, or maybe it's only one of these ingredients that cause all the problems for me- I don't know. I do know I feel better knowing I'm not putting that stuff on me anymore. And I can now wear nail polish. Sweet.

So now I own 8 colors- and growing. They have it all. Reds, oranges, pinks, purples, greens, blues- even yellow. Sheer, cream, glitter, metallic, opalescent, foil- I mean, they've got it ALL. (BTW- my experience with the 'foil finish' Rockin' Ruby is that it's matte. Maybe that's what 'foil finish' means-?) I'm a happy camper. I also like their acetone-free polish remover.  They're available at my local Whole Foods market- if they don't have a color I want, I can order it, no shipping charge. Or you can order from their site-

Mineral Fusion; Minerals on a mission

They have an entire line of natural cosmetics, skin and hair care too….uh-oh…..

Happy Shopping, and Happy Dressing!

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Pretty Little Addiction

“An over-indulgence of anything, even something as pure as water, can intoxicate”~ Criss Jami 

In the last few months I've become a bit of an addict. First it was Pinterest. For a while it was nonstop pinning for me- it's sorta like shopping for free. The upside was I didn't have to pay for or find a place to store anything I 'bought'; the downside was that of course I didn't actually have the items. But then it could be argued that I don't always inhabit reality as much as others do, so maybe that's not so important.

Since Pinterest I've focused my addictive attentions on Youtube- specifically makeup tutorials, mostly by pro MUA (make up artists.) If you're not that comfortable with makeup this is a fabulous way to learn. Tutorials are the next best thing to having a MUA do your makeup for you- you get to see exactly what they're doing, how they're doing it, and listen to them explain every aspect of it. And you can watch it over as many times as you want. 

Wayne Goss is one I keep coming back to, partly just for the sheer volume of videos he produces, mostly for his clear, simple explanation of technique.  I've searched for books by Mr. Goss, but I couldn't find any. Another that I love is Robert Jones, also for producing prolifically.  He has several books out.  Another great one is Pixiwoo- a lot of great, basic makeup techniques too. I adore Rae Morris, but she's not posted a whole lot of videos :-(  One channel that's great for new trends and news in fashion as well as makeup is the 'daily mix.'  There.That's enough to get you started. (I like to have company with my addictions.)

One thing I've noticed is that MUA constantly contradict one another- this technique is THE ONLY way to do this- everything else is crap. Often you'll see in their demonstration what they're talking about, and why. Yet another MUA will do it the 'crap' way, which of course according them is THE ONLY way to do it. The take away for me is that you pick and choose between all the techniques and find what works for you and fits in with whatever else you do. I think it's invaluable to see so clearly that there's no 'right' way of doing it. It's an art, and as such is totally subjective, and in the end it's only makeup, and you can wash it off it it doesn't work. In the process you learn tons, too. 

And with that, I'm off to look at reviews of makeup brushes on youtube….

Happy Dressing!

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Zen Traveler...

"I travel light. But not at the same speed." ~ Jarod Kintz
Yaaaay! It's vacation time!! Time to squeeze far too much in to an impossibly small bag(s), right? Wrong. 

I'm by no means what can be called a 'seasoned' traveler, but I've traveled enough to have learned the hard way how to pack for my needs. I always seem to wind up at the hotel that requires a long walk up a steep, windy road after a 10 hour flight, so I learned quickly to pare it down. Plus I'm way too cheap to pay for extra luggage on a flight. So I have learned The Magic Combination to packing for travel. It takes a little planning, but done right, you'll look impeccable your whole trip, and you'll still have an enviably small and neatly packed bag. 

First comes the simplest part. Pick a color to use as a 'base.' My guess is most of us will pick black- this 'base' color needs to go with everything else you'll pack, be good for casual and dressy, and not show dirt.  Pick whatever color works for you, but I can't think of a better color than black for our purposes here. On to part two.

Now it starts to get tricky; you need to pick basic pieces in fabrics that can be dressed up and dressed down, and in styles that are almost 'nondescript' enough to also be dressed up and down. As an example, a very plain pair of black pants, no embellishments, in the best quality, sturdy stretch knit fabric you can get your hands on.  In black, they go with everything- if they're very plain then you can wear them on your flight with sneakers and a comfy top, wash them out, and wear them out the next night, all dressed up. Add to this a very plain, good quality stretch knit skirt. It can work during the day with simple sandals and a casual top, and then go out at night with strappy stilettos, dressy top and sparkly jewelry. As with the pants, make sure you can wash it out in the sink and hang to dry- if it's synthetic it'll most likely dry in a very short time. To some, jeans seem like the go-to for casual dressing on a trip- but jeans aren't as versatile as our basic, black stretch knit options, and folded up they're a lot more likely to take up more space in a suitcase- and they're a lot heavier. If you go to wash your jeans out and hang them to dry they can take days to dry- I know, I've done it.  Ok, now add a plain, black jacket in a not too casual or too dressy fabric- better if this is free of embellishments as well- and fitted enough to be worn a little bit dressy. During the day, with the black knit pants and sandals or sneakers it's casual. Change to the skirt, add some nice pumps, and you're off to a business meeting. Change over to those strappy stilettos, skirt or pants, add a pin to the jacket, sparkly earrings and you're ready to go out at night. If you'll be going out at night a lot you might add a long skirt- like the other two pieces, good quality, very plain, thin black knit. Depending on the situation and other variables you may almost be able to pull this into a true 'evening' look. 

Take those three or four above pieces and add some personality with tops. Keep most of the tops in a thin fabric, and you'll still only take up a tiny amount of space in your bag. If they're synthetic you'll be able to wash them out in the sink, hang to dry and wear again in no time. Keep in mind that the plainer the tops the more you'll be able to dress up/down or change the personality of the outfit. 

What if you're traveling in the winter? If it's cold, see if you can get away with layering- often times 2 thin layers will work as well as a sweater. If that's not enough, pack a sweater or two- again, in as thin a fabric as possible, and preferably in styles and colors (again, black?) that are simple enough to be  versatile.  Also consider silk long underwear- they're very light, very thin, and may add that perfect layer of warmth.  If you just need more than this, add a dress or two- make sure these are also able to be dressed up or down- and the requisite thin, synthetic fabric if you want to make life easier for yourself.

And here's the part that makes all this stingy, minimalist packing work: the accessories. You can take any outfit in any direction with accessories. Shoes, jewelry, scarves, and even a few small bags- thin, or very flat. Start with your shoes- obviously, you'll still want to be a bit stingy here. If you get really good at this you'll be able to pare down the shoes to 4 pairs or so, wearing 1 of them (comfortable, walking shoes) on the flight. If you bring heels you might want to make them real 'personality' pieces. Or not. Depends on you and your plans. Bags can be bright, sparkly, colorful, chic- whatever makes you happy and makes a statement- just so long as they're light, thin and/or flat so they won't take up much space.The place to really cut loose is with your jewelry. It's small, and light, and can be the bulk of the personality of an outfit. (Well, that and makeup, right?) It doesn't need to be the good stuff- costume jewelry can be an excellent option here. Just keep in mind that the jewelry you take along needs to really have that personality because the clothes are so minimal. 

My experience was that, with a bit more or less accessories, when packing this way you can pack pretty much the same amount for a 5 day trip as for a month long trip. Of course, during a month long trip you might well get sick of your mini-wardrobe, but when it comes time to pack and haul your gear around you'll be glad. And if you have multiple destinations within that month you'll be really, really glad. 

Happy travels, and 
Happy Dressing!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Prepping for Battle

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.~Dwight D. Eisenhower

Summer is here, and I'm starting to make plans for what I'd like to accomplish over the season. It's high time I went through my closet and organized, so that's one of the bigger goodies on this list. (I'll also have to plan a reward for myself for after I'm done. Will probably need to involve alcohol and/or shopping in order to motivate me properly. The satisfaction of a job well done just won't cut it here.) (Hence the above quote about preparing for battle.)

While researching this I came across a website that I thought might be of interest to others-  This site has lots of fun stuff to buy- everything from wardrobe planners to podcasts and 'body type kits'- what looks like a pretty involved explanation of what works for- well, each body type. Of course this is a generalized approach and therefore doesn't take into account your specific proportions- for that, you can always hire me. :-) She also has what she calls 'shopping companions'- with either a warm palette or cool palette. Again, this is generalized- but all this info is fine if you're not interested in going into too much depth on the subject. The 'style planner' has pictures of actual clothes- I assume you'd have to take pictures yourself of your own clothes and glue them in-? Not sure about that part. I'm intrigued, nonetheless. Prices for individual items range from minimal to rather expensive. 

But the thing that first caught my eye was the outfit planning cards. I'm always going on about how everybody can look their best every day if they just take a few minutes the night before and plan out what they want to wear the next day, thus avoiding having to work this out while being in the throes of morning brain-fog-rush mode. Well, if you're like me and like old-fashioned, low-tech paper solutions, here's an easy way to plan it out; and there's the advantage of being able to save a particularly nice combination by saving that card, and you'll also know the last time you wore it by the date on it.  You can also plan out what makeup to wear as well, if you do that sort of thing.

You have options on how to use them, too- you can plan out each outfit the night before, or you could plan the whole week in advance. (Another website I saw advocates having a place to hang your entire outfits/accessories for the week- interesting idea.) If you're packing for a trip you can organize the entire trip in advance. Planning in advance gives you the chance to be sure the clothes and accessories are in good repair before you need them, too. That's a way to avoid some potentially nasty surprises. Don't want to be thinking you'll wear that special suit to that terribly important meeting only to find that the only shoes that work with said suit are out for repairs.  

Anyway, if you're not the sort to make your own wardrobe planning system, these outfit planning cards may be just the thing for you. And if you make it a habit to take the time to plan out what you're going to wear you're more likely to closer to 100% of your wardrobe rather than the usual 10%, too.  But you may need tools like these to help you get there. 

This could be the start of a beautiful friendship….between you and your wardrobe.

Happy Dressing!