Friday, December 27, 2013

My search for the perfect cognac colored boots

Did you know that the "it" color in boots the past year or so has been cognac?  I hadn't either.  In fact, I think it's been replaced already by a burgundy/wine color.  Oh well, so I'm a little behind the times.  I just got the "cognac-itch" this fall.  I fell in love with the rich, buttery color.  And I have so many black boots that I thought a change would be good. So I set out to find "my" cognac boot.

The Chinese Laundry Spring Street boot was the first one I ordered from Zappos.  I liked it, but I was hoping to find one with a little more pizazz, and maybe a little taller shaft. So I returned them.  I tried on several other cognac color boots, and each had some problem that made them go in the reject pile.  Being too small was the most frequent problem, since I have "large" calves right now.  Having had skinny calves my whole life, I never realized how hard it was for women with larger calves to find nice, affordable knee-high boots.  It takes A LOT of time searching!  Ultimately I decided to buy the Spring Street boots again.  The leather is thin, so they're not going to keep you warm in frigid temperatures, and there were some small flaws in the leather.  But they're cute, comfortable, big enough that you can wear warm socks underneath, and the flaws were on the inside of the boot, so I figured that no one will see them.  And when I bought them the 2nd time, they were on sale!

Chinese Laundry's Spring Street boot

Chinese Laundry Spring Street
In addition to the cognac color, I've also been in love with boots that have the silver or gold strip around the heel and/or toe (not big enough to be a cap on the toe, just a little strip).  I found these great boots from Yellow Box that had both.  I love the cognac color of these, and the gold strips give them that extra zing that makes them oh so sharp.  They're pretty comfortable, too.  These were around 80.00 on Zappos, so they're not absolutely perfect quality-wise, but they're close enough for me.

One of the boots that I put in the "maybe" category were the Flash boots by Chinese Laundry.  They are nice and tall, they come up to my knee and I'm a little over 5' 8".  They're sturdy and thick, so they'll keep my legs warm.  The leather is so thick that it feels like faux leather, for some reason.  They do have a nice sole - not as thin as many boots, but not a lug sole, either.  They would be the perfect boot, if it weren't for the plastic they lined the inside with.  Yes, plastic! About 3" of the inner top of the boot is lined with plastic.  Like most Chinese Laundry boots, these don't have a zipper.  So if you try to wear them without stocking, leggings, or tights, the plastic suctions onto your skin and it's a MAJOR ordeal to get the boots off.  And if you want to fold the top over, too bad, because the plastic looks ugly.  I haven't decided for certain if I'm going to keep these for that reason.

Chinese Laundry's Flash boot

With these two (or three) boots, I'm satisfied. I've got my cognac color in an ankle boot and a tall boot.  I would like to get a wine colored boot, too, but that will have to wait until next fall.
Did you buy any new boots this year?  If so, what did you get?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas, everyone!

For those of you who observe Christmas.  Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope that you have a good day.  For many of us, it's no easy thing.  First off, the pressure to have a "perfect" family holiday is immense.  The Christmas movies, the commercials, what you imagine everyone else is doing...  the influences are everywhere.  Try to break free of those images and stereotypes.  Your family might suck.  You may not have much family, or may not have one at all.  You may not have anywhere at all to go on Christmas Day.  I've been there.  The best thing I learned was that I could have a nice Christmas Day all by myself.  I spent one Christmas alone, walking on the beach along the Pacific ocean.  It was a gray day, and chilly on the beach, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I grew up in a poor blue-collar family and never, EVER would have imagined that one Christmas I'd be living in Southern California by the beach.  (If only that reality could have lasted, but that's another story.)
This year I'm experiencing another difficult kind of Christmas - my first since my father died from cancer a few months ago.  I am fortunate, somewhat, that we lived a few hundred miles apart, so I didn't see him every Christmas. At least there wasn't an every year routine that will be different this year.  But no matter where I was living, there was always at the least a card in the mail with some money or a gift card, and a Christmas Day phone call.  And there was always the knowledge that he was there.  Anytime I wanted to talk, I could.  And many years we were together for Christmas.  So this year, there's nothing.  No card, no call, just an empty hole where I used to have a father.  I've been trying not to think of it too much, and I've been doing good most days.  Focusing on the things that I like to do does help.
I hope all of you are having or have had a good day.  If you happen to be having one of those not-so-good Holidays, remember that you're not alone, and that it will get easier, and things always change.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Last minute gift ideas - eye shadow palettes

If you have anyone on your list that likes wearing and playing with make up, an eye shadow palette might be a great gift.  I know I'd love to get one.  Some of the most popular, especially among young women, are from MAC and Urban Decay.  (Yes, I know that it's getting late and gifts ordered online may not get to you by Christmas, but if I really wanted something, I'd be happy to get it late, or for another holiday that doesn't fall on the 25th of December.  And if you order from MAC, you can enter the code NEXT at checkout and get free next day shipping on their web site (see below for link).)

MAC makes theirs available sometimes only in limited edition (for example their Holiday palettes, this year named Divine Night), but they also have some permanent 4 color palettes, and there is always the option to create custom palettes (my preference).
The cover of MAC's holiday palettes
Urban Decay has a few large palettes, some are limited edition, but most are permanent.  Among their most popular are the Naked palettes.  There are 3 of them now, and each one showcases neutral colors. I just broke down and bought the newest one, Naked3.  It has pinkish-beige colors, for the most part, and I've always been fond of those.  They also have a Smokey palette, which looks very nice.  There is also Vice2, a fairly new limited edition palette with a lot of color in it.

Colors from the Naked 3 palette
This palette is called the "Fun palette" on Urban Decay's web site
The fun palette is smaller with just 6 colors, but it's also cheaper than the bigger one!
The case of the Vice 2 palette is beautiful itself
The shadows in the Vice2 palette
MAC palettes are available on their web site and at MAC stores, and the Holiday palettes are also at Nordstrom and Macy's stores.  Urban Decay's palettes are available on their web site, as well as Sephora.  Sephora typically carries a large selection of make up palettes from various brands.  Whatever you choose, I'm sure the recipient will be very happy.

Friday, December 20, 2013

New NARS lip crayon swatches /photos

If you're looking for some stocking stuffers or office gifts, lip crayons are great for make- up lovers or someone who only wears lipstick.  They're easy to use, and something about the crayon design makes them more fun to use.  I've done a few posts about some of the NARS and Urban Decay ones that I have, but it's been awhile, so I thought I'd add a few more.
First, it's important to know that NARS makes theirs in 3 different finishes.  The first is matte velvet, the next is satin, and the last is velvet gloss.  The mattes are the most opaque with the driest finish, the glosses are the sheerest with the most glossy finish (you'd never have guessed), and the satins are in-between.  The first picture I have is of a satin finish pencil named Rikugien.

These next photos are of a matte pencil named Damned.  I layered it over a lip pencil (MAC's Vino) of a similar color.  I like to use a lip pencil when I'm using a dark colored lipstick.  It gives me a sharper, more accurate outline.

Last, I used NAR's Train Bleu over MAC's Night Moth lip pencil.  I had lip balm on when I started, which is why it looks glossy.  It is NOT GLOSSY, it's a matte pencil.  Without the lip balm, it would look like the finish of the Damned above.

I've got a few others that I haven't written about yet, mostly nudes.  I'll get those on here soon.  But these give you a few ideas for presents if you need them.  More gift ideas are coming, too!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What kind of make up should you wear to holiday parties?

There isn't a simple answer to that question.  It depends on the kind of party (work, friends, family), what kind of person you are in general, and what you're wearing.  I have a few suggestions.  Note that New Year's Eve parties are sometimes much fancier than other parties and therefore make up can be amped up a little more for those.

If you don't normally wear make up, you should keep it light for a party.  A pretty lipstick, some mascara, and if you still need more, a tiny bit of glitter on your eye lids.  One of my current favorites for glittery eyes is MAC's pressed pigments.  They give a little glitter but not giant chunks.  If you want more you can add more than one layer of the shadow.  It looks very sparkly in these photos, especially the blue.  But on the eye the blue is actually less sparkly than the gray-purple.  The dark color of the shadow seems to override the sparkle.

MAC Pressed Pigments in Black Grape and Midnight

MAC Black Grape pigment

If you're wearing black, consider a bold lip.  Bright and dark colors look very sophisticated with a black
outfit.  If you do this, keep the rest of your face, including your eye make-up, minimal.  The general idea is that one feature on your face should stand out (we didn't seem to know this in the 1980's). I know a lot of women are afraid to wear red lipstick. They're afraid it will look too trashy, too sexy, just too much.  I know how you feel, I used to be the same way.  But if done right, red lips look classy.  Think Chanel No. 5.  If you're nervous, wear a matte red lipstick.  A glossy red lip can look sexy depending on the rest of your make-up, your hair, and your outfit.  Sometimes sexy is good, sometimes not.  Also there's the option of wearing dark lipstick instead of red.  There are a lot of dark plums and berries being sold now, and they look fabulous.

Ignore my fleece shirt and pretend that I'm wearing a black cocktail dress. Don't those dark lips look good?
If it's going to be dark in the room, consider a smokey eye.  The dark eye shadow actually makes your eyes a little more visible in the dim light.

No matter what make up you choose to wear, there are a few things I believe you must do if you're planning to stay awhile, especially if you'll be drinking.

1.  Wear primer on your eyes and under your foundation/base (or whatever you wear on your face).  Your make-up will look fresh even if you're not.

2.  Wear water-resistant or waterproof eye liner and mascara.  If you cry or your eyes water, this will save you from looking like a raccoon.

3.  Wear long-wearing lip pencil, lipstick, or both.  Or wear a nude color.

4.  Apply powder or a spray (i.e.: Urban Decay's De-slick) to set your make-up so it doesn't fade.  You should especially do this if your skin is oily.

Why are these musts?  Nothing makes you look crappy like smudged, smeared make-up when the lights come back up.  Especially if you're drunk.

So go forth, look beautiful, and have a good time!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Clearance sale at Steve Madden

If you're a fan of Steve Madden shoes, this is a great time to check out the clearance items on their web site.  Most of the shoes are sandals, but there are a few boots on there, too.  There are some gorgeous sandals on sale.  Most of them are high-heeled, and the smaller sizes seem to be the most abundant.  There are 9 pages of items, so there are a lot to choose from.  Even better, there's an extra 25% off when you enter code TAKEITOFF.  Be aware that there are no returns or exchanges, so be sure you get the right size!

Click HERE to jump to their site.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The perfect berry lipstick

THE hot lip colors this winter are berry, wine, dark red, and/or dark purples.  Sometimes they have fancier names like bordeaux, crimson, etc. but I like to keep the names simple so people know what they are.  I absolutely love lipsticks in these colors, whether they're in or not. They look great with pale skin and dark skin, and all shades in between.  They look sophisticated.  I have a lot of them, but I recently discovered a new one.  It's Urban Decay's Revolution line, in a shade named Shame. But rest assured, there is nothing about it that will cause you shame.  It is sheer but if you like a more opaque look either add a second coat, or put on a lip liner first.  I should have done that, as you can see in these photos.  What can I say?  I was in a hurry.

Shame is sheer, so add a 2nd coat or use a lip liner.  And get rid of blotches of color, which I should have done

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gift ideas for women and girls

With Black Friday sales coming up this week, I thought I'd do a post with some ideas about gifts for others.  Sure, I love getting gifts, but at this point in my life the gifts that I get are rarely things to get too excited about.  (So I buy my own.). What I enjoy more is getting things for others that I don't think they'd get for themselves.  My Mom, for instance, is very frugal and rarely buys herself any luxury items.  I used to buy her luxury items that I thought she SHOULD have, only to find out that she never used them.  Now I try to go with practical luxury, things that she'll use but probably wouldn't buy herself.
Keep things like that in mind.  Don't buy things that YOU like for someone else, buy something that they would like.  If you only have a general idea of what they like, ask someone who seems to like the same things as the "giftee" for specifics.
For example, if you know a girl or woman likes fashion, either get her a gift certificate from her favorite store, look at blogs she reads, or ask her friends what kind of fashion she likes.  Here are a few ideas:

   -Scarves are really in right now, especially infinity scarves (they have no ends, they're loops that you put on over your head.

  - Leather and faux-leather are HUGE.  Jackets, especially ones that look like motorcycle jackets, are very popular, whether they're leather or have leather trim.  There are shirts with pieces of "leather" mixed with wool or knit pieces of fabric. These are usually called "mixed media", since they have several different fabrics.

    -Sweaters are always popular.  Long sweaters that can be worn with leggings, cropped ones to show off a trim middle, and embellished ones with beads or sequins on them.

    -Pants right now are skinny, usually jeans or leggings.  That's for casual wear, though.  Work is different depending on where they work.  And some people, like me, still like flare legs.  Pants are the hardest thing to buy, in my opinion.  Unless you have a list with a specific brand, size and color, I'd stay away from them as a gift.

   -High socks are popular, knee-high or over the knee.  Also popular are leg warmers, (yes, they're back!), and boot toppers.  But if the person you're buying for is athletic, they might want sox to wear to the gym.

 -  Boots are big this time of year.  Combat boots, riding boots and motorcycle boots are VERY popular right now.  Also boots with buckles, black boots with gold accents, knee-high boots, and of course ankle boots with a heel.  High heels aren't the thing right now, flats are more in style, but there are still heels that look so great that a woman would  like them anyhow.  As far as boot colors, cognac is very popular this fall (it's a rich, buttery-looking tan), as well as a wine/berry color. And black is always a good choice.

-don't forget stocking stuffers!
1. Beauty products are great for this.  Plum and berry hues are very popular for lipsticks.  Eye shadow palettes are a nice gift and many of them are created just for the holidays. If you have a young girl on your list, try one from Urban Decay (Naked 3, Vice 2 or Smoked are on many Wanted lists), or MAC.  young girls really love MAC lipsticks.
2. Perfume roller balls are tiny enough for stockings (get Flowerbomb, it's fab)
3. Skin care products are good if someone has a favorite
4. Jewelry is also great for stockings, as well as the ever-popular gift card!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

How to look good in photos

This is the time of year when you're most likely to get your picture taken, whether you want to or not.  There are things that you can do to make sure that when you get your photo taken you look as good as possible.  Here's a few tips that I've learned over the years.

1.  Check yourself out in your home mirror.  If possible, take some selfies of yourself.  Take them from different angles and see which one makes you look best.  I've discovered that a front view of me is not the best.  Sometimes it turns out well, if I'm smiling but not the kind of smiling where you pull your head back and look like you have 3 chins.  Profiles of me are good, but not very natural looking.  A side-angle is my best friend.  Many of us aren't blessed with being symmetrical, so often one side looks better than the other.  Find out which of yours does.

2.  Lengthen your neck and stick out your chin slightly.  So often we pull our heads back and get the double-chin, or we slouch and look like wimps.  Look happy!

3.  Make sure you look good before you get to whatever outing you're going to.  Nice make up but not too much, hair looks good, your shirt is flattering, etc.

4.  Don't get snapped when you're totally trashed.  I have a lot of those pictures, and it's rare that someone looks good when they're extremely drunk or high.

5.  If the mood of the photo is supposed to be happy, make sure your eyes smile, too.  The way to do that is to think of something happy or mischievous.  If you've ever watched America's Next Top Model, you know what I'm talking about.  No dead eyes!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ponchos and knit wraps are in for fall. Here's why

Well, here's why in MY opinion, at least.  First, they're so easy to wear.  In the case of wraps, throw them over your shoulders and you're done.  These aren't the kind of wraps that just go around your shoulders for an evening outfit.  These are knit, and long.  Mine comes down to my knees and has rhinestones on the ends, and fringe.  Ponchos are just as easy to wear.  Pull it over your head and you're ready to go.  Some are like old style ponchos with no sleeves, and some have sleeves.  I have a beautiful black one from Michael Simon with very pretty rhinestones on the cuffs of the sleeves and the collar.

These are great things to wear in the Fall or if you have mild winters.  Once it gets really cold you'll need something warmer, but until then, these are comfortable, stylish and they look chic.  I put in a few pictures of me wearing them and some on the hangers.

Long and flowy.   An oversized poncho-like shirt covered with a black wrap
The back of the poncho shirt. Looks kind of like a big blanket. It's as comfortable as one, too.  Monoreno from Hautelook
I look like I'm doing some kind of weird dance. In reality I'm just trying to show how the wrap lays over the poncho-shirt
The sleeves on the Monoreno poncho shirt are very loose. The whole thing is basically a square of fabric with embroidery

Black wrap from TJ Maxx
Sequined bottom of knit wrap
Knit poncho by Michael Simon from Hautelook

Sequined cuffs on poncho

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sites for buying shoes and boots

Steve Madden Lolllys, from Steve Madden web site (also available at Macy's)
Before the days of online shopping, I bought most of my shoes and boots at Macy's, Marshall's, Loehmann's or DSW. DSW was great when I lived in Atlanta - so many choices! Although quite often I'd find a pair that I loved and they wouldn't have it in my size (I'm tall so I have big feet).  When I moved to Southern California, though, there wasn't a DSW near me.  So I reverted to the other afore-mentioned stores.  Marshall's and Loehmann's were great as far as price, but selection is limited and there was the size issue.  If I needed something specific, Macy's was my go-to.  The Macy's at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa had a huge footwear department.  So many choices!  And right beside the cosmetics counters!  (Whoever laid out that store was a genius.)

Around 2006 I heard about Zappos.  I remember thinking "who would order shoes online? How would you know if they fit and were comfortable?"  I'm now a Zappo's VIP customer. :-)  If you've ever bought shoes online, you're probably familiar with Zappos.  (If not, you're missing out!)  Zappos sells several things, but shoes are their specialty.  While there are many sites that sell shoes and clothing, what makes Zappos special is their customer service.  Once you order, your shoes get to you in no time.  If they don't fit or you just don't like them, you can return them for up to a year if they're not worn.  There's no charge for shipping, not when you buy the shoes, and not if you need to return them.

There are cheaper places online to buy shoes.  At one point I found out about another web site run by Zappo's named 6pm.  They have some of the same shoes for prices around $10.00 less.  I thought "why would I want to pay more for the same thing?"  I bought some shoes from 6pm.  Eventually, of course, I needed to return something.  That's when I figured out why the other place was cheaper.  You have to pay for shipping when you return something.  And you only get 30 days to return it.  Zappos gives you a YEAR, as long as you haven't worn the shoes.  Believe me, that comes in handy if you ever buy on impulse.

These days my go-to places for shoes are Zappos or Nordstrom's web site.  I'm a sucker for free shipping and easy returns. Occasionally I'll want a specific shoe, like my Steve Madden Lollly's or a certain color of Asics, so if they don't have them I'll go elsewhere and pay for shipping.  Amazon has a pretty good shoe selection, and you can get things at Steve Madden's web site and the Doc Marten web site that you can't find other places.  Plus Steve Madden often runs promos with free shipping.  Since I have giant feet, I sometimes need a size 11, and the only place I find that is at Steve Madden's site.  And the Troopas....  oh I love the Troopas!  I have the mocha leather ones and they're so cute.  Kind of a slightly more feminine version of Doc Martens.  I have a list of other colors I'd like to get them in.

Right now I'm searching for the perfect cognac boot.  I've found a few that are potentials, but I'm not sure they're exactly what I want.  Any suggestions?  I know that there are so many more web sites out there, but I can't search them all!  If one of you has found a great cognac boot or a great shoe site, please share.

I hate to do posts without pictures, so here are a few of my favorite shoes and boots.

Asics (can't remember style name) from Amazon

Mocha leather Troopas by Steve Madden, from Zappos

Purple flowered leather Doc Martens 1460's from Doc Marten USA web site
Wanted Breezys, from 6pm web site

Monday, October 28, 2013

Indulge in dark lipstick for Fall

MAC Pre-Raphaelite (Frost)

Fall is my favorite season for many reasons.  The perfect weather, the ability to wear jackets, sweaters,  jeans, and boots, and dark make-up.  In particular, dark lipstick.  I've said it before, I LOVE a dark lip.  So sophisticated and elegant.  Mysterious, rebellious, tough.  It's all of these things.  There is no shortage of dark lipsticks available this Fall, either.  My favorites are of course from MAC, as well as Urban Decay and Nars.  Here are a few samples of some of the ones that I'm wearing, as well as a list of some others since some of the MAC ones that I have are sold out.

Cyber (for those into seriously dark lips)
Rebel (I highly recommend this one.  Beautiful!)
Film Noir
Just a Bite and Show All (may be sold out)
Pre-Raphaelite (may be sold out)

Club Mix
Palais Royale both chubby lip pencils

Super Lustrous Va Va Violet lipstick

Urban Decay:
Apocalypse chubby lip pencil

Don't forget regular lip liner pencils!  Some great dark ones are:
MAC Vino
MAC Night Moth
MAC Currant
MAC Beet
MAC Bittersweet (dark brown)

MAC Dominate

MAC Dominate (frost)

MAC Dominate lipstick

MAC Beet lip liner pencil
Nars Palais Royale over MAC beet lip pencil
Matte is the word for Fall 2013.  Matte is in for lips, foundation, and powders.  For now keep the luminizers and sparkle low-key.  But don't through them out, I'm sure they'll come back soon.
MAC Just Add Drama retro Matte lipstick

Just Add Drama on lips

If you want to try out a darker lip but aren't comfortable with too much, try a dark lip gloss.  There are a lot of dark berries, medium purples and dark reds.
Me with just Utterly Tart gloss on
MAC glosses Utterly Tart in center
MAC's pro longwear lip pencils are as creamy as lipstick. The shades here are Bittersweet (dark brown), Talk that Talk (purple) and Absolutely It (medium brown)

What lipsticks are your favorites for Fall?  Do you like dark colors?  Any drugstore brands that you recommend I try?