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