Saturday, 30 June 2012

Upon The Mantle - My Top 5 Style Crushes

As much as I love to invent my own style, I'm often inspired by a handful of gorgeous, brave and imaginative women. So, I've decided to dedicate this post to five of my most oohed and ahhed over ladies. The kinda' gals who never fail to make me appreciate how wonderful it is to dress up.

In no particular order...

If you have a love of burlesque, vintage glamour or gothic style - you'll have a love of Dita Von Teese. After reading her book 'The Art of the Teese' I was totally infatuated with this woman. Like your classic Hollywood starlet of the 1930's, her style is nothing less than impeccable. There's never one hair out of place, one loose thread dangling from a hem or one false eyelash curling off at the corner. "Effortless" is definitely not a word that springs to mind when I think of Dita. Each look is a form of construction. You can see the amount of thought that goes into every last detail of her marvelous ensembles. Her style is her livelihood afterall. Beyond that, she has such a huge passion for 'the art' of getting dressed up - something I can certainly relate to. She's a disciplined dresser-upperer, that's for sure!

Lucia Holm, otherwise known as 'Miss Lulu and the Teaspoon Shortage', is a freelance photographer and digital photo retoucher from New Jersey. For ages now, I have been glued to her website and flickr account, scrolling through her delightfully cute, yet unsettlingly mysterious photos. Most of which are self-portraits. I love the 'Alice In Wonderland' quirkiness of her style. Lots of lace, floral prints, coloured heels, red lippy and dolly bows. And let's not forget the amazing hair - which I'm 99% sure is a wig since it tends to fluctuate between red, brown and blonde. Regardless, it's right up my alley. If I could find where she bought it, I'd be snapping it up in an instant!

Ahhh Paloma. What I like most about this English singer/songwriter, apart from her music, is how well her playful personality is reflected in her style. She's so daring in her choices of colour, pattern and design, and pairs up her outfits with accessories, in a way you wouldn't expect. Sometimes, she almost seems to be poking fun at herself - treading the fine line between tacky and fantastical. There's a definite nod to vintage glamour in all of her outfits (which I love), however she always manages to tweak it enough to make it her own. Plus you gotta' have respect for a girl who can masterfully do her own pin-curls!   

Even though I quite like the chic, modern, more ladylike Gwen Stefani of today - it was the grungy 90's Gwen that really struck a style-chord with me. Her platinum blonde locks and ruby red lipstick seemed to channel Marylin Monroe (if she were in a garage pop-rock band). Then there was the shorter-than-short crop tops, exposed bra straps, hipster cargos and bindi's - which I still have a bit of a soft spot for. Call it 90's nostalgia! Regardless, she pulled the look off brilliantly. I also loved how she would blur traditional 'gendered outfits' by combining a floral dress with a pair of army boots, or an oversized man's jacket with a pair of false, fluttery lashes. Even now, I think she's got a nak for shaking up style norms. Often effortlessly combining street fashion with high-end fashion.

I know she's not everyone's cup of tea, and she has worn a few questionable outfits in her time, but I happen to love Bjork's style. Again, as seems to be the theme with my previous four style crushes, she's extremely unique and brave in how she chooses to present herself. I find it so facsinating and inspiring to go back and have a look at how her style has progressed since the 80's. She's dressed up in everything from neon Nikes, to doiley-print dresses, to silk kimono's, to war paint, to oversized puffa jackets, to faux-fur capes to beaded ball gowns. It's really quite impressive! I adore her obvious obsession with trying out different kinds of materials and styles, and her tendency to treat her appearance like a little work of art. Like her music, her style doesn't need anyone's approval. It seems to exist for her own benefit. Which of course, is such a romantic idea.
Well, hope that was somewhat enjoable for someone out there. Please feel free to let me know your top 5 style crushes. I'm always interested in stuff like that.


Thursday, 21 June 2012

The Metallic Python and the Jewel-Encrusted Zebra

In this month's Bellabox, I was given a set of press-on nail-art by the brand Kiss. For a while I'd been eyeing off Sally Hansen's version of these nail-adhesives. Only I'd been a little too wrapped up in Ulta3 nail polish to give them the time of day. So when this turned up on my doorstep, I was as happy as a guinea pig who's heard the vegetable drawer opening. That's pretty damn happy.

My Kiss Nail Dress in KDS01
The kit itself comes with twenty eight nail adhesives of fourteen different sizes, as well as a little nail file for removing the excess from the tips of your nails. I find it strange that the kits include twenty eight stickers, rather than a more practical thirty. However, I can't see this being too much of a problem for me. As my nails are quite short, I cut the adhesives in half before I apply them. This means I'd definitely be able to get at least three uses out of one kit. Perhaps even an additional feature nail or two.

As far as application goes, these press-ons are relatively easy. You just find the right size for your nail, carefully peel the sticker off the plastic sheet, line up the curvier edge with your cuticle, and press down towards the tip of your nail - smoothing out any bubbles or bumps. You then fold it down over the edge of your nail and file away the excess.

I have to say, I was a little sceptical of the last step in this process, as I thought that the file would remove either too little or too much of the remaining sticker. Perhaps even removing a rhinestone or two, or accidentally lifting the whole thing off. With a little patience though, I ended up with a pretty flawless result. For me, it took just as much time to apply as it would take to do 3 coats of polish, but without the terrible smell, drying time and potential to ruin furniture.

Just like the Sally Hansen strips, these claim to last on your nails for 10 days. I can't vouch for that completely, as it's only been six days, but so far, I've been really pleased with how well they're travelling. They've survived many days at work making coffees, washing dishes, cleaning around the house, having baths and foraging around many a handbag. The latter being the greatest testament of all to their staying power! While I may have lost a few rhinestones here and there on the tip of my thumb and forefinger, it's definitely not too noticeable as the strips are patterned.

The design itself has really won me over too. I thought it may have been a little too garish when I first saw it in the packet, but it actually looks really glamorous and interesting on the nails. I actually feel like the potentially tacky zebra print aspect of these nails, is toned down by the fact that it's on my itty bitty nails. I think art looks nicer on shorter nails. Less California Barbie.  I actually received quite a few compliments on it at work over this past week too. So yay for that.

All in all, even though they're not exactly cheap at $14 AUD a pop, they're definitely something I'd repurchase again. I think I'll give the Sally Hansen ones a go and see how they compare. I will say however, that the Kiss range has a better selection of jewelled designs - with an impressive nine in the collection. Fancy!

On the topic of fancy, I also recently picked up a gorgeous cross-body evening bag from Colette. It's a black fold-over with a long, detachable strap and pale gold snakeskin detailing.

See?! See?!
For years now, I've been tolerating a pretty (but awful) patent leather bag from Dangerfield. The chain strap dug in and constantly broke, the clasp was tiny and refused to shut, and the bag itself struggled to hold more than my keys and phone. So obviously, this Colette bag has been an absolute dream to tote around. The strap is comfortable across my shoulder, the fold-over section stays secure with a magnetic clasp, the interior is wonderfully roomy and I can't help but love the style of it.
Here's a bit of a size indication for you :)

I feel like the touch of gold makes it just that little bit more evening-ish, without being too much to exclude it from daytime use. Also, being such a pale gold, it seems to go well with both gold and silver jewellery. This is a definite plus for me as I tend to fluctuate between the two. Another plus was the not-too-shabby price of $29.95 AUD. Pretty reasonable for a bag I'm sure I'm going to get a lot of use out of. Much more use than my torturous Dangerfield bag, that's for sure!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Bellabox Just Made My Day

There are few things that can brighten my day after an extremely busy, stressful work shift. One of these things is an exceptionally wonderful loot from the lovely girls at Bellabox. I arrived home to these little gems today, and I was suitably impressed. Wouldn't you be?!
Hopefully you can appreciate that I'm managing to hold all of these in one hand whilst holding the camera with my other hand! Such skill ;)
The June box contains:
  • Nak Diamond Hair Polish: A smoothing creme that can be used on dry hair as a heat protectant and very light-hold styling product.
  • Pure Fuji Body Butter: A frangipani scented body butter containing milk proteins and nut extracts.
  • Facial Fresh Cloth Facial Treatment Mask: A cloth mask recommended for weekly use. Claims to replenish and protect dehydrated, tight or dry skin.
  • Benefit Professional Pro Balm: A translucent, oil-free primer.
  • Kiss Dress Nails: Press-on nail art. This particular one is zebra print with rhinestones.
  • Fan Di Fendi Fragrance: A small sample of the new Fendi perfume, containing notes of pear, tangerine, blackcurrant, tangerine, leather and patchouli.
  • Olea Olive Leaf Drops: 4 cold-fighting lozenges with olive leaf extract and Manuka honey. 
I feel like this box has a really nice mix of products. Excitingly, I haven't tried anything in it before -which is why I love these beauty subscription boxes so much. They give you the opportunity to try and test new or little-known products without committing to forking over the doe for the full size version.

I'm looking forward to trying out the Kiss Dress Nails. I've been eyeing off the Sally Hansen range of nail press-ons for a while now; and this looks very similar. Not sure how I feel about wearing rhinestones on all my fingers, but I think it could look really wild on an accent nail or two. The Nak hair creme certainly wont go astray either. I go through hair products as quickly as milk! Plus I really loved the Nak Hair Oil in April's Bellabox, so I have high hopes for this one.

If I hadn't recently bought an Inglot primer (which I love) I would have definitely been more thrilled by the cute little Benefit one. The packaging alone is enough to win me over! Frothy, retro, super-girly packaging gets me every time! I think I may save this 7.5ml tube for travelling though. What a terrible reviewer I am! So much of my sample-sized stuff has ended up in a makeup case under my bathroom sink - awaiting that faithful day in October when it boards a plane. Hopefully a couple of products from this month's box can make it into my June Favourites though!

If you're interested in giving them a burl, here's the site for Bellabox. After sampling three lovely boxes, they've definitely got my tick of approval. Plus they're based in Melbourne, which means very prompt postage for my fellow Melbournians!


Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Fawning Over Inglot

It's official. I've well and truly been converted. Inglot has stolen my heart.

About three weeks ago I made the silly mistake of tagging along to Chadstone Shopping Centre's 'VIP Night'. What this means is, for one night only, basically every store has a sale (some more impressive than others). I didn't intend to go into Inglot. Really I didn't. I had originally made the decision to stop after picking up a bottle of perfume and a reed diffuser. But the amazing wall of eye shadows lured me in, seeming to say "chooooose me...I'm pretty and oh-so-cheap!" I couldn't resist. After reaching the conclusion that I thoroughly needed some go-to neutral shades, I painstakingly selected three to put into one of their palettes - otherwise known as a 'freedom system'.


My Inglot Palette, in all her magnetic-lidded majesty!
Left to Right: 395, 31, 409

The shades in direct sunlight.

The shades I ended up with were:
395: A shimmery white with a hint of peach and a pearl finish.
31: A sandy, golden brown with a shiny, frosty finish. 
409: A dark, bronzed, chocolate brown with a pearl finish.

Here they are swatched for your viewing pleasure:

Top to Bottom: 395, 31, 409
I find that these shades work splendidly together. My favourite way to wear them is with 395 all over my lid, 31 highlighting my inner corner and 409 buffed into my outer corner. Even though they are all shimmery finishes, I don't find that I look like a glitterball wearing them all at once. It's just enough shine for me.

The three Inglot shades, working their magic.
I cannot stress how much I adore these eye shadows. They're soft, easy to work with, and incredibly pigmented. I find that the 31 shade requires a little more building up than the other two, but not to any great extent. In fact, 31 is probably my favourite (and most worn) shade of the bunch. Usually, goldy colours tend to scare me as I'm fairly pale, but I feel like the 31 shade could work for any skin tone, providing just enough metallic sheen without being in-your-face gold.

All in all, I'm really pleased with the shades I picked up. Even though I spent far too long selecting them, and probably did the lovely sales assistant's head in, it was worth it in the end. Now I definitely have my sights set on filling a 10 pan. There were some brilliant greens and blues that I found awfully hard to resist! I may hold off until my visit to London later this year though, as they're a tiny bit cheaper there.

On the topic of price, I do have to give Inglot a big thumbs up for being a much cheaper (and equally as stunning) alternative to MAC. Due to the sale I managed to pay AUD $34.85 for the lot. That was $9.45 for the palette and $8.50 for each eyeshadow. The regular retail price in Australia (for a full 3 pan palette) is $38. Pretty reasonable in my opinion. Especially considering the amount of use I'm going to get out of it.

The two minuscule bits of criticism I have with Inglot are in regards to the shade coding and the magnetised casing. Firstly, I feel like assigning numbers to the shades rather than names, makes it really difficult to remember which shade is which. The only reason I know the numbers of the shades in my palette is because I kept the receipt. For me, names also make the colours a little more complex and desirable. MAC names such as Sable and Nylon just sound way more appealing to me than AMC Shine 31 and Matte 382. Secondly, the magnetic casing, which clicks or slides on and off, works wonderfully on the smaller palettes, but seems to be a little tricky on, say, the 20 pan palette. While I don't own a palette of this size, I can only imagine (having more magnets connected to them) that the larger palettes would require a little more effort to remove the cover, and would run the risk of having fingers sliding into them. That being said, I really appreciate the sturdiness of the lids. They seem practical for travel as I'm sure they'd protect the shadows from moving about and breaking.  

Oh boy, I can ramble! Sorry about that. The moral of the story is: Inglot is fab! Go there. Fall in love.


Monday, 4 June 2012

Ranch Dressing

Here's a little look I put together in celebration of my two newest crushes: my Inglot eye shadows, and a hunky dorey necktie (or bolo tie) I recently discovered at an op-shop in Brunswick. I may do a review of my purdy Inglot palette in the coming weeks, so I wont harp on about that too much. I will rave about the necktie however, which was an absolute steal at AUD $4! The lady at the till actually asked me what I'd like to pay for it because the price tag had fallen off. I laughed and said "no more than $5", half joking and half hoping, and she popped it through for me without a moment's hesitation. Yay! Thank you Savers on Sydney Rd! Now I'm a real cowgirl!

My wild hair appears to be obstructing the tie, but you get the jist!

Here she is!

Her gleaming face!
I was immediately drawn to the beautiful gold detailing and the flat multi-faceted cut. It doesn't show up so well in this photo, but it really catches the light. I know it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I thought it was a bit of a lark. Plus, dare I say it, elegant?! 

To dress it up a bit, I paired the tie with a sheer, sleeveless, asymmetrical tunic with gold buttons, and a cropped blazer. Buttoning the tunic right up to my neck seemed to draw attention to the tie, but I imagine it would also work quite well loosened around a lower cut top. To bring out the gold I rummaged around my jewellery box and found a drop earring with gold rhinestones. This was a bit of a change for me as I'm usually so so faithful to my pearl studs. I know, right?! Branching out!

For my hair, I loosely curled it with my straightening iron, and then pinned, lightly hairsprayed and did a bit of a fingerwave at the front. Then, since I have a ridiculous obsession with wearing bows, feathers and flowers, I clipped in a little black bow I picked up from Diva.

Shiny shiny lids, care of the wonderous Inglot

All over my lids I wore my Inglot AMC Shine eye shadow in 31, and blended the 409 into my outer corner. I also added my MAC gel liner along the waterline to define my eyes. Keeping my lips fairly natural I opted for my Chi Chi lipstick in Centrefold as a base, with my Rimmel lippy in Airy Fairy over the top. I've had the latter lippy for years and years, but I've just recently rediscovered it. It's definitely made me want to go and test out some other Rimmel lipsticks though! I just love how they feel to wear, and the smell is really lovely.

Surpisingly, I'm not wearing a highlighter at all here. Just a MAC blush in Frankly Scarlet. Which is matte! I think the camera may be picking up the SPF in my moisturiser perhaps. Regardless, I like how it looks in these shots.


Saturday, 2 June 2012

Most Loved In May!

I have to say, I'm a little bit in love with reading posts that fall under the category of 'Monthly Favourites'. Whether it's the excitement of finding a new product listed that seems to be worth trying, the surprise of seeing an old one that's reemerged and charmed it's way back into the blogger's heart, or simply a case of general nosiness - I just adore them! So, I thought I'd give this pony a ride. Without further adieu, I give you my monthly favourites for the month of May.

MAC Paint Pot in Bare Study
I picked this up during my time in New York City last September, and have been steadily pawing my way through it. This month in particular. As many of you may know, this is a lovely champagne coloured eye-base. It's a cream-to-powder formulation that can be worn underneath eyeshadow, or applied all over the lid as a sheer colour. I must admit, I found it a little difficult to work with to begin with. If I accidentally applied too much in the one spot, it created a patchy, scaly effect. Also, if I wasn't quick enough, it would dry and set before I could blend it evenly. I've since found that to avoid this, the best thing to do is to ditch the makeup brush, and simply swipe it on with my finger. Also, less is more. The reason that it was looking a little patchy on my eyes to begin with, was that I was trying to apply too much of it. Technical stuff aside though, this is a really beautiful, brightening shade, and a fantastic base for my eye shadow. Nothing creases with this baby on!

Revlon Nutri-Colour Creme
You may remember this little baby from my Chaddy Haul post. It's a colour depositing treatment for your hair, and I can't recommend it highly enough. I have dry, colour-treated hair, and I can safely say that this has completely replaced my deep conditioning treatments. Not only does it make my locks all smooth and moisturised, it noticeably ups the vibrancy of my colour. The current red dye I'm using has a tendency to go pink after a month or so, but I feel like this product has really kept the fading at bay. At my recommendation, a friend of mine (with purple hair) also bought a tube in 200 Violet, and we both noticed how much it improved the intensity of her colour after a single use. I've already picked up another 100ml tube of this wonder-product in 600 Fire Red, but have since found the larger 250ml pump bottle for the tantalising price of  AUD $23.70 on Beauty Bay. That's less than I payed retail for the 100ml! Plus a pump bottle is far more convenient than trying to squeeze the creme out of a tube with my awkwardly glove-adorned hands! 

Ulta 3 Nail Polish
I've gone a bit gaga over these polishes this month; picking up a whopping 7 shades! I found out about them through Bellabox when I received Enchanted in their April box. These polishes are absolutely exceptional for the price. Only 50 cents a bottle at Coles, would you believe?! They apply nicely, dry quickly, and with a quick coat of my Sally Hansen Insta-Dri over the top, you can't tell them apart from the more high-end brands. I even received a few compliments on Lagoon when wearing it at work. My absolute favourite shade this month though, has to be Blue Marlin: a bright blue creme.

This shade is to die for. It seems to make the skin on my hands seem fairer and 'cleaner' if that makes any sense. If you're interested in oohing and ahhing over the entire Ulta 3 shade range, there's a brilliant page of swatches and descriptions here.

Silk Oil of Morocco Lip Gloss in Ruby
Another beauty box find! I received this one in this month's Bellabox, and I've been reaching for it ever since. As I understand it, this is a fairly new brand. The lip gloss contains argan oil, which of course is known for it's nourishing qualities. So it just makes sense that it would eventually find it's way into a lip product. Another reason I've been loving this gloss, is it's divine peppermint scent. Why don't more lip products smell like peppermint?! As far as the colour payoff goes, it's sheer enough that it can be applied without too much fuss, and compliments pretty much any look. I should mention that the two things I don't like about this product is the steep price (AUD $29.95), and the fact that it takes a lot of dipping the wand in and out of the tube to get enough product for one application. Regardless though, this has definitely been a favourite of mine this month (just bring it down in price please Bellabox!)

Lush Volcano Foot Mask
I bought this with a friend specifically for a girly day of face masks, cupcakes, manicures and Disney films. To begin with, I had dismissed it because it only came in a 225gm tub, which was far too big and a little too pricey. As luck would have it though, a 125gm version was in stock for the first time on the day we decided to visit the store. Yay! Back on track though, this is a foot mask and scrub that cleanses, deodorises and exfoliates. You're meant to rub the product all over dry feet, wrap them in glad wrap for 10 minutes, and then massage and rinse. I found that this mask was such a nice alternative to the usual foot scrubs and stones. It contains pumice to rub away dead skin cells, as well as cleansing, softening and anti fungal goodies like lemon oil, papaya and cinnamon. It also smells like tomatoes in a big way, as it contains them for their anti-stink properties! This did absolute wonders for bringing my feet back to a non-embarrassing state! I also found this to be a much gentler (yet still effective) option than using an abrasive scrubby paddle or stone. Such a lovely treat. Especially for a girl who's on her feet all day, every day.

Maybelline Full 'n Soft Mascara
I used this mascara back in the day and loved it, but for whatever reason (curiosity I suppose) I decided to stray away from it and try a few others. While I did like some of the other mascaras, L'Oreal Volume Million Lashes and Covergirl's LashBlast for example, nothing worked for me quite like the Full 'n Soft. So this month I decided to repurchase it, and my love for this beautiful mascara has only grown! It separates, lifts and adds volume without looking spiky and overdone. Plus clumping is minimal to none. It certainly lives up to it's name. With this on, my lashes seem much fuller and not at all brittle. Also, I definitely feel that it's reduced my lash fallout significantly. Which is a big plus for me. While this mascara is marketed as being a more natural day-time mascara, I've been wearing it on nights out this month without any hesitation. I think it can look really glamorous and lovely. Love love love it!

Caudalie Cleansing Water
Of course, my monthly favourites would not be complete without my newest obsession - my Caudalie Cleanser. I wont go into too much detail with this one as I already did a pretty in depth review about it here. I will say however, that this has become a staple in my nightly skincare routine this month, and I can definitely see myself repurchasing this when it runs out.

Well, that about wraps things up. Happy June everyone!