Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Roll of the Fashion Dice

I'm back from Las Vegas, and boy did I learn a lot about fashion and style while out in the desert.  Every vacation is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the trends and culture of a new destination.  The interesting thing about vacationing in a tourist trap (and I mean that in the very best possible way) like Vegas is that you don't just get to see how the locals live and dress but you get to see how tourists from all over the country dress.   

Have you ever noticed how taboo it is to be a tourist?  I know I've been sucked into, "OMG!  I'm going to New York for the week and need a whole new wardrobe of black separates.  I don't want to look like a tourist  Must look like a local!"  Which is ridiculous because 1.) When visiting New York, I'm not a local.  2.) What's the big deal about looking like I'm from the Twin Cities instead of _______(insert destination here)?  

There's something about Las Vegas that inspires women to wear sparkly, cleavage enhancing clothes and a lot of makeup.  I'll admit, Bombshells, to being tempted into falling for the Pussycat Dolls brand of beauty while on vacation.  Until I looked around and noticed that 99% of all the women were already trying to sport that look - and thus, everyone looked the same.  Little black dress.  Stiletto heels.  Boobs everywhere.  Big gold earrings.  Intricate eye makeup and ultra glossy lips. Boring.  When cleavage is in your face everywhere you turn, it's no longer interesting.  A good lesson, girls.  

Following trends, whether on vacation or a shopping trip to your local mall, is fun.  But it's not the same as having style.   Same goes when it comes to where you shop - I saw women shopping at Dior who looked no better or worse than women shopping at Ann Taylor.  Sure, $900 cashmere feels amazing.  But if you don't have your own sense of style, it doesn't matter how much your clothes cost.   (Just look at the Real Housewives of Orange County, New York, and Atlanta.  Ahem).  If you have a strong sense of a personal style that makes you feel great, you'll never feel the need to completely switch up your wardrobe to fit in someplace else.  

 I never expected for a fun little trip to Las Vegas to make me get all introspective about my personal definition of beauty and whether I want to let what other people have (access to Versace and this super amazing Michael Kors bag that I saw at the Shops at Caesars Palace) make me feel bad about what I have (a really pretty scarf that I picked up at a boutique in the MGM Grand Hotel).  So, thanks for that Las Vegas.  

A few tips on taking your sense of style on vacation (based on first-hand Vegas observations):
  • If you're wearing a sexy top, don't pair it with casual jeans and tennis shoes.  Yes, you need comfortable shoes.  But this odd combination makes it look like your luggage got lost.
  • Speaking of tennis shoes, choose your socks wisely.  Tennis shoes + regular athletic socks + shorts =  stumpy legs.  Instead, pick anklets that aren't visible above the shoeline.  It'll make your legs look long.  
  • Fanny packs = NO (even if yours is from Louis Vuitton).  For curvy women, in particular, they add bulk to the waistline.  Why would you want to do that?  Pack up a purse with a long strap that can drape across your body, if you really need to be hands free.  
  • Sexy strappy stilettos are only sexy if you can walk in them.  You're going to look a whole lot hotter if you aren't taking micro-steps or almost falling down every 4 feet. 

Monday, September 29, 2008

Flying back from Vegas

No post today because I am on my home from Las Vegas. Check back tomorrow to see what the flashiest city in America taught me about fashion. It's been an interesting trip!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Beauty Moment- Shu Uemera for Fall

I was clicking around over on Product Girl and came across her review of Shu Uemera's Fall collection. It actually made my heart start to beat faster. The colors are gorgeous. The compacts would look so amazing in my hand as I swipe my makeup brushes across the pans of powder. I could spend hours twisting the lipsticks up and down in their tubes. Read Carla's review here so you can experience what feels like first love all over again.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Emmy Style, Bombshell Sizes

I don't know if you watched the Emmy's (based on the ratings, chances are you didn't). You didn't miss much. The best parts were Amy Poehler/Tina Fey presenting, and the dresses. Everyone has been talking Emmy style non-stop since Sunday, and the low-priced knock-offs of the best dresses are already showing up in stores. One of my favorite places to find reasonably priced, celebrity-inspired dresses in plus-sizes is Coco Myles.

Coco Myles is a fantastic resource for fancy dresses - prom & other formals, galas (if you're a gala-attending kind of girl), bridesmaid, and more - for many Bombshells because all of their dresses are available up to size 28. You can choose a pre-designed dress inspired by the likes of our favorite Desperate Housewives, Debra Messing, and more. Or you can choose the top and bottom of your gown, creating your own custom design. Choose the colors, choose the fabric- playing around on their site is highly addictive. (I should note that David's Bridal also has a lot of really great dresses in our sizes, and allows you to mix and match to create your own gown.)

Coco Myles has not yet released designs inspired by this year's Emmy attendees. When they do, I hope to see dresses inspired by my fashion favorites of the night:
I love the color of Mariska Hargitay's dress. The rest of the details are simple, but elegant like the draping on her shoulder. And showing a little leg via a sly slit is very old-school Bombshell.
I'm a sucker for lace-done-right. It can be a really great way to add texture to an outfit without adding bulk. The cut across Sandra Oh's shoulders shows off a pretty, long neck and perfectly combines elegance with sportiness.
Debra Messing's dress would be great for a Bombshell with an ample bust (provided she wears sufficient undergarments to support said bust) because the full, floaty bottom would balance out top-heaviness. Plus the skirt looks like a lot of fun to swish around in.
Wouldn't Olivia Wilde's gown make a great wedding dress? It's classic and retro but very fresh. Almost makes we want to get married again...

Photo credit: People.com

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hosiery? Who-siery?

I love the concept of hosiery - 1950's Bombshells like Marilyn and Sophia sexily pulling on sheer hose, attaching them to their garter belts before strutting around town, looking and feeling fabulous.  The reality of hosiery is much less alluring - carefully yanking up a pair of Hanes Leggs, losing circulation around the waist thanks to the control top which is most definitely in control of what you're eating today, that irritating pull of the hose against your thighs.  It's just too much.   I haven't put on a pair of pantyhose since 1996 - and I'm pretty sure I did it then just to make my mother happy.  

Hosiery does still have a place in a Bombshell's life.  Tights are a wardrobe staple for me come winter - they make my legs look longer and they keep me warmer than standard pantyhose.  Plus, they are softer and more comfortable to wear.  Black and gray are always a safe bet if you're new to tights.  And if you wear a lot of brown, might as well pick up a pair of brown ones.  You can get a ton of wacky colors and prints on tights too, and while that's certainly a look, it's not one I can condone.  I'm not saying it's impossible to pull of. Just unlikely.  

Socks also count as hosiery.  You've probably got a sock wardrobe (although you may not think of it that way), because you need different socks to wear under different pants.  I know you're not walking around with white cotton socks peeking out from under every pair of pants, right?  You've got black trouser socks to wear under black trousers, brown for brown, etc - yes?  I thought so.  

I think every woman should also have pair of emergency fishnet stockings in her underwear drawer.  Fishnets don't count as conventional pantyhose - they're so much more.  They're for those nights when you have to be out the door in 5 minutes but your safe black skirt or dress feels too safe and you're thisclose to scrapping the whole evening, staying in, watching QVC (wait, that's just me) and eating a Totino's party pizza.  Pull on the fishnets (which should be tightly woven, not loose - lest you look like a, ahem, loose woman), zip up some knee high boots and hit the door.  Evening saved.   

You can find plus-size hosiery at most department stores and discount retailers.  Hanes has never let this Bombshell down.  But I have had the best luck with hosiery from Lane Bryant.  Their socks fit my huge feet and shapely calves without cutting into my legs.  Their tights are also fantastic - very durable.  I have two pairs that I've worn for over a year - no snags or runs.  You can also find plus-size options at Frederick's of Hollywood (don't be scared). 

Hosiery may seem inconsequential, but just like underwear it's oftentimes the foundation of a great outfit.  It may not be as sexy to pull on a pair of black trouser socks as it was for Rita Hayworth to slide on her thigh-high stockings.   On second thought, maybe it could be...

Beauty Moment_ Kat Von D

The first time I saw Kat Von D, she was giving Bam Margera a tattoo for his wedding.  (I had some weird obsession with that show Bam had on MTV chronicling the planning of his wedding).  Instant girl-crush.  I thought Kat was beautiful and funny and bad-ass in a sweet way.  So when I learned last year that she was doing a collaboration with Sephora for a line inspired by her personal style, I thought...well, I thought, "What?  Why?  Huh?"  It felt like the cosmetic-equivalent of the clothing lines "inspired" by Amanda Bynes, Avril Lavigne and every other celebrity designer.  

And maybe it is.  Maybe Kat's input begins and ends with the tattooed packaging (which is really pretty).  After trying a few of the products in the line, I don't care how much input she has.  They're that good.  I'm especially impressed with the True Romance Eyeshadow Palette in Ludwig (named after one of Kat's hairless cats).  This palette contains a mix of colors that will create every look you could possibly want.  Neutral base colors, a selection of browns, 2 really pretty green shades and a rock-n-roll shade of black could potentially make up your entire eyeshadow wardrobe. 

Bombshell reader Marie B thinks the other palette in Kat's collection, called Beethoven (yep, another cat), is her perfect buy of the year.  Beethoven is made up of blues and purples - also very pretty and the perfect palette for creating more dramatic looks.  The shadows are formulated to really last, which is especially essential with a smoky eye.  They blend well, feeling very soft and silky.  

Even though I didn't really want to be, I'm pretty enthusiastic about the Kat Von D line at Sephora.  I hope it becomes a permanent fixture in the store.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

R.I.P Sweatshirt

You might as well just come clean right here, right now.  Do you or do you not own a ratty hooded sweatshirt that you throw on at the first nip of chill in the air?  You do, don't you? (Yes, I do).  You put this hooded sweatshirt on, knowing full well that it hides your curves and makes you look at least two sizes larger than you are.  But you think, "It's so soft and cozy.  It's fall.  I put up with three months of halter tops and shaving every day - I deserve this sweatshirt!"  

To quote Dr. Phil (cringe, insert good-old-boy-accent), "It's time to get real here."  Yes, you do deserve to layer on pieces that stave off the cold and are soft/cozy.  But you also deserve to look good.  And that piece is seriously missing from the sweatshirt.  Might I instead recommend an upgrade?  
This 100% cotton Charley Jacket from B and Lu instantly ups your style quotient.  It's edgy and cool, but also soft and wearable.  3/4 length sleeves ensure that you'll feel cozy without over-heating.  
I love this casual quilted jacket from Liz Claiborne.  It adds comfortable polish to jeans and a tee, but fits in perfectly with a skirt and boots.  Quilting can get bulky (thus, making you look bulky) but this jacket is cut close to the body for maximum flattery. 
 
If you absolutely cannot (will not) let go of your sweatshirt, pick up one that has feminine details like ruching at the bust and a slim cut.  This will ensure that your choice looks completely intentional.  This one is on sale 60% off right now at Nordstrom.   

Photo credit: BandLu.com; LizClaiborn.com; Nordstrom.com

Beauty Moment-Tinted Stain


I love a juicy, berry red lip.  Nothing looks fresher or more all-American than a natural face, a touch of mascara, flushed rosy cheeks and a deep berry lip.  Achieving said lip  is not as easy as swiping on any old lip product (gloss, stick, balm...).  The darker your lip color, the more likely it is that the shade will either smudge all over your chin or wear away at the center while staying strong around the edges of your lips.  Nice. The only way that I know of to really ensure lasting coverage with zero migration is to use a tinted stain.  

I'm just going to come right out and admit this:  I hate Benefit's Benetint.  I know, I know, everyone else loves it.  But you know what?  I can't stand the way that brush feels on my lips, all stubbly and tickly.  And with equal passion do I hate the way said brush delivers color to my cheeks.  All uneven and messy.  So my mission this past weekend was to find a tinted stain that went on smoothly, delivered saturated color and lasted a long time (at least through a day of shopping and one unsalted pretzel from Auntie Anne's).  

It didn't take me long to find what I was looking for.  On my way into Sephora,  I tripped over a huge stroller parked in the doorway (seriously?) and popped up in front of TheBalm's display.  Front and center was a small vial of  the perfect-looking berry pink stain: Stainiac in Beauty Queen.     There's a lot to love about this stain:
  1. The doe-foot applicator is exactly what I wanted - it's soft and pliant, which allows it to mold to my lips and cheeks (bonus!  rosy cheeks!).
  2. The color is buildable - put on a little, put on a lot, you're in control of this stain.
  3. Stainiac is formulated to allow for more time before setting; this means you can thoughtfully blend the stain instead of furiously smudge.
  4. Beauty Queen looks amazing on a variety of skin tones.  I get a little overly enthusiastic about new products ( read: nutty); I stopped two other women and forced them to let me put Stainiac on them.  Gorgeous on pasty fair skinned girl (me), warm olive undertoned woman, and hilarious African American woman (who ended up buying three bottles of the stuff).  
I've been experimenting with my Stainiac and have learned that it looks great under almost any lipstick or gloss, and that it lasts about 4 hours before reapplication is required.  Not bad.  Stainiac is also available in two other colors: Homecoming Queen (a soft peach), and Prom Queen (a light pink).  

Monday, September 22, 2008

Plus-size Line Opens Milan Fashion Week

Italians are long known for loving and celebrating the essence of woman - and Milan is showing their love by opening their Spring '09 Fashion Week with a show by plus-size designer Elena Miro. Opening the week is a pretty big deal for any designer, much less a designer of plus-size clothes.

The models all appear to be (best guess) between size 12-16. Sure, they're on the small end of plus-size, but it's really nice to see women who look more like us than not. One of the most common excuses that straight size designers give for using size 0 models is that they believe clothes look better on women without curves. Elena Miro disproves that theory. Her line isn't available here in the States, but if you're going to be in Italy (obviously) or the UK anytime soon, stop in at Harrods for the complete collection.

What to Wear- Vacation

I know, I know - vacation is so subjective.  Your trip to Seattle is not the same as my trip to Chicago.  The dress code varies by location and the type of activities that you'll be dressing for.  But at the core of dressing for vacation, the basics of what you'll be wearing are probably pretty similar.  For example, it's never wrong to pack a dress - it's up to you whether it needs to be a black cocktail number or a cotton sundress.   

With airline fees skyrocketing (suddenly, it's unreasonable to check luggage and so you must pay extra - nice), packing everything you need for a three or four day trip in your carry-on is almost essential (that $25 luggage fee is a new top!  or a pair of party heels from Payless!  Or a pair of earrings!).  I'm heading to Las Vegas as the end of this week and have begun prepping my suitcase.  Here's what's in my luggage.Black jersey dress that can be rolled up into a ball and will shake out, wrinkle-free.  Black surplice dress from Lane Bryant. 
  • Black cotton skirt.
  • Two tee shirts, super soft and in primary colors (one blue and one green, for me).
  • Purple cotton tube dress
  • Three tanks in coordinating colors (black, white, red)
  • Cargo bermuda shorts (for when I don't want to carry a purse)
  • Black cardigan
  • Flat black sandals
  • small silver clutch purse
  • swim suit & coverup
I'll be wearing my heaviest clothes (so they still make the trip without taking up room in my suitcase): jeans, a soft cotton top, tennis-shoe type skimmers.
  • Small flat iron
  • makeup kit which includes a palette of eyeshadows and blush, tinted moisturizer, blush, mascara, eyelash curler and two shades of lipstick (mauve for day, red for night)
  • 3 oz. of hair smoothing balm 
All of the clothes I'm bringing work together to create a variety of outfits, while cutting down on bulk.  For example, I can wear the purple tube dress alone or underneath a couple of tanks and the cardigan.  Layering and mixing will be key.  I'm not loading up on shoes; instead, relying on a pair of black leather flats and my skimmers.
Steve Madden Shicago sandal (yes, that's the way it's spelled)

I sometimes seize up in a panic when packing for a trip; what if I get there and hate all the clothes I've packed?  What if my selections are all wrong?  What if...I don't know.  Just what if? To combat those possibilities, it's a good idea to plan ahead (no packing the night before, throwing clothes into the case willy-nilly).  And instead of adding an extra pair of "what if" shoes, toss in two extra "what if" necklaces.  Rely on your accessories to provide the versatility you otherwise lack with a small suitcase of clothes & shoes.    

Beauty How-to: Contour Cheeks

Up until recently, I'd erroneously thought that cheek contouring was something only runway models and Hollywood types did.  I thought that in real life, the technique of carving out cheek bones would look overly made-up and cheesy.  I've equated the contouring technique with this:  The updated idea of contouring first piqued my interest when Stila came out with a compact called the Contour Trio.  Each compact contained a highlighting shade, a lowlighting shade, and a neutral shimmer.  This new product gave me pause and had me re-thinking the Joan Collins-esque look.  

I dove into my makeup bag and pulled out a few products that mimicked what was in the Contour Trio and began experimenting.  After a few missteps, I think I've mastered this face-altering makeup technique.  And when I say altering, I mean it in the best possible way.  

Most plus-size women carry some weight across their cheeks.  It's not always easy to see where a Bombshell's cheek bones. This lack of definition can make her face look less dimentional and proportionate.  Contouring is the only way I know how to fake cheekbones.  When done correctly, it'll be a subtle difference in the landscape of your face.  But one that will make a big (but subtle!) impact.  

To get started, you'll need:
  • Blush in a shade suited to your skintone
  • Blush that is slightly darker (something with brown undertones); you can use bronzing powder too as long as it doesn't contain shimmer
  • A light shimmer eye shadow (cream or powder, your choice)
  • A blush brush that isn't big and fluffy
  • Eye shadow brush
Start by dipping the blush brush into your darker shade of blush.  Tap off the excess.  Place the brush at your temple and sweep it into a C-shape along the underside of your natural cheek bone. 

Dip the blush brush into your everyday blush.   Position it at the outside corner of your eye.  Gently sweep in a C-shape along the top side of your natural cheek bone.  

Now, grab your shimmery eye shadow and brush.  Sweep the shimmer shadow along your brow bone, right underneath your eye brow.  This pop of highlight at your eyes will balance the contouring at your cheek (and also makes your eyes look more wide open).  That's it!  You're officially contoured.  

If you can see stripes of color on your cheeks, you need to blend them out really well and use a lighter hand the next time you contour.  

My product picks for achieving a naturally contoured look are:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Curvy Jeans for Curvy Girls

I honestly feel good about myself - my size, the way I act and look - 96% of the time.  That other 4% is reserved for jeans shopping.  Seriously.  Shopping for jeans (and oddly enough, only jeans. Other pants don't faze me) usually reduces me to a puddle of denim and wailing in the middle of any given store's dressing room.  My biggest problems are:
  • They fit my thighs but are huge in the waist.
  • They feel good in the waist but are about to split across my thighs.
  • Where the hell did my butt go?  It was here a minute ago...
  • Why doesn't this otherwise perfect pair come in a longer length??
Now, my issues may not be your issues.  But I'll bet you can relate to the teariness and self-loathing and dressing-room depression.  Let me tell you something:  It's not you.  It's the jeans. You and your body aren't the problem.  You're fabulous!  Beautiful!  Those jeans would be lucky to be worn by you and your curves. 

Say it with me, Bombshells, all together now:  It's not me.  It's the jeans. 

With that in mind, keep these pointers in mind the next time you hit the stores looking for the perfect pair of jeans.
  1. Don't settle for less-than-great fitting jeans.  You'll always feel just a little self-concious whenever you put them on. 
  2. Expect to pay upwards of $50.  I'm not an elitist, I'm a realist.  Sure, you could score a great pair of jeans on clearance for $20.  But a pair of jeans is not the place to skimp on your clothing budget- quality counts on this much-worn closet staple. 
  3. Pay attention to cut.  Just because the jeans are on and buttoned doesn't mean they fit.  Choose the cut that best flatters your body.  The most flattering choices are usually either boot (fitted through hips and thighs, slightly wider leg opening) or wide leg/trouser (falls straight from the hip to a wider leg).  With boot cut, make sure they aren't too clingy on your hips and thighs.  In a wide leg/trouser jean, make sure they hug your butt a little so you don't appear shapeless.  
  4. When you find a flattering pair, buy them!!  Don't hesitate, don't second-guess, don't go grab a pretzel and think you might come back for them.  Buy them now.  In every color available.  And get them in long and short lengths so you can wear them with heels and flats.  

Photo credits: Macys.com; AppleBottoms.com

Beauty Moment- DDF Protect & Correct UV Moisturizer SPF 15

I'm a firm believer that whatever makeup you put on your face is only going to look as good as the skin underneath it.  Go natural, pile it on - doesn't matter.  What's important is how well-cared for your skin is.  Which is why it'll probably surprise you to find out that I have never found a daily moisturizer that I love.  I've got one or two that I slap on every morning because I need that moisture and SPF.  But unlike my cleanser and toner (which I adore and whose scent and texture both make me feel like I'm at a spa, getting a professional facial), I've gotten no pleasure out of  moisturizing.  So when I was given a bottle of DDF Protect & Correct UV Moisturizer SPF 15 (try typing that 15 times quickly!), I kind of shrugged and thought, "Eh, ok." I didn't know that I was about to begin using a moisturizer worth getting excited about.  

DDF is a skincare line that was developed by a  dermatologist to address some of the most common issues that he treated in his practice.  Dr. Howard Sobel wanted to create an over the counter skincare line which provided similar results as those products on the market that required a prescription.  The focus of DDF is comprehensive skincare through a selection of products that cleanse, protect and treat your skin.  The Protect and Correct moisturizer falls under the protect umbrella.  

In addition to providing SPF protection against UVA & UVB rays, the moisturizer helps correct the appearance of discoloration and evens out skintone.  Discoloration or hyperpigmentation is not a condition I currently deal with, but it makes me feel good to know that this moisturizer will ensure that, as I age, my skin will be protected.  It goes on smoothly, gliding over my skin and making it feel quenched and plump.  In fact, I no longer need to use a primer on a day to day basis to prep my skin for makeup.  This moisturizer makes my face feel soft and evenly toned.  The lotion does smell like sunscreen, but the scent quickly fades away.  I like the pump bottle, which ensures that the product isn't contaminated by fingers reaching in and touching the cream.

If you're on your own quest for a new moisturizer, or if your skin is showing the signs of sun damage through hyperpigmentation, I whole heartedly recommend DDF Protect & Correct UV Moisturizer SPF 15.  I'm definitely a new fan.   To read more reviews on this product, head over to Total Beauty.   You can purchase DDF products online or at Sephora.  

Photo credit: DDFskincare.com

Beauty Moment- Dior 5-Colour Eyeshadow

As much as I try new products to keep you guys informed on what's new and great, I occasionally fall into a rut.  If you're a regular reader of Bombshell Beauty, I'll bet you can pick out which brands of makeup I turn back to again and again (Bobbi Brown, Benefit, Stila, to name a few).  I've been making a concentrated effort to get to know more brands.  One that I have consistently avoided is now a new favorite - Dior.  

I hold an inexplicable grudge against clothing labels who expand into beauty lines.  Why?  I guess it's because I don't feel that these lines are in it for the right reasons - the love and passion for beauty products that are embodied by brands like Bobbi Brown.  I hate the idea of fashion houses simply trying to capitalize on their success and popularity in clothing by offering up makeup as an afterthought.  Not that I exactly have my finger on the pulse of Dior, Chanel and others.  Enough of my weird biases.  Back to the makeup.  

Everyone worth their lashes has tried Dior's DiorShow Mascara.  My two new hero products from Dior generate a lot less buzz than DiorShow, but are absolutely worthy.  The first is 5-Colour Eyeshadow in Sky Glow 009.  It's a substantial compact (that is packaged in it's own Crown Royal-like velvet bag) of the softest, almost cream-like shadows I've ever used.  The consistency is wonderful because the shadow instantly adheres to your lids - eliminating drop down (that annoying dusting of powder shadow that accumulates under your eyes).  Sky Glow contains (from top left) teal blue, bronze taupe, pearl, grey and silver.  The shadows layer really well over top one another, and you can build the color from just a wash to a more intense look.5-Colour Eyeshadow compacts are available in a variety of colors - I've got my eye on Earth Tones 673, which contains a really beautiful maroon shadow. 
 
The second product I'm flipping out over is the fragrance, J'adore.  Blending orchid, Damascus plum and amaranth wood, J'adore is feminine and sensuous without being overly musky. I feel like a real woman in this scent.  And, while I absolutely hate the perfume's campaign (which features an almost unrecognizable Charlize Theron who looks like she's about to pull down the front of her dress. It makes me uncomfortable.), I absolutely love J'adore.  And the bottle even looks like a Bombshell, all curvy and pretty.  

I hate to admit that I may have been wrong about the whole fashion house = evil and opportunistic when it comes to the beauty department.  My icy heart has begun to melt, and I just know I'll be getting a makeover at Chanel next.  Til then... 

Closet Check- Tops

A closet check - much like a middle school "hand check" - ensures that everything can be accounted for, wardrobe-wise. Do you have certain tops that serve specific functions (i.e. work shirts, going out tops, something to throw on Saturday morning), or do you try to make them fit whatever situation you're in i.e. forcing that work-appropriate button down to go out on the town or asking your co-workers to believe that sparkly top is totally appropriate for Monday's staff meeting? If so, you might have a closet situation.

Facts are facts - it's a tough economy and shopping for new clothes every week is not something everyone can (or should) do. I'm all for making your clothes pull double-duty whenever appropriate. There's the kicker, though - whenever appropriate. For example, I own an amazing cotton black wrap top that fits in absolutely anywhere I take it - paired with gray dress pants and a cami for work, ditch the cami (show off the girls) and add jeans for date night, pull on over a tank and yoga pants for running errands. But most of my shirts fit specific aspects of my life. And I'd look pretty silly if I tried to make them fit in where they don't belong. There are three major categories to each Bombshell's life, and each one should have its own clothes.

Work
Whether you're in a corporate 9-5 job, work part time in a shop or run your own business from home, you're most likely expected to look a little more pulled-together in your work life than elsewhere. Look for tops that are polished. Go for fabrics that are more substantial (as opposed to wearing t-shirts to work 24/7) such as poplin, fitted sweaters or silk. And for heaven's sake, make sure your bust is covered. If you're going to spend a little more money on any category, do it on work tops.


Evans Grey Strip Jumper Shirt, $50



Going Out

I frequently see women trying to pull off evening-wear at the office. Slapping a cardigan on over a slinky tank top does not make it office appropriate. Similarly, it's incredibly boring to wear the exact same thing out to a club or to Saturday night dinner that you wore throughout the work week. No need to splurge here, but keep your eye out for tops that have embellishment or other funky details, that highlight your cleavage or shoulders. Think fun and sexy.Ashley Stewart Tie-neck Bubble Top in Caramel, $34



B & Lu's Paloma Top, $16 (on sale)



Casual

A closet full of basic tee shirts is incredibly boring, even if soft cotton is the definition of casual comfort. Again, no need to splurge; just look for fun cotton tees in a variety of shapes and colors. You'll probably be able to slip on a tee once in a while at work, too - under a cardigan or a great blazer.

Avenue Smocked Detail Top, $24.95

Old Navy Shirred Scoop Neck Top, $22.50

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Beauty Moment- Estee Lauder Give Away

I have a special opportunity for you Bombshells.  You're invited to join a really cool shopping community called Ideeli.  It's by invitation only and gives you free access to some incredible deals on luxury items like designer handbags, jewelry and more.  In fact, Ideeli is giving away 5 sets of Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultimate Youth Creme Duos (valued at $350). 

 I accepted my invitation a few days ago and have been monitoring the site to see whether I think it's worthwhile or not; I have to say yes.  There are a couple levels of membership - you can pay a fee to become a "front row" member.  This affords you early access to the special deals, all of which are offered for a limited time.  You can be a second row member for free, which still gives you access to the goods.  It's an interesting concept, and the first of it's kind - an invitation-only shopping experience.  Trust me when I say that it's highly addictive and you'll find yourself constantly checking to see what merchandise is now available (for crazy low prices!).  

Click here to access the Bombshell Beauty invitation - let's hope one of us wins the Estee Lauder duo!

Shoe Lust

I love this shoe so much it hurts:It hurts only slightly less than the price tag ($348 Kate Spade dollars).  I think there are few statements more alluringly sexy, yet prim and proper, than a great animal print heel.  With a pencil skirt, peeking out from under trousers or jeans - amazing.   It's so hard to find this print done in a way that is not cheesy...this pair by Miss Kate hits it perfectly.    I just know I would kick some serious ass in these shoes.  


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How To Create a Stylish Ponytail

I love a good ponytail, but I'm terrible at achieving that bouncy/ voluminous combo that makes it look like you're having a ponytail day on purpose. Jessica Matlin of Allure.com's Daily Beauty Blog got insider tips on how to create a stylish ponytail from Kevin Lee. Lee is a creative director at Manhattan's Kenneth Salon. Here's what he told her to do:

•Start by applying a root-lifter to dry hair. Forget gel and hairspray: They'll be murder to comb through.
•Flip your head over, and blow-dry. This activates the root lifter.
•Backcomb (aka tease) the roots at the crown of your head. "What’s that mean?" you ask? Good question. "Pretend you're wearing a yarmulke," says Lee. "Get as close to the scalp as possible, and backcomb the roots of the hair that would be under it."
•Now very delicately, use a classic boar-bristle brush to smooth hair over the teased section. The point is to conceal all that backcombed hair.
•Make a ponytail in the center of the back of your head and fasten it with an elastic, smoothing any fly-aways with a light finishing spray.
•Check your profile in the mirror. "If your ponytail looks like a question mark, you did it!" he says. "But if the back of your head looks humpy, start again."
To read Jessica's entire article, click here.
From Allure.com/beauty/blogs/reporter, How to Create a Stylish Ponytail, posted on 9/16/08.

Beauty Moment- The Rest of My Stash

I had no idea you guys would be so into checking out my makeup stash.  I appreciate the interest, and the comments you guys have left letting me know which beauty products you love, love, love.  Here's a picture of the rest of my makeup collection.  
I didn't realize, until snapping this photo, that I have so many blushes: two shimmer bricks by Bobbi Brown, a Stila Convertible Color, a light pink pot of powder blush from Stila, a gorgeous peach from Global Goddess, a gel tint from Tarte and a bright peach shimmer blush from Bobbi.  That's in addition to my favorite Nars blush, Dolce Vita.  Geez.  I've only got two cheeks.  
I also want to point out the Benefit It Stick - I went through three of them last winter but lost track of it over the spring.  I totally forgot how much I love that thing - it instantly brightens up the corners of my eyes, hides blemishes on the go, and lets me eke out the last of my summer foundation by lightening up my skin underneath. 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Closet Refill

My best girlfriend told me today that she's cleaning out her closet tonight.  I'm excited for her because, frankly, she has a ton of clothes that she never wears.  It's time.    I'm also slightly envious  of her because nothing gets my pulse going like a good closet cleaning.  Not only does she get to toss and clear and organize what's currently in the closet, she gets to refill it with a few fun new things.  This got me thinking - just because my closet doesn't need to be cleaned out doesn't mean I can't orchestrate my own mini-refill.  Right?  (Just say yes).

I've been trying to be ruthless as to what is in my closet - it was just getting way too hard to get dressed in the morning with the rack jammed full of multiple pairs of black pants (But WHICH black pants should I wear today???) and piles of candy-colored sweaters (Did I already wear a red one this week?).  So I'm trying really hard to make sure that whatever goes into the closet is truly loved and needed.  Here's what's on my list of items I want to add this season:
Floral prints are big again this season, but I want something a little different - something a little moodier, more graphic and less literally floral.  So I'd like a top with a black and white floral-esque motif.  It'll go with everything (pants, skirts, jeans) from now until spring, and can look different with a variety of accessories (a pop of yellow, blue, hot pink, whatever) and under different jackets.  You'll notice that this circle-print top from Liz Claiborne isn't technically a floral print...but I think it's got a cool rose feeling to it. 
 Love, want, need a vest STAT.  In addition to falling under the "trendy now but actually kinda classic so you can wear this forever" category, a vest can do really great things for a Bombshell figure.  Most of them nip in at the waist, creating curves and defining the waist - both good things.  When choosing one, make sure that the buttons fit your chest - i.e. you can close the buttons.  If you have a small bust, you can choose one that buttons up higher (like Lane Bryant's version above).  Bustier girls should choose a vest that buttons lower on the chest so as not to look like your breasts are being held hostage.  
I've been searching high and low for a great, classic white button-down shirt that doesn't make me look...lumpy.  And shapeless.  You know, icky.  I think this one from Kiyonna is going to do the trick - it's actually cut with the assumption that the woman wearing it has boobs and hips and a tummy.  Also, could someone please give me that model's hair already?  Thank you.

I know this list is pretty tame, but for some reason I'm really feeling all minimalist and classic.  We'll see how long that lasts...

Photo credit: LizClaiborne.com; LaneBryant.com; Kiyonna.com

Friday, September 12, 2008

Beauty Moment- Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Mask

Bliss Spa is known not only for the amazing treatments available in their posh-yet-accessible digs, but also for making those same treatments available and effective to women in the comfort of their own bathrooms.  Bliss's most renowned treatment is the Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing facial, for which many a Hollywood hotshot flock to the spa.  The 85 minute treatment includes intense cleansing, exfoliating, extraction, an oxygen wrap, an calming oxygen milk mask, and a vitaminized oxygen spray - all of which create a smooth, glowing complexion.  The benefits are supposed to be both instant (fresh, glowey skin) and cumulative (long term glow and happiness).   Sounds amazing, yes?  Of course.  And it's only $160.  (Gulp)

If you're like me and you want instantly fresh, glowey and cumulatively happy skin on a regular basis, but don't want to jump a plane to one of Bliss's locations and shell out $160 (plus tax and tip), then pick up a bottle of Bliss's Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Mask for just $52.  It's become my go-to treatment whenever I need a quick pick-me-up.

I'm sure the full-on facial is worth every penny. I wouldn't know.  I can tell you without a doubt that I never want to be without the Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Face Mask again.  Two pumps of the vaguely citrus-scented gel massaged over my face creates the most surprising foam that tingles all over.  It feels funny and tickly and awesome all at once.  Feels like what I imagine those little Scrubbing Bubbles do to my bathtub and sink whenever I clean them.  Anyway.  So the gel foams up and tickles for five minutes before dissipating.  At which I rinse my face.  This is when it starts to get good.

Every time I use this mask, my face looks cleaner, brighter, clearer, happier than it ever has.  Think your skin looks good now?  Use the mask.  Think your skin looks dull and dry?  Use the mask.  Think your skin needs some serious TLC?  Use. The. Mask.   It's completely addictive and you'll have to stop yourself from using it beyond the recommended two to three times per week.  Don't just take my word for it, see what fellow beauty lovers have to say about it over at Total Beauty

Photo credit: BlissWorld.com

Feeling Victorian

This shirred-top dress from Persephone Plus has great potential, especially in the coming months ahead.  The open neckline is absolutely beautiful - it lets you show off some skin without being all obvious (i.e. Pussycat Dolls) about it.  The dress is moody in a very Victorian kind of way, which I love right now.  It's so incredibly feminine and right for a dinner date or holiday party this winter. 

In order to avoid looking like you just got back from dress rehearsal for Blythe Spirit, I would steer clear of accessories reminiscent of the same era - no chokers, pearls or pointy shoes.  Skip the necklace in favor of major earrings.  And think about round-toed Mary Jane heels or strappy sandals.  

The dress comes in both long and short sleeves (your choice) as well as your choice of black knit, or velvet in black, midnight blue, forest green, plum or cranberry.  

Photo credit: Persephoneplus.com

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Unlikely Source for Fabulous


Can you just imagine how gorgeous this embroidered sweater would look with a full, flouncy black skirt and aviator pumps?   It doesn't get more Bombshell (as in authentic, 1950's gorgeous Bombshell) than this.  Guess where you can buy it?

Coldwater Creek.  Yep.  Color me shocked.  

Photo credit: ColdwaterCreek.com



Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Spa Week is Coming...!

You may have heard rumors of an amazing event called Spa Week.  Legend has it that 100's of spas offer treatments for just $50.  Treatments that you read about, enviously, in The Cut or Harper's.  Treatments that typically cost several hundred dollars.  Guess what, girls?  It's not a rumor.  It's Spa Week!  And Spa Week isn't just on the East Coast anymore.  

That's right, it's expanding across middle America and the West Coast.  Yay!! Get ready to book because you know the spas are going to fill up fast! 

Spa Week will be out west Sept 15-21.  You can start booking now by clicking here.  Spa Week is in: 
  • Arizona
  • Washington State
  • California
Spa Week will be heading east October 13-19 in:
  • Colorado
  • Washington D.C.
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota (yes!!!)
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Virginia
You can begin booking appointments for the middle states and East Coast beginning on Sept 15th.  Click here to do so.   Check out Spa Week's home page for more information. 

Bombshell Book Review- The One Hundred by Nina Garcia

I'm such a sucker for books on fashion and style.  Admittedly, they all begin to read the same - I mean, there are only so many points of view on tapered jeans and what every woman should have in her closet.  And yet, Nina Garcia's second book, The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own, differentiates itself enough to warrant a thorough read-through.  Why?  Two reasons:
  1. Nina is surprisingly down-to-earth and funny which makes the book a really fun read.  
  2. The book is illustrated by Ruben Toledo.  You may not know the name (although you should), but you'll recognize his work.  It's absolutely fabulous.  
Nina breaks down the 100 pieces (alphabetically!) that she goes back to over and over within her own wardrobe, giving specific reccomendations such as where to find the best everything from skinny belts to denim jackets.  But she isn't all high and mighty about it, acting like you are a complete waste of time if you don't own a cape.  Refreshing.   She also extolls the virtues of white Hanes t-shirts, which I love.  The thought of Nina Garcia pushing a cart around Target, packing it with three-packs of tees and Diet Coke.  What a great visual - and yet, it's totally feasible.  Granted, there is no way in hell that I'm going to rush over to Chanel to pick up a pair of ballet flats (unless Chanel does a capsule collection at Payless, in which case I will sharpen my elbows and head for the mall).  But the book got me thinking about my wardrobe: what could use refreshing (a crisp white button-down), what I'd like to invest in (a chic sheath dress) and what I'm going to love forever (my mom's plaid wool wrap skirt from the early 80's).   

The One Hundred by Nina Garcia is fun and informative, packed full of suggestions for building a wardrobe you'll love and peppered with fun facts about fashion (the origins of espadrilles, anyone?).  This hardback book looks great peeking out a huge statement bag or perched on the bathroom sink.  You can find it in any major bookseller.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Put on Your Party Clothes

Everyone knows that you should never wait until you have an event to buy an outfit - you're just asking for disaster there. You'll race around, trying on whatever you can get your hands on at the last second and will feel grateful to have found some stupid, uncomfortable, mumsy dress that you otherwise would never allow to grace your closet (much less your curves!). Not that this has ever happened to me...yeah.

Anyway - party clothes. Don't wait until you have a party to attend. Pick up something new and flirty now.

This fancy purple top makes an entrance, for sure. The sheer fabric is sexy, while the ruffle placket has a tuxedo vibe. It would look great paired with crisp black pants. Get a little crazy by wearing shoes in a bright color: red, blue or hot pink would be great.

Stand out in a crowd of little black dresses with a sophisticated print. This floral print number is evening appropriate thanks to it's darker tone and the satin belt. The little black dress reigns supreme for good reason. You'll never go wrong when you show up wearing yours. And with a quick change of accessories, you've got a new outfit with every new invitation. I like one like this floaty tie-neck dress. It's form fitting but flowey, and the tie neck is long enough that it draws the eye down - creating the illusion of height.


Photo credits: Evans.uk.co; JessicaLondon.com

Monday, September 8, 2008

Beauty Moment- Peek Inside My Makeup Bag

I spent part of this past Labor Day weekend cleaning out my makeup bag. Ok, bags - plural. I tried to whittle down my stash of all things beauty so I could fit it into one central bag.

Yeah. That didn't work out. I tossed everything that was cracked, crumbling or smelled weird. But that still left me with as much inventory as my local Benefit counter. So I organized all the makeup I don't wear on a daily basis but still need (sparkly eye shadows, backup eye liners, and a ridiculous assortment of lip glosses), and created a smaller bag full of the items I use every single day. Wanna see what's in that one?

Nars Blush in Dolce Vita- this powder blush looks very intense in the compact, but brushes on super light. It gives me a really natural "I just came in from the cold" flush.  I like that the color is buildable, too, so on days when I've got a little more color in my cheeks I can tone my application. 

Bobbi Brown Corrector in Light Bisque - For those days when I look like I've been up all night drinking (even when I haven't), I spread a healthy layer of corrector on the dark circles under my eyes. Then I top it with one dot's worth of Stila's Illuminating Concealer in Light. If I can get the concealer close enough to my lash line, I look incredibly well rested. If I can't, then I just rely on the light-reflecting particles in the concealer to do the work for me.

Global Goddess I-Divine Eyeshadow in Batasia - this neutral birch brown shadow is my go-to when I don't have time to get creative. It makes my green eyes look alive. Worn underneath my Stila Eye Shadow Pan in Kitten, it makes me look polished in an instant. I can't live without Kitten. It's the perfect pearly/shimmery neutral shade that goes with anything else you want to throw on top of it. And a little bit dabbed in the corner of your eyes goes a long way toward glamourous.  When I want a little extra nighttime oomph, I reach for an old school product from Benefit - a coppery Show Offs loose shimmer powder called High Roller.  

Nars Lipgloss in Frisky Summer - This gloss feels smooth and shiny but is ultra pigmented so the color wears like lipstick. Frisky Summer is a bright, saturated raspberry pink that instantly perks up my complexion. To add more depth to my lips, I like to layer it over Nars Lipstick in Tutti Frutti. Tutti Frutti is a sheer strawberry shade that lasts and lasts. There's just something so ladylike about swiping on lipstick, isn't there?

Rounding out my makeup bag is Stila Natural Finish Oil-free Makeup in B, Urban Decay Eye Shadow Primer Potion, a sample size Vincent Longo's The Curl Mascara that I got with an order from Beauty.com (makes my lashes look full but natural), and another Benefit fave- Dr. Feelgood.  I pat this clear, mattifying balm on underneath foundation and then over my chin throughout the day as needed.  

Maybe next time I'll show you my "reserve" stash of makeup - the stuff I don't use every day but just can't part with.  In the meantime, what's in your bag?  

The Revolution Continues

I received a mailer (with coupons!) from Lane Bryant this weekend in which they announced that the Right Fit Revolution is expanding. If you haven't been in an LB for a while (ok, a long while), you might not realize that they changed the sizing on their jeans. Instead of choosing your cut (classic, boot, etc) and your size (14, 16, 18, etc), you choose a cut and your Right Fit Shape color (red, yellow, or blue). You can figure out your Right Fit Shape a couple of ways - being measured by an LB Associate, or (my preferred method) grabbing a bunch of jeans in each shape and trying them all on. Before hitting the stores, check out this video so you know what to expect.

I've expressed my annoyance over the fact that buying jeans at Lane Bryant is now harder, but I will cop to a few things: once you figure out what fit you are, it's much easier to shop; I like the fact that the definition of "fit" has changed from "Uhm, it's on. And buttoned." to "Wow! These jeans make my butt look amazing!"; the majority of Bombshells that I've talked to like the change as well.

So you will be excited to learn that the Right Fit efforts are moving beyond jeans and into the realm of work pants, starting with the Houston and Lafayette pants. If you didn't get this weekend's mailer with coupons, click here to sign up for coupons to be sent right to your mobile phone. Be sure to read through their disclaimer information.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Maybe if I had this outfit from MXM, I would be at work already instead of sitting in front of the TV watching the New Kids on the Block on the Today Show, rocking my pajamas.  

Ok, probably not because it's the New Kids.  But seriously, I want this outfit.  The houndstooth bolero jacket feels incredibly fresh.  And it's such a focal point that it turns two basics that are surely already in everyone's closet (white tee and curvy black pants) into an incredibly snazzy outfit.  I feel more productive just looking at it.  Imagine the work I could accomplish actually wearing it.  

Illustration credit: MXM.xom

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fall Update - Jewelry

Contrary to what every issue of Us Weekly or People Style Watch would have you believe, it's not necessary to overhaul your wardrobe every season. In fact, your wardrobe should be made up of enough quality pieces that you just need to supplement your basics with a few drops of new blood. Be inspired by these great pieces of jewelry that will get you excited about pulling on the same clothes you wore last fall.

This white tiger bracelet looks like something iconic jewelry designer Kenneth Jay Lane may have concocted back in the 60's. It's gold plated with white enamel and looks tres' chic - and thanks for Fred Flare, it's completely affordable. Yup, $14.
These delicate necklaces from Red Envelope would look perfect paired with a crewneck sweater or tee shirt. Available in silver or gold, I like the bottom one that features a star and a tiny plaque that reads Dream. $49.95-59.95.
Jump on Ebay to find unique statement pieces like this octopus necklace for super cheap. This one was about to be snapped up for less than $15, including shipping. And you can bet that you won't spy every other Bombshell walking down the street sporting the exact same look.
Real, fake, it doesn't matter. Get yourself a ginormous pair of studs and wear them with confidence. No one's going to be looking close enough to tell what grade your diamonds are - so they might as well be cubic zirconia (for now, anyway). Unless of course you're able to buy the real deal in which case, by all means. The point is, a little sparkle at your ears is going to class up any outfit. Buy this set of two sterling silver cubic zirconia sparklers from Overstock.com for just $19.99 (plus shipping and handling).

Photo credit: Fredflare.com; RedEnvelope.com; Ebay.com; Overstock.com

Beauty How-To: Chartreuse Eye Shadow

Paging through the September issues of my favorite fashion magazines, I found articles in each of them on the new strong eye color for fall: chartreuse. The photos accompanying the articles were very editorial (i.e. no way in hell a normal woman could go to work wearing jacked up eye shadow like that!). I almost dismissed the chartreuse eye trend as stupid and lame and...you know, stupid.

But then Nars sent me an eye shadow duo called Sea, Sex & Sun. I'm not sure which shade is Sea and which is Sex and Sun, but one is a mustard yellow (above right) and the other is pretty darn close to chartreuse (above left). At least, it's the most wearable chartreuse I've seen. And wearable it is. I've been running around putting it on everyone I know so I can get the full effect on various eye colors. I kid you not - it worked on every single person I slapped it on.
  • Green eyes- gives them a soft-focus sparkly effect.
  • Blue eyes - made them pop
  • Light gray eyes - pulled out flecks of gold
  • Brown eyes - made them look darker

Here's how I created the my new favorite "Yep, I'm having fun with makeup" look with Sea, Sex and Sun:

  • Prep lids with Urban Decay's Eyeshadow Primer Potion.
  • Sweep the mustard yellow shadow over entire eyelid.
  • Press the chartreuse shadow onto your lid from lashline to just above the crease. Blend until there's no line between the two shades.
  • Here's where you can customize your look - go all out by pressing more chartreuse onto the lid. Or tone it down by pressing a chocolate brown shdaow along the crease. Very versatile.
  • Line upper lash line with a black, dark brown or navy blue liner - make it a thin line so your lashes look very thick.
  • Curl and coat lashes with mascara

With such a high-impact eye, keep the rest of your makeup neutral. Go for a soft peachy shade of blush and a light lip.