Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Feeling Quirky

You know what keeps life interesting? Small doses of quirk here and there. Like this:

Anna Scholz takes quirky upscale by adorning a classic cashmere sweater with heart-embellished sleeves. It's a fun way to get back to your elementary school roots.

Sling B and Lu's Freebird Scarf around your neck for equal parts warmth and cuteness. A quirky accessory injects new life into your basics - like a black tee shirt and jeans, or a work-worthy dress.

Little quirky touches here and there go a long way, like with this Forget Me Knot ring from Fred Flare; a delicate lace stitch hat from Knits and Bits on Etsy would look so cute clamped over wind-blown hair and a fall jacket; or add a hand-made brooch onto a sweater or at the waist of a wrap dress. Get creative!

Now, quirkiness (no matter how small the dose) does require a lack of concern on your part as to what others may think of your efforts. Just remember that as long as it's making you smile, it doesn't matter if you garner a few double takes or lifted brows. That tells you that you're doing something right!

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cure for Sleeplessness

I've been having one helluva time getting to sleep lately. After addressing any deeper, underlying issues (stress, anxiety, etc), I reached into my beauty arsenal to create a calming bedtime ritual. The star of that particular show?

Aromatherapy Stress Relief Eucalyptus Spearmint Massage Oil from Bath and Body Works. Scent is a very personal thing, but to my senses there's nothing more instantly calming and soothing than this fresh, woodsy combination of eucalyptus and spearmint. A capful of the oil in a warm bath makes my skin feel soft and silky. The scent (and its calming effects) clings softly to my skin without overpowering the senses. This is good stuff.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Athleta Plus Sizes

I try to make a point of highlighting plus size retailers who carry at least up to size 24. But in shunning those who are dipping their toes into the plus size market by offering only select plus sizes (16-20), I'm not supporting those brands who may eventually expand their sizes. With that in mind - Athleta offers its upscale workout and yoga gear up to size 20. It's well-documented that much of my motivation for and enjoyment of exercise hinges on cool workout clothes. And Athleta offers a fun range of tops, pants and more. Here are a few of my favorite pieces:

The Shanti Cami is as functional as it is stylish, thanks to its super breathable, stretchy fabric. I also like that the neckline is higher than most camis, so you won't have to worry about a wardrobe malfunction while changing yoga positions.

Take a hike in the Point to Point Pant; it's a comfortable, moisture-wicking pant with plenty of pockets for holding trail mix, a compass, and your keys.

Cozy up in the Plush Lush Jacket on your way out of the gym. Your hard-won curves won't be concealed in this semi-fitted, perfectly seamed jacket. And neither will your sense of style.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009 plus size clothing winner

Congratulations to PJ - the winner of our second plus size clothing give-away. Please email me in order to claim your prize.

There's one more chance for you to win a free top, selected by plus size clothing, and sent directly to you. Be sure to have joined their e-mail list in order to be eligible. This contest runs until October 23rd.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I've always been into ruffles. Ruffles of all kinds.
I like these Ruffles:

I also like these ruffles:

This ruffle chiffon dress from Alloy. It's available up to size 3XL, and is so pretty. The belted waist and ruffles down the side help shape a really flattering silhouette for Bombshells. And it's different - not the same old stuff that you see everywhere else, you know? I appreciate that. Wear the dress over dark tights, with leggings, or dark skinny jeans.

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Beauty Moment- Bobbi Brown Sheer Color Cheek Tint

Bobbi Brown's newest cheek product - Sheer Color Cheek Tint - looks absolutely delicious. I usually avoid using foodie adjectives to describe things that are not, in fact, food. But the first thought that popped in my head when I saw this shiny, chubby stick was, "I want to take a bite!" Like it was a fabulous little popsicle. And in fact, the sheer wash of color the stick leaves on your skin is perfectly light and fresh - much like a brightly colored frozen treat. Do you disagree?

Shown in sheer pink, the cheek tint is available in six soft, gorgeous shades. One of them will be perfect for your skin tone and will make you look lit from within. Another cliche' that I try to avoid, but again - I can't seem to help myself.

Available at your local Bobbi Brown counter or online for $22.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Beauty Moment - Favorite Skincare Starter Kits

I love a good skincare routine. Cleanser, toner, moisturizer, masks, the ritual...I love all of it. At the same time, committing to a three-plus piece skincare regimen can be spendy - who wants to do that without being pretty darn sure it's going to work? No one, that's who. Which is why starter kits are a cost-effective way to figure out if that cleanser's going to feel greasier than you thought, or if that moisturizer really is going to change your life before plunking down major cash. Check out a few of my favorite starter sets, all of which are available at Sephora:

Kate Somerville's Skin Health Starter Kit includes three of her most essential products: Gentle Daily Wash, the cult fave Exfolikate, and Nourish Daily Moisturizer. Kate has built her reputation on the youthful glow of some of Hollywood's stars (Annette Benning, who looks ah-mazing; Kirsten Dunst, Jessica Alba and others). This starter set puts your face in her hands (you know, kinda). With regular use, you'll glow as bright as any star.

If you're really serious about anti-aging products, consider the Youth Group set from Bliss. It contains five travel-size containers of the line's cleanser, toner, moisturizer, eye cream and conentrated serum. Combined, they make up every age fighter Bliss can think of - all packaged in a cute deluxe makeup bag.

The Korres Olive and Rye Regimen Kit will give your skin a soothing dose of deep hydration. And the aromatic combination of avocado, olive oil extract and macademia make this set as soothing to the senses as it is to the skin. Set includes milk proteins cleansing emulsion, day cream, night cream, and eye cream.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

There's something very rustic and cool about this chamois jacket:

There's a whole Amelia Earhardt trend going on right now, and this jacket fits right in...without seeming trendy. It looks lived in and well-worn right off the rack. But the princess seaming across the bust and the precise tailoring across the shoulders keep it feeling fresh and right. The pockets should hit right at the hips to flatter your curves; any lower and you may look out of proportion. Paired this jacket with jeans and boots for a casual day running errands, or toss on over a saucy mini-dress for a cool feminine/tough look.

Available up to size 24 at Coldwater Creek.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

So many people (especially men) erroneously believe that short hair isn't sexy. Behold:

This is Diablo Cody, Oscar Award-winning screenwriter of Juno, debuting her new fabulous short 'do at the premiere of her newest movie. This is her, before:
Clearly, a very cool- looking girl rocking a distinctive look. But...

Wow. Yeah, seriously sexy. I love it when women turn conventional notions of beauty upside down!

I found Diablo's picture on a web site called Celeb Salon - it's my new go-to resource to pick up new hair style inspiration from my favorite celebs.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Favorite Fall Look

The basic premise of this outfit - sassy dress under a long cardigan, belted - is shaping up to be my favorite look of the season. It's a flattering way to layer on a variety of colors and textures, while showing off a Bombshell's curves. This particular ensemble is made up of a separates from Lane Bryant.

The key to getting this look right is in the cardigan. Choose one that's long enough to match the proportional length of your dress. For example, if you choose a dress that's knee length, you can get away with a cardigan that hits at the top of your thigh. Like this:

Purple Burnout Rose dress from Torrid, paired with Thigh-length Gray Streaked Tunic Cardigan, also from Torrid.

If you choose a dress that's below the knee, pair it with a cardigan that hits between the thigh and knee. Another key cardigan tip? Make sure your cardy is a thin knit so your curves aren't obscured. A thick-knit cardigan will add bulk and overwhelm the whole look.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Beauty Moment - CG Lashblast Length Mascara

I've finally found a member of the Lashblast family of mascaras that I like: Lashblast Length. Gone is the short, inflexible, stabby wand. In its place, a long, ultra flexible wand that grips every lash (even the tiny ones near the corner of the eye). Lashblast Length's formula is less slippery goo, more light and silky. A major improvement.

Lashblast Length wears well all day, with no smudging or flaking. And when it's time to wash your face and go to bed, the formula rinses clean with your choice of soap & water or makeup remover.

If you didn't snap up a tube during Cover Girl's pre-sale event last month, you should be able to find Lashblast Length on shelves now at your local drugstore.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fall Style Trend - Cords

Add some texture to your wardrobe by trading in your standbye jeans for a pair of cords. Chocolate brown, dark plum, or a rich forest green can be fun and easy to work into your daytime look. Pick a pair with a very thin cord - a thicker cording will add extra bulk to your hips and thighs.

Pick up a pair of corduroys at Old Navy, like this cute pair above. I like them paired with a slim-fitting top, like this one:

Old Navy Puff Sleeve Wrap Top.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fall Style Trend - Suits

One of this Fall's hottest trends is the classic suit - updated, of course with today's fresh twist in silhouette and style. No matter who you are, or what you do for a living, it's a good idea to have one suit in your closet. Not only is it one of the quickest ways to look instantly pulled-together, but a suit is extremely versatile. It can be worn together or pulled apart and paired with assorted separates to create a variety of looks.

Kiyonna's 4 Season Suit in either gray or black can be mixed and matched with a blazer, trousers or two different skirt styles. I like the Godet skirt; it's made of a polyester/rayon blend that can be worn practically year-round. The skirt is playful and kicky thanks to the trumpet-style flare at the hem. The blazer features a waist-defining seam that will keep you looking more Bombshell than stuffed suit.

If a full-on suit isn't your style but you still want to play around with the trend, pick one piece of a suit and work it into the rest of your wardrobe. I'd pair Lane Bryant's Lace Back Tweed Vest with a pair of dark, bootcut jeans, heels and a tie-neck blouse for an artsy take on the suit.

Personalize your suit with underpinnings and accessories that speak to your personality. I feel like a fraud in button-down shirts, so I layer graphic tees under my serious suits. Brightly colored shoes and jewelry can add a little bit of pleasure to the business suit. As with any trend, put your own personal stamp on it.

Photo credits:; Lane

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fall Trend - Full, Blown-out Hair

I hesitate to call this a hair trend because the full, "done" look comes back in style every September. Blown out, curled or straightened hair is the polar opposite of the artfully mussed style many women spend June-August perfecting. It fits the more sophisticated clothes that pop up in stores (suits, jewel tone colors, structured tops and jeans), and the more serious make-up that pops out of every fashion magazine on the newsstand (red lips, smokey eye, blush instead of bronzer). Whether you choose a day style, like Jenny McCarthy's polished bob:

Or if you have the occasion for big-night-out hair like Anne Hathaway's:

I have two products that will make your transition from beachy, flowy locks to fall-worthy styles a snap:

Rub a nickel-size dollop of Nick Chavez Plump N' Thick Leave-in Thickening Creme in wet hair and comb through.

Blast a few shots of Nick's Flocker near your roots and then blow dry. Style as usual, building as much volume as possible - rely on a large round brush, hot rollers, or a large barrel curling iron to achieve truly Bombshell hair. Then set the whole look with Nick's Volumizing Extra Hold Hairspray. It's tacky enough to keep your style in place but is flexible enough to let your hair swish and sway around your shoulders.

I have naturally thick hair, so I was a little leery of adding a thickening cream to my styling routine. But this cream is incredibly light and left my hair feeling soft and manageable. Bonus? It smells amazing - clean with a touch of floral. Smooth away post-blowout frizzies with a pea-size drop of the cream, if needed.

Flocker is like no other product I've ever used before. Combined with the heat a blow-dryer, this foamy spray adds incredible lift to the roots. Adding a touch of Flocker to the roots of my second and third-day hair freshened it up, much like a dry shampoo. For best results, and even distribution throughout the hair, I like to shoot a couple shots of the spray into the palms of my hands and then rub through my roots and down to the tips. No build-up, even after a couple days' use, and again with the fresh clean scent.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lane Bryant Icon Collection

Monday marked the launch of Lane Bryant’s newest concept, the Icon Collection. Available online and in a handful of stores, Icon’s intention is to fill a gap within the plus size industry for pieces that are inspired by European runway collections – presumably Chanel, Lanvin, etc. This inspiration extends beyond the trend-factor of the clothing to include a more thoughtful approach to style, fabric choice and details.

More formal and slightly less artistic than Icon’s upscale peer, Anna Scholz, the collection is sophisticated and full of great pieces upon which a Bombshell could create a grown-up wardrobe. The price point on this collection reflects the attention to detail taken in crafting each piece – hidden zippers, fully lined pants and skirts, finished seams – and includes tops for $58, blazers and jackets just under $200 and dresses for $108. Given the fact that this collection, more so than any other offering by Lane Bryant, is intended to be a life-long member of your wardrobe (or at least last longer than their mainstream offerings) the price per wear is a good deal.

In my opinion, Lane Bryant’s price point vs. quality factor has been a long-standing issue. Prices have risen over the years on pieces whose design and fabric choice didn’t support a $50+ price tag. I haven’t had a chance to experience the Icon Collection in person, to feel the fabric and check out the construction, but I believe this to be an honest attempt from Lane Bryant to step up their reputation around quality.

My personal “Must-Have” from the collection is the short dirndl skirt – my mind reels with the possible outfits that I could create with this piece!

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Manicure Shortcuts

What I love about a manicure:
1. Expressing my mood via nail color
2. Perfectly painted, ultra glossy nails (chip-free of course)
3. The calm sense of well-being that I feel when my nails are done

What I hate about a manicure:
1. Painting my nails
2. Waiting for them to dry
3. Chips in my polish

A few manicure essentials have helped me work through my "I hate" list so I can get to the "I love" portion of the manicure quicker and easier.

Well-shaped, trimmed cuticles are one of the tell-tale signs of a professional manicure. In general, cutting your own cuticles is a terrible idea. Instead, soften and dissolve ragged cuticles with Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover. After pushing your cuticles back with a wooden orange stick, slather them liberally with Bliss Manicure's Best Friend. It's a nail-biters' secret weapon against hangnails and other such carnage.

Sometimes, you just don't have time to buff out every tiny ridge that mysteriously appears in your nails (Seriously, where do ridges come from? I never used to have them, then BOOM! I turned 26 and now have the ridgiest nails ever). Create the illusion of a flat, buffed surface for nail color with Essie Ridge-Filling Base Coat.

After applying polish and top coat, spray twice with DeMert Nail Enamel Dryer for a fast, smudge-free mani.

If you absolutely cannot deal with giving yourself a manicure, there's one more solution to consider: do-it-yourself artificial nails. I recently applied Revlon's artificial nails and was impressed with the overall look of the nails. They come already manicured; you simply have to glue them onto your own nails. They should last as long as a standard manicure (7-10 days) before they begin to show wear or fall off.

I will admit that applying artificial nails is easy in theory. I'm completely uncoordinated at tasks like that (where dexterity and the use of glue are required). My application was all around unsuccessful, so I'll be stuck doing regular manicures for myself. But if you're more coordinated than I am, give it a go. Revlon has a few different color collections, including a really fun Runway Collection which features very funky designs. Be sure to have plenty of patience and Acetone nail polish remover on hand if you decide to give them a try.

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