Sunday, July 27, 2014

Monthly Subscription Boxes/Bags: The review

Up until about a year ago, the only thing I knew that you could get on subscription every month was a magazine. All that changed one night after too much wine and WAY too much online shopping when I stumbled across an inviting, cute site called Ipsy. I quickly realized this was a subscription site that sends you a bag packed with 4-5 either full or travel-sized makeup/skincare items that came in a cute, uniquely designed makeup bag every month. At first, I felt intrigued but uncertain. Did I need a bag of beauty every month? But for only $10 a month, and having an extremely bare-bones beauty collection at the time, I thought "Well, a little variety can't hurt". 

It took another month before I took the plunge and signed up, but I've now been receiving an Ipsy bag for the last 9 months. I've got to say it has become something I love and look forward to. To start receiving, you take a personality quiz where they get a feel for what your style is and what products you'd use and like. Then, out of all the products they're offering for the month, they choose 4-5 and send them to you based on your quiz. You can go on to the site every month and rate the products you received, and from those ratings they determine what they should or shouldn't send you in the future. You can also re-take the personality quiz at any time if you feel that they're not getting your style quite on the mark. 

The fun thing about it is that you forget it's going to come. You get really busy with work and life and then suddenly, SURPRISE, it comes, in a really pretty big metallic pink padded envelope. It's like Christmas morning in your mailbox every month. You open the envelope, and inside is a pretty makeup bag that contains a surprise for you: an assortment of products that you might or might not have ever picked out while shopping online or in stores. I've discovered brands that I would've never even batted an eyelash at previously, and now I consider those brands and those products staples in my beauty routine. One of the best parts to me is that I get a free makeup bag every month too. I had so many that a few weeks ago I donated most of mine and kept only the ones I really and truly love, pictured below.

The funny thing is is that all the products pictured below aren't all the products I've received; I've given a lot of the items I've received away as birthday and Christmas presents because I knew I was never going to use them. For me, getting an Ipsy bag forces me outside of my beauty comfort zone and is a really wonderful conversation starter. It has connected me with a lot of women in a really fun way, which ultimately opened my eyes to all the other subscription boxes/bags out there.

I've been so surprised to learn that there are beauty subscriptions, clothing subscriptions, food subscriptions, etc. Below are some of my favorite monthly subscriptions that I've found out about in the last year:

Bark Box - This is a fun one. Each month you get a box with toys and treats specifically for your pup. So cute!

Spicy Box - This box is sexy. Each month you get an assortment of sexy time toys for the bedroom.

Glossy Box - My mother gets this one and she has shown me the great things that come in this box. It's like an Ipsy bag, but it has all kinds of things - gift cards, accessories, beauty, etc.

PopSugar Must Have Box - Pop Sugar cultivates a box composed of their monthly faves with clothing, accessories, fitness and food and send them to you.

Blush Box - This is the more PG-version of a Spicy box. It has more sensual things like bubble bath, lingerie, etc.

JewelMint VIP Box- This is a really cool site and subscription service where they send you amazing jewelry, and often extras like nail polish, perfume, bags, etc.

Beauty Army Box - For only $12 a month you get an assortment of 6 beauty samples of name-brands sent to you.

Nature Box - One of my good friends subscribes to this. You get sent an assortment of snacks every month and based on your reviews, they tailor your boxes to your tastes. I've tried the snacks - they're amazing and worth every penny.

Fabletics - Every month you get sent a new workout outfit based on your style and preferences and typical workouts. For someone who doesn't like shopping for workout gear, this subscription is amazing.

This website actually has local subscription boxes for every state if you're looking to support more locally:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Preserve makes its debut

I wrote a post a few months ago about the rumor of a Blake Lively lifestyle website, one similar to Gweneth Paltrow's Goop. Today, I saw the good news that I haven't been holding my breath in vain: Blake Lively's lifestyle website, Preserve, is now up and running.

It's a beautiful, rustic-looking website that makes me want to wake up in a cabin high in the mountains somewhere or start my own bakery. On the website you have the option of adding things to your "drawer" (a fun interactive website feature) for future buying. 

The photography on the website alone is beautiful, and the layout is very easy to navigate through. Everything is very thoughtfully laid out, the colors are very inviting - it feels like an extension of your favorite local hangout/boutique.

Blake Lively and Co. did an amazing job with this website. I know what's going to be taking up my breaks at work from now on...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Cut-Out Equation

There are a lot of trends that pop up on runways and in magazines that most of us can agree are better meant for the catwalk than a shopping at a farmer's market. Being someone who sports a more curvacious figure, trends aren't really where I look when building my wardrobe. However, there are some trends that come alone that make me think "Ok, I might actually be able to rock this and not look like a circus clown."

Such a trend has come along, and while I'm not sporting it with every outfit, I can definitely see working it into a top or bottom, in the right away of course. 

The trend I'm talking about? Cut-outs.

It started out subtly, showing up on the 2013 runway and since then has been gaining momentum to make waves on the 2014 runways as this:

Cut-outs aren't new in fashion by any means, but they're cycling back and having a very strong presence lately. The basic concept of cut-outs is this: draw attention to those areas, creating visual interest rather than a traditional dress or top and bottom. One celebrity that I've seen sport this in a really interesting way was Taylor Swift.

This top is conservative yet sexy, in just the right way. I saw this picture yesterday and have since hunted down a few cut-out pieces that won't make you feel exposed, but will still give you that sexy confident boost, like Taylor's outfit.

This is a really easy way to wear cut-outs without feeling exposed. I feel shoes are the safest way to break into any trend.

This top is a really wonderful way to wear cut-outs on top because you have them on the sleeves to wear they won't show your bra straps, and that area of the arm is a great place to show.

This dress is a really beautiful and casual enough that you can wear to work with a nice blazer and heels over it, and then you can wear it to the grocery store and out on a date. The cutouts are there, but they don't overwhelm the dress. They don't expose too much and they're very sexy yet subtle.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The beauty path less traveled

So a couple of weeks ago, I started down a path with a wonderful organic beauty product to see what would happen. In the last few weeks, my super-sensitive skin's redness, irritation, and a lot of my major acne cleared up very quickly. It's been amazing, day by day seeing the overall transformation of my skin. The brightness, the clearness, and most importantly the confidence I've felt glowing from within. I've been unfeeling unstoppable. 

Until Monday night, that is. After a stressful fight, I saw the signs of a major breakup rearing it's ugly head. While there was no redness or irritation, I could see the bumps from extreme stress raising, and alarmingly fast. Quickly I began to scour my drawers from something to stop the breakout, and I found a tiny little tube of Murad Acne Spot Treatment. It was a sample-size that I had gotten for free from Sephora last week because honestly, free sample = why not????

I dabbed some very lightly on the areas I saw the bumps raising, meditated, went to bed nice and early and woke up Tuesday morning to....the worst my face has looked in over a month. 

Since using the organic beauty product, I've stopped using any kind of acne treatment. Almost a whole month without anything artificial touching my face. My lotion is organic, my cleanser is organic, and now my go-to beauty treatment is too. After a month of essentially detoxing my face, this little bottle of promises turned my skin into a field of raised, puffy and itchy red patches. It was something out of a beautician's nightmare.

After coming home, I promptly threw the bottle away and decided that even if I break out in the future, I will never treat it with chemical formulas again. Even if I look like a crazy person smearing honey and crushed almonds and lemon juice on my face, I would rather take the chance of being a bear's favorite dessert than a mine field of itchy red patches.

Moral of the story: If you've been on an organic kick/detox and suddenly have the urge to use something mainstream/chemical-filled, try to create/find an organic, non-chemical blend instead. Your shell-shocked skin will thank you.

Organic Acne Alternatives:

- Tea Tree Oil
- Vitamin A
- Garlic Clove
- Cucumber
- Mint Juice

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Have you seen The Grand Budapest Hotel? If not, it would be in your best interest watch it immediately. I'm not going to force you of course, but I am strongly and sternly going to recommend you stop watching dishes/working out/making out with your lover and watch that movie. I had seen the trailer for the movie a few weeks ago, and I was instantly smitten before even having watched it. It came across as a movie that didn't miss a beat, and finally seeing it, well, I wasn't disappointed. 

Last night I was able to wrangle my husband into sitting still long enough to start the movie, and within 15 minutes we both were laughing and utterly captivated with the world that Wes Anderson created. The colors, the costumes, the sets; every scene pulled me in further until I looked over about an hour in and realized my husband (who doesn't watch movies because he can't still long enough for one) was completely entranced. Success! 

Everything about that movie was inspiring, but the costumes were really amazing. Several characters caught my eye, but the two I loved most were: older Zero's suit when he's first introduced in the lobby, and Willem Dafoe's character. Willem Dafoe's character has the most amazing black leather jacket that has a secret pouch in the front for his flask. I need that jacket. Immediately. 

One of the only screen shots I could find that even somewhat remotely does his characters outfit any justice. He has a bevy of rings on his fingers, an intense shot spiked haircut, and a killer leather jacket. Long story short; amazing.

Older Zero when he's shown sitting in the lobby evoked a lot of emotion for me. I was instantly drawn to his outfit. You don't see it for very long on screen, but I saw enough of it to hunt for a screen shot when I got home. I was in luck, as the internet is full of awesome and happened to provide just what I was looking for.

At first glance, his outfit only very slightly stood out from the traditional 60's hotel interior because it was a bit darker than the varying browns, but it still blended in as an almost extension of the room. If you really look at the colors, they're varying shades of red and brown; deep plum, brighter burgundy, deep brown, sand - all these colors play off of the interior as a natural continuation of the color palette. He's the owner of the hotel, and he's comes off as melancholy, which only adds to the overall feeling. When we're first introduced to the hotel it's a shell of it's former glorious youth; a more melancholy, sad existence. The two compliment each other, which as the story goes on only makes sense and brings the connection into a more obvious light with everything that unfolds.

The outfit by itself though is really layered and amazing. The outfit seems shabby chic. A worn-down lux feeling comes across with the varying velvet  and corduroy pieces. The turtleneck seems of a very rich quality, and the shoes are a throwback, almost a nonchalant nod to earlier times. To sum it up: accidental excellence. He didn't seem to so much be trying as he was just simply was, and that outfit didn't seem to be precocious or flashy. It was lovely, but without thought. 

Quite simply: effortless.