A Touch of Velvet

Listen to me.

You can’t do the holidays without velvet, in my opinion.

As surely as the sun sets earlier in the winter, so too will the crushed velvet rise.

When I was a kid, it was all about the velvet dresses from Sears for Christmas mass. And I always looked fierce in those. Imagine my surprise, when as an adult, I see jewel-toned velvet dresses for sale at Christmastime in American Apparel. Just like the ones I used to wear, except, you know, with 100% more boob.

I am still all about that velvet dress. Hell, at Free People the other day I saw a velvet jumpsuit and got freakin’ ZAZZED.

That being said, in my day-to-day holiday dressing, I like to incorporate velvet a bit more subtly. (Not that I want my velvet to be subtle? Let’s be real it’s definitely good for some high-drama, regency-esque shit. I just mean, not having a full-body velvet moment? You know what I mean.)

I’ve found a couple of velvet pieces that can be toned up or down based on what you pair them with. What is guaranteed, is that holiday velour-feeling goodness.

T-shirt

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When I saw this little velvet t-shirt from Zara, I knew I had to have it. How perfect. I could wear with jeans, trousers, or a skirt. The clean cut and simple design of it makes it super versatile and the perfect piece to take from the AM to the PM.

Available Here (in other colours)

Skirt

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A velvet mini-skirt is a classic. Well, classic to the 90s anyway. This one from Urban Outfitters is a rich burgundy, and has the classic skater shape, which I find looks banging on almost everyone. Pair it with a t-shirt, a blouse or, my personal fave, a turtleneck.

Available Here

Choker

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If you’re really not keen on the velvet, and want to go a very subtle route, there exists for you velvet accessories. I’ve had this velvet choker from Brandy Melville for a while now, and it has featured it in some of my other posts. Now it’s back as a relevant example of a small touch of velvet. With that deep colour and thickness? It’s a statement piece for sure. Just picture me wearing that choker and a full, floor-length dress doing the Kate Bush moves from the “Wuthering Heights” music video.

Available Here

Shoes

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Again, if less velvet is more your thing, another perfect accessory is a shoe. I’ve seen a ton of beautiful velvet ankle boots making the rounds, but these pointed low-heel shoes from Zara are the perfect party shoe for me. Once more with the jewel tones, my friends. Since these shoes are a deep navy, they go with just about everything. I also wore these shoes to work, running up and down stairs for a few hours and they didn’t kill me. So, that’s a bonus.

Available Here

 

 

 

Current Skincare Essentials

As far as skincare goes, I am no expert.

I couldn’t tell you about the benefits of this ingredient versus that ingredient, couldn’t break down the chemical makeup of a facial cleanser and explain how exactly it can help your skin.

What I do have is a little bit of experience, and a lot of trial and error.

For me, like many others, high school was when I first started noticing skin problems. Acne was my number one problem, but despite having dryness too, I tried to blast the acne away with the harshest products from Oxy and Clean & Clear. I just wanted my zits gone. I wanted to have beautiful, clear skin like this one girl in my grade, who never wore makeup and had beautiful glowing skin. (what a bitch, right?) I had a lot of issues with envy in high school. Not to say they’ve magically gone away now that I’m older.

In high school, I was thinking about the here and now. I wanted the fastest solution possible to get my zits gone. I continued to try different skin-clearing products, all promising a flawless complexion.

My skin did clear slightly when I entered university, only to horribly flare up my third year with dozens of bumps all along my chin area. I was so embarrassed by the bumps and so desperate to get rid of them that I fell right back into my pattern of trying every acne-killing, skin-drying product I could get my hands on. This backfired. Not only did I still have the acne, my skin was drying out as well. I felt like I was in puberty all over again.

In the end, the only thing that cleared up those bumps was a combination of a high-estrogen birth control and antibiotics. Fun fact: the doctor told me acne in that area of the face was usually hormonal.

Since my skin cleared up slightly, I’ve begun to rethink how I treat my skin. Instead of looking at the quickest solutions to blast acne, I’ve started think about my skin in the long run. I am only 22, but I’ve begun to think about how these treatments will age my skin, what my face will look like as I get older. (I’m really big on sun protection.)

With this frame of mind, I’ve slightly changed the way I treat my skin. I use hypoallergenic products, or ones safe for sensitive skin, to avoid any flare ups. Instead of hitting zits with a spot treatment, I use Bio Oil on them, to avoid drying out the surrounding skin and to prevent an acne scar from appearing. I always use a daily moisturizer with SPF. I try to make sure all of my makeup is removed before bed.

And yes, I’m even trying to drink more water. It’s a cliche for a reason.

I definitely don’t have perfect skin, but then again, who does? I’m happy with my skin right now. I live with zits as they come and don’t stress about getting rid of them right away. I’m not happy when I get them, but I accept them.

Having tried a ton of products in my short years of experience, I’ve found a couple that work really well for me and are the ones I keep going back to.

Kate Sommerville DTX Daily Cleanser

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Are some cleansers really superior to others? I’ve heard all kinds of advice: only use natural cleansers, this brand is better than that brand, only use plain soap or even just water.

There are so many different cleansers out there that the decision to pick one is a little daunting. This cleanser by Kate Sommerville is probably my favourite that I’ve tried, but is it the best one out there? Probably not. It’s what has worked for me.

First of all, it’s really deep cleaning. If I miss any makeup from the excavation portion of the nighttime routine, I know the cleanser will get the rest of it. Secondly, while it really cleans, it still feels gentle on the face. Also, I like the packaging, and while that absolutely should not factor into the decision, it definitely doesn’t hurt.

Bio Oil

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I don’t just use this on my zits. I use it for almost everything now. I’m like the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, just not with Windex.

Zit? Bio Oil. Scar? Bio Oil. A patch of stubborn dry skin? Bio Oil. Feeling down about he economy? Bio Oil.

It really works for me. That’s about it.

Cetaphil Daily Moisturizer

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I’ve been using this moisturizer for years. I don’t stray.

It’s simple, scent-free and has SPF. The holy trinity.

And it does it’s actual job, as in moisturizing my face, really well. I find it’s the perfect balance of moisture without being thick or clogging. I use it every day and will continue to do so until it is discontinued/I die/something better is made.

Mario Badescu Facial Spray

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This is a new fave for me. I’ve not been using this guy for very long but I already freaking love it. The spray has aloe and rose hips in it, so it smells really nice and it feels so nice and refreshing on the face.

I use it to: prime my face, set my makeup and refresh my makeup if it’s a long day. Also, it’s pretty dang cheap for the quality.

I previously used the Mac Prep + Prime spray for the same purposes, but I’ve been slowly finding replacements for every Mac product I have, and this is one of the best substitutes I’ve found so far.

Fresh Nourishing Lip Balm

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I consider lip care to fall under the umbrella of skin care, so here we are.

Since winter is coming, I really need a heavy-duty lip balm that will keep my lips for-real hydrated, and not just sit on top of the skin only to be rubbed off five minutes later.

This lip balm, while a bit pricy, is the ticket. I’ve already used it so much that I know I’ll need to stock up before winter truly kicks in.

Fresh Sugar Lip Scrub

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Similar to the lip balm from the same brand, this lip scrub will help me enormously when my lips become super dry in about a month.

Not only do my lips dry out from the cold, but I also wear lipstick all the damn time, which is pretty drying on its own. This scrub is really good at getting rid of any dead or dry skin and makes them look nice and smooth.

I consider this and the lip balm an apology from myself to my lips for the content lipstick abuse.

 

Chopped Off

Whether I like it or not, 2016 was a year of changes for me.

I graduated university, moved to a new city and have slowly been discovering life as an independent woman (mostly independent) (kinda) (sorta).

This is the year where I’ve fully felt distance from my family and friends. Friends that are still in Ottawa, or have moved back home. Family members that now have partners, jobs, pets, obligations that they need to see to before anything else.

Some of these changes are personal, and some more outward – some hardly affect me at all. Some I’m very happy about, and some not so much.

And now, I can add one very small change to the list.

This year was pretty big for changing my hair. As I’ve mentioned before, I had platinum blonde hair for two years before dying it brown and chopping it into a long bob back in January. That was a pretty dramatic change, and I actually startled some of my friends at school because they didn’t recognize me.

But that’s how I’ve always been with altering my appearance. Once I get an idea into my head of a new hairstyle, new makeup look or new aspect of my style, I jump into it right away. I get the idea and I think, “Yes, let’s do that right now.” I’m not very good at second thoughts or delayed gratification. Just a few of the many tragic flaws.

When September hit, the idea was to get bangs again. Luckily I had my sister to veto that. “You look like a child with bangs,” is a pretty discouraging statement for someone who’s trying to get a grown up job. *record scratching sound*

The bangs were a no-go, but I held onto the idea that I wanted to change my hair again.

It only took a few unfortunate encounters with scarf-tangled hair to decide to get rid of it.

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And that’s what I did. I booked an appointment at The Cabinet (great salon, highly recommend if you’re in Toronto), sat down in the chair and said, “Chop it.”

Now, I don’t think cutting your hair is a particularly brave thing. It can be hard – you can get comfortable having a protective curtain, and it’s certainly admirable to donate your hair, but it does grow back. Hair grows back and you can always try again. Also, wigs.

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So I cut my hair, shorter than it’s been for quite a long time. Possibly since I was a child. I cut it and it felt really good. It felt a bit freeing, even though the back of my neck is freezing now. That’s what scarves are for, and I can rock those bad boys with a tangle-free guarantee now.

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The only issue is I actually have to style it. Before, I would wash my hair, let it air dry and that’s it. If I do that with this length, it’ll look like a helmet. Now, I’ve got the works: mousse, blow dry, curl and texturize. It’s not a ton of work. In fact, it’s pretty easy, and super satisfying to run my hand up the back of my neck and feel how short my hair is.

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When I first got it done, I was worried the hair wouldn’t be cool on me, that I would look too old. I was worried about being unattractive.

Then, of course, I remembered that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

I love it and it makes me feel good, and that’s all you really need. Who knows how I’ll get it done next, but that’s the thing about changes – they can’t be predicted.

Shooting Star

Sometimes, all it takes is one piece. You can find a single item that inspires an entire look, an entire aesthetic.

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This happened to me recently and the item in question was a scarf. The scarf was from Zara, a store I can be dubious about the majority of the time based on a combination of bad press and chaotic business. What I will say is they do good scarves – every time I’ve bought one from there, I’ve lived in it. They’re soft, warm and can easily be converted to a blanket when the moment calls for it.

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On a wandering trip into Zara with Selena, I saw this star-patterned scarf and fell a little bit in love. There’s something awfully whimsical about it, and maybe it’s because I was in a particularly Christmas-y mood despite the fact it was the end of October, but as soon as I saw it, I thought, “This will be the holiday scarf.”

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Other than the classic outfits I see pairing with this guy (i.e. jeans and a tee, black jacket, the usual suspects) I got inspired to create a look with black and gold touches, to correspond with the scarf’s stars and navy.

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A little gold can take a gal a long way, and in this top from Anthropologie, I feel a little badass, a little glam and a little like a shooting star. Throw in a cute skirt and some sparkly eyeshadow, and it’s all golden-holiday ready.

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And yes, I am talking about holiday looks in November, when the high was 11 degrees celsius today but THAT’S JUST HOW I DO THINGS.

Please be advised that this humble blog with becoming increasingly Christmas-y as the month of November continues, culminating in an explosion of holiday cheer and festivity come December.

This has been a PSA. Thank you.

OUTFIT DETAILS

Scarf – Zara

Top – Anthropologie (Similar!)

Skirt – American Apparel

Boots – Shoe the Bear

Tights – American Apparel