10 Things I Learned in 2016

  1. Every person is fighting a battle you know nothing about. This is an old phrase that was never more relevant to me than this year. Case in point, I got to know a girl this year who always made me feel like crap. Someone who is prettier, skinnier, smarter and all around just… more. I got to know her, expecting not to like her on the basis that I’m jealous of her. Not only do I really like her as a person, but I realized she has to deal with her own deep insecurities. Turns out, we’re all pretty similar in that regard.
  2. You can’t measure your own success by comparing it to others’. Facebook is a black hole of life updates and passive aggressive-ness. Every single time I went on and saw that someone I knew got a job/got published/was in a relationship/was just looking a lot more successful than me, I would get a little jealous and a little sad. That says a lot about my own insecurities, but it’s also common to compare yourself to the people around you. The problem is, when we see everyone’s highlight reel on social media, we think it reflects negatively on ourselves. Firstly, just be happy for others when they find success. Secondly, work on your own shit instead of complaining that other people are getting somewhere.
  3. It’s okay to be scared. In 2016, I graduated from university and moved to a new city. I was excited, but I tried not to let on too much on how I was also terrified. I was so scared to move and to not be a student for the first time in my life. And you know what? It’s totally okay that I was scared. It’s a pretty natural response, and you shouldn’t ignore it.
  4. There are going to be times when you’re alone, and that’s also okay. I have very few friends in Toronto. I don’t get out very much, and I find myself doing most things alone. And that’s fine. There are going to be times when you aren’t surrounded by your friends. It’s part of moving on and changing.
  5. It’s so important to get to know yourself. To reiterate my last point, I’ve spent a lot of time alone in the latter part of this year. I’ve become comfortable with myself, and have gotten to know the current version of me a bit better. I think doing this is a big step in actually being able to like myself.
  6. That boy is literally not worth it. Whatever it is. If you’re pining, angry, hurt or confused, the dude’s probably not worth the trouble.
  7. You will not land in the perfect job right away. Despite what most movies/Facebook will lead you to believe, it’s pretty hard out there for everyone. It’s hard to find a good apartment. It’s hard to find a decent job. It’s incredibly hard to find a decent job you like. You need to keep putting yourself out there, working crappy jobs and fielding rejections left and right. I’m told one day it’ll all pay off.
  8. You need to take care of your skin. I MEAN IT. Moisturize, drink water, wear sunscreen and be kind to your face, goddammit.
  9. No one cares what you’re doing at the gym. Honestly. No one is looking at you. Don’t feel embarrassed, don’t feel like you’re not allowed to take up space. Just do what you gotta do.
  10. “Adulting” is not a thing. Everyone you know is just trying to figure out how to get by in this life, no matter how old they are or what job they’re in. We’re all just figuring it out.

Merry Christmas From The Sondress

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To all who celebrate, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone is having a great day so far, whether you’re with family or friends, surrounded by strangers or alone. Take some time to relax today and decompress from the pre-holiday craziness.

My next blog post will be up on New Year’s Eve, but after that we’ll go back to regularly scheduled programming.

See you soon! xx

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A Little Red Lip

While I absolutely condone the use of red lipstick year round, there is no better time to put on a red pout than during the yuletide.

It’s the ultimate go-to party look. It’s the iconic Christmas look. You can’t go wrong with that bold, beautiful, bright lip colour.

Think Marilyn Monroe. Think Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge. Think Jessica Rabbit, even. Femme fatales everywhere unite.

And you can definitely go simple on every other aspect of your makeup and focus on the lip. Or you can go with a full dramatic eye as well. Screw the rules. Wear your red lipstick however you want to.

Lately, though, my favourite makeup to do on the daily is a basic face with minimal eyeshadow and then that bright lip. It’s quick and festive, so I can get ready for work in minimal time but I can also show up looking like I put in a ton of effort.

The secret with any bold lipstick, of course, is practice to get those precise edges. But let’s be real, I don’t have the skill even with practice, so I rely heavily on lip liner, makeup remover and concealer. In that order. While I said a red lip is quick for me now, it is always a good idea to leave yourself some extra time if you want to get it perfect. Just like with eyeliner, yanno?

Given that I am rocking a red lip rather frequently as of late, I thought I would compile a short list of my favourites at the moment. These are lipsticks that have great colour payoff, are easy enough for me (a non-expert) to apply and have each lasted a 6-hour shift at work.

stila All Day Liquid Lipstick in “Beso”

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As far as liquid lipsticks go, this is a good one. It has a wand application, which is easy enough to deal with, and the colour is ridiculously rich. Keep in mind, once this liquid lipstick is on, it is on. There is no going back unless you want to redo your whole face of makeup.

NARS Audacious Lipstick in “Olivia”

 

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This is the only NARS lipstick I own and I’m really not sure why. Frankly, it’s fabulous. The  formula is rich and moisturizing, and when I reapply throughout the day, the new layer still goes on smoothly, not like other lipsticks where reapplication becomes really cakey and gross. (“cakey” and “gross” being the technical terms)

Bite Beauty Matte Creme Lip Crayon in “Rose Hip”

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Bite Beauty is my everything lately. A Canadian, female-run, cruelty-free beauty company with good products? Sign me tf up.

This lip crayon is a bright, pink-based red that goes on so smoothly. It’s similar to a lipliner, so it has decent staying power, but it’s also easy to remove, meaning if it gets really messed up halfway through the day, you can wipe it off and start from scratch. This is the red lip I can get nearly perfect in under five minutes.

Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in “Mistletoe”

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Did I say I liked Bite Beauty? Because I really do. This lipstick is a Christmas edition, and as soon as I saw it, I went, “Yep. Need that.”

This lipstick is super moisturizing, but I wouldn’t recommend applying it without a liner first. Since I don’t have one that matches perfectly, I’m currently using an old Sephora brand lip liner in a generic red just to get the shape down, and so the lipstick doesn’t bleed out at all. Once that’s done, though, it’s straight to those mysterious, femme fatale vibes. But also festive, of course.

My Favourite Christmas Movies

I was originally going to call this, “The Best Christmas Movies” or “The Definitive Ranking of Christmas Movies” but then I remembered that taste is subjective, and I think we all forget that sometimes.

ANYWAY.

I’m a big Christmas movie nerd. In my time, I’ve seen my fair share of them, both popular and not-so-popular, and while I’m always looking for new ones to watch (in desperate times I HAVE watched Hallmark movies, but I need to be in the right romantic, weepy mood) I do have those Christmas movies that I return to time and time again.

Remember what I said earlier about tastes being subjective? My tastes are definitely not everyone’s. For example, controversial opinion here, but I don’t really like It’s A Wonderful Life. Like man, that’s hard for me to sit through in its entirety, as much as I like James Stewart.

Also, I like kids’ movies. And animated movies. Christmas is kind of about being a kid again anyway.

Now, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are my favourites:

A Christmas Story

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This movie is a runaway classic, with enough mishap and mayhem to make the family at its centre believable. Amazing cast all around, with the same type of overly-dramatic flair we’ll all recognize from when we were younger.

What’s it about? One boy with a dream: a dream to get a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas. Never was a dream so unattainable. Chaos ensues, but the type of holiday chaos you can really identify with.

The first time I saw it – I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe, and I remember thinking: how have I never seen this before? My life was forever changed.

Love Actually

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Right, so the thing about Love Actually is, even if you consciously don’t like it, if it’s on during Christmas, you’ll probably watch it. Overrated? Absolutely not. Overplayed? Probably. Still amazing? Definitely.

Every year I forget how much I love this movie until I see it, and then I’m gushing about Colin Firth all over again. (Honestly, the movie needs to be seen for Bill Nighy’s performance as an aged rocker alone.)

What’s it about? A collection of sometimes related-sometimes not stories about Brits that all play out in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Ridiculously sweet and at times heartbreaking. Also, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman are in it.

The first time I saw it – Probably was waaaaaay to young to be watching it, especially during the body double sequences. (You know what I’m talking about.) The whole movie gave me the warm and fuzzies, even if I couldn’t fully grasp some of the concepts that I am (unfortunately) familiar with now.

The Polar Express

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FOR SOME REASON every time I mention that I like this movie, someone goes, “Ugh.” WHYYYYY. I get it, okay, it’s pretty strange to adapt a children’s book into a feature-length film, but while some of the action sequences run long, I think a decent job was done. I like trains and I like Christmas. Done and done.

What’s it about? A young boy beings to doubt the existence of Santa, so in the middle of the night, a mysterious train comes to take him on a trip that will change his mind. Based on the children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg.

The first time I saw it – In theatres with my mom, which seems like an age and a half ago now. (2004!!!) It was long ago enough that I was amazed by the animation, and to be quite honest I still think it was pretty dang good for the time.

A Christmas Carol

OKAY BUT THERE ARE TWO VERY IMPORTANT ADAPTATIONS OF THIS STORY:

  • The 1951 Version

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Why? Because it is amazing. It’s the best no-frills adaptation ever done. Alistair Sim IS Scrooge. The first time I saw it, I only saw the ending. I walked into the living room during the scene where Scrooge wakes up a changed man after his dream. To this day, I think that entire scene is one of the best I’ve ever seen in a film. It made me so inexplicably happy, and I now watch this version every year.

  • Mickey’s Christmas Carol

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Why? Do I really need to say? This is the version of the Dickens story I grew up with. I loved it, but I was scared of the Ghost of Christmas Future. Though, I think everyone is a little bit. A little creepy, a lot heartwarming.

The Holiday

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I know, I know. Max cheese. But it’s so good. Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, my people. Also, can we talk about how Jack Black is actually pretty fantastic in this? While it is a bit predictable, The Holiday is also really, really sweet. It has no ulterior motives other than being about people falling in love, with each other and with themselves.

What’s it about? An American and a Brit swap houses for Christmas, and wind up becoming involved in way more than either of them imagined. Jude Law (who is weirdly tan in this by the way) is there too.

The first time I saw it – With my sister, and now it’s a tradition for us to watch it together because we’re both secret soppy messes who love this type of shit.

Christmas in Connecticut

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THIS MOVIE. HAS EVERYTHING YOU NEED. Literally – a zany comedy with Barbara Stanwyck’s amazing wardrobe, Sydney Greenstreet doing his thing, an I-love-to-hate character, a few classic Christmas mixups and the most stupidly handsome, stupidly nice, piano-playing sailor you’ve ever seen.

*pauses for breath*

What’s it about? Elizabeth Lane, a writer working with a pen name and a pretend life, must scramble to convince her boss and a war hero that she is an an amazing cook living with her husband and child in Connecticut when she is, in fact, none of those things.

The first time I saw it – I was with my mom and I was melting into a pile of festive goo every time the sailor, named Jefferson Jones, naturally, did anything on screen.

Home Alone

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A great movie with a great cast and, interestingly enough, a pretty good sequel. I won’t speak for the 3rd, but Home Alone 2 is just as good as the first. Chalk it up to a winning formula of Christmas, physical comedy and Macaulay Culkin when he was still an adorable kid.

What’s it about? Eight-year-old Kevin McCallister is left behind on his family’s Christmas vacation to Paris. At first it’s his dream come true, but trouble arises in the form of the Wet Bandits: two crooks out to rob every empty house in Kevin’s neighbourhood.

The first time I saw it – I think it was at a friend’s house, at a sleepover around Christmas, all of us cracking up at the traps set for the burglars. This was, of course, one of the Christmas movies at the time, and I think can be comfortably moved to the category of contemporary classic.

Arthur Christmas

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According to my sister, I am obsessed with this movie. And yeah, I more or less am.

It’s just so excellent. The animation is great, the jokes all land, the storyline is genuinely sweet and there is no. unnecessary. romantic. subplot.

What’s it about? The current Santa Claus, in a long line of Claus’, is on the brink of retirement. His older son Steve, a corporate militaristic type is set to succeed him, while the younger Arthur seems set to spend the rest of his days in the letters department. OR SO WE THINK.

The first time I saw it – About three years ago, putting off studying for exams by wrapping presents and watching a movie. In that moment, sitting on the floor of my room with tape all over my hands and this movie on, I felt so ridiculously Christmas-y. I still love to put this movie on in the background when I’m doing any kind of Christmas-realted activity.

Holiday Lookbook 2016

When one thinks of “holiday attire” there are a few things that immediately come to mind:

  1. Velvet
  2. Sparkle
  3. Jewel tones
  4. Silver and gold
  5. GLAM

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I’m down with all of these concepts. So down, in fact, that when  I considered making a Christmastime lookbook, I actually had to narrow down my outfits to only four, to both keep this post from being way too long and to prevent myself from showing up to the shooting location with four bags of clothes in tow.

And for this post, please welcome a guests photographer: my friend Emily MacDonald!! She is an amazingly talented photographer and all-around badass lady. She took all of these pictures on my iPhone and they are all better than the ones I take with a semi-professional camera. Go figure.

If you want to see more of her pics, check out Emily’s Instagram!

Without further ado, onto the lookbook! Get yourself some tea, put on the Boney M Christmas album and enjoy these pictures of me wearing clothing.

LOOK 1

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Sweater: Anthropologie

Shorts: Zara

Tights: American Apparel

Boots: Topshop

Watch:  Daniel Wellington

All rings from Free People and Urban Outfitters

LOOK 2

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Dress: Urban Outfitters

Shoes: Zara

Watch: Daniel Wellington

Moon ring: Bloody Mary Metal

All other rings from Urban Outfitters

LOOK 3

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Jumpsuit: Anthropologie

Shoes: Michael Kors

Watch: Daniel Wellington

All rings from Urban Outfitters

LOOK 4

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Top: Aritzia

Trousers: Zara

Shoes: Zara

Watch: Daniel Wellington

All rings from Urban Outfitters

 

A Little Gift Guide (2016 Edition)

IT’S CHRISTMAS!

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(It’s not Christmas, but it is December, basically the same thing.)

Since this is The Sondress’ first Christmas, I wanted to mark that occasion with nothing but holiday-themed posts for the month of December! I’m very sorry if that’s not your thing, but it is absolutely my thing. So.

To start it all off, I present to you a gift guide. Unlike other gift guides, it’s been written by me. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing yet. Let me know.

Here’s the deal: I love Christmas shopping, I really do. I’ve worked in retail for years and I still unapologetically love almost every commercial aspect of the holidays.

Now that I’m reflecting on it, maybe that’s because I work in retail.

Anyway, here’s a gift guide, with some gifting ideas. I hope it gives you some inspiration in your gifting adventures this season.

Tickets

Say you have a friend, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a family member who’s been talking bout that play or that exhibit for what seems like ages.

Be the Christmas hero this person deserves and surprise them with tickets! (Plus, if this was something you were also interested in, why not get one for yourself, too? If it’s not you’re thing, find out who’d they want to go with!)

If you’re near or in Toronto like myself, here’s some great places to start:

National Ballet of Canada

Art Gallery of Ontario

Mirvish Theatre

Plants

This is the perfect present to get for the person who you have no idea what to get.

You feel me?

Succulents are, interestingly enough, way trendy right now, but they’re also a great gift. An inexpensive, low-maintenance, tiny way to add some green to someone’s home.

It’s easy enough to find plant sellers now: if you don’t live near a market, try your local florist and see if they have recommendations.

If you don’t want to keep it in the container it was purchased in, then pick up a cute mug or cup from Value Village for a quirky touch.

Beauty

Does anything get anyone going more than a holiday-themed beauty set?

Probably lots of things, but I mean, it’s up there, right?

A quick check at Sephora or Shopper’s Drug Mart can show you some great gift sets, but if you’re in the market for something special, may I make a recommendation?

This year, Too Faced has come out with holiday products set around the theme, “Christmas in New York.” It’s PERFECT.

 

The first set, called The Grand Hotel Cafe, is a set of three eyeshadow palettes and a mini Better Than Sex Mascara. The shadows are gorgeous and the palettes are scented, like almost everything Too Faced does.

Find the set here.

The second set, called The Chocolate Shop, also contains gorgeous matte and shimmer eyeshadows. In addition it features a few blushes and a lipstick, and everything is chocolate scented, naturally.

Find the set here.

Magazines

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Kinfolk Issue 22. Image Source

It’s 2016. There are magazines for literally everything.

No matter who you’re shopping for, there’s probably a lovely magazine that exists that caters to at least one of their interests.

You can find so many at Chapters, but independent book stores and magazine shops are also great places to look. If you can find one in your area, chances are they’ll have magazines you’ve never heard of before.

Magazines, especially nicely-put-together ones, are coffee table decorations and light reading material all at once.

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The Coastal Table Winter 2016. Image Source

Some of my personal favourites?

For fashion and lifestyle: The Gentlewoman, Kinfolk, Hunger and Darling.

For food: The Coastal Table, Sweet Paul and Lucky Peach.

Monogrammed Accessories

If you’re on a budget, if you need to get a gift for someone you barely know or if you’re pressed for time, the clearest solution is just to put a letter on it. 

Monogrammed accessories are perfect. Who doesn’t love a little personalization? Bring out the narcissist in those around you, in a good way.

And if you’re looking for monogrammed gifts, I’ll just point you towards Anthropologie.

Monogrammed Jewellery

Monogrammed Keychains

Monogrammed Mugs

Monogrammed Journals

Honestly, just look up “monogrammed” on the website. You’ll see.

Lastly, consider the following

There’s a certain satisfaction in buying the perfect gift. If you’re like me and are a bit of a shopaholic, then you have no problem scouring store to store to find that one, right gift.

On the other hand, buying presents Christmas has given the holiday more stress than it needs. That search for the perfect gift can turn into a unending quest not unlike the Odyssey, just with less boating and more malls.

Instead of doing the buy-a-present thing, why not make one?

This doesn’t have to mean you do a full-size marble rendition of your intended giftee, we’re not all Michaelangelo. Or Martha Stewart. What I’m saying is getting a little creative is always on option. Bake something for someone. Create a photo album with some of their favourite pictures. Pick up some craft supplies at Walmart and make a wreath for them to hang up. Pinterest is a gold mine for hand-made Christmas present ideas that don’t require a fine artist’s hand. It sounds a bit cliche, but some of the best presents are the ones you take the time to make.

And anyway, Christmas is the best time of year to be a little bit cliche.