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.

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.

Latest Faves: Mid-Autumn Edition

Seasons change, etc. etc.

I’m still unsure if I will make seasonal favourites a regular occurrence, but for now I continue to enjoy things, and those things continue to change as time goes on.

Without further ado, here’s a selection of various clothes, beauty and random things I’ve been into lately.

Friends, I use natural light for my pictures so they’re a bit terrible.

Fashion

Urban Outfitters “Girlfriend” Jeans

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This is one of the most obvious favourites I could’ve picked. These jeans have featured in nearly every outfit post lately, and it’s because I love them and no one can deny true love.

When I first tried these on, I was so shocked at how well they fit that there was a near breakdown in the fitting room. Jean shopping always seems like a losing battle, but that day I felt like Patton. Or something.

I always wear the black pair, but you know I also bought them in a blue wash. Because obviously.

Free People Knit Sweater

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Knit sweaters for fall? Groundbreaking.

Listen, folks. It’s a seasonal staple for a reason. It’s getting colder, so you wanna snuggle up in some thick, warm goodness, but it’s also that perfect time where I can wear a sweater like that with no coat over it.

This guy from Free People is amazing. Perfect colour, perfect length, super cozy. Say what you want about that store, but they kill the sweater game.

*Moonwalks away humming Sweater Weather*

American Apparel Denim A-Line Skirt

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When you are a person with hips and a butt, a-line skirts are a mere dream. An urban legend, something you’ve only heard but never experienced.

If you don’t know, here’s why:

Unless that skirt has a hella lot of stretch, there’s no way you can get an a-line to fit both the booty and the waist. You’ll have to size up hugely and get half of the damn thing altered and at that point the skirt is twice as expensive and you stand there in a Topshop shaking a fist at the heavens for both the blessing and curse of a bodacious bod.

Anyway.

I found this skirt in an American Apparel, and it fits perfectly. It’s a-line, and the little bit of a flair at the bottom is enough flair so the whole thing just works. This has truly been the month of me finding clothes that properly fit and nearly weeping from satisfaction.

Brandy Melville Velvet Choker

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This time of year is about those possibly-witch-possibly-vampire-definitely-dangerous-and-sexy vibes, you feel me?

This choker fits the bill pretty well. Velvet is badass any time of year and I was super into the black/burgundy colour when I first saw it. Wicked accessory when I’m feeling my outfit is just not the place where I need it to be in terms of drama.

Beauty

Too Faced Melted Matte Liquid Lipsticks + Lip Insurance

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I’ve been around the block with a few liquid lipsticks. I’ve got my faves, but I hadn’t tried any of Too Faced’s until recently. More to that, I hadn’t tried any of Too Faced’s products until recently.

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I was recommended the brand’s lip primer, but while grabbing that I was waylaid by the beautiful matte liquid lipstick shades. I was intrigued, and picked up two vastly different colours to try. One is a pinky-browny colour, basically that colour every brand has their version of lately, called ___ and the other is a deep, rich burgundy called ___.

I’ve tried both shades, and have put them through various tests (i.e. drinking a coffee, eating a salad, wearing for an entire shift at work). They’ve really impressed me.

With the lip primer, they’re not too drying on me and stay put until I have to forcibly remove them with makeup remover and a cotton pad.

10/10.

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-H Blush

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I’m not a massive blush person, which kinda sucks, because that’s a whole other area of makeup to explore. I went through a phase over the summer where I wore bronzer and highlighter always. No blush.

But recently, I’ve only been wearing blush, and this Tarte one is the reason for it.

I wanted to try a different fall look, one with a simple, darker blush that I can wear into the colder months. I’ve heard good reviews of Tarte blushes for years, and went searching for that perfect fall shade.

I found it in a little fella called Risqué, and I’m crazy about it. It’s a gorgeous shade that wears so well for the entire day. It looks like I haven’t used much, because it’s so highly pigmented you really don’t need a lot, but I’ve worn it nearly every day since I got it.

The Body Shop Honeymania

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Starting to think this may become my new signature scent. There’s something about it I really like.

There are other fragrances I like to wear sometimes for special occasions or whatever (read: partying) but the body butter and eau de toilette from this collection are part of my daily routine. It’s to the point where some of my clothes smell like it.

Idk guys, but it may be a mix of genuinely enjoying the scent and also wanting a daily reminder of our very important friends, the bees.

Culture

Estee Lalonde: Bloom

I’ve been subscribed to Estee Lalonde’s YouTube channel for a little while now, and I think she’s great. I’m not sure what drew me in the first place, maybe the Canadian connection, maybe the makeup videos or just her personality in general. Either way, I’m a fan. When she posted a video saying she was releasing a book, at first I was a bit dismissive because it was, unfortunately, at a time when I was seeing lots of YouTubers publishing books. I have my own opinions on that, but when I saw a couple tweets about people reading the book and enjoying it, I decided to pick up a copy.

So far, I’m only about halfway through Bloom, and I actually really like it. The photography and layout is gorgeous, which is something you could expect from her, but in my opinion the text itself is well-written and painfully honest at times.

Anna of the North

Bless Spotify, because I’m able to discover so many new artists I wind up loving off of that app. I first heard a song by Anna of the North in passing earlier this year, but now she has a few more circulating, and I’m really into her dreamy, minimalist sound.

Currently loving the tracks “Baby” and “Us.” Inexplicably, they remind me of high school.

Kings of Leon: WALLS

I’ve been a Kings of Leon fan for years. It’s true, I hadn’t heard of them until the big “Sex on Fire” takeoff, but I stuck with them. I got into their old stuff and kept following their new stuff. I think they may be the artist with the most songs listen in my iTunes other than Coldplay (and possibly One Direction, shhhh.)

When I heard WALLS was coming out, I was instantly stoked. There are definitely some albums by them I like more than others, but I’ve enjoyed nearly everything they’ve released. This album is no exception.

My favourite tracks off of WALLS right now are “Muchacho” and “Eyes On You.”

Black Mirror

I straight up only started watching Black Mirror because someone told me it was like a current Twilight Zone. Listen, there’s so damn much to watch on Netflix that things can easily get looked over, but the Twilight Zone is fantastic, so I was curious about Black Mirror.

Luckily for me, the third season came out recently, so I dove in, and was not disappointed.

It’s like the Twilight Zone in the sense that episodes are self-contained and can be awfully unsettling. Black Mirror’s perspective is mainly on technology, throwing in some dystopian and near-future elements. It’s pretty good, and has made me think pretty differently about certain aspects of technology.

Finding Your Personal Style

When I was in high school, I wore what my friends wore. This was pretty standard for the time. We copied each other for everything, which is probably why we all looked terrible. We didn’t have Instagram for reference.

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The uniform!! Me and my brother on my first day of high school.

I went to a Catholic high school, so I wore a uniform most days. I didn’t mind that so much, but for my early years in high school, it meant I had no kind of personal style. At all. I had few chances to examine it, and no desire to pursue it, because here’s the thing: out of my friends, I was the chubby one. I had hips and boobs before most of my closest friends had them. If anyone else had to grow up as that friend, you’ll understand the feelings of self-consciousness and inadequacy that would come at the most inopportune times: sleepovers, mall trips, school dances. I tried to copy what my friends wore, and, well, that was ill-advised. Some of the trends in the mid-2000s, like low-rise jeans and the layered look, really did not work on me. But I tried them anyway because my friends wore them, and I had no idea what else to wear.

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Low-quality pic, low-quality clothing choices. I went through a phase where I wore Lululemon hoodies a lot. Really, I wore hoodies in general a lot.

It wasn’t until late in high school when I began to think more about what I wore. Part of that came from making friends with people from different high schools, who had very different senses of style than everyone in my immediate circle. They inspired me to dress differently. I started wearing high-waisted skirts. I went through a phase where that was nearly all I wore. Don’t get me wrong, I still love and wear that look today, but it was all I wore.

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Grade 12, beginning to get a better idea of what I like. Thought this yellow coat was very ~fashion~. TBH would still wear.

But again, I was copying others. I copied my new, cool friends to try and, of course, make myself cooler. I don’t have to tell any of you that trying to be cool is an endless, ridiculous pursuit and the truth is none of us are cool at all. This world is full of nothing but dorks.

I digress.

There’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from the people around you. Everyone does it. What I found, however, is it’s good to venture out on your own, and maybe try wearing some things that are different, things that only you like.

I began doing this when I left for university. I thought, okay, this is it. You’re in a new city, new school, and you don’t have a uniform. Figure yourself out.

I can’t talk about my personal style journey without talking about my body image issues because they are inexorably intertwined. I felt uncomfortable in my body and had no idea how to dress it when all I wanted was to hide it.

SHORT PSA: Magazine guides for “dressing your body type” are bullshit. I know I’m talking about learning to dress for your figure in this, but I mean wearing things that fit properly. Things that are comfortable. It doesn’t mean that you HAVE to wear boot cut jeans when you’re curvy or you HAVE to wear wide-leg jeans if you’re tall. Magazines tell curvy women they have to colour-block the living shit out of their wardrobe and thin women can wear boyfriend jeans and t-shirt and be effortless. Honestly. Dressing for my body became a big thing for me. At the end of the day, rock whatever the hell you want.

Anyway.

My personal style changed so much over the course of my undergrad degree. I had a lot of influences come at me at once: new city, new friends, becoming fully immersed in Tumblr and Instagram and the beginning of my attention to style blogs and alternative fashion magazines (i.e. not monthlies).

Even now, as a post-grad, my personal style continues to evolve. At this point, I have a vey hard time describing it because it can be anything from a teenage delinquent from a 1988 movie to a cool librarian.

Even looking back to my first year, I cringe. I cringe when I look back at 13-year-old me and I cringe when I look back at 18-year-old me.

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The red jeans. The red jeeeeaaaans. And no, I didn’t just wear this for school spirit functions. No, I wore these all the time.

18-year-old me thought red jeans were a good idea. I don’t know her.

The point of this ramble-y history is that I kept trying. Once I actively started to build my personal style, I kept trying different things, sometimes with success and sometimes not. Through it all I began to slowly (very slowly) gain more confidence in myself.

I couldn’t say confidence affected how I dress, or how I dress affected my confidence. I think the two feed off of each other. My self-confidence was and is affected by so many different things, but ultimately, building it up came from me, and learning to actually like myself.

I’m not saying you can’t wear clothes properly until you’re completely at ease in your own skin. The crappy truth is, it can take a long time to get there. We have perfection shoved down our throats these days. It’s hard. For me, a way to navigate that came from dressing how I wanted to dress, and feeling good in my clothes.

And, I won’t lie to you, every time a friend said to me, “You always look nice,” or “You really pull that off well,” it gave me a smile for the rest of the day.

So, that all being said, I have a couple of tips for those searching for their personal style.

I feel as though these may seem obvious, and I don’t want to sound like I’m talking down to anyone. These are very simple tips, but a lot of them are things where, once you start to consciously think about them, it becomes easy to shop and style yourself.

Start Small

We are not on What Not to Wear. Most of us don’t magically have thousands of dollars to drop on a brand new wardrobe. And trying to think of your style as a whole can be overwhelming. When you’re shopping, just focus on one item at a time. Find something you really like. Get it. Look at the clothing you currently have. Donate items you never wear and think about why you never wear them. Consider your favourite, most worn pieces and make note of what you like about them. This all sounds very simplistic, but that’s what finding your style can be like. Simple and gradual.

Get Ideas

As previously stated, I get a lot of inspiration from my friends and my environment. If you have a friend, co-worker or even a family member whose style you admire, ask them about it. I’d advise against copying look-for-look, but ask them where they shop, or where they get their ideas from.

In the nature of full disclosure, I said don’t copy entire looks off of people but I have definitely seen outfits on Instagram that I have worn head to toe. There’s nothing wrong with that. Social media is a great place to draw inspiration. What’s always the best, though, is to take an outfit you like and make it your own. Do as I say, not as I do, kids.

Examine Your Own Patterns

When you’re building your wardrobe, item by item, it helps to take an inventory of your shopping patterns. What are your favourite stores? What type of clothing are you the most drawn to? What colour palette? What material? Try and be self-aware in your search, so you can get a better grasp on what your taste actually is.

Size and Fit

THIS. THIIIIIS. I can’t tell you how important these two things are. Again, very simple, but underrated in my opinion. Here’s something it took me years to learn: the number on the tag of the pants you buy doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. What matters is they fit perfectly and make your butt look amazing. It’s so important to try things on when you shop, as awful as that experience can be. Try and try again, size up and down as you need to in order to be comfortable in what you wear. Trust me, if you wear something uncomfortable or wrongly sized, it will be noticeable and that’s not a good look on anyone.

Trust Yourself

It’s great to get second opinions from people you trust. Sometimes if I’m unsure about something, I’ll ask my sister or my friends to weigh in on the dilemma. Sometimes we do need someone to tell us when something looks bad. Second opinions are great, but trust yourself above everyone. You know what you like and you know how things should fit your body. I do work in retail so take this with a grain of salt, but especially don’t trust sales people. I like to think that we’re all honest in the fitting rooms (I try my best to be), but some clothing stores are really all about selling, so they won’t always give the best advice. If they’re pushing you to get something you’re unsure about, don’t get it. If a friend isn’t a fan of a dress that you really love because it’s not their thing, then get it. You are your best critic.

Rock It

Wherever you are in finding your personal style, work with what you have. Feel good in what you wear and it will show. It sounds cliche, but nothing looks better than that.

 

It Glitters

It began last year, my association with autumn and sparkly eye makeup.

I had this gold-y, bronze-y makeup look perfected that was always completed in the same four steps.

Imagine my delight when I got my hands on makeup products that take basically the same look down to one or two steps. Sometimes I like taking time on my makeup, sometimes I really don’t, yanno?

Recently, I wrote a piece for Novella Magazine about fall beauty trends, and something I came across in my research was sparkle. Glittery eyes and metallic lips.

Now that the weather has finally started to cool down, the basic bitch inside me is living and knows there’s no time like the present to test out a fall makeup trend. For me, colder weather is about bringing back the glam. only very few can do glam all year round. I am not one of those few. Summer is about neutrals and ease. Effortless. Autumn is when I’m aiming for something along the lines of, she could steal your heart and maybe your soul, too. Way dramatic.

That being said, these makeup looks I tried out are really not that dramatic. This is an experiment in me taking the trend and applying it in ways I would actually wear out of the house, and have done.

For each look, there’s a corresponding product, so consider this also a review.

Glittery Eyes

Colour Pop Super Shock Shadow

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Mooning (L) and Game Face

I love Colour Pop. I loooooooove. I’m not sponsored by them but I damn wish I was. I’m just a big fan, and one of the reasons for that is it’s some pretty good shit for pretty cheap prices. The only downside is living in Canada. For a number of reasons.

I’ve only used their shadows a few times before, so when I saw some metallic shades online, I thought, hell yeah.

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Wearing Game Face alone

I ordered two, in the shades Game Face and Mooning. I’ve worn Game Face quite a few times by now on its own, and it’s an awesome way to get that metallic shimmery eye really quickly. I use my fingers to apply the shadow and usually wear it without any other shadows because it’s glorious and pigmented and all that good stuff.

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Game Face and Mooning

Mooning is darker and sparkle-ier. (I’m making up so many words in this blog post. Who has a journalism degree? What?) I tried applying it with a brush to get a bit on the outside of the eye, but again it works best with the finger. Just dab it. It gets a bit messy but I actually kinda like it that way. It’s like, I didn’t try that hard, but I still look amazing.

Kat Von D Serpentina Eye Shadow Palette

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I was really unsure about this guy when I picked it up at Sephora. Normally, I hear only good reviews for Kat Von D products, but there are a few glitter eye palettes on the market right now, and a lot of them are getting mixed reviews. Chalk it up to different ways people have tried applying the shadows, maybe.

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Just like the Colour Pop, I found I got much less colour payoff with the shadows when I applied them with a brush. For this palette, I’d say either use a wet brush (haven’t tried that, but may work) or just keep it going with the FANGER. I got glitter all over my hands when I was trying these shadows out.

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The shades I used (Hieroglyph and Medusa) were definitely more sparkly than the Colour Pop, but I loved them because of that. These are really similar shades, but the formulas wear very differently. For the bang for your buck, though, maybe go with the Colour Pop. Although, the Serpentina palette has some other shades I’m pretty keen to try out soon.

Metallic Lips

Colour Pop Metallic Liquid Lipstick

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Dear God, what? Metallic lips were something that initially, I was not feeling. I am about that matte lip. You see me with that matte lip. I’m not even crazy about lip glosses.

At the same time, I was curious. What in the heck will these be like. So, I grabbed two shades from Colour Pop. For science.

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Kween, the first shade, is a red with gold glitter. It takes a few layers to get full colour effect, but once you do it’s pretty wicked. I hadn’t even worn this before taking these pictures but I actually really liked it on. There’s something very Christmas-esque to me about.

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Zebra is pure metallic. It’s bronze liquid goodness and holy crap is it pigmented. I actually have worn this lipstick once before on a night out, but it was in August and I got so sweaty my whole face melted off. For the second trial, it was as good as I remembered, but I’m still on the fence about wether the colour is good on me. I like it, but I also think the bronze is kinda unflattering for my skin tone. However, it does fit in perfectly with my current ~earth tones~ aesthetic, so to hell with the rules and maybe I’ll just wear it anyway.

Latest Faves: Midsummer Edition

Sometimes, I un-ironically like things. Sometimes, those things are related to fashion and beauty. Sometimes I assume absolute strangers will care about those things, so I list them on the internet.

Monthly favourites are a common topic for bloggers and YouTubers and I thought, maybe I should do that too. Why not capitalize on someone else’s idea???

However, since I’m only putting out one blog post a week, for the sake of not getting repetitive, I’d like to do posts about my latest faves every once in a while, kind of a “what I’ve liked in the past few months” type of thing.

This is clearly a well-thought out plan.

I’m calling this episode of latest faves the “midsummer edition.” It is definitely past the official midsummer time and I have no excuse other than I liked how it sounded. Generally, the way this will work is I’ll sort everything I mention into three groups: fashion, beauty and assorted.

Fashion

Rompers

What an extremely vague favourite I have given you to start with. I posted a picture on Instagram a few weeks back about how rompers are the only thing I can wear in extreme heat, other than absolutely nothing at all. There’s something about the ease in dressing, with the coolness of a dress and the freedom in wearing shorts. And it is true, if you see me around town on a very hot day (basically every day in Toronto, RIP), then chances are I’m in any one of these rompers.

Aritzia romper

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H&M romper (similar)

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Urban Outfitters romper (similar)

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Vintage 80s Sweater

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I met my friend Sam for lunch at the El Furniture Warehouse on Queen St. earlier in July. We drank, ate, got sunburnt and decided, after all of those things, to pop into Tribal Rhythm Vintage to have a poke around. Now, I don’t go vintage shopping nearly as much as I would like to. Part of that is because of time, because I really like to hunt for the good vintage stuff. The other part is laziness, which can also be linked to the previous statement. While I was in Tribal, I found this French tennis player meets vintage English private school kid sweater and I loved it. It’s a bit weird I liked it so much, because I’m not the preppiest dresser, but something about it made me so down to have it in my wardrobe. I’ve loved having this around to chuck on when it’s slightly cooler in the evenings, throwing around some “I’m vaguely European” vibes. I don’t know when those became vibes I want to put out into the world, but here we are.

Aritzia Monterey Bralette

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It’s a bit weird to have underwear as a favourite, so all I’ll say about this is I love it and have it in two colours. It’s comfortable, beautiful and works well under most of my wardrobe. The last time I wore a proper padded bra was back in the Spring. Once you go bralette, you really don’t want to go back.

Block Heel Sandals by Seychelles

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The 90s are it right now. Chokers are everywhere, space buns are popping up on Instagram and block heel shoes are coming back. These sandals I found at Heel Boy aren’t as 90s as the jelly shoes, but the thick straps and block heel made me think of The Craft and I was sold. I’m really not a big sandal person — I like to wear sneakers and boots all the time — but these were a great middle ground for me.

Similar

Quay Australia Sunglasses

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The perfect summer sunglasses. Colourful, round without making my already-round face look like a beach ball and reflective, so people never know when you’re staring at them. These sunglasses were a bit of a gamble because I bought them online, and you never know how a pair will look on you. In this case, however, the gamble paid off very nicely.

Similar

Beauty

Colourpop Blush in Birthday Suit

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Colourpop products are amazing. With the price point, quality and ever-growing product list, my only complaint is that the prices are in American, and the exchange rate doesn’t become real until the credit card bill. (I cry.) I wanted a pretty pink shade I could dab on to give myself a fresh-faced flush, and this dude delivers. I love how this shade looks with my skin tone and I really like how subtly you can apply it. Obviously for super pink cheeks, you could always build up the colour, but I like the soft spot of blush. It’s as though I just finished a round of skiing in the Alps. Or whatever.

MAC Lip Pencil in Spice

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Hand to God, every single time I wear this lip liner, someone compliments me on it. It’s the prettiest brown shade that wears flawlessly on its own. This is one of the things I love about MAC liners – they’re creamy enough that you could wear them without lipstick no problem. I first picked up this colour to use as a linear for Persistence, but found wearing it on its own gave me a more dark mauve-brown tone, if that makes any sense at all. It’s that 90s inspired, summer neutral lip. Get into it.

MAC Lightful C Tinted Cream

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Fun fact: I do not like wearing foundation in the summer because I sweat. That’s just the truth. I do, however, love wearing sunscreen because my sensitivity to sunburn is too real. Enter this tinted face cream. Given the name this is probably obvious, but it applies just like a moisturizer and has very light coverage. I don’t necessarily need heavy coverage, so I wear it in place of foundation and set it with a powder. If you’re looking for much heavier coverage, this would also make a great primer, especially with the added SPF 30. Sunscreen that shit.

Assorted

Stranger Things

Believe the hype about Stranger Things. It’s wonderful. I loved the story, the characters, the way it was shot and I am obsessed with the soundtrack. Gimme all that 80s synth action. This is a spoiler-free zone, so I’ll just say that the show made me feel really nostalgic about being 12 years old but also made me rethink so many things about life, science and my own existence.

The Black Tapes  

I’ve talked about this podcast before on Snapchat and how it has made me scared of everything. I’m one of those people who absolutely should not get involved with anything horror-related because I scare really easily. And yet. This podcast isn’t straight-up horror, but it’s so suspenseful and contains some pretty harrowing moments. It’s a mockumentary podcast, following a journalist investigating unsolved paranormal cases. It’s really good. So good, in fact, that the last time I listened to it I was so engrossed I missed my subway stop.

Arkells: Morning Report (Released Singles)

Here’s the thing about this band: I always have their albums on non-stop during the summer. There’s something about Arkells and these dog days for me that just works. The full album will be released on August 5th, just a couple of days after this blog post will go up. I can tell you right now I’m going to love it for two reasons: 1) I’ve been pretty consistent with enjoying everything this band puts out and 2) I’m already in love with the first tracks they’ve released as singles. Drake’s Dad and Private School are, in particular, some supremely decent jams.

Bright Lipsticks for Summer

I’m a person who generally likes to wear makeup. Not everyday, depending on what I may be doing, but I like do it. I spend arguably too much time watching makeup tutorials online and mooning over Sephora products I definitely do not need. I love makeup, but I don’t always love wearing it in the summer.

I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog post, but I get really hot. I tend to run pretty warm all year round, but in the summer I’m a human furnace walking through a furnace planet. Sweat happens. Makeup doesn’t seem like such good idea when it’s probably just going to melt off of my face.

That being said, there are still those days where I’m feeling a little glam. Those days where I want a little something extra. I’m a big believer in people finding confidence in themselves without makeup, but I’m also a big believer that some days, all you need is a little bright lipstick to take you out of the dumps.

Since it’s summertime, it’s also the perfect time to rock a ridiculously bright lip. Not that you can’t do that all year round, but I personally gravitate towards the dark and moody shades in the colder months, and the summer is all about bight and neon.

Under the cut are some of my favourite bright, bold lipsticks to rock in the summer.

Lipstick 1

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MAC – “Flat Out Fabulous” Retro Matte and “More to Love” Lip Liner

When I first picked this lipstick up at MAC, it was more of a spur-of-the-moment purchase than anything else. This dark pink-ey shade? Really? When am I going to wear this? Turns out the answer to that is all the freakin’ time in the spring and summer. I think this is a super fun shade that is nice for casual daytime activities but still adds that pop of colour, yanno?

Lipstick 2

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MAC – “Heroine” Matte Lipstick

Unlike Flat Out Fabulous, I knew exactly what this lipstick would be for when I bought it. Summertime going-out lipstick, babeh. Oh yeah. And I have worn this out so many times going out with friends on those summer nights. Usually every time I wear it, I get at least one person asking, “Is that Heroine by MAC?”

Lipstick 3

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Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in “Mischevious” 

Budget lipsticks are good lipsticks. I love MAC and Bite Beauty and NARS a whole heck of a lot, but when you’re on a budget there’s just no way to get all high-end all the time. Let’s be real. The Revlon Colorburst lipsticks have been around for ages, and they’re still great. The matte balms aren’t totally matte. They still have a bit of wetness to them, but that means they’re also not completely drying like other mattes can be. I’ve had this coral shade for about three years. And because of that, actually, I’m still using it even though it’s down to the smallest nub. That’s how much I love this lipstick/how lazy I am when it comes to replacing it.

Lipstick 4

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Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in “Persimmon” 

I love me a good red lipstick. I loooooove it. I love. Back when I had my white blonde hair, I was all about it. The contrast mad it such a look I’m telling you. Even now as a brunette, I still gravitate towards dramatic reds. To me there’s just something so classic and striking about a red lip. It takes me from my awkward self to a mysterious, probably dangerous femme fatale. In theory, anyway. In the fall, it’s about those brown-based reds. At Christmas, obviously ya girl is going for a blue-based bright red. In the summer, it’s all about the orange-based red. It works perfectly for the season and gives you those Bond-girl-on-vacation vibes all the time.

Magazines I Read, and Think You Should Too

Buying magazines is nice. Browsing racks of thick, glossy goodness leaves you with a feeling like you should be in a movie right now because look at me browsing these magazines. Since I am very comfortable with my status as a try-hard poseur, I can confidently say I’ve bought magazines before with little intention to read them, it was just that they looked cool and I knew I would look cool buying them.

It’s a ridiculous thing, this life.

I do, in fact, also read magazines. I love them. I’m a massive book nerd deep in my core, but I love opening a mag and drooling over the editorials and fashion spreads. Even the advertisements are nice to look at (especially if we’re talking Vogue’s September issue. That thing is 40% adds and I live for it.)

One of the best things you can do is find a shop that has an extensive and somewhat odd selection of magazines. Chains are fine and dandy, but my preference goes to places that carry a lot international magazines. Honestly, the fashion spreads in those are just so much cooler. Independent places are key. When I lived in Kingston, I could trust Novel Idea’s small but wickedly awesome options. In Ottawa, it was Mags & Fags’ enormous selection of the hippest magazines you’ve never heard of. Here in Toronto, I’ve yet to find my Shangri-La of mags, but I’m always open to suggestions for good places.

SPEAKING OF SUGGESTIONS:

All magazines are fabulous, but some are more fabulous than others. In my time as a magazine aficionado, I’ve come across some mags that are, in my humble opinion, top notch. Here are my recommendations for some groovy reads.

Dazed (Formerly Dazed & Confused)*

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Country of Origin: Britain

Dazed magazine is the quintessential cool-kids’ fashion magazine. The website has a lot of content you’ll see from other magazines: current events, cultural news, etc., but the magazine has eye-grabbing covers and interviews with some of the most interesting people in the industry you may or may not have heard of.

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Extra points for expertly-styled editorials combining high and low-end fashion, with A+ photographers working their magic.

*Not to be confused with the excellent 1993 film by Richard Linklater.

Dazed’s Website

In Bloom

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Country of Origin: Scotland

In Bloom hasn’t been around long. In fact, the quarterly magazine only has three issues out to its name, but let me tell ya. Every issue so far is consistently gorgeous and unique. This is magazine I love purely for the editorials. When I first picked up an issue, I was blown away by the art direction and styling, and how the magazine is able to put such different editorials in the same issue and make it work.

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Every single time I go back to flip through an issue, I weep for the fact  that I will probably never style photoshoots as well as the contributors to this magazine can. I am (definitely not patiently) waiting for the next issue.

In Bloom’s Website

Kinfolk

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Country of Origin: United States of America

Fun fact: whenever I got my hands on a new issue of this magazine, I would immediately pop it off to my former roommate Selena, an industrial design student. Every time, I would burst into her room, flapping the magazine in the air going, “Bruh, you will LOVE.” Kinfolk is the only magazine on this list that isn’t a fashion magazine, or doesn’t regularly publish fashion spreads. I would call it a design and culture magazine for sorting purposes. And it is so fucking good.

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It’s stupidly nice and every issue has a vague theme, such as “adrenaline” or “travel”. That should be pretentious but somehow it isn’t. The last winter issue I read had a one-page article on how the ways we carry and move our bodies change in the colder seasons. I liked that piece so much I got genuinely angry that it wasn’t me who wrote it. Super diverse content and wonderfully creative editorials. 10/10.

Kinfolk’s Website

The Gentlewoman

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Country of Origin: Britain 

Listen: I love this magazine. I love it so much I had  dream that I worked there and when I woke up and realized it wasn’t true I actually cried. (It’s been determined in this post that I cry all the time.) Editorials, interviews, articles, everything about this magazine is top-shelf. My only complaint about it is biannual releases, but when you physically hold a copy and read it, you’ll understand why. I’m guessing this is a very expensive magazine to make, with different articles printed on different paper, all bound together in the same magazine. I can’t believe I’m talking about the paper, yet here we are.

 

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It’s a thick magazine, filled with some damn good writing. There is advertising, but not as much as you would expect. Profiles cover everyone from actresses to athletes to scientists. There are some badass women interviewed for this magazine. It’s inspiring, beautiful and contains to-die-for fashion editorials. I’m not saying this part of the post is me screaming, “NOTICE ME,” at The Gentlewoman staff, but it pretty much is.

The Gentlewoman’s Website