Friday, April 21, 2006

Springing into Step...or Stepping into Spring...

Jill asks, “What kind of shoes should I be wearing for the next month or so? I feel like my winter boots and shoes are too heavy, but like it is not quite right yet to wear open toes shoes. I know mules would be fine...but I always find them very uncomfortable. Any other ideas?? Are chunky heavier sandals okay for this time of year?? As for clothes, I am mostly wearing lightweight pants with t-shirts (heavier ones) or 3 quarter sleeve tops these days, and have started pulling out my black and denim capris. I also have several skirts I'd like to start wearing, if I could sort out the footwear issue. Thanks in advance!!P.S. I live in Toronto, typical seasons.”

If you are anything like me, you can’t wait for spring to HURRY UP AND GET HERE ALREADY! By mid-March, I’ve happily unpacked my spring and summer clothing and eyed an adorable pair of sandals while the below-freezing weather rages on. Sometimes I think I can trick Mother Nature by wearing sandals: “See, really, it’s spring! Stop raining! No, seriously. Please stop already.” (What’s a Seattle girl supposed to do? Other than wear one of these…)

Jill, the type of shoes you wear will depend on your lifestyle, of course, but here are a few suggestions, and just for a change, I thought I’d showcase shoes available rather inexpensively at your local Payless Shoe Source (

Payless has a lot of fun colors and styles in slides this spring. On warmer days, you can try a pair of springy slides like these:

A feminine pump in light pink is another fun choice:

Spring is the perfect time to try out an old classic in a bold, bright color:

I bought these recently and love them; they're perfect "everyday" sandals:

I’m not a huge fan of chunky sandals, mainly because they seem to make legs look chunkier, too, so try some out (with an outfit you might wear them with) before purchasing. Here’s a funky, grommeted pair available at Payless:

And because the eighties are so back, and my peeps need their Airwalks:

Have fun shopping for spring, everyone!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

How to Choose Your Skin: Finding a Foundation that Works

Zanabee asks:

"How do you match your skin color? I always seem to buy the wrong shade and I can't figure out what my perfect shade is."


This is an easy problem to fix, but it requires going to a department store or Sephora. You may even want to get several opinions, so take a friend or ask a sales clerk for advice.

First, look at the palm of your hand. Then, look for foundation colors that are similar. Swipe a bit of foundation on your hand. The way you'll be able to tell if the foundation is right for your skin is this-if the foundation blends into your hand and is hard to distinguish, then you've got a match!

Other tips:
Try several different foundations instead of one or two. Also, be sure you sample a few different brands, since colors are slightly different in each line of cosmetics.

The next step is to try the foundation on your face. Get a sample, or ask the clerk to make you over (you probably want to avoid wearing makeup for this shopping trip!). Take the rest of the day to see how the foundation wears and how it looks in different lights.

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Workwear for young professionals

When I was fresh out of college, I got a job at a local high school. I was the youngest person on staff and desperate to project an air of maturity and wisdom in spite of being a mere four years older than some of my students. A while later, I was working for an organization where I would need to be prepared to meet elected officials and the press at a moment’s notice—I never knew who was walking in to my office next. I learned a lot in a short time about dressing in a mature, professional way.

For all the preparing for Real Life that high schools and colleges claim to do, most people don’t know how to dress once they head off to work. Why isn’t there a class called “What to wear when you're finally in the Real World”?
Here are few tips to help you out:

Dress conservatively. This doesn’t mean you need to check your personal style at the door, but leave the cleavage and upper thigh-baring outfits at home. Even if you do want to catch the eye of that sexy guy in marketing, save your push-up bras for after hours or the weekends. C'mon, if Sarah could keep her hands off Carl at work, you can to.

Invest in a few neutral suits, like these:

If you can find a “wardrober” you like (includes a matching pair of slacks, a skirt or shift, and a suit coat), you can mix and match till the cows come home. Simply change out the accessories and accent pieces in fun colors for a change.

Go dark. If you want to project maturity, wear darker colors (navy, black, grey and chocolate) and wear pinks, lilacs and baby blues in moderation. Make pastels accent colors—something to bring the color and attention to your face. Nothing says “I'm a noob” like pastels!


Don’t be a slave to the trends. Unless you work in an artistic workplace, prairie skirts, lingerie-inspired blouses, and cowboy boots are rarely going to be acceptable. If you are going to wear a trend to work, use it in an accessory.


...rather than going head to toe “FASHION VICTIM”.

Express yourself. Accessories are a great way to express your personal style. As long as your jewelry isn’t distracting (gigantic, clanking earrings; jingle bells), earrings, necklaces and bracelets are an fun way to say, “I may have to wear this suit, but I have my own sense of personal style and personality in all of this.”

It’s all in the details. Keep your hair trimmed and in an attractive style, mostly pulled away from your face. Make sure your nails and toenails are groomed. If you’re one of those unfortunate souls who is required to wear pantyhose to work, keep an extra pair or two (one in nude, one in black, perhaps?) in your desk drawer for those inevitable snags. Take five minutes at lunch time to brush your teeth and refresh your make-up if needed. A little attention to the small details go a long way in making you look professional.

You have now graduated from the How to Dress After College 101. Now go out there and make us proud!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Crochet: Good for Fashion, or Only Grandma's Doilies?

Your grandma is being channeled on high-fashion runways this spring, with crochet appearing on everything from dresses to swimsuits, handbags to shoes, and all that is in-between.

My initial reaction upon discovering crochet trends were resurfacing was ambivalence. I have fond memories of my floral-inspired, crochet vest that I wore in the seventh grade, beboppin’ up and down locker-lined hallways of middle school. But should my crochet vest stay in the seventh grade??? Are we really ready to resurrect a trend that pays homage to the doilies that sit under Grandma’s china???

A responsible fashionista knows what the runway trends are---tools for creating personal style. Runway trends are not the gospel standard for her wardrobe. Therefore, is it possible to find a happy medium with crochet? As it is with many things in life, moderation and balance are key. Just because an item of clothing boasts the crochet trend, doesn’t mean that it should be worn with abandon.

Examples of bad crochet are all around us. Unfortunately, the bad crochet far outweighs the good crochet options. Crochet frocks teeter on that fine line between bohemian chic and train wreck, and they call for a careful dissection of the trend.

In this heinous excuse for a swimsuit, Naomi has injured our eyes as easily as she injures her personal assistants. The psychedelic colors and flowers are tripping me out. Avoid.

Crochet and swimsuits are a dangerous combination in general. Cotton crochet tends to stretch when wet, swinging the door wide open for unexpected displays of T&A. If you venture to the land of crochet swimsuits, use discretion on size, cut and activity level. In other words, you should be fine if you're perched at rest by the pool, but hit the ocean and your swimsuit may wash up like discarded seaweed.

Items of crochet clothing are a different story entirely. It's easier to wear them more liberally, especially when they are a solid color and hold their shape. Acceptable pieces include cardigans, ponchos, shrugs and wraps. Notice the cardigan to the right. It's form-fitting, yet comfortable, lightweight to promote layering with a feminine camisole, and is ultra classy. The leaves exhibit a contemporary crochet design and are a refreshing change from the typical crochet flower pattern.

Now notice the shirt to the left. Not only is this shirt structured wrong for her body type, but it adds about 20 pounds to a petite frame. What's with the tent-like bagginess? Remember, the key is to NOT look like your Grandma's antique tablecloth. And please, please don't ever attempt this green abomination. It's not lovely--it's gaudy. The crochet flower in the center of the blouse doesn't help the situation.

Crochet tends to not lend favor to dresses. First of all, you have the problem of cut. Crochet dresses are mostly of the slipdress variety, with no form or structure for a real woman's body. Crochet is surprisingly heavy and will not float romantically on anyone. If the crochet dress is a solid color, it will never fail to highlight a tummy bulge or thigh dimple. What's worse are dresses with crochet embellishments, like the dress below.

Repeat after me: do I really want to commit fashion suicide by wearing this in public???

In closing, be wary of crochet. While you may think you are showcasing your inner earth girl, you may just look like your Grandma's crochet throw, circa 1973. Keep it simple, structured and contemporary and the folksy crochet trend will work toward your favor.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Mineral Makeup-A Review

About a month ago, I ordered the BareMinerals makeup. I've been curious about it for awhile, and I decided it was finally time to give my old foundation a rest. I've been wearing Mary Kay foundation since I was about 15 years old, and I was interested to try something new.

Here are their claims:

"Imagine a makeup so pure you can sleep in it. Really. Fall fast asleep in front of the television, and never worry about a blemish come morning. Sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not. Bare Escentuals’ 100 percent pure mineral makeup, i.d. bareMinerals, is a groundbreaking line of feather-light powders for the eyes, cheeks, and face, which are free of everything. In fact, the makeup is so pure, it’s actually good for your complexion. Between i.d. bareMinerals and the brand’s complete line of color cosmetics, Bare Escentuals has earned its reputation as a makeup pioneer - and its mile long list of fans have the flawless complexions to prove it."

I've put this review off for a long time just to make certain I was pleased with the product. Readers, I'm here to say that this makeup is revolutionary and I think I'm a convert!

The best way I can describe the way this makeup looks is to compare it to airbrushing. It's as if you have a magic eraser that greatly diminishes the appearance of fine lines, acne blemishes, blackheads, and other epidermis undesirables. They don't go away, but your whole face looks smoother and more even in tone.

I have this one little trouble spot on one of my cheeks, and the BareId covers this spot better than either my old Mary Kay makeup or my industrial-strength concealer. The makeup covers all of my blackheads on my nose and gives my skin a beautiful, even texture.

After a few days, I was surprised at how good my skin felt. It is smoother. It is less dry and irritated. My blemishes are less noticeable. My fine lines don't show up as much with this makeup. There is no seeping into the smile or frown lines of your face. I look younger and fresher.

There is no greasy feeling at the end of a long day. The foundation stays fresh all day long! No more applying foundation AND concealer AND powder; this does it all. I carry my makeup with me in my purse and tend to be a fiendish primper, but I find that I only need to reapply this makeup once throughout the day to look fresh. That's compared to at least three or four times with my old Mary Kay makeup.

I was impressed so far, but the real test was to go back to my old makeup for a few days. (The original color I ordered was too dark and I had to get it replaced.) My skin was irritated and itchy. It seemed drier and less smooth. I had never noticed it before, but now that I have such a positive comparison, I don't think I could go back to my Mary Kay makeup.

Here's the one disadvantage that I see to this product. Because the makeup is in a powder form and you dust it onto your face, application can be tricky and messy. You MUST use a Kabuki Brush to apply this makeup. If you don't have one (I didn't!), you'll have to get one. But the makeup is $25 per container and the brushes are $28, which is a lot. What's a finance-conscious fashionista to do? Well, Bare Escentuals has a special deal. You can get two different shades of foundation, the Mineral Veil and Warmth, and some brushes. In addition they send along an instructional DVD and a little bag in which to carry it all. I paid about $75 for this. They automatically send you more makeup and charge your card every two months unless you tell them otherwise, so be careful if you want a one-time deal!

Notes about Mineral Veil and Warmth: I wasn't impressed with either of these products. The Mineral Veil acts as a powder but I found it drying. The Warmth just looked like I rubbed dirt on my cheeks (it's really brown) and I didn't like it at all. Both of these seemed redundant in my mind. Don't bother.

Bottom Line: Try this. Try it as soon as you can. You will love it and it will change your makeup expectations forever! You won't believe how good you look!