The Millennial's Guide to Wedding Dress Codes

Weddings have drastically changed in the last 20 years. We get married in barns, carry puppies as bouquets, we even dance down the aisle to Drake. But the biggest component that’s changed, that no-one seems to be talking about, is wedding dress codes. Dress codes are kind of like Voldemort. We don’t want talk about it, but we know it’s coming and we’re probably just going to wing it and hope for the best (RON!).

When you Google “Wedding Dress Codes”, you’re often left with the Emily-Post etiquette of "get your long, opera gloves on and shine up your spats". But in the last 20 years, even in the last decade, fashion has changed radically. Style has changed. We, as a society, dress more casually than ever. So the words “Black Tie” can be scarier than an avocado shortage. The old rules- they just don’t apply anymore. They’re outdated, out of style and frankly, confusing. I’m here to lay out, in the simplest way possible, what that dress code on a wedding invitation really means. So, sorry, Emily Post, take a seat (probably on a doily or something).

A QUICK NOTE:

When I mention a “cocktail dress”, I am speaking of a dress that falls above the knee and higher. It’s realistic to what what’s in stores today.  It is incredibly confusing to read online that you can wear cocktail length to a black tie wedding, but that it must be below the knee. Walking into a store today, most cocktail dresses are above the knee, and we’re usually left wondering if this friend is really that important to us, and if we should just send a gift, stay home and binge GoT instead. A lot of other “guides” are probably going to contradict what I am saying. But they all seem to just be repeats of one another, stemming from years back. I am writing this guideline based on what fashion is now, and what you would find in a store today, not 20 years ago.

 

BLACK TIE

If you get a wedding invitation that says Black Tie, not followed by “optional”, or “preferred”, these people are not messing around. You have probably been invited to a Socialite’s wedding, so good for you, social climber! 

Women: Floor length dress, preferably some sort of gown. You basically need to act like you are going to Beyonce’s house for dinner. Or you’re Elizabeth Taylor on her way to the supermarket. Have some fun with this! It’s rare to get this dressed up, let it be fun. (*Dresses aren’t your thing? Do a chic tux look). 

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*I don’t know one woman with a closet full of gowns. I have three black tie weddings this year alone, and for that, I have enlisted Rent The Runway. Their StylePass has saved my closet and wardrobe. $65 a month, 3 month commitment (doesn’t have to be in a row, you can skip months), and you can rent ANY dress on the site. A lot of formal dresses on the site rent for over $200 + shipping+ insurance. With StylePass, you get it for $65, free shipping & insurance and a free backup size. You’ll look incredible and your wallet will too.

Men: A Tuxedo. Don’t fear a cummerbund, you can skip it for suspenders, which looks WAY cooler when you take off your jacket to show everyone you've memorized the "Single Ladies" dance. Or to have less restriction when eating cake. Whatever you’re into! 

 

BLACK TIE PREFERRED/BLACK TIE OPTIONAL

My own wedding invitation requests “Black Tie Preferred”. Why? Because it’s what our venue caters to...that and I get dressed up to go to the CVS. What did you expect from my wedding? Black Tie Optional/Preferred gives you a little more wiggle room. In most cases, the hosts just don’t want you showing up in your club dress, ladies, or khakis, gentlemen. This is the cooler, more lenient sister to Black Tie.

Women: Floor length or tea-length dresses. Cocktail dress, not quite appropriate here. “But Alex!! It has rhinestones on the collar!”. How Nice! Not here. Your dress should be below your knee and under. * I want to specify that gowns do not have to be big, tulle-filled affairs. And a floor-length dress, does not mean a Massimo from Target Maxi. Look for fabrics like chiffon, silk, or crepe. It can be chic without being debutante.

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Men: Surprise! You don’t have to wear a tux (you don’t have to shave your legs and NOW this?!). It’s smart to own one-you can get a beautiful tux for around $200-$280 at most stores-, but in this situation, you can get away with a nice dark suit and tie. I love your chic khaki linen suit as much as the next gal (you guys are doing amazing, sweetie), but if your girl is in a gown, be the man candy she deserves.

 

FORMAL

Formal is very tricky. It’s like a good Tinder date. You don’t REALLY want to commit to the full thing (Black Tie), but you still want it to be nice. It’s that in-between space between Black Tie and Cocktail, which leaves you with a goody-bag of options. 

Women: Remember the Britney Spears hit “Not a Girl…Not Yet a Woman”? When you get an invitation that reads “Formal”, think of this song. It’s not QUITE a gown, but not quite a cocktail dress. You can do floor-length, but tea-length, midi (hits around lower calf-area), at or just above the knee is more standard. But just like my principal in middle school used to say “Above the knees, detention, Alex!!” Okay, it’s not that serious. Or maybe it is, some Brides are wild.

Men: Again, you have it very easy. A tux is not needed here. Wear a nice suit and tie. Black, blue, navy, midnight blue, it all works! Bonus points for a cool pocket square.

COCKTAIL

TAKE THAT, PRINCIPAL! It’s time to show off those gorgeous knee caps of yours, ladies! Cocktail is one of the easier-to-understand-dress codes, as who doesn’t like cocktails?! Cocktail is the chill, younger cousin of Formal that just came home from a semester abroad. Isn’t she the coolest?

Women: At or above the knee dresses are standard. Chances are you probably already have a great cocktail dress hanging in your closet. Change it up from wedding-to-wedding with different hair, makeup, and shoes. If dresses are not your thing (very chic of you), I’ve worn nice pants, heels, and a beautiful top to a cocktail wedding.

Men: You can have a little fun here. You should still wear a suit, but you can play around with different fabrics and styles. Linen, Khaki suits, bright blue- go to town!!...as long as that's where you get your suits from. 

CASUAL/DRESSY CASUAL

This wedding is most likely in the day-time, which is considerate, because it will give me more time to recover from the 3 glasses of champagne that it takes to give me a hangover!

Women: Take your cue from the bride. She will probably be in a more casual-style of wedding dress. Cotton sundresses, linen midi skirts and a blouse, flowy silhouettes- you can have some freedom with this. I hope it goes without saying no shorts, t-shirts or tank tops. If not, message me privately. I’m here for you.

Men: Nice Slacks and a button-down shirt. You poor, poor things.

Weddings are supposed to be joyous, exciting occasions. Too often they can be dampened by confusing dress codes and even-more confusing guides online. Still have questions? Here’s a few guidelines to follow, for any dress code:

 

1. If you know the Bride, think about what she will be wearing, and what her bridesmaids will be wearing. You don’t want to be fancier than the wedding party. If the bridesmaids are in long dresses, you probably will want to be, too. The bride is going for Bohemian Chic, barefoot with a flower crown? Your cute Anthropologie dress is a winner. Adapt to the wedding and its hosts, they will always be the perfect indicator of what the attire will be.

2. There's a lot of crossover between different dress codes when it comes to dress length (even in the photos I used, most of those dresses cross into each other's category). If you are still frazzled by it, pay attention to the fabric and style of the dress, and how you're going to accessorize. 

3. Take the venue into account- this is for Brides and guests! If you want to get married at a rustic, 100-year old chicken farm, you can’t expect your guests to come in tuxedos and gowns. Cater the dress code to the venue, so that everyone is comfortable and content.

4. DON’T WEAR WHITE. DON’T EVER WEAR ALL WHITE. Unless the Bride is cool like that and requests it. I’ve been to so many weddings where women show up in white gowns. Don’t be that girl. Be the girl that slams 5 slices of late-night pizza and then leads the Wobble. We like that girl.

5. Don’t take it so seriously. Yes, with all these “rules”, it can seem very intimidating to attend a wedding. Don’t be afraid of getting it wrong. The bride is just happy to have you there, if she’s not a total bridezilla. Your dress, or suit, will not make or break the couple’s day. Getting too drunk and knocking over Grandma? That might make or break it. I don’t suggest it.

Don't worry, Emily- you'll always have napkin folding and fork placement.

 

* All photos from renttherunway.com

Here's What to Buy From The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is one of my favorite holidays. I have even gone as far as to take a vacation day from work on the first day of the sale. I’M NOT PLAYING AROUND HERE! It’s one of the greatest sales of the year, because it’s not on old, bottom-of-the-barrel-merchandise. It’s the beautiful, new, shiny things for Fall, offered at a discount. Every year, I do my research. The second that catalog hits my mailbox, I study it. I strategize. I hydrate. And when sale day comes, I’m ready to rage.

In the past year or so, I have really been trying to pull the reins in on my shopping (do not ask Mike if he agrees). I make fewer, more careful & calculated purchases, as I’m trying to build a closet based on quality, not quantity. So for this year’s sale, I’m doing the leg work ( PUN INTENDED BECAUSE I’M DOWN A LEG RIGHT NOW) for you, and have carefully curated the best things to buy- just ask my Nordstrom card.

 

 

Chelsea28 Pleated Velvet Skirt- $52.90 (normally $79)

As soon as I saw this in the catalog, I knew it was going to be the piece-of-the-sale. There’s always that one piece that sells out on the first day, even in the first hours. Last year it was a Green DKNY Utility Parka. I was online at exactly midnight, adding to cart- I told you, this is not a game. This skirt is even better in person. It’s like Gucci, when Gucci was Gucci (who have I lost here?). Velvet is a YUGE trend for Fall, and this skirt is the perfect way to ease into it without looking like your Grandma’s Casino tracksuit. The color is a gorgeous yellow-gold. It will pair perfectly with a tee, oversized sweaters, a leather jacket, etc. Highly recommend sizing up- the waistband is not friendly after a mostaccioli bender (I’m looking at you, grad parties).

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WAYF Satin Pajama Top- $45.90 (normally $69)

Pajama shirts have been around for a few seasons now, and I have no complaints. I will wear anything that allows me to feel like I could sleep at any moment, but also look good in public. When I originally saw this online, I had it in my cart and decided not to go through with it. I really am trying to be careful! HOWEVER, when I went into the store, I couldn’t believe it was the same shirt I saw online. 1000% better in person. It is the ideal pink-pajama shirt. Just pink enough, so that I don’t look like I’m in some kind of doll-matching Pajama from American Girl Doll. The lapel is gorgeous and chic, and I can’t wait to wear it half-tucked into some jeans, under a sweater, or for travel. YES, for travel. I plead with the people, please wear anything but your sweats and Volleyball t-shirt from 2008. True to size. 

ASICS Gel Running Shoe- $119 (normally $159)

I live for my Asics. Once, when I was in the gym, some snotty teenager told me she liked my "dad shoes”. I don’t think she was expecting me to take it as a compliment, but dad-things are very on trend (otherwise my nightly Jeopardy habit and bad puns are in…jeopardy.) These are by far the most comfortable tennis shoes I have ever owned. They are perfect for exercise, or a solid Sunday-brunch athleisure look. They feel like you’re walking on a cloud, even if you’re just walking to the neighborhood Taco Bell. I recommend going a half size up.

 

The beauty buys are where it's AT this year. Nordstrom really stepped up their game, and I came to play (do I need a hobby?).

 

Evian Facial Water Spray- $21 (normally $46)

Do you want to feel like Meredith Blake, poolside, from "The Parent Trap"? If you don’t, go re-watch the movie and reassess. That’s what this spray does. It makes you feel like a refreshed, riche, together person. Who knew spray could be more helpful than my therapist? This deal is insane- six for $21. I keep one in my purse, and always in my carry-on for travel. Not to mention my beach bag- who’s that famous girl spraying EVIAN on herself at the pool? Oh, it’s YOU!

I am addicted to Crème de Corps, which I think is French for “you will literally feel like a corpse without with lotion”, right? It’s incredibly hydrating, and leaves skin smooth and glowy. This bottle is the size of a small child, with less commitment! It will last me about an entire year, and the pump is KEY to assure I use it everyday. A solid investment in your skin.

Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencils- $59 (normally $110)

These are my ride-or-die lipsticks. I'm horrible at lipstick. It always ends up all around my mouth, and not in a cool, ironic way. I look like I went face deep into a burger after applying a nice summer coral. These could not be any easier, or longer lasting. They glide on like a dream, the application is easy and precise. I own multiple colors, and am always adding to my collection. There's two colorways you can chose from- if this is your first experience with the pencils, go with the "Tribulation" set. Pencil Pro? "Mustang" is calling your name. 

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Diptyque Mini Candle Set of 5- $55 (normally $75)

 

THIS IS THE MONEY RIGHT HERE! I really may have saved the best for last. When I saw these last year, I had to do a double take. FIVE mini Diptyque candles?! These babies prove that size ISN'T everything (oh, hi mom!). Just one of these will fill your entire home with their delicious scent. These also make the perfect gifts- if you can bear to part with even one. If I've given you a "Feu de Bois" mini, you know it's real. Don't forget to fulfill your Tumbler dreams by de-waxing these when you're done! They make for the perfect canisters for Q-tips, perfume samples, even a shot glass. Don't knock it till you've tried it. 

And there you have it! My heart, and Nordstrom card, runneth over. I've come a long way! A few years ago, the only "runneth over" I was doing was over some pre-teen for Michael Kors boots. Raise your Diptyque shot glass, here's to progress! 

Take Your Time.

I'm officially back from a little writing hiatus, and to say I've been busy is an understatement. I'm planning my wedding, my mom's wedding, I'm the maid of honor in my best friend's wedding, AND I started binge watching "House of Cards"! How does she do it?! 

When life gets busy, I tend to feel like someones pressed fast forward (and not that weak 2x sh!%, but the lightning speed you use when you're with your parents and people start getting naked), and I'm just catching little moment here and there. I know I'm not alone- I know a lot of people get this way. Between work, friends, family, trying to be healthy, and keeping your house from looking like an episode of "Hoarders", how are you supposed to find time to slow down and appreciate the little things? 

We usually don't. Until we have to. 

A few weeks ago, I went to the dermatologist for some laser treatment for a few scars on my back. I had noticed lately that my underarms had gotten extremely dark, and I casually mentioned it to my doctor. I was sure it was some sort of allergic reaction to a new deodorant or just my Italian genes catching up with me. He took one look at it and said I needed to go see my Endocrinologist right away- that it was something internal causing this sudden darkness. It's like I got the Voldemort of armpits. I still thought nothing of it-until I did the worst thing you can do- I got on WebMD. Cancer! Tumor! Divvy up your things and say "Goodbye"!! I wouldn't admit it, but I was scared. But- I had been down this road before, thinking the worst and all it ended up being was a bad hot dog. I wouldn't worry until I had something to actually worry about. 

I got into the Endocrinologist the very next morning. She gave my underarms the once, twice, three-times over. She asked me a plethora of questions, got on her computer and got very quiet for what felt like hours. She admitted she was completely stumped- I didn't have any symptoms other than my dark underarms. I didn't match the criteria for someone that usually has this (BTW, it was diagnosed Acanthosis Nigricans . No need to bore you with words I can't pronounce). She took my hands and looked me square in the eyes: " I don't want to scare you, but I want to seek out if this is symptom of a tumor". And now I had something to worry about. 

I couldn't breathe. 48-hours-ago all I cared about was what I was going to wear to my bridal shower, if my room needed a new rug, and if Mike would be mad at me because I watched-ahead on Netflix. This can't be true. The doctor is just being careful. I feel absolutely fine. What if I'm not? I didn't sleep that night, and was exhausted when I showed up at my Internist the next morning. For the third day in a row, I was looked over, my eyes meeting those of a confused doctor. I took a blood test. To my relief, it came back 100% normal. I thought I was in the clear. If something really was wrong, it would have showed up on a blood test. Nope- now I was sent to my gastroenterologist, to get an upper scope, and look around for some scary, WebMD predicted tumor. That feeling of relief was over quicker than my "Crazy Bonez" addiction when I was eight.

My Internist, one of the smartest, most kick-ass women I know, assured me that the chances of an actual tumor in my gastrointestinal tract just doesn't feel likely. It just wouldn't add up, but let's do this test to be safe. She put my mind at ease, taking away some of that crippling fear when you have to think: "but I haven't done anything yet". 

Last week, I had my upper scope- and it came back 100% clear. I burst into tears as soon as my doctor told me. Also I was not fully off anesthesia yet and I was having a dream I met Nick Jonas so things may have gotten mixed around. 

It's no secret that life moves fast, and it can change in the blink of an eye. After my appointment with the Endocrinologist,  I laid in bed that night with Mike, crying, thinking I hadn't appreciated enough our dinners together. Or morning walks. Or doing the dishes together.  I hadn't taken the time in the little moments to realize they are the big ones. That life is good even when it's Monday, even when I'm not on vacation, even when I'm up to my eyeballs in work. If we do not take the time now to appreciate the people in our lives and the moments they create, what are we living for anyway? It's not the clothes, the new beauty products (can't deny they bring me overwhelming joy, but THAT'S NOT THE POINT!) or the Instagram moments. It's the everyday, mundane things with people you love that will fill your life. There's a real argument to be had for the in-between. 

So what's the takeaway here? IF YOUR ARMPITS SUDDENLY BECOME DARK DON'T JUST RUB LEMON ON THEM BECAUSE MARTHA STEWART SAID TO. GET THEM CHECKED OUT. Okay, no. It's something more important. I know it's impossible to be grateful and appreciate everything every minute of every day. Some days are really really tough. But this is your reminder, your sign, if you got off track like I did, to not sweat the small stuff, and to use that extra time to enjoy your boring, beautiful life. Don't wait until it's Instagram levels of excitement to enjoy it. Speak kindly and with purpose. Realize that true love is not just reserved for a significant other, but for your family and friends as well. And let them know.

I feel so unbelievably blessed that my results came back clean, because I know there are so many people that aren't granted that same relief. This entire ordeal has forced me to slow down a little bit and realize that the things that keep me from enjoying life, aren't important enough to give them that power. So wedding flowers, take a back seat. I'll be enjoying this boring-ass episode of Jeopardy curled up my couch while I yell out the wrong answers- and loving every minute of it. 

*Photo by Ava Ranger Photography 

 

 

Equilibrium Pilates Challenge: It's Only Just The Beginning.

 

360 Pilates classes- that’s what I’ve been up to for the past three months. Well, I’m on the other side now, and am doing a little "Mulan" style ~reflecting~ on how my life, body, and mind have changed in the last 90 days with Equilibrium Pilates Studio.

I’ve said it a thousand times, I am not athletic. You’re looking at the Assistant Manager of every single basketball, softball, and volleyball team from Middle School to High School (yes, I tried out for each one- CAN’T STOP ME). It mostly has to do with my orthopedic disability from birth defects.  I also am just extremely uncoordinated, and in a game of H.O.R.S.E, I’m usually out faster than you can say Kobe. Or is it Lebron now? SPORTS.

So when I entered this path to Pilates, I was understandably nervous. I equated Pilates to tall, perfectly slender dancers, moving through each exercise with more grace than “Swan Lake”. It was much to my surprise, that most people in my classes at Equilibrium were just like me, and the teachers, although slender and graceful (but also with bad ass muscles that could crush a man), didn’t make me feel for one second that I wasn’t just like them. I never felt out of my league, or like I didn’t belong. The teachers were kind, helpful, instructive and supportive. They helped me move through each class with the same grace I reserved for dancers and people who can walk with books on their head. It makes me tear up to think about one teacher, Rachel, who literally held onto my waist, supporting me, and moved me through a standing position on the Reformer, as I was physically incapable of completing the move myself. The kindness, patience and understanding that was shown to me at Equilibrium was not just good for Pilates, but I found it resonating in my life in so many other ways.

Did I wake up every morning, leaping out of bed like a kid on Christmas, ready to roll to Pilates? Hell naw. In the first few weeks, my mind still equated Pilates to a “workout” which translated to “burden”. But by the end of the challenge, I was itching to get to Pilates every day, and missing it when I couldn’t attend. I found that my mind needed it as much as my body did. Walking into the studio and knowing I had an hour to work on me, free from work or other obligation was an absolute game changer. Some people do their best thinking in the shower- I would now like to think I do mine on the Reformer. The low-impact (but high results) of Pilates make this workout anything from a burden. I actually found myself choosing Pilates over Happy Hour- and if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know then I don’t know what to tell you. It’s some of the best work I do all day.

Now for the physical results. Let’s be totally open here: I went into this challenge at 98 pounds- which is far too low for me. I was weak, no muscle tone, frail and scared that if I fell, I would be the youngest person that ever screamed “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!!!”. In just three months, I have more muscle than I’ve ever had- 7 pounds more of it to be exact. Moves I couldn't do in the first week, I was doing with ease on the last. I feel strong, capable, and safer on my own two feet. Again, for the sake of being honest- this wasn’t an easy adjustment. I felt AMAZING. But seeing weight get put on your body, even when it’s good weight, can be tough. Society equates being thin to being fit. And even I, fell victim to this archaic notion. I had, wrongly, associated my slenderness with having a “good body”, even though one big gust of wind and I was out of here. When I started to get more muscle and put on weight (which was the necessary thing for me to do), it took adjusting. I had to really come around to appreciate this new, stronger, healthier body. Like most women, I am hard on myself. Every lump and bump and dark spot I am critical of, to the point of stressing myself out over the smallest of things. Through Pilates, I’m learning to appreciate my body not because of its size or weight, but because it is mine, and for the first time in a long time, it’s healthy. It’s an ongoing effort, and I truly encourage you all to do the same. Equilibrium has jump-started the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had with my body, and that in itself is priceless.

Maybe you’re thinking you want to try Pilates, but like me, you’re a little unsure. Do you have stretch pants? A pair of socks? Well then honey, you’re in! To ease the “first class jitters” of starting a new form of exercise, the wonderfully kind people of Equilibrium are offering a FREE Pilates barre class with me! Here’s the info:

SATURDAY, JUNE 3RD

8:30am

Equilibrium Pilates Studio, Birmingham

189 Townsend Street #100 (just go down the stairs and you're there!)

Email JessicaP@Equilibriumstudio.com to sign up! 

 

If you even have a HINT of “I want to try this”, please join me for this class. I don’t promote anything I don’t fully support, and I can promise you this could be the start of something really, really great for you. It’s a low impact class, so don’t be nervous! You’re going to get through it thinking you’re basically the Calvin Johnson of Pilates (Again, SPORTS??). And then 24 hours later, you’ll be wondering while you’re so sore. Those are your muscles, and they’re back, baby.

I would sincerely like to thank Equilibrium for the gift of this partnership. The kindness of the studio and its staff has made this a life-and-body-altering experience, and I am forever grateful. I plan to continue practicing Pilates for a long time to come, until I’m frail when I’m actually supposed to be.

Renee Rouleau Skincare: A Review

Nothing makes me happier than seeing humans on a leash-less walk with their dogs- how do they follow along so loyally? I can hardly walk down the sidewalk with Mike without straying to something shiny in a store window. Another great joy in my life is finding new, effective skincare lines. So when I stumbled upon Renee Rouleau Skincare via Instagram, my tail immediately starting wagging. Okay, wait, no- I’m getting these all mixed up.

It was a few months ago that a post-Renee-facial-selfie of Demi Lovato shook me to my core (I was also eating an entire box of Thin Mints so that might have contributed to core happenings). I was so curious about the Renee Rouleau skincare line, since it was born from the mind of a esthetician- Renee herself. I was generously given some product, and my skin will never be the same.

Before we dive into product specifics, let’s go over a couple things.

1)      You can go to ReneeRouleau.com and take your skin quiz. It’s more fun than a “what toast topping are you!!” quiz, and it will guide you to which products would be most beneficial for your specific skin type.

2)      All Renee Rouleau (Roo-Low) products are lightweight, with formulas using herbal plant extracts and essential oils.

3)      No parabens, bad alcohols, synthetics or synthetic fragrances

4)      They don’t test on animals! Bunnies everywhere rejoice.

5)      The product packaging is beyond chic- rose gold is basically a Millennial girl’s bread and butter.

 

AHA/BHA Blemish Control Cleanser

I am (almost!) 26-years-old, and I am still dealing with these little white bumps all over my chin at all times. They weren’t quite white heads, but little bumps that sat beneath the skin, crushing my dreams of a concealer-less day. I tried creams, lotions and potions and they never seemed to disappear, even as my skin was generally improving. Within two weeks of using this face wash, the bumps are gone and have not returned. This wash is creamy and gentle, with a light exfoliation (made from plastic beads- so not harsh or harmful to environment), gentle enough for every day. It’s more soft and soothing than a fresh pint of Halo Top. It really deep cleans my pores and fights against acne and yes- my annoying bumps. Leaves your face cleaner than Martha Stewart’s counter tops and softer than what I imagine Usher’s abs to feel like. $31.50

Anti Cyst Treatment

LADIES- you know that feeling, once a month when it feels like your uterus is going to fall right out of you and walk away? As if that isn’t bad enough, with that blessed time of the month comes the cystic, throbbing bumps that no matter how much masking I do, they pop up to the party they weren’t even invited to (I will remind my children every day of all the suffering I did for them). It usually takes me 4-5 products, praying and a lot of waiting to make them go away. This anti-cyst treatment was God’s way of answering. I apply 2-3 times a day, and the cyst is gone in half the time. I saw my usual forehead attendant go down in half the size in just one day. It’s an easy to apply, clear serum that’s made with gentle, yet effective ingredients (Citric Acid, Methyl Gluceth 20 and Ethyl Lactate) to calm, reduce redness and prevent scarring. It’s like a cortisone shot in a pump- but less money and painless. When I really want to give that bump the boot quick, I apply the serum and top with M-61’s Power Spot Blemish Lotion. AND STAY OUT! $45.50 (and it will last you a LONG time.)

Skin Recovery Lotion

As we know by now, I have sensitive, oily, acne-prone skin with redness on my cheeks. I am the total package…. to a greedy dermatologist. I’ve found in the past, I tend to overdo it. In a desperate attempt to get my skin under control, I do mask after mask with oil after oil piled on top. I now know that does my harm than good, and I’ve been trying to simplify my routine to just a few products- which was why it was a relief to find that this lotion is also the total package- gentle on sensitive skin, calms acne and reduces redness. Some nights I need deep, deep hydration, and I’ve expressed my love for Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer Rich for that. But at night, when I need my skin to essentially take a Xanax, this is my gal. It’s oil free, doesn’t clog my pores, hydrates, and leaves my skin calm and cozy- like me during an 8-hour marathon of “Say Yes to The Dress” on my couch. So now, even if I overdo it, it takes my skin back to base camp one, providing a perfectly calm complexion come morning. $41.50

 

BHA Clarifying Serum

Sadly- I couldn’t test this one out. It has a Mushroom ingredient in it- which I am allergic to! Basically my allergy ruins my skincare fun and my pizza but that’s just life. So this one, I’m giving away to one of YOU! This serum is designed to clear clogged pores, lift scarring, lessen oil production (I am seriously depressed right now DAMN U MUSHROOMS), and even out your skin tone. Over time, it is meant to help with your clarity and texture, minimizing your pores and blemishes. How do you win? STARTING 3/21: Head on over to my Instagram (@alexandramauro), like the photo that goes up tomorrow morning, tag a friend, your mom, meme-soulmate, WHOEVER!, and be sure to follow @reneerouleauskincare. I’ll be picking a winner this week! 

 

I may never have the pipes of Demi Lovato (it’s more like William Hung or Mariah Carey NYE edition), but now I can at least rival her flawless complexion. Skincare is important- not only because I want to look 30 when I’m 50, but because it helps me be more confident on the day-to-day. Renee Rouleau gets that- and helps me put my best face forward. Not in a Neutrogena commercial way-where a girl magically and excitedly splashes water on her face- but in an every day, maybe you spilled salad dressing on your silk shirt but hey my skin looks great-way. And for that- I am forever grateful.

 

* Thank you to Renee Rouleau for providing the products. These are my honest opinions and experiences after one month of use. 

 

Pilates or Bust (literally)! My Partnership with Equilibrium Pilates.

 

 

I’m not totally lost when it comes to working out. Yes, some days my idea of a crunch is the one I get from a Lay’s potato chip. But I’m no stranger to fitness- I’ve been doing physical therapy pretty much since birth. Here’s the story: I was born with severely clubbed feet, which led to a whole plethora of orthopedic issues, and here I am, 10 surgeries later with a better walk!! but the osteoporosis and severe arthritis in my feet and ankles that come with the territory of being laid up, and in and out of wheelchairs during my youth.

During my last surgery in high school, I was pretty immobile, and I became extremely frail- even getting down to 75 pounds at one point. During my recovery, I was able to put weight back on, and I was actually feeling pretty healthy, stable and good on my feet- then I went to college. Four years of no physical therapy, minimal exercise, maximum servings at the cafeteria, an introduction to beer, an even bigger introduction to late-night Jimmy John’s. I left college with a degree, 20 extra pounds and feet that couldn’t take me more than 3 blocks.

When I got my first job out of college, I was definitely feeling the effects of my poor health. I was tired all the time, none of my clothes fit, I was feeling sick quite often. It was New Year’s Day of 2015 when I joined the popular fitness program, “Tone It Up”. I went HARD. I ate according the to the recipes, did the daily workouts (which really are great), and in 8 months, I lost 20 pounds, toned up (they really do live up to their name), and completely changed my eating habits. I felt incredible. I was walking easier, getting out of bed with less effort, not limping so often. Then, SURPRISE!! I got colitis.

For a solid 6 months I was sick every day. I’m not going into the gross details because they are well, gross. But I was having trouble eating just about anything without getting violently ill. I had a JOYOUS Colonoscopy (I really do hate getting my picture taken), where I was diagnosed with Colitis. I was asked to cut out dairy which was basically my worst nightmare because, cheese. However, I learned to substitute with alternatives and have been able to manage it pretty well. But I stopped working out, was eating less and started losing more weight quickly. My bone mass was rapidly declining and I could feel it. I could hardly get out of bed in the morning, limping my way around the house, at work, etc. I felt like an 80-year-old woman- which had nothing to do with my Jeopardy obsession and in-bed by 9pm habit. I could feel myself deteriorating to my osteoporosis and arthritis- and I just couldn’t motivate myself to do anything about it.

Then I got engaged! And let me tell you- having someone want to spend the rest of their life with you really puts things into perspective. I started thinking about our future, all the things I want to be able to do, and now it wasn’t just about me. It was about Michael and our future family and our lives together. THAT and I tried on a wedding dress and was horrified by the frail thing staring back at me. My family made me promise to take care of myself and my bones, and here we are.

I didn’t really know where to start. My exercise abilities are limited due to my orthopedic disability.  I basically knew I needed to lift things and gain muscle. I tried remembering when I felt my strongest, and realized it was before my last surgery, when I was doing Pilates to gain some strength for the recovery process. I started asking around about different studios in my area, and stumbled upon Equilibrium Pilates in Birmingham. I reached out to the owner, Nancy, who was like a lifeboat in a sea of bad choices and bad bones. Nancy expressed they were looking for a studio challenger- essentially someone who would come to classes, and document their progress over three months. I was thrilled when she asked me to be the Challenger- and relieved. I felt like this was the first step to getting my bones back in business. So what is my commitment? I will attend classes 4 times a week, varying form Pilates reformer, to barre and mat classes. I will check in on my social media whenever I’m at the studio- which is not to annoy people with look at me!!! I’m working out-bro photos. It’s to hold myself accountable, and to keep you guys in the loop on my progress. I will also be meeting with a personal trainer once a week to lift said heavy things.

I’ve been taking classes at Equilibrium for about two weeks now and I can’t believe I’m saying this- but I notice a difference. I’m standing up straighter, I’m not as achy in the morning, I can get up from the couch or a chair a little easier, without having to pause for as long to get my feet moving. Listen- I know I’ll never be 100%. I’ll still have to use a wheelchair at theme parks, take a cab for anything over a mile, and my “run” will always look like a horse that was rejected by 11-year-olds at Equestrian camp. I have good days and bad days and everyone has their own struggles. But could I get out of bed easier? Walk to get ice cream with Michael? Fall down without worrying about breaking a bone? Yes- and I do believe Equilibrium will help me get there. I’m doing this for me, for the future, and yes, for a wedding dress. Also because I don’t think they give Life Alert to 26-year-olds.

The Winter Beauty Edit

Ahhh, the inevitable flakes of winter- and I'm not talking about the snow. As the weather gets colder, my skin gets flakier than a Pillsbury biscuit. I'm flakier than that girl you run into at Target from high school that says "we should get coffee sometime!!!". Get the ugly, gross picture? Good. Now we can proceed with what we're going to do about it. 

I'm a firm believer that some of your skincare and beauty need to change with the seasons. I've compiled a list of my favorite skincare and beauty products for winter to get you through these next few months (let's face it, Winter lasts until April).  So crank up your heat, ignore your unshaven legs as you pull on some big wool socks, and enjoy: The Winter Beauty Edit. 

 

Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich -$35

You all know my obsession with Glossier's Priming Moisturizer. I use it every morning before my makeup for a perfect base every time. So when Glossier came out with a richer version, you know I pressed “order” on launch morning before my eyes were even open. This is my top-winter product. It healed my dry, flaking skin overnight. It’s unbelievably rich, creamy and luxurious feeling. The best part is, you can’t use too much. It melts into skin like butter, bringing life back to dry, dull, winter face. I also use on my neck because I am in constant fear of Tech Neck (it's a sickness). It feels like a $300 cream Kim Kardashian probably uses- but it's only $35 and you don't have to act like Kanye makes sense.

* Psst: you can get 20% off and free shipping through my rep page here: https://www.glossier.com/reps/alexmauro

 

Milk Cooling Water- $24

Again- getting hydration on your skin in the winter is hard, because we’re indoors, cooped up under blankets just trying to get through it. Milk Makeup Cooling Stick is an easy, fun way to not only reduce redness and perk up tired skin, but it adds an extra layer of hydration. I keep mine in the fridge, swipe all over my face-especially under eyes- in the morning after washing. Also a perfect gym bag companion for after a workout.

 

Laura Mercier Face Polish- $32

Back to the flakes. You know the ones, you scrub and you moisturize and they just appear again like a stage-5 clinger at a party- BUT THEY WEREN’T INVITED!  When my skin needs a reboot, I scrub with this and it does exactly what it says it will- polishes your skin. My winter-dream team is washing clean skin with this, then Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich. You will wake up with a whole new face (not in a bad Heidi Montag way. It an awesome, how am I this glowing? in the winter way).

 

Kiehl's Rare Earth Pore Cleansing Mask- $30

Sometimes, you need a good detox, from harmful harsh heat in your house, from layering on makeup, etc. This is my ultimate. It detoxes skin without stripping it, it just leaves a nice, smooth, matte finish. It makes me feel so CLEAN afterwards. But because winter is a fickle biotch and will ruin this moment for you, follow up with Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask. If you don’t’ have that in your arsenal already, skip this whole post and order that. Baby steps- and that is the first one.

 

Elta MD Suncreen- $20

Yes, you do need sunscreen in the winter. And fall. And all other times of the year. People always ask me what they can use to prevent wrinkles, and sunscreen is it. We don’t realize the damage those harsh office lights make, the sun when we’re in the car- etc. You can drive yourself crazy trying to avoid it or worry about it- or you can wear sunscreen daily. This one was recommended to me by multiple friends, and for good reason. It is unbelievably lightweight and silky. I put it on before my priming moisturizer, and you can’t even tell it’s there.  It blends in beautifully and protects all day. Get on it.

 

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Eye Cream- $37

The top question I am asked is “what can I use for under-eyes?".  In service to all of you, I’ve tried just about all of them. This one is the only cream I have ever noticed a difference with. I do feel it helped with my dark circles over time, but more than anything it just made my under-eye area look not so tired. It smoothed the skin, actually making it look younger and healthier. A little goes a long way too- I've had it about 4 months and haven't even made a dent in the tube. 

Mermaid Perfume Body Oil- $50

Some days, you walk outside and are immediately assaulted by ice-cold wind, sharp, sleet-y snow and frigid temperatures. You think to yourself “I need a damn vacation”, but you check your bank account and it says “Girl lol no you need a BUDGET”. So how do you get away without actually getting away? Treat yourself to something tropical. On those miserable winter days, I crank up the heat in my apartment, take a bath (this is the best bath companion), and follow up with Mermaid Perfume Body Oil. It smells like you just left the beach, Mai Tai still in hand. It soaks into skin in seconds and leaves you with a lingering vacation smell all day. Not to mention crazy soft-skin worth of putting your bathing suit on (you can walk around your house in one, I won’t judge). Bonus points if you get their candle- it will fill your whole home with beach bliss. 

Boy Brow in Clear- $16

In the winter, I’m all about a more natural look- like an Eskimo with natural beauty just oozing from my pores. But as we all know, sometimes it takes a little work to make natural look polished. This is why I love Boy Brow Clear. I am faithful to Boy Brow in brown, but I do have some little baby hairs in the front that don’t quite need color, but just a little lift. Voila, Clear Boy Brow. All the same gorgeous, effortless, just a little messy brow, without color if you don’t need it (bless you).

Milk Makeup Eye Vinyl- $20

I had been coveting a glossy eye for months, but couldn’t seem to figure it out without looking like I had some weird disease. Then I was recommended Milk Makeup Eye Vinyl, and it changed the game. PERFECTLY glossy without looking oily or sick. It gives you the ultimate cool-girl look, because let’s face it, you are cool and should look like it. My favorite shade is the nude. Glide it on eyelids and pat in and BAM! You’re an Olsen (without the chain smoking, bravo).

 

Winter is tough- but taking care of your skin doesn't have to be. All of these products can be easily integrated into your routine, without sending your face into panic mode- because it's stressful enough just trying to keep your socks up in your boot all season.

 

* Title photo via Into The Gloss

Pink is the New Prozac

Here we are, in that deep, depth of Winter when it seems like we are just as far into it, as we are from getting out. Cold, icy temps, dirty sloshy snow covering the sidewalks. Every day seems like a scene from “Frozen” (and not the cool, singing parts. Just the shit weather). Yup- seasonal depression is in full swing. It may be vain, but during this period, I make it through with little pick-me-ups. A mascara here, a coffee before work, etc. My bank account may hate me but my soul is (possibly falsely) nourished. But recently, I found the holy grail of all mid-winter pick-me-ups. Hear me out:

During this time of year, I do notice one thing: I am in all black, all the time. Constantly sifting through a pile of black clothing, looking for that same black turtleneck, black jeans and of course, black socks to go with my black boots. Its become routine, and frankly, it’s a little boring. This winter, I decided to challenge myself and brighten my mood by brightening my wardrobe. I wanted one universal piece I could throw on my "Wednesday Adams" inspired looks.

Enter, the Pink Coat.

 

I'm going to need everyone to stop saying “I have too many coats!!!”. No- there is no such thing. When you live in Michigan (any other cold-weather state applies here), your coat is your wardrobe, and quite literally your outfit most days. I am sitting in a Starbucks right now, black turtleneck, black sweats and PINK COAT. There’s no way I was going to come out in this blistering weather and not flex on these high schoolers ordering hot chocolates- and all it took was one, simple piece. A pink coat is the new staple, and instant outfit brightener, a fool-proof way to look like you know what you’re doing. It’s the thing you need to get you through these next few months, and the options are much, much cheaper than a therapist.

Because I believe that "more is more and less is a bore" (Iris Apfel, my idol)- I have two options I can throw on over just about any outfit: a pink faux fur from J.Crew, and a wool pea coat I got in Ireland.

For warm, wool coat, I recommend finding something in the lighter, or “Millennial Pink (Glossier did it first tho)” range. It looks expensive, chic and well put-together.

If you're a little more adventurous (or in my case, fashionably obnoxious), opt for a bright, faux fur version. There is no way to be basic in a pink faux fur, it is instant FASHUN.

Consider pink your new base. It can be worn with black, white, red, blue, stripes, pajamas, sweats- YOU NAME IT. This is the easiest cure for mid-winter outfit ruts.

Here's a few options to get you through these next few months (let's face it, Winter goes until April. Don't live in denial).

Topshop Biker Jacket (on sale for $99!)

Style Nanda Pink Overcoat with Strap Detail, Asos ($264)

Via Spiga Faux Fur Coat (on sale for $139!)

 

Improve your mood, update your wardrobe, and make sure that when you inevitably end up in some 9th grader's Snapchat background at aforementioned Starbucks, you will STAND OUT.

 

Photos by: Ava Ranger

 

Gift Guide GIVEAWAY!

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Didn't get what you wanted for Christmas (I don't know why socks get such a bad rap. I got two new pairs and I am PUMPED)? The Nines is here to help! To celebrate the end of the local gift giving series, here's one big, local loving giveaway!

 

What it includes:

1 Neroli candle from Detroit Rose

1 Citrus, 1 Hibiscus, and 1 Pineapple Jalapeno cocktail mixer from Wolf Moon Mixers

A laundry bundle from The Old White House, including linen spray, dryer sachets, laundry soap and a scoop!

 

How to Enter:

Head over to my Instagram, @alexandramauro, FOLLOW and TAG a friend in the comments of the most recent post (photo of a Neroli Candle)! By following/commenting, you will be automatically entered to win. Winner will be announced Thursday, 12/29. 

 

Regardless of the winner, I hope that this series inspired a few of you to start shopping local. I love to give, and giving local this holiday season made it that much sweeter. That, and the chocolate Santa overdose that took place.

Good Luck! 

 

Detroit Rose

WHO WE'RE GIFTING... Your Girlfriends or Sister.

(let's face it, you're going to want some too)

 

There's not much I enjoy more than beauty, skincare, candles, and Disney Channel Original Movies. When I stumbled upon Detroit Rose, and it checked three of those four boxes (the last one was out of their control)- I was instantly hooked. 

My love affair started with the candles. If I am home, I am burning a candle. I would have really thrived in the Pre-Edison days. I'm not ashamed to admit I've spent upwards of $70 on a single candle. I found Detroit Rose via Instagram, and one look at the gorgeous packaging, had me getting my credit card out faster than you could say "Shopaholics Anonymous". To my delight, these beautiful candles were only $24. AND they're made right here in Detroit? SOLD. 

But like any great candle, it needs a great scent. I can confidently say that Detroit Rose's scents are unparalleled. They fill the entire room and wrap you in comfort and peacefulness. They have somehow managed to take that perfect "Sunday morning, wrapped in a blanket, watching Harry Potter with absolutely nothing to do today" feeling, and give it life in a candle. There are so many delicious scents to choose from, but here's my favorites I have burning on repeat:

*I know it's hard to choose a candle without smelling it first. For this reason, I have associated each scent with a notable person, to make choosing easier. Or just more entertaining. 

Cinnamon & Chai:

It smells like wrapping your house in one giant, cozy blanket. A spicy but comforting scent of vanilla, cinnamon and clove. This is the candle that's going to get you through the winter.

Who would burn it: Rory Gilmore. Before the revival garbage. 

Bourbon Orange Spice:

This one is Michael's favorite. It's a rich, buttery scent, made with the zest of orange, clove and anise. It's like the candle equivalent of melted butter (the feeling, not the smell). Smooth, and so delicious.

Who would burn it: Brad Pitt. In the Jenn days.  

Fig Tree:

I light this one every morning in my "Diva Den" (this is what Michael calls the spare room we had to make into my "dressing room", because I have SO.MANY.CLOTHES.) while I'm getting ready. It's clean, simple and earthy. Instantly turns any room into an oasis.

Who would burn it: Charlotte York. While she rearranges her flowers and makes brunch plans with the girls. 

Bergamot: 

The best way to describe the scent of this candle is "bright" (no, not a candle pun). It has the most delicious citrus notes, sure to perk up any space. It's energizing and inspiring. I love to light one when I write or am getting work done around the house. Currently lit as I write this (the candle, not me. I am an old lady and boring AF).

Who would burn it: Ina Garten. I light this and fantasize that she's about to make me a Quiche. Then my timer goes off for my bagel bites. 

BONUS burner: Lin Manuel Miranda. Rumor is he had this going while writing "Hamilton". That rumor was started by me.

Neroli: 

With hints of sandalwood and musk, this is the candle to bring out your inner goddess. It's sensual, peaceful and intoxicating. Side effect is that you may never want to leave your house. It's that good. 

Who would burn it: Serena van der Woodsen. Also Blair approved (but NOT Jenny. Forget her.). 

Tobacco & Bay Leaf:

As I write this, Michael yells from the kitchen that THIS is his favorite now. It smells like we live in a Restoration Hardware catalog (aka, the DREAM). Herbal, with hints of musk and citrus, it makes me feel warm and cozy on the inside. Also makes me want a giant reclaimed-wood bookcase filled with Sylvia Plath's best works. 

Who would burn it: My idol, Emma Watson. HOW CAN ONE PERSON BE SO PERFECT.

There are multiple other scents as well: Lavender, Rosa, Moss, Mistletoe, Leather, just to name a few. Each candle is hand poured here in Detroit, made from all-natural, vegan soy wax and premium fragrance oils.

 

BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE! 

Detroit Rose has launched a "Ritual Line". A line of skincare products, all natural, organic and filler free. 

Rose & Coconut Milk Bath Soak ($26):

Up there with naps, baths are the most underrated childhood pastime. There is nothing like taking a bath to make you feel like you have your life together. Funny thing is- I usually take one when it seems like my life is falling apart. It is the perfect way to unwind, clear your head and get back on track. And now I know there is no better companion to bath time than this bath soak. I didn't know I needed to bathe with real rose buds UNTIL I DID. This scent of this soak alone is enough to send you into a spa-like bliss. But the coconut milk, melting into your skin is absolute nirvana. Just a few spoonfuls in the tub leaves skin impossibly soft. 

Bergamot & Lavender Oil ($28):

After taking my soul-saving bath, I thought my skin couldn't get any softer from the coconut milk. Then came this body oil. I usually can't get down with lotions- I think they're a hassle and sticky and never seem to absorb or moisturize. This oil made my skin hydrated and glowy on impact. It's easy to apply and quickly melts into skin.  And the scent....it's what I imagine Blake Lively to smell like naturally (no wonder Ryan Reynolds loves her so much, also why do I think about Blake Lively so much?). It's just a hint of sweet citrus and lavender that provides you just enough light fragrance. 

Find it! 

Let's be honest- you're ordering some for yourself. You'll get the best selection on their site, and won't have to stress about shipping times. 

Need it by Christmas? 

Lark & Co.: Birmingham

City Bird: Detroit

El Dorado General Store: Detroit

Farmers Hand: Detroit

SMPLFD: Detroit

Knot and Bow: Brooklyn, NY

Asrai Garden: Chicago

Lillstreet: Chicago

A full lists of stockists, here

 

If it wasn't already obvious, I am now a faithful follower of Detroit Rose. The entire brand is dedicated to channeling your inner goddess (Yaaasss queen, I'm in here!!!), loving and appreciating yourself, and finding peace in the shit storm of life. Whether it's a candle, body oil, face mask (next on my list to try) or a bath soak- we all could use a little something to help us find balance in the day-to-day. That, and something very chic for your bathroom shelves. 

Busted Bra Shop

WHO WE'RE GIFTING...YOU!

(this one is for the ladies...or men- it's 2016 and I'm not here to judge. YOU DO YOU.) 

 

It's no secret that I am a proud member of the itty-bitty-you-know-what-committee (keeping it G here, my future in-laws read this. Hi guys!!!). I kept waiting to grow, but eventually I realized this is as good as it's going to get. I'm not bummed about my size- after many years, I've learned to love and appreciate my body. But there was always one thing I couldn't get behind- or under, I suppose: bras. I was a Victoria's Secret, 32A, push-up ride or DIE. They measured me countless times- 32A, year after year. But if I was wearing the right size, why was I always so uncomfortable? I was constantly playing with the skin-grabbing straps, or adjusting the cups. I thought it was normal I could fit some snacks, my phone, lipstick and an ipad mini in there. I was uncomfortable, but at least I had storage, right? I accepted that bras suck, but they're a right of passage to being a woman. Then, I saw the light. 

On a bender to my favorite vintage store with a girlfriend, we were just about to leave when a trip to the ladies room ensued. Right next to it, was Busted Bra Shop. To this day, I don't know what made me go in there. It was most likely divine intervention (I really think God could be a woman sometimes, good looking out). 

Upon walking in, the first words I heard were "I bet you're wearing a 32A. And it's the wrong size". I was baffled! I wore the smallest size that existed, what's a concave girl like me supposed to be wearing? Sadly unknown to me, there is a whole other world of bras outside of the pink and white stripes. I let Lee, the owner, take me into a fitting room (my friend, waiting outside the bathroom wondering where I went, sorry girl). Less than 5 minutes later, I was standing in there, sans shirt, with my Miracle Bombshell Gorgeous Miraculous 32AAAAHHH bra in the trash. Let me tell you- you are never more vulnerable than when you are in a fitting room, girls out, having a full on conversation with a woman you just met. Trust level is at an all time high.  I think I told her things I had never told anyone- like how I used to ride my bike by my crushes house blasting Ashlee Simpson (okay, now everyone knows). BACK TO BRAS. 

Well folks, as it turns out, I am a certified 28B. A size I didn't even know existed. The second I put on my new, perfectly fitted bra, it was love at first hook. For the first time, I was comfortable- that really does something beautiful for your own body positivity. The right fit is everything, and it turns out that the majority of women do NOT fall within standard retail sizing. Busted has sizes AAA-N, and bands from 26-56. With that range of sizes, how can we honestly accept that MILLIONS of women fall within the standard FOUR sizes mass retailers carry? Secret's out- we deserve more. 

WHERE TO GO...

The Park Shelton Building- Midtown

15 East Kirby Street, suite A

Detroit, MI 48202

 

When you shop at Busted, you are not only getting top notch service, quality product and a life-changing experience, but you're supporting a locally owned, Detroit business. A bra that supports you AND the local economy? Truly, Busted Bra Shop is the gift that keeps on giving. 

 

 

*Photo credit: Man Repeller

 

Wolf Moon Mixers

WHO WE'RE GIFTING... Your Secret Santa 

You know the drill. You pull a name out of the Secret-Santa hat at work. You open it up , and see the name of a co-worker you know nothing about. What the heck are you supposed to get them? A book? What if they prefer Netflix? Socks and underwear? That's a lawsuit waiting to happen. Really, there's only one thing you need to know about them- make sure they enjoy an adult beverage, and proceed with Wolf Moon Mixers. 

At a party a few weeks ago, I observed a friend mixing a green juice with Vodka. Yes, kale, grapefruit, apple, celery, and vodka- I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. In no way, shape or form was it drinkable. My poor pal just wanted a somewhat healthy alternative to the usual Diet Coke or tonic water. I thought that there had to be something better than a vodka salad. Lo and behold, right in my own city, lived a company that thought the same thing. All natural mixers, made from fruits, vegetables, cane sugar and flowers- all designed to pair perfectly with your favorite spirits. 

Hibiscus ($15):

My absolute favorite. I'm a tequila girl (I can feel your judgement from here), and Hibiscus mixed with silver tequila, makes the most delicious, fresh margarita. It's like in college, when the weather would break, and everyone would be outside on a Wednesday afternoon having a drink-I mean, STUDYING, mom!!!- That happy, satisfying taste, bottled. 

Alternate recipe: Hibiscus mixer, vodka, a splash of club soda and some fresh blueberries, muddled. 

*Not only do these mixers taste incredibly delicious, but the 32oz, aesthetically pleasing bottles look almost too good to drink. BUT WHO ARE WE KIDDING. Pop that bottle! 

Citrus ($15): 

You know that feeling when you're on vacation, laying by the pool, drink in hand without a care in the world? Citrus is that feeling in a bottle, even though you're sitting under a dozen blankets with your long johns pulled up to your bra. My go-to is to mix with some champagne, and a squeeze of an orange slice. This is Beyonce of Mimosas.

Alternate recipe: Citrus mix, vodka, a splash of club soda, and a slice of grapefruit to garnish. 

Pineapple Jalapeño ($15) :

Spicing up your life has never been easier, or more fun. The perfect mix of spicy and sweet, this flavor is ideal to mix with some tequila, a little lime and a lotta false-self confidence. For me- this mix is the party pleaser. The taste is strangely familiar, but deliciously different. Scary and Ginger would be proud.

Alternate recipe: Pineapple Jalapeño mix, gin, club soda. GINNING (take away my writing privileges)!!

* Check out two bonus flavors on the WMM site!

 

I'm no mix master. Hell, 4 years ago I drank wine out of a box and thought Smirnoff was top shelf.  The good people at Wolf Moon Mixers sympathize with me, and offer a plethora of delicious recipes, available here. At a party with no wi-fi (are you also churning butter)? Fear not- recipes are also featured on the back of the bottle.

Find It!: 

City Market: Detroit

Our/Detroit: Detroit

ML Spirits: Birmingham

Beverage Warehouse: Beverly Hills

Heights Food Center: Ferndale

Market Square: West Bloomfield

                     ...Find a full list of retailers, or shop online, here!

 

These mixers are the fun, delicious gift that keeps on giving. Not only do Wolf Moon Mixers make the perfect gift for your secret santa, but for your close friends too (they can invite you over for a drink and you can mooch off of your own gift). This cool, perfectly curated present is sure to be the talk of the office-unless Barb gets too drunk at the holiday party again and busts out a freestyle to "Silent Night"- she's got you beat. 

 

The Old White House

 

WHO WE'RE GIFTING: Mom/Mother-in-law

(no, not because they do all the cleaning, but because moms are the bomb.com and deserve a great gift!)

A few years ago, a friend gifted me The Old White House's Lavender Linen Spray. I kept it on my nightstand for a while, never really reaching to use it. But after a horrendously bad day (I think it had something do to with work and Adam Brody getting married), I came home in desperate need of relaxation and calm. I spotted the chic glass-bottle on my nightstand and figured I would give it a whirl. From that day on, I refuse to sleep in anything other than a bed full of lavender goodness. After falling head-over-pillow for the spray, I ventured into the entire Old White House line. I love the idea of filling my home with all natural products, and I love even more that they're made right here in Michigan. 

Located between Grand Rapids and Lansing (okay, a tad out of Detroit, but still local!), The Old White House is dedicated to creating laundry and cleaning products, all natural, all infused with Lavender, and all obession-worthy. 

Here's a breakdown of my favorite products:

Lavender Linen and Room Spray ($12):

Like I mentioned above, this is the ultimate way to feel relaxed and clean- even if your room looks like a tornado of Zara came through. Not only do I use it nightly on my sheets, but I use it on blankets, drapes, even my shower curtain. A few spritzes on my pillow is an instant trip to relaxation nation.

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Natural Lavender Laundry Soap ($8):

I loathe washing my clothes in harsh chemicals (just like I hate when someone mixes the tofu with the falafel at the salad bar at Whole Foods. The NERVE). When I use this, my clothes turn out like I'm Julie Andrews in "The Sound of Music", hanging my things in the crisp air while singing about deer or thread or something. Giving your mom a way to  get her clothes clean and fresh, all while using natural ingredients? You're now the favorite child. 

*Highly recommend the one that comes with the wooden scoop. It's $2...your mom is worth it. 

Lavender Kitchen and Bath Cleanser ($8):

I live with a man. I have clean our bathroom every other day (Okay..between my hair and makeup, the mess is probably mostly mine). I started to get worried that the bleach I was washing our shower with, was soaking up into the pores of my feet, and I would soon turn into something out of a Marvel movie. This stuff really cleans, leaves a fresh scent, AND I get to stay human. Sold.

I also use this in my kitchen, in the sink and on countertops. I do a lot of messy cooking, and this cleansers antibacterial properties leave me with a sparkling clean kitchen, sans risk of Salmonella. 

*For these products, a little goes a LONG way, I only use a small sprinkle on a sponge to get the job done. 

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Lavender Carpet Freshener ($12):

When you get older, you start to accumulate nice things, like Oriental Rugs. But you walk all over it in your boots, dirty sandals, etc., making your once-nice-rug look as tired as Donald Trump's hair piece (too soon?). Sprinkle this stuff on, let sit for 30 minutes and then vacuum it up. Carpet looks and smells like new! 

The Bundle ($45):

Can't decide what to get? The "Bundle of Natural Lavender Goodness" is the fool-proof way to go. It includes all of the above, and a Lavender dryer sachet! A small warning: your moms house is going to smell so good and be so clean, that you may want to move back in. Think that one through carefully. 

Find it!

Lark & Co. General Store: Birmingham, MI

Blumz: Detroit & Ferndale

Eastern Market, shed 4: Detroit

Out of D Box 313: Detroit

        ...and of course, online! 

(You don't have to live in Detroit to support it!)

WHY:

To me, products from The Old White House say you care. They're quality, heart-warming gifts that any person could use and appreciate. The fresh, clean scents are comforting and soothing- a nice change up from harsh chemical smells and harmful ingredients. There is something about the smell of fresh Lavender filling your home that calms the soul- until "Westworld" comes on. Then I'm at a loss. 

 

The Nines Local Gift Guide 2016

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It was the great Cher Horowitz that once said "Tis a far, far better thing doing stuff for other people". I’ve always felt this riveting sentiment to be true. Especially around the holidays, when I try to do something thoughtful for each person in my life- whether it’s bake their favorite cookies, or buy that thing they mentioned 6 months ago, but never got. The joy of giving a great gift, big or small, to someone you love is a far greater joy than receiving (unless it’s a car or $5,000 gift card to Sephora, come back to me then). As Christmas draws closer, I've started thinking about what to give this year. Yes, I will give my time to charities and other philanthropic causes, but I’m talking gifts here, people.

I began searching Amazon, department stores, Target, etc., but couldn’t seem to find anything quite special enough for the ones that are special to me. I racked my brain for the things I love, and I quickly realized something: the majority of the things that I cherish in my home (non-human/animal), come from a local business. Then it hit me- what if every dollar I spent this year on gifts, got put back into my own community? Bought a kid dance lessons, or braces? Paid the rent, or funded a vacation? Is there any greater gift than supporting your local economy (okay…again see Car/$5K Sephora gift card..I AM ONLY HUMAN)?

And here we are, with The Nines Local Gift Guide, all with “Made in Detroit” products. Throughout the week, I’ll feature something for everyone on your list: mothers, brothers, friends, even that weird guy from work you picked for Secret Santa. And best of all- your perfect present supports local business right here in Detroit. Follow along here this week for a new, thoughtful gift every day. And since I know my readers are on the "Nice List" this year (except my coworker Gabi. There’s always next year, girl), there will even be a giveaway at the end of the series! 

So, sorry in advance, Santa, but I prefer my gifts to be made right here- no trip to the North Pole necessary (also, reindeer terrify me).  

I Don't Love Hillary. But I'm Voting for Her.

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I've kept pretty quiet this election. I had always thought that my political affiliations and opinions should be private, and not displayed via memes on the internet. But with the decision of who our next President will be upon us, I feel this election is too important to keep quiet any longer. I'm not standing on a soapbox telling you to who vote for. I am expressing my concern as to the kind of country we are at risk of becoming. Also it's my site and I can do what I want.  

I was a Bernie Sanders supporter. I had been feeling frustrated with this country for so long, and his revolutionary ideas gave me hope for America and its people. When Bernie did not win the nomination, I was hesitant to support Hillary. To be honest- I wasn't a fan. I thought her to be untrustworthy, fake, and a product of the political machine. I left my support with Sanders, spitefully holding onto my vote. 

But as time went on, I invested myself more and more into debates, articles, and coverage. I didn't find myself loving Hillary Clinton, but I found myself feeling in danger by Donald Trump. 

Here's the thing: I don't have to like Hillary. But I have to vote for her, and I will, gladly. I think a lot of women can resonate with this feeling. When you are a powerful, smart, "hard" kind of woman, there's a good chance people in business may not like you personally. The world likes us warm, fuzzy and sweet- and when you're not, you're a bitch. Hillary Clinton is not a bitch. She is educated, serious and capable. I may not like Hillary, but at least she doesn't make me feel like my gender is in danger. 

Donald Trump is not a punch line. He is a sexist, racist, misogynistic, narcissistic, dangerous person- that mongers fear and brings out the worst in this country. As a woman, I have never felt true danger as a citizen of this country. I realized this, as I drove to work the other day behind a truck with the bumper sticker that read "Grab America by the Pussy". This is not a game, this is not a joke. This is rape culture. This is the endangerment of women, minorities, LGBT, cops, and yes, men too. When we normalize sexual assault, when we make it into a joke, we are no longer the country built on the hard work of those who came before us. We are a country beyond recognition.

I am not saying Hillary is the perfect candidate- and trust me, I want her to be. The first woman President is a big deal- a monumental, emotional moment in history. But before someone goes off my comments about her emails, tell me- why are you not outraged that during the Bush administration, 22 million emails were "lost", during one of the darkest times in our nation's history? Screw your emails. This is life and death ( and not in the way I used to describe getting a new Hollister sweatshirt when I was 14). So- emails, which have been investigated thoroughly (no, your Aunt's not an FBI authority. Her Facebook memes are not law), or the endangerment of minorities, women, servicemen, the disabled and of the future of this country?

Tomorrow, I will gladly vote for Hillary Clinton. But it's more than that. Regardless of the outcome of this election- it is up to us. WE are what forms the cloth of this country. We help an elderly neighbor shovel her sidewalk in the winter. We teach our children tolerance, and that differences are what make people beautiful. We line up in the masses to donate blood when 50 Americans are killed at a nightclub.  We do not discriminate against our fellow citizens based on empty fear. We don't let negotiate with terrorists- so why are we considering one for President?

When you go to the polls, think about the country you want in 10 years. The country you want for your children, even your grandchildren- that is what's at stake here. If that includes dehumanizing women, isolating minorities and dividing us by hate- you may be in the wrong country to begin with. 

Vote. 

 

Good Jeans: Madewell

 

In a recent bender of "Laguna Beach", Season 3, I learned two things: in the early 2000's, True Religion was indeed a religion, and jeans were king. It got me thinking- I hardly ever wear jeans. And if I'm not wearing jeans, what the  $^!@ am I wearing all the time?

I am a notorious non-jeans wearer. The main reason being I hate shopping for them, and the way I look in them. I'm petite- 5 ft nothing. Every time I go to try on a pair of denim, I find myself mopping the fitting room floor with 3ft of extra fabric. Flare jeans? I look like a platypus. Capri-cut? On me- Boot Cut. It's incredibly discouraging, and a major blow to my self-confidence. 

This year, jeans reign supreme once again. Adorned with kitsch-y patches, intricate destruction, and un-finished hems, I found myself feeling left out, so I went shopping. Endless hours in fitting rooms, trying on styles that were too long, too tight and too expensive. Almost accepting my defeat, a group of girlfriends guided me to Madewell. I had always assumed Madewell was for tall, lanky girls, that like to shop at Whole Foods, listen to Vinyl and do hot yoga for fun (aka- girls way cooler than me). With nothing left to lose, I let a kind Madewell employee pick out some styles for me and corral me into a fitting room- and the rest is history. 

I tried on a few pairs of skinny jeans, and while they were undeniably good, I was looking for something different. This is the great thing about Madewell- styles that are on trend, and work on ladies 5'10 to 5'0. I walked out with three pairs that day- I even cleared out a drawer for my new collection (for comparison- I dated my Fiance for 4 years before I gave him half a drawer). 

 

The Cali-Demi Boot Cut

My favorite pair- it's been my go-to since I got them. The little "kick-hem" effect is perfect with my sneakers, even better with ankle boots that disappear under the unfinished hem. They're the ultimate cool-girl jean, with a universally flattering shape.  I love these in black, with an oversized sweater, or silk tank and leather jacket. 

BONUS: Madewell hems their jeans FOR FREE. This is usually a major expense for me, as 100% of my jeans have to be altered.

Cruiser Straight Jean

The comfiest jeans in the game. I've tried high-waisted jeans before. My Sophomore year of college, I stocked up on a bunch of cheap jeans where the waistband literally sat under my bra. Coincidentally, the extreme high-waist made me not notice that all the pizza and beer did NOT in fact disappear with my hangovers. On the Cruiser, the waist is just high enough, and the straight leg is a wonderful departure from the typical skinny-leg. Not to be confused with the Stanky-leg (still doing physical therapy as a result of that era). I love the lana wash- not too light, not too dark, just sheer denim perfection. 

 

9" High-Rise Skinny

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I figured I needed a staple-skinny jean in my arsenal. I typically stay away from skinny jeans, because they remind me of Delia's t-shirts and Etnies- circa 8th grade. However, Madewell has made skinny jeans cool again, with a leg that's not so skin tight, but skims the leg beautifully and comfortably. In another incredible feature Madewell offers, I got these monogrammed for just $10 bucks. You can get just about anything on your jeans, and while my first choice isn't appropriate for the 18-and-under audience, I decided to do a little self-promotion with mine. Other than FREE HEMMING!!, this may be my favorite feature from Madewell. It's a simple, personal touch to elevate your clothes. 

 

Although i'm on a strict wedding budget- I have my eyes on a few new styles. I can go without groceries for a month, no?

 

Cali-Demi Boot in Donovan Wash

 

 

I always thought jeans to be unnecessarily expensive, until I found the right ones. They are absolutely worth the investment, because of your cost-per-wear. I've worn each pair at least once a week since I got them, and they have yet to stretch out, fade out or give out. 

If you're like me, entering the fitting room with jeans is about as daunting as your gynecologists waiting room (Does everyone think I'm pregnant?!). But Madewell offered me a safe haven in my quest for jeans, with not just wonderful product, but exceptional customer service. Not only did they help me build on my wardrobe, but they have saved my legs from a lifetime of cold, leggings as pants, and best of all-razors. 

TRAVEL SERIES-PACKING YOUR SUITCASE

It is my belief that packing a suitcase is truly an art. So how does one become the Picasso of packing? Trial and error. With this guide, I'm helping you skip the error part, and go straight to suitcase success. 

I'm a recovering overpacker. Packing loads of random articles of clothing led me to the other end of the spectrum- underpacking. Getting to my destination, opening my suitcase to find 10 bikini tops, 6 rompers and 1 tank top. Through many under-clothed vacations, I've found that the key is to pack items that can be worn with all other items in your suitcase. 

EXAMPLE: You have a black sweater. You can wear that black sweater with jeans, or a suede skirt, under a jacket or with a t-shirt underneath. I can also wear that t-shirt with the jeans, skirt, and same jacket. I can wear the jacket with the pants and skirt, or over a dress. The dress, I can wear the t-shirt underneath. Get it? It's the cycle of packing smart. 

So you've got the system down- but how much should you actually bring to not only optimize everything you've packed, but to wear things that make you feel good. I went on a 8 day trip abroad, so keep in mind the weather and duration I'm packing for. This will vary depending on where you go, for how long and what you'll be doing. This is an overall outline- use it wisely! 

 

JEANS:

1 White

1 Blue

1 Black 

 

T-SHIRTS/BODYSUITS:

White

Black sleeveless

Black Long sleeve

Grey 

 

JACKETS: 

1 Leather

1 Camo ("fun" jacket- can do a bomber, duster coat, etc.)

 

DRESSES:

1 Formal (this is the only exception to the "everything wears with everything" rule, it is a piece that stands alone for a formal occasion)

2 Casual- to be layered under jackets, over t-shirts, body suit

 

SWEATERS:

1 Black v-neck

1 Pink "statement sweater" (it had lots of ruffles- the ultimate statement)

1 Grey crewneck 

 

SKIRTS:

1 Suede skirt 

 

SHOES:

1 Pair of boots

1 Pair of sneakers

1 Pair of sandals 

1 Pair of heels, "fancy shoes"

Slippers 

 

ACCESSORIES: 

2 Neck scarves

Extra pair of earrings

Extra watch 

 

*I'm not including undergarments on this list- that should go without saying and you should know how much to bring...if not....God save us all. 

 

Okay,

...here's where it gets good. How you pack the clothes is just as important as what you're packing. How you arrange things in your suitcase is a game-changer as to how much you can bring (or leave room to bring things back!) I used to just fold everything haphazardly, stuff my shoes on top, and sit on top of the suitcase willing for it to shut. Finding the guide below changed my mother-packing life. I tried to take my own pictures of said system, but the lighting in my apartment is as good as a mole hole. So, let's give thanks to these lovely illustrations I found on a sketchy website:

 

1) Roll all small items on bottom: tank tops, t-shirts, camis, thin sweaters, leggings, pajamas. Roll as much as you can- you want to fill the entire bottom layer of your luggage in rolled items. 

 

2) On top of the "rolled layer", fold blouses and dresses ("un-rollables").

 

3) Take your jeans (for me it was 3 pairs) and fold them half-in-half-out of your suitcase, with the legs outside the suitcase and waist inside, creating a "base" over your folded clothes. 

4) On top of the half of your jeans that are inside the suitcase, fold your outerwear (my two jackets went here). 

5) Fold the legs of the pants over TOP the jackets. You should have enough room to fit your shoes and toiletries bag on top of it all (small shoes like slippers and sandals can be stuffed in sides). 

 

In these illustrations, I think the suitcase came from 1972 with that hard, shiny exterior. Today, the best suitcases are deep, and not only have the zippered pouch for your undergarments on one side, but have a compartment behind the zippered part. Ideal for shoes, toiletries and all the hotel lotion/mouthwash/soaps your heart desires. 

With the conclusion of the Travel Series, I hope you were able to pick up a few tips to better your trips. When your suitcase is adequately packed, your carry-on has everything you need, and you arrive at your destination with a fresh face- I truly believe it makes your vacation that much better. That, and a whole lot of pillow-chocolates and Mai Tais. 

 

 

The Travel Series: Packing Your Carry-On

When I was younger, I used to have one of those Aladdin mini-suitcase carry ons that held one thing: beanie babies. As I got older, I started packing more practical things, like my walkman and my entire collection of burned CDs, filled with the likes of Yellowcard and Jessica Simpson (I was a complicated child). But it wasn't until I started traveling for work, that I really got the hang of what I need on a plane....other than an Xanax. 

Whether it's a quick flight or a journey to the other side of the world, your carry-on should be filled with only the necessities. Sorry beanie babies, that means you're left behind. 

THE BAG:

The aforementioned Aladdin suitcase just doesn't cut it anymore. I've learned that for me, what's best is a backpack or zippered tote, and a small purse if necessary. The key is it should zip or snap shut, so when you put it under your seat, your things don't go flying everywhere. I think this is what the kids call a "MAJOR KEY". For this trip to Ireland, I used a small backpack from Zara (currently sold out, but so many great options), as well as a zippered tote from Detroit is The New Black. It's the ideal travel bag, and only $34 bucks. 

CONTENTS: 

1) Blanket Scarf

An absolute necessity. While I'd love to invest in a good quality cashmere scarf, I know that planes can be dirty and I am prone to spilling my tomato juice and getting cookie crumbs everywhere while in-flight. I have this one from Asos, that has become a travel staple. Big, soft and cozy- and under $30. 

Blanket scarves are good for a multitude of purposes: warmth on a chilly plane, as a blanket, even rolled up as a pillow. The key to dressing for travel is to layer. I usually wear a comfortable pair of pants or jeans, t-shirt, sweater or jacket, and my scarf. A PLANE IS NOT YOUR BEDROOM. Nix the pajama pants and general sloppiness. You can be comfortable and still look put together. 

 

2) Headphones 

This is a given- however, based on my own experiences I wanted to make a note. My beloved Beats wireless were useless in-flight, as bluetooth doesn't work in airplane mode, or connect to the seat TV. Do yourself a favor and bring your regular 'ol headphones with a wire (sorry, iPhone 7).

3) Socks 

Sometimes, we wear sandals to the airport. Then, we have to go barefoot through a dirty security line. THEN we want to get on a plane and take our shoes off, and THEN you're going to get in your hotel bed with all the germs of the airport. This can all be easily avoided with a pair of socks. If you're wearing flats or sandals to the airport, pack a comfy pair of socks you can wear through security and on the plane. Your bare feet in public are like Donald Trump in a speedo- disgusting and better covered up. 

4) A Book/Magazine

I love to read, but rarely find time when I'm home. Being stuck 30,000 feet with nothing to do is an ideal time to catch up on a good book. Check out the Amazon top-sellers if you can't find one you like. If it's heavy, download it to an iPad or if you're REALLY cool- your kindle. Not me- I love the feeling of a big heavy book falling on my face when I (almost always) fall asleep reading it. But be realistic- if you're not a reader, don't take up room and weight in your bag for a book you won't read. 

5) Extra Underwear, T-shirt

When I was younger, for 5 years in a row, Northwest airlines lost my luggage on our yearly family trip. By the 4th time, I got wise. If you're going to be stuck with no clothes for a day or two, at least you'll have clean undergarments and an alternate t-shirt. If you're going somewhere tropical, pack a bathing suit-because past the age of six it's not cute to swim in your underwear in public. *NOTE: I hear this is different for Vegas. 

6) Toiletries

In the first part of this series, we went over in-flight beauty routines. On the plane, if I'm going to be using a mask that is in a bigger container, I transfer a little to a small jar. I am also sure to have face mist, face wipes, dry shampoo (or wave spray), and a rollerball perfume. If I know I'll be getting off the plane and right to seeing people, I'll bring my makeup bag as well. 

7) Wet Wipes

Call me a germaphobe, but I always wipe down the armrests, tray table and seat-belt before take-off. You can buy mini-packs of wet wipes just about anywhere (I get mine at Target) for cheap. Maybe I'm crazy, but you don't know who was sitting there before you, or before that, or before that, and now we're into a guy that sat there 3 months ago and clipped his toenails all the way to Tokyo. 

8) Medications

If you take any kind of medications daily (birth control, antibiotic, etc.), put them in your carry-on. If your luggage gets lost, you'll be stuck, especially if you aren't near a pharmacy. I wonder how many babies are born from lost luggage (should this have been a private question?)?

9) Gum/Mints

If you're like me, you can fall asleep anywhere- especially planes- and church, but that's a different issue. When you wake up without access to brush your teeth, do your neighbor a favor and pop a mint. Does this need any further explanation? If so, you might need a different blog...

10) Water Bottle

You can either bring an empty plastic one through security, or a reusable option. I love BKR bottles, because they're lightweight, and made of glass, keeping water colder and fresher. It's so important to hydrate in-flight, and you can't keep pressing your call button for a refill- well, you can, but don't be that person. 

11) Wallet

This should go without saying, but it's how you pack your wallet that matters. When traveling, chances are you don't need your Nordstrom card, library card, Kroger rewards card and a store-gift card with $2.04 on it that you're not sure how to spend. Bring only the necessities: license, credit card, debit card and insurance cards. 

The key to your carry-on is to simplify and keep it light. Many times I've been running through the airport, weighed down by my 500-page book, or freezing on the plane, casually cuddling up to the person next to me. I grew up Catholic, and I'm pretty sure that's not what the Bible meant by "Love Thy Neighbor".  Then again- I only went to catechism for the snacks.

 

 

The Travel Series: Beauty Bag

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Ahhh, the sweet satisfaction of vacation. You requested the days-off at work, packed your bags, and are off to your destination...only to get there and realize you packed 6 dresses, no pants and some weird t-shirt you promised "you would wear sometime!!!". Sound familiar? The number one question I am asked is how to pack for a trip (second to my knowledge of obscure Celine Dion facts). I figured as I get ready for my own trip to Ireland, what better time to create a travel guide? 

In this travel series, I'll be going through three different categories of packing: your carry-on, beauty bag and suitcase. Packing is a lot of work, but trust me, it's much better to do the labor BEFORE your trip, so you don't get there and realize you have no pajamas and you have to sleep in a hotel towel. That's a one way ticket to Chafe City. 

Let's start with the basics, what beauty you need to spend less time getting ready, and more time relaxing. Because you didn't take your vacation days to spend it contouring your every crevice. 

IN-FLIGHT:

Yes, in-flight beauty is where it's at. Long gone are the days of watching some cancelled sitcom on your seat TV and waiting for the peanuts to pass by again. When you're on a plane, your skin gets severely dehydrated, leaving it in bad shape for the rest of your vacation. Your 2x4 seat is now your own personal spa....the kid kicking your seat is as good as a masseuse, right? 

1) Sephora Sleep Mask Pods

These were MADE for travel. Small enough to fit in your carry-on, and invisible on your face, these will hydrate, even, and brighten for the duration of your flight. My favorites are Lotus and Pearl. 

2) Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask

Apply a thin layer (will appear a little white, like lotion) all over, and blend into skin when done, like moisturizer. You'll depart the plane looking like first class, even when you spent 3 hours squished in a corner, debating buying that Tupac-faced bird feeder from SkyMall. 

3) Dr. Jart Water Replenishment Sheet Mask

THE MOST HYDRATING! It's basically like drinking a gallon of water, but for your face. However, it's also the most frightening. Might put you on the terror watch list, but at least your skin would look fresh on the posters. 

 

Alright, you've made it to your destination. Before you stuff your face with chicken tenders (the official food of vacations everywhere) and put your 100 pairs of underwear in the hotel drawer (we'll address this later in the series), let's freshen up. 

*TIP: When trying out a new product, always test it out before your trip. Re: Alex's rash-gate 2011 when I tried Proactiv for the first time while in Italy. Remember when Hermoinie did a Stinging Jinx on Harry in Deathly Hallows pt. 2? That was me. 

REFRESH:

Face mists are key. You can take them on the plane, as long as they're TSA approved- they're perfect for the post-flight bathroom/taxi/rental car refresh. THE WORLD IS YOUR SPA! 

1) Tony Moly Pocket Bunny Moist Mist

My personal favorite, it's ultra-hydrating and refreshing. It also smells like fruit loops. Tou-CAN you say add to cart?! Please keep reading. 

2) Glossier Soothing Face Mist

If you love the smell of Rose, this is the one for you. It's not TSA friendly, but worth digging around in your suitcase for. This stuff really makes you feel like you've got your life together. Only people who have their life together use face mist, right ("Things I Tell Myself to Sleep at Night, a Memoir")?

 

CLEANSE: 

Even though you were straight-up dedicated to that in-flight beauty routine, it's still good to cleanse your skin from the recycled air. 

1) Ole Henriksen Cleansing Cloths-Brightening

That one-glass-of-Merlot-glow in a wipe. Okay, maybe it's just the wine that makes me think I'm glowing? Well, these noticeably brighten your complexion in one swipe. I hardly EVER go without makeup, and one use of these and I was out in public as bare as a baby's bottom. Okay, enough bad innuendos. These are the bomb. 

2) Ole Henriksen Cleansing Cloths- Grease Relief

Traveling can make you stressed out, sweaty and gross (I really hope I'm not just revealing myself here). These are perfect for removing any oils and grease, leaving you with a matte, even complexion. Extra points because they come in a smaller, travel version! 

*STORAGE: I pack all these in Glossier pink pouches, as well as a hanging cosmetics bag from Target. An absolute necessity for hotel-bathroom organization. To protect against leaks, I unscrew the lid off the product, put a small layer of saran wrap over the opening and put the cap/lid back on. Only YOU can prevent beauty wastage. 

MAKEUP: 

You've unpacked, you're ready to take the town, or see your grandparents- vacation comes in many forms. When I'm away, I like to keep my beauty routine as quick and simple as possible. Here's the products that get it done:

1) Glossier Priming Moisturizer

I've talked about it once and I'll talk about it 1000 MORE TIMES UNTIL EVERYONE HAS IT. You deserve the perfect moisturizer, and this is it. Holy grail because it looks just as good alone and as a base for makeup. Essential to my makeup routine. 

 

2) Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue

Fool proof- which is great for a fool like me. Makes skin so lush and so even- no kabukikiki/tapered unicorn hair brushes needed. Apply with fingers for the easiest, most naturally beautiful coverage you've ever had. 

3) Boy Brow

The appreciation for this never product never ends. Changing brows one quick-stroke at a time- no matter if you're Lily Collins brow-blessed or Gwen Stefani in the "No Doubt" days. 

4) Haloscope in Topaz

Swipe this on cheekbones for that coveted sun-kissed glow that usually takes 3 highlighters and a vat of bronzer. Also doubles as a subtle, yet beautiful eyeshadow. 

5) Generation G in Jam

Dual purpose, ideal for travel: great flushed color for lips, dab a little on apples of cheeks for a gorgeous, natural blush.

*HI! I've still got your back-here's that 20% off your Glossier order.  

6) Covergirl Perfect Blend Eye Pencil in Black and Last Blast Volume Mascara

I've been using these since high school for good reason. The eyeliner is creamier than any expensive brand I've used, glides on eyelids like a dream. The mascara is a drug-store staple. No clumps, no lumps, just natural looking lashes. YOU ARE A VACATION GODDESS! Easy and natural is the name of your makeup game. 

This whole routine takes under 15 minutes- less time on beauty, more time on margaritas- or hiking/being active. To each their own. 

HAIRCARE:

Hair routines can be tricky when you travel. Bad hotel hairdryers, humidity, weather changes- it's the perfect storm of a bad hair day. Fool-proof your routine by keeping it simple. 

1) OUAI Hair Oil

Another beauty brand that lives up to the hype- OUAI has created the perfect products for easy, beautiful hair. I rub 1-2 pumps of the oil in my hands and distribute throughout damp hair. Let air dry for the perfectly un-done, Olsen sisters hair (circa 2004, post-"Full House" but pre- "New York Minute"). 

2) OUAI Wave Spray

This is my holy grail of hair products. I used to blow-dry my hair every day. Since finding the wave spray, I'm at peak laziness and have gotten down to about once a week. I spray on wet to damp hair, scruch, and air dry. Again- perfect Olsen beach waves (this time, circa 2002- prime of the "So Little Time" era). BONUS: comes in a TSA-approved travel size!

 

 

Now that your skin is in tip-top shape, you can enjoy your vacation looking and feeling your best. In the next part of the series, we'll dissect the ideal carry-on. Sneak Peek: blanket scarves and hoarding those shortbread cookies from Delta. Who said traveling can't be fun?