My Body, My Choice (...of Soap)!

 
IMG_1624.JPG

It’s no secret that I am obsessive when it comes to skincare. I research products thoroughly, invest in facials, and haven’t gone to bed without doing my full routine in probably 5 years (The last time being after I came home drunk after a Miley Cyrus concert and woke up with the worst hangover and worst breakouts of my life). I’ve gotten my routine down to a science- from the neck-up, that is. I had put all my focus into my face, that my body often went neglected. I’d lather on whatever soap was in the shower, MAYBE put on lotion when I got out (am I wearing a dress? Nope! DRY & ASHY IT IS!). I always just figured my face was at the forefront of how I present myself to the world, and my body was secondary. Living in Las Vegas, I wear less clothing than ever, due to the simple fact that I don’t want to die of heat stroke. I started to take notice that my body was looking a bit tired. My skin looked dull and almost colorless. It didn’t have the same glow or bounce as my face. I’ve been so wrapped up in my complexion, that I neglected 95% of my body. I always figured my body would take care of itself, like it was the older child and my face was the baby that required 100% of my attention (sorry to my sister, who probably knows this feeling ALL TOO WELL).

I’ve found an arsenal of products for the body that have taken my limbs from dull to divine. Look out world…no literally, look at my legs they’re GLOWING!

IMG_1675.JPG

I have been sweating more than usual, which I didn’t think was possible, until I moved to the desert. I shower every single day, sometimes twice, and I still get breakouts on my back and shoulders on occasion. Being the genius that I am, I knew that A.H.A products had worked well on my face, so I found something similar for my body. It’s definitely helped in keeping breakouts at bay. However, I noticed the biggest difference when I started clipping my hair up when I was conditioning it. I keep a big clip in my shower, and pile it on top of my head, so the conditioner doesn’t get on my back. Hair product can have irritating ingredients for the skin. When I started doing this, I saw serious results within days.

IMG_1678.JPG

My hot (as hot as the topic of back acne can be) tip when it comes to bacne is to use a Salux washcloth. They are like the hotter, cooler sister of a loofah. They take your body wash and turn it into fluffy suds. The long-towel shape makes it easy to get every inch of your back and shoulders.

IMG_1627.JPG

Back to bacne, because my exes reading this definitely want to know more (Hi guys! I’m doing GREAT!), I scar easier than Sarah Sanders lies. This means every breakout leaves a dark mark. Vitamin C serum has done wonders for my face, so I was ready to get spendy on a body wash with the same ingredient. I was pleased to find a $5.99 solution at Trader Joe’s with their Citrus Body Wash. It leaves my skin feeling tingly and energized. I haven’t been using it long enough to notice a difference in my scars- I also apply Vitamin C Serum after I shower-, but it’s an enjoyable experience, which is more than I can say for the aforementioned exes (are you still here??).

IMG_1628.JPG

I try to wear sunscreen on my body everyday, because I’m in the car a lot, and my office is mostly windows. I don’t want to be 40 wondering where these hand wrinkles came from, when I should be worried about running sh!T at PTA or something. Most body sunscreens leave a whitecast, and smell like a 5-year-old at the beach. This one from Supergoop melts into skin with no white cast, moisturizes, and leaves a dewy glow, and smells like fresh flowers. It also comes in a convenient pump, which makes me 90% more likely to use it every day. Laziness is an art form and I am Picasso.

IMG_1629.JPG

I’ve talked about this Nuxe oil before, and I probably will until my last breath. If you go to Paris, bring an extra bag just to fill up with this luxurious body oil. The spray-cap prevents you from wasting product, and I’ve noticed a difference in the quality of my skin after using for a few months. After I shower at night (sunscreen is my moisturizer during the day), I coat myself from neck to toes, slipping into bed feeling like I own an estate in the French Countryside. All I really own are childhood insecurities!

Time to take these products and GET ME BODIED. This is definitely what Beyonce meant. I’m sure of it.

dust

 
IMG_8461.jpg

Don’t worry- I’m not going to start this post with an “I’m back after a little hiatus!” bit. I’ve played it and it’s gotten old. The truth is, I just stopped writing. Not because I didn’t enjoy it or have anything to say, but simply because life got busy. Right after I published my last post in November, I finally got a job in Nevada. A job I love, and I decided early on I would give it my all. I put all my focus not just into my job, but also my marriage, which was finally back on the ground after a difficult move, and immersing myself in our new community. The last few months have flown by, and it’s almost a year-to-date that we found out we were leaving Detroit. And guess what? I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and it completely snuck up on me.

In all my contentment, I still I felt an itch to put pen to paper again (I write all my posts in a notebook before typing. Eat your heart out, Shakespeare!!!) Every day when I would walk into my closet, I would pass a framed copy of “The Nines” logo that my friendly so sweetly made me for my birthday one year. I would walk by it, think “I should write soon”, and then just go in my closet and get distracted by a sweater. But yesterday as I walked past it, I noticed all the dust that had accumulated around the frame, and it hit me. I was letting the dust collect around something I loved. I gave up on something that was supposed to be growing. And in true “Carrie Bradshaw” style (even though she is THE WORST, don’t get me started) , I had to wonder “When being content stunts your growth-is it really such a good thing?”.

No-one made me stop writing. It was actually the opposite. My husband would ask if there was anything new to read, my boss said she really enjoyed my writing. I feel supported by the people around me. But I used all the things going on in my life as a crutch to avoid doing something that was enjoyable, but required a lot of effort. I was so busy with life and happy with just-the-way-things-were that I forgot that growth requires doing. That in order to have a voice, you have to speak. I neglected the piece of me that loves to talk about women’s rights and skincare and how not needing a bra until 8th grade ruined my self esteem- we’ll get to that later, OH WILL WE EVER!

This post isn’t about “being back, guys!”. It’s meant to serve as a reminder that if you have let dust collect around something you love, something that makes you who you are-you can always clean it off and pick it back up. You can also hire a cleaning company. That has no double meaning- the dust was so alarming that we literally hired a cleaning company. Talk soon. xx

Here's What to Buy From the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: 2018 Edition!

 
842ADA13-8978-4D59-84C0-F3EE8916691B.jpg

It’s the most wonderful time of the year- no, not when the Home Depot Hot Dog stand puts up summer hours, but the other most wonderful time, The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

As I wrote last year, this sale is one of my favorite shopping events of the year. It’s NEW fall merchandise, on sale before it hits stores at full price. This was my first year not living in Michigan for the sale, so I let a few tears pass as I scrolled by delicious, heavy winter coats and cozy sweaters. I had to adjust what I was buying due to my change in climate (did you know even your fingers can sweat? ME EITHER!). I may have let a sweatshirt or two slip in there, but I am only human and a change in scenery cannot change me!

My purchases were carefully curated, and I’m sharing what I got, plus a few. I’m still in my period of (F)unemployment, so I had to shop responsibly  (somewhere, my husband is smiling reading this. Hi, Mike!).

 

dress.jpg

ASTR The Label Button Front Midi Dress: $52.90 (After sale: $79)

 

This was the first item that caught my attention. The price was right, print is a perfect Fall-floral, and I love the vintage silhouette of it. It is a tad low cut, but I think the length and sleeve detail make it more Lady than Tramp (but if Tramp is your thing, I’m here for that too- women doing what they want 2018!!). The buttons from bust to hem make it possible to even wear this dress as a top. I wore it over jeans, unbuttoned from the hem to my waist and voila! Now you have a blouse and a dress! You’re welcome!

Transition this from summer to fall with sneakers or boots instead of sandals, or layered with a turtleneck or tee underneath.

NIKE Sportswear Rally Sweatshirt: $51.90 (After sale: $70)

The extent of my sweatshirt wearing now is slipping one on when Mike’s not home and I turn the AC down to 65. But this limited-time activity did not prevent me from adding this perfect pull-over to my collection.

The high-neckline allows this sweatshirt be a more refined, and less sloppy. If I didn’t live in the pits of hell, temperature-wise, I would pair with a midi skirt and sneakers come Fall. Until then, I’ll wear it in front of my freezer.

bs.jpg

ASTR The Label Twist Front Bodysuit: $35.90 (After sale: $55)

I live for bodysuits. They’re easy to throw on, comfy and great for layering. I’m always looking for ones I can wear for going out, as it’s a one-stop-shop to a great outfit (well, you’ll need pants or something. Hopefully.).

This one from ASTR is a rich, metallic silver-grey, and will look great with black high-waisted pants or baggy jeans. The front-twist detail is extremely slimming, and it DOES have a snap closure. Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than going to the bathroom and sitting naked in the stall, because you had to pull down your entire bodysuit. It's peak vulnerability. There is probably no other frequent-situation that makes me reevaluate my life and choices more. Snaps make this a sure purchase.

Rebecca Minkoff Koso Bootie: $99.90 (After sale: $149.95)

I have long been looking for a perfect white Western-inspired boot, but everything I found made me look like a Dollar-store version of Jessie from "Toy Story". They were either too tall or too pointy, and I looked more ready to two-step, not for two drinks.

These are the ideal heel-height for every day, a perfect shade of non-stark white. The low cut of this boot makes it much more accessible to wear with multiple pieces. White boots are a big-time accessory right now, and you can wear them with anything from flowy dresses, to mini skirts or jeans and an over-sized blazer. Just stay away from anything Fringe. You are Rodeo Drive honey, not a Rodeo Clown.

vans.jpg

VANS Old Skool Sneaker: $42.90 (After sale: $64.95)

I love that Vans became not-just for the skater crowd, but a true cool-girl staple for women and men. It’s like the modern version my pink "Etnies" from 6th grade, but without the Happy Bunny sketches on them. THANK GOD FOR PUBERTY!

I immediately took to this updated-version of the plain black Vans. The body of the shoe is linen, giving it a great textured look. It’s a fresh take on a white sneaker, which goes with just about everything already in your closet. The gold-logo detail dresses it up a bit, making me feel like the COOL girl at the skate park, not the one riding by on her bike on the way to the Aquatic Center, kick board in tow.

candle.jpg

Diptyque Mini Candle Set: $55 ($75 value)

This deal is the true reason I began stanning (linked that to the Urban Dictionary definition because there are sweet moms reading this) this sale in the first place. I put these in our bathroom, on my nightstand, just about anywhere in our apartment. They are small with a big impact, the scent will still fill any room. Don’t forget to de-wax them when you’re done! They make the perfect holders for Q-tips, earrings, or even a holder for dipping sauces, when everything else is in boxes and you’ve got sweet potato fries in the oven. SO I’VE HEARD!

They also make perfect gifts, but I’m feeling stingy this year so sorry friends! This one’s for me.

dior.jpg

Dior Addict Lip Glow Set: $75 ($90 value)

I am the laziest when it comes to lip product. Yes, lip balm is essentially attached to my right hand, but when it comes to lipstick, I’m lazier than 7-year-old me during "T.G.I.F". on ABC (Why hasn’t  “Sabrina the Teenage Witch gotten her reboot yet? For another time.). That doesn’t stop me from owning about 20 lip colors, however! Old habits die hard, or in my case, they don’t die at all because I’M STILL BUYING THEM!

Dior Lip glow is the one lip product I use up, every time. I own 4 shades, and each one holds a special place in my heart and purse. It’s the easiest and most non-committal way to wear lip color. It moisturizes and enhances your lips natural color, while giving you a natural flush of perfectly pouty shades.

They can be expensive on their own- $34 a pop. But in this set, you get your choice of Lip Glow in Coral (my favorite for summer) or Pink (the OG), PLUS, a lip lacquer (a very light-weight lipstick with mega-shine and high pigment) and a mini lip-plumping gloss. This set is your introduction into the addiction of Dior Lip products and I’m so sorry but also, you’re welcome.

 

And in a dark turn: Thank you to this sale for distracting me from the world essentially being on fire! At least I have my sweatshirt to keep me warm. Happy shopping!

"Thanks! It's Vintage!"

 
6ee39334017d5566c8f675f3a9338ae1.jpg

I love vintage shopping. It gives me a such a high that sometimes I'm amazed it's legal. There's just something about finding that perfect piece that seems like it stuck around all these years just for you

But as someone old once said, "nothing worth having comes easy". The same can be said for vintage apparel. I have spent hours rifling through racks and racks of vintage clothes, with nothing to show for it but tired arms (clothes are heavy and I have chicken arms, ok?). I started vintage shopping when I was in high school, and over the years I have learned many lessons about what to look out for. And with the birth of online vintage shopping on sites like Etsy, my education has become even greater.  After having been burned by one-particular 60’s dress in 2010 (I’m not emotionally ready to explain that story yet), I have decided to share my tips with you all. Someone call Dua Lipa because here come the rules!!

1. SNIFF IT REAL GOOD

Vintage clothes can naturally have a musty smell. It's not your grandmas fault that she didn't know she had a “Reformation”-esque blouse sitting in her basement for 30 years. She was too busy handing you money under the table to care. Vintage clothing has that distinct scent, and sometimes it's fixable. However, sometimes it's not and LET ME TELL YOU FROM EXPERIENCE, you don't want to be the person at the party that smells like your Great Aunt Bertha’s attic. When you find a piece you like in-person, be sure to sniff it. Sniff it real good. If it has a faint scent, you can do the following:

  •  Send it to the dry cleaner and be sure to tell them it's a vintage piece. Most places will be able to use a deodorizer. If it's any kind of fur coat, take it to a furrier to deodorize, too. 
  • If you have a garage, hang it in there a for a few days. Sometimes if the piece is not that old (90's is apparently vintage now so that makes me 100 years old I guess), it just needs some fresh air.
  •  Activated Charcoal. VERY CAREFULLY put some in a bowl and put the bowl and your garment in a plastic tub or storage bin, any container that will seal. Again, be careful because if you spill the charcoal, well then I can't help you and you'll  use my name like Voldemort. Leave them in the bin together for up to 10 days, and the charcoal will help absorb the smell.
  •  Your freezer is your friend! The lowest shelf on our freezer is meant for meats. The other 3 shelves are all my clothes, it is my second closet. The coldness of the freezer can deodorize and sanitize your clothes. Seal your item up in a large Ziploc bag and let it sit there for a few days. One time, I forgot I put a vintage caftan in there and found it when I was taking out some burgers. Talk about mystery meat (please stay).

Be honest with yourself about the degree of the musty-scent. I bought a PERFECT 70's cocktail dress once, and I did notice that it was especially ~scented~. I tried everything to make it better, but every time I went to put it on, it made me smell like a 90-year-old chain smoker. Cigarette smells are nearly impossible to get out of clothes that have been sitting with it for years, so try to stay away. 

 

2. THE ROBERT MUELLER OF VINTAGE

When I find a vintage piece I love, I inspect that thing like the head of the F.B.I.. I go over every inch making sure there are no visible stains, marks, holes or rips. It's really a non-negotiable to me, there are so many pieces out there in great condition. Vintage doesn't have to mean dirty or sloppy, and brown spots or stains can take it there real fast. My only negotiable stain can be yellow spots on white articles of clothing, because I've found I can spot clean with Oxy Clean or Bleach. But honestly, I can barely remember to move my clothes from the washer to the dryer for 2 days so who has time for that? Make sure the clothes are clean and in excellent condition. Regardless, I always take whatever I buy right to the dry cleaner. Someone has worn these clothes before you! And it probably wasn't Audrey Hepburn, ok?

Some of my favorite vintage pieces! A mix from Lost & Found Vintage (Royal Oak), The Vintage Twin, and Etsy Stores:

My Soft Parade, Your Sweet Caroline, & Hungry Heart Vintage

 

3. VINTAGE IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM

Online Vintage is a whole new game. I do all of mine on Etsy and have found some incredible pieces. But since you can't touch, smell or try on your find first, you must be especially cautious 

  • All great vintage Etsy sellers will give you exact measurements. The tag might say it's a size 8! But a size 8 in the 1950's might as well have been a 0. Take your own measurements and compare them to what they have listed. 
  •  I always, always, always message the buyer to ask if the item has any smells or odors. I got a blouse once that I could smell through the packaging. Turns out they shared a space with a perfume factory, which made me smell like 10,000 flower arrangements dying. When you message the seller, you're safe for a refund if you get the item and it does in fact smell. It's just a security blanket, which I love because I still sleep with an actual security blanket. 27 YEARS YOUNG, BABY!
  • Look at the seller’s reviews. People will say if they received an item that wasn't as described, and you can see how the seller responds. 

Try to pin down exactly what you’re looking for, to make searching easier. My favorite key searches are:

  • Vintage white blouse
  • Vintage eyelet blouse/dress
  • Vintage 1960’s sundress/party Dress/cocktail dress
  • Vintage beaded handbag
  • Vintage circle skirt
  • Vintage slip dress

Once you’ve found a potential winner, be sure to check if the seller has listed any stains or damage, and don’t be afraid to message if you’re unsure! I usually also put a filter on for just sellers in the  United States. I’ve had some issues before with customs and shipping that just weren’t worth it. So sorry Russia!! You’ll have to hold onto some great vintage wiggle dress AND the Pee Tape (#RELEASEIT!!).

Vintage shopping can be incredibly rewarding. Not only are you finding something original and supporting small business, but it’s a huge help to the environment. So to my future children, you can thank mommy later for her vintage- shopping addiction. Because of me and my 8 eyelet blouses, you’ll be able to see a polar bear and trees and stuff. Happy shopping! 

 

Mask On, Mask Off.

It was a wise, wise man who once said “Get a hobby!!!!!”- it was my husband, and I think he said it to me when I finished all re-runs of "The O.C." in one week. Little did he know, my hobby would become skincare & masking, and I could do it all while re-watching the Chrismukkah episode. Take that!

I’ve tried many masks, some good, some bad, some smelly, some making me look like a straight-up serial killer in the night. But I found myself coming back to the same five masks every time, keeping them on rotation for my skin-needs at that moment. I thought I would share with you all today my holy grail of face masks, which is not to be taken lightly! I’ve tried a ton, and somehow these five have survived the test of time, which is more than I can say for my violin hobby, my drawing hobby, and even my horseback riding hobby (didn’t end well, don’t want to talk about it).

 

1. Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask- $22

Catfish_MoonMask.jpg

This has been my ride-or-die mask for a few years now. I do it at least once a week, preferably before an event or on a lazy morning. I am addicted to how this mask makes my skin look. I call it “Botox in a bottle” (NOT IN A BOTTLE BUT I MAKE MY OWN RULES), because it tightens, firms up and moisturizes all in 20 minutes. It also just feels incredible on your face. When I fly long distances, I put it on mid-flight and let it soak in like moisturizer.

Hot Tip! Put it in the fridge for the ultimate masking-experience.

Sometimes my skin goes into a meltdown more epic than a 6th grader at Hollister trying to cop a pair of jeans from their mom (me, that 6th grader was me). It needs serious work, but I don’t have time for or can’t afford a professional facial. This Tata Harper mask gives me almost the same results. It’s like a refresh button for your face. It helps me to get rid of little bumps, calm acne, and get my skin glowing again. Expensive price tag, but you’ll spend just as much on a new candle! No? That’s just me? Got it.

 

3. Kiehl’s Rare Earth Cleansing Masque- $30

Rare_Earth_Pore_Cleansing_Masque_3605975038132_5.0fl.oz..jpg

This is it ladies and gentlemen- a mask so good- that it got my husband into the masking game. Refreshing, purifying and effective. 86% of my summers are spent in this mask, because after .2 second of being outside and getting sweaty, this mask makes me feel clean again. On occasion, I do get a small breakout after using, because it’s bringing things to the surface. But for the most part, it helps balance my skin and unclog my pores.

 

4. Dr. Jart Water Replenishment Sheet Mask- $7.50

s1622455-main-zoom.jpg

The first time I did a sheet mask, I hid behind a door and waited to scare Michael (here’s those serial killer vibes!!). He ended up working late so I sat behind that door for a long time, but on the upside my skin looked UNREAL after. This mask has become my post-travel ritual. It restores all moisture to your face, leaving it plump and glowy.

Another hot tip- save the packaging to use the leftover serum as night cream the next day!

GlowO2OxygenMask-19JUL16-web_large.jpg

Sometimes I come home from work and have so much to do (or just need to take a nap, it’s usually the nap), there is simply no time to sit down with a 20-minute mask. This is just as powerful, in less than half the amount of time. The directions say to leave it on for 2 minutes, but I leave it on for about 5 minutes- rules are made to be broken, baby. This stuff is a miracle. I wake up in the morning with bright, even skin. I really can’t believe the difference it makes overnight, it feels like it breathes new life in to your face. Major pay off with minimal work- the ideal face mask and also my resume objective!

 

So here’s to starting off 2018 with your best face forward! Unless you go out and drink your weight in $6 bottles of champagne this weekend. You get a pass for a few days.

Cuts & Colors: A Hair-story.

 
F9565087-71EB-4C95-BB89-CF15DC29C4A9.JPG

 

Long, long ago, in a bathroom in Wisconsin, a toxic relationship with my hair was born. As my mother cut my bangs (Bless you mom but, NO), I took notice of my Alfalfa-style cowlick, my thin locks, and their incredible ability to get greasy a few mere hours after washing. I’ve struggled with my hair for years, never finding quite the right cut or style. It wasn’t until I met my usual stylist, Anthony ( @ Antonino Salon, book your appointment now because he is so good it takes a few good weeks to get in!)  a few years back, that I finally felt comfortable and confident with my hair. I also stopped using children’s shampoo, so I guess that doesn’t hurt either.

Today I wanted to share who helped me make hair-story with my locks:

THE CUT: Ryan Cotton, Village Parlor Detroit

828B7501-43B9-4242-B087-89E4A1FCE2DF.JPG

I had been growing my hair out long for the wedding, and I actually liked my cut. Anthony never put layers in my hair, making it appear thicker and fuller. But I was feeling desperate for a change. I hadn’t cut my hair anywhere near short since middle school, when the stylist at JR’S Kutz for KidZ told me that “the boys will love short hair!!” (spoiler alert: NOPE!). I knew if I went to my beloved Anthony, I wouldn’t want him to do anything different, so for this cut, I had to venture out. My first and only call was to Village Parlor Detroit.

I’ve been following Village Parlor, and its founder, Ryan Cotton, on Instagram since they announced their Detroit location. I was enthralled with Ryan’s talent, the way he cut and styled hair, it always looked so cool and carefree. Now something to know about me- I’m pretty low-maintenance when it comes to my hair. And that’s not out laziness. I am so awful at doing my own hair, I feel I should have to have permit for my curling wand. I blow-dry my hair and go and that’s what works best for me. I expressed to Ryan that my hair needed to allow for this, but I still wanted something cool and chic. He told me I could definitely lose a few inches and add in some “invisible layers” in the front, giving my hair more movement and body. Sold.

Ryan took his time cutting my hair, he is a perfectionist, which is exactly what you want in a stylist. He even stopped for a moment to remove a spot from his mirror- I knew then that I was in the right hands. Everything about Village Parlor felt like a celebration of being in Detroit. Ryan is originally from the Lansing-area, but has been in New York for the past 16 years. He moved back to Detroit to open his own salon, and be a key part of the city’s comeback. He revives not just your locks, but is reviving the city as well. I left with shorter, bouncier, healthier feeling hair- and a new friend!

C04DB965-2F33-4A77-A9D9-F89348687D19.JPG

 

THE COLOR: Kevin Styles, Luigi Bruni Salon

9D87CD92-6F0A-426E-BE8A-77A2E2B181ED.JPG

I spoke about Kevin in my last wedding post-we hit it off right away when I daringly went to him to put about 2 pieces of balayage in my hair about 4 years ago. I had never had color in my hair before, except for a few bad box-jobs on my college living room floor. I kept going back to Kevin, a true master, going subtly darker, lighter, and a few of shades in-between. I never once left disappointed, but feeling beautiful, empowered, and quite at peace (Kevin is essentially my therapist as well). He hand paints on your color, making it look natural, and NEVER like a 2000 Kelly Clarkson.

So after I got my cut from Ryan, I knew I wanted some new color match my new cut. I went darker in college- and I still feel scarred by the smell of that $9.99 box dye. I found that darker hair washed me out and made me look like an extra in a “My Chemical Romance” video (which really isn’t a bad thing, Black Parade forever!!!!). So I decided I would test the waters by going blonde-ish. I say “-ish” because I think it is a common misconception that you can just walk into a salon and take your brunette locks to blonde in one hour, for less than $200. BABY STEPS! I showed Kevin my hair-spiration, and he was feeling the vibes. He went to work for over 2 hours, hand painting on every piece, while letting me air out all my drama and problems. We sipped tea while giving the tea (ask me what this means later, mom!). When all was said and done, I turned to the mirror to see natural looking, golden honey locks, intertwined with my natural color. I love how it turned out-I feel fresh and uplifted, at a time of year I usually want to hide under the covers with fuzzy socks and a heating blanket (will still do this, will just feel better doing it).

If you’re thinking about doing something new with your ‘do, here’s my advice: the great thing about hair is that it grows back, it’s changeable, and underneath it all, we all have the same egg-shaped bald ass heads. Your identity doesn’t lie in your hair or your skin or your makeup. It lies in who you are and how you treat people- but a bomb hair style/color doesn’t hurt.   So while I don’t know if blondes or brunettes (or redheads!) have more fun, I do know it is the girl who surrounds herself with good people who are passionate about her work, who is the happiest.

C21D6CD3-71FC-4C9C-B75C-678D118C1A7C.JPG

 

 

CAKE, CARS AND CARDI B! All Our Wedding Details.

MikeAlex (001)_-379.jpg

Okay- so now that we have the sappiness out of the way, let’s get down to the planning portion of our wedding. I spent the last year planning the day, and while it was fun, it could be challenging. It was hard finding the right vendors to understand our vision, execute it properly, and for a fair price. Every second of research, phone calls and emails were worth it, not because our flowers were beautiful or the DJ played all the right songs. But because it was ours, it was exactly what we wanted and more, and we were surrounded by so much love and support. Also, I could eat pizza again. ADIOS, WEDDING DIET!

Our wedding day truly was the greatest day of my life thus far, and I know Michael feels the same way. We put a lot of thought into every element, but never taking it too seriously. We wanted a big party with all our friends and family, and that’s what we had. I wanted to share today all of our vendors (and a few tips!) for any other brides out there, or maybe someone who’s just looking ahead (I don’t judge!). I had a few hiccups, but ended up loving every single vendor I used- some even becoming my friend…not by choice. I told you, I made them.

 

THE VENUE: The Townsend Hotel

 

Since stepping foot in to the Townsend Hotel almost 20 years ago, I knew I would want to get married there someday. Or at least throw a Harry Potter Pajama Party or something (I was 7 sooo..). So when it was time to pick our venue, it was the first and only spot that we looked. We met with the events coordinator, Lizz, and hit it off right away. She understood our vision, and knew we wanted an elegant, classic affair, but with pizza and trap music. Over the next year, Lizz was my basically my best friend. She was on top of this wedding like Pitbull on a remix. She was organized, meticulous and made planning incredibly easy. The Townsend Hotel is very great-Gatsby-esque, and possesses a standard of elegance that was beyond anything we could have imagined for our wedding. We were treated like royalty, even at 2AM after the reception, when they delivered an extra pizza and two plates of mashed potatoes up to our room. Choosing the Townsend Hotel for our wedding was the best decision we made, besides getting married and committing to a lifetime together and stuff.

*The Townsend also catered the dinner and their bakery made the cake, both of which I still dream about on a weekly basis.

 

THE DRESS: Mira Couture, Chicago

I searched all over for a dress in Metro-Detroit, and was so disappointed when I couldn’t find a single thing I loved. Entrepreneurs listen up! There’s a major market here in Detroit for non-traditional wedding dresses. I didn’t want anything super sparkly or pouf-y, it’s just not my style. I wanted something bridal, but non-traditional. After striking out in Detroit, My mom, step-dad, sister and I spent a weekend in Chicago looking for the right one. We booked a 3 day trip, when in reality, all we needed was 3 hours. My first appointment was at Mira Couture, where I was greeted with immense kindness from Addie, my consultant. The dress that ultimately ended up being mine (designer was Daalarna), was the very first dress I tried on. I want to be very clear about this, I think the whole “Say Yes to The Dress, bawl your eyes out, find the meaning of life moment” is a little dramatic and unrealistic. When I showed my family the dress, they undoubtedly told me that this was my dress. It was me to-a-tee. And I LOVED it. But I didn’t cry, like I’ve been conditioned to believe that sobbing over a dress is the indicator- so we spend the next 48 hours going from shop-to-shop, trying on dress after dress, finding plenty of good, but realizing that no dress made me feel like that first one. We ordered the dress and veil as soon as we got back to Michigan, and over the next year, through emails and fittings, and more fittings, Mira delivered me a dress beyond anything I could have imagined. They treated me with respect, honesty and true kindness. They really cared about my happiness on our wedding day. Their selection was incredible, with instead of racks and racks filled with similar looking dresses, their selection was carefully curated and beautifully chosen, at all different price points.

*The guys tuxedos were from The Tux Shop in Birmingham. They were wonderful to work with and each guy had the perfect fit. Except our friend Paul- he split his pants getting too low to “Rake it Up”, so that was probably his own fault.

 

THE FLORIST: Jeffrey Floral Architecture

The flowers were really the only area of our wedding in which I really struggled. I know nothing about flowers, other than I can get carnations for $2.99 at Trader Joe’s. I knew what I liked, but needed someone to tell me how to do it. We actually booked one florist, which after our trial, left me drinking straight from a bottle of wine when we got home. It was clear we didn’t share the same vision, and that there would be no effort from their side to deliver something we loved. That’s when I found Jeffrey. I was at our venue for a meeting one day, when I looked around and noticed how beautiful and unique their flowers were around the lobby. They gave me Jeffrey’s info, and now I am his #1 fan/borderline stalker. We met and I knew I was in good hands. I showed him photos of what I liked, and within minutes, he told me he had this and just leave it up to him. I trusted him like an old Italian grandmother. He’s not a florist- he’s an artist. He creates the most unbelievable arrangements, full of creativity, originality and beauty. He created a perfect ambiance for the evening, and made me semi-obsessed with him in the process.

THE CANDLES: Detroit Rose

I’ve talked about Detroit Rose candles before- they’re my absolute favorite and I am a big fan of the creator, Dierdre. So when I had the idea of doing a custom candle to display on our tables, I knew exactly where to go. Deirdre and I emailed back and fourth, talking about the mood we wanted for the room, and how we could convey that through scent. She sent me a bunch of samples, and together we found the perfect mix: rose, amber, vetiver and cardamom. She even designed a beautiful custom label for us to bring it all together. Our custom candle filled the room with the sweet scent of rose and pure romance (as romantic as Cardi B & The Ying Yang twins blaring through the speakers allow for). It is one of my favorite things we did for the wedding, because now every time I light one in our home, I am reminded of the love and happiness of that day (and have the urge to belt out get low in my living room).

 

THE BEAUTY: Hair-Kevin Styles @ Luigi Bruni, Makeup- Katrina Malota @ Luigi Bruni

I have been seeing Kevin for my hair color for a few years now, and I knew it was love at first foil from the day we met. Kevin is truly an artist, and was one of the first people that truly made me feel beautiful- and that goes beyond hair. He is kind, funny, and unbelievably talented. My hair was the least stressful thing about our wedding, because I knew I could leave it in Kevin’s hands and he would create something beautiful- and he did! I truly think there is no one better in town not just with hair, but to have by your side as you get ready for your wedding. He brings a beautiful energy, and sees each woman as a beautiful individual-and he celebrates that through his work.

I usually hate having my makeup done. In the past, it’s usually just been a lot of bronzer and eyeliner so dark and thick I still look like I listen to Hawthorne Heights (NEVER FORGET!). So I was nervous when I knew I would need to get my makeup done for the big day. I had known Katrina through coming to the salon and working with her on a project for work, and we always just seemed to click. When I went to my makeup trial with her, I explained everything I never liked about having my makeup done, and when she told me that black eyeliner wouldn’t even get near my face, I knew I was in the right hands. Katrina, like Kevin, is an artist. She’s an icon, and she has the ability to take your features, and celebrate them through her mastery. She made each of my bridesmaids, my mother, and myself, feel so beautiful- while keeping each girl true to herself. She doesn’t use makeup as a disguise, but to an enhancer to what she already sees in you. Her glowing energy is contagious, and I will forever be grateful for how she made me feel on our wedding day. 

THE QUARTET: Rondo String Quartet

MikeAlex (001)_-604.jpg

I knew that when I walked down the aisle to Michael, I wanted doves to be released and Andrea Bocelli to come down from the ceiling just belting one out. Then I got a hold of a budget and decided a string quartet would be just as beautiful. I searched high and low, but it was the Quartet’s director, Lisa, that really sold me. She was incredibly organized, responsive and kind, especially in the last few weeks when I became a bit scattered. The quartet even learned “A Sky Full of Stars”, our favorite song, to walk down the aisle to. It’s also worth mentioning that Rondo played at my mom and Paul’s wedding, a few weeks after, and played the MSU and UofM fight song as the processional. Almost makes me wish I would have stuck with violin in middle school. ALMOST (I was last chair I had no choice, really).

 

THE DJ: Max Schuler

I love music and knew exactly what I wanted to dance to at our reception, so hiring a friend with DJ equipment seemed like a no-brainer for me. I’ve known Max since elementary school, when we used to wait at the bus stop together. He is sincerely one of the kindest people I’ve ever met- when some kid made fun of me on the bus (something about a Hollister denim skirt and my bird legs), I remember Max standing up for me and not joining in- so it was really special to have him provide the music and mood for our wedding. We met a few times and got the general vibe. We didn’t want anything cheesy or over the top (if I heard "Cupid Shuffle" there would be hell to pay), just romantic and fun. BOY did he deliver. . From Bodak Yellow to Celine Dion to Roll-Out (special request by my mom- seriously), Max kept the party going all night, and I am so thankful for his thoughtfulness in playing certain songs and keeping the vibe right. UNFORTUNATELY, I was Max’s last gig, so you can’t have him. I wanted to give him credit where credit it due, and make a point for picking your own playlist!

 

THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Sandra Floering, For The Love of It

I searched high and low for a wedding photographer, often discouraged when I stumbled upon cheesy-azz photos in their portfolio. I found Sandra & For The Love Of It on pure luck. I saw some wedding photos on Facebook, found the photographer and got in touch with him-only to find out he wasn’t available. But he recommended "For The Love of It" to me, and I will forever be grateful. One look at Sandra’s portfolio (free of any prom-esque portraits) and my search was over. We skyped a couple of times, but didn’t actually meet in person until the morning of the wedding. I can’t put into words the energy and talent that encompasses Sandra and her husband, Grant. It felt like we were hanging out with friends all day long-really talented, hard-working friends. Sandra & Grant made us feel comfortable, at ease, and most of the time we didn’t even notice they were snapping away.  They somehow perfectly captured the happiness and love that surrounded us, and gave us a gift that we will cherish for the rest of our lives. Sandra then did my mom’s wedding a few weeks later, and then one of my best friend’s a few weeks after that. By now, I consider Sandra and her husband like family, and I will think of her every time I get misty-eyed looking at a photo of my husband and I (or the one of me stuffing my face with donuts. THEY’RE ALL GREAT).

 

THE VIDEOGRAPHER: Bo Parker, Afterglow Film & Photo

We weren’t going to get a videographer. I researched and just found them too expensive for what you got. I didn’t just want a 5 minute trailer to remember the day, but more comprehensive footage because I knew most of the day would fly by me, and I wanted to be able to go back and remember. I enlisted the help of my Facebook friends ( which I did for a lot of things and you guys came THROUGH). Shout-out to Sara McNeill who lived in my dorm in college, for she mentioned a videographer who was also Central Michigan Alum! After chatting with Bo, the founder, we decided to go for it. His pricing was fair, his energy electric, and not only did he give us a trailer, but an hour-long feature that included quiet moments of the day I didn’t even know he was filming. When I watched our trailer for the first time with tears streaming down my face, I knew that hiring not just a videographer, but Bo specifically, was some of the best money I ever spent. Other than the time I paid for a wand at Olivander's at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and then got chosen BY Olivander to practice spells. But it's a close second.

 

THE DAY OF COORDINATOR: Andrea Solomon

MikeAlex (001)_-783.jpg

I was happy to plan our wedding- wedding planners are expensive and basically, I wanted to be the J-LO of this thing. But after hearing from multiple brides that a Day-Of-Coordinator was key to a smooth and seamless wedding day, I went on the hunt, finding Andrea Solomon. If I was J-LO, she was the beautifully pushy Italian father that got sh!t done (if you haven’t seen The Wedding Planner, you have some homework to do). We really wanted to be like guests at our wedding, and enjoy the day. We didn’t want to worry about if the tables would be set up correctly, or if the bus was going to be late, or if we left for pictures on time. Andrea handled every single thing on the day of our wedding. She got everyone to pictures on time, oversaw that the room was set up correctly, put out placecards, held my veil as I walked, even took all of the gifts and cards up to the room, along with a pizza for later. She allowed the both of us to just enjoy the day, and not worry about a thing other than trying all three flavors of the cake.

THE GETAWAY: Detroit Classic Car Rental

I knew from day one I wanted to ride away from the church in a classic car. I have a photo of my aunt and uncle, who have been married for over 50 years, on their wedding day, in the back of a classic car right after they said their “I do’s”. I looked on craigslist, but found some really sketchy offers (a 1986 Toyota is NOT classic guys). I eventually stumbled on Detroit Classic Car Rentals. We were able to go out and look at the car, a 1959 gold Bentley, and I was in love. It was the perfect  addition to our day, and I was so happy that Mike and I had a few quiet moments to ourselves after the ceremony to soak in the magnitude of the moment. Mike (not my Mike, a second Mike!), the owner, couldn’t have been any sweeter or easier to work with. He decorated the outside of the car with flowers and ribbon, making us feel like royalty. Do you think they would be willing to pick me up from work a few days a week? I DESERVE IT (I do not deserve it)!!

 

THE LITTLE THINGS:

Mike and I were trying to ball on a budget, which is very tough when you’re planning a wedding. Add the word “Wedding” to anything (Wedding place cards, wedding napkins, wedding socks) and I swear there is a 75% up-charge. I tried to find the craftiest way to do things, and then realized I am awful at crafts. This is where Etsy came in. On Etsy we found vendors to do our place cards, cocktail napkins, donut bags, itineraries, all of our signage, table numbers, even vintage maps of where we met and where we were getting married. I LOVED working with small businesses, they took such pride in their work and everything had so much thought and hard work put into it. Every detail felt so personal because we got to work on it with someone directly. Also it all saved me a lot of time, glue, and my sanity.

*A few of you asked where I did all my embroidery (my denim jackets, pajamas for bridesmaids, handkerchiefs, etc.) I did everything at StitchWorks Embroidery in Berkley.

 

A few things I learned along the way:

1)      If you don’t like something, speak up. I was about to use a floral vendor I ended up not liking, and having flowers that were less than great, all because I was too scared to speak up and tell them I didn’t like it. It wasn’t until my mom said something that I was willing to speak up and be honest. It's your day and your money- spend it wisely!

2)      Most things are completely negotiable. I was able to negotiate costs for just about everything, by making minor adjustments. Again, don’t be afraid to ask for a little wiggle room.

3)      Think about what you like in everyday life, and how you can interpret that into the day. For instance, we LOVE the cider mill (okay, I love the cider mill), so instead of a cocktail hour we did a cider and donut truck (Petey’s Donuts, the ULTIMATE!! They even gave us a few bags filled with donuts for our room later). It wasn’t traditional, but it was fun and very us, and our guests loved the sweet treat too.

4)      Don’t get caught up in the small stuff. I ordered a bunch of my favorite beauty things to have in the bathroom at the reception for people to enjoy. I spent hours ordering things and getting it all together. Well, a hotel guest came in and stole it ALL before the reception even started. It would have been nice to have, but I don’t think anyone being able to spray their face with Caudalie Grape Spray was a make-or-break it for the day.

5)      At first, I really kept Mike out of the planning (best wife ever!!!!). I thought there was no way he would want to be involved with flowers and quartet music. But when I asked him his thoughts, I realized he had quite a few, and wanted some specific things. Having his input made our wedding really feel like it was the things WE loved, not just me.

6)      It’s about the marriage, not the wedding. Never lose sight of that.

 

And there you have it! I really mean it when I say I loved and appreciated everyone of our vendors. It’s important to have people that love what they do, because that energy will pass on to you, making your day that much sweeter. It’s time consuming to do the research, but it’s worth it in the end. I would try to dedicate an hour or two every night to wedding things, and after that we would set it aside. It was important to not be totally consumed with it, so that we enjoyed the process. I won’t say I never got frustrated or discouraged- weddings can come with a lot of tension. But every time I started to get worked up, I reminded myself that if all of this were to go away, Michael would still be my husband at the end of the day. And I’m sure we could have found cake to eat, too.

September 30th, 2017.

MikeAlex (001)_-361.jpg

Hello, world! It’s me...Alexandra Ayaub! Yes, I am now a married lady, cozied up in my post-nuptial life. The last year was a whirlwind, and I truly enjoyed planning our big day, which made the wedding itself all the sweeter. Today, I not only wanted to share with you my favorite wedding photos, but my personal experience with planning a wedding without losing my mind, my hair, and my fiancé!

*I’ll be doing another post on all of our vendors in a few days. I loved everyone we used and am currently trying to get them all to be friends with me post-wedding. TBD.

From the day we started planning, I tried to never take any of it too seriously.  I went in to this knowing that the flowers, the centerpieces and the linens were the icing on the cake- the cake being that I get to marry Michael, truly the man of my dreams (he watches me open boxes from my online shopping and tells me what he thinks for God’s sake) no matter what the table numbers looked like. We wanted to have fun, and that was the “theme” of our wedding. And pizza, donuts and love, OF COURSE. Everything was chosen and decided upon based off the simple idea of “What do we like? Let’s do that”. We just wanted to be surrounded in love by our family and friends and have a great time. We were both very lucky to have supportive parents on both sides, who wanted the same thing.

September 30th, 2017 was truly the greatest day of my life. I didn’t know my heart could feel so happy and full as it did that day. From the warm, intimate rehearsal dinner at my parent’s house, to the very last song at the reception (in which everyone at the wedding surrounded us on the dance floor while Michael and I danced in the center, and I belted Celine Dion’s “Power of Love”. A DREAM!!) I was bursting with happiness and love. We had the most fun we’ve ever had, dancing to all our favorite songs (turns out my mom DOES know Cardi B!!) with our friends and family, scarfing down pizza at midnight, getting ready with our incredible friends at the hotel, and laughing and smiling the entire time. Not a single thing went wrong or didn’t work in our favor that day- it was perfect beyond anything we could have imagined.

I don’t know if anyone will remember the centerpieces, or the flowers that lined each table, or what the cake looked like. But I do think that everyone will remember what a wonderful time they had, and how each part of our wedding had a little piece of us in it. So Mom, grab your tissues, here is a collection of my favorite photos from the day we became man and wife:

Click to enlarge the photos and scroll (mom,again).

All photos by Sandra & Grant Floering of For The Love of It. 

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!

IMG_5479.jpg

 

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! 

 

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.

IMG_2128.JPG

 

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. 

_DSC6371.jpg

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. 

 

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

_DSC6109.JPG

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.

 

 

Not Your Grandma's Dress (but maybe her blanket).

I am always buying things to "run around in". Seriously- I probably justify a good 90% of purchases because "I'll look cute while running errands!". However, I usually end up in my yoga tights and "Karl is my Father" sweatshirt (that one always brings in smart remarks from old folks). However, with this dress from Zara, I'm sticking to my word. 

When I first saw this crochet mini, my initial thought was that it's the perfect mix between a mexican blanket and something my Grandma used to have at the foot of her bed. In other words, ALL THE MAKINGS FOR MY DREAM DRESS! Not to mention, it finally incorporates a little color into my wardrobe. I was one black and white sweater away from professional Miming. 

The lightweight comfort of this dress is selling point enough, but when your roommate stops to tell you her grandma has a similar quilt..to the front of my closet you go, blanket-like beauty.

Paired with sneakers and an old Chanel-my dad gave it to my mom in the eighties, and knowing him, it's most likely not real, but still fun!-, this combo is perfect for running around (for real this time), and not having to make a lame excuse when a friend texts for impromptu drinks mid errands (I'm on a detox girl!!!!). 

If you happen to run into me about town (you can find me every Sunday at the butcher choosing the perfect chicken breast- "NO LARRY- THE FAR LEFT ONE. OTHER LEFT.") and I'm still in my yoga pants, with no signs of actually working out, take me outside. Really- I need help loading my car. 

 

 

 

 

The Slip

It took me a long time to get on board with "lingerie dressing". I'm still bitter at the Victoria's Secret sales lady that showed me a bra when I was 7 and said, "just a few more years until you need one of these!!". I am pretty positive she cursed me "Sleeping Beauty" style, because it's 18 years later and I'm still waiting to really need one (let's be honest).

However, my belief system changed when I saw Vetements S/S '16. After seeing the most insanely gorgeous slip dress, I started seeing them as a sexy staple, instead of chincy and sleazy (and not in the good, party Ke$ha way). 

             Slip Dress: Uniqlo (similar  here ) // Sleeveless turtleneck: Asos (similar  here ) // Pink Pouch:  Glossier  packaging FTW. 

             Slip Dress: Uniqlo (similar here) // Sleeveless turtleneck: Asos (similar here) // Pink Pouch: Glossier packaging FTW. 

Here's the thing: a slip dress (or camisole dress) can go from simple and chic, to after-hours at Déjà Vu REAL QUICK. So how do you avoid looking like you just ran away from a bad rap video? Layers. Try pairing with a sleeveless turtleneck like I did here, a bodysuit, tee-shirt, or even an oversized sweater over it for a silk-skirt effect. My new dinner go-to is to pair mine with a lacey bralette, delicate necklaces and an oversized trench. 

                                             (Blogging requires a lot of walking.. does this count towards my daily steps?)

                                             (Blogging requires a lot of walking.. does this count towards my daily steps?)

IMG_3209.JPG

The key is to not look like you're wearing the slip dress by mistake when you woke up late from binge watching "Love It or List It" all night (SPOILER: THEY NEVER LIST IT.) They're effortless, versatile, and undeniably sexy.

If anything, slip dresses are the ultimate excuse to abuse the saying "Let me SLIP into something more comfortable". It's my most used pun at the moment, and also probably why my boyfriend is screening my calls. Looking good and feeling powerful (and having fire puns) might just be worth it. 

Pants-A-Make-Her-Dance

In 2006, I frequently posted statuses of " You Must Not Know 'Bout Me", as I was obsessed with Beyonce's "Irreplaceable". I was 15- what didn't "you" know 'bout me? That my mom was home making me pizza rolls, or that I had 4 more freeway-hours to log for my permit? 

It was also around this time that gauchos were a thing, and I had always assumed I was too short for the flowy silhouette. Now in 2016, we brought back a version of the gaucho, and called it a culotte. Older and wiser, I disregarded my previous rule and snagged a pair at Club Monaco (similar here, and a ton on sale!), and I am forever changed. 

_DSC4531.JPG

But Alex!! I'm short!! JOIN THE CLUB, SISTERS! Culottes are universally flattering, because the wide silhouette tends to slim and streamline the leg. Culotte hems can fall anywhere from the knee to mid-ankle. 

Forewarning: alterations may be necessary based on your height. Clothes are not meant to fit everyone perfectly: 

a good seamstress is the pinnacle of your wardrobe.

This Club Monaco pair was fine, but my other pairs I've had to shorten an inch or two- sometimes you gotta work for it. 

Don't worry about culottes being too "trendy", they're more of a staple to a chic wardrobe than a trend. Cardinal rule on trends: once something becomes one, it's usually already on the way out. Just always buy what you like and know you'll wear for years to come. 

Welcome your new party pants with open arms and hangers, pair them with just about anything (use the same rules as blue jeans or black pants), and get ready for Culotte-s of fun (I'm sorry. I knew I couldn't get through this post without a pant pun)!!!