Let There Be Lips!

I. Love. Lipstick.

My first lipstick experience was at my friend Dominque’s beauty parlour birthday party in the first grade. I was hooked. I mean, I loved to colour – and wasn’t allowed to colour on myself – so the very idea that there were adults who were allowed to draw on their face just filled me with wonder.

Since then, I feel like I’ve been on a continual quest for the perfect red lipstick. It’s iconic, it’s fun, it’s sexy, and – in my opinion – takes a certain confidence to pull off. I’ve kissed a few frogs in this quest, so to save you from doing the same I’d like to offer up my humble opinions on some of the brands and shades on offer at the moment. (I do all my make-up shopping in Boots, so apart from the one M.A.C. suggestion, these are all basic drug-store options – leaves some room in the budget for experimentation!)

 

Red Lipsticks

M.A.C. Russian Red (€19.50)

I feel like most people opt for Ruby Woo as their go-to M.A.C. red – it’s lovely, but doesn’t work as well with my colouring. My favourite thing about M.A.C. is how matte they are – I’m not a shiny lipped person by any means. However, they can be quite drying so keep that in mind if you tend towards dry lips. (I’d also highly reccommend “Diva” if you’re looking for a deeper, more wine-coloured red).

Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet (€12.49)

A new favourite – they’re not kidding when they say this is velvetty. It feels incredibly soft going on. The coverage/staying power isn’t ideal, but with some blotting and reapplying this is a gorgeous, blood red colour.

Maybelline Superstay 14 Hour in Cranberry (€10.49)

This is your best bet in terms of price and quality. The staying power is great, the colour is vibrant, and it’s matte without being too drying. It’s got a funny cranberry scent that I kind of dig, but be warned in case it isn’t you’re thing.

Maybelline Superstay Bold Matte 24 Hour Lip Colour (€13.49)

This lip colour WILL NOT COME OFF. Which is great for a night out – but you will need some serious make-up remover. For me, the 14 hour version is preferable, but if you really want to put it on and forget about it, go for the 24 hour.

L’Oreal Paris Colour Riche Exclusive Reds in Blake (€10.49)

This one is a little less matte than the others, but not shiny – it lives in a good in between space. It’s a slightly more retro red – very bright – and goes on smoothly. Staying power only so-so.

Revlon Colourburst Matte Balm (€10.99)

Unforutnately, there’s not a great red in these, but for all your other colours it’s a great option. They’re matte but still moisturizing, and so easy to put on. To be honest, the giant crayon aspect is probably a big part of what makes these so appealing to me. This is the cheap version of the wildly popular Clinique Chubby Stick; the extra money does make a difference – the Chubby Stick has a stronger pigment and is, to me, a better moisturizer, but if you want to test the waters the Revlon versions (both matte and regular) are decent alternatives.

Rimmel London Apocalips in Big Bang (€7.99)

THIS IS CALLED APOCALIPS WHAT MORE COULD YOU ASK FOR

(Being a lcquer, this is definitely not matte so, you know, be prepared to drink with a straw and opt for air kisses – but great, vibrant colour, and a bit of shine once and awhile is fun. It’s not super-shiny so you won’t get the wet look [which I personally can’t abide]).

Rimmel – Kate Lasting Finish Lipstick (€6.99)

I’d give this one a miss, to be honest. I found that while the colour was nice and bright, it just kind of…smeared across the lips, rather than offering penetrating colour.

I’ll end with this – a lot of people might feel that a red lip should be reserved for ladies of the night, or at the very least, the night. I say NAY. A bold lip and tiny sweep of eye-liner and mascara can be a great every-day look, so long as you find the shade that works for you.

Remember to blot, darlings.

Bonus – Rocky Horror Lips

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Get the Look – The Bohemian Cowgirl

Trend announcements are often (unintentionally) hilarious. Every spring, without fail, the emails start coming in – “Boho is back!” Of course it is – festival season is coming up, and the fashion industry persists with the narrative that we should all be wearing long flowy dresses and flower crowns rather than waterproof everything and lots of layers. And of course, there’s the yearly proclamation that pastels and florals are in:

Love you, Miranda.

But, amid the sameness of spring styles, and though it all still sits under the aforementioned Boho Umbrella (Bohumbrella?), this year there is a definite Western U.S. and 1970s California vibe that, given my recent proclivity towards bison skulls and bourbon, and jumpsuits and fringing, suits me just fine.

There are a few key pieces that can make this look really work. Obviously anything with turquoise. Suede and leather (real or faux – whatever works for you). Fringe. Silver. But also look for broderie detail, and tailored lines. This look is all about mixing utility pieces (boots) with pretty pieces (flowy dresses) so mix and match as suits you.

Here are just a few of my favourites from around the shops and the internet


 

A Home Made By Commitee - Get the Look - Western Boho

A Home Made By Commitee – Get the Look – Western Boho by chelseathreads


 

I can’t wait to get my hands on that Zara Bandana necklace. And I have that H&M saddle bag in black, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever purchased. It’s compact enough for a night out but holds a startling amount, and looks a lot more expensive than 25 quid.

The great thing about this trend is that so much of it is truly based on comfort (in that sense, I can see how it’s pushed as festival gear – though I still say you’re going to want to wear leggings, wellies, and something with a hood if you’re going to a festival in this part of the world.)
And hats! I could do a whole other piece on hats for this look. I’m hesitant to recommend anything too wide-brimmed in this windy climte but as long as it’s afixed well to your head, have a field day.

Think I’ll throw on some Carole King, drink some bourbon, and gaze at my newly afixed bison skulls.

Wall Skulls

Wardrobe Revamp – Swapsies Party

We all have those clothes. The pieces that you just don’t wear anymore but can’t quite bring yourself to give to the thrift shop. Maybe it was really expensive and only worn once or twice (or not at all…). Maybe you wore it SO often that it has immense sentimental value, but just doesn’t suit your life anymore.

What to do with them?

Answer is simple. Have a Swapsies Party!

My friend Janet (an amazing photographer – check out her Facebook page, Blackbird Boulevard Photography) hosted our first one a couple of years ago. We generally now do them 4-5 times a year and each one is better than the last. It’s so simple!

Get a group of your friends to round up their undesirable clothing/jewelery/gently used cosmetics/etc. (size of the group depends on size of the host space – we find it generally works best with about 6-7 people in a small-ish apartment).

Display the clothing around the room (pro-tip: get your hands on some clothing rails, if only for the afternoon). We generally put dresses on a rail, and then have a couch for tops and a couch for bottoms, a chair with jackets/coats, a table with jewellery/miscellany, a section on the floor for shoes and bags, and a “bargain bin”, which is just a large bag or basket that has basics and very-loved items in it. You’ll find that sometimes you’ll need another section – last time, for some reason, we had loads of scarves, so there was a rail just for them.

Photos by the Incredibly Talented Aoife O'Sullivan from Disassemble Dublin
Photos by the Incredibly Talented Aoife O’Sullivan from Disassemble Dublin

Everyone brings a “grab bag” – a big one is recommended. The IKEA ones are perfect. Last time, we opted to be more civilized and pulled names out of a hat and in that order everyone got to choose one item that they really loved. That way you were sure to get at least one thing you wanted because the next step is…

Chaos! One two three grab!

Everyone rushes around the room, grabbing at will. If you’re smart, you’ll make a plan with your buddy beforehand – one of you can take each side of the room and grab things for the other person. There’s a strict “no touching” rule before the grab in our group (apart from the intial display period) so garments are flying everywhere while people see what they want.

Then – the lull. This is the key part of swapsies. Everyone tries on everything they grabbed, then and there. If you’re a bit more modest, you can retire to a bedroom or bathroom. Anything you’re unsure about gets a group vote. And this is when the actual swapping comes in – maybe someone got that kimono you had your eye one – but you also managed to grab a pair of boots that she wanted. Perfect opportunity to orchestrate a trade.

Did I mention that while all of this is going on, there’s wine and snacks and music?

the spread
Photos by the Incredibly Talented Aoife O’Sullivan of Ruby Sky Photography, originally found on Disassemble Dublin

Swapsies can be intense, but it’s so much fun. And I’ve always come away with great items – including a beautiful TopShop playsuit, and some burgandy velvet leggings that have garnered me loads of compliments. It’s also fun seeing what items come back around. There was a pair of leather pants that took a few goes before finding their perfect home. And a great yellow and black checked dress that is now on it’s third person, just because the first two felt they’d gotten their use out of it.

Plus, at the end, anything not taken gets brought to the charity shop or Woman’s Aid. And there’s always a LOT left over.

Photos by the Incredibly Talented Aoife O'Sullivan from Disassemble Dublin
Photos by the Incredibly Talented Aoife O’Sullivan of Ruby Sky Photography, originally found on Disassemble Dublin

So if your wardrobe needs a revamp and you don’t feel like spending more than the cost of a bottle of wine – or if you just want to do a little spring cleaning – organize a swapsies party with your friends. Tell us about it if you do!

In case you missed it in the captions…many thanks to Aoife O’Sullivan of Ruby Sky Photography and Disassemble Dublin for chronicling our last Swapsies Party!

Getting the Chop, or My First Pixie Cut

When I was about 6 years old, I decided I wanted a short hair cut. My mother kindly obliged and took me to the hairdresser.

Now, looking back at those pictures….well, I don’t look back at those pictures. I looked horrible.

I’ve never had long hair – it’s too thin and processed to ever really grow out in a satisfying way – but I’ve remained fairly consistent between shoulder length and bob for the past 23 years.

But then…I started seeing pictures of friends pop up who had done the chop and “would never go back”. I usually wore my hair back in a (sloppy) French twist and people would walk in and exclaim “You’ve cut off all your hair! It looks great!”

I turned 29 recently. I like lists. I decided there were probably some things I’d like to say I did before I turned 30 (or rather, things I wanted to do, and it seemed like a good idea to put an arbitrary timeline on it). So I made a 30 Before 30 list and put as the number one thing – get a pixie cut.

2 days into being 29, I went to my hairdresser, Brian, in House of Colour on D’Olier Street. Brian is great. I can go to Brian and say, I want my hair the colour of this pewter tray that my great grandmother had, and he’ll oblige. When, in December, I wanted dark, dark purple hair, and after we dried it I thought it looked too fuschia, I had no problem saying “Let’s add more blue!” – which he did. There’s no judgement, and I can be honest with him. Which is why I knew that, after two years of giving me bleached silver/lilac/light blue hair with no cut beyond a trim, if I went in and said “Cut it all off! Rosemary’s Baby style! And let’s dye it black as well!” I’d hear no argument from him.

So I did it.

 

No Hair Don't Care
No Hair Don’t Care

Which is not to say I wasn’t nervous. I was especially worried I would have Tiny Head Syndrome without the cotton-candy halo of fluff I was used to. But, a few days in, and I’m feeling pretty good.

What I’ve learned about having short hair so far:

  1. Getting my hair ready in the morning takes 30 seconds. My straighteners and curlers shall gather dust.
  2. Faux hawks!
  3. Phantom Hair is a thing (I keep trying to run my fingers through it to style it).

Thinking of doing the chop? I recommend it. Change it up!  There are loads of different ways to have a pixie. Soft and vintage, spiky and punky – shop around and see what works for you. Look for pictures with people with your face shape/colouring/etc. I knew that with my hair being so thin, if I kept the white bleached look and had short hair, you would probably see my scalp. I didn’t want that. I also felt that if I was going a bit punky, then I wanted a slightly more “normal” colour. But you do what you want!

Or maybe your hair challenge isn’t a pixie cut. Maybe you’ve always wanted a different colour, or extensions, or to shave half of it, or dreads, or whatever – I say, just do it. You can change it again if you don’t like it – it will grow, after all.

Thrift Shop Pub Crawl

The first time I heard of a 12 Pubs crawl (way back in 2010) I thought it sounded sort of fun, if not entirely doable.

4 years later I have a mild panic attack whenever I see a group of holiday-jumpered revellers approach a bar I occupy. But a few months ago, when chatting to my friend Ruth about doing a day of hitting some thrift shops and then heading to the bar, I thought – why not both at once?

Luckily, I have a group of fabulous clothes-minded friends who were up for the challenge – and we had a great time, as you can see below.

One has to try on funny hats when one is among friends
One MUST  try on funny hats when one is among friends

It’s all pretty simple –

  1. Pick an area with a lot of thrift shops (and bars!)
  2. If you have a large group, come up with a loose schedule – for example, say you will be at Bar A at 1pm and leaving at 1.30pm. You will be in Bar B at 2.45pm and leave at 3.15pm. Hit the thrift shops between those two bars in the mean time. If someone immediately finds a shop to be a no-go, they can go on ahead to the bar and get an extra tipple in. If you have a smaller group (as we did) you can play things a little looser. We were all pretty much moving at the same pace so we just made our way down the street, picking bars ahead of time and hitting all the shops in between. In the end we only hit 3 bars – but got to 15 thrift shops, which for 5 hours was really good work!
  3. Have fun. Duh.

While I love to shop alone, digging through thrift stores that is much more enoyable as a communal endeavor – after all, you have multiple sets of eyes flicking through the racks on the hunt, and if they’re the right sort of friends they’ll share what they find!

A few tips –

I went for my standard marathon-shopping outfit – a long black thin-strapped tank top, black tights, and slip off shoes (not dissimilar from my Travelling Look) and a coat with snap buttons. All of this allowed for super fast changing. And provides a good base if you’re trying on a jacket/kimono/cardigan/etc.

Have your smart phone handy. I was in a vintage store a couple of weeks ago and found an amazing coat priced at €50. I was on the fence. Great coat, but a bit pricey for what was supposed to be a frugal shop. So I googled the brand label, and a description of the coat…and found versions of it selling on eBay for everywhere from $450-$700*.

So I got the coat.

A Most Excellent Find
A Most Excellent Find

I’m not saying that everything you pick up needs to be designer – maybe there was a dress in Penney’s last year that sold out before you could get it, and now here it is in a thrift shop for a fiver – great! But it is good to be aware of the brands along with the obvious things to look at when thrifting (wear and tear, etc.) You (probably) don’t want to pay €20 for something that you could still get new at H&M for €25.

So – if you’re a little skint post-holidays but still want to get your shop on, I highly recommend grabbing some friends and trying out one of these for yourself. We’re doing another one at the end of January and I can’t wait!

In the end I walked away with two bulging bags with great finds – and the drinks made me a little more adventurous in what I picked out!

One of my favourite finds from the day
One of my favourite finds from the day

*The coat I have has a label sold in Anthropologie and Free People, hence the how pricey it was originally in the store, and why it was selling for so much. But I also did a reverse image search and discovered a woman selling the EXACT SAME coat with the Denim & Co. label (that’s right – Primark). I could see the label clearly in the picture, and she confirmed in her blog that she bought it in Primark in the early 80s. Exactly the same coat, down to the most minute details. So sometimes the knock-off effect works in reverse if enough time goes by – I’m sure they both came from the same factory, but the 25 year difference affected which company wanted sell and market it.

What to Wear When…

Going to a Job Interview

It’s the new year! A time for change, and for many people that can mean re-evaluating your job, and maybe looking for a new one (If any of my bosses are reading this, I am not one of these people. I’m very happy! And writing this in my own time!)

I have, thankfully, not had to go on TOO many interviews in my life (so far…) but I have been on my fair share. I’ve also been on the other end of the table, interviewing potential candidates. There are probably a million sites (actually, Google says 55,300,000 results for this title) that talk about this topic. I’ve visited a lot of them in my day. Most are good, but some miss some key things, which we’ll touch on below.

Many will emphasise the need to look professional. They’ll urge you to buy a suit, not to wear anything to flashy or revealing or distracting (or fun…). It’s not that this advice is bad, per se. It just doesn’t take into account certain conditions.

Do some sleuthing and find out what the other people in the office (and in your desired role or similar) wear, and then up it a notch. If it’s a jeans and t-shirt kind of place, maybe go for nice jeans with a sweater or plain t-shirt with a blazer or the like. If it’s a business casual sort of place, look a touch more elegant than your average work wear. Show that you’ve done your research, and put some thought into your apparel. If everyone in the office is wearing jeans and you show up in heels, stockings, and a suit, they might wonder how you’re going to fit in. It’s a cliche for a reason – first impressions matter.

Along those lines, know your profession. If you’re interviewing for a charity working to prevent the exploitation of workers, maybe make sure your clothes are ethically sourced (which we should do anyway, but I don’t always practice that so I won’t preach). Maybe they won’t notice – but if they do, it’s another easy point for you. If you’re interviewing to be a bartender in a heavy metal bar you should dress differently than if you were interviewing to be a bartender in five star hotel bar. If you’re trying to get a job in a clothing shop, wear their items.

Another thing to consider – wear your glasses. We may not want to admit it, but apparently most of us think that people who wear glasses are smarter. I can’t bring myself to suggest getting fake ones (unless you like the look, then go for it, I guess) but if you, like me, alternate between glasses and contacts, make your interview day a glasses day.

Smarter? Maybe?
Smarter? Maybe?

Don’t wear something brand new. Maybe that dress looks smart and sophisticated in the changing room – but then you realise when you sit in it it rides all the way up. Maybe those shoes are just the perfect height and colour, but they have a horrible squeak once you start walking in them. Give the outfit a test run (this is actually something you should do when travelling as well).

Finally, when in doubt, go neutral. I don’t necessarily mean black and grey – colour is good (though I would argue against neon or anything too loud, unless of course, that’s the sort of place you’re trying to work in). I mean neutral cuts – shift dress, well cut trousers, blazer and shirt, etc. Again, a lot of places advise against anything too flashy, but I think one statement piece is worth doing. Conversation starter, etc.

The most important thing is too look well put-together and to be comfortable and happy with how you look. Let your clothes give you confidence, and let that confidence exude in your interview. If you never wear a suit, and will never have to wear a suit in the job, why wear one in the interview? You won’t be comfortable. They won’t be comfortable. It’ll be a disaster. But find the perfect balance of looking your best AND feeling comfortable, and you’ll be that much closer to nailing it.

*Bonus, non-sartorial advice –

  • Don’t show up too early, unless you’re specifically asked to (for filling out forms, etc.). 5 minutes is a good rule of thumb. Not every place has a reception area, and if you show up 20 minutes early they have to figure out what to do with you, taking time out of their day. This is especially true if you’re interviewing with someone senior – as someone who worked as a PA for many years, I can tell you that their schedules tend to be VERY regimented.
  • Ask questions. Just search “What questions to ask” at an interview if you’re stuck. Even if you think they’ve told you everything you want to know, show your interest by asking more. Always ask why the last person left.
  • Research, research research. Know the company, their competitors, their reputation.
  • If it’s not within walking distance, and you don’t drive, take a cab. It’s worth the extra money. Even if you think you’re too broke, figure out a way. It takes the stress of public transportation and allows you to keep your composure. And even though you shouldn’t show up to the actual interview too early, make sure you allow plenty of time and go to a nearby cafe or just take a stroll.

Fashion Obsession – Bugs, Bugs, Bugs

I was never one of those kids that was particularly outdoorsy.

As an adult…I’m still not particularly outdoorsy. And though I don’t jump on a chair and shriek at the site of a creep-crawly in the house, I do get startled by their presence. I say all of this as a disclaimer, of sorts – I am NOT the cool girl that is super into bugs.

HOWEVER –

They are so beautiful! For the past few months I’ve been obsessed with bees, beetles, and most of all, moths. Below are some of my favourite things I’ve found to appease this current obsession:

Get the Trend - Bugs

First off, I have to apologize – there are a couple of items in this set that aren’t available anymore (or, more hopefully – at present); I know, that’s a super jerky thing to do. But they do represent some of my favourite ways I’ve seen the insect trend crop up lately. They’re a great blend of edgy and pretty, and can work through the holiday season (such jewel tones!) and through the summer (and come autumn, nothing says Halloween like some spider themed apparel.

Of the above, I have the ASOS Digital Insect Print Dress (it fits loosely, so if you’re looking for something a little snug maybe size down), the Pull & Bear sweatshirt (I basically accosted a woman who was wearing it in the cinema the other day, simultaneously gushing over it and demanding to know where she got it and when), and the green-winged bee earrings from Modcloth (unfortunately one of the sold out items) – I love how they have an Art Deco feel to them. As for the others, as soon as that Coco Fennell dress comes back I think I’ll be taking the plunge, and I’ve had my eye on those Miista loafers as well. Final note – I have some other dresses by Folter – they run a little big as well so again, I’d size down.

I have a feeling this is a trend we’ll be seeing more of, so keep an eye out!