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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]).
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
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 – for last time, for some reason, we had loads of scarves, so there was a rail just for them.
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 bif 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?
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.
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!
Getting the Chop
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 to 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.
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:
- Getting my hair ready in the morning takes 30 seconds. My straighteners and curlers shall gather dust.
- Faux hawks!
- 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. It will grow. 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.
It’s all pretty simple –
- Pick an area with a lot of thrift shops (and bars!)
- 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!
- 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.
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!
*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 you’re 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.
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.
Bugs, Bugs, Bugs
A Fashion Obsession
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.
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:
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!
What to wear when …..
One of the reasons I love living in Ireland is the ease in which I can travel not only to completely different countries (an ease which, admittedly, I should take advantage of more often) but also seamlessly from city to country. Thanks to the kindness and incredible generosity of a dear family friend, I’ve been trans-Atlantic and trans-continental travelling since I was quite young. As such, I like to think I’ve perfected the perfect travel outfit. Plane, train, car or boat, these basics will keep you comfortable and stylish.
- This is straight from the George Clooney classic Up in the Air, but it’s one I feel strongly about – wear shoes you can easily take on and off for going through security. Also, if you can avoid jewelry, do – and if you can’t (or it conflicts with the rule below), keep it in your carry-on until after you’ve passed through the body-scanners.
- If packing space is limited, whether because of a budget airline or because you want to keep everything carry-able, wear your bulkiest clothing – provided it’s comfortable. That last part is key (you can tell because it’s in italics). This is an instance where you can ignore the first rule (God, I’d be a terrible parent. Telling you how to break the first rule on the second). If you want to bring boots and they’re going to take up valuable bag space, wear them on the plane. Bulky sweaters or coats as well.
- HOWEVER – if you’re checking a bag, take advantage of it, and let yourself travel as lightly as possible. Why carry around your coat all through the airport when you can stick it in your bag and unpack it before leaving the airport on the other side?
Those are the practicalities.
Now for the style.
My go to travel outfit consists of very thick black tights (leggings also work), my Fly London wedges (which are SO COMFORTABLE), and either a black cotton/jersey dress, or else a combination of simple black jersey top and H&M black jersey skirt (the latter is an absolute staple wardrobe piece, and if you don’t have one you should go out and buy three). If I don’t need a coat on the trip or it’s already in my stored luggage, I wear a black cardigan and top it off with a pretty wrap/scarf. A backpack is preferable – there is a great convertible satchel at River Island at the moment in several colours that I can highly recommend.
This look allows me to be both comfortable and chic (black is just always an easy choice). I’ve never been upgraded but I firmly believe that if I continue to look sophisticated enough it will happen – however, I’m not going to sacrifice comfort. This look allows me both. It also gives me a good base in case I need to go straight to a meeting…or if my luggage gets lost and I am stuck in the outfit for a while!
My hair has been pretty much every colour. Its natural hue is somewhat akin to “dust” so for the last 10+ years I’ve been experimenting non stop. Oddly, this hasn’t left my hair in the dire condition you might imagine – if I’m getting my chronology correct, I’ve gone from blonde highlights to red highlights to all over red to purple to dark brown to red to black to blonde (and back and forth between the latter three several times) before finally getting my hair to it’s current silver shade I’ve wanted for so long. Making your hair essentially grey on purpose isn’t for the faint of heart (there is, like Picasso, a “blue period” at the beginning) but I love it and get loads of compliments on it. In fact, last time I went to the hairdressers I took it a step further and requested pewter, which I adored.
The tips I use to keep my hair as silvery as possible between visits to the hairdressers (I get my roots done every 6-8 weeks) also work for anyone trying to maintain a non-brassy blonde. I’ve tried several products by this point, and have found these to work the best for me:
This was gifted to me by a friend and it is the best “blue” shampoo I’ve used. It has a wonderful scent, is gentle enough for me to use every other day (which is generally how often I wash my fair) but still strong enough to really take out any unwanted yellowness. I usually leave in for 2-3 minutes – maybe once or twice between visits or before an event I’ll leave it in my hair for 15-20 to make sure it really gives me a silver boost.
Admittedly, this is marketed as a way to get a lovely purple tint to your hair (very in right now) with a gentle leave-in conditioner for 15 minutes. I can tell you now, it doesn’t work for that. I left it on for 45 minutes and got the faintest tinge of purple – BUT it is the best toning conditioner I’ve come across.
I’ve tried Touch of Silver Blue shampoo and have to say I wasn’t impressed – it dried my hair out (not good for already bleached hair!) and didn’t seem to have much of an affect. However, the confitioner is really excellent. Sometimes the L’Oreal Feria can be hard to find – and it’s a smaller bottle, so I tend to use it less frequently, maybe once a week. This is what I prefer the rest of the time. Additionally, Touch of Silver also has a great dry shampoo line – I was always a Batiste girl but tried ToS on a whim and the difference was definitely noticeable – I suspect their nozzle is better as the dry shampoo came out as more of a mist than it does with Batiste.
Note: Product Reviews, unless noted as sponsored, are completely unsolicited and my very own personal opinion.
Perfect Primer to Suit You
Topic: Beauty, Makeup, Primer
What is a Primer?
Primers are the kind of beauty products which most people are either unaware of or just don’t really see the point in using on a day to day basis, I’m here to convince you otherwise.
Primers aren’t just one universal product that simply make your makeup stay on longer, they come in many different forms and sometimes can provide effective long-lasting results to existing skin conditions.
When Should I Apply a Primer?
A primer is best applied to the skin after the skin has been cleanse, toned and moisturized, before the supplication of any foundation or mineral powders. (Unless the packaging says otherwise)
So here are some of my top picks of primers for each skin type……
Best for Those with Slightly Larger and More Noticeable Pores
This oil free formula is perfect for those who find their face hits those awkward shiny phases throughout the day. With a guarantee lasting lock and hold finish to your foundation for up to 8 hours and a thick, non-clogging and silky formula this is definitely a must have in your makeup kit if you do find you suffer with larger visible pores.
Best for Those with Drier Skin
This hydrating primer from Laura Mercier is a vitamin and moisture-rich formula which not only holds foundation into place all day but also nourishes skin to stop any moisture being lost from within the skin. It rehydrates, plumps and enriches the skin with a combination of vitamins A, E and C making it the perfect primer for those who find there foundation tends to flake off their skin throughout the day.
Best for Those with Oilier Skin
If No.7 is not a brand you tend to reach for this primer will certainly change your mind. This long lasting mattifying primer creates the perfect barrier between your skin and foundation to ensure your face stays shine free all day. It contains ingredients which not only obliterate shine but also minimises blemishes and contains cooling and soothing properties which help to calm irritated skin, making it perfect for those with acne or blemish prone oily skin.
Best for Those with Duller Skin
If you find yourself feeling like a 2D newspaper comic strip character after you apply your foundation it’s probably due to the lack of natural luminosity to your skin, but don’t panic L’Oreal have your back. With light reflecting and pearlescent particles blended into its formula Magic Lumi gives you that glow from within sort of look which would make even a zombie look alive and healthy!
Best for Those with Finer Lines and “Age Waves”
Instant Age Rewind gives the skin an overall glow and plumping action which not only firms and tightens skin but also smooth’s out the appearance of any fine lines or wrinkles which may appear on the skin. Making it an out and out winner in its category!
Novice or Maven- Be a Better Online Shopper
Topics: Shopping, online shopping, bargains, fashion
I would estimate that I buy 75% of my clothing online. This seems to shock a lot of people – many tell me that they would be too afraid to buy anything online. Be afraid no longer.
First of all, reasons for shopping online:
- Convenience. This is obvious. Shopping online saves me from shuffling through racks of clothes, only to try them on in a hot dressing room (side note: WHY are Irish dressing rooms SO WARM?) and realize that I’m wearing the wrong bra or shoes, or it might be what I want but I’d really need to try it with a certain necklace, etc. Shopping online means that I can try things on in my own time, in the comfort of my own home, and the ability to pair the object in question with the rest of my wardrobe so I can see if it actually fits in with my other pieces.
- Looking for something specific is much easier. We’ve all been there – running from shop to shop because you need silver shoes to go with your dress and none of the shops have any and now it’s raining and the shops are going to
close soon and Oh God…Yeah, I’d much prefer to be at home on my laptop, type “silver shoes” into my favourite sites, sip some wine and click. Plus, a pretty large portion of my wardrobe is built on a whim. As in, “Man, giraffes are so great. I want a dress
covered in giraffes!” Bit of searching and one week later I was the proud owner of a giraffe printed dress by Fever, one of my favourite dress brands.
- It’s economical. I am all about supporting local businesses – in fact, I’ll be spotlighting Irish shops here in the future – but the fact of the fashion industry is that there is a huge mark up in shops. It will inevitably be cheaper
to buy something online – and even if it isn’t, there is almost always a coupon code online. Literally just google “[name of site] promo code” and you’ll find something. Signing up to mailing lists and newsletters is a good way to go as
well – if you don’t want to clutter your inbox and aren’t into setting up mailbox rules (I’m a bit of a tech nerd, so I am) you can always create separate email address for that stuff. If you’re a student, MyUnidays will sort you out. If it’s a small designer and you can buy from their site (rather than via Amazon, for example) without losing too much money – do it.
Obviously, there are downsides. Mostly people seem to be worried about the fit. I am a firm believer in knowing your measurements; if you take them honestly and compare them to the size guides, you should be fine. Even better is when a site like Modcloth (my absolute favourite site) has a community based system wherein you can read reviews from other customers who can alert you if something is running small or big, if it’s got a bit of stretch to it, how comfortable it is, etc. etc. All that being said, sometimes things just don’t fit – or don’t look like the picture, or don’t actually suit you in the end. Which brings me to the next point –
Be knowledgeable about their return procedure – and actually make yourself return items. Most sites do free shipping* at this stage (and if not, there might be a coupon code that gives you that same perk…), but paying for return postage isn’t really that
big a deal (how much would a bus to and from town cost you?). Boohoo.com leads the way in Great Returns as it offers free Irish returns, which is amazing. Asos has a courier option that will pick up the package from you anywhere in Dublin for under a
fiver (and there are drop off points and other options for you non Dublin folk). Make sure you document your return, and read their policy carefully to know how much time you have, when you can expect to get your money back, etc.
Finally, don’t be afraid to kick up a fuss if things go poorly – within reason, of course. If you pay for express shipping and your product doesn’t reach you on time, you have the right to complain. If the sizing is misrepresented, you should let the seller
know. And if you’re having trouble with customer service, take it to Twitter. It may seem petty, but your rights as a consumer are important. And nothing gets a company to respond like being called out publicly. Mistakes happen – but how a
company deals with the mistakes is what really matters. My parents are adamant that if a restaurant is running behind and can’t honour your reservation time, they should offer you a drink. If a company messes up your online order, they should
offer a small discount for your trouble. After all, something that was supposed to make your life easier has now taken up your time. Be polite – and remember that the person on the other end of customer service probably isn’t the person making
policy – but firm.
For me, the benefits of online shopping far outweigh the detriments. Which is not to say I don’t enjoy a good old fashioned browse in a shop – but really, I just love to browse SO much that I like to do it at home as well.
*If you’re in Ireland and don’t want to pay huge shipping costs from UK sites, both Parcel Motel and Parcel Connect offer virtual U.K. addresses, which lets you ship an item to the UK and then pick it up from a drop off point in Ireland for a small fee. For
example, a brand I like in the UK only offered free shipping to the UK – to ship to Ireland was over 10 pounds! I used Parcel Motel, paid less than a fiver, and picked up my package around the corner from my workplace. It was super quick, and super
Stay Chic on a Budget
Even though you mightn’t be on a €100,000 salary, that doesn’t mean you can’t dress like you are! Now is the time to stop to stop lusting over those designer handbag and shoes and to start purchasing the next best thing, at a fraction of the price, saving you a serious amount of debt and possibly an argument with your spouse. So here are some of my current top picks that I think every girl should treat themselves to this side of Christmas!
Give a girl a pair of heels and she can concur the world”, however I don’t think it would be possible for me to concur the world if food has been eliminated from my everyday life (priorities). Yes these heels are amazing and will go with every outfit and will be worth every penny in the long run, but I don’t know about you but my pennies tend to not add up to this amount!
Don’t worry you won’t have to walk around like a sad, stumpy pauper anymore, thanks to every fashionista’s messiah: Romwe.
Ok, so they might not be made in Italy or from the highest quality “leather”, but they do look damn good and will save you over €430, so you can keep your heel, head and bank balance high!
It may or may not be a personal goal of mine to own this bag, and it may or may not make me feel very sad to have to look up images of this bag but how and ever. This is an extraordinary bag, with an EXTRAORDINARY price tag.
Unfortunately, as winning the lotto is not a common occurrence in most people’s lives and neither is having €6000+ to spend on a bag I’m afraid that we have no other choice but to look elsewhere. (no matter how much it may hurt)
Boohoo doesn’t know it yet but it has saved lives and livelihoods by producing this beauty. Saving you over €5700+ you can now purchase that second hand car you were looking at or go on those 4 imaginary holidays you planned this year.
Ok so this watch mightn’t hold such an extreme price tag as the other two items but still it’s not something most people would just casually but for themselves. (Think of the amount of outfits and alcohol you could get with that money!)
This statement watch is statement enough for me to live and happy and long life with. With a price difference of a whole decimal point shift to the right, it’s worth the trip into the accessory shop (and for me a trip down memory lane, ah luminous clip-ins where would I have been without you)
And if you’re looking for that perfect pair of designer sunglasses and think they are completely out of your reach, think again. A much, much cheaper (and slightly cheekier) way of achieving that lifelong dream of strutting around in those Chanel 5217’s is to ask very nicely. No seriously, it may be a bit of a scavenger hunt but if you go around a couple of sunglasses retailers and ask for previous display items you’re bound to come across a gem or two!
Halloween in Your Closet
I love autumn. I love the colour palette, I love the crispness in the air, and I love the opportunities it gives for layering (I mean, warm summer weather is lovely – but for me, the more clothes I need to wear, the more fun I can have).
PLUS it’s when we get to celebrate Halloween, which is absolutely the best holiday. I know some bemoan adults celebrating what they see as a kids-only holiday, but in truth, I have little patience for those people. As a little kid, you can dress however you want, whenever you want. Want to go to crèche as Spiderman? That’s cool. Want to spend an entire afternoon playing dress up and pretend? Excellent! Everyone will praise your imagination. But as you get older, the chances to let your fancy run completely wild grow smaller and smaller. Which is not to say they disappear completely – cosplaying is extremely popular, and obviously there are ways of life that allow for more flexibility with one’s wardrobe. But for someone who works 9-6 is a fairly casual environment, Halloween is my holy season.
All that being said – sometimes there just isn’t enough time (or money!) to source and buy and make the perfect costume. Or sometimes you get a last minute party invite and haven’t even considered a costume. I am here to tell you that that’s not an issue. I am POSITIVE that within your closet lies costumes options you never even considered, and I have some tricks to help you uncover your hidden Halloween Costume.
- What do you like? Halloween doesn’t have to mean horror. I’m no fan of gore – I just like looking different. Think about your own interests. Are you a Katy Perry or Lady Gaga fan? Do you love The Great Gatsby and 1920s looks? Are you a big fan of Wes Anderson films? Or Back to the Future? Or American Psycho? Books, movies and music can really help you narrow down a costume – and in some cases might have informed your wardrobe already. I love art deco styles, and have a couple of dresses I just like to wear out and about; but a little extra makeup, more jewels and some long gloves and I’ve gone from 20s “inspired” to full on 1920s costume. Love Bruce Springsteen? Jeans and a white t-shirt with a bandana in your pocket.
- Who – or what – do you look like? Are people constantly saying you look like Florence Welch? Pop on a flowy dress and feather earrings. Do you think you have certain owl-like features? Be an owl!
- “Bound” it! Disney Bound is a brilliant website that takes “normal” clothes and pairs them together in ways that capture the essence of various characters (Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, etc.) And she’s not the only one doing it. A search on Polyvore can provide similar sets and ideas. Think about the essential elements of a character and see where your mind takes you. A pair of green pants and a purple tank top is enough to conjure up Ariel from The Little Mermaid; a fuzzy sweater and mini skirt can put you on the road to being Cher from Clueless. I tend to think of this as theme-dressing, and it’s a great way to “secretly” be in costume.
- Your regular makeup is capable of wonders. A little pink eye shadow streaked up the cheek can give you the basis of a glam rocker a la David Bowie as Aladdin Sane. A bit of red nail polish dribbled from the corner of your mouth gives you away as a vampire. Layer purple, green and your most yellow gold eye showdown to create a bruise. Mascara can create a great beard (Bearded lady! Babe-raham Lincoln!) and layering on extra powder can help you to appear un-dead, if you so wish.
- What are you wearing already? Black dress and pearls? Cool, tell people you’re Coco Chanel. Long skirt and sweater? You’re Elaine Benes from Seinfeld. Or any of the women in Twin Peaks.
- USE THE INTERNET. This is the most important piece of advice I can give. We are not special snowflakes, and someone has probably attempted whatever costume you’re thinking of. Or if you’re stuck for ideas just start Googling characters/celebrities/historical people you like. It doesn’t even have to be people! When trying to think of a costume for my boyfriend for a Shining themed party, we decided he would go as the maze. This will mean picking up some green garland (thank goodness the shops stock early for Christmas!) and pinning it in a maze shape on his regular clothes. Easy, cheap, fun.
I’m pretty lucky this year as I have three Halloween party plans all allowing for different costumes, but I always have a backlog of costumes ideas that I can’t use so if you’re stuck, feel free to say something in the comments or get at me on Twitter (@chelsea_morgan).
Faking it as a Festival Fashionista
Unless you’re a member of the Haus of Gaga, live in New York or are a Goth it is considered inappropriate to wear what basically constitutes fancy-dress outside of the bedroom. There are only two exceptions: Halloween and Festivals.
Music festivals offer a chance to experience the catwalk less walked and use your wardrobe to express an uninhibited alter ego. However, be warned, this is not a legitimate opportunity for mutton to dress as lamb; but rather a rare moment in time where reality and taste are temporarily suspended – a little like in Shakespearean plays when young boys are believable as women and old men can be feisty young lovers. That said, no illusion can survive an Irish downpour and only water nymphs and Kate Moss look good half drowned and covered in muck, for the rest of us mortals we need a few tricks up our sleeves, which can be the difference between Boho-chic or Katrina survivor.
Wellies should be as mandatory as a ticket for any festival because nothing else can withstand the muck. Unless you have a backstage-pass to the paved paths of celeb-land, ignore the glossy photos in Elle Magazine – that life is not for you – you will be with the great unwashed last seen on a BBC documentary with a David Attenbourgh voiceover.
The quandary of festival dressing has always been the harmonization of the practical rubber lower half with the rock chick upper half without looking like your Mum in old clothes doing the gardening. There are a couple of possible combinations;
- Hotpants with tights, knee-socks (hidden or visible) to make the wellies wearable, and a band tee-shirt. Think college-student; avoid anything reminiscent of the Cheeky Girls.
- Tight combats, knee-high Doc boots (the only substitute for wellies), and a death rock tee-shirt of choice, preferably with day-go symbols. Do not be tempted by the Army Surplus Store, nothing good can come from it. Look to Pink for inspiration, rock it up with spiky hair and plastic accessories.
- Hark back to Woodstock and be 70’s inspired. Pretty dress or folk-frock combined with neutral knee-socks (again the only thing to avoid slap-leg from the rim of the wellie), a cardigan and necklaces. Think Lily Allen and accentuate with hair accessories and colourful makeup. Avoid anything Ugly Betty-esque. (70’s style maxi-dresses in theory are great – but when you pair them with wellies you look ridiculous – consider only if attending festival in the Sahara.)
- Stretch skinny jeans tucked into the wellies with a glam-rock tee-shirt will give the perfect Kate Moss inspired outfit. Add a large gold star over your eye with face paints and propel this look into Agness Dynes’ stratosphere.
- Actual fancy dress. This is a golden opportunity to dress as Wonder Women in front of people who don’t know you and therefore can’t tell sarcastic stories highlighting the many ways in which you do not have super-powers.
For all the wonders of baby wipes they can do nothing for your hair.
Long hair should be scooped into a ponytail/bun and left there. Pale pasty people should not be tempted by corn rows unless you can compare to Sinead O’Connor with a shaved head or else you will end up looking like white-trash.
For shorter hair try dry shampoo, a Whigfield/Miley inspired up-do, a front quiff with gel-back sides, or accessorise with Alice bands, head bands or even a wig.
Alternatively cheat and get a hat. Try cowboy, beanie, bowler or peaked, one will suit your face shape and hair style, just make sure it also suit’s the rest of the ensemble.
Sunglasses are as essential as the wellies, as is the shoulder bag that can carry a hoody, poncho/raincoat, bog-roll, baby-wipes and black sacks to survive between gigs and the spontaneous rainstorms. A leather jacket should only be considered in drought conditions. With makeup either go naked or Gwen Staffani it – nothing in between will be worth the spots caused by a lax cleaning regime.