Playing catch-up

Hi, Fashion and Me fans! As I have mentioned, ad infinitum, to you, my friends, the boyfriend, my parents, and maybe even a stranger or two, work has been keeping me busy these past two weeks, and my fashion pictures have been lacking. Shame! But, the silver lining is that I have had a lot of time to think about (if not act on) possible blog subjects for the coming days. How I am going to shape my ideas into something coherent and fun for you to read is another story altogether… In the meantime, however, here are a few of my outfits from the past seven days or so. As you can see, I started out as my normal self, dressing up and taking care to mix and match patterns and colours. Then it started to go downhill with basic black pieces. And finally, at the end of my crazy schedule, when any deep thought was completely hopeless, it was time to go with a slightly dressier jeans-and-T-shirt look that I actually wore two times within the span of four days because I was going to two different places where no one would know I what I wore a few days before. Did I just commit a fashion crime? Eeeek!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Shoes , Madeline via The Bay; tights, gift; dress*, Urban Behaviour; blouse, H&M; belt, Dynamite; bracelet, necklaces, and clip-on earrings, vintage.

*Yes, this blue thing is actually a dress, but there are only a handful of places I could actually wear it without something over top of it. It’s tight, short, satin, sleeveless and strapless. With every adjective I listed to describe the dress, each one fractionally narrowed down its wear-ability to just shy of the street corner. See?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Shoes, Aldo; purple tights*, Secret; patterned purple tights, Urban Outfitters; dress, Garage; top, Urban Heritage; bracelets, brooches and clip-on earrings, vintage.

*Day 3 of the free tights! BUT, when I opened this package, there was a big run down the side of one leg, and there was no way to stop it, clear nail polish or no. Wearing another pair of tights over top was the only solution, and I imagine one that is limited in its use, as the run is just on the brink of getting too out of control.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010, and Saturday, February 27, 2010

Shoes*, Madeline via Winners; jeans and top, American Eagle Outfitters; bracelet, necklaces, and earrings, vintage.

*At least I wore heels. Also, if you’re curious, this shirt is from this shopping trip.

Showing some skin

Because I have been working so much and so late for the past week, and the boyfriend (my photographer!) has been in the middle of mid-terms, not much outfit picture-taking has gone on. I have a pile of clothes and jewelry on my desk chair that stares at me with forlorn eyes, waiting for me to recreate for the camera some of my looks from the past few days. Hark! Thursday marks the end of my insane work schedule, so soon, my little friends, soon!

In the meantime, though, I am going to let everyone in on my latest skincare routine/product selection because in the last two months I have started using some new products and am impressed with their ability to keep my skin under control. Which, for me, is saying a lot because this has been an ongoing quest since I was about 16 years old. First of all, my skin is, at age 27, in my 28th year of life, dry. Dry, dry. dry. It used to be oily in the T-zone and normal but prone to breakouts on my cheeks, and blotting papers were a must-have in my purse, but those days are no more. I used my last blotting paper about two weeks ago from a package I bought I-can’t-even-remember-when, and the only reason I used it was just to freshen up my face because I hadn’t touched up my makeup all day and my face looked wilted and gross. Anyway, I’m not buying any more papers, and that’s final!

Dryness isn’t my only current skin problem. Each month I usually break out with about three or four pimples that all seem to appear at once. And, for as long as I can remember, I have had tiny whiteheads around my chin that never seem to go away no matter how much I squeeze them. That might seem like too much information to some of you, but if I’m giving you a review of my skincare routine, I should be honest about what type of skin I have and what the products are doing to help it, right?

Back to the squeezing. I have a horrible, dirty habit of picking, squeezing and touching my face when it is NOT NECESSARY. I’m sure this contributes to most of the ugly, angry pimples I do get. Why I can’t I just leave well enough alone? It is really more attractive to have a scabbed-up remnant of a pimple that no foundation or concealer can possibly cover adequately? And then deal with the red mark that sticks around forever on my pale-face skin? Apparently it is, because these scabbed-up remnants make semi-regular appearances on my face. Lovely, isn’t it? In more appealing information, I also love to attack the blackheads that like to live on my nose. They’re not that dark and noticeable, but I still feel the need to kill them by the most aggressive means possible. The result of all this is too much time spent in the bathroom before bed, and then feeling embarrassed coming to bed and letting the boyfriend see my red, splotchy, and picked-at face because I’m pretty sure he’s thinking, “Man alive! I know Carla went into the bathroom, so who is THIS?!” Ew.

Now, that being said, I have been trying to pick and squeeze less lately because: 1) there is not a lot to pick or squeeze right now; and 2) this is because my new skincare routine/products seem to be working wonders and even keeping the pimples/whiteheads/blackheads away. Believe me, I know this to be true after searching my face for 20 minutes about an inch from the mirror each night, looking for something, anything!!!

I should also mention that about eight years ago I was introduced to the book Don’t Go To The Cosmetics Counter Without Me by Paula Begoun. A fellow summer camp counsellor who was pale and red-headed like me swore by Paula’s recommendations for skincare, so first I borrowed her copy and then ran to the store to buy my own. I was hooked! Paula is now in her eighth edition of this book, and in it she reviews almost every skincare and makeup product on the market today. Every brand from Wet ‘N Wild and Cover Girl to Chanel and La Mer are reviewed, and through three editions of this book, I have never seen a bias toward any particular price point or brand. Paula is completely honest about her findings (at least. I think so) and rates each product as horrible, so-so, great, or fantastic (Paula’s Picks). She also has lists that run down her top products in everything from face cleansers to skin-lightening creams. AND, she splits each of these groups according to price range (under $15, over $15, etc.). The one and only pitfall of Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me is the fact that it’s American and sometimes lists certain products that Canadians can’t get (easily, anyway). All prices are also in US dollars.

Since moving to Edmonton I became loyal to Paula’s brand, Paula’s Choice, but before Christmas, I decided it was too expensive to have shipped from the U.S., what with the exchange and brokerage fee, so I scaled back on the products I was using, as well as what I bought from Paula’s Choice, in an attempt to streamline my spending and curb the abuse on my face.

For a long time, every morning, I would use a toner, pimple cream, a BHA exfoliant cream, moisturizer, sunscreen, and then all my makeup, an eye cream at night, plus an exfoliant and mask used intermittently during the week. Product overload! After all my complaining about my skin problems, the boyfriend pointed out to me that men don’t use much at all (to quote: “sometimes I use a bar of soap”), and lo and behold, the boyfriend has great skin. So, the new pared-down and cheaper line-up is:

  • Dove Cool Moisture Foaming Facial Cleanser for Normal to Combination Skin
  • Neutrogena Pore Refining Cleanser
  • Nivea Visage Eye Make-up Remover
  • Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Toner for Normal to Very Dry Skin
  • Oxy Acne Vanishing Treatment Benzoyl Peroxide Lotion
  • Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Aging Daily Moisturizer
  • Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask for Normal to Very Dry Skin

I worry that getting into the details of how often I use each product might be a tad tedious at this point in the post, but I suppose if you have read this far, you must be interested. So, here it goes:

Morning: Toner (because washing my face now as well as at night dries it out); Oxy on forehead and cheeks (I avoid the nose and chin because this particular cream is drying and those are my ultimate dry areas); Olay all over face (only problem with Olay is that the container is rather small and needs to be replaced about every month).

Night: Dove face wash (great because it’s cheap, you don’t need a lot to create a lather and get your makeup off, and it’s in a big tube); eye makeup remover if needed (don’t want to pull too much on that delicate skin around the eyes!); Oxy and Olay on same areas as morning.

Twice weekly: Neutrogena cleanser for exfoliating purposes (there are tiny microbeads in this cleanser. I always used to buy exfoliants with rough pieces in them because I felt like they got the job done better, but perhaps I should have been using a gentler formula like this all along! Note: this product stings the eyes, so avoid that area.).

Once a week: Paula’s Choice mask (goes on clear and I can walk around without looking like, well, like I have a mask on my face. Don’t leave it on overnight, though, as a friend of mine and I both did that, thinking it would help with the dryness, but it only ended up causing a breakout for each of us.).

For sun protection I rely on the SPF 15 in my foundation.

All the products above are Paula Begoun-approved, and as of the last two months, De Facto Redhead-approved. If you want to know more about anything to do with these products, like their prices, where I buy them, or what Paula has to say about them, please leave me a comment - I would love to hear from you!

Tights plight

Shoes and earrings, Forever 21; tights, Secret; shirt-dress, Giant Tiger; necklaces, brooch, and bracelet, vintage.

Day 2 of the free tights! Is it OK to wear tights day after day, or does that seem like lazy outfit-picking? Yay or nay, I can’t help myself because the new colours have opened up so many fresh possibilities in my closet! My mind is running a mile a minute, and I am currently trying to figure out how to incorporate my newly acquired turquoise knee-highs. Paired with short skirts they will look too smutty-schoolgirl and with long skirts they will look like Mrs. McDowd. Maybe I should layer them over a pair of tights? Or will that type of colour-blocking cut my legs off and make me look stumpy? Oh, what serious woes!

Also, I think after seeing the pictures above that this outfit may have been better served with chunky, colourful plastic jewelry instead of the vintage pieces. Oh well, ’tis the fickle world of fashion regrets. Now, can I just segue into the fact that this outfit reminds me of Bubblicious watermelon gum? Yum!

Blue steel

Shoes, Aldo; tights, Secret; dress, Vero Moda; turquoise belt, Urban Outfitters; gold belt, coloured beaded bracelet, gold bracelet, vintage; black bracelets, H&M; earrings, Forever 21.

My day was made on Tuesday. Why? One word: tights. My boss’ boss came over to my desk with four pairs of tights, one pair of knee-highs, and one pair of lacy sockettes, all by Secret hosiery, that had come in to the office as promotional items. Wheeeeee! She said she thought of me right away and gave them to meeeeeeeeee (true, she didn’t sing it out like that, but that’s how I picture it to have happened). I couldn’t believe that I had just acquired SIX pairs of new legwear! I was especially excited because I had received two pairs of Secret tights in the fall, in the same manner, and they have definitely proved their staying power. I am wearing them here and here, and am continually impressed by their smooth appearance (no unflattering show-through skin in stretched-out spots), zero pilling on the feet (where I have had problems with other brands), and comfortable waistband (not so tight as to create a stomach roll that wouldn’t otherwise exist).

Has anyone else tried Secret tights? Do you have a favourite brand? I have to admit I am also intrigued by the We Love Colours brand, which is raved about by Kasmira at What I Wore Today and Jessica at What I Wore. I haven’t taken the plunge and bought any yet, but I have looked at the We Love Colours site and then picked up the pieces after my head exploded. I want so many pairs!! The Caroline Geys collection is of particular interest – and in oh-so-many colours! Swoon. Forget Valentine’s Day. Tights is where it’s at!


Get flirty

Me with the precious cargo; the precious cargo.

This year the boyfriend and I decided to go low-key with Valentine’s Day – no cards or gifts, just a day of doing little things together. First up was a visit to Flirt Cupcakes on Whyte Avenue for free goods. It was Flirt’s one-year anniversary on Sunday, and in honour of it, they were giving away cupcakes to the first 100 people in the shop. I almost got in a car accident trying to read the sign in the window that advertised this promotion a few weeks ago, so it’s pretty obvious how excited I was about getting my free cupcake.

The reason I was so excited is because Flirt cupcakes are honestly the best cupcakes I have ever tasted. Their competition down the street, Fuss Cupcakes, has nuttin’ on Flirt, yo! The cake of the cupcakes at Flirt is so dense and moist, and the icing is so thick and sugary (but not in that bad grocery-store cake way) that the whole package leaves you wanting more, more, more, even though one is probably enough to make you feel full and satisfied. But, I am never one to stop eating junk before I’m just about ready to throw up, so I would willingly and easily eat more than one Flirt cupcake if I was, you know, “forced.” So in love with Flirt am I that once, when the boyfriend went away for a few days this past summer, my first stop after he was out the door was a trip to Flirt to buy a half-dozen cupcakes as part of my alone-time indulgences. Mmmmmm…luxury!

So, for all of my readers who don’t live in Edmonton – c’est domage, mes amis! For all of my readers who do live in Edmonton – what in heck are you waiting for? Aye! Flirt-ward, ho!

Anyway, after the morning’s excitement of the Flirt expedition, for which I was up at 8:30 am and for which I showed up way too early (the store wasn’t open yet, and there was no one in line but me and the boyfriend, so we had to go for a walk about the block), we went home to eat our cupcake and relax for a couple hours before I had to get down to work on some editing projects I have on the go right now. But, what better way to relax than to start catching up on this season’s Project Runway episodes? And so, between work and taking breaks during the rest of the day, I did manage to get five episodes in without becoming a complete vegetable and having my body’s bones fuse to the couch. The boyfriend and I don’t know which designers are our favourites yet, but I do know that I felt inexplicably sympathetic for Ping and thought her partner on the team challenge was a big a-hole. And then, when she got the boot, I actually teared up during her closing commentary. Why was I so emotionally invested in her?

The latter part of the day/evening was spent eating a heart-shaped pizza from Boston Pizza (thanks for the gift card, mom!). And no, we did not stand over the pizza box and hold hands, gazing at the heart. More like, we complained that the heart didn’t really look like one, and did the pizza seem soggy? Thus, the conclusion to Valentine’s Day 2010 – cupcakes, Project Runway, and pizza.

Note to Boston Pizza fans: If you sign up for the Boston Pizza e-mail newsletter, you will get a coupon in your inbox for a free appetizer!

Note to Fashion and Me fans: I finally got an (almost) full-body shot of my special outfit from my surprise visit to Ontario last weekend. You can check it out below.

Skirt, tank, and hat/hair piece, H&M; necklace, Forever 21.

(Skirt and tank from this shopping trip.)

The Wimbledon look

Boots, Aldo; tights, gift; tube-dress, Spoof; top, Adidas; watch and pin, gifts; earrings, vintage; scarf, Mango.

I recently started experimenting with wearing scarves around my head as way to put my growing scarf collection to good use. I think the look works in most cases – except when you’re getting your passport photo taken. Believe me, I speak from experience.  As if the required stern look and harsh lighting don’t do enough to make a girl look like the headmistress from the Academy for Damned Children Everywhere, the pulled-back hair, secured tightly with a scarf, creates an entirely new level of severity and pallour.

But, I felt the opposite of severe today! This jaunty outfit  is the debut of the Adidas shirt I bought last week, and I felt like a happy-go-lucky tennis pro as I skipped out the door this morning. All I needed was a pair of blinding-white tennis shoes, a tennis racket bag, a glass of orange juice, and a bowl of Cheerios – voila! The look of a tennis pro. Right…? I would also throw a fresh can of tennis balls into that scenario because I like how they smell.  Weird?

What also might be weird is the fact that I have been wearing watches that don’t work. My gold vintage watch is out of commission, and the same goes for the watch I have on today. Oh, hell – the truth is this watch got messed up something wicked this morning when I made quick work of Venus and Serena. And I did it looking like this:

Tough as nails, no?

Pink lady

Shoes, Madeline via Winners; tights, Forever 21; suede skirt, Danier; belt, necklace, bracelet, and earrings, vintage; blouse, Wrapper via Winners.

Mild weather is back in Edmonton! Therefore, feeling spring-like, this is the result. I have worn these shoes a few times in a row lately, but, to be honest, I kind of forgot about them, so here and now I declare that I’m officially reinstating the old Grey Gooses back into circulation. I still don’t have a new pair of black boots, and I’m finding out quickly that they were a serious crutch on which I leaned when it came to putting together outfits. Not having them has forced me to think of different clothing combinations for winter that don’t require black footwear, specifically black boots. Look forward for more variety in the footwear department, as now I feel like since it’s almost halfway through February and getting closer to spring all the time, do I really need to buy black boots? My fortitude is strong, my closet is ready for some mixin’ and matchin’, and good golly, my shoes deserve to be worn!


Just me and EM, sittin’ around opening gifts.

This past weekend I played national traveller and flew to Hamilton, Ontario,  to surprise one of my best friends for her 30th birthday. I booked the trip weeks ago, but didn’t tell any of my girlfriends back east about my plans. Keeping this secret was very, very hard, and I felt the words that would reveal it bubble up in my throat many times over in various e-mail and phone conversations. The excitement was just too much to bear!

I arranged the whole thing with my friend’s parents, who picked me up at the airport and then graciously carted me around to their home, the requisite stop at the liquor store, and then, finally, EM’s party. Needless to say, when I popped in the doorway, EM was absolutely astounded. All week I had been playing up my depression about not being able to attend and how much I was going to miss not being at her party – and then, surprise! I wish I had it all on tape – the shocked looks that turned to total and utter excitement that then turned into hugs, squealing, and jumping up and down like giddy six-year-olds. No one could believe I made the trip, and everything went exactly as I planned. Parfait!

Getting to see all my girlfriends (and PP and NB!) was such a treat, as I miss them always. And, even though I have been here for almost three years, it never gets old finding out that the distance doesn’t matter one bit. I feel as close to my friends as I ever have, and that’s a fantastic thing! Happy Year 30, EM!

Time to add to the tally…

Shoes, Madeline via Winners; tights, Forever 21; dress, H&M; necklace, brooch attached to necklace, and earrings, vintage; bracelet, gift.

OK, so my hair is super-squirrelly here, but it’s 11 p.m. in these pictures and I had just gotten home from work, so can you blame me? A hair fashionista, I am not.

The boyfriend had to take these pictures against a white wall because when up against the usual purple one my body blended in and I looked like the kind of floating head you only see in nightmares. This dress is one of those clothing chameleons that can change colour based on its surroundings. I described the colour yesterday as cornflower blue, but now I’m not so sure! And, the dress looks suspiciously like velour (or something of the sort), but please rest assured that it is not – it’s actually a silky material that feels really comfortable, like velour…

I went shopping on Wednesday because I had two gift cards to spend – $25 at H&M and $25 at Winners – so while yes, I did spend money that has to be included in the Great Shopping Tally of 2010, the amount was minimal because of the much-loved gift cards (which I hate to give but love to receive!). Anyway, I told myself I was going to the West Edmonton Mall to go into Winners and H&M ONLY. I didn’t stick to my overly ambitious plan, and here is the result:

H&M purchases: Black and silver brocade-ish high-waisted miniskirt; the dress you see above; a basic black tank  - $28.27 – $25 gift card = $3.27 spent

Winners purchases: Purple and white Adidas retro-style tennis top; French Connection wool-weave black, grey, and silver bomber jacket – $27.30 – $25 gift card = $2.30 spent

Forever 21 purchases: necklace; feathered-applique headband; the tights you see above – $13.42

Zellers: Fruit of the Loom black tights – $5.48

Total tally as of February 5, 2010: $46.28

Please don’t accent that with a scrunchie…

Shoes, Guess via The Bay; tights, Costa Blanca; skirt, Suzy Shier; belt, Le Chateau; sheer top, Preloved; tube top underneath, Spoof; necklace, earrings, and watch, vintage.

The screw-in earring that is infinitely more comfortable than the clip-on.

Inspired by my Scottish roots, I decided to go plaid today – in a skirt I have owned since I was 17. That makes it a nice and healthy 10 years old. And for being from Suzy Shier, it has held up extremely well and the fabric is still thick and bright with nary a sign of wear (or tear). I actually went into a Suzy Shier a few weeks ago because I hadn’t darkened its doors for quite a long time and I thought it might have some trendy pieces for cheap. Prognosis: negative. They had the cheap, all right, but not in the way I wanted. Thin-dishrag  shirts, sweaters you know would pill after one wash, see-through white-wear, black dress pants circa 1999, frumpy patterns – it was a full-on attack of the dowds and I was running scared. Of course Suzy Shier had some current clothes as well, but they lacked the edge to stand out and compete with many of the other trendy, cheap stores in the mall. Everything seemed like it was a step behind, and the clothes looked like the equivalent of a deflated balloon.

Needless to say, I didn’t go into Suzy Shier for years and now I have many reasons never to go in again.

Has anyone else been into Suzy Shier lately?