, pub-5075614835530024, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 January 2015 | Classically Contemporary

Friday, January 30, 2015

Loose Button Luxe Box

Ohhhh, beauty box subscription services. One of the hottest trends in the cosmetics world.

I still remember watching MissGlamorazzi back in 2010 talking about Birch Box, and feeling so jealous of all the awesome travel-sized products she'd get for a mere $10 a month. Now that almost all subscription services are available in Canada, I must admit that I've been very tempted. Like shopping cart filled, ready to purchase-tempted. But you know what holds me back? Shipping.

An extra 50% of the box price ($10) for shipping? No thank you! Let alone the sketchy brands that are often thrown into the box to get the "actual retail value" a bit higher. 

*Close the internet tab*

So this post comes about after seeing the name Loose Button popping up all over my magazines and news feeds. Their "Luxe Boxes" feature high-end, luxury cosmetic brands and are available 4 times per year - one for every season. Loose Button has already partnered with LOU LOU and FLARE, two of my favourite Toronto-based magazines. I recently checked out the site, and was so surprised to see that nearly every product in their new box has been featured here before:

Paula's Choice BHA Liquid
Klorane Dry Shampoo
Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer 
Vita Liberata Tanner
Press Release photo of some product options for the Spring 2015 Loose Button Luxe Box
This is unreal.

For about $25, I must admit that the Spring 2015 box seems to be totally worth it, since those few favourites alone would cost at least $30 if you were to buy them off the shelf. Bonus, you get 4 more products in the box. Also, I think we could all justify a little beauty treat every 3 months, versus random lip glosses and eye shadows every single month.

So when I got a message asking if I'd like to try the Spring box free of charge, I thought heck, why not! Especially since it's a home-grown Canadian service, I'm always willing to give local companies a chance. I even noticed that they included Miracle 10 in one of their recent boxes, and I'm definitely still loving their made in Canada products.

To sign up for Luxe Box, you will create a profile on their site, so that the products in your box can be tailored to your skin type, lifestyle, etc. There's also a great network on there to chat about your experience and get tips from other subscribers. It's $26 for one box, $50 for two, or $96 if you lock in for one year of boxes (plus provincial tax). Best of all, NO EXTRA SHIPPING! Hallelujah.

Overall, my main thought when I was looking into the service was how great of a gift it would be for any beauty lover. It's customizable ($25, $50, $100) and there's bound to be at least a few items in each box that they'd love. These are all popular brands that are easy to find in store or online. Sure you aren't getting 8 full-sized products, but think about how much makeup you can get at Sephora, for example, with only $25. (Hint: Maybe half an eyeshadow palette)

So if you're feeling spend-y, hop on the bandwagon and count down till March with me until you receive your own Luxe Box too! Better yet, tell me your experiences with subscription box services, weather it's Loose Button, or other. I love some beauty gossip.


P.S. Like with all subscription-type services, there's a referral aspect: "By participating, each member shares their unique invite code to offer his or her friends and family a discount on any membership plan. For every 2 successful referrals made, earn a FREE Luxe Box! Start earning by going to:" 

I think this is a really nice option if you have some friends who want to take part in the service also. Everyone benefits in the end!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Stylish Dressing On A Budget

Budget Fashion Looks

Today I'm sharing my top 3 outfits for day-to-day activities, featuring current items available at my favourite (affordable) stores like H&M, Joe Fresh, Zara, Nine West and Gap. I wanted to throw some looks together with a spending limit of around $200 to show how easy it is to stay trendy on a budget. 

For date night, I grabbed a few great staples from H&M like a cute graphic tee, faux leather jacket and boyfriend jeans. Smoking flats in a pretty red suede paired with an army green bag makes this look really current and effortless.

Workwear is challenging since dress code varies from place to place. I love tweed textures, and this skirt sits at the hips for optimal comfort. A silky blue blouse, opaque tights and snazzy black booties will bring on the chic while still looking professional. I also love this nude Zara bag, it reminds me of my Longchamp fave featured here.

On the weekend, cozy sweaters in rich gemstone tones work perfectly with skinny jeans. I'm also a big fan of subtle leopard print scarves and burgundy accessories. Bonus, these boots look really similar to Frye's but are only $50 (on sale). Don't forget about the jewels that can be paired with all three looks. Gold is my go-to for costume jewellery since the simple pieces can look super expensive.

All the items in these sets are current and should be in stock. You can find them online through clicking on the image above and accessing the sites through Polyvore's app or website. 

Resorting to an expensive designer when trying to "look stylish" isn't always the best idea. Roopal Patel, a luxury fashion consultant agrees: 
“[High fashion] makes the consumer feel like they’re part of this club,” she says. “These items have a seal of approval on them. The designers have said, 'Yes, if you wear this, consider yourself fashionable.’ And in turn, magazines and editors are delivering the same message.” -StyleList

Sadly, this is painstakingly false. Before selling your soul to a high-end luxury brand, read through The 7 Habits of Highly Stylish People and start curating your own wardrobe of favourites, whether $10 second hand or $100 investments.

Here are some tips on "looking stylish" and feeling confident in your day-to-day outfit choices

1. Look for inspiration through blogs and magazines to identify your personal style. I love making Pinterest boards, and my current favourite is Looks (linked here)

2. Find those classic, key pieces for your wardrobe that will stick with you for years. Here are my picks for women, and for men. These are items that you should feel comfortable splurging on here and there since they'll get so much wear

3. Take care of your clothing. Keep sweaters free from fuzz and unsightly pills with a sweater shaver, and avoid dark clothing in 100% cotton since it will attract lint like none other. Also, I love the sleek, crisp feel of 100% Viscose tees ($15 at H&M, here). Keep your darks looking fresh by washing them infrequently and properly (according to the tag symbols). But be cautious with dark-wash jeans: the colour can rub off on light coloured items, and will stain leather and suede (bags! Shoes!). Test dye transfer in-store by rubbing the back of your hand on the fabric and seeing if any blue shows up

P.s. I've even seen dye transfer from a red "leather" bag I picked up at a market in Italy. You definitely have to be careful when wearing a coloured accessory with light coloured clothing, or vice versa

4. Avoid unnecessary details like added gems, studs or other embellishment that will immediately make an item look cheap and tacky. Instead, add the bling with jewellery. I'm looking at you, sequins and crystal letters

5. Have fun with accessories. It's always great to have a really unique conversation starter when you're out on a date, at a party, or even at a work interview. Wear your favourite handmade necklace, a unique thrifted tie or a fun leather bag and wait for the complements and questions to start pouring in

Like always, the most important thing is giving yourself time to reflect and plan, which will leave you feeling comfortable and confident in your outfit choice. Aim to impress yourself, not someone else. Because if you're feelin' good in that date night outfit, you've succeeded.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Review: Revlon Blush With Brush

I love looking at vintage makeup ads. Everything seemed so simple and glamorous back then. There were only a few popular brands, and a handful of product options. Whenever I see the iconic black and gold packaging on a Revlon product, I instantly imagine it being placed on a pretty dressing table of a lady in the 50s. Besides, the brand has been around since 1932!

I received two shades of their new powder blush a few months ago, and have been reaching for them ever since.

Oh Baby! Pink is a very pretty light pink with just a hint of sheen. It's similar to Benefit's Dandelion boxed blush, which many fair-toned people love as an easy cheek colour, and deeper skin tones like as a highlight. The difference is that Dandelion has some evident glitter.

I absolutely adore the coral shade, Classy Coral since it's vibrant and lively without looking unnatural. I've been really into the Revlon Cream Blush in Coral Reef, which you can see a review on here.

The little brushes are almost identical to the ones included in Chanel's blush compacts. The Revlon ones are SO soft, nothing like typical drugstore applicators. They're honestly what make these blushes worth the price tag. (Approx. $12)

See my video review here for a better look at the brushes:

If you're a no-fuss girl when it comes to makeup, check out the blushes next time you're in Revlon's section at the drugstore.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Fab & Fail: Dual-Ended Mascara

Do you have a favourite dual-ended mascara? After testing out a few options, I decided to compare Wet n Wild's New MegaPlump Double Threat Mascara with CoverGirl's Bombshell Volume by LashBlast.
Wet n Wild is great for a natural, feathery look that I go for day-to-day. The tiny brush is quite similar to Maybelline's Lash Discovery which is a fantastic product for bottom lashes. I'm also a fan of how the tubes have a little click at the end once they're tightened enough.

L: Covergirl  R: Wet n Wild
The left eye lashes are shiny and stuck together,
while the right lashes are matte and separate
To be honest, I can't see anyone liking the Bombshell. I understand the allure of having two types of mascara in one tube (plastic brush for length, classic bristle brush for volume) but the more you layer this formula, the more your lashes stick together. Each time I tried it, I noticed general clumping mixed with my top and bottom lashes sticking together while  blinking. Not to mention how the massive packaging makes you feel like a 3 year old using a jumbo highlighter. Sorry, CG.

Happy mascara shopping!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lacoste Spring 2015 Fashion Preview

Back in October I had the wonderful opportunity of spending an afternoon browsing through the Lacoste Showroom in Toronto. It was a thrilling experience since Lacoste polos have been in my wardrobe since before I can remember. 

I spent quite some time checking out their lovely new handbags. Both functional and fashionable, Lacoste offers bags and wallets in leather and vinyl.

They are simplicity at its finest with a little metal alligator logo and minimal detailing. The bags are totally up my alley, how gorgeous are the coral and yellow ones? Perfect for that warm weather (slowly) approaching. 

It wouldn't be a Spring 2015 collection without some new tennis wear. These pretty pink hues are just as gorgeous on the court as they are on the street.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: New Wet n Wild Makeup Brushes

Wet n Wild makeup brushes new for February 2015: In Your Shadow, The Louder Powder and Build A Foundation

The three brushes, $4, $4 and $2 with a size comparison to a typical pen
Welcome the sleek trio of face brushes from Wet n Wild, releasing next month. Spoiler alert: they're a fave.

These cruelty-free natural goat hair brushes (the animals are shaved) cost $3.99 for the powder brush, $1.99 for the eye shadow brush and $3.99 for the synthetic foundation brush. Talk about a bargain! 

I must admit, I wasn't expecting much from these brushes. For being so inexpensive I would never have guessed that they'd be so soft. They're practically the same quality as my $20 brushes. 

The shadow brush is fantastic, laying down powder over the entire eye in a cinch. It's silky soft, and really holds up to washing and repeated use. 

The foundation brush (the one synthetic option in the trio) is a real stand-out, since I usually overlook classic foundation brushes as being too streaky for creams. This one proved me wrong! The extra-fine, tapered bristles blend cream concealer like a dream up around the eyes, nose and mouth. I use it to blend out my Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, which I've been using in lieu of a foundation. See the video for more details on that. I haven't put this thing down. 

Though the powder brush is a bit more textured, it isn't uncomfortable to use. If anything, the fact that the bristles aren't super soft means that it will pick up and distribute powder more effectively. That's one of the main benefits when using natural hair brushes with powders - they apply dry product very well.

Check out my recent video to see the brushes in action:

You'll be able to find Wet n Wild's new brush line at Loblaws and Walmart next month.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Tropical Vacation Checklist

Tropical Vacation Checklist

When travelling to a warmer climate, it's easy to start throwing a ton of cute stuff into your bag and completely overpack. For a week vacation, only bringing a carry-on luggage is definitely possible. Here are the essentials I brought to Jamaica.

(Of course I also added some makeup, undergarments, toiletries etc. but those are no-brainers!)

On The Plane

Comfort and distraction are key for a plane ride. I always wear leggings or sweats, a comfy tee, and  slip on shoes (see espadrilles below). I download ebooks from the library onto a Samsung tablet, and I keep a water bottle and headphones at close reach. Don't forget to keep an extra bathing suit and change of clothes in your carry-on, in case your luggage gets lost (if you check it).

In The Bag

Want to save space? Use your beach bag as a carry-on handbag! I always bring a wristlet for the room key and hair clips, spray sunscreen for my body, face sunscreen to reapply, inexpensive sun glasses, a lip balm with SPF, a multi-purpose sarong or scarf, and a biiig sun hat. 


All you need: a few lightweight tees, a low-back top and a cute romper. A cropped tee is great for wearing with a skirt, and I love low back tops to show off a bit of that sun-kissed glow. Rompers are prefect for the beach and can be dressed up in the evening. 


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Review: Revlon Cream Blush in Coral Reef

Revlon Cream Blush in Coral Reef on Elle Canada December 14 issue p. 184
Confession: I've never really liked the colour orange. Where makeup is concerned, I didn't expect it to bring out the best in my fair, pink-toned complexion. After falling head-over-heels for the beautiful finish of Joe Fresh's cream blushes, I started to warm up to the idea of coral-y orange in my makeup routine.

Revlon Cream Blush in Coral Reef $15
I've seen the Revlon Cream Blushes in store for a while now, but I've always steered clear due to their relatively high price point, and thoughts that they'd be the same sticky consistency as Bobbi Brown's Pot Rouge. Boy was I ever wrong! Despite having similar packaging, (Bobbi Brown has now changed their classic twist-top pot to a compact) these two products are very different.

Revlon's Cream Blush is silky. It has incredible pigmentation, and blend flawlessly onto skin with a finish that isn't powdery, sticky or shiny. This is an ideal consistency for those with dryness on the cheeks. Now I don't use my fingers to apply blush, instead I use a densely packed synthetic face brush, similar to the Real Techniques buffing brush or expert face brush, to lightly stipple the colour onto my cheeks. This is also a great drugstore dupe for Benefit's Majorette blush - see swatches here.

Watch the video below to see how I apply this new favourite!


Monday, January 12, 2015

What's In My Shower

Shower Essentials

As someone who showers and washes their hair daily, I try a lot of body and hair products. Here are the select few which are currently residing in my shower caddy.

Weleda Citrus Creamy Body Wash
Weleda is a very popular drugstore brand in Europe, and for good reason. Their products are fantastic and quite natural. I am obsessed with this body wash since it foams up to a rich lemony lather, and leaves my skin feeling clean and comfortable- not stripped and dry. The fragrance is all natural, so I don't get irritated or broken out. I don't always care for body scrubs, because the little beads can be harmful to the environment, and often times are too rough.

L'Occitane Arlésienne Shower Cream
Hands down, one of my favourite fragrances of all time. I was introduced to the Arlésienne line a few months ago, and have been using my perfume non-stop. This is a rich and silky body wash for "special occasions" a.k.a. whenever I want to smell like a beautiful garden all day. Love it.

Kiss My Face Whenever Shampoo
Mmm green tea and lime! Can you tell I like citrus shower products? This pH balanced shampoo cleans the hair and scalp without leaving any dryness or flakes. It's made with vitamin and antioxidant-rich Argan Oil to strengthen and protect hair. Kiss My Face has only cruelty-free products made with natural ingredients. Read more on their organization here which works to help the women in Morocco who produce their Argan Oil.

The Body Shop Banana Conditioner
This product has been a cult favourite for decades. It disappeared for a few years, but has just recently been put back on the shelf. Hooray! I use a dime sized amount of this banana-smoothie smelling cream all over the bottom half of my hair, which keeps my ends feeling healthy and nourished.

The Body Shop Detangling Comb
After conditioning, I always follow up with a quick comb through to distribute the product and get rid of any little tangles. I rarely brush my hair since it's so straight and short, but when I have to, this is the way to go.

The Body Shop Exfoliating Gloves
These magical gloves are probably my favourite part of the entire shower routine. Especially the day before or after shaving, a gentle scrub using my exfoliating gloves and citrus body wash keeps me smooth, free from bumps, and very clean.

Friday, January 9, 2015


Right after Christmas, beach bags were packed and parkas put to rest as my family and I escaped the blustery northern climate, en route to the Caribbean. After a last-minute change in resort due to overbooking, we were pleasantly surprised with our week-long stay at the (gigantic) Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton Resort & Spa near Montego Bay.

This "infinity pool" wrapped around the resort and had a gorgeous view of the crystal clear ocean. It's said to be the biggest pool on the island, and I believe it. Our days were filled with snorkelling, yoga on the beach, and tours around Negril. See my latest Instagram video here to meet my new crab friend. 

The resort had nearly 10 places to eat, ranging from buffet-style to upscale restaurants. The decor was gorgeous, and the food was delicious. Though service was a bit slow in the evening, sitting for 2-3 hours isn't something we could complain about. Overall, we were pleased with the selection and quality that the resort had to offer.

The beautiful Italian restaurant

At night, there was some outstanding fiery beach-side entertainment and lots of music and dancing. We listened to many live bands, including the phenomenal Silver Birds Steel Band. I also must comment on Jamaican breakdancing - wow, just wow. Our evenings often finished with a few rounds of (rather nonsensical) Scrabble, some treats from the café, and tear-worthy jokes. 

Looking out from the Seven Mile Beach in Negril around 5pm
We had fantastic weather for the entire week of our vacation. It was the first time I've seen sun all day every day, paired with the freshest sea breeze to boot. Everyone at the resort and in town were so kind, lighthearted and full of rhythm. I only have fond memories about Jamaica and I can't wait to go back.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Miracle 10: 10 Day Skincare Challenge

Back in November I was introduced to Miracle 10, a Canadian skincare company partnered with the Plastic Surgery Skincare Clinic in Yorkville. I participated in a fantastic event where we were treated to a customized set of skincare products, and invited to begin a 10-day skincare challenge to see what they could do. Since then, I returned back to the clinic for my first chemical peel, which you can read more on here


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Review: L'Occitane Shea Comforting Cream Light

L'Occitane Shea Comforting Cream Light

L'Occitane's range of Shea Butter skincare is truly iconic, receiving worldwide praise for over a decade. A few months back I featured their most popular hand lotion, which I use daily before jumping into bed. L'Occitane has just released some new lightweight Shea products, one of which I have absolutely fallen in love with over the past few weeks.

The Light Shea Comforting Cream has very realistic claims - it simply works to moisturize, soothe and protect nearly all skin types, morning or night. This has now taken the place of my favourite Avène Hydrance Légère, since it's a bit richer and ideal for the winter.

The cream itself reminds me a lot of Embryolisse's famous Lait-Crème Concentré, which makeup artists around the world swear by. I do find that this leaves my skin feeling more comfortable, and not so oily.

Though jars aren't the most sanitary, I'm always a fan of luxurious packaging. This one is small with significant weight, holding almost 2 oz. inside. Since you only need a tiny amount of this concentrated product, one jar at $30 will last for months.

Another exciting launch from the brand is their cleansing oil, also formulated with 5% Shea butter. Simply massage one pump of the oil onto your dry skin, and watch all your makeup dissolve (waterproof too!). When water is added, the oil turns into a "soft emulsion" which rinses right off. Just make sure to keep your eyes closed tight, or else your vision will become a bit cloudy.

"The success of L'Occitane's Shea Butter is shared with the women of Burkina Faso. Since 1980, Shea Butter has been produced through a sustainable joint-developement programme instigated by Olivier Baussan, the founder of L'Occitane. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) officially recognized L'Occitane in 2013 as an exemplary company for its work with and for the women of Burkina Faso."

My expectations were high for this cream, and I have been absolutely blown away. I can now say goodbye to dry skin and redness, without feeling congested and oily. L'Occitane's Shea line for the face consists of lip balm, toner, cleansing milk, soap, serums and an ultra rich comforting cream.

If you're in the market for a new moisturizer, head over to a L'Occitane boutique and sample this lightweight cream. I think you'll be impressed!



Friday, January 2, 2015

Top 10 Mens Closet Essentials

Men's Essentials

Back in December I featured my closet essentials for women, so for a fresh start to the new year, here are my picks for the gents.

1. Plain Tees

You can find good tees all over, but the ones from J.Crew are super nice. They have a great fit and wash well. A wrinkle-free, fitted tee can be taken from day to night (more so in the summer). Look for seasonal colours that go on sale throughout the year.

2. Chambray

A recurring favourite from my ladies post, chambray shirts are flattering and versatile. To clarify: it is not a jean shirt (difference here). This button-down can easily pair with a dark pant for a fancier look, or be thrown over a tee and shorts for day.

3. Comfortable Pullover

This is a winter staple for wearing with a tee or layering over a button-down shirt. Though 100% cotton isn't my first choice, (attracts lint, stretches out, fades) I'd go for a nice merino wool or a cashmere blend for a splurge. Avoid polyester since it can cause excessive sweating. 

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