Monday, December 24, 2012

Super Easy Last Minute Christmas Nails

It's Christmas Eve and I suddenly really wanted to have red and gold glittery Christmas themed nails.  Sadly my nail polish bowl (I use a vintage Pyrex bowl which is just gorgeous for nail polish storage) had absolutely no glitter at all.  I did find the perfect Christmas red polish in my collection - Red Hot Ayers Rock by OPI.  It's a really bright red that isn't brown or orange at all.  If you imagine the classic Christmas red colour it's exactly that.

So a couple of coats later and I had my red Christmas nails, still lacking glitter.  Now there's lots and lots of glitter nail polish options. I had in mind a clear polish with gold glitter in it to go over the red nails.  But in a small town on Christmas Eve there's not a lot of options to purchase nail polish (OK actually none at all).  If I'd been a bit more organized I could of course get anything I wanted in the world online.

Then I had a brainwave and raided my husband's top drawer where he had secreted some gold glitter dust he'd used to help the kids make birthday cards for me a month ago.  A nice thick wet coat of clear top coat, a thin dusting of glitter and another thick clear top coat and I'm good to go.  The gold glitter stands out really well over the red and it turned out just as I'd imagined.

If you need some last minute Christmas nail art that's super easy give it a try, and just for fun check out the Christmas nail art that's going on around the web at the moment.  There's some very talented people out there.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

On feeling hungry while losing weight

As an update: I've just hit the 5 kilos lost mark.  Weight Watchers gave me a little star on my online chart.  It wasn't very exciting really...  Because photographs for weight loss posts are hard to take, here's a photograph I took in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens instead:

I've realised something that I think is not commonly understood about dieting and losing weight.  Namely - you are going to feel hungry. 

Here's how I see it working:  If I have eaten "more than enough" food my body will store the extra calories as fat.  If I have eaten "enough" food my body won't store any fat, but it won't use any existing fat either.  To lose existing fat I need to eat "less than enough" so my body needs to use up some of the stored fat, thereby losing weight.  So feeling hungry is actually a good thing. 

I've also found that a meal needs to include some fat (and I don't do "fake" fat like margarine or other butter replacements) or I will feel hungry no matter how much I ate.  A little fat in a meal is essential or my body wants to keep eating until it gets that little bit of fat.

It's a reminder that I haven't eaten too much and will therefore continue to lose weight, my body using the energy from the stored fat.

I've tried diets where what you eat is exactly dictated and they really didn't work for me.  The kind of diets where they advertise "eat as much as you want and still lose weight, never feel hungry again!".The portions were always huge (and very expensive to cook) yet I was hungry all the time because of the low calories.  I could never finish those huge portions but it felt wrong to not eat them because I was feeling so hungry.  Now I've made peace with feeling hungry it seems a lot easier to continue.  If I expect to feel hungry at some points during the day it's not a huge problem any more.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Lust Have It October 2012 Box

The Lust Have It box for October has arrived packed full of goodies.  I got the fun and flirty box.

Mask in a Cup Facial Mask (full size)

I'm trying this tonight so I'll update with how it went.

NYX Cosmetics Girls Nail Polish (full size)

I got Milano.  I thought from looking at the bottle that it was going to be a rather unattractive brown, though my husband disagreed and voted for silver.  After a couple of coats it turned out to be a slightly sparkly silver with a hint of brown.  I quite like it.  I'm tying to move away from just pinks and reds and this made a nice change.

Avene Cleanance Skin (sample sizes, enough for three or so applications)

Gel Cleanser - This was nothing special when I used it, but after I finished cleansing and followed it up with the accompanying moisturiser I've noticed that my skin feels smoother than usual.  There was enough in the bottle for quite a few goes (though not enough of the moisturiser to accompany it) so I'll finish using this.  I'm not sure it was special enough to purchase a full sized bottle though.

Cream Exfoliant - I didn't try this.  I squinted at the tiny writing on the bottle and discovered that it was going to have a skin peeling effect.  I've done that a couple of times by accident when I've had a bad reaction to a cleanser and I can't imagine doing that to myself on purpose.  This one went in the bin!  I did really appreciate that it was written clearly on the bottle though so I could avoid damaging my skin by accident.

Anti-Shine Moisturiser - This little product did exactly what it said.  It was totally no-shine.  I got a bit worried when my skin tingled when I first applied it.  I almost quickly wiped it off again.  Luckily the reaction didn't go any further and my face is fine.

Caron Waxaway Ready To Use Sensitive Wax Strips (two strips, not enough to do a full wax)

I don't wax.  And now I know why.  Ouch!  Every follicle on the strip I waxed is now red and angry with me.  The strip worked just fine, and the accompanying after-wax wipe was soothing, but my leg looks so angry there's no way I would want my whole leg to look like that.  Three hours later every follicle is still red and angry looking.  Not a good look.

Star & Rose White Bath Fizzer (full size)

I thought this was doing nothing.  It melted nice and quickly into my bath and completely dissapeared.  I usually like my bath to have a pretty colour or some bubbles or something.  I couldn't tell there was anything in there at all.  I was all set to blog that the fizzer had done absolutely nothing, until I dried myself off after my bath.  Then I noticed that I didn't need to moisturise my legs.  I had shaved the bits I couldn't cover with the wax sample which usually dries out my skin.  So I guess the fizzer did do something after all.  It's not a product I would choose though, for a luxury relaxing bath product I like to see it (the aforementioned colour or bubbles do the trick).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Eve Cosmetics Primers and Foundations - Tested On Me!

Eve Cosmetics is a new brand to me, and they were nice enough to send me a selection of their primers and foundations to trial.  Here's how I went:

First I tried the Tinted Primer in Light.  I used a mini Kabuki brush to apply it and it was lovely and thin and easy to apply.  Unexpected was that this gave a much more opaque coverage than a tinted moisturiser.  There was enough colour that it could be worn as a stand-alone foundation, though I did put a little powder on the top to tone down the shine.  It lasted rather well.  I usually have to powder my nose a couple of times a day but this one lasted all day without budging.  A shame that the colour didn't work for me or I probably would have purchased it.  This one isn't for girls with light skin, the "light" shade was much too dark for me.  If one of the colours suit you, I'd recommend giving it a try.

Next up was the Pore Perfecting Face Primer.  I just dotted it around my face and blended with fingertips.  It was lovely and smooth to apply and sunk in quickly, I could start putting foundation on almost immediately.  I used my usual foundation rather than one of the Eve Cosmetics samples because I wanted to test the primer with a foundation I knew worked for me.  And it did!  This primer made my usual foundation even better, it looked much more smooth and long lasting (I usually have to touch up my nose a couple of times a day and I didn't need to when I wore this primer).  I'm pretty tempted to purchase this one.

And that's all for the primers.  Here come the foundations:

First up was the Mineral Liquid Powder Foundation in Tender Beige.  I almost wasn't going to bother applying this one when I saw what colour it was, it looked so dark.  But when I applied it the colour was much lighter than it appeared.  It was still too dark for me, but not as much as I thought it was going to be.  This was a very matte full coverage foundation (which I like) and it had pretty good staying power.  My nose looked a tiny bit shiny at the end of the day but it was 34 degrees out and I'd been working in the garden, so I'd say it held up pretty well.  If I could get the right shade I might give this one a whirl.

Second I tried the Mineral Sheer Tint in Light.  The colour was the best match so far.  Ever so slightly too dark to be perfect but not bad at all.  As its name suggests, I found this foundation to be a medium coverage foundation.  My red cheeks showed through a reasonably heavy application and it wore off my nose by the end of the day (today was another humid hot day though which is pretty bad for foundation durability).  I would chose the Mineral Liquid Powder Foundation over this one as it really stayed put and covered my cheeks better.

Righto!  We're on to the last one.  The Mineral Photo Touch Foundation in Linen.  Again, I had an almost but not quite colour match.  It was very very close though.  It didn't manage to completely cover my red cheeks but it did have good staying power and the colour was oh so close to perfection.

So which of all of these will I purchase?  It's an easy choice:  The Pore Perfecting Face Primer has earned a place on my wishlist.

You can get your own free primer and foundation samples from their website.  I want to give a big cheer to Eve Cosmetics for providing samples so we can all try them out and pick the product that works best without having to waste money getting the wrong shade or type.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Three Little Christmas Gifts For Under $15

It's that time of year again, time to put in the online shopping orders so they get here in plenty of time for Christmas.  I absolutely hate the hot and dusty search through the shops to find Christmas presents, dragging a reluctant husband and two tired children in tow.  For years now I've been doing all my Christmas shopping online.

Here's my pick for those little gifts for the women in your life, friends, work-mates, secret santas or perhaps a treat for yourself:

Mor Sealed With A Kiss Bauble

Mor products are always packed so beautifully they're great for gifts and when she's taken out the product there's a pretty tree decoration left behind.  $12.95.

Lush Secret Santa

A cute little package, my favourite soap (Honey I Washed the Kids), and a good price point too.  I haven't met anyone yet who doesn't love Lush. $9.95.

Lust Have It

This one's good if you need to send a gift through the mail.  If you haven't heard about this program yet you're missing out.  For $14.95 you (or your giftee) gets a sample box of beauty products to try.  I'm a subscriber myself and I enjoy getting a box of goodies in the mail.  You can purchase just one month for your friend, or a whole year's worth!  The photograph is of my very first Lust Have It box, ahhh nostalgia.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Maintaining bright nail polish in normal life

I like bright nail polish.  I also do a lot of gardening.  I'm talking pretty intensive gardening - pick-axe and shovel type gardening.  Bright nail polish shows chips easily.  What's a girl to do?  I've come up with a system that keeps my nails presentable all the time, even wearing bright polish.  The down-side?  Well, there's no such thing as a free lunch - my system requires daily attention.  Here's what I do:

Every evening when I'm on the computer after the kids have gone to sleep I fix up one hand.  I just look for chips and remove and re-polish any fingers that need it.  The next night I move on to the next hand.  Then it's on to the feet.  You get the picture.  It doesn't take that long because I'm only doing one hand at a time and usually there's only a couple of nails that have a chip.  Drying isn't a problem because I can type just fine with a wet nail without affecting the polish.

To try and avoid getting the chips in the first place I use a base coat (OPI Start to Finish), two coats of polish (currently Revlon Touch of Mauve) and a top coat (Seche Vite).  So I can usually keep my nails looking pretty without huge amounts of effort.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Weight Watchers Day 3 - I Feel Hungry and That's OK

It's really quite strange.  I've had a massive lunch - roast beef, avocado, lettuce and carrot with an apple as well, and yet straight afterwards I feel really hungry.  Probably more hungry than I was before I ate.  I'm not tempted to cheat and have anything extra, but it's a bizarre feeling.  I know I've eaten a huge plateful of food but because it wasn't a pastry or pasty somehow it wasn't "enough".  I think my brain is playing tricks with me.

I've just been out to a group that serves morning tea and successfully resisted the quite nice looking blueberry and chocolate chip muffins and cheese sticks.  I did eat three huge strawberries, safe in the knowledge that they are 0 point foods.  I also had a hot chocolate instead of my planned latte as I'd forgotten that the coffee machine at the group isn't the best at making a decent cup of coffee.  To be honest, the hot chocolate wasn't great either, I think I'll just have water next time and make my usual latte at home.

I am still feeling quite tired, just like these guys we saw on Kangaroo Island:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Weight Watchers Day 2 - Cheating Already!

Today (and all Sundays) are always planned as a cheat day in terms of weight loss as I have dinner at my in-laws house.  So I specifically saved all my extra points to use for that meal.  Today was actually a 44 point day which is way over the rest of the week where I use 26 points a day.  It was all allowed for in the plan though, and I still end up with 29 points remaining for extras for the rest of the week.  The plan is not to use them, though I may use some at afternoon tea with my parents on Thursday depending on what food options they have.  Often they will have fresh fruit which I can have for 0 points which is the best option.

I'm actually really looking forward to next weight-in day next Saturday when I will start seeing some results.  I'm feeling quite sure that I can stick to the plan between now and then.  I do have a group tomorrow which includes morning tea, but there's always fresh fruit on offer so that will be easy.

I'm really quite tired now after a huge day catching up on all the housework and I'm feeling like this (from our recent trip to Melbourne Zoo):

Do you ever feel like that?  Some days I feel so tired I could just lie down on our hardwood floor and have a nap.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Weight Watchers Day 1 - Did I Survive?

I really tempted fate today by going on a 6 hour op-shop tour and not taking my lunch with me.  I swapped meals and took my afternoon tea on the bus with me, but with all the walking around it wasn't nearly enough.  By the time I got home at 3.30 I was very very ready for my lunch.  Using the Weight Watchers lunch recipe actually made a much nicer sandwich than I would normally have made for myself.  Usually I wouldn't bother with things like grated carrot, lettuce and other vegetables but they actually made a big difference in how it tasted.

I survived the day, but I am feeling very hungry.  The only thing I had that I hadn't planned for was a small glass of orange juice on the op-shop tour as the girls were passing around champagne and orange (I just had the orange) for the Melbourne Cup theme.  Feeling hungry isn't really a problem as I know that I've actually had enough to eat and I'm just adjusting to not over-eating.  Anyway, if my body needs any more energy it has some stored to use, that's the point of the excercise after all!

One of my objectives to find on this tour was a garment that I really liked that is in my goal size.  And I have found a beauty.  A thick houndstooth black and white pencil skirt is now waiting in my wardrobe for the day when I can slip into it easily.  It actually fits me now, but is a little too tight for comfortable walking.  It's now my inspiration piece and will serve as a reward for my hard work.

Friday, October 26, 2012

How I got Weight Watchers recipes for free

A bit more information about my weight loss plan which I am starting on Saturday:

The boys and I visited the library to borrow all the books we could find by Mem Fox for a school project my older son is doing.  He needs to do a talk about his favourite Mem Fox book.  Though we have a house full of children's books we don't have any by Mem Fox as I really don't care for Possum Magic which is her famous book.  He managed to track down four lesser known titles and is reading through them to pick his favourite.

While we were there I picked up all the Weight Watchers magazines they had in stock.  This was less than it sounds because they only had four in stock.  It ended up being only three as when I got them home I discovered that one of them was so old it had the old points system.

The purpose of borrowing the magazines was to grab the recipes and menu ideas without having to spend any extra money.  This worked great.  I was able to work out a week of breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner meals from those three magazines and a couple of recipes I downloaded from their website.

I have dinner out with family on Sunday nights so my plan is to stick strictly to the daily points allowance for 6 days and save all the 'extra' points for Sunday night so I can have anything I want (and not offend the cooks).  Of course the real test will be when I try it and see if I'm starving hungry on the bare minimum of points each day.  Look for an update on Saturday night and we'll see.

And because photographs of magazines aren't that interesting, here's a picture of my younger son looking cute:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Modcloth's stylish surprise

Modcloth's sales are legendary and most of my wardrobe that isn't vintage comes from there, especially since they reduced their shipping costs to Australia.

This is the first time I've heard of the "Stylish Surprise" sale, but I've since found out that it's been on before and sold out very quickly.  The deal was that I pay $15 for a mystery garment in my size.  Shipping to Australia was only $6 for two "surprises" which was a great deal.

What I'm hoping for:

Dresses, knee length or longer in retro styles.
Lacy tops.

What I'm really hoping I don't get:

Mini-skirts of any kind.
Big baggy shapeless tops.

Modcloth have a fabulous "longer lengths" selection (by longer lengths they actually mean up to a couple of inches above the knee which is the absolutely shortest I'm comfortable wearing).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A weightly matter

So I have a few kilos left over (well 10 if you're counting) from having children.  The thing is, my youngest has just turned 5!  It looks like they're not going away on their own then. 

Before I had children I was always able to eat whatever I wanted, packets of chips, bars of chocolate, bakery goodies and I never changed weight.  I was 57kg every time I weighed myself.  The only time I put on weight was when I spent two months in China.  It was winter and my body just wanted to eat lots and lots of rice.  I came home 63kg and promptly lost all the weight back to 57kg without making any effort at all. 

My body image is still of myself as that slender teenager and I get suprised when I look down and see a round tummy instead of a flat one.  I do wear a lot of dresses which are fitted at the waist and then have a full skirt, often with a petticoat, which disguises things pretty well.  But I'm not really wanting to have to disguise certain areas for the rest of my life.  So I've decided it's time.

I'm also going to share a personal photograph, which I haven't done before online, in the anticipation of sharing an "after" photograph in a year or so.  Should keep me honest.  The whole internet will be able to see if I don't keep it up!  You can see what I mean about the full skirts:

Last night I spent way too long (I think it was 2 hours!) working out a menu plan that I'll start on Saturday. It involves spending quite a bit more at the supermarket than I'm used to, even though I did still pick recipes that use what we have growing in the vegetable garden at the moment. My main problem time is lunch and snacks when I'm using the computer. So I planned what I was going to eat for lunch and snacks to avoid making last minute trips to the bakery when hungry. The plan is to have everything I need all ready at home.

There's also a new rule - no eating at the computer. At all. I may need to put up a little sign to remind myself. We have a house rule anyway about not eating anywhere but the kitchen table, but I've been habitually naughty in snacking when I'm along in front of the computer. This has now stopped. I have no snacks anywhere in sight as I type this!
Oh, I'm using the Weight Watchers online program to keep me on track.  But they haven't paid me to say that or anything :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Would you let your son choose your nail polish?

Last night I lived dangerously and let my 6 year old son loose in my nail polish bowl. It's usually kept high up and out of reach so he was quite interested to have a poke around. I asked him to pick what colour polish I should wear. Now you'd think he wouldn't be interested right? I was quite impressed.

He took the time to consider all the options and eventually selected Revlon's Touch of Mauve. This polish is actually quite different from most of my collection. I tend to favour bright pinks and Touch of Mauve is a soft pinky brown polish. I do quite like it though, and while I don't reach for it often I'm always pleasantly suprised by how much I do like it when I wear it.

I've found that many of the polishes that fall into the "nude" category of colour apply much too sheer. If I want a completely nude nail I'll just leave it bare and not go to the trouble of applying polish. Touch of Mauve doesn't have this problem. It applies completely opaque with two coats and is just as chip resistant as my OPI polishes (with a top coat of Seche Vite of course).

You can see other's reviews of this shade at Makeup Alley, a great go-to site for makeup reviews which has an amazingly extensive database of current and past products and shades. I do quite a bit of pre-purchase research there.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Slip into something vintage tonight

Vintage slips - if there’s a more flattering sleepwear option around I haven’t found it! They’re simple to wear too, just “slip” on your slip and you’re done. If it’s cool then a lovely quilted dressing gown goes nicely on top for warmth.

My favourite period for slips is the 1950’s. The silhouette is shapely, body skimming and just above the knees with lovely trims and ribbons. Very feminine.

Things to watch for when you’re shopping for vintage slips are:
  • Will it fit? Try it on or get accurate measurements from the seller. Vintage sizing is smaller than what you’re used to.
  • Is the lace or fabric discoloured anywhere? Marks like rust spots are particularly common in Victorian era nightgowns, with yellowed lace a common problem with the 1950’s slips.
  • Are there any runs or pulls in the thread? You’re looking for an immaculate garment. Amazingly I’ve come across some still with the tags on. The original owner purchased and then never wore the garment. That’s one to snap up if it’s in your size.
And best of all this little indulgence doesn’t cost the earth. My Ebay purchases have all come in at less than $20, and that’s been for immaculate condition garments too.

The perfect red lipstick

The perfect red lipstick

We’ve all done it, myself included, spending 20 minutes in the store painstakingly testing each lipstick on our hands to find the perfect shade of red only to find when it comes home it doesn’t look good when you actually wear it. Red lipstick is the ultimate classic makeup, but finding the right shade can be trickier than you might think. Luckily there are a few shades that are universally flattering.

If you want to find the right shade of red lipstick for you, you really need to try it on your face, not the back of your hand. But don’t do this in the store, those testers are not clean (just imagine how many people have used them before you) so you don’t want them going on your lips. Instead, take advantage of the department store makeup ladies, who can apply their products to you but use proper hygiene practices so you can be sure it’s safe.
Any of the reds that don’t have an undertone are a good bet for a universal lipstick. My vote for a red lipstick that flatters any skin tone is Chanel Allure Passion. This is a very classic bright movie star red (and the luxury packaging looks rather fetching in my makeup bag too).

Thanks to Makeup Alley for the following guide to the perfect red lipstick:

Picks for Pink:
Chanel Hydrabase Lipstick in No. 95, Red Dream )
NARS Lip Stain Gloss Indian Red )
Christian Dior Rouge Dior in Red Premiere 752 )

Picks for Yellow:
MAC Lipstick in Spice It Up! )
Shiseido The Makeup Perfecting Lipstick in P23 Real Red )
Dior Addict Lipstick in Positive Red 857 )

All-Purpose Reds:
NARS Lipstick in Jungle Red )
Chanel Allure Lipstick in No. 10, Passion )
Scott Barnes LipSuede in Sabrina )

Red lipstick, like red nails, does require a bit more upkeep than a nude, but the results are worth it. 

Pssst, wanna buy a cheap Hermes scarf?

Pssst, wanna buy a cheap Hermes scarf?

Don’t support crime. If you can’t afford the real thing, either start saving, or find a cheaper brand you love.In designer fake news, Harper’s Bazaar have launched their new campaign “Fakes are Never in Fashion” in a bid to stem the tide of counterfeit luxury goods. They’ve also made four of their articles about fakes available to read for free in PDF format. They make for interesting reading:

Why luxury is worth it
The human cost of fakes
The fake trade, wanted for stealing childhoods

National Costume Museum

National Costume Museum

Tucked away in the Adelaide Hills is a real gem of a museum for the fashionably inclined: the National Costume Museum (incorporating the Helen Hughes Collection). They have fashion (men and women) ranging through the ages from the first settlement of South Australia, through to designer gems of the 1970’s (including a Pucci original just hanging casually on a hanger in the aisle as you walk through the displays) and gowns worn by celebrities. They’re not far in the distance behind glass either. This is one of those wonderful museums that trusts the patrons to keep their hands to themselves, and allow you to get right up close to the garments so you can see the details. This is especially interesting if you’re interested in sewing or costume making, and wardrobe designers for films drop in from time to time to research period details for their next project.

The very oldest pieces came from the collection of Helen Hughes who, in a sea chest inherited from her mother who came to Australia in 1937, found her great-grandmother’s wedding dress and her great-great-grandmother’s printed cotton afternoon dress.

The necessary details:
Cost: $3
Open: Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 4pm.
Location: Adelaide Hills Business and Tourism Centre, 1 Adelaide-Lobethal Road, Lobethal, SA.
If you want to arrange a tour, their number is 0438-879-017.

We were lucky enough to get our own personal mini-tour when we arrived, with plenty of time afterwards to wander around and inspect the more interesting articles at our leisure. I was even shown (and allowed to touch) many of the garments that were being mended in preparation for display, and the personal attention and wealth of knowledge of the ladies who work here was astounding and fascinating.

Who REALLY does Haute Couture?

Who REALLY does Haute Couture?

The term haute couture is bandied around these days left right and center. But did you know that there is an actual list of haute couture designers that are sanctioned as such by France, and these are the only designers who are the true creators of haute couture. A bit like Champagne (any sparkling wines that don’t come from the Champagne region of France may not be labelled as Champagne but must be sold as “Sparkling White”.

So here’s the list (note that some of these names are great designers of haute couture from the past and are not currently in production). The list changes too, as those responsible sometimes give “guest” status to designers also:

Adeline Andre
Christian Lacroix
Dominique Sirop
Elie Saab
Emanuel Ungaro
Franck Sorbier
Hanae Mori
Jean-Louis Scherrer
Jean Paul Gaultier
Josephus Thimister
Lecoanet Hemant
Louis Feraud
Nina Ricci
Olcimar Versolato
Paco Rabanne
Pascal Humbert
Per Spook
Ted Lapidus
Thierry Mugler
Yves Saint Laurent

Did you know all those names? Any suprises on which designers are NOT considered haute couture?

The secret for looking up to the minute fashionable without buying a new wardrobe every season

The secret for looking up to the minute fashionable without buying a new wardrobe every season

It’s the old question: how to build a wardrobe of classic timeless looks that will last forever yet still look up to the minute?

All the foundation pieces need to be well tailored in a classic flattering cut of good quality material.
You’ll need to be disciplined in the store when shopping for foundation garments as they have less hanger appeal than brightly coloured trend based clothing.

These are your investment pieces so it’s worth spending extra to get good fabrics and even a post-shop visit to your tailor to get the fit perfect.

In terms of colour, choose black or neutrals (bone, cream or white work best here). You can add your pops of colour in your shorter term trend based pieces I’ll talk about further on.
For fabric look for wool, cashmere and good quality cotton. Shoes should always be leather and the best quality you can afford.

Tim Gunn from Project Runway has his wardrobe basics too. His list is a good starting point, but it was a little too basic for me. I want to look amazing too, not just basic. Each outfit you put together really needs to include one WOW item. You know, that piece that someone always compliments you on.

Remember your lifestyle and make changes to the list to what you know will suit you. There’s no point having a wardrobe full of tailored business suits if you spend your time surfing and bushwalking!

So what does every chic wardrobe need?

  • Long (below the knees) wool coat. This should be well tailored and fitted around the torso, possibly with a matching belt.
  • Classic trench coat.
  • Trans-seasonal short sleeved cropped trench coat.
  • Leather suit style jacket, again this should be very well fitted.
  • Slim fitting cardigan.
  • Slim fitting jumper that skims your body and lands below the hips.
  • Slim fitting turtleneck jumper.
  • Basic well fitted t-shirt that’s long in the torso.
  • Crisp tailored white shirt.
  • Winter scarfs in wool or cashmere, one in black, cream and one print or colour.
  • Big gold hoop earings.
  • Diamond stud earings.
  • Stockings: black fishnets (never coloured), sheer black stockings and thick opaque tights.
  • Black and brown leather gloves.
  • Black knee length pencil skirt.
  • Black slim fitting well tailored pants.
  • The ultimate classic tailored little black dress: knee length with a fitted pencil style skirt.
  • Black stilettoes with a pointed toe.
  • Black ballet flats with a rounded toe.
  • Knee length heeled black boots with a square toe.
Then each season, just add one trend based item and any of these looks are instantly new.
For this Autumn you could choose one of:
  • Wide leather waist belt in black, beige or red.
  • A brightly patterned Pucci print scarf tied around the head, neck or waist.
  • Amazing up to the minute equestrian style boots.
  • A pinnafore belted over your tights.
  • Bright coloured leather motorcycle gloves (fingerless with buckles), think pillarbox red or tiffany blue.
And there it is. Whether you share your wardrobe secret with your friends or keep it to yourself is up to you! But be sure you’ll always look amazing without spending a fortune.

Is it real? How to authenticate a Hermes scarf.

There’s tons of “Hermes” scarves for sale on Ebay and masses of fakes too. People pay big money for fakes, some of them can be so convincing that even the seller thinks they are authentic. How can you separate the good from the bad?

The following guide is with thanks to “marietouchet” from the purseblog forums, I found her tips for authenticating Hermes scarfs invaluable:


Authenticating Hermes Scarfs

STEP 1 If you answer YES to ANY of these questions, then the scarf is likely a cheap fake:
  • Is an orange paper price (or product ID) tag attached to the scarf?
  • If in an orange box, is the scarf noticeably too small for the box?
  • Is the caretag sewn onto a location other at the corner and on the back of the scarf?
  • Was the scarf made anywhere but France?
  • Is the hem rolled toward the back?
  • Is the hem machine sewn?
  • Is the caretag fabric or sewing in any color but black or white?
  • Is the writing on the caretag in any language but French or English?
STEP 2 If you answer NO to all of the above, then count the number of these items that are already displayed in the listing text or photos
  • Copyright mark.
  • The words Hermès Paris.
  • The title of the scarf.
  • The artist’s name or signature.
  • An accent over the second e in “Hermès Paris” - it should be Hermès even if the word is in capital letters.

Using these tips, and the useful reference to all the Hermes scarfs (including the vintage ones) at Luxury Scarves, I spotted an authentic vintage Hermes “Poste aux Lettres” scarf by Hugo Grygkar with a starting price of $8. The seller had no idea what it was, and thought it was a promotional scarf of a relative’s trip to the suburb of “Hermes” in Paris, France! I wasn’t the only one to spot this, and the price went up quickly. I bet that seller's still amazed at what their old scarf sold for!

How to tie your Hermes scarf

When you purchase a silk scarf from Hermes, they throw in a little guide called “Playtime with your scarf” that shows all the classic ties you can do with your scarf, and a couple of unexpected ones too. For instance, did you know that you can make a halter top with your scarf?

But what to do if you purchased a vintage scarf (i.e. not from the Hermes boutique)? Or if you love Burberry, Liberty of London, Oroton or some of the other fantastic silk scarves that are out there?
Have no fear: the little orange book of scarf tying from Hermes is available for download from Hermes with step by step instructions for achieving all the looks.

Playtime With Your Scarf

My favourite that I haven’t tried before: the Ascot. Because there’s no dangly ends it works well with a high necked dress, creating a “scarf choker” effect.
* Now updated with new working link.  They moved it on us!

What a mad green hat, oooh, it’s very flirtatious! Fun vintage fashion video from the 1940’s.

What a mad green hat, oooh, it’s very flirtatious! Fun vintage fashion video from the 1940’s.

The next in our series of vintage fashion videos features 1940’s designs. This particular video is an absolute gem, it’s presented as a pseudo-drama with the models acting out their little daily dramas trying to catch a man all dressed in the latest looks of course.

“What a mad green hat, oooh, it’s very flirtatious!”

The 1940’s is the ideal era for anyone with a curvy figure as the tailoring and nipped in waists will really flatter your figure.

This was the era of swing and World War II. Women wore red, red lipstick, got creative with their old clothes as rationing ate away the ability to purchase anything new, and as silk became rare bold fashionistas drew lines up the back of their legs with eyebrow pencil so it would apear that they were wearing seamed stockings.

“Patsy looks like a peppermint stick in her red and white candy stripes. Sweet as can be!”

Towards the end of the 40’s, after the war ended and fabric rationing ended, full long skirts suddenly arrived and women wanted to look feminine again. These dresses can make a lovely look for modern formal-wear.

“We take particular pride in directing your attention to the exquisite beauty of the fabrics shown.”

Are your new clothes really second hand? Buyer beware!

Are your new clothes really second hand? Buyer beware!

Now I have nothing against second hand clothing, as is evidenced by my love of vintage clothing, but pre-worn clothing should be priced as such. Apparently some stores are passing off clothing pre-worn by the sales assistants as brand new, complete with stains, smells and pulled threads yet still charging the full rate.

“I hate to admit it, but I worked in retail for years when I was studying and we were totally encouraged to wear the stock for the day. They said that people were more likely to buy stock when they see it on a gal.” (RK1977, Vogue forums)

There’s pages and pages of posts on the Vogue forums where sales assistants discuss the practice:

Sales assistants wearing floor stock
Retail chicks wearing clothes before sold

“That’s true, I’ve worked in so many shops that do that:
They just make sure the tag is hidden and that you wear your jacket on top during lunch!” (MisScorpio, Vogue forums)

Have you fallen victim to this? I’ve rejected plenty of new clothes because of imperfections and marks, but I’ve never been stung because I always try things on before purchasing and inspect them closely. I always thought the marks were made by careless shoppers, but it seems that they are not only to blame!

“The Alannah Hill girls do not wear floor stock then sell it, they used to but this hasn’t happened in quite some time. They have a staff rack out back with clothes for them to wear in-store and their accessories are either provided or their own.” (Krysta, Vogue forums)

The Pocket Stylist: Behind-The-Scenes Expertise from a Fashion Pro on Creating Your Own Unique Look

The Pocket Stylist: Behind-The-Scenes Expertise from a Fashion Pro on Creating Your Own Unique Look (by Kendall Farr)

This slim red volume wouldn’t quite fit into your pocket, but it is a wardrobe staple. It provides advice that doesn’t date: how to choose the classic building blocks for an amazing wardrobe. Once you have the skeleton, then you can just add one trend based item to a look to keep current.
Farr says, and I agree, that finding a good tailor is essential. She goes so far as to say that “great tailoring… is the single most critical factor in raising your style profile”.

A recurring theme is choosing fashion to fit your body type. Farr is adamant that any women can look good if she dresses to what she looks like now, not waiting until she’s the size she wants to be. Theoretically I agree with this, but for those on a limited budget this just isn’t practical. Why spend a lot of money on clothes you’ll only wear for a few months?

One tip from this book that I intend to try as soon as I can is the use of a clothing steamer to remove creases. So many fabrics just don’t cope with an iron but still need creases removed. And I have to admit I just like the idea of waving a magic wand in my closet and the clothes appearing perfectly pressed.

The Pocket Stylist is not so much of a fun read as, say, "Fashion Babylon", but it’s recommended to those who are really starting from scratch in improving their wardrobe. For the more fashion savvy, the advice is probably mostly what you’ve already worked out for yourselves.

Prada for McDonalds

Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster (by Dana Thomas)

For an insight into how the big luxury designer brands are marketed, this book is an amazing read. It’s not a quick afternoon read, but for an in-depth look at the industry you can’t beat this book to curl up for an evening in front of the fire.

Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, Burberry, Chanel and Christian Dior used to be the domain of the exclusive ultra-rich but in more modern times these brands have become far more accessible, to the point where middle aged house-wives sport a Louis Vuitton handbag to shop at Coles, or school girls have a Burberry scarf wrapped around their neck to the local football match. Even I can (and do) pull a Chanel lipstick out of my handbag and many are perfumed by Burberry without ever having the means to visit the clothing racks at the Burberry boutique. “Your lips, at least, can be dressed by Dior” sums it up perfectly.

Deluxe explains the marketing strategies behind the big companies and how the phenomenon of luxury for the masses was born. It contains an absolute wealth of gossip and dinner table anecdotes including the amazing savings at designer discount mall outlets (unfortunatly not located near my home).

Also fascinating is how the brands are made, with the truth told about where your exquisitly handcrafted piece was actually made (factories in China anyone?). Deluxe also spills the beans on which brands are still made in Europe or France by the original craftsmen (yes, some still exist).
I highly recommend this book, but do splash out and get the hardcover version. It’s somehow wrong to read about the big designers in a paperback!

Looking up the skirts of the world’s most glamorous industry

Fashion Babylon (by Imogen Edwards-Jones and Anonymous)

Truth as fiction - Fashion Babylon contains true stories told by insiders who wished to remain anonymous condensed to fit six months in once fictitious designers life. It’s very easy read, it reads as rollicking chic-lit but the real fun is guessing the real-life name behind each anecdote. Do you know which stories relate to which models and designers? Leave a comment and let us know!

One amusing anecdote about Posh Spice (who is banned from the front row of Fashion Babylon’s collection) occurs in the Gucci office: Tom Ford bails up Gucci’s publicist to complain that Posh is being photographed wearing their clothes. He wants them to stop sending her samples. The publicist replies “I’m not, she’s buying them.” Tom still wants her OUT of Gucci!

Also interesting was the importance of Net-A-Porter to the designers. I’d always thought that the online stores were a poor second cousin to the boutiques but apparently this is not so. Net-a-porter is an extremely valuable client to Fashion Babylon’s designer meriting champagne, lunch and vip treatment. I certainly find myself shopping for clothing more and more online. I wonder if regular real-life stores are a dying breed?

Fashion Babylon reveals the reason why designer clothes are available only in small sizes. Because of the extra fabric used it costs twice as much to make a size 16 as a size 8. The book also says that the small sizes sell first leaving the larger languishing on the racks, although I have found the opposite to be true when shopping.

This is a fun, easy read giving just a glimpse inside the world of the designers.


That Extra Half an Inch: Hair, Heels and Everything in Between

“That Extra Half an Inch” is a revealing and practical book on fashion, beauty and style. Victoria shares her secrets on dressing for special occasions, everyday wear, accessorising, holiday tips and making the most of your wardrobe. Whether you’re getting ready for work, a night out on the town or even doing the school run, this is Victoria’s personal guide to feeling confident and looking great every time you step out of the front door.”
This book is heavy on the glossy photographs and they’re all of Posh! This is vanity publishing at its best, although the book itself is well produced with thick glossy paper, charming illustrations (if you overlook the photographs) and a pink bookmark (every book should have one).
There’s plenty of good advice in That Extra Half an Inch. My favourite was “remember: nothing is more expensive than the thing you only wear once”. Posh says she doesn’t use a stylist which makes her fashion mistakes seem more forgivable. At least they’re her mistakes, not her stylist’s.
Yes, this book is just a 311 page self-promotion, but that’s what Posh does, and she’s good at it (rather like Paris Hilton).
Her inspiration comes from Grace Kelly, Jackie Onassis and Audrey Hepburn apparently. I’m a bit confused. What does the left hand side outfit have to do with the right hand side one? But Posh doesn’t always get it wrong.
Posh waxes lyrical about the joys of the pencil skirt and here I whole-heartedly agree. This is a shape that flatters every figure and the high waisted varients are very forgiving to a new mothers figure too (yummy mummys will know what I mean here).
She gives much advice that should not need to be said, but sadly does, such as don’t let your underwear show over the waistband of your jeans and don’t wear a lacey bra under a tight t-shirt.
Beware Aussie girls if you’re looking for specific clothing inspiration from Posh as she seems to get every second piece from Topshop in the UK, although they do ship internationally now. To be safe, order larger than usual and have your tailor alter so it fits perfectly. They can always make a garment smaller, but going larger is often impossible.
Whatever her mistakes, Posh undeniable loves fashion and, to give her due credit, she’s photographed constantly and every little slip broadcast around the world. I’m not sure I’d like my gardening clothes posted on the internet and critiqued. Her book was a fun read and a look at how she’s like to be perceived by the world at large.