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Archive for Beauty

Accepting a compliment

Do you find it easy to give compliments to others?

Oh, I like your hair! What a pretty dress! That lipstick looks great on you! Yes, they roll off the tongue quite easily.

How do you feel about accepting compliments?

What, this old thing? Oh, I’ve had this for ages. Yes, but I’m having a bad hair day.

Why do we try to downplay the nice things that people say to us? Why do we feel obliged to point out the things others have obviously overlooked – the bags under our eyes, our scuffed shoes, the coat in need of a wash, etc.

NOT accepting a compliment insults both you and the person complimenting you. It can make that person feel worse than if they’d said nothing at all. My friend Judy who works as a cashier at a Home Improvement store said she makes a point of being friendly and complimenting most every person that comes through her till. She says its surprising how many people do not know how to accept a compliment.

What should you do?

1. Say thank you! End of story. You don’t need to provide the place you bought  your purse, how much it cost you on sale, or anything else. Just say thank you.

2. Try a compliment back. Say, “Funny, I was just admiring YOUR shoes!” It could be a great conversation starter.

3. Say something nice like, “Oh, you are so kind/sweet/lovely!” You may not agree with their compliment, but at least you haven’t insulted the person.

4. Smile! It may not be necessary to say anything at all.

Last summer I headed out to do a little shopping. It was a beautiful day, and I decided to take it up a notch and put on a T-shirt dress with a matching cardigan. When I got out of the car, a woman in the parking lot yelled out at me – “YOU LOOK VERY NICE!”. Even though I felt slightly embarrassed, it was a good feeling. I had tried a little harder with my appearance and someone had noticed. I can still remember how the compliment made me fee leven though this  happened months ago. Say something nice to someone today!

 

“Everybody likes a compliment”

~Abraham Lincoln

 

 

“Winter is coming.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Remember last winter? We experienced record breaking snowfalls and far too many days of below freezing temperatures. Last year I invested heavily in some winter clothing pieces I’ve never owned before. (These are the types of items I’d take “up north” if I was on a winter getaway ). This year when I do my fall changeover to winter I’ll be bringing out the following:

Parka. My nice red Quartz Nature 80% down/20% feather made in Canada parka. It has beautiful raccoon trim on the hood and fleece inside the collar and pockets. Its washable but waterproof, warm, with a two way zipper – in short – perfection! I found it at SAIL in Burlington.

Snow pants! Yes, I feel a little bit like a child wearing these but on the coldest days I’m so glad to have them. They look great with my parka and are the best thing to wear when shoveling snow. I even wear them hiking and in the car when its feeling minus 35 with the windchill.

Long johns. Yes, I feel a little bit like a grandpa wearing these but they are essential under pants and jeans if you have to be outside. I found some that sit around the hip at Mark’s Work Wearhouse. I pair those with some waffle weave long sleeved v-neck T’s as my first layer and then get dressed!

Bamboo tights. My usual look in winter is a dress with tights and over-the-knee boots. Last winter changed all that. I was forced to buy some heavier tights made from bamboo which actually breathe. When nylon tights won’t keep you warm, reach for the bamboo.

Wool socks. My favourite brands are SmartWool and DarnTough (made in Vermont). These are high wool content, sized and geared to specific activities. The socks are much warmer than basic cotton/polyester ones and come in various thicknesses and colourful patterns. Under winter boots I prefer the slightly thicker ones.

Leg Warmers. No, I’m not going for the Flashdance revival look, but my gorgeous colour blocked leg warmers from preloved have kept me warm inside and out and on my way to and from the gym.

Cashmere accessories. Everyone loves a cashmere sweater, but gloves, scarves and lounge pants are equally luxurious. I found some beautiful red cashmere gloves on closeout last February at Winners. I loved my Hudson’s Bay Olympic mitts, but they were made from acrylic and not warm enough for frigid weather. Hello cashmere.

Wool sweaters. Its harder than ever to find 100% wool. Wool is more often being mixed with polyester, nylon, acrylic or some other man made fibre. As much as possible I’m wearing all wool or wool rich knits. They breathe better, keep heat in and pill less than synthetics.

Burts Bees for lips. Slightly tinted, slightly scented and easy to apply without a mirror. Keeps me from licking my lips and getting more chapped. I keep a few tubes stashed around.

Here’s hoping I do not need all of these deep winter items again this year … I’m not much of a snow bunny. I prefer sun and beaches. But they are all coming out of my winter bin, within ready reach should Old Man Winter unleash his blast.

  “A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”
― Carl Reiner

 

 

The best summer shoes

 

Love the navy/coral combo!
These are the ones I ordered.

What’s not to love about summer – warmer temperatures, sunshine, lighter clothing, sandals, barbecues – I could go on and on! But ask me what my favourite footwear is and these beauties will be at or near the top of my list. Espadrilles!

Classic, old fashioned, and hand sewn from cotton canvas, jute and rubber these timeless shoes have been made in the Pyrenees in Spain since the fourteenth century. If you are lucky enough to be in Barcelona this summer, please be smarter than I was and buy several pairs in all of your favourite colours! I found the perfect espadrilles there and bought one pair! Lesson learned. If you can’t make it to Barcelona – you can order your own espadrilles online from The Espadrille shop in Montreal. They feature different heel heights, colours and lacing options as well as slip ons, men’s and children’s shoes. If you sign up for email alerts, they regularly have free shipping – or pop into their well organized store at 4518 rue Saint-Denis next time you are in Montreal and say bonjour to Diego and his staff.

Espadrilles look great with a sundress, maxi dress, mini skirt, cut offs, jeans, cropped pants – or just about anything you can think of for summer. They are comfortable, breathable and can be gently washed if necessary. Wedge heel versions are great for a casual summer wedding and with their closed toe are good for hiding an overdue pedicure.  Espadrilles are easy to walk in and pack flat for a carry on. Get some for the whole family!

Beauty Sleep

Are you getting enough rest? Is sleep a priority in your life? Do you consider sufficient sleep to be a primary beauty ingredient?

Ahh sleep … or asleep? –  many of us do not get the required seven to eight hours of recommended shut-eye per night. We may try to get to bed at a decent time during the week, but often blow the schedule by staying up late on weekends and sleeping in. Our bodies require the same amount of sleep per day, so catching up or being sleep-deprived should be avoided.

We all know we look our best when we are well rested. Our skin is plumper, rosier and softer. Our HGH (human growth hormones) have been doing their repair jobs while we slept. If you have slept well there is little need for elaborate makeup in the morning. Certainly the euphemistic term for having had some work done is “she looks well rested!”. If you’ve been burning the midnight oil, everything seems to suffer. Your hair is limp or unruly, wrinkles or lines more prounced, skin dull. (That’s when dry shampoo, tinted moistuizers and cream blush come in handy!). Continuous sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, memory problems, inattention, accidents, impaired judgement and more.

How do we ensure a good night’s sleep?

1. Have a bed time – even as an adult. Figure out when you need to get up. Go back eight hours. Bedtime!

2. Have a bedtime routine – face, teeth, jammies, book, sex

3. Reserve your bedroom for sleep and intimacy – ditch the clutter, dirty laundry and flatscreen

4. Make sure it smells nice – candles, incense, flowers

5. Regulate the temperature and light – cool & dark is preferrable with  layered bedding

6. Invest in good sheets – high thread count cotton or bamboo

7. Your refuge from the world – leave others, work and our worries at the door

8. Exercise during the day – save the sleeping pills for rare occasions

9. Have a good bed – get the bed mattress, foundation and frame you can afford

10. Keep a pen & paper beside the bed – jot down any last minute worries that pop up so you can let them go safely

11. Close your eyes – you can’t force sleep, but you can try to attract it

12. Zzzzz

 

 

 

 

 

Not so mellow yellow

It is the colour of daffodils, dandelions, bananas and fall leaves. The colour of sunflowers, lemons and black-eyed Susans. From grapefruit to raincoats, and from butter to sunshine this gorgeous colour is everywhere, especially in spring. HELLO YELLOW!

A sure sign of spring!

Situated between orange and green on the colour wheel, yellow is one of the primary colours. Its complimentary colour is violet (google Pantone Violet Shade of the Year). From the palest straw to the deepest ochre, this colour is often associated with happiness (remember the smiley face?) and with wealth & prestige (think gold coins and the Oscar statuette). It is a popular an accent colour and seems to be almost everywhere when you look for it.

My new boots by Dirty Laundry

Yellow first caught my eye this spring when I needed some new rain boots. My relatively new 2 year old rain boots had suddenly spring leaks in both feet (very disappointing) and with the soggy weather upon us I needed something quick. Underwhelmed by the selection at Marshalls, it was short yellow boots with black piping by Dirty Laundry or fork over $150 for very tall Hunter boots at the Bay (no thanks).  Feeling about five years old, I brought the yellow boots home for a trial. I was surprised to find that the boots seemed to go with everything I tried them on with – blue jeans, black jeans, grey leggings, purple down jacket and midnight blue trench coat! They were cheery and fun as well as functional and comfortable enough to walk in. I kept them.

Another item I have that had been getting lots of wear lately was a yellow & grey wool sweater from Banana Republic. It too, seemed to “go” with lots of things. In reality yellow works as a neutral. You can pair yellow with brown, navy, grey, white, green, blue, tan and even black (no, you don’t look like a bee!) Try some of these combinations:

Red + yellow = fun, youthful                                                       White + yellow = summery, minimalistic

Pink+ yellow = girly, feminine                                                     Green + yellow = relaxed, cool

Navy + yellow = preppy, nautical                                              Tan + yellow = businesslike with a twist

Grey + yellow = sporty, boyish                                                   Orange + yellow = enticing, romantic

 

Inspired to mark the start of the season, I stopped in at Kabuki Spa on Locke Street South for a spring mani. Of course they had the latest colours from OPI and I picked a beautiful, sunshiny yellow hue called “I Just Can’t Cope-acabana” from the Brazil Collection. I loved it so much on my hands, I bought a bottle of my own and it is now on my toes! Alexis Fletcher, owner of Kabuki also loves the yellow coloured polish and has been wearing it herself. The wear ability of yellow extends into other makeup as well. “Yellow eyeshadow is universally flattering. Black, white and yellow skin tones all look great in yellow shadow” says Alexis. Or try a yellow pencil for a pop of colour and fun.  Don’t be afraid to give this vibrant energetic colour a try this season. Why let the kids have all the fun?

Help! I’m sick of my winter clothes!

The inspiration for today’s post comes from a reader in the Ottawa, ON area.

Dear RealStyle:

Help! I’ve been wearing the same things since November and I’m sick of my winter clothes.

Can you suggest some updates for spring using my winter wardrobe?

~Heather F. Still Inside, Cold,  Kanata

Dear Heather aka SICK:

I share your pain! Speaking  for all Canadian women this year – we are sick of our winter clothes. And with today’s weather i.e. Freak Late Winter Snowstorm, even more so! Try these updates for spring without sacrificing warmth.

1. Coloured tights – Use these to break up a dark coloured outfit. Joe Fresh always has colourful tights in stock, or try some in bamboo or cotton.

2. Scarf – Tie a brightly coloured scarf around your neck or shoulders for instant relief from winter.

3. Shoes or booties – If the weather still has you wearing your winter boots to work, please take them off when you get there! Swap them for suede or leather pumps in a vivid colour, sweet ballet flats or open toed booties with coloured tights (see #1).

4. Sunglasses – Add instant allure and glamour with a pair of oversized sunnies. Tortoise shell is seasonless or go Gwen Stefani bold with red frames. Pretend you’re driving the Capri coast instead of the 400 series highways.

5. Brights/pastels you already own - Shop your closet for a pastel coloured sweater or a bright silk shirt. Use it as starting point for your outfit. Echo the colour with a bag or clutch in a similar tone.

6. Spring mani – Rescue your winter hands and embrace the Brazil Collection by OPI. Toucan If YouTry, I Just Can’t Cope-acabana, and Red Hot Rio are some vibrant nail colours that will lift your spirits.

7. A coral lip – From drugstore cheap to designer priced – there are lip pencils that work like crayons in all shades of pink, orange and coral. Get colouring!

8. Blue or pink eye liner – If you like to experiment with makeup – try an eyeliner in a pastel colour. Give your makeup a lift with a new pencil in a bold hue.

9. New undies – Never forget that what’s under your clothes can affect how you feel. Splurge on a matching bra and panties in colourful lace. You can still feel “springy” under your winter woolies!

10. Plan a spa day – If you like to DIY, plan an hour at home for a facial mask, bath and foot scrub. Or visit your favourite spa for a body scrub and polish away that winter skin.

Spring (or the Vernal Equinox) arrives March 20 at 12:57 pm EDT – a mere eight days from now! Meanwhile, stay warm.

~Fashionably yours,

Ann @RealStyle.ca

p.s.  Heather receives an OPI nail polish of her choice from RealStyle for her question.

Post or send me your fashion questions!

 

 

 

 

Getting organized for the holidays

Holiday season is just beginning, but the sooner you start, the easier it will be! I’m a firm believer in breaking big tasks down into smaller pieces. You can use these 12 strategies at Christmas to make it a little easier for yourself.

  1. Mark all family member’s social events on your paper or electronic calendar.
  2. Make note of the events you that require you to bring food. Plan your grocery shopping and baking in advance.
  3. Plan your wardrobe choices around your social events and try on outfits in advance.
  4. Make a list of all the people you need to shop for. As you get ideas, fill in the list. Then you will never be at the mall wondering what to get. Its much easier when you know what you’re after.
  5. Buy Christmas stamps now at the post office before they run out.
  6. If you didn’t get them on sale last year, try to purchase Christmas cards, wrapping paper and napkins on sale. You can always tuck them away for next  year.
  7. Schedule beauty and hair appointments if you didn’t already do so in September!
  8. Keep your regular schedule of gym and exercise. Its a great stress reliever.
  9. Volunteer, donate or help others – that’s what this season is about!
  10. Delegate – ask family members to help with decorating, card writing, cookie baking and enjoy some time together.
  11. Indulge in moderation – you deserve to enjoy yourself too.
  12. Revel in imperfection – sometimes the burnt turkey, mismatched slippers and forgotten presents are the best part!

Its early, but let me be the first to wish you a Merry Christmas!

 

 

Mirror Mirror!

Everyone remembers those famous lines from Brothers Grimm’s Snow White “Mirror, Mirror on the wall – Who’s the fairest one of all?” Snow White’s stepmother, The Queen liked looking at herself in the mirror (mainly for confirmation – I think she was insecure!). Narcissus was another character from Greek mythology who liked his own reflection so much that he wasted away. Decorators love them! They capture light, visually expand spaces and reflect beauty. A huge, heavy framed mirror leaning against the wall is a classic and beautiful way to enhance your home’s surroundings. Ah – the mirror – who can resist them?

Courtesy of mirrorlot.com

Who can avoid them? Many of you, it seems! I consider myself fortunate that people trust me to come into their homes. I see their possessions, lives and values all around me. For that reason, most of what I see is confidential. But a common thread among the homes I’ve been in no matter what degree of organizing they need – is a lack of mirrors. I discussed this with a client and she said very insightfully, that people living without a full length mirror are not living in their bodies. It follows that an organized home (i.e. organic) should contain several mirrors at varying heights. Feng shui consultants can advise you on mirror placement in home or business for best results.

Organized closet dressing room with mirror.
Courtesy of Pottery Barn

 

MIRROR LOCATIONS 

1. Front hall – near the door – to check your hair, teeth and makeup. Smile as you go!

2. Bathroom – this room is usually small. A mirror can make it feel bigger and brighter. Mirror as much as you dare. A lit mirror with magnifier is a nice additional touch for facial closeups and shaving.

3. Bedroom or dressing room – two at least! A mirror to check your top half (accessories and hair) and VERY IMPORTANT – a full length mirror. 

4. Front hall (again!) – a full length mirror.

5. Other exit doors/additional bathrooms – a mirror please.

6. Garden – some people enjoy the addition of a mirror to a garden or patio area.

7. Anywhere – a starburst or sunburst mirror is always classic.

8. Over the mantle – antique or vintage – bevelled is nice.

9. In your purse – for a salad check after lunch.

10. Your car, locker, desk or workspace – another good place to stash a small mirror for checkups.

Why two full length mirrors? The first is so you can check your outfit as you get dressed. Its much easier to see if your top goes with your bottom if you can see the whole picture. The second one in the hall where you leave is so you can check your coat and footwear with your outfit.

Personally, I have a very hard time leaving the house if I can’t check my full reflection. I need to know there’s  no toilet paper, that my slip isn’t showing and that those pants don’t make my butt look big!

Please take care hanging your mirrors. Make sure you anchor them to the wall and use strong enough nails and wire. Enjoy the reflection!

 

Banish the Bed Head!

I consider myself fairly lucky that my hair is quite straight. It doesn’t respond too much to humidity and it generally behaves. This is when I take good care of it, blow it dry and touch it up with a straightener. If I let it dry naturally, or it gets wet between shampoos, it has a life of its own and gets “wings” and “horns”. Especially when I’m sleeping. You can picture it – that’s why they call it “Bed Head”.

Wake up with un-lined skin when you sleep on satin pillowcases

I found something that helps greatly with bed head and has the added bonus of making your face look better too! OK, maybe not your face, but the skin on your face! Its satin sheets! By satin – I mean silk, silk charmeuse, cotton sateen or good old fashioned satin microfibre (i.e. polyester,  but its not my fave). Turns out these slightly slippery fibres when used as pillowcase material keep your hair smooth, your hairstyle in place and help prevent creases in the skin while sleeping. If we spend up to one third of our lives sleeping, we may as well sleep on sheets and pillowcases that don’t mark our skin or ruffle our hair. Apparently legend has it that Hugh Hefner likes satin sheets, but maybe for another reason we won’t get into here …

If you’re like me you already have a few nice sets of sheets and don’t really want to buy silk sheets – they can be expensive and warm as they don’t breathe as well as cotton. The solution is to buy or make just pillowcases that coordinate with your existing sheets.  You don’t have to display your silk pillowcases on the front of the bed, you can tuck them in behind the pillow shams.

I purchased silk charmeuse pillowcases in a soft gold neutral colour that go with almost anything  at Bed, Bath and Beyond in Oakville (my new favourite store). They are actually the ones “as advertised on TV”. The sales clerk there led me to numerous options, unlike some major department stores where you may get a blank stare when you ask for satin pillowcases. I find my hair looks better when I get up than it did when I went to bed!

I’d love to know if you try satin pillowcases – drop me a note or comment. Did it keep your hair smooth? Your face unlined? Another good option for unwrinkled skin upon awakening is to sleep on your back (but not if you snore). Then you’d be disturbing your partner…  Bonne Nuit!

Summer do’s and don’ts for Women

OK Ladies, summer (such as it is) is here!  You didn’t think I’d only pick on the men did you? Here are a few of my suggestions for looking  your best while staying cool this summer.

DON’TS

1. Wear low cut tops, especially at work. No-one appreciates seeing “the girls” in a business setting – they are highly distracting. Pay attention if you serve the public, you may be bending over a desk or counter and giving customers an eyeful. If the top or dress you have is low cut in front, invest in a camisole or wear a thin sleeveless T underneath. Or button a sweater or jacket over top. One of my pet peeves is showing bra straps. I don’t like them, enough said. Thank you.

2. Wear clunky white running shoes with business attire. I can’t believe I have to say this, but I saw it again last week (within an hour of the black over-the-knee-boots spotting, read on). OK, we get it – you commute to work and your tired tootsies can’t handle the uncomfortable shoes you wear during the day, but there are so many other cooler options than socks and shoes: ballet flats, non-athletic sneakers, deck shoes, moccasins, low heeled sandals, espadrilles. You can walk in comfort and be stylishly cool at the same time.

3. Wear pyjamas in public. Again, I can’t believe I still see this everywhere. Hamilton where is your shame? From north to south and east to west, there are Hamiltonians wearing their pyjamas in public. They may be taking the dog out for a quick walk – or picking up a fast coffee at Timmies – or dashing into the corner store. But if you have opened your front door and walked out it, you aren’t in your living room any more! Please wear underwear and clothes if you are in public and save your adorable PJ’s for your next pillow fight or sleepover.

DO’s

1. Check the mirror before you leave the house: That flowy light coloured sundress (a definite DO and I’ve seen so many of you wearing dresses lately!) could be see-through and no-one wants to see your undies as cute as they may be. Wear a slip if necessary, or nude skin toned panties.

2. Adjust your makeup: If your makeup routine is the same day after day, season after season, its time to  adjust! Since we usually get a little sun-kissed despite daily SPF usage, try peachy pink or coral shades for lips and cheeks. Ditch the heavy lipstick colours and slick on a gloss or my favourite, a tinted lipbalm with SPF from Burt’s Bees. Waterproof mascara is great for hot days – it has good staying power and lasts through unexpected floods, crying at weddings and general sweating.

3. Dress seasonally. Gone are the days when white was only donned between Victoria Day and Labour Day. Whites and creams can be worn all year round, it is the material that determines the season, not the colour. Again, stick to natural fibres for the coolest clothes – cotton, linen or hemp. (Silk, although natural, tends to be a bit warm for summer.) Conversely, black can be worn in the summer – but please, not in the form of over-the-knee-boots which I saw last week! If you like to keep it dark, get some black sandals or a black pedi.

Thanks Ladies, for letting me have my say – have a stylish summer wherever you are – and remember, looking good is the best revenge if you happen to need it!