I sometimes think that life without fashion would be a mistake. There is an infinity of art and craftsmanship wrapped up in a fine wardrobe.
Currently, I am absolutely seized by the magnificence of Dubai-based Filipino fashion designer Michael Cinco, above.
Throughout history every once in a while a few flashing jewels will sparkle so brilliantly bright, influencing fashion and art with unignorable magnitude. Right now those jewels are sitting squarely in Dubai with the peerless Cinco at its helm. Cinco is bringing back luxury haute couture, the avant-garde, the fashion eccentric…and all in exciting ways that most of us could not conceive. I find his work to be some of the most beautiful art in fashion that I have ever seen.
Cinco’s unmatched creativity, uncompromising attention to detail, boundless understanding of materials and obsession with perfect tailoring have catapulted this quiet creature into internationally-famous circles, dressing both Hollywood stars and Middle East royals alike.
He has secured himself well with the Red Carpet crowd worldwide, having dressed both Rihanna, as seen above for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, and Beyoncé for her video, Haunted, below.
An indisputable genius and fashion visionary, Cinco looks at the world through a compound eye like that of a fly, perhaps a result of his giant dark eyes which must see so much–eyes that he perpetually conceals behind enormous black shades–eyes which see things differently than the rest of us.
Here are some of Cinco’s most memorable in bridal attire and haute couture. By deconstructing the typical for atypical results, Cinco yields gown after epic gown so gloriously grande that they astonish, defying description.
Above is Cinco’s favorite shot from America’s Next Top Model Cycle 16, Hippie Hannah wearing a recycled Michael Cinco gown.
Cinco pays tribute to Valentine’s Day with this crystal-encrusted concoction that is steeped in Asian undertones.
Elle China features Michael Cinco bridal 2013.
Another Cinco couture favorite, from L.A. Fashion Week.
The Russian Czarinas, above, from Dubai Fashion Forward.
“One of my biggest dreams in fashion is to see my couture dress on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York,” Cinco stated. And his wish was realized when British singer Paloma Faith wore his creation at the most prestigious event in fashion: The Met Gala, in 2013.
Supermodel Ria Bolivar spins on the catwalk in a spectacular Cinco creation.
Supermodel Rodina Luspo, above, as the Black Swan.
‘The Impalpable Dream of India,’ above and below, was Cinco’s first solo show in Philippine Fashion Week 2009. Inspired by the Maharajas of India, the dresses are fashioned almost entirely from gems.
His headpieces are works of art in their own right.
And yet more from the ‘Impalpable India’ collection, above.
More wedding couture, from 2013.
Detail from the cover of Ara Magazine in Dubai.
A Cinco creation from a 2008 Wedding Collection, above, was shown at Philippine Fashion Week.
Here are some breathtaking couture details of a Swarovski dress inspired by the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella.
The dress pictured above Cinco describes as suitable for Dracula’s Bride.
The back is equally riveting.
This gown and headpiece would make any bride blush.
And Cinco takes fashion into sci-fi with a glow-in-the-dark bridal beauty that fascinates. This dress could define an entire wedding theme, starting with a dark entrance of the bride followed by nuptials in a spotlight and ending with lights up for a full celebratory scenic moment. What genius!
We are gathered here today to celebrate a love of the most unique and the most iconic in bridal attire. Check out these outstanding options for the nuptial-bound, photographed by Anthony Maule for V Magazine.
Stylist Patti Wilson ups the ante on the avant-garde by combining an utterly unique headdress and bold, chunky pearls with fingerless gloves…for a look that makes being an accessory to matrimony utterly divine!
A Victorian ruff round the neck is the only thing that’s classic about this wedding ensemble. A white and pale grey houndstooth checked micro-kilt, patterned stockings and pig-tail braids speak of schoolgirl.
Tons of tulle and layers of lace are the dramatic backdrop for this bridal look. Love the stockings and the unconventional veil.
Here comes the bride in a lace pantsuit, bound at the waist with a satin sash. Gorgeous!
This ivory laser-cut lace gown is utterly beguiling!
A plunging neckline and complicated mix of crocheted textures reveal a rebel bridal gown if ever there was one. Roses round the neck and delicate flowers framing the face complete the look.
Makeup artist Frankie Boyd adheres silver gems with lash glue beneath the eyes for the unconventional bride. Worn with a lace capelet, the look is undeniably unique.
This blushing bride is beyond beautiful wearing an asymmetrical veil and lace smock with bell sleeves.
Year-round sun protection is the wise choice for a lifetime of beautiful skin. It’s a good idea to have in your wardrobe a hat or two to shield your face, because honestly, reapplying sunscreen throughout the day is not the most convenient process; in fact, it’s beyond high maintenance, and if you wear foundation, it’s going to ruin your canvas.
I have a deep appreciation for beautiful things, and couture hats are no exception. There will always be an occasion for a fashionable hat, but the most important thing that you want to invest in first is a very practical, collapsable sun hat that you can fold neatly in your purse so you are always prepared.
Preparedness is essential to sun protection, because you never know when you might get trapped in traffic while the sun is beating down on your face and chest. And for the sporty at heart, you will value a hat that you can just throw in your gym bag and rest assured that you will always be, literally, covered!
Solumbra garments, made by the ingenious people over at Sun Precautions, guarantee 100% SPF which is built into their fabric due to its special weave. I wrote an article on Sun Precautions here on BSSTW, and I really believe in their company. They have a wide, wide variety of intelligently-designed clothing and smart accessories (such as fingerless driving gloves, hand and face guards, parasols, and of course, their crushable, soft cloth hats.)
At reasonable prices and in endless colors and styles, you are sure to find a great hat for your needs and preferences. Remember, this is your go-to hat for protection, so don’t worry if it’s not entirely chic. This sun hat is strictly utilitarian and will become invaluable when you’re trapped in the heat.
With regard to fashion hats, you really must try them on before you purchase because everyone’s face is unique and you need to evaluate how a color and style will look with your hairstyle, skin tone and features.
This is also true with your shades. There are so many tempting sunglass styles out there available via online only. But the fit of the glasses is critical, as well as the frame size and shape and the lens color, so make sure that if you shop online, the return policy is fair and convenient.
Because the fit and comfort are so important, evaluate carefully. When you are evaluating the fit, be sure to notice whether or not the glasses are going to leave marks on the bridge of your nose or on your cheekbones. This is not a flattering look, so when investing in quality frames, take your time.
Shop high-end brands, it is so worth it. Cheap flimsy sunglasses are easily identifiable even from afar. They will never look chic. Plus they aren’t usually equipped with proper UV protection and they fall apart easily.
Some of the better brands are Tom Ford, Oliver Peoples, Oliver Goldsmith, Cutler & Gross of London, Colors in Optics, Miu Miu, Balenciaga, Matsuda, Chrome Hearts, Versace and Persol. I love Persol sunglasses on men, and they are the choice of both Jack Nicholson, who most certainly knows a thing or two about luxury, as well as the dashing Pierce Brosnan: James Bond, 007.
Personally, I have been searching and searching for a pair of unique fashion sunglasses with a heart-shaped frame, and another pair with a lot of gold, preferably gold frames and a gold mirror lens, but gold aviators look too severe on my face. And as for the heart-shaped frames, well, they always ended up looking cheap or less than glamorous. You must be very discriminating because a trend can go from flashy to tacky in the blink of an eye, all based on the details and the overall execution.
I was absolutely thrilled to find these giant heart-shaped beauties, below, made by Wildfox Sunwear, which combine everything I want in one gorgeous gilded frame.
They are the Lolita Deluxe Frame, $196, from The Trend Boutique, an online retail source for in-the-know fashionistas and countless celebrities, like Kim and Chloe Kardashian, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, and models Cara Delevingne and Kylie Jenner.
Victoria’s Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio wore the Lolita Deluxe Frame to the 2014 Coachella Music Festival. They are handmade from Italian acetate with a flash mirror lens, and look as cool with a nouveau Bohemian outfit as they do with couture.
Two hundred may seem like a lot to invest, but honestly, it is difficult to find anything in the department stores that’s both functional and fashionable for a lesser price tag…That’s why I am so delighted to share with you my new favorite source: The Trend Boutique. I adore this website, a great place for clothes and accessories with Hollywood glam, and at reasonable prices.
It’s run by three perpetually-hip chicks in L.A. These women know where it’s at in the world of fashion, they ship internationally, and they stand behind their merchandise with a friendly return policy. The Trend Boutique carries the coolest stuff–like unique body jewelry, sexy swimwear, and stuff you just cannot find anywhere else. That’s why I love shopping there.
Here are some more of my favorite sunglasses from The Trend Boutique.
Wildfox Sunwear Crybaby Deluxe Frame, $196. A celebrity favorite, this handmade metal cat-eye is a regular in Beyoncé’s summer stash. A glamorous, optical-grade gradient lens looks cool in the heat, and all while providing complete UVA and UVB protection. Now that is smart.
Quay Eyeware 1521 Sunglasses in Blue, $39. Australian-made Quay [pronounced: ‘key’] offers up a delicious daiquiri-blue translucent frame with a recessed red lens. Gwen Stefani, above, clearly covets them, and we are fond of them as well, thank you very much. Worn with a bold red lip, you’re good to go. And this low low price makes sun protection both chic and affordable, too. Love.
Quay Eyeware’s Yibrow Sunglasses in Gold, $43. A perfect circle ensures round-the-clock protection in these Beyoncé beauties, which have their own little golden-gilded hood that protects the lid and the top of the eye especially well. Those sneaky harmful rays that slide right through in other lesser designs will be blocked faster than a Facebook stalker.
Wildfox Sunwear Starstruck Frame in Silver, $174.99, marked down from $249, is a hip answer to stopping squinting. As seen on Selena Gomez, above, the oversized John Lennon-style lenses are embedded with a star design. Smoking hot!
Wildfox Sunwear Le Femme Frame in Black, $169. An exaggerated cat-eye looks fierce on Beyoncé, above. Whether you’re lounging poolside or running errands all day long in the sweltering heat, your orbs will be fully protected, because, like all Wildfox sunglasses, these retro beauties are designed using optical grade lenses that offer 100% UVA and UVB protection. Plus, they look fab on! Oh, the drama!
Wildfox Sunwear Winona Circle Frame Sunglasses in Silver/Black, $149. Miley Cyrus knows what’s up in these prominent rounded frames. Normally priced at $199, this sale makes these specs a steal!
And last but definitely not least are these tiger tortoiseshell shades favored by Gwen Stefani. They are Quay Eyeware’s Kitti Sunglasses, $43. Honestly, The Trend Boutique has some of the best deals going for hip, quality sunglasses at great prices. Compared to your Tom Fords, they are radically lower-priced, plus, and here’s the best part….You won’t go out of the house looking anything less than a celebrity! That’s one perk that’s hard to beat.
I recommend that you peruse The Trend Boutique in their sunglasses section to see what some of your favorite stars are sporting for specs. Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Nicole Richie, Kelly Osbourne and Vanessa Hudgens are all photographed in this gallery, and all while wearing their cool shades from The Trend Boutique.
While you’re at it, you can pick up a breezy lace dress or a cool ring to freshen up your wardrobe. Now that you know about this online hidden gem, easy summer dressing is just a mouse-click away! Gotta run darlings, my agent is calling. Ciao.
If you’re suiting up for summer, craving the hottest in handbags and the most stellar of sundries, you’ve just hit paydirt. Here is a list of musts for those easy days by the beach and the pool: the best bags and totes, and what to put in them.
What To Put In Them
Let’s start with the inside…because we all know that’s where true beauty begins in the first place! Summer is a great time to loosen up and lighten up–with regard to your hair and your makeup. Ironically, this can mean even more products in your handbag due to the harsh elements that will otherwise wreak havoc on your skin and hair.
I try to always pack a giant floppy collapsable hat; my shades (equipped with proper UV protection); sunscreen and mineral makeup; and of course some clips and pins for hot-weather hair. Usually I pull my hair off the face into a high pony or a tousled or braided bun for summertime. For hair, as you know by now, I love my Philip B. haircare products. The four-step hair and scalp treatment kit below, $94, contains a few of my favorite things in one travel-size bag.
Within this convenient set you can find Philip B.‘s cult-status Rejuvenating Oil, the delicious Peppermint and Avocado Volumizing and Clarifying Shampoo, his Light-Weight Deep Conditioning Creme Rinse, and the very necessary pH Restorative Detangling Toning Mist. These botanical-rich products will keep your hair shiny and manageable all through the sweltering summer months.
For skin, I make sure to have my Rodan + Fields Redefine Peptide Eye Wipes, $30, for quick clean-ups on my face and around the eye area. These things are a peptide-rich Godsend! They are the softest pre-soaked cloths…perfect on hot days, whether you’re sweaty from a game of beach volleyball or running errands in the heat. If you need a quick fix to take off your makeup at the end of the day before reapplying a fresh face for an evening out, or, if you’re just too exhausted to run the water before collapsing into bed at night, these wipes are the shiznit. They’re great for your man, too. Pack them in his gym bag and his complexion will thank you. They are so rich in peptides that you will notice a tangible difference in your skin right away. If you’re taking a day trip, stash these wipes in the cooler that is holding the food and drinks. They feel so refreshing on a hot summer day.
And speaking about refreshments…I love Susan Ciminelli’s Marine Lotion, $125. It’s a light serum that you can spray on to freshen and moisturize the skin, and it’s spiked with algae oil, one of nature’s most nourishing clock-stoppers, and other essential oils, such as calming cypress, aromatherapeutic marjoram, anti-inflammatory juniper, and antibacterial vetiver. A quick spritz or two leaves skin dewey and comfortably moisturized. This is a can’t-live-without product for too many celebrities to name…I’m absolutely addicted! You will notice from the first use how transformative this serum is. It really gives a great glow, and you can use it over the full body after you shower, under your moisturizer. Bliss!
As a quick aside, Susan produces some of the most delectable skincare products you can find, high praise from a licensed aesthetician, myself. I love her detoxifying products and masks, and you’ll get to know Susan later, when I discuss her products more in-depth. In the meantime, she has a great blog that discusses cleansing and purifying foods, complete with recipes for the skin-conscious! I recommend that everyone subscribe to her informative newsletter, complete with great recipes and helpful skin tips. You will love it.
Rodan + Fields make a wonderful collection of sunscreens for every skin type. I use their Triple Defense Treatment, $80, a sunscreen that sinks into the skin in the most luxurious way. This is part of their anti-aging skin care line, which employs the ultimate ingredients and technology for mature skin. I love the radiance it gives me, while protecting from those harmful UV rays and free-radicals.
I also pack my mineral makeup for touch-ups which will provide extra SPF all the day long. The Rodan + Fields mineral makeup, $29, is the best mineral powder in the cosmetic industry, period. The lightweight fluffy powder, developed by the two Stanford-trained dermatologists Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields, reduces redness with anti-inflammatory peptides that build collagen, and it physically blocks the sun with titanium dioxide and micronized zinc.
This powder provides a physical sunscreen block similar to the kind you used to see in the old days–the cliché lifeguard with the white strip of zinc on the nose. But this stuff buffs on beautifully and the shades are incredibly versatile and natural looking. The powder is water– and sweat-resistant, too, meaning its longevity outlasts a liquid or cream foundation. But don’t forget to touch up…Your skin will eat up the peptides, and it’s a fact that if I skip a few days of my mineral makeup, I notice less vibrancy and a little less skin density and firmness. This is a treatment product, as well as a sunscreen and a cosmetic.
The mineral makeup comes with a retractable antimicrobial brush, $37. The dense, soft, fluffy bristles are treated to repel bacteria. Isn’t that smart?
And when you are protecting your skin from the sun, do not neglect your hands. They are a dead giveaway as to your age, so take care and use a sunscreen. I am in love with the Rodan + Fields Shield Hand Balm, $43, which comes in a solid stick form and can be applied to the back of the hands only. Genius.
And that’s the dirt on what I put in my bag. Now, let’s look at the bags themselves, shall we?
The Best Beach Bags & Totes
I’m retiring my red pony hair Dior and my fabulously tactile stingray purse for something that looks lighter for summer. This gives my expensive purses a break and extends their lifespan.
It is not necessary to spend a lot on a summer bag. Invest in your skincare and haircare first, they should be your top priority. Here are some fab bags at all price points.
This is Marc Jacobs’s answer to easy summer dressing–a structured natural and black circular raffia basket bag , $198, that you can carry cross body over the shoulder or handheld. It’s chic either way.
The texture screams summer, and the smart water-resistant raffia material make this tote both pretty and practical.
Another raffia beauty, the Tory Burch Molly Crossbody Tote , $195, is a playful take on the beach bag. With whimsical fringe and adorned with puka shells and beads, this carryall speaks of far-flung chic. Exotic.
Platia’s straw bag is a steal at only $34.50. The natural color and rugged texture make this carryall a great, practical investment for easy summer dressing.
The Rugby Stripe Straw Beach Tote above, on sale for $38.99 at CWonder.com, is a roomy bucket bag that will stash everything stylishly.
I love everything by Lanvin, and this beautiful woven straw tote, $360, is trimmed with a leather snake print double handle and grosgrain ribbon.
YesStyle offers up a chic on the cheap Striped Straw Tote in Coffee, above, for a mere $14! Now that’s a bargain!
Check out the fabulous wooden beads and the braided organic texture, below.
And finally, a blizzard of butterflies makes the beautiful backdrop on Valentino’s Butterfly Camouflage Tote Bag, $3,995, available at Neiman Marcus by pre-order only.
This bag already sold out at Saks Fifth Avenue online, but if you happen to have four grand lying around…plus tax…this bag could be all yours. You better hurry though, cuz it will sell out again. Trust me.
I love the vivid colors, the richly textured mix of canvas and napa leather, and the raised laser-cut butterflies which have been painstakingly stitched on for a 3-D effect. This bag is a real beauty, even more striking in person.
Valentino has captured the essence of one of fashion’s hottest trends (and one of nature’s most complex creatures) in this spacious and most coveted square tote with winged sides. You can take this bag to the boardwalk or to the boardroom without boredom. It’s just that versatile, completely appropriate for any venture, and oh so striking. Plus the craftsmanship is unparalleled. It’s Valentino, after all. The wearability, the quality of materials and workmanship, and the versatility and utter gorgeousness is what you get when you shell out four racks for a luxury couture handbag such as this.
Next up? Hats and shades. I hope you’ll join me. See you soon.
Summer is in full swing, and that means the beach will be bustling. How to look great for a day at the beach or pool? Here’s our definitive guide, with fashionable beach essentials from suits to coverups to the best beach statement jewelry, all perfectly poised for the warm days ahead.
Swimsuits & Coverups
There are a few exciting features of modern swimwear that make a day at the beach or pool effortlessly glamorous. Check out these stylish stand-outs.
Zeugari makes some of the hottest suits around, and this white scorcher, the Snakebite Monokini, is no exception. I love the sophisticated brushed gold snake hardware, studded with crystals for extra sparkle in the sun.
Creative jewelry is going to be a powerful force in the future of fashion. I’m totally into facial and body jewelry, and you’re going to be seeing a lot of it. Adding a feminine pearl headdress and Zeugari’s sexy Sol Tunic, above, will take the Snakebite Monokini into evening with ease. All of Zeugari’s kaftans, btw, are made of the softest silk chiffon, hand-embroidered, and painstakingly crafted to meet the highest standards of luxury.
The Cutout Skimpy One-Piece Swimsuit from Beach Bunny, above, is a slightly sportier version of the monokini. With a dramatic goldtone zip front, you can decide just how much cleavage to show when you show off in this beautifully-designed suit. Hot.
And the Fishnet Sexy Strappy One-Piece from Beach Bunny, above, is a dangerously seductive solution to summer beach and poolside glam. With gold rivets across the top and a flesh-toned lining, you’re sure to turn some heads. Try wearing it with a diaphanous black sarong and some metallic gold flat sandals…Bliss.
Lace & Crochet
I love lace and crochet accents in the summer time, especially by the beach and the pool. The weave of the yarn reveals a pattern of peekaboo flesh that is nothing short of tantalizing, and the texture adds visual interest.
The turquoise number above, The Marley One Piece from Indah Clothing, combines the best of today’s current trends: it’s completely hand-crocheted and in the color blue, with a monokini silhouette and a flurry of fringe. Eye-catching, to say the least. This sizzling suit was featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. I love it.
Another crocheted cutie is the Koh Samui lavender and pink Brazilian-bottomed bikini, also from Indah and also featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
I love the intricate macrame, mix of baby pastels, high-cut thong and long trailing fringe at the racer back. In other words: Everything! Flawless. Now that is one sexy bikini! Ooh la la.
A vivid crocheted kaftan, like the one above, is a great option for a sexy coverup. Worn over a bright bikini or a cami and shorts, it’s perfection in pink.
The bright coral neoprene Sazerac One Piece from Indah, above, is a sporty yet seductive take on the cut-out trend.
With creative cutouts, you can reveal just a lot…or just a little. It’s entirely up to you. The strapless Grasshopper Coverup from Indah features a macrame web around the midriff.
And cutouts on the side of this slinky dress sculpt the waist and slim the torso in a clingy beautiful black.
Jeweled Accents and Glistening Hardware
Let’s face it: there’s not much real estate on any swimsuit, so you must make the most of it. Jeweled accents and glistening hardware are a chic way to amp up the drama.
I am obsessed with the shimmering suit above–the Sequin Beaded Triangle Top and Tie Side Bottom from Beach Bunny, that features teeny golden sequins and gorgeous beaded straps. Add an armful of bangles and you’re good to go.
The style of this bikini is purely provocative. Check out the front, above….
….And the sexy shirring in back.
The aptly-named Unbridled monokini is striking in jet black. It looks so current with a brushed gold belt. Designed by Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Irina Shayk for Beach Bunny, it is, quite simply, a show-stopper!
The hardware on this bikini renders jewelry unnecessary. But if you so desire, you may add a beaded Zeugari tunic, below, and bold gold earrings, teamed with a wide cuff bracelet, for evening.
I love unique jewelry, and fashion is addressing my passion with a new breed of accessories.
The jewelry might be freestanding, in elaborate crowns and tiaras (think Dolce Gabbana), foot bracelets, toe rings, jeweled gloves, fingernail armor, and of course belly chains, as seen above on Behati Prinsloo in the new Seafolly campaign. I will be discussing the changing face of jewelry in an upcoming article, so if you’re not quite sure what jeweled gloves and fingernail armor are, you will find out soon enough, and you will love it!!!
Or the jewelry may, in fact, be part of the garment, built right into it–from swimsuits with hardware and beading, to headdresses ornate with facial jewelry, or gowns and kaftans with heavily-jeweled detail work, like this one by Zeugari. It’s the Madras Moroccan Tunic. Just look at the detail on this filmy silk wonder with dramatic, butterfly sleeves.
Everything is perfectly in place…from the opulent hand embroidery to the delicate beading and bronze flowers that adorn this 100% silk chiffon beauty. Love is in the details.
As with all of Zeugari’s garments, the craftsmanship in this kaftan is unbelievable. Zeugari use the finest materials and their designs and attention to detail is unmatched! With a coverup like this, you don’t need a single accessory; just slip into a sarong or a pair of capri pants and you can wear the elegant ensemble practically anywhere! To die for!
There are endless dramatic looks you can create with accessories in the summertime, but body jewelry is my new thing. Here are some unorthodox ways to embellish your bod. Beach Bunny’s Pretty Edgy gold-plated body chain, above, is only $28 and is a modern, seductive accessory that transforms an ordinary suit into sweet.
I am especially fond of the Jeweled Body Chain above, also $28, which features hot-pink beading and a gold charm. Looks great with the neon swimsuit below.
Wear it with beachy waves, giant gold hoop earrings, and a tan. You could also throw on Zeugari’s Laetus Tunic with some denim shorts, while letting your swimsuit and body jewelry peek out seductively from one shoulder.
Foot jewelry is yet another creative trend in accessories, and Zeugari sells foot bracelets by the pair for only $15.
Decorate just one foot when you’re barefoot on the beach, or glam up simple sandals with the pair for an exotic beach chic on-the-cheap. The jade one above would look great with black or white, adding a necessary pop of color.
Or make it monochrome with Zeugari’s Snakebite Triangle bikini, which features the same gold snake jewelry as the Snakebite Monokini.
The foot jewelry comes in nine other brilliant colors….Match them with your pedicure.
More & More Statement Jewelry
More is more in jewelry right now. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Irina Shayk, above, sports giant brass rope necklaces and wide cuff bracelets. Don’t be shy; go bold and brave and wear your pieces, both small and large, with unapologetic glamour. Stack an arm full of wooden bangles, for example, as seen below.
Mix and match large pieces with lesser ones. Slim bangles occupy the same arm as the nautical Starfish Cuff, $25, below. I love this bracelet, and it’s a great price for that kind of realistic workmanship. The detail is just gorgeous, and it’s so appropriate for the beach and easy summer dressing.
Now all you need is a giant floppy hat, a beach tote and some hip shades. Well, you’re in luck. We’ll get to all of that next. See you at the beach.
As I discussed in our first article in this series, there is a time to scrimp and a time to splurge on beauty supplies. It is a fact that higher-quality brands cost more for good reason, and that not all cosmetics are created equal. But in this age, having the best of everything can be impossible, or it can really strain your budget at the very least. In the first article, we have established that investing in great skin care and a high-quality, treatment-based foundation and/or mineral powder is the way to go. Now, here are some more products that you can scrimp or splurge on: Powders & Creams, Eyeliner & Mascara.
Blushers, eyeshadows and highlighting powders from the expensive brands are more finely-milled than drugstore brands, meaning easier blendability and a satiny application. You can also get by with using less product, so you save money by investing in the better brands, but sometimes it’s hard to justify spending $90 on a Guerlain eyeshadow palette, above, despite its luxury formula and stunning packaging.
In addition to the powder being more finely milled, the colors of expensive brands are often much better as well. Cheaper cosmetic companies do not capture the essence of nuanced tones. Colors are often more obvious and amateurishly executed, and metallics can look foiled instead of luminous. Therefore, when bargain shopping for color you must go forth with a very discriminating taste.
Blush need not be costly. My number one tip is regarding color, and my number two tip is regarding application, and my number three tip is regarding the formula. First, you must choose a subtle color, not a garish one, and use sparingly across the apple of the cheek from directly under the pupil swept toward the ear. Be judicious. Nothing looks more desperate and crazy than a girl all dolled up with too much blush, or with misplaced blush, which can widen the face and make it look fat. Finally, powders always go on last, and it is often best to use the same formula that you last left on your face when dealing with powders and creams–ie.–if you put on a cream-based foundation, you can use a cream blush, unless you powdered it down. In that case, use a powder blush. And did I say be judicious?
Makeup artist Sonia Kashuk makes great powder and cream blushers for Target, $9.79. These blushers are a bargain compared to MAC blushers, which cost more than double that price, or Tom Ford blushers, which sell for $56. It is just not necessary to spend that kind of money on blush. Sonia’s colors are excellent and you will use a small amount.
It really is nice to work with eyeshadows that are finely milled with the consistency of confectioner’s sugar. But these eyeshadows can break the bank. If you can afford Dior and Guerlain, go for it…Those are two of my favorite brands.
But if you’re working on a restricted budget, choose to invest in your skin first and foremost, because Sonia Kashuk also makes great eyeshadows, $13-$20, in lovely palettes above and below, that resemble Urban Decay’s Naked collection you’ll find at Sephora.
My favorite eyeshadows actually come from a cosmetic and brow boutique in Southern Cal. It’s the ever-fabulous Senna Cosmetics, founded by cosmetic giant, Eugenia Weston. Because I am not a working makeup artist, I am completely content buying single eyeshadows in lieu of a palette of shades. Eugenia’s eyeshadows come in never-ending finishes and the hippest colors. The singles are $18 each. Invest in two or three and you should be good to go. If the price point is still too high, you can always get a palette by the aforementioned Sonia Kashuk.
The highlighting powder you use on your cheekbones and eyes should be a shimmering flesh tone, and it’s great to have a bright white highlighting powder as well. These are good basic products to have that will give you a highly-dramatic glam look, as seen above or, a casual dewy beach glow all year round. You are using an infinitesimal amount, remember, but the subtlety of the color is everything. The shimmer should be rich and warm, the texture, silky smooth so that your skin looks radiant and flawless. Darker skinned women and the fair-complected can both go for the custom blended pigments by Giella. You will need the peachy-pink, golden-coppery hue, Eye M Glam, below right, and the brilliant white B-Dazzle, left. I’ve shown swatches below.
I loooove the Eye M Glam–Giella’s custom blended highlighter, created by one of my absolute favorite makeup artists–Kim Kardahshian’s makeup artist, Mario Dedivanovic. It’s $35, and it is awesome! Worth every cent.
Do you see the radiance of Kim’s skin in the photo above, where she is pictured with Dedivanovic? Look at the highlight on her brow bone and cheeks. That’s Mario’s Eye M Glam at work. It’s not too frosty or too metallic. And it is so fine that it practically melts into the skin. Gorgeous. If you prefer a cream highlighter, you absolutely must try SeneGence International’s liquid Pearlizer. A bottle of this stuff should last you, literally, at least two years. I’m not even exaggerating. You just need a teeny bead of product and it gives the same effect as the Eye M Glam, but in a luscious cream formula. Read my review about the Pearlizer here.
These highlighting products are necessary splurges, and the product will last hella long so it’s worth the investment.
It is best to have a collection of both kohl and crayon pencils and one liquid liner at the least. Pencils can be from the drugstore. Maybelline Ultra Liner waterproof liquid liner in black is a must-have. It’s six bucks at Target. And I also like the felt-tip pen liquid liners made by MAC and Senna Cosmetics. With these products you should be able to create any desired outcome on the eyes.
Mascara is worth investing extra money if you have it. Sisley’s mascaras are awesome, and the wand for their So Intense mascara, above, is very specific, meaning it traps every single hair, and it comes in a cool assortment of colors. I like the blue one. It’s a really great formula, and I love it, but it’s $66. Ellis Fass makes a very nice mascara, although it is hard to find in America. I believe you can only get it at Net-A-Porter. I get most of my makeup free from the cosmetic companies, but I sometimes have to buy mascara because it’s that one thing that goes bad rather quickly, and should be replaced regularly before it dries out.
If you don’t want to spend a ton on mascara, L’Oreal makes good ones. I like their Voluminous Mascara. It’s a good choice.
This concludes our second segment on scrimping and splurging. Next stop: Lips. I will summarize the best in beauty at pleasing price points. Until next time…Peace. Love. Beauty.
Scrimp or Splurge?
Well, I just got finished taking one of those dumb, mind-numbing surveys that you find online….and by ‘one of those surveys’ I mean it was a quiz regarding beauty products. Test your knowledge, they said, and take this valuable quiz: can you navigate the makeup aisle? Are you a savvy shopper? Okay, so here goes. I’m going to share with you a couple of the questions and then we’re going to set the record straight on how you really shop for skin care and cosmetics…When do you scrimp, when do you splurge, and what do I, a beauty editor and licensed aesthetician, buy and use on a regular basis?
True or False: You can use a tinted lip balm or lipstick as a creamy blush substitute. Duuuuuh! True.
Then, the creators of said quiz feel compelled to further clarify the matter: “Good news: If you’re short on cash, creamy lipsticks and tinted lip balms also function as cream blushes. To create a rosy glow or a romantic flush, apply these makeup multi-taskers to the apples of your cheeks with your fingertips.” Oh geesh. Elementary, am I right? Blush is one product that you can scrimp on, as long as you know how to apply it correctly. But that’s another subject for another article.
Next question. True or False: Expensive makeup products work better than cheaper drugstore brands.
Here is a tricky one. They said the answer is false. “The amount of money you spend on makeup,” the survey advises, “has little to do with the uniqueness of the formulation, the quality of the product or even its effectiveness. In fact, many drugstore brands offer similar or better results compared with the pricey potions sold in department stores.”
Wrong! That is completely and unequivocally false. It’s an ignorant statement, and I can assure you without a sliver of doubt that there is a time to scrimp, but there’s also a time to splurge on quality products that can make a sizable difference in your appearance, your extrinsic aging and your lifestyle.
Skin care: Splurge.
It is best to invest in quality skin care your entire life. When you are in your teens and twenties, you need make less of an investment, but sunscreen is always mandatory, and you’d better make it a good one.
As you age you will need to begin incorporating vitamin C, certain acids, peptides and retinol. These ingredients are costly, but it is important to note that you will use much less product if the ingredients are potent and active, and formulated intelligently, ie–expensive. With high quality skin care, you need such an infinitesimal amount–a fraction of the amount you would use with a drug store brand.
Quality skin care is more expensive for many reasons and you’re not just paying for sexy marketing and gorgeous, gold-tipped jars with exotic names. On the contrary, some of the best skin care that I have ever used does not come in fancy packaging at all…The smart cosmetic company will invest in what is inside the bottle, not the packaging itself.
Potency is always an issue. Cheap skin care companies do not have the same levels of active ingredients that you will find in expensive skin care. Ingredients like peptides and vitamin C are costly and must be thoughtfully determined by the chemist so that you get significant results. Vitamin C, for example, must be handled a certain way for it to maintain its stability, while peptides must be of very high quality and used generously.
Because all this is expensive, most cosmetic companies are guilty of ‘sprinkling.’ This is a term used when they add just enough of a beneficial ingredient–such as peptides–into their product so they can make impressive-sounding claims, but not enough to show any efficacy. Or, the quality of the peptides used might be of a low variety. Just because the bottle says it has a certain ingredient in it, doesn’t mean your skin will see the benefit from that ingredient. It could be the combination of ingredients, and how they work synergistically. You must invest in a quality regime for the current needs in your life cycle, and one that is backed by science and statistics. The company should have a reputation of complete and utter integrity. I cannot urge you enough to do your research on the company you are supporting.
Nothing looks worse on the skin than bad foundation…Whether it’s too orange-y or too chalky, whether it settles in lines and pores or melts under pressure. You must start with a good base. Troubled skin is one matter: see a great dermatologist. A cheap or ill-matched foundation–even on young healthy skin–just looks awful. It’s unprofessional and distracting. A good foundation will blend right into your face and you should be able to apply only to spot areas when needed without demarcation.
If you have truly flawless skin you are either the result of superior genetics, or you’ve had a deep peel recently. I love Jessner peels. Ask your skin doc if it’s right for you. A deep peel from a qualified doctor or aesthetician can transform your complexion radically, and they’re not even that expensive.
Aces of Bases
So, you may not need foundation, but it’s always nice to have the option of a little more coverage. Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer is a good solid product. Personally, I use Amore Pacific’s Moisture Bound Tinted Treatment Moisturizer, $70, from Neiman Marcus, and it is nothing short of divine.
It’s oil-free, with a velvety consistency that is extremely workable due to its fine texture. The coverage is perfect, the colors are very natural looking, and it smells amazing, and all with an SPF 15.
The best news, however, is that it’s great for your skin. This is the difference between cosmetics of today versus cosmetics just five years ago–they treat and condition in addition to perfecting…It’s a new age in cosmetics and you may have heard the term ‘cosmeceuticals.’ That’s because many, many products are attacking skin concerns while providing excellent, appropriate coverage.
Amore Pacific harvests bamboo from Jeju Island, off the coast of Korea. The island is known for its volcanic mineral-rich soil and the bamboo sap extracted from the plant is super hydrating. Amore Pacific cleverly uses bamboo sap in lieu of water, so the product becomes richer, not watered down. The sap supports the production of hyaluronic acid, which binds moisture to the skin. In addition, it’s a powerful antioxidant, 200 times stronger than vitamin C. The amino acid-rich sap offers instant and long-term hydration, improves skin’s self-defense with essential minerals, and increases cellular regeneration to provide radiance and a youthful skin density, and like I said, it’s oil-free. This is an amazing product!
You will not find this type of research or these ingredients in any cheap drug store product. Modern quality cosmetics treat, repair and protect the skin while you are making up.
A good tinted moisturizer is a nice way to get a sheer bit of coverage. It is important to remember, however, that tinted moisturizers, although they usually do contain a sunscreen, do not offer enough sun protection and you should use a daily SPF underneath.
I have seen some serious skin problems from not wearing adequate protection. Pigmentation is a formidable enemy of perfect skin. It’s always best to prevent damage, instead of trying to undo it. Melasma, or pigmentation, is a stubborn, stubborn condition and requires the kind of diligence that is, no joke, life-changing…in a highly-inconvenient way! Just ask any girl struggling with melasma, they will tell you. It means, sunscreen, 24–7, even indoors, and you must seriously limit your sun exposure, even then. One little exception to the rules–one quick drive down to the corner store sans sunscreen–can be a setback that can mean months if not longer of intensely working to reverse and repair, and all while trying to prevent new pigment from popping up.
I don’t wear my Amore Pacific Moisture Bound every day. In some circumstances I will wear sunscreen, only, on a bare skin, or, conversely, I may want more coverage than my tinted moisturizer can provide. If coverage is what you crave, top your tinted moisturizer with a good mineral makeup, or go for one of these foundations: Guerlain’s Lingerie de Peau; Giorgio Armani’s Maestro Foundation; Ellis Faas; Eve Pearl Compact Foundation; or Shiseido’s Moisture Mist Beauty Cake Foundation (made in New Zealand). The last is a recommendation from my brilliant friend Susan Markovic, a makeup artist in Australia, who swears by this product. She deems it the best in the biz, yet, she tells me, very little is heard about it.
If you have a little problem area here or there that needs some extra coverage, try building your coverage by tapping a bit more product on the troubled areas. Then, build your coverage further with a high quality mineral makeup dusted on top. Or tag team the area with concealer followed by mineral makeup.
I often forgo any liquid base entirely in lieu of my Rodan + Fields mineral makeup, which is truly remarkable. This stuff is packed with peptides, and therefore is also a skin treatment. In addition to the powerful peptides, the mineral makeup creates an occlusive barrier between the skin and the sun–a chemical-free SPF that you can touch up throughout the day, and every time you do it, you are drenching your skin in valuable peptides. Brilliant. The brush that they sell is densely packed with the softest, fluffiest antimicrobial synthetic bristles. Antimicrobial? Rodan and Fields, these docs, I swear, they think of everything. They are genius.
If you choose to use a concealer, the best ones are Eve Pearl’s Dual Salmon Concealer, above, (moist) and Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (dry).
Use a dry concealer for acne and oily areas on the face; use a moist concealer under the eyes where the skin is more delicate, dehydrated and prone to wrinkling.
That sums up the beginning of our series on scrimping and splurging. Stay tuned for the next installment. You’ll thank me later. Love you.