Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and if you adopt that philosophy, it’s a given that year-round sun protection is a necessity for long-term beautiful skin. But slathering every inch of your body with SPF can be a time-consuming, greasy mess. In addition, it’s an expensive habit that is not convenient, and even the best sunscreens do not offer 100% protection all day long–especially when exposed to perspiration and water.
In honor of May being Melanoma Awareness Month, I am so excited to share with you my favorite sun-protection tip: Solumbra clothing.
The Solumbra clothing line offers 100% UV protection in a lightweight fabrication that protects your skin all day long, without the worry of repeated applications of sunscreen. For those of you who are smart enough to protect your skin–and your children’s skin–it’s a must.
Invented by Sun Precautions President Shaun Hughes after his personal bout with malignant melanoma, Solumbra is where medical science and technology meet fashion, equalling perfect pieces for outdoor workouts, time beside the pool or on the beach, and even everyday life.
“Solumbra fabrics were patented almost 20 years ago for their novel use of fabric construction, dyeing and finishing that offer superior UV photoprotection,” Shaun said. “The fabrics do not rely on a coating or treatment that can wear off, rub off, or wash out,” he added. “The sun protection is built into the fibers and the weaving construction.”
Additionally, Solumbra fabrics go through simulated full-days of UV exposure and a rigorous 500 durability cycle test of launderings. (The industry standard, as a quick aside, is only 40 durability cycles.)
Recommended by doctors and used by professional athletes, Solumbra has the highest sun protection and durability measurements on the market according to Time Magazine.
Shaun said, “Our products protect real people, not laboratory sensors, so we need to demonstrate that Solumbra provides 100+ SPF protection.” Other companies, Shaun told me, usually only claim 50+ SPF, at maximum.
“We conduct both human (in vivo) and laboratory instrument (in vitro) testing,” Shaun explained. “Most companies only do in vitro testing. I think human testing is critical to determine photo protection and to carry out on-going quality control testing.”
In easy wearable styles and feather-light fabrics, Solumbra is the perfect answer to sweltering summer months when the sun’s damaging rays are at their peak. A typical long-sleeved Solumbra shirt weighs only 70% of the weight of a short-sleeved cotton shirt. And when you consider that a typical t-shirt only offers an SPF of a mere 7, Solumbra is clearly the intelligent choice.
If you’re sun-sensitive, or if protecting your skin is a priority, you simply must request a Sun Precautions catalog and order at least a few key pieces. Here are some of my favorite items.
Girl’s Beach Tunic, $51.95.
This bright, embroidered tunic is an adorable way to protect your child’s skin from the sun. It comes in four colors and can double as a summer dress or beach cover up. Too cute!
The Toddler Swimsuit, $49.95.
Your answer to sun protection for the littlest ones, this scuba-inspired swimsuit for toddlers fits like a glove and offers full-body coverage–in Solumbra’s unique, four-way stretch fabric–without impeding movement. It’s the sensible option for sensitive baby skin. No chemicals in this smart swimsuit!
Women’s Full Zip Workout Top, $94.95.
This shirt has it all. An athletic top with side stretch panels for a contoured fit, it can take you easily from yoga class to the farmer’s market without missing a beat. A hidden zippered pocket is ideal for stashing essentials, and a full-zip front closure means quick on-and-off. Underarm and back yoke ventilation ensure that you’ll keep your cool, and a longer back hem comes in handy when you stretch so you can maintain modesty at the same time. Perfection!
Ultra Athlete Shirt, $94.95.
It may be hard to believe, but the unisex shirt below is perfect for the most vigorous workouts in the most intense heat. With a unique ventilation system, it actually cools you down while you work up a sweat. Said marathon runner Bill Andrews, “I competed in the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley where the daytime temperature never dipped under 120 degrees. Running in Solumbra,” he said, “was an eye-opening experience. I expected it to protect me from sunburn–which it did–but I never expected it to cool me. The underarm vents circulated air around my body so that I was actually cooler running than standing still. As a result, I didn’t want to stop running, and kept going until I reached the finish line. Solumbra’s a winner, hands down.”
“Our products are both comfortable and sun protective,” Shaun said. “That’s why serious ultra marathoners choose to buy our clothing and wear it during the grueling Badwater Ultramarathon,” he added.
Women’s Ultra Athlete Full Zip Shirt, $98.95.
The women’s version of the unisex Ultra Athlete Shirt, this top is for those who are serious about their sport and their skin.
“When I wear Solumbra it’s like I’m running in the shade,” according to runner Connie Dockendorf.
Said Shaun, “The fabrics are engineered to be both sun protective while wicking moisture–a vital characteristic on hot summer days. We minimize the amount of UV that can sneak through between the threads and we elevate the fabric away from the skin to promote moisture wicking…We put a wicking finish on our Solumbra fabric to help keep you more comfortable.”
Connie stated, “During the Badwater Ultramarathon I ran in the suit, and at night one of my crew members washed it in a cooler. By sunrise my suit was completely dry, and I put it back on to run in the searing heat.”
The quick dry-time makes Solumbra excellent for travel. In fact, Solumbra clothing was deemed one of the world’s most important travel innovations by Travel & Leisure Magazine. This shirt is a pivotal piece in my summer wardrobe, and a staple in my suitcase!
The Zanzibar Tunic, $98.95.
The flattering tunic below makes a great beach cover up or the perfect hippiechick top over leggings or capri pants. With notched bell sleeves and feminine embroidery, it’s a great example of style meeting substance. Super lightweight with a flirtatious asymmetrical hemline, it’s also an ideal piece for travel because, like all Solumbra pieces, it weighs nothing and packs like a dream.
Ultra-Wide Rolled Brim Hat, $57.95.
Because sun damage is cumulative, every bit of protection makes a huge difference in the aging process. I keep this broad-brimmed hat folded up in my bag. When it comes to sun protection, preparedness is key, and this hat has come in handy more times than I can remember. Super light and crushable, it’s the best beauty investment I’ve ever made.
I also keep a pair of Solumbra fingerless driving gloves in my car to save the back of my hands from thinning skin, wrinkles and age spots.
You will become absolutely spoiled by the convenience, durability, and range of styles and sizes of Solumbra clothing. They’re ideal for, literally, all of life’s marathons!
I recently wrote an article on Crème Bralée lingerie by QT Intimates after my friend, Luis Paredes, turned me on to the brand. Luis publishes a website that’s invaluable for those in the business of fine lingerie. It’s called The Lingerie Journal, and because Luis is so plugged-in to the scene, he’s an authority on excellence in the field.
It really can be hard to find gorgeous bras with an impeccable fit in larger sizes, especially at a good price. Ordinarily a quality bra in my size would cost between $70-$200+ depending on the brand and its workmanship. But the good people at QT Intimates sent me their stunning Colette bra, $34, and answered all my prayers.
The fit is spot-on; the support is all there; and the comfort is perfection. Designed by Liz Marrell, above, of QT Intimates, this bra, which was a year in the making, is a hidden gem! The price is Playtex, but the look is La Perla! Liz cites as her influences the corsetry of Jean Paul Gaultier and the tailoring of Alexander McQueen, and it shows.
I cannot begin to explain what an incredible deal this is. Like I said, a bra of comparable quality would easily cost double this price. It’s an absolute beauty in dusty purple with gorgeous embroidered lace and a large crystal pendant in the center! It really looks like a high-end European brand. The attention to detail is rare and something you just cannot get in an American brand…until now.
The matching boyshort panty, above, is only $18.50, and it comes with the same spectacular embroidery as the bra!
I am usually reluctant to purchase lingerie via the internet, but this Crème Bralée bra is incredibly constructed and true to size. Awesome! Liz really focused on the fit, and this bra stands up against the best names in lingerie, and at an unbeatable price.
I recommend getting sized at a high-end boutique by a knowledgeable fitter, and then ordering your Crème Bralée bra on QT’s website. This price makes it easy to have more than one, and although the Colette bra only comes in this deep lovely lavender, I have heard through the grapevine that the set is also being fashioned in a rich plum! Can crimson be far behind? We would also love to see a matching thong and garter belt for this set…QT, are you listening? Please, Liz, get right on it!
Art as Fashion
If you’ve ever traveled to the Near East or opened an art history book, you’ll be familiar with the Byzantine mosaics that influenced Dolce & Gabbana’s Fall/Winter 2014 collection…not even in stores yet! Laden with lace and glistening in gold, it really is a breathtaking and brilliant display of the art that dominated ancient Istanbul–art which is still in existence today. Here’s a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the wondrous fall collection by the inimitable Italian fashion designers, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana.
The models wear intricate crowns fashioned boldly in gold, encrusted with gems, and their dresses sparkle with the decadence of shimmering mirrored tiles.
The rich and opulent colors of Byzantine art are the essential element on the runway.
Backstage are lace dresses with swirling patterns and beaded renditions of saints.
The collection includes intricately etched jeweled handbags.
The models wear heavily-gilded Eastern Orthodox cross earrings and necklaces…
…which shine brilliantly against modern scarlet red lace frocks.
The designers include some pieces that are more traditional, such as this tweed herringbone coat, but the Byzantine influence is clearly evident through their ornate gold accessories.
Still, our favorite picks are the golden mosaic dresses with bell sleeves…
…and the slinky, celestial-meets-sexy column dresses like the ones pictured above and below.
If you are looking for a luxe personalized gift to give Mom this Mother’s Day, look no further. Charlotte Olympia’s Birthday Zodiac Suede Smoking Slippers, $695, are a perfect fit.
All you need to know is her size and her sign. Charlotte has created 12 styles to choose from, one for each sign in the Zodiac, uniting luxury and whimsy in these embroidered, jewel-encrusted slippers.
My Scorpio horoscope predicts a smart purchase in my near future…
The top summer trends continue to include the color orange, lace fabrics, high-voltage prints and laser-cut fashions. Check out our current take on these elements of style in this summer trend round-up!
Orange is Everywhere
I love this Zac Posen fitted dress, $2,690, crafted from lustrous duchess silk satin in a beautiful paprika tone. Perfection.
When you want to get your brights on, opt for the nearly-neon sorbet oranges that you’ll find in all the boutiques and stores, like these tangerine latticework halter sandals by Giorgio Armani, $550. Worn with denim or an all-black ensemble, orange takes on its role as the new neutral.
Lace is Loaded
Summer’s essential lace dress gets a pop of color. Combining trends is always fun, and doing so is a snap in Josie Natori’s Lace Tank Dress, $395, above. But remember that a little orange goes a long way. If you’re wearing an orange dress, go easy on the accessories, and vice versa.
Valentino’s lace espadrilles, $475 at Nordstrom, bring a Latin flair to easy summer dressing. In basic black, these versatile flats can be worn with anything from shorts to jeans, capris to dresses. A wardrobe must!
It all started with our love for dots, but now all kinds of prints are charming the pants off everyone!
I’m wild for Roberto Cavalli’s floral print sheath dresses like the one above, $925 at Saks Fifth Avenue.
In Love With the Laser
Laser-cut fashions are going to be hot, hot, hot. Designers are just beginning to scrape the surface of this hi-tech trend.
Rebecca Minkoff’s ‘Lasercut Perfection’ Leather Tote, $495 at Nordstrom, is the perfect accompaniment to all that is orange. You can fit everything you need in this roomy laser-cut bag, whether you’re hitting the beach or hitting the books.
Most women are wearing the wrong size bra–or the wrong type of bra–for their needs. Doing so can make a woman look saggy, old and fat.
“Well-fitting lingerie should be the foundation for every great outfit,” said fit expert Margaret Mullany. Margaret works at Charmelle 28, an upscale lingerie boutique in the San Francisco Bay Area, with stores in Palo Alto, California and Burlingame, California.
“There have been ladies who have dropped dress sizes just from wearing the right size and shape bras for their figures,” she said.
“A good fitting bra will improve your posture,” she continued. “Your clothes will sit differently and it’s proven that you look slimmer, enhancing your silhouette when your bust line is where it should be.”
In addition, the weight of a breast should not be underestimated. It is necessary to wear a bra in order to support the breasts, avoiding neck and back problems.
“Customers come in complaining of an aching back, shoulder ache, a sore ribcage and a sore chest from badly-fitting bras,” Margaret stated. “It is important to ensure if you are wearing a bra that it fits you correctly. Remember every woman is an individual so what works for you may not work for the next woman. This is a good reason to see a specialist who works with women of different shapes and sizes all the time,” she added.
As if all that is not reason enough to invest in a quality bra wardrobe, consider this: Your breasts are composed mainly of fat tissue and over time they lose elasticity; wearing a bra every day can help prevent stretch marks and sagging. You should know you are wearing a bra but you shouldn’t feel extra pressure or discomfort if you have an excellent fit.
When To See Your Bra Specialist
In addition to the bras wearing out, another reason to see a specialist is the fact that a woman’s body is constantly in flux.
These changes are due to a variety of reasons–from having children, to changes in lifestyle or general hormonal imbalances. Therefore it is recommended that you should replace your bras on a regular basis, every six months to a year according to Margaret.
Factors to consider on this time frame are how many bras you have in your rotation and how well you take care of them. Remember that bras should always be hand washed in cold water with a delicate detergent such as the classic powder Forever New, or Eucalan’s Wrapture, a no-rinse wash that’s spiked with the delicious essential oil of night-blooming jasmine.
“You should get professionally fitted once or twice a year and have at least four basic bras in rotation all the time,” Margaret said. What is meant by rotating you bra? Your bra has lycra in it, if you do not let it rest it will lose its elasticity. “Think of it as a rubber band. If it is always stretched it does not go back. It’s the elasticity that gives you support.”
In addition, it’s a good idea to have more than one style of bra. Why? “Look at how many different necklines women wear,” Margaret said. Believe it or not, every style of bra gives us a different shape, which enhances each neckline.
“For example, a balconet bra goes great under a sweetheart neckline; a plunge bra works with a low V neckline; a demi-cup bra gives a clean line to a square-neck top…So if you are ever wondering how many bras you should have, think of 2 for each different neckline you wear…and don’t forget your basic, ‘everyday’ bra or your t-shirt bra,” Margaret explained.
How To Find A Good Bra Fitting Expert
I hate to break it to you, but if you think that Victoria’s Secret is high end, or that you’ll ever find an employee there who knows how the hell to measure you for a proper fit, you are sadly mistaken. Victoria’s Secret is not status lingerie. It’s the fast food drive thru experience for disposable pieces that are never going to look or feel good in the first place.
Victoria’s real secret is that they use brilliant marketing to appeal to an inexperienced audience that doesn’t know the difference between good lingerie and bad lingerie in the first place. And if all that is not enough, can you believe that this empire of undies does not sell anything higher than a DD cup? Shame on you, Victoria’s Secret, for having hoodwinked the public so completely!
In reality, Victoria’s Secret makes their bras from the most pathetic laces and dismal materials, with the shoddiest construction known to mankind. And as for an experienced saleswoman who knows how to measure you, if you’ve stepped into one of these help-yourself buffets of tacky lace and ill-fitting garments with a one-size-fits-all mentality, I need not say one more word. You must, and I repeat must find an experienced woman who is versed in measuring and fitting.
If you shop at Victoria’s Secret, I urge you to seek out an intimate lingerie boutique in your area, like the aforementioned Charmelle 28, pictured above, where they fit from a size 30A up to a 46H! And the greatest thing about it is that they have beautiful designs in a plethora of jewel tones for all sizes!
We ♥ a Great Fit
Nordstrom department stores also have an excellent lingerie department equipped with knowledgeable, trained fitters and backed with a good return policy. Today and tomorrow is the Nordstrom We Heart a Great Fit event in stores. Nordstrom’s fit stylists will have the very latest lingerie styles available, and can help you find a bra that fits perfectly. In addition, for every bra sold during this event, Nordstrom will donate $2 to the Young Survival Coalition, a charity devoted to young breast cancer survivors. It’s a great way to start your weekend.
Once you have experienced the way a quality bra feels and looks, you will be so thrilled with the results that you’ll never walk into Victoria’s Secret again!
Well it’s bikini weather and I could not be any more excited by the new Zeugari designs…especially this lace bikini–yes, lace!–from Zeugari’s naked collection. Have you ever seen anything so alluring?
And if you think it’s hot from behind…just take a look at the front! You’ll look cool coming and going in this bikini. I just love the flirtatious silhouette, but the final touch? The lace is accented with silver glitter for that extra sparkle in the sun! Sold. Rush delivery, please.