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…
Mother’s Day is May 12, and if you’re looking for something special for the Grand Matriarch in your life, here is a collection of unique gifts at all price points.
Sweet Sachets, $38. Gump’s department store has a beautiful collection of sachets to keep in her lingerie drawer or cedar chest. I am especially fond of the triplet above, made from textiles used for Japanese children’s costumes and scented with a blend of roses, orange blossoms and violets.
Sea Sponges, $8.97. A real natural sea sponge elevates bathing into something nearly sacred. Remember, faux sea sponges, like the kind you find at Target, are not the same as real sea sponges, which are harvested conservatively from the ocean floor. A natural sea sponge will last for years if properly cleaned and cared for. NaturalBathandBodyShop.com sells a sea sponge sampler for under $10. You get three sponges, which make great gifts, especially if you bundle them with a shower gel or bubble bath. Throw in a natural loofah for an additional two bucks; it’s the perfect tool for exfoliation. Read more about sea sponges, including how to clean and care for them, here.
Zoya Professional Nail Lacquer, $8.99. Zoya nail polishes are free of formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate and camphor. Even better, the polishes are super shiny with a long-lasting chip-free formula, and come in a seemingly endless array of tempting juicy colors and finishes. At this price you can afford to give her more than one! Buy them at Whole Foods when you pick up your organics, or go to Zoya.com to see the full collection.
Pacifica Tahitian Gardenia Value Collection, $30. The price point on this gift set from the eco-conscious Pacifica brand makes this an irresistible choice for Mom. A $50 value, it includes a luscious body butter, fabulous body wash and the convenient one-ounce perfume spray to spoil Mom completely, and all at a bargain price. Buy it now and you get free ground shipping on orders of $25 or more through Mother’s Day!
Eucalan Wrapture No-Rinse Delicate Wash, $13. This gentle wash comes highly recommended by my friend Luis Paredes, publisher of TheLingerieJournal.com. Made for lingerie and other delicates, it’s a no-rinse formula, meaning one less step in the washing process for Mom; plus, with night-blooming jasmine, it will scent her hand-wash-only items with the intoxicating essence of the flower. Perfect for lingerie-lovers and knitters alike!
Branché 22 Momme 100% Silk Queen-Sized Pillowcase, $84. Where luxury meets necessity. A silk pillowcase from BeyondBeds.com has real, documented beauty benefits, plus it’s a super-luxe way to spoil her with something she’d never get herself–unless you’re me. They come in 10 beautiful colors, but the gold is so shimmeringly gorgeous I can hardly stand it!
Brighton Coin Purses, $52. I love the whimsical leather coin purses by Brighton. They come in many witty designs, but this kitty is so cute that I just may buy it for myself!
With a French clip top closure and clever leopard lining, Mom can keep track of all that loose change neatly and fashionably.
UGG Fluff II Flip Flops, $79.95. I absolutely have to have these insanely comfortable-looking UGG house slippers from Nordstrom, even though I’m not a mother. In flamingo-pink shearling with a gossamer ribbon bow, they’re perfect for spa days. Add a gift certificate for a pedicure for a truly swank gift.
Tangle Teezer, 16.99. This beauty essential detangles even the craziest snarls and backcombing, so that broken hair and split ends will be a thing of the past. Because it’s so darned cute, it’s almost hard to take the Tangle Teezer seriously, but it seriously works! A must for all Moms, kinky and straight alike! Read more about the this cool invention by celebrity hairstylist Shaun P. here.
Sisley Soir de Lune Eau de Parfum, $188. A lingering romantic floral, Soir de Lune is not a new fragrance by Sisley, but it is new to me and I love it! Perfect for spring and summer, it’s light, sweet and elegant. In a heavy crystal bottle with an art nouveau cap, it will look sublime on her dressing table. The perfumed shower gel, $89, and perfumed body cream, $128, are pure decadence!
Philip B. Mother’s Day Gift Sets, $28-$275. Enjoy a fat 20% discount on all Mother’s Day gift sets by Philip B. She’ll love working up a lather with Philip’s pampering elixirs–unmatched in quality–that will spoil her from head to toe! Right now there’s something on sale for every woman.
Paper Source Custom Stamp Gift Set, $39.95. As seen in Real Simple magazine, this custom stamp is a best-seller and the elegant way for Mom to leave her mark.
With endless design options to choose from, this stamp will dress up invitations, return address labels and all her other correspondence, and all at a smart price.
Pepper Passion Custom Salt and Pepper Mills by Bruce Morgan, $120-$600 each. We saved the best for last! As featured in Gourmet and Sunset magazines, these fabulous salt and pepper mills, hand-crafted from luxury exotic woods, elevate any table setting to an art form. The mills are both functional and beautiful, making a grand conversation piece. Each mill is signed by the artist.
I love my pair of Zebra Wood mills so much…
…but check out the beauties above, crafted from Rosewood Burl, $600 each!
And of course Mom would love to try Bruce’s sampler packs of exotic salts and peppercorns from around the world. Spice up her life with these uncommon condiments!
There you have it–13 Unique Presents of Greatness for Mom on Mother’s Day!
I must confess that I have a terrible weakness for my Jo Malone colognes in Orange Blossom and Red Roses, but at $60 for one ounce, the cost to remain lusciously fragrant is a little steep. That’s why I am thrilled to have found a cost-effective addition to my fragrance collection.
Pacifica fragrances, sold at Whole Foods markets and online, are my newest treasure. I really love the scents in this line, my favorites being the Tahitian Gardenia, inspired by Tahiti’s sacred flower, and the equally unforgettable Persian Rose.
Wear the florals together and it’s reminiscent of walking through blooming gardens in Europe. Or try Island Vanilla, a sweet and warm scent that stands on its own. Best of all is the price. A one-ounce spray is only $22, but I absolutely love the fact that the fragrances, which come in a bevy of yummy scents, are also available in a convenient perfume roll-on, above, $12, as well as in solid form, below, $9, making them super convenient, portable and affordable!
You can throw them in your gym bag or purse and rest assured that you’ll smell sweeter than the competition, and all at a smart price.
The company, co-founded by the beautiful Brook Harvey-Taylor, above, is also extremely eco-conscious so you can feel good about supporting Pacifica. In addition to their partnership with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Future’s Society–dedicated to preserving our global ocean–Pacifica recycles and uses post-consumer materials. All their boxes are 100% recyclable, and their company goal is to have zero product-manufacturing waste in their factory.
Pacifica fragrances also come in eco-friendly soy candle form, $22, made with lead-free wicks. I am dying to try the company’s coffee/sugar detox scrub, $28, above, and their tempting variety of body butters, $15 for 8 ounces. This is an awesome value, and they’re sure to drench dry skin in much-needed moisture because they are rich in shea butter and almond oil. Perfect for a Mother’s Day gift.
Now every woman on a budget can smell delectable 100% of the time! My work here is done.
Black lace is always right, but brilliantly-hued underpinnings definitely do not go unnoticed. Take a look at these bright ideas from Agent Provocateur.
The Winnie babydoll, above, combines rich navy tulle with whimsical red embroidered polka dots for a look that is innocent yet unmistakeably siren. Perfect for domestic chores such as dishwashing, among other things…
Matching bra and panty and red-banded stockings complete this playful look.
The Lavelle set, below, in bright fuschia stretch satin, is hard to miss.
Think pink for Valentine’s Day in this stunning ensemble. Dotted stockings add visual interest.
The set is embellished with alluring cutouts and eyelash trim.
The Birthday Suit bra, in brilliant crimson, above, is a lightly padded 1/4 cup bra that can be worn with heart-shaped sequined pasties, under a babydoll or a sexy dress. You can always wear it under something completely casual, too, for an element of surprise.
Margot, in deep cobalt blue, is a bandage-style wrap over bra and matching thong fashioned from exquisite stretch French lace. He’ll most certainly enjoy unwrapping his Valentine’s Day present this year if you snag this scorching set.
The Luna slip, above, in clingy hot pink silk georgette, is the perfect naughty nightie for a svelte-figured girl, while the Novah kimono, below, is stunning on any figure.
Orange is overt in this tangerine-hued set below named Brittnie. It’s not that innocent.
A Thousand Words
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but that shouldn’t stop you from leaving him speechless this Valentine’s Day with a gift that will astonish him—steamy boudoir pictures of yourself, shot by a professional photographer. It’s not too late to give him a present he’ll never forget.
“A boudoir shoot is an incredible experience—an opportunity to unleash your inner temptress,” said Jennifer Skog, a San Francisco Bay Area photographer who specializes in the boudoir genre. “We prep, style and shoot with a fashion spread in mind. The end result is a day of glamour and passion with magazine-ready images to show for it,” she stated.
“For women who are considering a boudoir shoot, I would tell them not to wait a moment longer,” said Lily Yip, San Francisco Bay Area boudoir photographer. “We, as women, tend to be very critical of ourselves, and more often than not I hear women say stuff like ‘Let me lose ten pounds first.’”
“My boudoir photography is about natural beauty in a comfortable and sweet environment,” Lily continued. If you are self-conscious about a certain part of your body there are lots of way to disguise it with the appropriate attire. “Choosing the right clothing and finding a photographer who knows how to pose various body shapes in flattering lighting will help achieve beautiful results.”
“I always ask my clients which part of their body is their favorite and which part is their significant other’s favorite so mentally we can focus on the positive aspects of her body,” Lily added.
If you still feel nervous doing a boudoir shoot, remember that you can always opt for romantic face shots instead.
Sue Bryce, who created these head shots, is a portrait photographer who also shoots boudoir. Sue was awarded Australia’s Portrait Photographer of the Year in 2011 and 2012. Remember that you do not necessarily need to seek out boudoir photographers specifically. A skilled portrait photographer, like Sue, might be a better bet. Do not eliminate the possibility of fashion photographers either. Just make sure you do your research first, and make sure above all that you love their portfolio pieces.
Shots Fired: Finding a Good Photographer
Choosing the right photographer is the number one priority for anyone interested in a boudoir shoot. The best way to find one is by starting with Yelp reviews and looking online. The artist’s portfolio will be the best indication of whether they are a good fit, but don’t just blindly go with the first person you interview. Chemistry is of utmost importance.
“Usually it takes at least 30–60 minutes for someone to get comfortable in front of the camera—with any type of shoot—let alone something seductive and half-dressed. For this particular reason, we do not offer anything less than a full day of shooting. We want to get a lot of successful shots and to do this, we feel we need that time to not only give the complete experience but to get those shots that we want for our client,” said Jennifer.
A talented photographer will put you at ease and capture your unique beauty in any stage of life, including times such as pregnancy. In addition, they can correct and conceal flaws with good lighting and poses.
“The best way to choose a photographer is equal parts portfolio and client reviews,” stated Rhiannon Panopoulos, owner of Alloria Winter Studios. “You can have a wonderful photographer that is unorganized with poor client service skills. “The best of both worlds is desirable and achievable,” she added.
When interviewing photographers, make sure to ask them about their experience with PhotoShop. “Even the most perfect of bodies have imperfections,” said Jennifer. “We direct in a way that will hide those imperfections while enhancing the assets. Additionally, I am a master at PhotoShop. I’m a perfectionist and I’m a woman…I know how we look at ourselves in a photograph and I know how to touch it up.”
PhotoShop skills are an integral way to make a good image an exceptional image. “This is another way for a photographer to place their stamp and style on their work,” said Rhiannon. “Many clients have personal insecurities such as skin issues or body concerns. It is an added plus to have a photographer that can remove or help these insecurities,” she added.
Kiss and Makeup
It’s important that you like the hair and makeup in the photographer’s portfolio images. Ask the photographer what makeup artists they like to work with and get names. You may want to do a trial makeup session before the shoot so you can best communicate the look you desire.
Take the time to pinpoint shots and makeup that you don’t like by bringing in magazine pictures, so the photographer and makeup artist are even better informed of your preferences.
If you cannot afford Agent Provocateur, or if you have no idea what to wear for the shoot, many boudoir photographers offer a selection of gorgeous lingerie and jewelry to choose from.
“Victorian courtesan, femme fatale or ethereal deity–we have everything you need to make you feel the part,” said Rhiannon. From shoes by Christian Louboutin to jewelry from Tiffany & Co., you can choose from the best in fashion to create your own signature look.
Preparing For the Shoot
“Physically, we have a whole list of recommendations to get your body and skin looking its best before the shoot,” said Jennifer. “A week before we suggest staying away from food items that may make you bloated, as well as certain lotions that may cause the skin to peel and show up under makeup. We recommend exfoliating your skin one week before, drinking lots of water, and refreshing your hair color and trim if necessary. The day before we suggest certain maintenance like tweezing the eyebrows, shaving hair from everywhere, and getting a fresh mani-pedi.”
If you just can’t make the deadline this Valentine’s Day, book a shoot anyway and give him the photos for no reason at all whatsoever. He’ll adore you.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Back in 2010 I did a great article about Furoshiki, the art of gift wrapping with textiles.
Still obsessed with this unique and eco-conscious trend, I thought I would share with you my furoshiki gifts this Christmas.
Here they are, pictured above, some of the gifts that are under my tree this year…and now I’m going to give you a few wrapping tips that I have picked up since I’ve been practicing furoshiki.
First, choose a thinner fabric for a less bulky, more precise wrap.
Second, work with the texture and weight of the fabric, and embrace the notion of drapery.
You may have to use a glue gun to hold some of the edges, unless you are really talented at furoshiki. A true furoshiki artist uses the fabric only to wrap the gift. Don’t even ask me how they do it!
And lastly, pick up some inexpensive accessories at the craft store to embellish your gift. I chose a little sprig of pine cone for the small gift, and the brilliant peacock for the larger one…but don’t be afraid to play with proportions and try something completely unusual for a most handsome gift.
Now get to wrapping, furoshiki style!
Monday, December 17, 2012
Nordstrom is a great department store with a friendly and knowledgeable staff. Their return policy is excellent–more than fair, in fact, and they really bend over backwards to keep the customer happy. I’ve never had a bad experience at Nordstrom in all my years of shopping there. It’s a valuable resource for reliably beautiful gifts.
Here I’ve included some of my favorite Nordstrom gifts, and those of Nordstrom’s fashion creative director, Gregg Andrews.
Gregg’s favorite classic gift is a Halogen super-luxe cashmere sweater at a sweet price. “Cashmere is the epitome of wearable luxury and timeless style,” he said. “This season, the classic cashmere v-neck sweater gets updated in rich, vibrant colors that can take any woman from work to weekend…and everyone appreciates a gift that’s as luxurious as it is versatile.” They’re a steal at $79.99; I’ll take one of each please. Thanks Gregg!
The makeup maven will adore a compact customized especially for her, and Esteé Lauder’s Zodiac Compact, $70, is an ideal choice. “These golden compacts are decorated with her zodiac sign and make an elegant personalized gift,” Gregg stated. “What woman wouldn’t feel special when she takes this beautiful compact out of her handbag?” Hmmm, my horoscope predicts a purchase in my near future.
For a perfect hostess gift, Gregg recommends stocking up on the sure-to-please Diptyque candles, $32-$68. “From the rich pine fragrance of Sapin Dore to Oliban’s aromatic frankincense, Diptyque’s holiday scents add a touch of luxury to any occasion,” Gregg said. Buy a few to stash at home for last-minute gifts as you head to parties all season long. One of my favorites, Tubereuse, is in a vibrant ruby votive, perfect for the holidays. A welcome departure from wine and flowers.
For the music lovers, “headphones have become a crucial accessory for those on the go,” Gregg said. Beats by Dr. Dre Solo High Definition On-Ear Headphones, $199.95, are both stylish and convenient. “They fold up neatly for packing,” Gregg said.
And now, here’s my take on Nordstrom’s top gifts. The Clarisonic skin-cleansing brush, $199, elevates washing your face to a whole new level. Developed by scientists and beloved by beauty editors and celebrities alike, the Clarisonic brush uses a patented sonic frequency to gently yet thoroughly remove six times more makeup and two times more dirt and oil than a regular cleansing. I love mine. Therapeutic products like serums and retinoids are absorbed more effectively so you get the most out of their active ingredients. In addition, pores appear smaller and skin feels super smooth and clean. In candy apple red, this little device is perfect under the tree. Read my in-depth review here…
Esteé Lauder’s new Private Blend collection really satisfies my desire to smell awesome 24/7. Created by Esteé Lauder’s granddaughter Aerin, these expertly-crafted blends are completely addictive. Read more…
I just snagged the most beautiful pair of crimson satin pajama pants from In Bloom by Jonquil. At only $38, they’re actually made of a high-quality polyester that feels like real silk. They’ll fool anyone, even a textiles expert. And because they’re a synthetic fabric, they’ll wash like a dream. That’s my idea of luxury.