You can always keep up with my Twin Cities Live segments here...and let me know in the comments how you've been "making it work" in your life, lately.
On today's Twin Cities Live segment, I'm sharing a few of my favorite beauty secrets for "making it work." (Please read that in your very best Tim Gunn voice) I love taking what I have and making it work for any given situation, and this segment is full of my favorite ways to do that, beauty-product wise. The outfit I wore on the show is an example of making it work with clothes. See?
Can you tell that's a strapless dress? It's the definition of a perfect summer party dress...and it's clearly not summer in Minnesota right now! I like to wear things with a little drama to them on TV, and this dress certainly fit the bill. I made it work by layering a denim jacket on top to add a much-needed layer of warmth and to counter balance the fancy-schmancy dress. (The dress is by Lovedrobe, from SimplyBe and the jacket is from Torrid)
One of my all-time favorite necklaces works perfectly with the neckline of the dress and the cut of the jacket. It's a costume piece that I found at Macy's four or five years ago. It always adds a little extra ooomph to any outfit.
You can always keep up with my Twin Cities Live segments here...and let me know in the comments how you've been "making it work" in your life, lately.
Let's talk lashes. Or lack thereof. Let me get more specific: a very recent lack thereof. Which is to say that I woke up a few weeks ago, looked at myself in the mirror and shouted, "Oh my God!" And when my husband didn't come running from the next room to see what was wrong, I shouted,"Dan! I don't have any eyelashes!"
Good man that he is, that got him in the bathroom with me STAT. We both peered at my eyelids. I blinked up, I blinked down. "See? My lashes are all gone"
"Well. They're not all gone," he said, trying to gauge what the right response would be. "They look a little shorter, but are definitely still there."
"Same thing!" I exclaimed, throwing my arms up and hip-checking him away from the mirror so I could look and obsess and look some more.
Where have the lashes gone?
I Googled all the reasons why my lashes might be withering away, and it seems the most likely culprit is that I'm getting old. Which, hey. Fine. I get it. But I'm not going down without a fight on this one. And thankfully, I knew exactly where to turn to get my lash back.
I first tried this serum a few years ago. Back then, I didn't necessarily need it, but my friend and CEO of Epitome gave me a tube and told me to let her know what I thought. I thought it was a freaking miracle. This stuff works. And at $80 a pop, I fully admit that I wouldn't have bought the first tube...because I wasn't about to spend that much money on something I wasn't sure would be worth it.
Fast forward to today? I'm sure. I'm happy to plunk down my own money on this stuff. Which is exactly what I did. And as soon as I placed that order, I took a deep breath and told myself, "Stop obsessing. Help is on the way."
Dramatic much? I know.
Three weeks later...more lashes!
It gets better, though. This eyelash debacle occurred at the exact right moment, because Epitome Skincare has an insane promotion going on. In an effort to build up its library of before/after pictures, they're offering:
This post contains an affiliate link for Epitome Skincare. If you purchase through this link, I will receive a small portion of the sale. I am an affiliate for Epitome because I know, use and love their products.
I took a break this summer from blogging and Twin Cities Live and am thrilled to be heading back to the studio today. After the past few months, I feel refreshed and re-energized and am particularly excited about what I'll be sharing. You can always watch my latest segments here.
I wanted to feel especially jazzy so am wearing my favorite, latest find from local thrift store Arc's Value Village. It's a pink and black striped dress from Talbots (new, with the tags on!). The square neckline gets a lot of compliments and I love that small detail that makes a big impact.
The focal point of my makeup is a gorgeous lip color from Gressa Skincare. They sent it to me at the beginning of the summer and I can't stop won't stop wearing it.
This is the Lip Boost in Radiant. The color is super saturated and feels really nice on the lips. I like that it stains my lips a little so even as the color fades throughout the day, it doesn't completely disappear.
This isn't the only Gressa product I love and wear the heck out of.
One of my favorite beauty brands has added two more shades to its line up of gluten-free, cruelty-free, natural lipsticks. The two new shades from StormSister are Julie (left) and Kat (right).
Julie is a gorgeous nude peachy shade that will look stellar on those of you with yellow, olive or dark undertones to your skin. It was inspired by Minneapolis-based makeup artist Julie Swenson (who is a pioneer in the makeup industry and an all-around stellar woman). Julie's quote on her StormSister page is that lipstick can set the whole tone for your day. When I asked her how her lipstick does that, Julie told me, "This shade of nude sets the tone of my day by making me feel effortlessly put together and ready to take on whatever comes my way." Isn't that exactly what we're all looking for in makeup? So perfect.
Kat is a peppy fuschia pink that looks terrific on lots of different skintones and was inspired by The Voice season 6 contestant (and Minneapolis-based/all-around-super-nice-rocker-chick) Kat Perkins. When I asked Kat about her lipstick quote ("Life is short. Buy the lipstick.") she said it came to her as an off-shoot of her song, Fearless. Right before she sings that song during her concerts, she tells the crowd, "Life is short. My hope for you is that you choose to live Fearless." I love the idea of swiping on a little bit of fearless every time I reach for this tube.
Julie and Kat join a sisterhood of lipstick lovers that are each as unique as her signature shade. Find yours here...and be sure to look for a tube called Sara. (I'm shameless, really)
StormSister sent me these two lipsticks for review, and I have a relationship with the brand.
I'm sure everyone here will be shocked to learn that I'm not exactly summer's biggest fan. I do enjoy sunshine and longer days, but heat, humidity and direct exposure to the sun are not at the top of my list of favorites. But! I have been reaching for a few new products that pretty much make right any wrongs that 94 degree weather throws my way.
I recently started using a new moisturizer/sunscreen under my makeup, and this stuff is a game changer. It's the Mineral Fusion SPF 40 Face Moisturizer. I've struggled in the past to find a moisturizer with SPF that didn't make my face feel greasy and cause my makeup to slip, break apart or disappear. This stuff does none those things. The tiniest amount covers my entire face/neck/chest, then dries down to a beautiful finish that helps my makeup go on flawlessly.Don't be alarmed by the white cast that the lotion leaves on your face (that's the physical sun blocker at work) or the wet texture, initially. Both go away after the lotion sinks in. Slap it on, do your hair or drink coffee for five minutes then come back and apply your makeup.
Two lip products have become my go-tos for a quick hit of rosey color: Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Rose (for daytime) and Gressa Skin Lip Boost in Radiant (for night) I pair them with a generous sweep of Alima Pure Bronzer in Maracaibo, a few swishes of mascara and call it a day.
Coolibar is a MN-based company that makes sun-protective clothing and accessories. They sent me a couple pieces to try out, both of which are winners in my book. First up? The Coolibar Crochet Tunic in Nectarine. I get sweaty very easily so the thought of pulling on long sleeves in the summer was initially laughable, to me. And while I'm not going to wear this on the hottest of the hot days, this fabric is so light and comfortable. How do they do that while ensuring it's also protective? I don't know. Don't really care. All I know is this looks cute over a swimsuit, or paired with sandals and some dangly earrings. It's available in sizes 2-26 and a comes in a few other colors. I'm an even 6' tall, and the hem lands just a couple inches above my knees.
I love a good floppy hat, so the Coolibar Packable Wide Brim Hat in Natural is right up my alley. The color goes with literally everything, and this baby is super lightweight which keeps my head cool. The brim has a generous circumference which keeps my face and neck covered up. It is a little shallow so can be hard to keep on when it's windy out but for sitting in the garden with a book? Perfection.
Now, you tell me: what keeps you from wilting during the summer?
Thank you to Coolibar and Gressa for sharing your products with me!
For as much as I love to share my favorite products, I really really love it when readers recommend their favorites to me. That's why I'm starting a new feature on The Pretty Intellectual, where I'll share the products (and a shout out) that I try and love as a result of your comments and advice. First up? Carol's Daughter Monoi Repairing shampoo, conditioner and hair mask.
One of my longtime readers, Kristin C, chimed in on a Facebook post that I put up asking which products help with bone-dry hair. With my hair as long as it's been in at least a decade, it's super dry all the time and looks a little lackluster. Kristin told me she purchased the Monoi Repairing 3-piece starter kit at Ulta, and that she promptly fell in love with them. I took her advice, headed to Ulta to pick up my own sample pack, and promptly fell right in love myself.
The first time out, I washed my hair and applied the repairing mask. I thought I needed to jump-start the repairing process with the ultra intensive treatment. Afterward, I started using the shampoo with the everyday conditioner. Once a week, I'll use the mask. I'm so happy with the results!
What's so great?
On today's Twin Cities Live segment, we're exploring the new, interesting things going on with foundation. As a woman with combination skin (very dry cheeks, shiny t-zone) and lots of redness around the nose and across the cheeks, I love a good foundation. I don't want that foundation to be evident, though, which can prove challenging when my goal is to even out all that redness. That's why I'm so excited about a couple of the products from the show:
Gressa minimalist corrective serum foundation
I reached out to Gressa to see if the company would like to send samples for inclusion in the Twin Cities Live segment and was so thrilled that they were up for it. I first learned about Gressa Skincare from one of my favorite YouTubers, Ashley from MakeupTIA. Click here to watch Ashley review and demo this foundation - she does a great job.
This foundation gives me my best-skin-day, every single day. It covers up my redness without feeling heavy or like I'm wearing a lot of product. The serum feels nourishing and takes just a few minutes to sink into the skin. Don't be afraid of the level of dewiness going on your face until it's fully absorbed. The ingredient list is packed full of low-toxic, organic oils, extracts and balms that have cumulatively made my skin look and feel plump. Sidebar: I hate that word, for some reason, but it's an accurate description.
The foundation is very runny, so be ready for that. Here are three tips to help you get your best skin with this foundation:
Kokko color-accurate foundation matching app
I'm approached by a lot of start-up beauty companies who'd like my help in either testing their product or in getting the word out about it, and I've got to say that when I was approached by Kokko I was instantly intrigued. Not only is the company founded by a seriously whip-smart woman, it actually solves a very real beauty problem: finding the perfect shade of foundation. Through an extremely thorough combination of technology and hands-on makeup artist expertise, Kokko's app and color chart are going to change the way we choose foundation and buy it, especially online. The product contains two components:
This is not the rendering technology you might have tried before, where you can upload a picture and "try on" makeup (or, more accurately, see what you'd look like as a clown). The Kokko team worked with hundreds of women with different skintones to match them to foundations across a variety of lines (include MAC, IT Cosmetics, L'Oreal, Maybelline and more...)They captured images of those women and created a database of skintones and corresponding foundations that will instantly provide you with your perfect foundation color across each of the makeup lines that are part of its database. Seriously, it's so fascinating.
I actually own several of the foundations that are part of the Kokko database, and the colors the app recommended were the exact shades I use. Here are four tips to help you get it right with the app, too:
Kokko is offering you a special discount on the color chart now through June 4, 2016. Download the app and follow the instructions for ordering a color chart. Enter promo code TCLSARA to waive the cost of the chart - you'll just pay $1.30 for shipping.
If you follow me on Instagram, you spotted a picture that I posted a few weeks ago from the Christopher and Banks headquarters, located here in Minnesota. I spent the day with their team on-set with The MomsEveryday Show, filming three TV segments highlighting some of the newest Christopher and Banks arrivals in-store and online. The first of the TV segments is airing this week, ahead of CB's Celebrate You event. This event is going on in every store across the nation and features 25% off all new arrivals, plus refreshments and a fun, festive atmosphere to shop with your favorite women.
I'll be making an appearance at the Eden Prairie Center store at 11AM - there's going to be a photo booth and snacks, plus I'll help shoppers choose a few pieces for their spring/summer wardrobe. It's going to be a lot of fun and I'm really looking forward to meeting all the women who make it out for the event! So if you're in Minnesota, I hope you'll stop by. And if you're not, I'll be sure to share some photos with you here afterward. And watch The MomsEveryday Show segment below for a sneak peak at the summer trends you'll see from Christopher and Banks!
I appear in The MomsEveryday Show segments and related promotions as a paid spokesmodel for Christopher and Banks. I choose to work with Christopher and Banks because I genuinely like their approach to style for women of all sizes and ages.
If you follow me on Instagram, you saw a slew of pictures pop up on my feed - and lots of other MN bloggers' feeds - about a MN Blogger Bash preview event of Lowertown Pop.
Lowertown Pop is a one-day market made up of Minnesota makers. Shop from local artisans and craftsmakers, brewers, bakers and distillers. Watch live demonstrations from local favorites including Bruno Press, Hagen and Oats, Julia Moss Designs and Blue Henn. Plus, the cost of admission goes to benefit Face to Face and the MN makers.
Lowertown Pop is the brainchild of entrepeneur Becky Sturm, who you have seen me mention quite a few times here on The Pretty Intellectual. Becky herself is a Minnesota Maker and is an advocate for making local, shopping local, supporting all things local.
Lipstick really does fix everything...especially my favorite shade!
Win 2 free tickets to Lowertown Pop
I have two sets of tickets to give away - each valued at $15. This gets you in the door and lets you shop from over 50 different vendors. The event is held at the gorgeous Union Depot in downtown St. Paul and is going to be just fabulous. Plus, I'll be there and would love to meet you if you are too!
Ahhhh, spring. It's coming, no matter what Minnesota's weather is saying (today we've had snow, some rain, sunshine and 45 degrees). I 'm ushering spring in this year with a serious beauty edit: going through my makeup stash to toss out formulas that are too heavy, colors and textures that wore out their welcome this winter, and anything that simply needs to be replaced. Over the next few posts, I'm going to show you what's getting tossed and what is moving to the top of my makeup bag. Today? Nails!
I didn't pay much attention to my nails this winter, so I really don't have anything that I'm tossing aside from last season. But I am ALL about the polish, right now. Here's what I'm wearing, most.
DERMELECT's spring collection is what re-awakened my interest in painting my nails. The company sent me their spring collection and when I opened the boxes and spotted these beauties it was all over. And by "It" I mean my sad bare fingernails and the dull, sorta-chipped toenails I've hardly looked at since January. #badbeautyblogger
From left to right we have:
The polishes go on nicely and look terrific after two coats. They aren't the longest-lasting polishes I've ever used, so I add a top-coat every few days. Fun Fact: DERMELECT polishes are infused with peptides to help strengthen weak nails and, although I don't struggle with brittle nails, I like anything that goes the extra mile to be gentle. They're also dbp, formaldehyde and toluene free. You'll be able to spot DERMELECT at your local Ulta Beauty store.
I have a lot of Revlon's Colorstay Gel Envy polishes in my collection, and these are the two shades that make my heart sing a little. (Don't tell me your heart has never sung over a beauty product.) From left to right:
There you have it - this is what I'll be sporting on my fingers and toes this spring. If you want to see these polishes in action, follow me on Instagram. And let me know in the comments which polishes you're into this season!
There's nothing I love more than people asking me my opinions on beauty products. The best are when friends and family text me from the aisles of Target or Sephora and want to know RIGHT NOW which tube of red lipstick to buy (Rimmel has a great selection) or whether I think spending $40 on facewash is a good idea (No, I don't). My friends at Twin Cities Live decided to give viewers the chance to ask me questions live on their Facebook page. That was a lot of fun!
I answered a few questions live on the video, and a few more in the comments section of the Facebook post, and then I answered more of them during today's segment. (You can always catch my latest segments here). But there were so many good questions that I didn't want to leave anyone hanging. So here all the questions that were asked, and my answers.
*The information contained here reflects my personal experience with the products mentioned. Your experience may be different. This advice should be considered from one friend to another - I am not a medical/skincare/haircare professional.
JJ B What are the best products to use for frizzy hair??!!
Katy P What's the best face wash?
Andrew B How do u cover scars on the face with make up???
Lorna SH Just turned 50. Starting to see changes in skin. Around eyes. What is best?
Laurie S I have tried everything to conceal my dark undereye. I even tried the current youtube video about using red lipstick under the eyes. Nothing works. Its my thin skin. HELP!!!! best product to use for undereye concealer.
Jacquie JB What's the best under eye make-up for covering dark circles (that doesn't settle into the lines & make you look older)?
Last night, the Minneapolis Institute of Art (known as Mia to Minnesota locals) hosted a preview event for a new pop up they're hosting at The Store at Mia. They've partnered with west elm LOCAL to bring products by 14 makers from across the U.S into the store for a limited time (Feb 4-May 29).
It's well-documented here and on my Instagram that I love to buy products from people who are making them right here in my local community. I didn't realize west elm, a home-goods retailer with 65+ stores across the country, was so invested in the local movement, too.
But they've rolled out a program across all of their stores where each location chooses products from makers within the community to sell. For me, that makes west elm much more of a destination, especially when traveling. I love the idea of popping into a west elm store in Denver or Kansas City or wherever...just to get a quick sample of the local arts community. That's exactly what this pop up at Mia let us experience.
This pop up arrives in conjunction with a new exhibit that's rolling into Mia on February 18th: State of the Art - Discovering American Art Now. The exhibit brings together 130 artworks from every region across the U.S. and will offer visitors insight into what's happening in art now, and how life and current events factor into what's being produced and how it's all being made. I love that this pop up shop creates a tangible opportunity to more deeply connect with the art being shown in this exhibit - by owning products created in the spirit of U.S. artists.
Megan and I kept coming back to these bowls by BDB, out of Brooklyn NY. Simultaneously delicate and durable, they would be perfect for wrangling jewelry on a nightstand or tubes of lipgloss on a vanity.
Uhm, of course I found the beauty product that was featured. Of course. Little Seed Farm, from Lebanon TN, raises its own goats in order to produce soaps, scrubs and balms that are super gentle. One of The Store at Mia employees, Dia, told us that she has a dairy allergy which makes it hard to find natural skincare products she can use - but that these are her new go-to.
Monroe Trades, another maker from Brooklyn, salvages industrial pipes and wood to create pieces for the home. I can just see a whole line of these rustic colored hooks holding my purse collection.
Although I was aware of the other three Minnesota makers featured (Oh Dier, Marvin Freitas and Louise Gray), Mod Dog was new to me. How fun to discover a new maker, based out of my very own St. Paul! (Yes, I realize I talk about St. Paul as though I own the place...) Mod Dog creates silhouette art prints, and I'm sure this gold leaf Minnesota print will be a big seller at the pop up.
All night, I was completely obsessed with Megan's earrings. They look so arty! However...to lend a little balance to the "made by local makers" aspect of the evening, these earrings are from Target.
Megan showed me one of her favorite spots at Mia - the succulent garden. Why is it so incredibly soothing to sit and stare at succulents? No clue, but it is. And this actually seems like the kind of garden I could keep alive...maybe? Who out there has succulents and, on a scale of 1-5, how likely is it that I would kill one?
And finally - a special shout-out to Megan's mom who is a first-time visitor to The Pretty Intellectual. Hi Mary!
Happy New Year, everybody! I hope you enjoyed any of the holidays that you might have celebrated last month. Dan and I celebrated Christmas in Iowa with my family. We drove to Des Moines from St. Paul on Christmas Eve...well, we meant to. But we got stuck in Story City, IA that afternoon thanks to a snowstorm that shut down the interstate. (See the gas station feast we enjoyed on my Instagram). We woke up at 4:30 AM on Christmas morning, jumped in the car and made it to my parents' place before the kids woke up to see what Santa brought them. It was great!
Dan and I were back in STP ahead of New Year's Eve, and I stopped by Twin Cities Live to share my predictions for which beauty trends are on their way out in 2016 - and which ones we'll all be mastering throughout the coming year. For the appearance, Ashley Stewart sent me a gorgeous body-con dress to wear.
Body-con = hugs every curve. The dress is really well made, with a beautiful open neckline and flattering horizontal pleats. And the color! I need more of this royal blue/purple color in my life. You know what, though? I almost didn't wear it.
The first time I pulled the dress on and looked at myself in the mirror, I couldn't see the dress. I couldn't even really see me. All I noticed was the way it hugged my stomach. This isn't a style I typically wear, and I felt completely out of my depth in it. At first. For about 20 minutes. Then I lifted my eyes and looked at the whole picture. I'm not just a stomach. Or simply any other single feature. I'm me. And the entirety of me really loved this dress!
That's something I'm going to be mindful of in 2016: not whittling myself (or others...or life situations) into pieces, but taking it all in and appreciating the big picture.
Is there anything in particular that you're going to be mindful of in the new year?
'Tis the season for every blogger with an active URL to whip up a gift guide! The lights are still on over here at The Pretty Intellectual, so I've selected my favorite gifts of 2015 - items I actually own, use, love and think you might love to own and use. A great gift, in my mind, is something the recipient might not purchase for herself but will be beyond thrilled to receive. I think each of these fits the bill.
Be still, my heart. This beautiful baby, the Paul Mitchell Limited Edition Express Ion Unclipped 3-in-1 tool is IT for me. Before I got this, I had a whole mess of curling irons in various sizes cluttering up the vanity in my bathroom. I've replaced all of them with this glorious tool and haven't looked back. This tool creates a variety of looks and has that holiday WOW factor upon unwrapping. ($115, available at select Paul Mitchell salons - find yours here. )
An eReader is an excellent gift, I think, because books. Obviously. I very recently upgraded my old clunker of an eReader (the original Nook tablet, which weighed approximately 46 pounds) to this one. The main reason I didn't choose a Kindle is because the Nook tablet supports both Overdrive and the 3M app, which allow me to check out books from my public library. The Kindle's not compatible (at this time) with the 3M app. In any case, I love having a lightweight device that lets me always have several books handy. Because again, books! ( Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook 7.0, $149 at Barnes and Noble)
First Aid Beauty is just...what's the word? FAN-FRICKING-TASTIC. The line is formulated specifically for sensitive/dry skin, and I can vouch for it. I use the Vitamin Hydrating Mist, Facial Radiance Pads, Ultra Repair Cream and Hydra-Firm Sleeping Cream every day and my skin is smoother, clearer and more hydrated than ever. I love every single product in the Peace, Joy & Fab set (don't make me choose which one is my favorite, because I simply can't/won't do it). This particular set is available in-store at Sephora,but they're going fast so if you want one you'd better jump on it. Though you really can't go wrong with any of the First Aid Beauty skincare sets, so don't stress about it. (Peace, Joy & Fab set, $59 at Sephora)
A few of my prized possessions are recipe cards that Grandma Ruth has written out and shared with me. Not only do they contain recipes (and memories) of my family's favorite dishes, but they're in her handwriting. And a few of them even have cute little stickers that say "My Favorite Recipe!" Obviously something like that needs a special place for safekeeping. The Grande Dame recipe box fits the bill perfectly. Not only is the print vintagey-cute, but there's something really satisfying about wrenching the metal lid off the top of the box in order to get at the recipes inside. ($39, for the locals, you can find them at Paper Patisserie on Selby Ave; everyone else, hit up Anthropologie. )
Almay has put out these cute gift sets which I am all about right now. The products inside are great because they're gentle and hypo-allergenic, which means most gift recipients will be able to use them without concern over any sensitivity or reactions. And how cool is it that you've got a complete eye look here: a shadow trio, liner and mascara plus eye makeup remover pads that work so darn well. The kits are coded by eye color - you can't go wrong with the kit for blue eyes. The eye shadow trio is a mix of neutral brown shades that will work well on anyone. ($15 at Wal-greens)
This banned book bracelet is one of my favorites. It never fails to get a reaction from other people, and it makes me feel like a book-reading badass. You can create your own bracelet (with the banned books of your choice), which makes it even more of a personal gift to give. ($35 on Etsy)
I would never be so bossy as to tell you whom to give which gift. Except this one. This one is the perfect family gift. If you're a houseguest this holiday season, and you show up with the Paul Mitchell Gift of Total Renewal, you'll totally be the favorite. Which means you might score an extra fluffy towel or get to sleep on the good pull-out couch (instead of the futon in the basement). My husband and I both use Tea Tree products because the smell is invigorating and pleasant, yet gender neutral. And there are enough items in this set for everyone in the family to lay claim to in the bathroom. ($50, available at select Paul Mitchell salons and quite possibly Ulta).
How cute are these particular editions of old, favorite books? (Well, my old favorite books. You might like different stuff) A gift like this shows someone that you actually know his or her reading tastes AND that you have terrific taste in selecting an updated, cool cover. You can find special editions of books at most bookstores. I found the Atwood book at Half Price Books and the Anne of Green Gables is by Rifle Paper Co. ($16-30, Anthropologie)
When done right, a subtle highlight is one of the best ways to add a little pep and perk to the face. The keyword here being subtle. No one does subtle highlight better than Becca, as any makeup guru with a blog or a Youtue channel will attest. We all attest because it's true. And now you can gift a little glow to someone on your list with this adorable package of travel-sized highlighters. I like to layer the liquid highlighter over the powder for a little extra va-voom. ($20 at Ulta)
Is there anything cozier than a cup of tea? And yes, I know everyone's got Keurig machines that will crank out one cup at a time but there's something so wonderful about brewing up an entire pot and plunking it down next to you while you read a trashy romance novel. (Or something else.I guess it doesn't have to be a trashy romance). I always find the cutest tea pots and tea cups at World Market. That's where my mom found these two gems for me, last year.
Headbands are something I see on other women and think, "Oooh! I want to do that, too!" Then I get to the hair accessories aisle at Target and immediately freeze. (Can I really pull this off? Am I too old? Is my hair headband-compatible? Will it squeeze my head? But they're so fun!) I know I'm not alone here. Which is why a sparkly headband is a terrific stocking stuffer. I've been wearing these headbands from Remington and can report they're sparkly but not TOO sparkly, and they do not squeeze my head at all. ($7, at Target)
Another terrific stocking stuffer: fancy pens. Sure, a Bic will do the trick when it comes to signing a credit card receipt or jotting down thoughts in a journal. But writing with a fancy pen is just so much more...fancy. And fun. I'm a big fan of these Jonathan Adler pens because they have great flow - which is to say they write as nicely as they look. ($19 at Barnes and Noble)
This post includes a mix of items gifted to me by friends, family, myself and PR companies.
When I launched this three-day feature, where I take six pieces of clothing and show you how to create a variety of outfits with them, I knew this tee shirt would cause some controversy. So let's just address it head on.
Frosty the (Business-Casual) Snowman
This is an outfit I would wear to work, especially as Christmas draws closer and the office atmosphere gets loose. Raise your hand if you and your co-workers have a potluck or some other holiday party that includes paper plates and crockpots lined up in the lunch room? (I do!) Doesn't that type of gathering pretty much require a snowman tee shirt?
Of the six pieces that I'm working with (see them here), I layered the snowman tee over the black cocktail dress then tossed the purple leather jacket on top to add a little extra structure and "business casual" to the overall look. Sparkly flats and gold dangly earrings lend the perfect touch of workplace glam.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for the final looks - and in the meantime, did you enter for a chance to win a $50 gift card? Get on that!
Sponsored: Christopher and Banks provided the six articles of clothing shown in this post, as well as the $50 gift card, to me for free. Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Pretty Intellectual.
Back in my Bombshell Beauty blogging days, my favorite fashion features (say that three times fast!) were showing readers how to wear one piece of clothing in several different ways. I don't like to have a ton of stuff in my wardrobe, so I expect that everything on a hanger earns its keep by being versatile. So when Christopher and Banks asked if I'd like to share some of their new holiday pieces with you guys, I knew two things:
Over the next three days, I'm going to show you how to create your own capsule wardrobe that will see you through holiday parties, work festivities and casual get-togethers. You can take inspiration from the individual pieces of clothing that I'm wearing, or you can head over to Christopher and Banks to buy the exact pieces. One note about that: everything you'll see here is available in sizes 4-32. It's one thing I love about CB - it's one of very few stores on the planet where everything is available in both straight and plus sizes.
I chose a mix of tops and foundation pieces that I could mix and match:
A go-to dress that fits great and is a neutral color is an absolute must, all year long. During the hectic, party-filled holiday season it's a freaking life-saver. For a cocktail party, I'd add a splash of sparkle, a red lip, and a glass of champagne.
A great way to breathe new life into a dress that's in constant rotation is to switch up accessories and layering pieces.
Sponsored: Christopher and Banks provided the six articles of clothing shown in this post, as well as the $50 gift card, to me for free. Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Pretty Intellectual.
Fall in Minnesota is the perfect time to get bangs. I often refer to it as bang season. The weather is crisp and cool, which means my forehead will not become sticky and sweaty under the weight of fringe. It's been a few years since my last run-in with bangs, so here we are.
I've learned from experience that bangs are a polarizing hairstyle. Men usually (think they are going to) hate them. Women are leery of them as well and often refer to those with bangs as brave. Often followed by, "I could never pull that off." Some people don't look great with bangs. Many more do. I choose to believe I fall in the category of those who do. That wasn't always the case. Before going under the shears and emerging with a heavy fringe, I used to solicit the input of everyone whose opinion I trusted. And a few whose I did not. Most would tell me not to get bangs. I would never listen. The result? Me, with bangs and a huge dose of insecurity.
I like them. But everyone else said not to do it. That must mean I don't actually look good in them. I do have the bit of wave in my hair that always makes the sides of my bangs kick out. And sometimes they shift around across my forehead. But I kind of like how soft my face looks framed under bangs. But when I asked, not a single person said with an level of enthusiasm, "Yes, Sara! Get bangs!" What does that mean????
This time around, I took a different approach. I didn't ask anyone if I should get bangs. I knew the answer wouldn't be the one I wanted to hear, so I simply did not ask the question. I did not ask for anyone else to validate what I wanted. I got the bangs. And I love them. For now. (I'm a fickle hair person...just ask my hairstylist.)
Last weekend, I was invited to attend the Curated Style: Straight from the Runway fashion show produced by Mall of America. The show featured the Autumn/Winter 2015 collections by designers from various seasons of Project Runway. Mall of America always puts on top-notch events, and this one was no different. They pulled together a really fun pre-party at the Radisson Blu, where the people watching was outstanding. My husband, Dan, was my +1 and between the two of us regular joes, here are a few of our "Minnesota Fashion Scene" observations:
Mall of America sent me and Dan gift cards to go buy something new and snazzy to wear to the show (thanks, MOA!). Dan picked up a cute pair of jeans and a purple button-down shirt from Marshalls, while I headed to Torrid to find something outside of my comfort zone that fit well. I went for this skull and rose printed dress because I liked the paradox of the goth/not-Sara print on a retro-glam/very-Sara style dress. The denim jacket completed the look perfectly, while the ballet flats and velvet clutch came out of my own closet.
This dress garnered A LOT of attention...most of it not good. I changed clothes before the party at work, so the dress hung in my cubicle all day where it attracted these comments:
Damn. Being a grown-up is awesome!
It’s certainly not a unique point of view to say, “I love fall!” There are Pinterest boards and coffee drinks and Buzzfeed lists about this universally beloved season. As someone who lives in Minnesota - where Winter takes over at the end of October and doesn’t fully release its icy grip until May – Fall is pretty much everything. Especially Fall fashion, where we can slowly begin to acclimate to our natural frigid state by layering on light sweaters and scarves. You know, before we actually have to wear these things or else succumb to frostbite.
Goodthings kicked off Fall for me and several hundred other women last week with a truly fantastic runway fashion show. Goodthings is a flagship store in White Bear Lake, MN – an adorable little town worth a visit if you’re ever in the area. And let me tell you – the fine, fashionable folks there know how to put on a show! Indulge in Goodthings was the theme, and was a cute nod to their partnership with local salon Indulge which provided hair/makeup for the models. From the moment the music started and the first model hit the runway, there was a sense of fun and energy that was absolutely contagious.
Contagious energy aside, I also saw a lot of cute clothes that have me extremely jazzed for Fall. Here are a few of my favorites.
This is Tyler, the owner of Goodthings, in such a cute/quirky/stylish/fun outfit. His mom, Sharon, started the business back in 1973 and I can attest to the fact that she is one kick-ass stylish lady. My friend Maggie and I were seated next to Sharon during the show. It's like we were seated next to the Grand Dame of Fashion.
Up until the moment that Alexis Thompson, a local radio personality, showed up in this outfit I have hated the whole "patterned legging" trend. While I'm not sure these exact leggings are for me, I no longer hate the whole thing. Pretty cute, actually!
Goodthings skipped the professional models and had their clients and friends strut their stuff instead. That created a really cool, supportive, "you go girl!" vibe to the evening that was kind of wonderful. Just as wonderful? The play of textures in this outfit. I love the ultra-feminine gauzy shirt anchored by lived-in jeans and substantial sweater coat.
Crap. I really like these patterned leggings, too. These...might be for me. Maybe? In any case, I love the pattern mixing going on here with the leggings and the scarf.
Yoga gear is totally hot for fall in Minnesota - yesssss! Seriously,though, when these yogis hit the runway and got their pose on we were all equally enthralled with their awesome moves and their cute workout gear.
Bringing out a series of cute boys wearing various cuts of jeans and black tee shirts *might* have been a case of pandering to the fully female crowd. You know what? Who cares. I love cute boys! And so did the older women across the runway from me who were pretending to throw dollar bills at the guys as they walked by. Well played, Goodthings.
THIS lady ruled the runway. I don't know who she is, but she was so much fun to watch. She was clearly having fun and felt great in her outfits. I want to go have wine with her. And then I want to steal the black cape she wore over these printed pants.
Photo credit: Maggie Winter of Happy Shoe Day. Go check her blog out.
If you want to see more photos, hop on Twitter and search #IndulgeinGoodthings.
What fall fashions are you looking forward to pulling out of your closet?
Goodthings provided me with a free ticket to this event.
My first year of college at the University of Minnesota, I lived in a dorm with a roommate that could not have been more different than I am. She was a tomboy, I am not. She had an affinity for Captain Morgan, I do not. The first night in our room, I got ready for a night out with my sister-in-law-to-be at the sorority house I was to join in a few months and overheard my new roommate refer to me as a "Freakin' pageant queen, with all that makeup."
At the time, I was stunned and a little indignant, but with a few years and some perspective I can admit that I did have/wear a lot of makeup at that time. My aim then was to look as mature and pulled together as possible. Now? Now that I am actually mature (and hopefully pulled together...) my goal with makeup is to look as much like myself as possible. I mean, a little better obviously, but still.
I go light on the eyeshadow, choosing a brightening peachy shade for the lower lid and a matte brown for the crease to add definition. Just a touch of navy blue eyeshadow, applied wet as an eyeliner along my lash line to make those lashes look fuller. A few coats of mascara. Concealer under the eyes. Fill in the brows with a brown eye shadow. Powder foundation applied lightly all over. And a peachy blush applied all over my face to add warmth. Lips? Just a plummy balm. The after? Not a whole lot different. (Right? Or am I out of my mind and still a freaking pageant queen?)
Has your approach to makeup changed over the years? What was your go-to look when you were in college?
I think it's so important to take time for yourself, whether it's a lazy Sunday afternoon of manicures, masks and magazines; or taking an extra minute in the shower to enjoy a body wash that smells like heaven to you. And while I enjoy lots of spendy products (I admit it!) I don't think that luxury has to mean a big price tag.
On today's Twin Cities Live segment, I shared several of my current luxe-for-less favorite products plus a couple ideas for how to spiff up their packaging to make them feel more high-end. As a bonus, here are four more that make me feel well-cared for after using them. While you're going through these products, think about what you do to take time for yourself, then let me know in the comments.
Your turn! Which products or rituals do you enjoy to take some time for yourself?
I've got a full-on coral obsession going this summer. Every week, I buy flowers for my apartment and I choose which bunch to purchase based on the flowers' coral-to-other-color ratio. I'm revamping our bathroom decorations specifically to incorporate touches of coral. I want that color in my home, on my lips and in my closet. Which made this dress from Christopher and Banks a no-brainer.
I love the subtle fit-and-flare shape of the dress; the purple belt didn't come with it but I like the added structure it lends to my figure. The necklace is also from Christopher and Banks. I felt really polished and sassy in this outfit for last week's Twin Cities Live segment. Which was essential because my co-workers were all in-studio for the show, with me. I thought I might be a little nervous, doing my thing live on TV in front of my co-workers. Thankfully, no. No nerves.
Do you have a go-to color or outfit that makes you feel ready to take on the world?
Christopher and Banks provided this outfit to me for free, so I could look spiffy on Twin Cities Live.
On today's Twin Cities Live show, I shared my experience with a new cosmetic brand called Stowaway . This line creates luxury makeup in "right sized" packaging - which is to say, they provide the amount of product you'll actually make it through before hitting the expiration date. These products are so incredibly cute and I'll be surprised if this concept of turning "sample sizes" into mainstream makeup offerings doesn't take off.
Stowaway sent me two of their customized kits (you choose which shades you want), with different colors, to share on the show and I've been using the makeup for a little over a week now. The kit contains BB Cream, concealer, lip/cheek rouge, mascara, eyeliner and a lipstick. The mascara and concealer are real standouts to me.
The mascara doesn't smudge or flake and it creates very defined, fluttery lashes. The concealer is a thick, full-coverage cream that works like a charm on blemishes and sun spots - I didn't enjoy wearing it under my eyes because it was too heavy. But if you have dark under-eye circles, it might do the trick.
Here are some swatches of the color products (from the top)
The one dud in the collection, for me, is the eyeliner. Although the formula is long-lasting and didn't migrate all over my eye area (bonus!) the formula was too dry for my taste. The swatch above is four passes of the liner - you can see that the color is a little spotty.
And because I've now mentioned every single other piece of the kit, I'll mention that I thought the BB cream was fine but didn't excite me. The coverage is light, though I could see a visible difference in my skin tone after application. It lasted a few hours before wearing away from my chin and around my nose. There's nothing wrong with the BB cream; it just didn't rock my world (or my makeup bag).
So what's the verdict? Each item (except the liner) has earned a spot in the makeup kit I carry with me for touch-ups throughout the day. I use the concealer and mascara every single day when I'm getting ready in the morning, and I've been wearing the heck out of the lipstick in Fig.
Want to try Stowaway Cosmetics? Get a free lipstick!
If you order a custom kit online, you can add a second lipstick - free! Use promo code Sara from now until 11:59 PM (eastern timezone) on July 20, 2015.
The hunt for new additions to my lipstick wardrobe continues, this time with a deep dive into the StormSister lipstick collection. You've seen StormSister here on The Pretty Intellectual, before. And is it incredibly self-involved to admit that I've only ever tried my namesake color from the collection?! (Don't answer that...)
I would classify the StormSister brand as luxury/eco-friendly. Each lipstick costs $22 and is formulated in small batches in Minneapolis. The brand is vegan, gluten-free and cruelty-free. All good things. The range currently includes 14 shades, each inspired by the signature lip color of women who have influenced StormSister's creator, Becky Sturm. From nude tones to deep merlot, and everything in between, this collection is incredibly diverse.
From left to right:
From left to right:
From left to right:
From left to right:
I tried on each of the StormSister lipsticks several times and was so surprised at a few of my favorites. I've never worn brown-toned lipsticks, and coral isn't one I usually reach for either. Just goes to show that you can't judge a tube of lipstick without giving it a try. Here are four shades that I've been wearing regularly, lately.
From left to right: Sairey, Helen, Sara and Katie. I realize that it's a little narcissistic to include my own shade as a favorite. But I love it!
You can buy these lipsticks directly from the StormSister Spatique website; or if you visit Mall of America, you'll find them at the Uptown MN store.
These lipstick swatches and descriptions reflect my personal experience with the lipsticks. I have cool-toned, fair skin and naturally light pink lips. Your experience with the shades may differ.
*StormSister lent me samples for the purposes of this post. I was given two free lipsticks to keep.