12.24.2015

5 Tips For A Less Stressful Christmas

No matter how much we plan, Christmas can sometimes be a little messy and chaotic, don't you think? From the food to the presents and Christmas decorations, the never ending to-do list can seem like a tall order for some of us.

Here are 5 things you could do just to make Christmas a little less stressful.

1. Easy and Frugal Christmas Decorations

Is there any way to decorate your home for Christmas on a budget, you ask? Sure there is! Granted, Christmas decors can set you back a few hundred dollars but you can find some simple and frugal alternatives at the dollar store.

Here are 30 dollar store items which may inspire you and get the ball rolling. Or, you could try your hand at this list of 20 creative Christmas decorating ideas.


2. Be Creative in the Kitchen

Clock is ticking... Time is wasting. There's the turkey, the ham, the eggnog, the what not. Which comes first?

Look for easy tips and tricks for the kitchen that can help save you precious time. You'll be surprised by how many creative people are out there who come up with ingenious ideas on how to go about things. For instance, here is a very neat trick on how to ice your cookies the easy way, without creating a complete mess.

3. Gift Wrapping Ideas

Love wrapping presents but find yourself going back to the same theme every year? Plain old wrapping paper or gift bags... again?

Well, here is an awesome blog post that shows you how to wrap gifts the creative and budget friendly way. In fact, wrapping a small gift such as accessories can be as simple as getting a toilet paper roll, colorful, decorative paper and a tape or ribbon. Very clever!


4. Make Yourself A Hot White Chocolate

Yes, you read that right. Hot WHITE chocolate. Forget old hot chocolate - try something different this year. Here's a special homemade mint white hot chocolate recipe that you can easily whip up in 15 minutes!

 

5. Enjoy a Favorite Christmas Movie

Now give yourself a pat on the back just because you made it through! It's time to kick back and enjoy a good Christmas movie. I don't know about you but my all time favorite has got to be Love Actually, hands down.

Can you believe it's been 12 years since the movie's release (yes, back in 2003) and people are still talking about it even today? It's a clever mix of both romance and humor and casts some of the best stars in the movie industry. The movie itself shows the many facets of love and life - unrequited love, adultery, responsibilities and language barriers. Truly a must watch!



Now, go forth and have fun. Merry Christmas!

12.09.2015

8 Must Watch Retro Shows to Inspire You

 

1. The Great Gatsby ~ 1920's

Carey Mulligan has always reminded me of a younger version of Katie Holmes for some reason. (Am I the only one who thinks that way?)

In the film The Great Gatsby set in the 1920's, Carey Mulligan played the role of Daisy Buchanan alongside Leonardo DiCaprio as the great Jay Gatsby. To be honest, I wasn't too fond of Carey Mulligan's character in this show (I won't be able to divulge more details without giving away the entire story) but the dresses were to die for!

The 1920's was all about the tea length dresses and adornments such as headbands, cloche hats, sashes and bows to name a few; and the movie showcased some of the most exquisite dresses I could only wish for. So if you love the 1920's decade then put this on your must watch list, pronto!

Carey Mulligan in an evening party dress from a scene in the movie, The Great Gatsby

Carey Mulligan in a tea length sheath dress

2. The Imitation Game ~ 1930's to 1950's

I am a huge fan of Benedict Cumberbatch (yes, quite the Cumberbitch* or Cumberbabe), thanks to his top notch portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in the renowned British TV drama series, Sherlock.

*Please pardon the language, but that's what his fans are called.

Having said that though, I thought Keira Knightley, who played the role of Joan Clarke, stole the show in The Imitation Game. Joan Clarke was a cryptanalyst who joined Alan Turing's team in an effort to crack Nazi codes, including Enigma - which was thought to be unbreakable. In fact, it was touted as one of Keira Knightley's best performances, where she was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. I especially loved her outfits and that little touch of vintage flair she adds to her ensemble by wearing knitted cardigans and hats.

Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch in a scene from the movie, The Imitation Game

3. Captain America: The First Avenger ~ 1940's

Chris Evans may have been the star of the show in Captain America: The First Avenger, but in my humble opinion, it was Hayley Atwell in her role as Peggy Carter who stole the limelight from him.

I especially love this scene from the movie where she strutted her stuff in one of the best figure flattering red pencil dresses I've ever seen. Needless to say, the hair and shoes were oh-so gorgeously perfect. Not to mention, loving the red lipstick too! :)

Hayley Atwell in a gorgeous red dress from a scene in the movie, Captain America

4. Sylvia ~ 1950's

Sylvia revolves around the life of Sylvia Plath, the leading character played by Gwyneth Paltrow. The movie tells the true story of Sylvia, a talented poet who struggles to find happiness in her life and became increasingly intrigued by death.

While the movie itself is melancholic, there's something you can actually look forward to - Gwyneth Paltrow's impeccable dressing. Everything about her was perfect in the movie - from the dresses to the hair and makeup. Did you notice those pearl necklaces as well? Uber-feminine!

Gwyneth Paltrow's gorgeous retro look with a matching pearl necklace

Daniel Craig and Gwyneth Paltrow in a scene from the movie, Sylvia

5. An Education ~ 1960's

Guess what? It's Carey Mulligan again.

In the movie An Education set in the 1960's, Carey Mulligan plays the role of Jenny Mellor, a 16 year old girl who falls head over heels with an older man - David Goldman - a character played by Peter Sarsgaard.

While she may be smitten with him, I for one found myself falling in love with not just the movie but ALL the dresses Carey Mulligan wore in the show. Yes, I am such a hopeless sucker for vintage style dresses. :)

Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard in a scene from the movie, An Education
Carey Mulligan wearing a chic floral dress in the movie, An Education

6. Mad Men ~ 1960's

Now ladies, this list wouldn't be complete without the addition of the most talked about American drama series, Mad Men. Primary set in the 1960's, Mad Men is an American period drama TV series which centers around the business of advertising agencies and the lives of its individual characters. I've always had a soft spot for Jon Hamm (*swoon*) who plays the protagonist, Don Draper but the girls are absolutely killing it with their striking dresses and ensembles.

In fact I would go as far as to say that a lot of today's vintage style dresses are inspired by the ones worn in the show. Some prominent examples include the wiggle dresses (such as the one worn by Christina Hendricks below), and swing dresses (such as the one worn by January Jones below). Very addictive indeed!

Christina Hendricks in a sexy floral wiggle dress

January Jones in a floral print vintage inspired dress

7. American Hustle ~ 1970's

Inspired by the 1970's Abscam case, American Hustle stars some of Hollywood's powerhouses like Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper.

The 1970's was a fun, disco-ish era (think Saturday Night Fever) with some very interesting fashion finds. From flares to fringes, platforms to bell bottoms - the possibilities were endless! Hairstyles also reached greater heights (literally!) with exaggerated perms and disco afros. Jersey halter dresses were also popular back in the 70's thanks to designer Roy Halston Frowick who was famous for his clean, minimalist designs. 

American Hustle did well by staying true to the 1970s theme as you can see evidently in the dresses the girls are wearing in the photo below. Jennifer Lawrence looked stunning in her halter dress with a seductive plunging keyhole neckline, while Amy Adams rocked her disco look with a permed mane and shimmering gown.

Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams from a scene in the movie, American Hustle

8. Blue Jasmine ~ Modern Day Retro

Just a few nights ago, I challenged myself to watch the telly without toying with my phone. Yes, no repinning recipes on Pinterest. Boy, let me tell you, it was hard. :) The husband has a knack for flipping channels during commercials which irritates the heck out of me. If I have to name one of my biggest pet peeves, this one takes the cake. BUT - thanks to his vigorous channel surfing, I came across this movie called Blue Jasmine.

The movie starred Cate Blanchett as Jasmine Francis, a New York socialite who flees to San Francisco after her marriage crumbles to live with her sister, Ginger. Cate Blanchett's performance in the film was sensational; winning her the Oscar for Best Actress. But that's beside the point.

What I loved about the movie were her dresses (and the designer bags, of course). There was something very retro and classy about every dress she wore that I felt it was post worthy. With her exotic beauty and piercing blue eyes, I'll have to say she made every frock look flawless in the show. You'll just have to watch the movie to know what I mean.

Cate Blanchett and Peter Sarsgaard from a scene in the movie Blue Jasmine
Cate Blanchett wearing a stunning floral print dress in the movie Blue Jasmine
So there you have it, my top 8 movie recommendations for you retro or vintage lovers out there. Do you have other movie recommendations I may have missed? Let me know in the Comments section below! :)

12.03.2015

Get Your 1950's Look in 5 Simple Steps

Prepping for a retro themed party?
Or how about ushering in this Christmas with a little retro flavor?

Here's how you can achieve a 1950's inspired retro look - I promise you won't have to spend a fortune. :)

 

Step 1: Fit and Flare Dresses

Let's first talk about the main component of your entire look - the dress.

Now, let me ask you. What's the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Audrey Hepburn?

The little black dresses, you say?

Well, you're absolutely spot on. If you're an avid fan of Audrey Hepburn (like I am), you would have noticed that a lot of today's vintage style dresses are inspired by her fashion panache.

Ms. Hepburn's dresses were also very commonly found in shades of black. Perhaps one of the most iconic little black dresses of all time was the one Ms. Hepburn wore in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's.

But the one I am particularly interested in (for the sole purpose of this blog post) is the little black dress Ms. Hepburn wore in the movie Sabrina.

Audrey Hepburn in the movie, Sabrina

You'll also see photos of Ms. Hepburn in floral print dresses such as the one depicted below.

Audrey Hepburn in a floral print dress

Are you starting to notice a pattern here? Pardon the pun. :)

All these dresses had one thing in common. They are classic fit and flare dresses. This simply means that the dresses were fitted at the bodice and flared out into a full skirt. Fit and flare dresses are also known as swing dresses.

Another example of these fit and flare dresses is the one worn by Lauren Bacall in the movie How to Marry a Millionaire (see below). I don't know about you, but the lady looked exceptionally stunning in her print dress.

From left to right: Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable

And if you prefer something with even more length to it then let Grace Kelly inspire you with her fashionable long floral print dress.

Grace Kelly in a long, floral print dress

Why I specifically like the fit and flare dress is simple - it helps accentuate your waistline and it cleverly disguises the hips, thighs and buttocks. It's flattering for most women and perfect for pear shapes!

So first order of business, find your fit and flare dress!

Step 2: Belt Up

Now the 1950s was all about placing emphasis on the waistline. Yep, it was all about making your waist look smaller.

Hence the fit and flare and wiggle dresses.

Now that you have your fit and flare dress ready, you might want to consider adorning your outfit with a slim belt. Notice I say slim belt because it's just there to accentuate your waistline. Thick belts are an overkill in my opinion and just a tad too tacky for my liking; but then again, it's a matter of individual preference. Bottom line is, any adornments or embellishments on your clothing should exist for the simple reason of making you look classy and not too costume-y or too over the top.

Take for example this white floral Givenchy dress Ms. Hepburn wore to the Academy Awards in 1954. Notice how the slim belt is fastened tightly around her waist to show off her slim waistline? Of course I'm not asking you to suffocate yourself with a belt. Keep in mind that we just want to create an illusion of a slimmer waistline so let it sit snugly but comfortably on your waist.

Audrey Hepburn in a white Givenchy floral dress

And just to drive my point home, see below for an example of how the addition of a simple belt helps create so much more definition to your waistline.

Left: without a belt, Right: with a belt

Step 3: Pearls

Quick question - what do these celebrities have in common?

You got that right - pearls! Granted, diamonds are a girl's best friend, but if you're gunning for an authentic retro look, then your best bet is pearls.

These days, dresses are embellished with pearls - very much inspired by Audrey Hepburn in her Breakfast at Tiffany's movie. If you have such a dress, then I would say you're pretty much set.

Otherwise, try adorning yourself with long strings of small pearls (by creating several loops) for short dresses, or shorter strings of larger pearls for long dresses. Play around with different combinations until you find something you fancy.

Step 4: Shoes

Often the most overlooked element of a retro makeover, shoes can actually make or break your entire look.

Have you ever seen someone wearing just about the nicest dress you've ever seen, but as your eyes travel down towards the shoes, they make your face twitch?

That's exactly my point. You really need the right pair of shoes.

Back in the 1950s, shoes were rather plain and conventional. Oxford shoes, ballet shoes and plain colored pumps were the norm. Bobby socks were also very commonly worn with penny loafers and saddle shoes.

Having said that though, stilettos were actually popular back in the 1950s for their sex appeal which drove designers to compete with each other to see who could make the skinniest heels.

Shoes popular in the 1950s

Take a look at the blog post here for more designs that were popular in the 1950's. 

Step 5: Make up and Hairdo

One more time - what do these celebrities have in common?


If you answered "red lipstick", then well done!

To perfect your 1950's retro look, you need to pay attention to your makeup and hairdo as well. In fact, in my opinion, if you couldn't be bothered with the clothing and accessories, then at least ace this part.

In terms of makeup, I would go as far as to say that the red lipstick is the quintessential element of any 1950s retro look. In fact, I have a guilty pleasure  - I'm the proud owner of a little over 20 lipsticks in all different shades of red. Yes, I must confess that I have a vice for red lipsticks. My favorite has to be the L'Oreal Colour Riche Coco Rico. Although I do think that some of the shades are pretty much identical but oh well, who's counting? :)

Here is an awesome blog post that shows you how to transform your look into a 1950's Hollywood starlet in just 10 steps.

In terms of hairdo, you'll notice that there is a common theme with retro hairstyles. Regardless which hairstyle you're trying to attain, you'll need to introduce some form of wave or curl. Emily, from The Freckled Fox shares excellent specialty tutorials on how to recreate retro hairstyles. You really don't need a professional for this!

Bonus: Exclusively for Audrey Hepburn fans

This section is a little bonus for you Audrey Hepburn fans out there.

Did you know that Ms. Hepburn had a vice for scarves? In a cover story on Vanity Fair, Ms. Hepburn's son Luca Dotti admitted that his mother had likely close to 30-40 scarves. Ms. Hepburn was truly fond of kerchiefs tied under her chin, as they reminded her of her childhood days on the farm.

For an even more classy and elegant flair, put on a pair of Oliver Goldsmith lookalike large, bold sunglasses!

Here's a signature Audrey Hepburn style I'll leave you with.



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