Sunday, 31 May 2015

5 Years of Beauty at Topshop

The fact that Beauty at Topshop is celebrating its fifth birthday this year makes me feel really old. When it was released, I was in second year of college and living with a best friend rather than in university accommodation for the first time. My other best friend and I had made the annual student night at Topshop a tradition and when I saw the lipsticks that newly graced the store displays, I went a little mental. I only bought two but considering I barely wore make-up even to dressy events back then, it seems rather a unique incident.

Since day one, I have loved the range of colours, the quality, packaging and price point. A Topshop lipstick feels expensive, even though it is not. The nail polishes have regularly offered my colour of the season. And the rainbow of eyeliners have allowed me to mimic catwalk looks as I learned about make-up and how to use it.

The capsule collection to celebrate 5 Years of Topshop Beauty is a gorgeous collection of their most iconic and in-demand pieces. It is made up of five essentials: the Matte Lips, Cream Blush, Magic Liner, Glow Pot and Nails. The lips come in five of the best-selling shades, Rio Rio, Innocent, Beguiled, Nevada and Ohh La La, offering a range of tones from nude to pink, peach to orange-red and vampy blood-red. The Nails come in five shades also (sensing a theme here?) with one glitter (Adrenalin), one metallic (Heart of Gold) and three opaques (Green Room, Boy Next Door and Parma Violet). The blush, highlighter and eyeliner only come in one shade each but all of the products are sold in special rose-gold packaging that immediately suckered me in.

While none of the products were new or new to me, I hadn't tried some of the shades so I grabbed a Glow Pot, Cream Blush, nail polish (Parma Violet) and lipstick (Rio Rio).

The Glow Pot (Polished, £9.00) was the first I had owned rather than borrowed and it has become my go-to highlighter since purchasing it. I don't wear highlighter often, only when wearing make-up for an event, but I do pop a bit on the tip of my nose and in my cupid's bow now and then with minimal make-up. It's not too in-your-face, which I like. The consistency is great too. The only really issue is that it can be a wee bit tricky to get out of the pot.


The Cream Blush (Head Over Heels, £7.00) is the perfect pop of colour for daily make-up. It's very  pretty and light and only needs fingers for application - though you can blend it out with a brush if you like. Again, consistency is smooth and it's a really nice size for popping in a bag.



As I said, I've always been a fan of the Nails polishes. Parma Violet (£6.00) is a really pretty pastel purple and I really like it but I've been wearing polishes with better formulas for so long now that I had forgotten that these can be a little tricky to apply. Bonus though: they smell like nineties nostalgia in a bottle.



Again, the Lips are products I've loyally enjoyed for years. Generally the matte finish can be difficult for me with my habit of biting and destroying my lips but with a layer of balm underneath, the colour actually spreads quite nicely. I've been after a shade like Rio Rio (£8.00) for a while now and really like how it looks - I feel like it makes my eyes look very blue.




But, really, it's all about that packaging! So, so gorgeous. For those of us more obsessed with design than make-up, it's a real draw.

At the end of the day, these products are great value, pretty, good quality and cruelty free. They appeal to girls and women of all ages alike and are totally accessible. All major bonuses and reasons to support the brand in my eyes.




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Thursday, 28 May 2015


Bikinis aren't my thing (unless we're talking Bikini Kill, because I'm obvs down with that). See, I don't tend to lounge in a swimsuit. I'm either fully dressed and exploring or actually swimming.

I also have boobs. And a butt. Therefore, teeny triangles of fabric aren't going to cut it.

Even swimsuits that have seemed sturdy and reliable in the past have failed me. There was the one-strap one-piece that looked good on but invariably showed off more arse than I was comfortable with once I started moving. Worst of all, that lack of strap led to an unfortunate incident involving a nip slip that my little brother swears has scarred him for life. Ugh. As if I don't embarrass myself enough as it is.

Then there was the high-waisted bikini from American Apparel that I thought had cured my hatred of bikinis but is so complicated to put on that I haven't worn it in years. And then there was the one-piece with cut-outs that looked cute and innocuous with bows on the hips. On the almost entirely curveless mannequin, it looked sweet. When I walked past a window at the pool while wearing it, I came to realise that on a real body it was almost obscene.

Don't even get me started on string ties or entirely strapless swimsuits...

I mean, why are so many swimsuits and bikinis so poorly designed? Why are there so few options that exist somewhere between hideously frumpy and basically naked?

At this stage, I've come to the conclusion, that for me, at least, it's going to be one-pieces all the way from now on. I just feel more at home in them. So, if you have any of the same qualms as me, here's a list of guidelines I've devised to prevent repeats of my past horror stories and some examples that I think are pretty darn cute.

1. Don't go white if you're actually swimming. Trust me - transparency is not your friend.

2. Strapless + boobs = a serious no-go.

3. Cut-out placement should be carefully monitored as torsos are different warned.

4. If you think you've found a good one, make sure to take note of the leg-holes. You might be down for it but, if not, be wary of Baywatch-style suits that can go from risqué to risky.

5. While we're talking nether regions (obviously), just check out the butt of suits. Is there enough fabric there for your liking or is it skimpier than you'd prefer?

6. Complexity isn't fun on the beach. If something requires careful placement or takes ages to put on, you may want to forego it.

7. Don't expect a swimsuit to do miracles. It's the sad truth but no matter how cute it is, you're not going to transform. Things you didn't like about yourself will remain. You either have to learn to live with and accept and try to like those things or change them.

8. Get your sizes right or don't buy. Seriously, even on sale. It's not a saving if you realise you can't wear the damned thing.

9. Maybe invest? Sadly, I've noticed that swimsuit selections are waaayyy better when more money is involved. High-end particularly. And, if you don't get to swim that often, maybe an investment in something you would wear for years is better than ten you never even look at. I have a tankini from far too long ago that still gets cracked out on a regular basis.

10. And, hey, if you like it, fuck what anyone else thinks. Fuck my rules/tips/whatever the hell these are. You do you.

Of course, feel free to disregard everything I've said, they are merely lessons I have learned over the years. All I'm saying is, don't go crazy because something is cute. It might not be right for you and if you have to put on your body and don't want to feel shit about it, it may be best to stop and think for a couple seconds first.

One Piece

Here, we've got a few good options.

1. Heatons, Floral swimsuit, €18

Underwire? Check. Not too skimpy in the crotch areas? Check. Cute as heck/dupe for Dolce? Double check. Also, this is a serious bargain.

2. Cos, Black reversible swimsuit, €55

Thick straps, streamline, minimal and chic and a two-in-one. Basically a classic without looking too much like you stole your grandmother's swimsuit.

3. Batoko, Watermelon swimsuit, €39

Cute, playful, good coverage. The one-piece option for someone who still wants to look fresh and young.

4. Modcloth, Sailor swimsuit, €87

Retro, great on the curves and adorable. A little more pricey but think of the serious Marilyn vibes you'd be giving of, ne?

(Click on the smaller images to shop items.)

So, yeah, that turned into a bit of a rant but I find swimsuits and swimsuit shopping rather a stressful thing. How about you guys?


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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Little Gem: Folkster

Last year, I posted about the arrival of Folkster (and sister brands Shutterbug and Gild & Cage) in Dublin with much excitement. A friend worked in the Kilkenny branch and I had creeped on the store online for years but had never experienced it for myself. Ergo the joy when Dublin got her own branch!

It was only recently that I realised I had yet to dedicate a "Little Gem" post to the store.

And obviously that needed rectifying.

Based on Eustace Street, right by the IFI, the store is divided into three main sections. You enter into clothing both new and vintage, alongside jewellery and accessories, proceed through the homewares and gifts and end up in the more formal department where the changing rooms also live. As I mentioned last time, one of my favourite things about the store is that it caters for a wide range of women and budgets. It's somewhere to buy stompy boots and pretty dresses. To pick up a funny card for a friend's birthday or choose a wedding dress. Buy a whole wardrobe update or a statement necklace. Grab a new mug or rug.

There's lots to see and choose from but I never feel overwhelmed or panicky (Topshop Oxford Circus made me break out in a sweat) because it's all masterfully and artfully arranged and organised. You'll also be hard pressed to find nicer staff who have the balance of helping when you're lost while never over-crowding you so down.

If you're nearby and want to support an Irish company, get something a little different, find Fairtrade brands, vintage pieces or get items from labels such as Jeffrey Campbell and Miista (which can be difficult to get your hands on in Ireland), this is the place for you!

P.S. Dat light tho. All shops should be this airy and bright.


























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Thursday, 21 May 2015

Lost In Summer

I have a bit of a thing for Western vibes though I loathe Westerns themselves - perhaps due to a childhood of being forced to watch them with my dad.

I guess it's a Hemingway-esque honesty thing. The materials are basic - cottons, denims, hides - and pure in a way. Ornamentation tends to be minimal and, even if it's not actually true, you get a sense that cowboy inspired clothes are made for doing things. And I do love me some menswear inspired pieces.

It's probably also the shoots that go with them. All stark, romantic landscapes. Barren bar one perfectly styled figure.

All of which being the reason why Penneys' latest lookbook had me immediately hooked. I do love a concept that relies purely on the context and setting. Also, the clothes just look amazing - especially for the price points. You gotta give them props, this shoot looks all kinds of perfect.

Bonus: this context is a great way to breathe fresh life into the whole boho, seventies thing that's everywhere at the moment. It was getting rather twee and overdone for a moment there but this is just rugged enough to refresh the palate. Delightful.
















(All rights belong to Penneys/Primark. Reproduced here with permission)


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