Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dress-savers: black and beige sports bras





"The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are."  - Reflections on the Art of Living : a Joseph Campbell Companion

This black sports bra was purchased specifically for this dress which has X-shaped straps in the back. Forever 21 calls this a 'layering bra' and it has - no padding - which is fine for this dress since it is slightly thicker (98% cotton, 2% spandex) than what you would expect from a summer dress. The layering bra is made of a thin stretchy fabric with lace trim around the upper border and textured dots across the surface. As a reminder, here is what the actual bra looks like.



I love the classic trend of black and white for summer because it is visually cool and crisp and works as a transition piece into fall when paired with olive cardigans and the like. I am looking forward to trying it with a textured woolen cropped cardi by Jil Sander for Uniqlo, also in black.


These are the accessories I chose for the outfit - The neon pink nail polish is by Color Club and has no name but is bubblegum scented (!).  I'd actually prefer a neutral white nail polish - the neon is a little too jarring I think, paired with the black, but it went well with the cassette tape street art I found.

Here's what the beige sports bra looks like (identical to the pale turquoise in design) ---


I don't think I need to go into depth on the merits of the ever practical skin-toned undergarment. They disappear under sheer fabrics and are a good thing to have around. I prefer this simpler style over the lacy ones with the decorative components, especially since most of my dresses are frilly and flowery enough on their own. Unfortunately, a basic black one was no where to be found when I visited the store. Perhaps next time.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sports Bras - a surprising summer accessory

Forever 21 turquoise blue sports bra

The one that started it all - This pretty light turquoise one is the first purchased.  All due to the dress I am wearing in the photos below.  I found the dress at TJ Maxx, loved the color combinations (I've been very into mint green since last summer and increasingly this summer) and loved that it buttoned all the way up and down the front.  However, the chest area was a little loose, the straps were kind of weird, they curved inwards in a C shape and when I mildly complained about these factors to the friendly checkout person who complimented my dress choice, she suggested a sports bra underneath.  So I checked first at American Apparel - nothing! Somehow wound up at f21 and discovered this cheap goodness.  : D

The quality, fit, and comfort is just amazing for $4.80 and best of all, for practical purposes, it has these openings in the side where you can remove the pads!  This is honestly my favorite thing because I have never figured out a way to fit hand washing bras into my schedule, and as a result, after one or two machine washes, the pads inside start to get lumpy and misshapen ... which means that before long, I can only wear them underneath fall sweaters.  These pads are easy to remove and easy to put back in.


Forever 21 turquoise blue sports bra


The sports bra shows a little bit at the neckline, which is nice - similar color scheme!  A contrasting color such as yellow or purple would also be nice (addicted).

Forever 21 turquoise blue sports bra



Forever 21 turquoise blue sports bra
Aand in the back, you just see the 2 thin straps which I totally don't mind.  Some people have issues with any straps showing though, even if it's totally coordinating straps.  Can't be helped!  I tried a strapless bra once and it kept sliding south.  Most uncomfortable.

I love these sports bras over regular bras because they create a slimmer silhouette and feel more natural and comfortable, maybe due to the lack of wires and hooks.  I kind of want to just switch over to these completely, even for fall and winter.

Let me know if you have any particular underwear preferences (lol, wink wink) and next up, an outfit with the black one and an outfit with the tan one.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Black-out

From: f21


My newest discovery this summer is the sports bra.  The Forever 21 sports bra in particular (sometimes called a layering bra on the website).  It is the perfect companion to dresses with atypical straps or dresses that are slightly ill-fitting on top due to lack of bust on purchaser.  The checkout person at TJ Maxx suggested it to me. I know. I'm very upset I didn't think of this simple but brilliant idea myself.  This black one is my third one now and I actually wouldn't mind one or two more in yellow &/or lavender.  Addicted!  I love being addicted to things that are really good and totally cheap.

They only cost $4.80 and I think they deserve their own post.

I am delighted to say that my newly begun off-time from school has resulted in a slew of sketches being finished.  I am very reluctant to photograph them though because I always feel like they are not quite finished and could use a little more shading/outlining/detail ... Well the plan is to post those, write a little more about sports bras, and do an outfit post incorporating the above accessories.

side note: frequently using Instagram has caused me to square-crop my photos even when it's not necessary. I read an article about this; the square frame is harmonious and balanced and helps with focus. All things I need.  

also, I am trying to toughen up my 'look' starting (and probably ending) at the accessories level.  Namely, bracelets.  Helloo studs, leather, and chains. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lovely me:ex - Peach Cushion Blusher

Lovely me:ex blushes
Recently, I got two more 'Lovely me:ex' blushes from the Face Shop because I loved the first one so much.  The location in Koreatown, when I went at least, did not have any more of the ones with the girls on them!  The newest addition is the peach color (No. 5) because this summer I want to get as much coral-orange on my face as possible.  I love warm-hued blushes.  They instantly make me feel cheerful and it always feels like the finishing touch, along with some lip gloss.  I think they also subtly direct attention to the eyes.  This is the original one that I first tried - a very pale matte pink with zero shimmer.  Loved it!  After I hit pan, I decided to pick out the vivid pink with shimmer particles, which I've found requires a much lighter hand.

Lovely me:ex blushes







Lovely me:ex blushes



The bright pink on the far right is way more pigmented compared to the other two.  I can't even use the included powder puff with it - must use a brush, or else it's too vivid.  The newest addition for spring/summer is this matte peachy-coral.  Again, zero shimmer.  It's a little more subtle than I had hoped, but it does add a very natural flush to the face, and similar to the light pink, creates a soft, downy look:

Lovely me:ex blushes




Whenever I sit down to try and write something after a long period away, I either do a series of rapid mental edits that reduces everything I wanted to say to 2 sentences or develop a emotional narrative in my head that has a "wisdom of the ages" feel to it and which I know will not translate well from my brain to the screen.  I have been on the lookout for signs that I am becoming more 'adult-like'.  For instance, I recently took up reading a Zen book in the genuine hope that it would bring inner peace and a better understanding of life and myself.  Another sign might be referring to certain experiences as "humbling".  I've finished with the first year of grad school!  This past semester was a bit of a shock and not what I imagined at all.  It is very hard to be the best at something, or anything.  I don't think that is a good goal for certain personality types.  Instead of that, it might be more fitting to have as a goal - doing something right away --- or being completely okay with not being busy and not doing things because you've done those other things right away.  The worst feeling and the best way to ruin a day is when there's something that I ignore or just cannot mentally accept and therefore don't deal with.  This is different from procrastination I think.

Blogging is so calming.  These past few days, due to the sudden absence of the extreme structure and busy-ness needed in balancing school and work, I've been feeling adrift and unsure of what to focus on.  Writing and organizing my thoughts here is the most calm I have felt in days.  More so than journaling, because (for me) that is such a stream of consciousness activity.  At times that just makes things worse.  Here I try to slow down and think more, to be structured, cohesive, & clear.  It's comforting because so often when I feel stressed about something, reading someone else's writing about it helps.  A recent example is this interview with Emma Watson, and similarly in terms of figuring things out, here where someone talks about why she left the acting profession.  I really liked her piece on the freedom to have a big zit.  The thing I am never sure about is how much I should share.  I mean, when I read others' writings, I love the details.  But then again, those things I am reading are usually from people who are famous in some degree for being 'entertainers' so it makes sense that it's all so interesting.  I've been watching a lot of the original Star Trek episodes (with Shatner and Nimoy) and the Mindy Project.

BEFORE & AFTER

1. No blush, just a little bit of foundation and concealer (Laura Mercier, L'oreal True Match) and setting powder (L'oreal True Match).

2. Addition of peach blush (Lovely me:ex #5) and lip gloss (L'oreal in Coral Tattoo).  

3. Added glasses, which I wear all the time, and another layer of blush.  






Haha, had a bit of fun with this last photo.  I slipped on something more colorful to see if the pinks and yellows would bring out the makeup colors more since they are in the same color family.  It seems to have just made the makeup pale in comparison.  The little bag came with the dress - it held a spare button and some thread.  If you are interested, here is the last time I posted about one of these blushes, the pale pink one, which is the first one I tried.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Patterns

Marimekko Flatiron NY
Marimekko, Flatiron NY


Bluebottle Coffee Chocolate Bars
Bluebottle Coffee, Midtown NY



I pass this new-ish Marimekko boutique several times a week on my walk to and from work.  Each time I feel the pull.  My appreciation is more of the gestalt type - once I stop to examine individual pieces, I have less desire to actually purchase anything.  (It would help if they made at least some dresses in the fitted/flared style rather than the baggy-bag style.)  Still though – every time – I just want to step in, walk around, and soak up the happy vibes.  Who knows, maybe one of these days I'll try on one of their dresses.  Maybe it'll look smashing on me!  The patterns and colors are gorgeous.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mani hands: Pink with Silver Border, Instagram Edition!

NOTD pink with silver border

Good morning!  I thought I would share some of what I have been up to through pictures selected from my Instagram feed.

I tried a few simple variations on the standard manicure - First is what I like to think of as the borderline style.  I saw it online and thought for a good while about how to achieve it on my own.  I first painted a thin layer using a Sally Hansen silver (Celeb city).  I find metallic nail polishes easiest to control.  For me, the creamy, milky pastel polishes are the most challenging to work with!  Metallics glide on smoothly and are very forgiving.  I tried to bring the silver color as close to the cuticle as possible.

Sally Hansen Celeb City


Next came the Essie pink (Muchi muchi).  As expected, it was easier than if I had painted the whole nail as there is less surface area to cover.  Working with my non-dominant hand was a bit trickier and the silver border came out thicker on the right hand.  However, overall, they looked great!  I can't wait to try this with other colors.  I'm hoping to get a gold and shimmery white polish sometime in the near future.

The trick to designs like this is to keep the hand muscles loose and relaxed while knowing exactly where you want the brush to go.  So, having a plan and being precise - but not getting tense.  Also, as with all diy manicures, cuticle prep is crucial!

Here is another shot of this manicure, taken with an actual camera:

Feel free to add me on Instagram - emyaugustus is my user name. Those of you who follow me know these pictures are from a while ago. I never have time to blog when school is in session, so re-capping from Instagram might be the only way!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

House & Home

Apartment moving


























It was around three weeks ago, and it was really difficult in retrospect.  First, moving out of the top of a five story walk up, without the help of any movers, just you and your bf, is already pretty tough.  We spread it out over 2 or 3 days, and oh boy was there a lot of up and downs!  ... Then a mix of the cold and flu hit me for 4 days, and just when I was almost all recovered, it was "that time-a-the-month".  Now that all that is over, I can focus on the more enjoyable aspects of moving.

Urban Outfitters Curtains

I ordered these sheer curtains from Urban Outfitters (by a brand called Magical Thinking).  I think UO is one of the nicer places to get curtains in that they have a variety of choices with the lowest prices.  My second choice would be Modcloth.  While they are also not too expensive, they are a little hit or miss in the designs.  Sometimes they'll have a nice selection and other times, like right now, they'll have 4 types of curtains in not-so-great patterns.  My third pick would be Anthropologie which has great designs and many styles, but as you can probably guess, very, VERY high prices.  Their online furniture/accessories sale section is one of my favorite places to browse on a weekly - monthly basis though.

I was hoping to get everything mounted this past weekend, but all we managed were a set of curtains!  I think we needed a weekend of mainly rest after all the hard work and sickness.
Green Drawer shelf - Etsy
From Legacy Studio on Etsy - A very nice shop with a sweet country farm aesthetic.





Why yes, I am reading Moby Dick, and have been on and off for the past several months!  It's a very funny book when it is not busy overwhelming you with its sheer bulk of words.  

These also need to find a home somewhere on the ceiling:
Japanese style fish decorations
Wax paper blow-up fish from Kinokuniya (Japanese for 'Corner Bookstore') at Bryant Park. 
Aren't they fun?  I'm amazed and glad they survived the move despite being made out of some thin, crinkly, plastic.  They came in a flat package, and to puff them up, you blow into a small hole in the center.  The big blue one was a challenge.  Don't attempt it if you have or have had asthma.


Green floral curtains from Modcloth

This is our one completed project!  A very important one too as our window looks directly into another person's window which tends to make me get twitchy and self-conscious.  These curtains are from Modcloth.  Lovely color and pattern!  I was hoping to get another set to match but alas, they don't sell it anymore, and even when I googled the specific brand, none were to be found. 

Some future plans for our little 1-bedroom apartment :
1) A tiny couch.  Leaning towards this one from MUJI.
2) Building a sleeping loft (!!!)
3) A small kitchen table, preferably drop-leaf, preferably this one from Etsy seller 'Envy Alley'.  

From time to time, I tend to get bouts of impatience for everything to be done and settled already.  Yes these types of things take time.  In fact, I think that in decorating a living space, the slower it comes together the better.  It gives one time to find the right thing needed for the space/function.  It feels like a natural growing process, and probably shouldn't be rushed.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Fancy soaps

Fancy Soaps from TJ Maxx


I want to use this short easy-breezy post to segue back into the blogging routine now that my first semester of graduate school has come to an end.  Just some minor edits left on a group project, then no deadlines for a solid month.  This post was actually drafted way the heck back at the start of the Fall semester.  Even though I like to keep things recent and somewhat spontaneous, I'll just go ahead and finish this one because I like the bright colors.  They'll cheer me up in these dark, short days of winter.  Aren't you glad the world didn't end?

I tell you, TJ Maxx is one of the best places to pick up fancy, large bars of soap for around $4 or $5. The scents are amazing.  The packaging is special.  I started using the yellow (lemon) one a few days ago and the size is just - - - sitting on my shower caddy, it reminds me of a submarine. A  ♪ yellow   submarine. It suds up amazingly rich and foamy.

Fancy Soaps from TJ Maxx


My goals for this month are to finish up some new sketches - the ones I have here are so old.  I also want to read some good books, possibly even one or two school-related ones if I can find them.  I also of course want to blog.  The question is what to blog about.  I actually feel rusty!  While I've really enjoyed trying out the expository writing style necessary for beauty/skincare products, I know this break will feel so short, and I've really missed having time to draw, sketch, doodle, so I would love to focus more on that this month.  We'll see how that goes.  Something about sharing the products you've tried is so instantly gratifying, and 'easy' ... in a way.  


Potential Topics :

1) Completed drawings
2) A follow up review of the Clarisonic Mia 2 
3) A really great lavender oil
4) DIY manicure progress & tips 
5) Outfits of the day (OOTD) 






Another exciting update is, I finally got a smartphone!  Yayyyy a phone with a camera!  ^_^

Also moving into a new apartment in about a week.  Same general area, just a few blocks closer to the subway, always helpful for those grey, rainy Mondays.

Have a good Christmas!  I am looking forward to all the cheery holiday Instagrams.  And food pics!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mani hands - Green Edition

OPI Jade is the new black and OPI Greenwich Village

Thoughts & comparisons with doing it myself:

• The manicurist was fast and efficient
• She used thinner coats
• She painted with tiny feathery, overlapping strokes - almost like blending paint on a canvas - this is impossible for me to do
Amazing cuticle clean-up *

* ... Just for that I would go back.  While the experience was unique, what with a fizzy, scented soak, steaming towels, cuticle oil etc., the finished result looks similar enough to what I can accomplish on my own that I'd want to stick with doing them myself.  The only difference of course, is that the whole process is much faster, and less tedious/stressful ... but I think I just need more practice.  

• Another very surprising thing was that the manicurist allowed very little dry time in between coats.  I always let the first coat dry for upwards of 2-3 minutes.  She, on the other hand, painted a thin coat on each nail, then immediately went back to the beginning and applied the 2nd coat.   Maybe the trick is a very thin first coat?  Hm.

Colors used:
OPI 'Jade is the new black'
OPI 'Greenwich Village'

I still have a pedicure left on my voucher (hooray!) ... so I'll be saving that for the summer!  For toes, I'd want to go with a more classic color like a poppy red, a bright pink, or a sleek neutral.  I went with green for my fingers because I have never purchased genuine green polish before (only that metallic mermaid green).  Every time I see it in the store, I want it – and never get it because it seems like the exotic color that'll get used once a year (as was the case with the metallic mermaid green).  The darker green (Jade is the new black) has a hint of teal in it and actually turned out to be quite lovely for this time of year - reminiscent of wintry pines, holly, fir branches, and christmas trees.

Tip for the future:
If you want the ease of professionally done nails, and also want to save some $$$, ask for a 'polish change', not a manicure.  The place I went to, ThinkPink, offered these for $6 less, and the only difference may be the lack of a hand massage, which is silly anyway.  It tickled and lasted like, a minute.



Sunday, October 7, 2012

Empties


Empties posts.  The initial appeal and novelty factor of discovering this niche topic still remains.  As time passed, I noticed the selections are actually not as random as they first appeared. The reviews, rationales for repurchasing/not repurchasing, and choices convey a strong sense of personality, and even worldview.

My first empties post is more on the random side.  Some were presents and the samples were mostly not chosen by me.  Let's start with those –– samples!
From left to right -

The Face Shop: Herb Day Cleansing Foam - Acerola | Review  [Price: $7.99]
Delicately light pink, soft and foamy with very light - no scent.  Will buy this next time I go to The Face Shop in Koreatown!  (I like the packaging with just the two cherries on top, for some reason the 'review' link shows a different, ugly package design.) fyi: Acerola

Bliss: Triple Oxygen + C Energizing Cream  [Price: $54]
Delicately light orange, amazing light texture, no scent.  Loved it but would not buy because it is over $50 (it's a face moisturizer).

Missha: Cho Bo Yang BB Cream SPF30 PA++  [Price: $30 - $45]
Redness and enlarged pores instantly disappear.  Really nice that it can be rubbed on as opposed to the Skin79 BB cream which needs to be gently patted on.  I get really tired when multiple face cosmetics require those annoying patting motions for application!  It is very light though, and only two shades are available.  I would buy this if I didn't recently get the Laura Mercier Foundation (also good).  


Next:





(Left to Right)


Trader Joe's SPA Lavender hand & body lotion | Review  [$4.99]
A consistent re-buy.  Both my mom, my sister (and me of course) have repurchased it so many times.

Neutrogena Pore Refining Toner 
Very strong fumes - strong alcohol scent.  Stings eyes to the point of teariness.  Also makes the inside of your nose feel strange when you breathe it in.  A painful kind of strange.  Does not minimize the appearance of pores, and the only plus side is that it cools the skin.  

Victoria's Secret 'Beauty Rush' Body mist and lotion in "Appletini"  
This is where the randomness comes in - this body lotion and body spray set was a present - from a stranger - and boy did I hate them. So much so that the body spray is not actually empty. I can't stand to use it up, especially since sprays take FOREVER to go through.  The scent was not only highly artificial and sickening, but the body lotion also had a strong undertone of alcohol ...  I forced myself to use up the lotion because I hate wasting things, and I was all set to use the spray at least as a room spray, but - no can do!  The color is very pretty - I do love green, but I am sooo happy to throw it out.




A very pretty blue, nicely scented, feel-good scrub.  I wouldn't buy it again though because diy scrubs are easy and pretty much free!  Also, the Clarasonic already provides good exfoliation.  

Earth Science Olive and Avocado deep conditioning masque for hair  [$8.95] 

I found this at Whole Foods.  The mini size was on sale for $2 so I picked it up since I'm always looking for a good hair conditioner.  This one works really well.  I even cut open the tube when it was near empty to try and get everything.  Luckily, I found the large size at WF a few months later.  This is just as good, if not better than the Kiehl's Olive Fruit Oil Hair Pak, except for just 2.4 ounces less, it's almost 3 times cheaper.  ($8.95 vs. $25.00) 

Trader Joe's Virtuoso lip balm with SPF 15 (spearmint) [$2.45]

Really good price - 3 in a pack.  Feels and smells nice.  Another one of those consistent re-buys for my mom, my sister, and myself.  Oddly, I can't find a product page or crowd sourced review for this so check out the blog post here and here if you want to see more.  

And lastly, because they didn't leave behind any kind of packaging/wrapper and so I almost forgot: 


LUSH ultimate shine shampoo bar and LUSH coal face
*shampoo bar and bar tin was a present*

1.) Fun to try out, however, both my boyfriend and I thought it didn't clean the hair very well on those oily-hair days.  Also, I didn't think it made my hair any shinier, unless you count the natural oils it left behind!  The store advises you to purchase their special tin for storage in between uses to promote the longevity of the bar, but like others have said, when I did this, the soap stuck to the tin, took forever to get out, then broke in half.  [Check it out]

2.) This facial soap worked very well at getting rid of oil.  However, storage was an issue for me.  I found it pretty messy to keep around and for that reason, will keep using bottled face washes with the clarasonic. [Check it out]

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