A Week In Pictures

This past week has been absolutely amazing, great friends, food and drinks. Rather than bore you will all the details, I’ll just leave you with some pictures to enjoy!

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San Sebastian

Aside from the beautiful, intimate wedding at La Durantie, my favorite part of my recent vacation was our two days in San Sebastian. If I suddenly disappear from the internet, it’s because I found a way to move there and am living in a little hut near the beach with no wi-fi.

No, I’m serious.

Let me preface this by saying that normally I’m not a beach girl. I don’t love sand or sunscreen or really even salt water. And from a fashion standpoint, I’d much rather wear gorgeous winter outerwear and elbow length gloves than a bathing suit. Not to mention I’m so pale that I practically glow in the dark…

And despite all of that, I am so head over heels in love with the Spanish coast that I don’t even know where to start!

Fashion: Given its beach-side location its pretty easy to guess that the fashion uniform for the women of San Sebastian tends towards dresses, breezy skirts and slim fitting Capri pants. Lots of white and lots of bright colors. The clothes were pretty but fairly basic, the fashion was definitely all about the accessories. Lots of beachy totes and shopper-style bags, chunky jewelry and big, ornate necklaces, and embellished sandals. Not a heel to be seen! What was I most surprised about? The city-wide pastime appeared to be tanning and as a result, the women had awful skin. Awful. My boyfriend described them as “beef jerky in bikinis.” Not cute. Sunscreen ladies, listen to your mothers!

Fitness: In addition to two days of walking around the main city and Old Town, I got in my first run and my first swim of the trip while we were in San Sebastian. The main cove that the city sits on has an island in the center so its perfect for swimming, especially after working up a sweat watching the swimmers and sunbathers as we had verano de tinto overlooking the beach.

Food: San Sebastian is on the North-Western coast of Spain so in addition to traditional Spanish influences, the cuisine also has French and Andorran (Basque) undertones. Quite a combination. Lots of seasonings and interesting spices, seafood, vegetables and bread. We found some great wine and some cute little restaurants during our wanderings. My favorite dish was the patatas bravas, which I tried at about half a dozen restaurants.

Lodgings: In an attempt to help me “relax” my boyfriend planned the second half of our vacation, including booking the hotel for San Sebastian. I was skeptical, I’ll admit, but it turned out quite nice. Well… Except for the two twin beds aspect. But we had a pool and a view, and a spacious, clean room.

Sights: The San Sebastian that we saw consisted of an older part of town with beautiful architecture and old buildings, a more commercial, modern downtown and a touristy section near the beach with hotels, restaurants, cafes and small shops.

Travel: The trip from Bordeaux to San Sebastian consisted of a 5 hour train ride to the French-Spanish border and then a 20-30 minute ride on a smaller, local commuter train through the mountains near the border and over to the coast. When we left San Sebastian (sob) we went to a different train station for a very early morning train ride to Madrid.

Highlights: I don’t think I can narrow down my favorite part of this city, I loved the view of the beach, the sangria, the chevre salads… Let’s just saying leaving it was my least favorite part of the trip!

Stay tuned for the final part of the trip, steamy Madrid, and my second celebrity sighting!

Need to catch up? Check out London, Paris, La Durantie & Southern France.

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MCLV’s Medicine Cabinet

Have you ever peaked in someone’s medicine cabinet?

Ever wanted to? 🙂

As I was growing up and becoming interested in beauty my mother and Aunt were my teachers and their medicine cabinets (and drawers, and cupboards, and anyplace else I could reach…) were my classroom. I remember sitting on the edge of the bathtub in my parents bathroom countless times, watching my mom go through her morning routine. Eye creams and lotions, cleansers, toners… The tubes and jars and boxes were magical and unknown.

And I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them!

And while I may have ignored some of my mother’s best advice growing up (sunscreen anyone?) these “girls only” sessions in her bathroom became a foundation for the beauty routine and the products that I use today. A girl just doesn’t forget the smell of her mother’s Lancome face powder or the not on your face look she shoots you when you pick up the bar of soap.

The other great contributor to my love of beauty products and the one responsible for my adoration for all things French is my Aunt. With a gorgeous, luxurious bathroom and drawers upon drawers of  French beauty products, half of them unopened, I think my mother was almost as excited as I was for our visits to Auntie’s house! She introduced me to Chanel (a love affaire that will last a life time I’m sure – much to my wallet’s detriment), brought me makeup brushes and boxes back from her trips to Paris, and gave me free rein in my own personal Disneyland when most women would have locked the bathroom door the instant I ran (literally, ran) in the front door.

These days my beauty routine is a little bit Mom, a little bit Auntie, and a little bit me. My tastes, interests, and goals for my products have changed in the years since I left Berkeley, joined the workforce, and made my first self-sponsored trip to the Bloomingdale and Nordstrom make up counters. I went through a phase where everything in my bathroom was Chanel or Laura Mercier and I was on a first name basis with the women behind the counter at Barney’s, but in the last few years my interests have turned towards natural, organic, eco-conscious products. The result being that I tried a ton of products and kept the ones I loved, so my cabinets are filled with a hodgepodge of brands and items. Which I’m here to share with you today.

I live to exfoliate, so I’ve done quite a bit of research on the best facial exfoliating products. I’ve tried creams, masks, applicator brushes… And the winners are – drum roll please – Yu-Be Foaming Skin Polish and Sugar Face Polish. Also, the St. Ives Invigorating Apricot Scrub is a fabulous drugstore pick if you want to stay close to home. All of these scrubs are on the granular side, rather than being super creamy, which is my personal preference.

Love!

A facial cleanser is a must since soap can be harsh and drying for the delicate skin on your face, especially around your eyes. When I travel I carry Josie Maran Bear Naked Wipes in my toiletry kit, they’re effective, don’t require cotton balls, and wont get swooped up by airport security which is a huge plus. When I’m at home I use Boscia’s Detoxifying Black Cleanser or Origins Antioxidant Cleanser.

Boscia

I love, love, love masks. I’ve tried moisurizing, exfoliating, mud, peels… I’ve even experimented on my boyfriend. Shhhhh. My top picks when it comes to masks are the juice Beauty Green Apple Hydration Mask which goes on clear and smells heavenly and the Yes to Cucumbers Calm Care Soothing Facial Mask which is thick and really hydrating.

Eye Cream is something that I’ve only started wearing in the past few years and my focus is on moisture and wrinkle prevention. I tried Icelandic Relief Eye Cream with Biospheric Complex from Sephora and really liked it – it has a great, clean feeling. I’m not a fan of the greasy residue that thick creams can sometimes leave behind and found this was quite refreshing (I keep it in the fridge for instant de-puffing). The other eye cream that I frequently go back to was actually purchased initially when I read Rachel Zoe’s recommendation here. As a chronic dark circle-victim I was really excited about the brightening aspect of this and while it wasn’t the cure-all that I was hoping it would be (is anything ever?) it is a really great product.

Moisturizing, especially if you sit in an office with recycled air every day, is very important.  If you like oils, I suggest trying out Josie Maran’s Organic Argan Oil. I was hesitant to try it, for fear of a massive breakout, but was pleased with the results. However, I have to say that my all time favorite lotion is the Chanel Hydra line, specifically Hydramax. It’s light, silky, smells great and moisturizes like a dream. Unfortunately, it is also painfully expensive so I tend to alternate it with other lotions.

Stepping outside without sunscreen on your face is a big no-no, but finding one that doesn’t clog pores, leave you shiny, or make your makeup slide off your face can be a challenge. I initially tried wearing sunscreen over my lotion but since I don’t wear base or powder the end result was too oily. What I ultimately settled on was a tinted lotion with an SPF for during the week and full sunscreen on weekends when I’m actually in direct sunlight. My favorites are Dior’s ‘Hydra Life’ Pro-Youth Skin Tint SPF 20 and Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20. All three of these are light and don’t leave your face greasy, and have an added benefit of making your skin appear smooth and even.

Hand lotion is another product near to my heart because despite the amount of water I consume, my hands are always dry! You want something thick enough to be effective, but not so enduring that you leave finger prints on everything you touch for hours after application. My two favorites are L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream and Bag Balm. Bag Balm was recommended to me by a doctor that I sat next to on a flight nearly 5 years ago, and you know that people who spend ALL DAY washing their hands know their hand creams. That being said, I should tell you that Bag Balm originally was intended for animals, rather than people, but it’s completely safe – promise. It’s my go-to for foot repair too, I’ll slather it on and throw on some socks overnight. Fabulous!

What are you favorite skin care lines and products? What do you always keep in your medicine cabinet?

If you want more recommendations take a look at MCLV’s Makeup Bag, What’s Always On Hand, or MCLV’s Handbag.

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Reader Request: Age-Appropriate Fashion

I recently received the following cry for help: “Age-appropriate fashion: Does it/should it exist, what is it, when do we accept it, and what’s a healthy balance? I am having a fashion crisis!”

I’m here for you Laur, let’s get started!

First, I’d like to say that in my book there are very few hard and fast fashion rules, one of the things that I love about fashion is that it is an expression of who you are, a creative outlet. How can art have rules?

That being said, there are definitely some basic Do’s & Don’ts to keep in mind as you grow up and your style evolves. You don’t want to look dowdy and matronly at a young age and you don’t want to dress like your daughter once you’re, you know, old enough to have a daughter. There’s a happy medium to be found, but its going to be a little different for everyone.

One of my favorite magazines of all times is Harper’s Bazaar which contains a monthly segment called Fabulous at Every Age which features clothing and accessories, as well as a fashionable style icon, for each of the age brackets. I love this idea in theory, though sometimes I think they’re a bit too rigid in their rules. Yes, shorter hemlines, innovative fashion designs and tons of color are the hallmarks of youth, but as someone in their 20’s who prefers classic, structured pieces, I’m frequently drawn to the clothing and accessories picked out for women in their 30’s and 40’s. This led me to realize, early on in my personal style evolution, that I was never going to be one of those girls who followed the trends, or what magazines suggested, to the letter. I was going to take a little of what I wanted from everything that inspired me.

And that, my dear readers, is what I recommend for you all.

When Laur, who I might add is a psychology graduate student, approached me with this question it was about more than simply fashion. Her question was based on how a person’s inner self is expressed by what they choose to wear, how that evolves over time and how that is an outward reflection of their personal development. As a long time fan of the punk/rocker uniform of skinny jeans, converse and cute T’s, she was surprised to find that more “traditional” clothing are appealing to her now as she approaches 30. While I’m not here to answer the “what does this all mean” side of this question, I can offer some tip, ideas and inspiration for entering into a new fashion realm of grown up clothes. This is a common transition for women in their 20’s 7 30’s, they’re leaving school, getting jobs, starting serious relationships… Lots of change, lots of maturing, and lots of room for growth & experimentation sartorially.

Stay in your comfort zone:

Going from Chucks & torn jeans to floral tea-length dresses in a week would probably cause most people to slip into shock. The key is to find a way to shift your style to a look with more classic undertones without losing yourself or being uncomfortable in your own clothes. Used to skinnies and tennis shoes? Try slim Capri pants with a t-shirt and ballet flats a la Jackie O. You’ll be sticking with a tried and true silhouette that you’re comfortable in and that suits your figure (Laur, for example, is slim & petite) but making it more chic and a little more grown up.

Jackie O Style

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Left: Elbow Sleeve Nautical Stripe T - $75 ($40 on sale) @ Lacoste, Center: AK Anne Klein Twill Slim Capri Pant - $30 (on sale) @ Anne Klein & Right: Buckle love ballet flats - $100 (on sale) @ Jcrew.com

Update Slowly:

A good wardrobe takes YEARS to put together (unless you have access to a trust fund and are on a first name basis with designers of course) so don’t panic if you don’t have everything that you need or want right this instant. Start by added the basics in a “you” inspired style. A blazer, a button down, good black pants, jeans etc (see Real Girls Need Real Closets & Real Girls Need Real Closets – Accessories Edition). Another good way to update your look is to add stripes, the right striped piece or accessory can add a chic touch to an outfit without making you feel completely out of your element – which something like florals could.

Aqua Horizontal Stripe Prepster Scarf - $50 @ Bloomingdale's

River Island Vertical Stripe Midi Tube Skirt - $35 ! Asos.com

French Connection Toulouse Stripe Tee - $50 @ Bloomingdale's

Remember – Age is juuust a number:

Don’t panic at the thought of having to throw away your motorcycle boots or never rocking a mini again. While you should keep your age and audience in mind while you’re shopping, there’s also no need to panic about absolutes. Where there’s will, there’s a way!

Do you love the low-key, punk look that Avril Lavigne has made famous? Try upgrading to a more refined, menswear-inspired look. Le smoking Suits, button downs, slacks, smoking flats, loafers… These can keep you in relaxed, effortless looking clothing, but allow you to express yourself in a more mature way than you can with pink hair and high tops.

http://www.fashionpeach.com/suit-yourself/

Look for inspiration in the right places:

If you’re concerned about looking like you’re trying too hard or worried your look is too “young” I would turn to the masters for inspiration. We are lucky that not all of popular and famous celebrities are teeny boppers. There are some truly talented women out there who are stunning examples of how to age well. They know how to take care of their bodies and how to dress in a stylish, modern way, without looking like they’re competing with the girls who play their daughters on the big screen. Gwyneth Paltrow, Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchet, Tilda Swinton, Annette Benning, Helen Mirren, Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Marisa Tomei, Uma Thurman, Susan Sarandon, Jane Fonda, Sandra Bullock… The list goes on and on. I mean, remember Jamie Lee Curtis’s little black dress in True Lies? She was 100% woman and 100% sexy. So when you’re looking for fashion inspiration, look to these beautiful ladies, not the cast of 90210, and you’ll rarely be led astray.

Jane Fonda shot by Harper's Bazaar at the amfAR Cinema Against Aids benefit

I’m not here to give you rules, just some ideas for how to approach your transformation. Should you never show mid-thigh or cleavage after a specific age? Certainly not! Jennifer Lopez’s Versace at the Grammy’s was shocking and unexpected, but we’re still talking about it all these years later so it clearly made an impact. And that’s what I want to leave you with. You want to be memorable and fashionable, you don’t want to leave people wondering what was she thinking? So find your personal style, update it and go for the occasional high-impact, statement look. And when in doubt, mix in some more timeless pieces with your regular wardrobe for a modern mix. A tailored blazer with a sequined mini and tights or a conservative suit sans blouse with statement jewelry.

Keep it interesting, keep it chic.

Don’t hesitate to reach out with other Reader Requests, I live to serve. 🙂
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Looks of the Week

 
Here are some great looks from the last week to get you into the right sartorial mindset for the week…

As you've probably picked up by now, I love mod looks. And you've also probably noticed that I'm kind of girl crushing on ERW these days. What do you get when you combine the two? Fabulousness!

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While I hate to feature a photograph of a woman smoking, I have to admit that I was really drawn to this photograph (taken by The Sartorialist in London). I like the combination of the crisp white shirt with the feminine blazer paired with the dramatic metallic jewelry. It's a very striking combination.

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As much as I adore LBDs and funky, fun cocktail dresses, I love it when the stars pull out separates for the red carpet. I like the creativity and originality of this look, and the ring, can't forget that!

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I love this look that Garance shot. The combination of the crisp white shirt dress reminiscent of summer and the kick @$$ boots for fall is very alluring.

This Look of the Day from PostGradChic on Fabsugar really caught my eye. Such a great look for fall, composed of basic separates. You really can't go wrong with pencil skirts!

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I absolutely adore Kerry Washington and have always felt a kinship with her since we both favor dresses, solid colors, clutches and statement jewelry (clearly nothing else though, since she’s a gorgeous, successful actress – but I digress). And she did not disappoint at Opera’s Ralph Lauren event. WOW.

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So... I want to be friends with Giovanna. If only for closet-sharing privileges. Seriously, if I had a choice of any closet in the world, I think I'd take hers.

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Another look I really love but could never pull off? This one!
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