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A few Spring things

12 Mar

A few Spring things

Happy spring! So even though the Spring Equinox isn’t until March 20th,  today is the day where clocks spring forward, so technically it’s spring right. I should also add that I do not live in a temperate climate so technically these seasons aren’t experienced where I am but it doesn’t stop me from totally getting excited about this time of year.

I decided to do a post sharing some things I have been recently enjoying and plan to continue doing so into the upcoming spring season. The items aren’t spring themed, just happen to be living them right now.


MAKEUP


Sweet Peach palette by Too Faced

This palette is a re-release from Too Faced, originally being a limited edition but now added to the right permanent line and massively expanded to include highlighters, blush and lip colours. This was a surprise favourite for me because initially I was unimpressed. Quite a few beauty bloggers/vloggers expressed disappointment with the palette and I was genuinely turned off. I actually walked into Sephora to purchase an entirely different palette a few weeks ago and just glanced over at this one. I switched the colours and I was hooked. 

Packaging

The packaging is the standard Too Faced metal palette that closes magnetically. It is ombre peach coloured with raised peaches across it. This actually makes it a bit difficult to stack with other flat palettes.

Product 

This palette costs $49 US and it contains 18 shadows each 0.95g .There are 5 matte shares all in neutral colours that I think can work for any skin tone. The rest of the palette is comprised of satiny and shimmers in corals, coppers and purples as well as an olive shade and a shimmery black shade.

Impression

For me, I love this palette. I can create complete looks with it alone including a completely neutral look (but why would you want to with all these awesome shades) 

Moda Makeup Brushes

Moda face brushes

By now most of us who have an interest in makeup would have heard of the Artis makeup brushes. For those who haven’t , it’s a set of flat head high end makeup brushes. These brushes made their rounds in the beauty community last year but for many of us regular folk the price was just too high. Then came the dupes.There are more than a few companies who have fashioned their version of the Artis makeup face brushes charging a pretty penny for them too. Then came Moda. This brand has been steadily making a name for itself as a brightly coloured, affordable, decent quality drugstore makeup tools line. I first knew of this brand of face brushes through Emmy Noel, one of my favourite beauty YouTubers. She gave them her stamp of approval and that was all I needed to hear. This set of four brushes goes for around $15 US at Walmart and is by far the cheapest I have seen any of these brushes yet.

Style

These are paddle head brushes compared to your typical makeup brushes with very densely packed fires. The colour is awesome resembling a cross between oil slick and mermaid skin on the handles and unicorn hair for  the bristles. Honestly I was sold on the appearance alone.
Function

The largest brush is meant for foundation (liquid or creme). The second size is meant for blush and bronzer.  The third one is for contouring and the fourth and smallest is meant for concealer. Obviously you can use the  however you like. I find myself getting the most use out of the two larger ones. I appreciate applying my foundation with something different to a sponge. I also find I use less product when I use this brush to apply. The blush brush is the perfect size for blush application.

If you are interested in this style of makeup brushes but can’t or won’t splurge on the more expensive version, definitely give these a go.

Colour Switch


Color Switch by Vera Mona

This little tin here was a true game changer for me. A colour switch allows you to reuse the same makeup brushes in the same time frame i.e while creating the same look. I was going crazy trying to create a cute look and realising I didn’t quite have enough brushes to do it with. If I used my brush cleaner, the brush got wet and wouldn’t dry out in time.

Until

I got

Color Switch

This invention is genius. It is essentially a circular chunk of very  porous, hard sponge not unlike that found in aquarium filters. You rub the brush in circles to get off product. You can use both sides and wash it when it gets particularly dirty.

Milani Lip Color Remover

In this day and age where long wear matte lipsticks are a dime a dozen,  this little tube is a saving grace. It is the colour and consistency of a petroleum jelly lip gloss. This thing really works! Just put it on and remove using a bit of tissue and the lip color comes right off.

SKIN AND BODY CARE

Elf Hydrating Bubble Mask

E.l.f mask



While other drugstore brands are busy expanding their makeup line, e.l.f has done that and is now making a foray into affordable skin care. So far I’ve seen facial cleansers, masks, day and night time moisturizers. I picked this one up because I’ve been curious about bubble masks but didn’t want to buy an expensive one only to hate it. I don’t hate this. I have feelings opposite to hate for this. 

Packaging

The packaging with this skin care line is a real winner. It is in a pale aqua cylindrical tub set into frosted translucent hard glass making it look rather luxe. The product comes through a hole in the top via a pumping motion.

Product

The mask comes out as a clear almost greasy substance with a mild you citrus scent. Upon touching moist skin it becomes white and foamy but it takes about two minutes before it truly bubbles. Bubble masks feel weird. Lol. The sensation is tingly and feels as if I poured a Sprite onto my face. After use my face felt clean but not dry which is what the product promised.


Philosophy Pink Marshmallow Buttercream shower gel

Shower gel

Philosophy makes intensely scented bath and body products. Whatever the scent is on the bottle is EXACTLY what it smells like.This can be used as shower gel, bubble bath or shampoo. It lathers well and leaves a gentle lingering scent on your skin. What I love about Philosophy products like this is that they print actual recipes on the front of the bottles to go along with the fragrance. I picked this one up from T.J Maxx and paid about $4 which is about half of the original price  (according to T.J. Maxx)


Body Shop Italian Summer Figure Body Cream


Cream

Yes, I am featuring a summer fig cream in a spring favourites post. This was another T.J.Maxx (my favourite off-price retail store) find and it was a good one. I paid $5US for mine but you can get it from The Body Shop for about $10. This cream comes in the traditional Body shop cream container and the graphics are clean and simple as with most body shop products. It smells delicious. It is rich and a little sweet with a fresh almost grassy undertone. It’s the type of scent that makes you constantly sniff your hands (or foot or whatever body part you put it on). The consistency of the cream is soft and whipped and extremely moisturizing.


FRAGRANCE

Elizabeth and James Nirvana rollerballs 

Rollerballs



Elizabeth and James is a line owned by the prolific business savvy Olsen twins: Mary-Kate and Ashley.  The names come from two of their younger siblings and the Nirvana fragrances have become more and more popular. 

I previously used the Nirvana White as a fragrance sampler set I got from Sephora about a year ago. Since then I’ve been hooked. The Nirvana line now has four fragrances: E&J Nirvana White, E&J Nirvana Black, E&J Nirvana Rose and E&J Nirvana Bourbon.

These fragrances have something for everyone occasion. The White has a clean fresh daytime scent. Black is darker and more musky and great for evening to night. Rose is light and romantic and almost powdery, fantastic for day wear or a date night. Bourbon is my favorite. It does somewhat embody the essence of Bourbon. It has depth and a bit of sweetness. I prefer this for nighttime but it can work in the day as well.

 I purchased this set of four rollerballs from Sephora for $28 which is a bit of a bargain for rollerballs these days. I am into buying sample or travel sizes of items because it allows me to test something before committing to a full size as well as giving an opportunity to try many things at once.


BBW Tomato Vine Candle

Candle

This candle smells diVINE!  (get it?) Bath and body Works continues to grow their candle line exploring more sophisticated scents. This is one of those and what a great job they did. This candle smells earthy, green and a little bit tart. It is very fragrant and throws fairly well. This works well being burnt in the mid morning to early afternoon as well as a fragrant backdrop for an after dinner glass of wine.

Those are my spring favourites. Maybe something I featured is a favourite of yours or maybe you’ll want to test out some for yourself. Have an awesome day!

Where to Travel- Orlando

23 Jan

Hello and welcome to my “Where to travel” series. Throughout the first part of the year, I will be posting on various travel destinations,  giving my personal reviews, experiences, and advice on where to go and what to do.

This concept began as an idea for a single post where I would simply list a few places I thought would be great to travel to, stating what to do there etc, but alas it became way too involved. So instead I decided to break it down into multiple posts doing one place at a time but doing it in depth.

Today we begin with Orlando

 

Wonderworks, an attraction found on International Drive Orlando 

Orlando, FL

Orlando is a city located in central Florida and is probably best known internationally for the presence of dozens of theme parks. But this popular vacation spot has so much more to offer.

I have been visiting Orlando on and off since I was six years old. In more recent times, my family and I have been going yearly and with good reason. Orlando is a great place to have a vacation.

 

 

WHY:
Orlando is fun! For a lot of younger, hardcore travelers looking for organic deep cultural experiences, an Orlando visit may seem almost laughable, but don’t knock it till you try it. Orlando has a lot to offer and I think of it as a slightly more family-friendly version of Las Vegas. There is something there for everyone no matter what your specific interest is. There are things to do and see for the art lover, the thrill seeker, the foodie, you name it!

 

 

WHEN:
Any time of year. Orlando is in Florida and because of this, it enjoys fairly warm weather year round although it does get cooler from December to February. Additionally, Orlando has events going on all year so you pick whenever works best for you.

 

 

WHERE (to stay):
A hallmark of Orlando is the plentiful resort/villa/condos up for rent. Many of these are timeshare locations so if you or a family member owns one, be sure to check and see if the company has a location there. I think staying at a resort adds the overall Orlando experience. Many of them are located in a similar area which is close to lots of attractions particularly Disney parks. There are also a lot of hotels to chose from. They go from 2 star to 5 star and you chose based on your budget and preference. The areas I recommend staying include  Lake Buena Vista area (close to Disney), International Drive and Kissimmee, but really anywhere is pretty close to most things.

 

WHAT (to do):
Theme Parks

Theme Parks are probably what Orlando is best known for and indeed it hosts a massive number of parks with all the Disney parks and Universal Studios as well as lesser known ones like Wet and Wild water park and Bush Gardens. There is something for everyone whether you like roller coasters or prefer more relaxing rides.

 

Shopping

Orlando also has some great shopping especially if you like outlet malls. There are two major outlet malls: Orlando International Premium Outlet mall and Orland Vineland  PremiumOutlet mall. There are also multiple other malls and shopping complexes dotted around, for example, the mall at Aventura.

Premium Outlet mall at Vineland 

 

Entertainment

Apart from theme parks, there are lots of ways to be entertained in Orlando. If you like shows, there is a Cirque du Soleil at Disney Springs and the Blue Man Group performs at Universal Studio. There are a number of art galleries including Pop art Gallery at Disney Springs

Pop art Gallery at Disney Springs 

 

DINING

You cannot go hungry in Orlando that’s for sure. There are clusters of all the popular American eateries such as Golden Coral, Applebees, Olive Garden etc. There are also numerous dining experiences at places like Disney Springs and Universal Boardwalk and International Drive.

A few examples:

Disney Springs

Bongos Cuban Cafe

Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe

Morimoto Asian Cafe

Wolfgang Puck Cafe at Disney Springs 




International Drive

Banshoo Sushi Bar

Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar

Kobe Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar

 

TIPS

If you are particularly interested in the theme parks, a visit outside of the summer months is recommended. Many families vacation in Orlando because it is kid friendly and the most popular time to travel is summer so everywhere gets extra packed. However, everywhere is always kind of packed so be prepared for lines no matter what.

If you are doing the Disney Parks, there are buses that transport you free of charge to all the Disney Parks and Disney Springs so you can get around easily that way

IRide Trolley- This is a bus service that uses these cute San Francisco trolley-style buses. The iRide trolley has two routes that basically run the length of International Drive (I-Drive). On this route, you can get to major shopping areas including the two main Outlet malls, as well as the countless attractions, restaurants, and stores along International Drive.

I-Ride Trolley

Lynx- This is the other common bus service in Orlando. While iRide is more tourist oriented, Lynx is used by everyone including locals and that means it goes a fair amount more places than the iRide trolley. You can get to some of the theme parks as well as other malls using Lynx. Be sure to buy a day pass or even multi-day pass as you will likely have to switch buses a number of times while there.

Car Rental- This isn’t an absolute must when visiting Orlando. I have done trips with and without renting a car. Thanks to iRide trolley, Lynx and the fact that many things are clustered together e.g along I-Drive, you can have a great trip without renting a car, however, it definitely makes things easier. It means you can leave whenever you want and avoid long wait times and multiple stops. This is important especially if you have a tightly packed schedule.

IDrive website- International Drive has a website where there are loads of coupons offering savings and deals at the many businesses along International Drive as well as ideas on what to do there. Check it out.

 If you’re thinking about visiting Orlando be sure to use some of these tips and be sure to have an awesome day! 

Ten Fashion Trends in 2017

4 Jan

Greenery

Greenery was recently named the Pantone colour of 2017. For anyone who doesn’t know, this increasingly iconic and influential company has been selecting the colour of the year since 1999 and trends that follow often incorporate whatever tone they choose. This colour is described as a yellow-green although I personally find it to be more cool toned. It is a neutral green reminiscent of lush vegetation and I can see it working as an edgy eyeshadow colour, in a vibrant cushion fabric design or splashed onto an accent wall.

 
So we know what colour sets the tone for fashion and design this year but what else will be trending in 2017?

 
I have a list of ten fashion trends to look out for. This list is based on my review and perusing the 2017 runway shows. There are certainly more than ten trends but I chose the one I liked the best or that I saw most often, in other words it is not an exhaustive list. For a longer list you can check Fashionisers

 

1 ) SHEER FORCE

By this I mean sheer fabrics namely Tulle and Lace. While these fabrics always have their place every season, they are more prominent in 2017 with full tulle skirts and dresses made entirely of lace and beads.

Alexander McQueen                                                 Dior

 

2) TOPSY TURVY- Asymmetric Tops

Those cheeky cold shoulder, long sleeve tops that made a splash towards the end of 2016 were just the beginning. One shoulder tops, diagonal cut tops, will be really trending and I for one cannot wait. Who doesn’t love an asymmetrical top?

Moschino (top)                 Philosophy (bottom)


3) 1980’s

2016 definitely saw the return of mid 1990s fashion, with button front skirts and chokers a plenty and I was there for it. I still am. But let us step aside and give the 1980s some time to shine. Literally. We are talking lame, sequined leggings, neon colours and of course wide bold shoulders.

(Clockwise) Saint Laurent,  Moschino,  Balenciaga And Saint Laurent
 
4) THINK PINK

Hot pink, Fuchsia, Mauve. All the more grown up variations of the colour pink were seen on the runways. And what a beautiful time it is. Pink is an amazing colour because it literally matches all skin tones. Definitely get a splash of this in your wardrobe this year.

Oscar de la renta,  Botegga Veneta, Balenciaga 


5) KEEP IN LINE- Stripes

Horizontal, Vertical, Thick, Pinstripe. Bold. Every version of stripes will make an appearance. Stripes can be so versatile, it’s impossible not to find a style that suits you. White Pinstripes on your pantsuit for work or horizontal multicoloured stripes on a jersey dress for a sporty look.

Mulberry                                                                         Proenza Schouler


6 ) FLOWER POWER

Again, floral prints will almost always be present in some form or fashion year after year. This year however the prints are more 1960s and 1970s inspired with simplified lighter coloured prints as well as more intricate English garden style patterns.

Balenciaga                                                Zac Posen (top)  Dole &Gabanna (bottom)


7 ) OXFORD STREET-Shirt fashion

2017 welcomes the era of the deconstructed and reconstructed Oxford shirt. This is by far one of my favourites. I love the idea of dismantling a crisp Oxford with all its implications of stiffness and conformity (I also happen to love a regular Oxford btw) and making it into something edgy and with attitude. In 2017, it’s all about the attitude.

Monse                                                                       Off White


8 )BARE NECESSITIES

The bralet is no longer being hidden underneath an oversized tank top or relegated to a festival outfit. It is becoming way more widespread with many designers making the tops of their dresses into this style or creating pantsuits or skirt suits which incorporate bralets. This trend definitely takes some confidence as you will obviously be baring it all. But like I said, 2017 is all about having the right attitude so if you like it, wear it.

Victoria Beckham                                Alexander Wang  (top)   Altuzarra (bottom)


9) EXPLORER- Khaki

I call this: “The other neutral” (Black being the first one). I used to love khaki, in fact I used to have as much khaki as black in my wardrobe. Then I stopped wearing cargo pants, and suddenly…no more khaki. But seriously this time around khaki has come back savage being seen primarily in the form of trench coats and other beautifully designed jackets.

(Clockwise)Talbot Runhof, Less Copains, Dion Lee,Talbot Runhof, Miu Miu

10 ) BOTTOM LINE

Culottes with their midi length wideness are here to make a statement. This style of pant has had a few moments in the limelight since their initial debut in the 1970s but this time the trend is hard to ignore being more ubiquitous than ever. Joining the culottes in the 2017 trend list is wide bottom pants. This style of pant had been very slowly seeping into popular fashion over the past few years but remained relegated to fashion bloggers and stylists who were more willing to take a chance. Now we can all jump aboard on this wearable trend.

Gucci                                                                                                       Chloe

What trends do you like? What are you thinking of experimenting with? 
Have an awesome day! 

Christmas Gift Guide for her (mostly) 2016

2 Dec

BLOG-Mas DAY 1
Hello and welcome to the first Blogmas post. This is a guide aimed mostly at a female recipiant. Gift giving is very personal so I chose things I would pick out for persons I know or want to receive mysef. I have tried to offer up selections at varying pricepoints from budget to high end.I know persons reading this could be from any corner of the globe so I have selected things that can be purchased online and shipped world wide and given the prices in US dollars.

CANDLES
 

For the candle connisseur in your life (my sister) a gift of burning, scented wax is a dream come to life.Candles are a cute gift that most people will appreciate and is usually easy to find. But all candles aren’t equal and they certainly aren’t equally priced. Here are some brands that are great quality and can suit each budget.

GLADE

I know what you’re thinking…those are candles you get from a supermarket! Yes they are, BUT this brand has been making scented candles for years and they’ve gotten quite good at it. Glade candles are sold on sleek glass jars, they have long burning time and the scent throws well. Glade candles are also easy to find at most supermarkets, hardware stores and online typically costing between $3-6 US each.



YANKEE CANDLE 

This is another company that has been doing candles for years and has managed to maintain a reasonable price point. Yankee candles have a very specific look, being housed in large bell jars that make you think of a Southern home. They also tend to do very cute scents like pecan pie and cotton candy. Yankee candles vary in price according to size but the traditional 22oz (623g) goes for $28 US.
BATH AND BODY WORKS (BBW)

#basic right? Lol. Everyone and their mother (well my mother at least) is in love with BBW candles particularly the now iconic 3 wick candles they sell in an array of scents. BBW candles have good scents that throw well and there is literally a fragrance for everyone . These candles go for $22.50-26.50 each at full price but they go on sale  regularly slashing the price to $12.50 each.

JO MALONE

We’ve really made a jump in price here, but also a jump in quality. Jo Malone knows how to make scents and fragrances period. From the understated elegant packaging to the very strong yet not overpowering classy scents, a Jo Malone candle is a great gift. The 7oz (200g) candles go for $65US.
DIPTIQUE

This brand is becoming increasingly popular  (to me at least). It is like Jo Malone but with a bit of whimsy. And more expensive ,  lol. This brand boasts sophisticated scents such as mimosa and fig tree and the are presented in simple glass jars with jumbled letters.
Below is a breakdown of these brands in cost per oz to give a better idea of pricing.
Glade                                $3-5 ( 3.4 oz)                                                       $1.17/oz           

Yankee                           $28 (22oz)                                                             $1.29/oz

BBW                              $22.50-$26.50 (13.5-14.5 oz)                            $1.75/oz

Jo Malone                     $65 (7oz)                                                                $9.28/oz

Diptique                      $62 (6.5 oz)                                                            $9.50/oz

FRAGRANCES 

This can be tricky. I cannot tell you how many times I have smelt a fragrance thinking someone I know we’ll would absolutely adore it only to find they can’t stand it. If you are brave enough to still get a fragrance as a gift I have 3 tips.

1) Ask- Casually ask your friend “Hey what perfume is that?” Or maybe question her/his significant other as to what kind of fragrance they like.

2) Research – Go online and search for the perfume finding out the notes etc then search for similar perfumes. I personally recommend  the website fragrantia.com which is a veritable database of literally any perfume you can imagine.

3) Return – Be sure to get your gift from a store with a decent return policy in case no. 1 and 2 fail you.

Now to the recommendations

DEMETER FRAGRANCES 

Have you ever smelt something (like chicken cooking or freshly cut grass ) and thought…I’d love that in a perfume. Well, thus company has made it I promise you. They make very pure, singular scents such as orange blossom or lavender but they also make every other scent you could imagine such as Baby Powder, Pistachio Ice Cream, Sushi and  Dirt!

DESIGNER FRAGRANCES 

These are your run of the mill perfumes sold at department stores and duty free shops in airports. They also continue to make great gifts. These fragrances vary in price points depending on the brand but typically run in excess of $20US per oz. The following are 3 personal recommendations. 

Black Opium by YSL (now Saint Laurent)

This fragrance has become super popular over the past two years and with good reason. It has a warm and deep with vanilla and coffee notes but not too sweet. It goes for $90 for 1.6 oz

Flower bomb by Viktor and Rolf

This perfume couldn’t have been better named. This is what it literally smells like. As if someone dropped a bagful of fresh fragrant garden flowers and it exploded. This goes for $115 for 1.7 oz.

Elizabeth and James Nirvana 

There is a Nirvana White, Nirvana Black, Nirvana Bourbon and Nirvana Rose which is pictured here. They all smell great but my personal favorite is Nirvana Black which is woodsy and spicy and dark. This goes for $85 for 1oz.

Jo Malone

Here is that name again ,  good ole Jo. This company not only makes top notch candles, they make top notch fragrances . Many of the sent found in candles can be found in the perfume range. The sent are clean, powerful and comfortable .  They go for $130-$180 for 3.4 oz.

Here is a breakdown of cost per oz

Demeter                 $16 (1oz), $31 (4 oz)                                        $7.75-16/oz

Black Opium         $90 (1.6oz/50mL),$115 (3oz/90mL)           $38-56/oz

Flower bomb         $115 (1.7oz/50mL),$165 (3.4oz/100mL)    $48-67/oz

Nirvana                  $85 (1oz)                                                             $85/oz

Jo Malone              $130-180(3.4oz/100mL)                                 $38-52/oz

MAKEUP

If you’re looking for a gift for a makeup enthusiast, you have A LOT to chose from. Makeup holiday kits are all the rage to the point where it can get overwhelming. But they make a great gift. Here are a few recommendations 

EYES

BH Cosmetics Gold Rush

This company has become a budget friendly favourite for many. They churn out decent quality shadows and blushes for unbeatable prices. This palette contains twelve shadows in festive golds and bronzes as well as a blush, bronzer and highlighter. It goes for $7 Just to notell BH Cosmetics also has a “Silver Strike” holiday palatte with cooler tones. Available on BH Cosmetics 

Lorac pro Mega 3

Every holiday season, Lorac drops a Maga pro palatte. This one contains 32 shades with some very warm and coppery colours and dome light peachy nudes. This palette goes for $59 exclusively at Ulta.

A few other higher priced holiday palettes include Tartiest pro palette -$59, Hourglass Ambient Lighting blush, bronzer and strobe palette- $80 and YSL Sparkle palette $95.  All available at sephora.com and amazon.com.


LIPS

NYX Liquid Suede Vault

24 mini versions of the insanely popular NYX liquid lip colours. This is a great way to sample a wide range of colours but it can also be broken up to give as stocking stuffers.This is going at $50 for 24 colours, 0.05floz each compare to the full sized.There is also a set of 36 mini (0.168floz) soft matte lip creams available for $65.Available on NYX and Ulta

Kat von d

Every makeup lover knows that Kat von D knows what she is doing especially with her beautiful highly pigmented liquid lip colours . This set comes with eight shades ranging from brown to pink to purple and is great for someone as obsessed with Kat von D as I am or good for breaking up and giving as multiple gifts. This is $49 for 0.8floz compared with $20 for full sized 0.22floz . Available at Sephora, Kat von D and Amazon
ELECTRONICS

We live in the age of gadgets. There are dozens to chose from: phones, tablets, go pros and so on. However, the gadget receiving a bit of buzz right now (at least for me) is the Amazon Echo.
Amazon dot(2nd Generation )

The Dot is a mini version of the Echo. It is a small speaker which is Alexa enabled so it has most features of an Echo but the sound won’t travel.This goes for $49.99
Amazon Echo

This is the future. I remember being very young and watching a British TV show set in the future, where the boy had a personal robot in his room. It was a massive screen but it spoke to him, giving him information about people and places. Well guys, this is it. In a compact cylinder. Alexa can tell you the weather, read audio books and play your playlist all at your vocal command. The Echo apparently works best in the US and UK (presently) but can work worldwide. It goes for $179 on amazon.com 
GIFT CARDS AND SUBSCRIPTION BOXES

I call these lazy gifts, which isn’t completely fair. Sometimes the person you are gifting is miles away and this kind of gift is the best option.

Online gift cards are great because you can select whatever monitory value you wish from $5-$500 if you so desire and many of them have no expiration date. Some popular gift cards include amazon and itunes.

Subscription boxes are getting more and more popular and more and more of them are becoming available worldwide. They are also becoming way more diverse. You can select a book lovers subscription such as owlcrate or for a makeup lover ipsy.Many of these subscriptions go for between  $10-35 per month.
So that’s my 2016 Holoday gift guide. Hopefully you found some inspiration for gift giving. Have an awesome day!

Outlet Mall Shopping- Is it worth it?

28 Sep

Saks off 5th Avenue bag filled with outlet purchases.
Hello

I love to shop. I also love a bargin. I am the prime candidate for outlet mall shopping: I get my fix but for less and that makes me feel so satisfied.

Right?

Maybe….

It’s no secret that outlet malls have become increasingly popular. The mere fact that there are now entire malls dedicated to it is testimony to this. You go out to these clusters of high end stores and pick over their merchandise which you purchase for a fraction of the price. You walk away feeling smug because you’ve one upped everyone paying full price in the department stores, you’ve really stuck it to the “man”. Until someone tells you that your purchases aren’t the REAL thing but rather lower quality knock off.

This is a not so well known claim : that many outlet stores indeed manufacture lower quality items under their brand and sell them at “discounted” prices tricking us fools into thinking we’ve found the deal of the century when in fact we’ve been scammed.

I said this is a not so well known claim, because assuming it was common knowledge,  outlet malls wouldn’t be as packed and bustling as they often are (I would know as I  frequent them myself)

Outlet Origins

Let’s examine this by starting from where else?  The beginning.  The concept of the outlet mall bagan a few decades ago, right around the same time consumerism became a way of life. Big department stores and clothing brands wouldn’t sell all their merchandise for one reason or another and it would be scooped up from all the different branches and sent to one obscure warehouse where they were sold off for next to nothing . This was the time of innocence for the outlet store. If you wanted this kind of bargin you had to be willing to drive to this location and sift through the good the bad and the ugly to get that steal of a deal.

Awakening Evil 

This was a great thing. Companies got to recoup some money on their items and consumers got their bargin. As one would imagine something like this would eventually gain popularity. Why pay $200 for a jacket now when you could get it for $20 next year this time? Well it would seem that the volume of customers hungry for a bargin became too tempting for some companies to ignore. The rumor is that companies, realising the kind of profit they could turn started making cheaper items and selling them at low cost. The consumers were still happy. They got theit brand name bags and shoes and still had money left over to go out. The companies were very happy. They made more profit.

Dawn of Enlightenment 

Somewhere, someone, some years ago realised this wasn’t making sense. They figured that companies stood to profit way more by passing off lower quality items as reduced price items and making a killing. What started as a very quiet unsure whisper is now more of a murmur and it’s getting louder. There are many people who state it as fact that all outlet stores are selling “fake” items.

Still

There is little concrete evidence widely available to lowly  consumers such as myself to say if this is all true or not. So let’s look at this:


Is it Possible? 

Absolutely. The goal of any business no matter size or shape is to make a profit. As much of it as possible.  According to  information  (cannot attest to the validity) some companies make as much as 60% of their revenue off outlet sales. Unfortunately and it’s quite easy to see how companies might opt to do this.

Is it Wrong?

This is where it gets sticky. Is it wrong for a company to make a slightly lower quality item (still good quality mind you) and sell it at a more affordable price? NO. In fact many companies do a similar thing. For example PINK is a more affordable line in VS aimed at teenagers and girls in their early 20s. Old Navy is like a cheaper (more fun, less preppy) version of The  Gap which is the little sister of the more sophisticated Banana Republic. All three have the same ownership with some very similar designs and likely produced in the same factory, yet they have three distinct price points.

However, what IS WRONG is cheating people. Most persons belive that outlet stores are still what they began as. A place where unsold and unwanted high end merchandise goes to retire. The fact that massive billion dollar companies would market their items as one thing when in fact they are something else, is loathesome, and this is what stings most people.

How do they get away with it?

1) Put simply, a lot of people just don’t know. Everyone doesn’t read fashion blogs and consumer reports. A lot of people just want a nice handbag at a great price and they aren’t out looking to see if they’re being swindled. 

2) The clientele is different. I am not saying there isn’t overlap but often the person who will drive all the way to an outlet mall and rifle through the wrong sized clothing for hours on end to pay 1/3 the price for a belt or coat probably isn’t floating around department stores buying what they have there. If you cater to an entirely different clientele who probably has zero idea what the “original” item really looks like and how much it costs then you can get away with it.

Do all companies do this? 

Since I can’t be 100 % sure any companies do this, I can’t say all do. But it’s hardly likely that from the hundreds of brands who own outlet stores every single one is mass producing lower quality items to pass on to unknowing consumers. It isnt impossible though. I personally believe some do and some don’t. 

Does it matter?

It all depends. To answer this question we have to inflect a bit. Why do we want these items in the first place? Why are we so excited to fork over $200 (still a significant amount of money) for a piece of cloth or a hunk of leather? There are two main answers.

1) It’s all in the name. We want that brand name or famous logo splashed across our belongings. Retail companies realise this and appeal to our vanity by mass producing this stuff so we can pay for their name. 

2) Quality. This is something  we look for and expect when we pay a certain price or see a certain name. It’s meant to justify the price.  A lot of these brands are known for their high quality, hand made items which unfortunately isn’t the case if it’s mass produced.

But as I alluded to earlier, many of these companies make both their retail and outlet items in the same factories and they have similar designs. The retail item might have a better quality fabric or use a more expensive zip, buckle etc. So no the two items will not be the exact same thing and yes one will be of higher quality than the other but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a good quality item. Think of it as a way to own something from a brand you like but within your budget. Remember you get what you pay for.

How do I shop at outlet malls?

Here are a few tips if you are thinking of doing some outlet shopping with all this information in mind. No one tip is foolproof and can guarantee you won’t be duped but if you keep them all in the back of your head you should be able to maneuver the malls with success.

1) Decide if it matters and how much.

 After all I’ve just said some people won’t care and that’s fine. For some, like myself I have no problem buying a slightly lower quality shirt but I want a top quality bag so I chose wisely. If you are so paralysed with fear of getting low quality “knock offs” then outlet shopping is not for you. 
2) Ask an employee

It’s so crazy, it just might work. While some employees might flat out lie in hopes of getting commission from a sale (this happened to me but not at an outlet) many others won’t.  There is a good chance the company isn’t going to tell them to lie, they probably just hope you don’t ask.

3) Check the tag

A trick I was taught was to look at the tag. If it gives one price listed as retail price with the price they are offering below it or stuck on as a price sticker then it likely did come from a retail store.

4) Become familiar with the retail versions

If you are  considering buying a pair of leather boots from X brand, go into one of their regular stores or go online and see what the stuff looks like. If the boots at the outlet look similar but not quite the same and is in the outlet at the same time it’s in retail then it probably is made for outlet. Conversely if you see a pair that you know for a fact was advertised two seasons ago then you can assume this is the real deal.

5) Pay attention to detail 

It was pointed out to me once that the outlet version of a particular brand had a slight difference in the tag. That’s the only place you could really tell but there it was. Sometimes they it’s the type of hardware used, a different shade of a particular colour etc. 

6) Observe…

The volume of clothing and how much of each thing there is. If there are disproportionate numbers of  the same style in different colours and sizes that’s a sign thsee are leftover retail items. Whereas if the number of each style of item is voluminous as in the hundreds that’s a clue it was probably mass produced just for the outlet.

 

7) If it seems too good to be true…

You know the rest of that saying. If an item normally retails for $2000 and it’s selling for $150, it’s not the same item. The only caveat is if it is severely damaged something you would be obviously aware of.
How can you own high end/luxury items for less?

So if you are no longer convinced that you can trust an outlet store but you want to own some higher end items. I have 2 pieces of advice:

1) Save up

Good old fashioned setting money aside until you have enough for the item you really want. That way when you purchase you know you have made an investment in what you really want. 

2) Sale

Wait for the brand or department store to put on a sale and get the same item for less. Yes this means you may have 

I hope this was helpful for the next time you go outlet shopping. Have an awesome day! 

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