Beauty + Style

It is officially really, really cold out. Bitterly cold, you might say.

It’s around this time of year, when the morning train platform starts to feel like its own form of torture, that I usually find myself thinking about the same kinds of things:

Is it going to get colder? Am I going to start hating my commute again? Is this the year I finally crack and buy a puffy winter coat?

I’m dangerously close to conceding on the last one. Sure, I would prefer not to look like a marshmallow, but these freezing temperatures aren’t messing around.

From there, I start making a list of all the cold-weather items I should probably add to my list. And since it has been a while since I blogged, I’m sharing it with you. I’m also hoping to hear your recommendations if you’ve purchased one if these items (or something similar) with great success. Most of my readers are in the Midwest or on the East Coast, so I know y’all have some winter wardrobe advice.

Must-Haves for a New York Winter

H m
$13 –

180s glove

Faux fur hat
$26 –


I make no secret of the fact that, in general, teenagers scare me. They’re usually loud, obnoxious, and rude. THEY DON’T ANSWER TO ANYONE, YOU GUYS.

But seriously. I avoid most of them.

There are, however, exceptions to the rule. One of my favorite exceptions? My adorable niece Cameron.

Cams is 14, but still sweet, smart, and friendly — not to mention incredibly polite. (She’ll write a thank-you note that can break your heart.)

And she has a really big event coming up that I wanted to send her a present for. But when I went to buy something, I found myself a little stumped. I mean, my other nieces and nephews are pretty easy — the infant-to-six crowd is not hard to please. But a 14-year-old that I don’t hang out with nearly as often as I’d like? That’s a little tougher.

I finally found what I think is the perfect gift, but it occurred to me that I might not be the only one who struggles with buying for the tween/teen crowd. (I mean, sure, we all know they probably just want money, but I like to put a bit more effort into gifts.) So I put together a little gift guide to get you inspired.

And, yes, Cameron’s real gift is on here. But I’m not telling which one!

Gift Guide for Teenage Girls

J Crew knit top

Juicy Couture yellow gold bracelet
$81 –

Kate spade

Essie nail polish


What do you think? It also occurred to me that I would happily accept any of these gifts. So…I’m a teen girl. I can deal with that.

Hope everyone enjoys their time off of work and school!

I’ve mentioned a few times how I was just not a girlie-girl growing up. With three older brothers, all I wanted to do was play sports (I know, it’s hilarious if you know me know), wear my hair in a ponytail, and never put on makeup EVER.

Suffice to say, times have changed.

Nowadays, I think you could say that I’m downright girlie. I mean, sure, I still love hanging out in sweatpants, I actually enjoy watching hockey and football, and I have no qualms about getting dirty when the occasion arises. But I also have no problem glamming it up now again. (And we all know I spend too much time wondering if what I’m doing with my hair is a good decision or not.)

The point is, over the last few months, I’ve been intrigued by a girlie trend (that probably isn’t really a trend because it has been around since makeup was invented): the bold red lip.

It has to be said that I have attempted this look a few times in the past, but I always ended up chickening out of wearing it anywhere besides my bathroom. It always felt too stark. Too bold for my poor little tomboy self.

But, for whatever reason, this week I decided to be demure no more. (At least in terms of my lip color.)

Of course, confidence is only part of carrying off a red lip. Here are my steps for applying the perfect bold lip color without looking like a clown. (Or crazy person.)

How to Apply the Perfect Bold Red Lip

1. You’ve probably heard the advice that you should only highlight one part of your face at a time. If you love a dramatic eye, go neutral on the lip. In the same vein, if you’re going for a bold red lip, a simple black cat eye is all you really need to dress up the rest of your face. I also incorporated my favorite top knot (using my new favorite hair tools).

2. Using a soft toothbrush, I buffed my lips to remove any dry, flaking skin (thanks, cold air) and applied a very light layer of lip balm.

3. Next, liner. I never line my lips normally, but for such a bright color, I figured better safe than sorry. I used a color the exact same shade as my lips to outline my mouth, then filled in my lips a bit for good measure.

4. Color time! I used NARS Pure Matte Lip Color in Vesuvio. I like it because it’s not a pinky red and doesn’t look cheap. Instead of just smearing on the lipstick (especially because I was using a matte shade), I instead dabbed it on a bit at a time until my whole mouth was covered. (Color outside the lines? A quick swipe with a Q-tip can clean up and uneven edges.)

5. To make the color last, next I’ll swipe my finger in some powder and tap it on over the color. Then I’ll reapply the lip color using the same dabbing technique as before.

6. Another light layer of lip balm to keep my lips from feeling tight, and you’re good to go!

And just because gifs are fun, here’s one so you can see the above images in action:

I know, I’m just too much fun.

So there you have it! I’m not sure if this is a look I would wear all the time, but it could be fun for a special occasion now and then.

Do you ever wear red lipstick? Does it freak you out a little? What shade is your favorite?

A while ago, I shared my goal of making the most of what I have (you know, instead of just buying new things). And while I did allow myself a little shopping spree a few weeks ago, for the most part, I’ve stuck to my goal.

And with all the working-from-home I’ve been doing in the wake of the hurricane, I actually had time to work on a few wardrobe updates that cost me less than a dollar. Read on for details.

First, I had a somewhat unfair advantage in beginning this project because I have access to the Martha Stewart Employee Tag Sale. Sorry I’m not sorry.

The point is, at the sale, I picked up a bunch of fabric remnants, ribbons, and other items for around $13. The materials I used for this project were less than a dollar total. WIN.

Without further ado, here’s my tutorial for creating a DIY Faux Fur Collar.

DIY No-Sew Faux Fur Collar

12×12-inch piece of faux fur
12×12-inch piece of backing fabric
Fabric/Craft Glue

1. I started by cutting the faux fur into a semi-circle shape. (Note: One thing I wish I would have done? Used a razor to cut the fur just along the backing material. I cut through the whole piece, fur included, which meant I spent a lot of this project vacuuming up stray pieces of faux hair.)

Also, the below image is when I first cut the fur. I tried the collar on a few times and kept trimming until I got it to a shape that fit my neck.

2. Using the trimmed piece of faux fur as a stencil, cut a piece of the backing fabric into the same shape but slightly smaller.

3. Using the fabric or craft glue, attach the backing fabric to the back of the faux fur.

4. Using books or other heavy objects, weight down the fabric until the glue dries.

5. To create the clasp, I used a small fabric-covered button and a gold lobster claw clasp. I sewed mine on (I know, the name of this tutorial is misleading), but if you really can’t sew a button (first, read this), then you can pin each part in place.

And you’re done!

Pretty cute, huh? And considering the whole project cost less than a dollar, it’s that much sweeter.

(Oh, hey there, bold red lip! Check back on the blog tomorrow for my tips on wearing red lipstick without looking like a clown.)(It has literally taken me over 25 years to figure this out.)

Note: I noticed I had a lot of fabric shedding from the sides of the faux fur piece after I cut it. Based on my Google searching, the only solutions I found for this were a) to be more careful when you first start cutting (d’oh) or to bond the sides with fabric/craft glue. I tried this, but it made the edges a little rough. Anyone know a better way around this?

Ready for another Influenster Beauty Blogger VoxBox review?

Well…one’s coming your way whether you like it or not. Deal.

Today, we’re talking about the NYC New York Color IndividualEyes Custom Compact.

It has to be said that I don’t think I’ve purchased a NYC New York Color cosmetic since…well…I started wearing makeup in the eighth grade, and I would guess it was around that time. In general, I get the impression that their products aren’t especially high quality (thus the extremely affordable price), and I tend to gravitate toward products with better ingredients.

However, I’m always willing to give something a second chance.

My compact was made up of various shades of gray along with a highlighting color. I played around with using the shades as they were intended (brow bone, crease, all-over, etc.), but the resulting look was, well, harsh. See also: clownish.

After wiping that off (cheaper ingredients do tend to wipe off easily, after all), I basically ignored the super dark colors and stuck with the highlighting color and silvery grays, topping the whole thing with a dusting of my favorite latte-colored shadow. (Sorry, NYC, but my skin tone does not take cool, steely colors at all.)

This had a much more flattering effect.

I could see myself incorporating the colors into my current makeup regimen (especially when I’m going for a heavier look), and I liked the skin primer that came in the compact, but I doubt I’ll be running out to buy another compact any time soon.

Final grade: C

The only thing left in my VoxBox to try are a pair of fake eyelashes, and while I’m a big fan of falsies for special events, these are pretty intense. Not sure where I’ll be able to wear them, but I’ll let you know what I think if/when I do.

Have you tried any of NYC’s makeup products recently? What did you think?

Last night, I had an incredibly stressful dream where I had nothing to wear to a friends’ wedding in a cramped mansion. (Actually, it might have just been a fancy party…no one really clarified.)

What I do know is that everyone was dressed in incredibly trendy outfits, and I was there in, like, a colonial woman’s traditional dress.

The worst part was that I finally found a dress that I deemed suitable (though, in hindsight, I have no idea why dream Justine was so pleased with a brown suede embroidered cocktail dress with brown tights…no idea at all) when suddenly I realized that my (for whatever reason) phosphorescent lime green underwear was blatantly visible through the back. After shaking off the irritation that none of my friends (all of whom were present and milling around the mansion’s foyer) had pointed this out to me, I quickly ducked into one of three “dressing rooms” made up of heavy velvet draperies that someone had conveniently set up in the sitting room in case guests needed to change before the party.

Because that’s something that happens.

The problem was, the dressing rooms were crammed with old clothing (I think someone was also moving into/out of the mansion…?), and the second I took my dress off and put it down, I could not for the life of me find it again.

I kept picking up dresses that looked like mine when they were on the floor, but as soon as I put them on, they transformed into something dowdy or just plain hideous. (You know, something not nearly as fashionable as brown embroidered suede…)

I vividly remember that every dress was this weird length on me, hitting right at that spot on my legs necessary to achieve maximum frumpiness. I vividly remember this, guys.

The worst part was that everyone was getting impatient with me, so every time I picked up a new dress, I was like, “Don’t stress, guys, I found it,” and they would start clearing away the unwanted clothes and tearing down the dressing room curtains, and then I would realize this was not, in fact, the right dress and try to stop them and grab something different, but there were fewer and fewer options the more they cleared away and my friends were starting to abandon me to go to the party/wedding without me instead of waiting.

And then I woke up. And I’m obviously still a bit rattled because when was the last time I told you about a dream I had? (Just kidding. I know the answer to that question. It was September 24, 2010. THIS IS WHY I WRITE DOWN MY LIFE.)

But the point is, I don’t understand my brain. And I may be mildly too obsessed with clothes.


SPEAKING OF FASHION AND STYLE (sort of), I have another Influenster Beauty Blogger VoxBox review to throw your way. (And so ends the least graceful segue in history.)

I have really thick hair. (On my head…I’m not a wildebeest.) It’s also pretty long and I tend to have it cut with a lot of layers to keep it from feeling like a 100-pound tapestry on the back of my neck. The only problem with layers, though, is they make it pretty difficult to create that blogger-favorite hairstyle, the topknot.

For the record, the Internet is a little conflicted about whether or not the topknot (or ballerina bun or whatever) is still in, but I say any hairstyle that gets all your hair off your face and out of the way will always be in in my book.

But anyway. Sometimes it’s not the easiest look to execute. So when I received a pair of Goody Simple Styles Spin Pins, I was pretty jazzed to see if they worked.


All you do is create a bun or twist, and then twist in the spin pins like cork screws, one on each side of the style, to hold it in place. And since they come in the same color as your hair, they virtually vanish.

I created this bun with my two:

Total disclosure: I had to use a couple of hairpins to tuck in some shorter layers that were sticking out, but the rest of the style is kept completely secure by the spin pins. And if you’re not as Type A as I am, you might not mind a few piece-y bits sticking out anyway.

So there you have it!

Anyone else use these spin pins before? Or have a dream they want to share with the class? Tell me about it in the comments.