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"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing...kissing a lot. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls."
Audrey Hepburn


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Retrospec'd -The Elizabeth Dress and Why You Need It



I first discovered Retrospec'd a few years ago at Viva Las Vegas. I was doing behind-the-scenes event coverage for Miss L Fire and the gals from Retrospec'd were wearing that brand's shoes during the show. It was a blast making the video, but most importantly, I discovered a brand I'd never known about and whose quality I can vouch for first hand! These dresses are spectacular, gorgeously made, and universally flattering. They also make menswear and the guys walked the runway as well, which made the whole show very picturesque and polished.


So anyway, two years have passed and I still hadn't bought myself a Retrospec'd frock. Not sure why. I think I just felt like I couldn't decide, mainly. I knew I wanted one of their pastoral landscape prints but there were so many beauties to choose from that I couldn't make up my mind. Then, the Gay Pari made its entrance and baby, I was SOLD. This print just titillated me for so many reasons. I love the color scheme, the subject matter, the placement on the dresses. And the Elizabeth dress, in this print, made me SWOON. I knew the Elizabeth was probably the style I'd choose anyway, but I had another print in mind until this one came along. And I'm so glad it did!

The package arrived one afternoon when I was at work so I was on pins and needles until I got home. When I saw it, I'll admit to being pretty confused. It was so slim and lightweight; it seemed like there had to just be a blouse in there! It seemed that such a feather-light full circle skirted dress would be very thin and skimpy. Thankfully, when I removed it from the packaging I was thrilled to see that the fabric was gorgeous, and actually felt much more substantial than I would think possible at the price point. It has a subtle sheen and the colors are even more vibrant than they appeared in pictures!

The style looks exactly as the pictured frocks on the website, and when I tried it on, I was over-the-moon to see how well it fit! Mine is the size 10, which accommodates me with absolutely no hitches. The top fits flatteringly over the bust and includes some gathering that accentuates the curve of the busom, but it doesn't gap open at all, something that really impressed me for the surplice style neckline it features.


The waist fits smoothly and neatly when I'm not in firm support garments, but when I am, it doesn't look bunchy or 'off'. More points!


I always wear a petticoat beneath my circle skirts, and the style of this one is perfect for that since it falls smoothly over the extra lift. I was comfortable and confident the entire night.

To sum up, I'll just say that this dress is more than I ever anticipated ( as I should have expected from my first hand view of them at the show) but also has proven to be one of the best I've ever owned.


I guess it goes without saying that purchasing from Retrospec'd in the future is a no-brainer!!
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All pictures taken by Jerry Plunk of Plunk Kreativ, Memphis Tn. Shot on location in Downtown Memphis at the Cotton Exchange Building.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Strivectin Hair Care


When I started this blog, I always intended to populate it with more product reviews and I really enjoy giving my opinion on stuff. But these have fallen by the wayside lately, mainly because other than my brand specific posts, I haven't been motivated to say much about anything.

Strivectin hair care though-that's a horse of a different color.

I have some history with Strivectin. When I first started working the cosmetics department, I tried almost everything they offered. Some stuff impressed me (the retinol cream is really gentle and mild, but also sorta works) and some not so much (the tightening cream makes me red and itchy). Their key patented ingredient is the NIA-114 complex, which they tout as the star of their products and they stick it in everything. What is it? They're super vague on the website but when you Google it, it takes you to a not-as-easily-accessible page with this description:
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NIA-114™ is the patented molecule found in StriVectin-SD® products. With its unique micronutrient delivery system, NIA-114™ penetrates the skin, delivers Niacin to the skin cells and enables healing from within to promote healthier, more beautiful looking skin.

Just as its name suggests, NIA-114™ is delivered from Niacin. Many are familiar with the oral form of Niacin, a water-soluble micronutrient found in a number of commonly eaten foods. As a nutritional supplements, Niacin aids in cholesterol reduction and energy metabolism. More recently, a topical form of it has emerged as a key factor in helping the skin protect and repair itself from sun damage and aging.

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Sounds okay, I guess. I don't really care as long as it works and doesn't irritate my skin, but whatever.

So yeah, NIA-114 is in the haircare too, for whatever that's worth. I don't know that it really makes a difference and the REALLY interesting thing is that the hair products don't seem to be on the official website yet at all. They're being sold at Ulta, Sephora, Dillard's and the like, but it's almost as though the company isn't claiming them until they see how they're received.

Where they're being sold, they're being marketed with this terminology:
Strivectin Hair Color Care Shampoo with patented NIA-114 + CHROMALAST PROTEIN COMPLEX.

That's for the Color Care option, but there are two other formulas as well that I've not tried yet. One is for volume and the other is a replenishing/restoring variety that is supposed to help stimulate new hair growth for thinning hair.

So now, let's discuss a few key factors about the Strivectin Color Care products I've tried.

THE FEEL:

The shampoo is thick, yellowish, and glossy. A little goes a long way. It's free of sulfates and parabens, like all my favorite haircare products. The fragrance is light, clean, and exhilarating, with no clingy perfumes or residue. The lather is luxuriant, unlike a lot of sulfate free shampoos...so that's a big win for me. I will say that it does make my hair feel sort of dry and matted after rinsing, although there's no doubt that it's clean because it also easily passes the 'squeak' test. Once the conditioner is applied, however, that straw-ish feel goes away completely and my hair feels super soft and supple.

The conditioner is very very thick, creamy white, and my sample bottle needed to be squeezed in order to get it out. A little also goes a long way though and like I said, it rinses into a clean but very soft feel.

The booster is light, like a gel, pale yellow in color and hardly noticeable on the hair. It's supposed to remain on the hair for 3 minutes as you bathe or whatever, then rinsed.

THE RESULTS:

After drying, my hair has never felt better, honestly. It's got a bouncy soft feel that has no hint of residue and styles beautifully. I've gone three days after washing and no greasy feel has developed, even after styling products have built up at the roots. I do apply a little cornstarch baby powder at the roots in the morning, to freshen it up, but it really does feel cleaner longer. My hair color hasn't faded significantly since I started using it but I don't know that I really care about that aspect of it all that much, because my hair feels just THAT good. The booster is not really a repurchase for me as of yet; I really haven't noticed it brightening my color much and think putting a little Manic Panic or Punky Color into my conditioner would still do a better job for color longevity.

THE SCORE:

All in all, I'm utterly thrilled with this product and if I can't afford the 25.00 price tag every time, I will at least switch this up with my current drugstore products. NIA-114 or not, my hair does feel stronger and more resilient so I'm willing to give that stuff some credit. You can purchase the sampler kit, like I got, before you buy the full sized stuff so that makes it a win-win anyway. Do I recommend it? Heck. Yeah.

My Rating: 10/10 (and as always, if that changes, I'll let you know.)

Til' next time, so long dearies!

xoxo,
Ashley


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Classic Pin Up Hairstyle for Short Hair!

So my hair is growing out really quickly...seriously, every day it's a little different. I think it's interesting because when my hair is past my shoulders, I feel like it takes forever for it to get any longer. Since it's been cut short, the grow-out process is lickety-split! Almost too quick, actually. I wanted to do more 1920's hairstyles before it got past that point, but never got a chance. So maybe someday. Til' then, there are so many great pin up prints that showcase hair at my current length...I mean, check this out-short hair was so en vogue!:


And then there is the lady of the hour, this darling print by Gil Elvgren from 1958:

Styles like this one tend to be pretty easy because they are rarely complicated, so as to translate to a painting. This is no exception. I opted to use my Remington Tight Curls, which aren't the best choice for high humidity environments like mine usually, but they worked out okay in this case. Foam rollers would have been a better option. Either way, prep your hair a bit before you blow it dry with a little setting lotion or mousse.


The Steps:

1. Part Hair on the side. If your bangs form a natural cowlick like mine, then you've got that part of the style well in hand. Otherwise, while your hair is still damp, you'll want to part the bangs so they've got this little bit of separation that you see.

2. Roll all hair downwards, using your rollers or Tight Curls. No method here really, just get it up there.

3. Allow hair to 'process' for about 30 minutes to an hour, if you're using a heated set, or until completely cool. This is imperative for longevity. If you're using a wet set, just make sure your hair is completely dry before unrolling.

4. Unroll and run your hands through the curls.

5. Using your Denman Styling Brush, brush out the curls into fluffy waves.

6. If your bangs were too short to incorporate into the roller set, curl them with a small curling iron. Integrate this into the rest of your style, spraying with your favorite hair spray as you see fit.

7. Lastly, either balance the heavy side of the style out with a hair flower or other accessory, as I did in the video, or use a side comb to secure the side like our painted lady.

And you're done!

As always, if you have any questions or requests, feel free to post them in the comments below. Or better yet, visit the video embedded below by clicking on it and letting it take you to Youtube. Those questions and comments are notified to me via email.



Tim next time, So Long Dearies!!

xoxo,
Ashley


Friday, March 18, 2016

Diamonds & Dames Does: Nora Charles


For my most recent episode of Diamonds & Dames, I decided to consider the request of those who have been hankering after a Nora Charles (Myrna Loy) hairstyle on my channel requests for a while. Since my hair is in a bob, the only real differences between my hair and Loy's is that her's is cut slightly longer in the back ,as per the style of the day, and mine has bangs. But since those things aren't detrimental to the look I was aiming for, I broke out my foam rollers and pin curl clips to tackle it anyway.


A little about the movie...

The Thin Man (1934)
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Nick and Nora Charles are a happily married couple living in upper society New York when Nick is approached by an acquaintance about doing some detective work. Since Nick hasn't been a detective for years, he balks at the idea, but Nora eggs him on since this is all very exciting and new to her. Amid cocktail parties, witty banter, kooky friends, and stellar 1930's fashions, the case is solved- leaving Nick and Nora more nauseatingly inlove than ever.

Myrna Loy has never been more irresistibly charming than she is as Nora, and she and William Powell's Nick have some of the best onscreen chemistry in history. Dashiell Hammett was the creator of these gumshoe stories and the plots are sometimes predictable, but the offbeat humor, oddball characters, and never-ending supply of one-liners make the movies utterly timeless. Part of this is thanks to Van Dyke's direction, which keeps the story clipping along even if we aren't necessarily on the edge of our seats.

My Rating: 10/10
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The Tutorial:

For this style, I used pin curls on the top and sides and small foam rollers in the lower sections along the nape. The reason for this is that my hair is still cut somewhat asymmetrically after my pixie grow-out process. So pin curls are still difficult on those lower sections. I sprayed each section with simple water before rolling it up, although my hair did have some setting mousse scattered through it beforehand. For those of you who wonder, I still am using the remains of my last can of the Sahag Sculpt Mousse (which is now unavailable unless you are super lucky) but will likely go back to Lottabody Setting Lotion when I'm finished.

The style I chose from the film was one of several that Myrna Loy wore. Her bob was at times peppered with accessories, at times center parted, at times side parted. Since I have a super angry little cowlick, I opted for the latter at this time.


After my hair was completely dry (morning, since I slept on the set), I removed my trusty headscarf and began releasing the clips and rollers. From there, styling this one is very simple and involves very little effort. A basic knowledge of brushing out a vintage set is necessary, but if you're not familiar with that process, it really just means that after the initial brush out, when hair gets super frizzy, you just have to keep brushing. Brushing 'past the frizz' is an age-old technique and still works beautifully today. You will see waves begin to develop instead of frizzy curls and you can then take hands and perhaps a little pomade to begin molding those waves into place. Since I have bangs, I had to clip them out of the way and work my top hair over them to somewhat mimc the look of Loy. But if you don't have bangs, you should be able to more closely copy her casual look by brushing back, pushing forward, and repeating that process until you have your desired look. As far as product goes, I used very few. I strongly believe that a Denman Styling Brush is a MUST-HAVE for vintage styles and if you're lucky enough to find the now-discontinued Vintage Glam Thermal Shine Spray, make sure to grab it!

Otherwise, here is the video from last week. As always, let me know if you have any questions!

So Long, Dearies!!



Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Starlet Series: Episode 3-1922



For this installment of my Starlet Series on Youtube, I took advantage of my newly bobbed hair to create a style inspired by Anna May Wong in the 1922 film, The Toll of the Sea. I was unfamiliar with the movie prior to my viewing it for this series, and I'm so glad I saw it. It's a fantastically preserved piece of film making and was shot entirely in early technicolor-something very rare for this early period in cinema. The movie clocks in at only an hour and is available on YouTube in its entirety so do yourself a favor and give it a few minutes of your time!



About the Film:
The story follows Anna May Wong (in one of her first starring roles) as Lotus Flower, a lovely Chinese girl who falls inlove with a young sailor who is washed upon her shores after a shipwreck. The couple begins a life together and to sweet and gentle Lotus Flower, their union is nothing less than a marriage. However for the young man, though he promises Lotus Flower that he intends to take her home to the states when he returns, fickle feelings begin to surface and his friends influence him to leave her behind. Time passes and young Lotus Flower is now a mother who anxiously awaits the return of her 'husband', whom she refuses to believe would abandon his wife and child. When Carver (the young man, played by veteran actor Kenneth Harlan) is finally persuaded to return, he has an American wife who is not unsympathetic to the girl's plight and tries in vain to assist her in any way possible. Tragedy ensues as Lotus Flower takes matters into her own hands.

If the story sounds familiar, that's because it is a variation of several other traditional tales. The Little Mermaid comes to mind...so does Madame Butterfly. But in spite of the well known storyline, the movie still holds impact due to the memorable performances of Anna May Wong and Beatrice Bentley (who plays the American wife)as well as the stunning technicolor. The rest of the cast is not particularly memorable but the direction moves the story along at a brisk pace and doesn't fail to keep you interested.

My rating: 8/10


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The Tutorial:

For this look, I took inspiration from the simple hair from the film as well as the makeup from a few promotional shots of Wong, around this time period.


Due to the color of the film, I thought in muted tones instead of black and white, and filmed the video that way. Purple hues make a lovely option for this sort of look so that's another great option for you to individualize this one.


The makeup application calls for a flawless complexion that has a little youthful vitality. Highlighting primers and creams work best to add a little sheen without any shimmer. The eyes feature thin, straight brows and are intentionally slanted and catlike. In this case, eyeshadow is utilized over liner to bring softness to the look. View the video below and feel free to ask questions about products and placement in the comments.

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Product Info:

For a primer, I used my favorite Clinique Moisture Surge, which keeps full coverage foundation from ever having a cakey or chalky appearance. Under my eyes, I used the Hydrating Under Eye Primer by Smashbox. This not only prepares the eyes for concealer but also brightens quite a lot. Using my Beauty Blender, I applied the Clarins UVPlus in the light tint.
This provides significant coverage that can be built upon. I followed this up with another foundation, the Napoleon Perdis Shear Genius Foundation, which gives the face a flawless but luminous quality. Next, I began on the eyes, using my Cover FX cream to conceal beneath my eyes, but also at the outer corners, to lend a more upturned look to them. The eyeshadows I used are by Stila and Two Faced but again, not brand specific. Go with any shimmery neutrals in your collection or colors that will keep that bright look at the forefront. Smudgy pencil liner, dark minimized lips, and no blush are all that's left to characterize this early '20's look. As always, I set the whole thing in Dermablend Original Setting Powder and press my powdered face with my hands to keep the finish of my foundation and prevent it from looking too dry or matte.

Hair is simple and self explanatory when you watch the video. The only product that I strongly recommend is a shine product, to finish out the style with movie-star glamour!

As always, let me know if you have any questions about this or any of my tutorials.

See you soon!

Ashley












Monday, January 25, 2016

Pixie Grow Out- Six Months


As most of you know, last summer I decided to take the plunge and get myself a Pixie Haircut for the first time. It will probably be the last time since I am a gal who loves versatility. But I loved it and since my express purpose in getting it was to grow it out, I decided to chronicle the six months I had it, in pictures, for those of you who might like to try it but who feel that it's too big a step. It's really not, especially if, like me, you have fast-growing locks. For the heat of summer, it was absolutely perfect. And I loved all of the transitions along the way, that allowed for such a wide range of vintage looks.

So here was my hair on the day it was cut. A nice Audrey Hepburn length, that hugged my head nicely. My stylist, Robin Tucker, said my hair was pretty difficult to cut because I have some cowlicks and skull dents (yep, dents) that made it hard to get truly consistent overall. So make sure if you go for the pixie, that you have a renowned stylist. They will not typically be found at your local 'Great Clips' and they will likely cost a pretty penny. But believe me, you don't want so-so technicians giving you a drastic cut.


When I got home, I decided to give myself a little bit of wave with a flat iron. It was pretty hard to use anything but heated tools on my hair at this stage and I do hate that because my hair became much more damaged than I'm accustomed to over the course of the time it was this short.

Eventually I began to play around with styling it away from my face. A few weeks after the initial cut, the bang portion was long enough to sweep back into a single bobby pin and I enjoyed the sort of chic change.

By August, pin curls were more easily accomplished. I focused only on setting the top hair, using a flat iron or small curling iron to slightly curve the back. I showcased this style in a video, which was part one of my Pixie Grow Out series on Youtube.



Next, I featured a roller set, after a few more weeks had passed. The look is entirely different and ended up being a fun favorite as well. By this point, the hair over my ears was becoming something of a 'beginner bob'.


Around this time, I decided to go red again...possibly because the blonde hair at the length it was made me feel a bit like my mom. Not that I don't think she's beautiful; I just began to really miss my red hair. My first style with the red hair was pin curled waves.


I also began to play a little with a center part, as my bangs grew long enough to give this a go. I enjoyed it a lot, especially with a feminine hair flower. Keep in mind that as of this point, the only cutting that I'd allowed to my hair was a little trim to keep the nape hairs from becoming a bit too 'mullet-y'.


I decided to tackle the pin curl finger waves for a video at this point. The hair had grown quite a bit and I really prefer this look to a traditional water wave because straight hair tends to take to it better.


Headbands become a very handy accessory at this grow-out stage, as the bangs become too long to style without setting.


So that brings us to the bob. And I decided I missed my bangs so I went for that too. I really am enjoying the Louise Brooks thing going on here.



Anyway, that's a six month grow-out for you. It was surprisingly easy and a really fun challenge! I look forward to doing more videos for you as it continues to grow and please let me know if you have questions or concerns about taking the plunge yourself!!

xoxo,
Ashley


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Classic Cats

It's amazing how many great photos you can find of Old Hollywood fellas and their cats. I mean, seriously...google 'actors with cats' and you'll be shocked at the number of swoony photos there are of our favorite actors snuggling their favorite feline. Here are ten of the best...Oh, and by the way, notice how many seem to prefer the Siamese variety...must have been a trend at the time.

1. Stan Laurel


2. James Dean (I believe his kitty was named Marcus.)


3.James Mason (There is also another one where he's in bed snuggling an award and two white persian cats. It's highly decadent.)


4. Paul Newman


5. Anthony Perkins (although, cats on the table are forbidden in our house)




7. Marlon Brando


8. Clark Gable


9. Raymond Burr


10. Lawrence Olivier


and Cary Grant...


Oh well, they can't all be cat lovers....