Wednesday, 30 September 2015

OOTD: Transitioning into Autumn



Autumn in Edinburgh is a hard season to dress for. Clear blue skies mean my usual Autumn palette of black & grey feels too dark, but as the weather gets colder my Summer wardrobe just doesn't cut it any more. So what's a girl to do?


 The answer is layer like my life depends on it. By adding a lightweight trench coat & black tights to a Summer dress, you can easily transition to Autumn with style & comfort.

This dress is from ASOS & although I'm not usually a fan of florals, I love the large abstract print. The swing shape also makes it really easy to wear & three-quarter length sleeves mean I can still (just about) get away with wearing it without a cardigan.

The trench coat is from New Look & the fit is incredible. The longer length feels really sophisticated & I love that even though it's a cheaper piece they haven't scrimped on the details. It's also great to find a coat that I can comfortably button up, even over bulkier items of clothing, making it practical too.

Let me know in the comments below how you're transitioning into Autumn.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Contouring, Bronzing & Highlighting for Beginners



Contouring, bronzing, & highlighting are staples of the beauty world but I know lots of people are still afraid to give these techniques a go because they think they require expert knowledge to pull off. 

I also know there are lots of tutorials out there already, but I find a lot of them assume at least some prior knowledge, so today I wanted to go back to basics with a 101 post & provide some foolproof tips on contouring, bronzing & highlighting.

THE BASICS

At their most basic level, all these techniques are illusions. I don't mean that in a negative sense, I purely want to emphasise that the aim is to give the impression that your face has certain qualities - which you may or may not have naturally - & this can help guide you, both in your product choices & your technique. 

I also want to emphasise that these techniques will not ~*improve*~ your face - your face is already fantastic. They will, when done a certain way, make your face appear closer to euro-centric beauty standards, but you are under no obligation to do this - if you'd rather use these techniques to emphasise your cute round nose, your chubby cheeks & your double chin then go for it!

So, what's the point in using these techniques?
The aim of contouring is to give the illusion of shape & structure. This is done by mimicking shadows which trick the eye into thinking that certain features - for example, cheekbones or your jawline - are more prominent.

Bronzing is intended to give the illusion of a sun-kissed glow, like you've spent the week running around the English countryside, eating strawberries & wearing not-quite-enough SPF. It can also help warm up your complexion if you're natural quite pale but don't want to deal with tanning (whether naturally or out of a bottle).

And finally, highlighting is intended to give the illusion of a ~*healthy*~ inner glow (whatever that means). Basically, a lot of foundations - particularly full-coverage ones are more matte than our skin is naturally, so highlighting helps bring everything back to life, & stops your face from looking super 2D.

PRODUCTS

L-R: Contour, Bronzer & Highlighter

Buying products to contour, bronze & highlight with can be a bit of a minefield, especially as lots of brands will use terms like contour & bronzer interchangeable. However, there are some basic guidelines which can help you pick out the best products for you.
Contour shades should generally be a couple of shades darker than your natural skin tone, cool-toned & matte. This is because you're trying to mimic your face's natural shadows, which are generally not super warm. Some beauty bloggers & vloggers will use a bronzer to "contour" with, but strictly speaking this is just a more precise application of bronzing. My personal favourite contour shade is Illamasqua's Powder Eyeshadow in the shade Heroine.
Bronzers should again be slightly darker than your natural skin tone, but this time warm-toned. Avoid anything too warm as it can look orange on your skin & instead aim for something close to your natural tanned skin. A lot of high-street bronzers are super shimmery which can look nice when combined with a tan, but a matte shade is more natural looking. I'm a big fan of the Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil Bronzer.
Highlighters should be significantly paler than your skin tone, but match your natural undertone. For example, if you have a warmer skin tone then a warm or yellow-toned highlighter is more likely to suit you, while cooler skin tones are more likely to suit pink-toned shades. The level of shimmer in your highlighter is up to you, but I particularly like Becca's Shimmering Skin Perfector (Pressed) in Moonstone because the glow is more metallic than glitter-based.

TECHNIQUE

1 // Prep your base - Because these techniques are an illusion, a clear base will help them stand out & prevent them from looking muddy. If you're contouring on top of a light coverage foundation, or without a base then I'd suggest using a lighter touch than if you're wearing a full coverage foundation.

2 // Contour - The classic places to contour are: just under the cheekbone, along the jawline & down the sides of the nose. When chiselling out your cheekbones it can help to suck in your cheeks & then "draw" a line, starting at your ear to around two thirds of the way to your mouth. You can then blend this line out to make it look less stark, but I'd recommend blending upwards only to avoid it looking muddy - you want the "shadow" to still look sharp. With both your jawline (just under your jawbone & down your neck) & your nose (either side of the bridge), less is definitely more - a natural contour should be subtle enough to enhance your features without drawing attention to itself.

3 // Bronzer - The general rule is to bronze anywhere you would naturally tan. In practice this means your temples (either side of your forehead), your cheeks (just above where you've contoured) & the bridge of your nose. You can also bronze along your jawline, which creates a classic 3 shape on the side of your face - easy to remember & difficult to mess up.

4 // Highlighter - As with contouring, the aim of highlighting is to enhance your natural features, so most people choose to highlight the areas where light naturally hits the face: the cheekbones (between your bronzer & your under-eye), the bridge of the nose, & the Cupid's bow (just above the lips). You can also highlight above & below your brow arch, & your chin, but as someone with naturally oily skin I tend to avoid going all-out because it can quickly veer from inner glow into super sweaty territory.

As you can see above, on a blank face contouring, bronzing & highlighting can all end up looking pretty extreme but when elements like brows, eyeliner, blush & lipstick are added it all comes together.

Hopefully this run-down has helped clarify a few things about these techniques, but if you have any further questions please don't hesitate to let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

5 Tips for Plus Size Shopping Online



It's no secret that plus size shopping online can be pretty challenging, with even basic items being hard to track down, so how can you make sure you end up with a wardrobe you love? As someone who's been shopping in plus sizes since my teens, I wanted to share some of my top tips with you today.


1 // Resist impulse purchases

We all know that plus size clothing options are often limited, which can mean it's tempting to click "add to basket" the second you see something that catches your eye, but in doing so you're setting yourself up for regret. 

Unless there's a serious risk of you missing out if you don't buy it now, I generally think it's best to give yourself at least 24 hours to consider your purchase. I tend to keep items I'm considering open in tabs on my browser so I can regularly revisit them & see how I feel. I also try to think about when I would wear the item & what items from my wardrobe I would pair it with - if you're struggling to answer those questions, it's probably best to let it go.

I also find it can help to have a list of people who's style you admire. Then, when you're considering buying an item, you can ask yourself "Would any of these people wear this?" If the answer is no, I'd recommend leaving it behind unless it's something that you love because it's uniquely you.


2 // Shop the sales, but buy wardrobe staples

Sales at plus size retailers can be tragic - with all the stylish & fashion-forward items gone, what's left often resembles the jumble sale from hell, but I promise there are gems to be found. 

My strategy with sales is this: go in with a clear goal in mind, & don't be tempted to browse. 

Inevitably, if I end up browsing a sale, I'll buy items that I wouldn't normally have considered simply because of the discount. Then, when they arrive, I'll congratulate myself on getting a great deal & store them away at the back of my wardrobe where they'll remain unworn. To avoid this, I primarily use sales to buy wardrobe staples, things like tights, plain tops & jeans.

Case in point, in the last ASOS sale I purchased three pairs of their Curve Ridley Jeans (in black, a light denim, & a tan shade) each for between £15-20 when they normally retail for around £30. I did this because Ridley jeans are my favourites, & I could guarantee I'd get wear out of them, making the £10-15 saving per pair a genuinely good deal.


3 // Don't discount discount brands

Similar to sales, a lot of people refuse to shop cheaper brands because they think the clothes won't be stylish & the quality won't be as good, but personally, I'm a big fan of shopping at discount stores. Although the quality can be hit or miss, amongst the questionable rhinestone tops & cargo pants there are some really affordable, stylish items.  

Both the blazer on the left & the duster jacket on the right are from George at ASDA, & I think they each cost around £15, which is pretty sweet considering you could easily pay £40 for something similar from ASOS.


4 // Read reviews

Whether the sizing has been off or the fabric hasn't looked the same as it did in the pictures, we've all bought items online that have been a disappointment when they arrived, & one of the easiest ways to avoid this is by reading reviews.

Whether it's on the retailers website, on a blog or just in an Instagram selfie, I rarely buy clothes any more without having first checked out some kind of review, & I'd definitely recommend it, particularly for expensive purchases or when returning an item could be an issue.

Incidentally, this is also one of the reasons that I think plus size bloggers are so important - without them, plus size women would be forced to buy clothes without ever seeing them on a body that looks like theirs, which makes it pretty fucking difficult.


5 // If all else fails, return it

Free & easy returns are one of the miracles of the modern age, but even so it can be tempting to keep items you're unsure about on the off-chance they'll work in the future. Stop it. Even if you do end up making that dress work eventually, it's unlikely it's ever going to be your favourite, so why keep it around?

As soon as your new clothes arrive, try them on. Give them the best chance of winning you over by trying them on as you would wear them - good underwear, tights, nice shoes, whatever - but if it doesn't work, accept it & move on. Pack the item back up & arrange the return ASAP - waiting is fatal as chances are you'll forget until it's too late.
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