7 Black Friday Purchase Pitfalls to Avoid

November 22nd, 2011

The very exciting and exhausting Black Friday is almost upon us. I went to Maryland to visit my cousin last American Thanksgiving and I participated in the madness that was Black Friday shopping with her family. I thoroughly enjoyed it despite having to dragging my cranky 1-year-old with us at 3 in the morning. Sadly, I won’t be able to go again this year. I got this very useful email in my inbox this morning, I thought I’d pass it onto my cousin and onto you, darlings. These tips certainly also apply to our own holiday shopping frenzy here in Canada!

These tips are from Andrea Woroch, who is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert, featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more.

If you’re the type who can’t resist a “doorbuster” bargain, you’re more likely to get true deals if you heed our advice and avoid the following seven Black Friday pitfalls.

1. Just Because It Says “Sale”…
…doesn’t mean it’s really a sale. For example, many stores are advertising blockbuster prices on the Kindle e-reader, but check with Amazon and you’ll find there’s no difference between the regular and so-called “sale” prices. Do a bit of research before you leave home by comparing the prices between clicks and bricks.

2. Overbuying
Do you fall into the frenzy of Black Friday? Everyone is grabbing and it’s so easy to feel you might miss out on a good thing. Remember that list people always tell you to make before heading out? Well stick to it!

3. Not Checking for Quality
Many sale items are of substandard quality. Clothes are a particular example this season, as the increased cost of cotton drove manufacturers to use less of the popular raw material. Many hems aren’t properly finished, sleeves are shorter than normal, and manufacturers are using gathered seams to save on fabric. Consumer electronics also are subject to this syndrome. Look carefully before you buy.

4. Ignoring Coupons
There’s a reason the Thanksgiving newspaper is the fattest of the year. All those fliers contain some really juicy coupons. If you don’t receive a paper or are looking for extra deals, check the Black Friday page of CouponSherpa.com for offers from your merchants.

5. Comparing Apples to Oranges
Naming no names, but some big-box stores order electronics and appliances with a slightly different model name or number, so you can’t comparison shop properly. If you want to price check an item, compare features, and not model numbers.

6. Forgetting About Extras
One of the best examples here is the computer printer. Manufacturers like to offer printers at what look like blazingly great prices. Unfortunately, the printer ink or toner will cost the gift recipient more than the printer cost you. The same goes with batteries for larger toys and electronics.

7. Setting Your Sites on Freebies
Babies R Us is offering a free $10 gift card on toy purchases of $75, leading you to add enough items to your basket until you’ve hit the magic $75 mark. Express gives you $25 in Express Cash when you spend $50, which means you’ll likely spend more than the $25 on other purchases. Sometimes free isn’t really free.

Smartphone wrinkles!

March 17th, 2011

I found this interesting article about getting wrinkles from using your smartphone too much in my Inbox today and it really struck a chord with me. God knows my BlackBerry does not leave my side 24/7. I think I will have to adopt the tips mentioned in the article to try my best to look at it less often just for the sake of my face.

Wrinkles may be a sign of approaching middle age but younger women now have a reason to worry — the smartphone squint. Many of them are developing premature wrinkles from staring at their smartphones, says Dr. Brian Glatt, a New Jersey City’s board-certified plastic surgeon. According to Dr. Glatt, “The trend for ‘BlackBerry Botox’ is highly increasing especially among women who are addicted to gazing on their BlackBerries or iPhones all day. Peering at a small screen causes facial strain, around and between the brows which may cause premature wrinkles on the face.”

Smartphone-related wrinkles are the latest condition that doctors attribute to overuse of technology. Others include ‘BlackBerry thumb’ – a form of repetitive strain injury caused by excessive texting.

Tips for Smartphone users to help prevent against the need for Blackberry Botox

1. Take a break – It’s important to put down or at least glance up from your Smartphone regularly so that your eyes can rest. Though squinting is necessary when using a Smartphone, taking time to relax your eyes can make a significant difference in reducing this new type of strain on your facial muscles.

2. Turn the light down low – too much light and contrast can cause you to narrow the eyes to take in the brightness. A no-no for fresh-looking eye contours. Combat the dreaded ‘crow’s feet’ effect by dimming the screen in your ‘settings’ options – and see how low you can go on the light emission. The less, the better. (as a bonus, this will also help preserve your phone’s battery life!)

3. Enlarge the text – If you find yourself struggling to read the small text on your Smartphone and start holding it so close you wrinkle your nose so much it hurts, just enlarge the text by simply going to your settings and altering the text size. Also, the zoom function can be a fantastic thing – use it to focus in on images on your device so you can see much more clearly and avoid pulling the inner eye.

4. Looking after your eyes – If you can bear it, spend less time glued to your iPhone or Blackberry. And during this timeout, take some deep breaths to relax the face into a more natural expression, and gently massage the area around the eyes – a simple thing that can make a big difference to preventing those lines that starts subtly but can get deeper and more pronounced. Not only will your face be serene looking, you will feel more serene – and in a much better state to deal with any inbox horrors.

5. Don’t forget to smile! If you are experiencing stress from being constantly attached to your Smartphone, just think about the potentially negative effect this is having on your youthful appearance. Then, take time to do something that relieves the tension, like playing on a fun app, like TomCat or Angry Birds; this will help relax your face, soften your expression and prevent long term frown lines.

Seven tips to dressing 7 lbs thinner

March 15th, 2010

Bestselling “Bra Book” Author and Style Expert, Jene’ Luciani, who has been quoted in Cosmo, the Chicago Tribune and the NY Daily News, and appeared on national TV outlets including Fox News Channel and the Style Network, offers tips on how to look 7 lbs thinner in an instant.  “Just getting the proper fitting bra can take pounds off your figure instantly,” says Luciani.  But there are also some other easy ways to trim your figure, without having to hit the treadmill.

Now that we’re shopping for spring clothes and shedding winter layers, those extra pounds will surely show.  So, before you hit the shops, keep these SEVEN slimming secrets in mind:
1. Beat Up the Muffin Man

“Finding the appropriate undergarments is one of the most important parts of looking your best,” says Luciani.  If your underwear or bra is too tight, it can give you that muffin-top appearance or back fat that can make you appear larger than you are.
2.  Get Waisted
“Adding a belt to highlight your waist – the thinnest part on most women’s bodies -can instantly make you look 7lbs thinner,” she says.  Creating curves can often draw the attention to the waistline creating a slimmer and sexier style.  You can find a belt that is customized for your own body at Badichi Customized Belts located at 159 Prince Street in Soho.

3. Boost Your Humps

Whether it’s your boobs or your butt, whatever your best feature, flaunt it.  “Wearing something that flatters your figure best will draw more attention to those areas you’re proud of,” says the author.  Bust UP Cups by KYMARO are a great addition to your bra for some extra cleavage.
4. Smooth Your Lumps

Smooth out lumps and bumps with a body shaper that sucks you in and tightens you up in all the right places.  “Not only does it instantly make you look thinner, it also hides the cellulite and bulges you try endlessly to get rid of.”

5.  Get High-er

”Heightening those heels can lengthen the look of your legs and give you a slimmer appearance.   A good investment piece for spring that every woman should own is a pair of leg-lengthening, pointy toe, nude pumps.  That’s the key to looking longer and leaner!

6. The Wrong Ruffles

Avoid bulky fabrics and ruffles in “all the wrong places.” “Ladylike trends like ruffles are huge this season but I’ve seen a big emergence of skirts with ruffles in places that aren’t flattering on most women, like the hips” says Luciani.  The last thing you want to do is bring attention to trouble spots.  Instead, opt for a fitted, hi-waisted pencil skirt, with some ruffle detailing on the hem.

7. Shine Bright, not Badly

Fabrics with sheen may seem sexy, but can really pack on the unwanted pounds.  “Opt for shiny accents on clothes, as opposed to all over shine,” says the style expert. Also, we all love white pants for spring but if you’re heavier on the bottom, stick to a nice tailored trouser, as opposed to a white pair of skinny jeans, which can make you appear heavier.  It’s also good to avoid big prints (which make you look BIGGER) and pay attention to details like neckline and the ‘rise’ on your pants.

Tragic

February 11th, 2010


(McQueen with his mother, Joyce, who died this month)

I was driving home, baby-talking to my son in the car when I heard the news on the radio. I was stunned. According to Times Online, Alexander McQueen was found hanged at his Central London home yesterday. He couldn’t cope with the recent death of his mother. I couldn’t believe it. It is truly tragic. The fashion world has lost one of its brightest designers.

Top Five Holiday Makeup Mistakes

December 3rd, 2009

makeup With Christmas and New Years Eve now only weeks away, many women are already planning their holiday party outfits. One of the biggest mistakes women make during the party season, is applying their makeup incorrectly. FACE atelier Pro Makeup Artist, Amy Zdunowski-Roeder, gives us her Top 5 Holiday Makeup No, No’s:
1. Makeup on Flaky Dry Skin will look Flaky

Exfoliate and hydrate (hydration is so important) and use a non-alcoholic based foundation or mineral makeup to create balance.
2. Makeup that is too dark for the skin

Some ladies try purchase makeup a few shades darker because they believe they will give them that festive “bronzed” look. What happens instead, is the skin looks jarringly unnatural. Foundation should be tested in natural light, on your wrist, chin or the best place- NECK- since your neck connects your face and decollate, you can find the best tone that will blend perfectly into both areas.
3. Avoid the “Clown” look

Makeup should be fun, creative and exciting. However, it is very easy to overdo it during the party season. Pick ONE area to emphasize- cheeks, lips or eyes. For example, if you have bold and dramatic sexy dark eye makeup on, a pale lip and light rosy cheeks will make your eyes pop and you will have a completed look that is just right!
4. Over-Penciling your Eyebrows

An over- penciled eyebrow is the first thing an onlooker notices and has the tendency to look painted on. Many, many women unknowingly make this mistake, which can be one of the hardest to break. For best results, select an eye shadow color that matches your hair color and apply with a small angled brush using light brush strokes.
5. Blending-. Blending is the Professional Makeup artist’s secret weapon! It is what creates the flawless face. Important areas to blend:

1. Along the Jaw line- You can see “that line” on someone’s chin a mile away. Your eyes catch it when the foundation isn’t blended properly into the neck to be fresh and uniform

2. Blend out cheek color so you look flushed not painted (unless you want an 80’s look)

3. Blend eye shadow when you use multiple colors and can see “hard” lines

4. Blend lip liner into the lip again when there is a “hard” drawn on line that you can see

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About Amy Zdunowski-Roeder: Amy Zdunowski-Roeder is a Pro Makeup Artist for FACE atelier. She has worked as part of America’s Next Top Model Makeup Team, is a regular on movie sets and has credits in People Magazine, NYLON and OUT Magazine.

Emanuel Ungaro Spring 2010

October 7th, 2009

Have you seen the French label Emanuel Ungaro Spring 2010 show? With all the hoopla about Lindsey Lohan being hired as Emanuel Ungaro’s artistic advisor (what the heck does such a person do anyway?), it’s definitely generating more buzz for the label. I certainly didn’t pay attention to the label before. I’m looking at the colleciton and I’m kinda underwhelmed. The silhouettes are of the ubiquitous body-con variety. The prints and details are pretty simple. I do like the color palette, the hot pink dresses look pretty sexy. I don’t get the fur stoles for spring though. NYTimes has a hilarious review about it, A Controversial Debut for Lohan in Paris. It sums it up nicely. “Celebrity fashion designers have, until now, been a mostly American phenomenon, with lines targeted to department stores under labels by Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani and Justin Timberlake, among many others. But Ms. Lohan’s arrival at a 45-year-old Paris house known for $1,500 dresses and a tradition of couture craftsmanship is entirely different, something akin to a McDonald’s fry cook taking the reins of a three-star Michelin restaurant.” Lol.

Ask Hadley and she’ll give it to you straight

September 25th, 2009

I always enjoy Hadley Freeman’s column Ask Hadley in The Guardian. her sharp wit is incomparable. This week’s column made me almost bust a gut.

Why do so many models and celebrities suddenly have pixie haircuts? Was a memo sent out?

Sally, London

Yes. And Ask Hadley has (through means that may have been sly, but never stooped to phone-tapping level) received a copy of that memo. It reads a little something like this – hit it!

“Dear ladies who make their livings out of their looks, here is a totally hot new haircut that will emphasise to the world that you have fantastic cheekbones and also are incredibly thin, because anyone else would look like Augustus Gloop with that ‘do. And if that wasn’t enough to have you hacking at your hair, here’s the cherry on this non-carb cake: it will also make you look a lot younger – childlike, even. That is a good thing, of course, as ‘childlike’ and ‘thin’ have become almost synonymous: the more thin one is, the more childlike one appears, ergo, childlike is good. Happy hacking!”

Celebrities like to feel that they are special, that there is something innate to them that lifts them above the peasant-like crowd who fly economy class and have fat arses. Some celebs think this “specialness” is about their talent. Others think it comes from their lifelong feeling that they are somehow “different”, a point they are fond of reiterating in interviews. Few of them put it down to their willingness to whore themselves out emotionally 24/7, and imbue their children with chronic insecurities, eating disorders and drug addictions as they grow up believing that success is measured in OK! magazine covers.

Anyway, the point is they like to know that they live in an unreachable ivory tower, away from the clamouring mob. VIP rooms and private member clubs can serve that purpose but, my goodness, have you seen who they are letting into Soho House these days? Very bridge and tunnel. Pixie haircuts (like Halle Berry’s, right), however, serve this purpose marvellously because only those willing to forgo bread for, like, ever, and who regard a plate of edamame as a really great hot lunch in the name of being deemed a “Bathing Beauty!” by Look magazine will be able to carry this haircut off. The pixies may see their cut as a sign that they are special, they are strong. Others may see it as proof that this person is probably a bit annoying. Either way, it’s a useful visual indicator for everyone.

If matchy-matchy is now a trend, as I’m told it is, then why doesn’t my girlfriend let me wear my denim jacket with my jeans?

Brian, Manchester

Um, wait. I’m sorry, I need a minute to recover. Your email has overwhelmed me with its bonkersness. So, you have heard that something is “a trend”, and you think that this means it is inherently now good – so good, in fact, that it could somehow allow you to wear two pieces of denim together. Your girlfriend controls your wardrobe like, what, your mother? And now you have decided to tell the world that you long to do the double-denim look. I’m sorry, Brian, but are you unwell? You obviously need many answers, and I don’t feel sufficiently qualified to answer them. But hey, I’m a professional, and if this somehow saves the public from seeing someone go double denim, then I shall stoically tackle your questions.

Look, Brian, there is no excuse for double denim. I wouldn’t care if there was a law saying that everyone should work the matchy-matchy look; this does not mean you should start dressing like a rock band from Estonia in the 80s. “Matchy-matchy” refers to matching colours, not matching fabrics. Key point. Another key point is that just because a couple of designers promote a look does not mean it is good – and certainly not, contrary to what some magazines might say, “essential”. It just makes it the look those designers are trying to make you buy. Different.

Moreover, why in the name of all that is sane and obvious do you want to do the double denim look anyway? Do you think it looks good? Do you own a mirror? Brian, dear heart, take note. It’s a big ol’ world out there, full of fabrics other than denim. Live a little!

And finally, I know I may have joshed you a little earlier about your clearly saint-like girlfriend controlling your wardrobe but, on reflection, I think that’s probably a good thing – and, incidentally, she is always, always right. Hey, you asked for it, pal.

Harvard’s new clothing line

September 8th, 2009


I was browsing NYTimes’ slide shows and saw these pics from Harvard’s new line of upscale clothing. There are mixed reactions about whether Harvard should have an expensive clothing line or not, mainly that it would draw an invisible class line between students from really affluent backgrounds and students coming to Harvard on financial aids (which apparently makes up for 60% of all students). It is an interesting debate. What do you think of these clothes from a fashion standpoint? I’ve always liked preppy clothes (I’m actually contemplating getting a preppy blazer once my tummy shrinks down). I like the jackets, but some of the shirts seem to be a little flashy for me, lol.

“A ramble through Harvard Yard this week, as students returned for a new academic year, revealed more bow ties, polo shirts and Lacoste crocodiles than one might find on the average college campus. But for the most part, today’s Harvard students dress however they like. The usual hoodies, jeans and flip-flops are common.)”

Read the article here