Thursday, December 30, 2010

Party Perfect Nails Tutorial

New Year's Eve is always a big night. In additional to that fabulous dress and those killer heels, you need a dazzling manicure to make yourself feel extra sparkly. This nail look below is what I'm sporting to my New Year's Eve party. This party-perfect look is very girly and fun and best of all, it is super easy to recreate.

Begin with a base coat of lilac nail polish.

You can also use a baby pink color or even a pinkish-nude polish.

I used PURE ICE nail polish in Desire You

Once the base coat dries, apply a dark pink or magenta color over it.

Begin from the bottom quarter of your nails.

I used ZOYA's Mieko

Next, apply a purple polish over the second coat.

Start about midway up your nails.

I'm using PURE ICE's Iced Merlot.

Finish creating the gradients by painting the tips of your nails with a deep purple color.

I'm using OPI's DS Extravagence.

Finally, finish with two coats of a clear, glittery polish.

This step is absolutely crucial as the glitter hides any imperfections and blends everything together.

I'm using ULTA's polish in After Party.

Products Used (in order from left to right):

PURE ICE "Desire You"
ZOYA "Mieko"
PURE ICE "Iced Merlot"
OPI "DS Extravagence"
ULTA "After Party"


  • Since you're working with lots of layers here, allow ample time between each coats for them to dry.
  • This look works best on long nails.
  • Don't try to make each layer perfect; the final coat will conceal any smudges or mistakes.
  • Feel free to experiment with other colors as long as they are in the same color family.

Hope you enjoy the look!

Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil Review

Bare Escentuals is like the Holy Grail when it comes to mineral face make-up; their signature black-lid jars appear in all of my friends' make-up collections. While I have tried the Bare Escentuals Mineral Foundation - which has warranted great reviews and is indeed a wonderful product - what I'm most impressed with is the Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil.

I have combination skin that's pretty prone to breakout. My forehead, chin, and especially nose area gets really shiny a couple of hours after washing my face. Even if I apply matte foundation, those areas still get shiny. So I was super excited after receiving 10-day sample of the Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil (the original version, not the hydrating, SPF 25, tinted, or illuminating) with my order from Sephora. After just one day of using it, it has become a staple in my make-up bag.

The Mineral Veil is supposed to absorb oil and minimize the appearance of lines and pores without any chemicals that can cause build-up and be harsh on your skin. It's supposed to create "the ultimate, translucent "finishing touch" to your makeup," melting into your skin, "infusing it with softness and light, giving the look you see with a soft focus camera lens."

I use the BE Mineral Veil after applying concealer, the BE Mineral Foundation, eyeshadow, and eyeliner. Then I dust a thin layer of the Mineral Veil all over my face, concentrating on the areas that tend to get oily. A small amount of the product goes a long way. Unlike many other "mineral veils" and finishing powders that I've tried, Bare Escentuals' is by far the best. It really disappears onto my skin (unlike ones by CoverGirl and EverydayMinerals, which visibly sits on my skin) and it keeps my skin matte all day, something that nothing else I've tried has managed to do.

The Mineral Veil also sets eye-makeup in place, which is why I apply my eyeshadow and liner beforehand. But apply mascara afterwards just so the powder doesn't get stuck on your mascara-ed lashes. I don't use blush or bronzer, but if you do, they should also be applied before the Mineral Veil. To maximize the effect of the product, apply primer all over your face after you put on lotion and before applying anything else.

Have you tried the Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil? What did you think of it?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Year's Eve Outfits Under $100

New Year's Eve is probably my favorite holiday of the year (well, if you consider it a holiday). It's a time when you can linger in the present while anticipating the future. During those couple of hours before the clock strikes twelve, one can indulge themselves before turning over a new leaf for the new year.

And of course, it's the best party night of the year. For us college students, that means partying it up in our hometowns, popping bottles of champagne, hitting up clubs/house parties, and hooking up with that cute guy from high school that you've always had a crush on but never had the nerves to admit it. After all, what happens in 2010 stays in 2010.

Below are some super stylish and affordable outfits for your big night out. Best of all, all of them are under $100! After dropping big bucks on Christmas presents, a pricetag like that is something every college girl can celebrate.

New Year's Eve Outfit

This outfit is a total attention-getter, so it's not for the faint of heart. Sequins are super hot this season and this sequin one-shoulder dress is sexy yet not trashy. Pair it with some funky pumps to look extra dazzling. There's already a lot going on in the dress, so you don't want to over-accessorize. I don't like the cluster of bracelets that the model is wearing: it detracts the focal point away from the dress and visually shortens her arms. Instead, I would accessorize with a fabulous cocktail ring and silver chandelier earrings. It's as simple as that. Now all you need is to strut with confidence and you'll be a total head-turner.

This classic cocktail dress makes this outfit exude with elegance and sophistication, but the funky accessories add some freshness to the whole ensemble. The satin pumps are very elegant yet the bow in the back keeps it youthful. Plus, you can't go wrong with some eclectic accessories like the peacock feather earrings and rockstar cuffs shown above.

Plus, this outfit is very versatile, appropriate for everything from family gatherings to hitting up some fancy clubs.

New Year's Eve Outfit

This outfit is perfect for the girly-girl or if you are spending New Year's Eve with family. Lace is super trendy this year and this lacey dress is sexy without revealing too much skin. Play on the lace by adding some patterned tights in black (colored tights would overwhelm the whole ensemble) and some over-the-knee flat boots (heeled ones may be too trashy for this look). Finally, accessorize with some cute accessories - think pastels or florals - for cute, girl-next-door vibe.

Gilt Final Sale

Ugh. I was so excited for the Gilt Final Sale today, where everything from Aexander Wang to McQ to White + Warren were marked up to 90% off. But...the site crashed! And for over half an hour, the Final Sale completely disappeared.

Luckily, it's finally up again! The best deals I've found are in Juicy Couture. This sale isn't as good as their previous Final Sales, and with the technical troubles added to it, it really was a hassle to shop. But the prices are still unbeatable compared to other sites. Here's what I managed to snatch:

Betsey Johnson Tulip Print Chemise $75 $20

  • Charlotte Ronson Bleach Splattered Shorts $135 $20

Juicy Couture Moto Zipper Jacket $198 $31

Juicy Couture Sequin Shoulder Pad Tee $198 $20

Laeken Stud Top $111 $31


Alexander Wang Asymmetrical Sweatshirt Dress $623 $123

Did you pick up anything from the Final Sale today? Feel free to share your purchases in the comment section :)

J. Crew Spring 2011 Ready-to-Wear

J. Crew is my college staple. As a self-proclaimed preppy girly-girl, their classic, all-American pieces are perfect for my taste. And when it comes to must-have pieces such as soft tees, cashmere cardis, and school-appropriate shorts, no one does it better than J. Crew.

Here are some of my favorite looks from J. Crew's Spring 2011 Ready-to-Wear collection. The bright colors are definitely wiping away my winter blues. I particularly love the pops of orange and yellow in Lena Ashikhmina and Juana Berga's outfits (pictres 1 and 3). Take a look for yourself and dream of the warm spring days that will soon be here.

Lena Ashikhmina

Imogen Morris Clarke Juana Berga Veronika Antsipava Daria PleggenkuhleLi Ming Geh 
Photo Credit:

Outfits Inspired by Blake Lively/Serena van der Woodsen

*Ah I found this post saved in my drafts. I meant to publish it during back-to-school season but somehow never got around to it. So rather than let it go to waste, I'll just post it here. The outfits are definitely wearable for spring and even for winter if you live somewhere warm :)

If I were to name the perfect girl, I would name Serena van der Woosen without hesitation. Even though she's a fictional character, she epitomizes perfection. Beautiful. Kind. Polished. Smart. Even her name exudes glamor (who wouldn't want the name Serena van der Woodsen?).

In the TV series, Serena is played by leggy blonde bombshell Blake Lively. Now, I think Blake is by far one of the most beautiful actresses in the industry. Not only is she gorgeous, she also seems like a genuine person. Friendly, bubbly - and unlike her younger castmate Taylor Momsen - she actually seems like a decent role model.

I admit, usually I dislike super pretty people because I'm so jealous of them. Like Emma Watson (umm she gets Harry Potter, Burberry ads, and Brown University) and AnnaLynne McCord (who is gorgeous and dating Kellan Lutz from the Twilight series). However, Blake Lively is someone I can't even not like because she's just that perfect.

In an interview, Blake admitted that her real-life wardrobe much resembles her character's wardrobe in the show. I think I can safely say on behalf of 99% of girls that we would all die for Serena's clothes. But unfortunately, not all of us have moms who are Upper East Side social climbers and stepbrothers who own large portions of New York real estate. Below are some fall back-to-school looks inspired by Serena that won't put a hole in your wallet.

Rain, Rain Go Away

blake lively serena van der woodsen 1

Autumn is to me like a frenemy: I can't decide whether I like it or not. On one hand, it gives me an excuse to break out those bronzed riding boots, don on chic scarves, and sip apple cider at an outdoor cafe. On the other hand, it's means unpredictable weather, piles of homework, and the impending arrival of winter.

In Chicago, fall is rainy season. Days are frequently gloomy and wet. But just because the sky is gray doesn't mean your mood has to be. In this bright little outfit, all eyes will be on you as you prance through the rain.

First, the citrus floral skirt captures the essence of leaves on the forest floor of a sunny October day. The bright turquoise tank adds a pop of color while the open navy cardigan makes the outfit more fall-appropriate. Since there's already plenty of color in the outfit, choose neutral accessories: nude bag and pumps are perfect. Contrast the nude pieces with a dark bangle adorned with metal studs to add some edge to the feminine outfit.

Finally, an umbrella is essential to keeping your hair mess-free and your outfit polished. Opt for a deep, clear one as opposed to the usual flat, colored ones that people carry. The deep cap offers more protection from the wind and rain while the clear material allows you to see and be seen.

Winter Lace

blake lively serena van der woodsen 2

This outfit is targeted towards those late fall days when it almost feels like winter. First, knee-high boots are hot this fall and has been for the past few years. But rather than wearing these lovely gray suede ones bare-thighed or with tights, pair them with some lacy tights. It keeps the look cold-weather appropriate yet adds some sexiness to the otherwise conservative outfit.

In the picture, Blake is wearing dark wool shorts. However, I chose these lacy print ones to add some more girliness to the whole look. Same with the blazer - I opted for a fitted blazer rather than a woolen boyfriend blazer like the one seen on Blake, which is just a touch too masculine for my taste.

Finally, allow a neutral feminine tank to peak out from underneath the blazer and keep your neck warm with an infinity scarf. A dark blue or turquoise one works great with the maroon tights. Finish off the outfit with a studded messenger bag and you're good to go!

Street Chic

blake lively serena van der woodsen 3

This outfit is perfect for running errands or on any other cool autumn day when you will be doing lots of walking. Plus, it's composed of staples that are incredibly versatile and work for many other outfits. What you need are a simple white tank, dark pencil jeans that aren't too skinny, military boots, a brown woolen scarf, and a fitted cargo jacket.

This look epitomizes effortlessness yet is still stylish at the same time. While I would usually recommend accessorizing with something bright to add a pop of color, I think keeping everything neutral works in this case because the pieces are all of varying hues - blacks, whites, greens, browns. Therefore keep things simple with a roomy brown bag.

This comfortable outfit is just an invitation to go out and get moving. I think it's perfect for exploring a new neighborhood in your college town, volunteering at a soup kitchen or animal shelter, or helping your club pass out fliers on the street.

Touch of Gold

blake lively serena van der woodsen 4

This outfit is the perfect fall date-look (sorry Penn Badgley, had to cut you out to make room for the pieces). Imagine yourself taking a walk on a beautiful fall day with a boy-toy on your arm.

To recreate this outfit, pair a striped beige tank (which most college gals already own) with a gold sequined mini (a wardrobe staple as it can be toned down for a day look like this and is perfect for a night out). Throw on a lazy boyfriend blazer - preferably acid-washed rather than something too dark as the whole look is supposed to be very relaxed.

Since you've already got the "glam" in the outfit with the sequined mini, keep everything else simple. Neutral flip-flops, a chestnut tote, and a brown floral bangle adds the perfect touch. Now all you need is that cute boy on your arms (sorry, this one I can't help with!).

Attention Getter

Have you ever felt, well, invisible? Like cabs aren't stopping for you, or nobody seems to hold the door?

Well, this outfit will solve your problem. In the picture, Blake is clearly hailing a cab - and which cabbie can miss her? To recreate this outfit, the most important thing you need is color. I opted for a bright yellow cardigan rather than a cropped vest like Blake's to make the look more wearable (do a cropped vest wrong and you'll like like a stripper, and that's not the type of attention you want). To prevent the cardi from looking bulky but also to prevent too much cleavage from showing, wear a bralet in a nude shade - bralets are super versatile and can fix many wardrobe problems.

Choose a pair of high-waisted shorts to complement the cropped cardi. Opt for a pair of neutral school-girl loafers (you don't want too much color) to keep the look school-appropriate. Finally, an azure tote is a great complement to yellow. If you can't find a bag of this shade, a bright green one would look equally good.

Finally, don't forget your notebooks! You're guaranteed to be the best-dressed chick in class.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cocktail Recipes for College Students

Winter break can get quite boring: you're stuck at home with your parents and it's so cold you can't even imagine doing anything that involves being outside. So what better way to cure the winter blues than by making and drinking some cocktails? The alcohol will warm you up and brighten your mood. Below are three super easy drinks that you can make with ingredients right from your fridge and your parent's liquor cabinet. Invite some old high school friends over for a sophisticated cocktail night - a much classier option after a semester of pounding back shots and shotgunning beer at frat parties.
Tequila Sunrise

This is one of my favorite drinks to make because it's so simple and the colors come out so beautifully. Everything can be adjusted according to taste, but this is how I like to make it:

Start by filling a highball glass with a couple of ice cubes. Add about 1.5 shots of tequila (about 2 oz) and top with orange juice. Stir everything and slowly add in a about a tablespoon or two of grenadine (depending on how sweet you like your drink) and watch it make its way to the bottom of the glass and then rise up ever so slightly, creating that dazzling sunrise effect. Add a lemon or orange wedge for garnish.
Raspberry Bellini

I like this drink because it's simple yet very classy (I think anything with champagne is automatically pretty classy). All you need is some crushed ice, lemon juice, raspberries, and champagne.

Begin by spreading a sheet of crushed ice and tossing a few raspberries (preferably fresh, although dried works as well) into a champagne flute. Add a dash of lemon juice and top with champagne. Garnish with any berry of your choice.
Rum and Coke

Rum and coke is so simple to make that it is considered a "cocktail" only frat parties. Fill a highball glass with ice. Add one or two (or three) shots of rum and top with coke (I prefer diet lime coke to spare those extra calories). Stir well and garnish with a lime wedge.
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