Wardrobe Essentials: The Foundations

For the first five or six years of my bra-wearing-life, I wore the wrong bra size. I went to Victoria’s Secret and got a “fitting” (using that term loosely) and wore these little skimpy bras which gave no support and were too large in the ribcage, creating some lovely bulges on my back. Then one day I read an article online about the importance of getting a proper bra fitting by a professional (i.e. someone who does bras for their career). So I marched on down to Bloomingdale’s and found out I was not a 36D like I thought but a 32F (!) and discovered the beauty and support of a well-fitting bra.

Finding the proper “foundations” for your wardrobe can literally make everything you wear look more tailored and expensive. And you’ll feel absolutely fabulous.

The Essential Foundations

1. Several Well-fitting bras. One in each black and nude. It is also good to have a well-fitting sports bra (Lululemon’s Ta-ta Tamer is excellent for running) as well as a deep plunge bra for evening dresses. You don’t need to have twenty bras, just three well-fitting bras will serve you better. Just remember the golden rule for bras: replace them every three-to-six months since they get a lot of wear. I was taught to buy a ribcage size that is supportive on the largest clasp and too-tight on the smallest – that way as the bra stretches with wear, you can tighten the bra with the smaller clasps.

Favorite Bra Brands: Wacoal, Natori

2. Spanx. Some may disagree with me on this but I think having spanx for special occasions and tight skirts can be a god-send. Having smooth fitting clothing and a streamlined panty line will always be classy. Even if wiggling into spanx can be less than classy.

3. Camisoles. For layering, lounging around the house and for adding a little mystery to that low-cut evening gown.

4. Seamless underwear. I am a huge fan of the lacie thongs from Victoria’s Secret! If you haven’t tried them, do – they work fabulously even with my tightest pants.

5. Tights. I know colored tights are big right now but I tend to gravitate towards the classics. Good basics include nude, sheer black and solid black. I’ve tried expensive brands (DKNY) and cheap ones but my favorites right now are the Nordstrom brand. Does anyone know a good brand for tights? I’m always looking for value since I have to wear these so often to work.

What foundations do you use?

Ashley

What’s in My Make-Up Bag

Seeing what a woman keeps in her make-up bag is like being let into a secret back room of her personality. It’s the invisible arsenal she depends on to present her image of herself to the world. Sydney, over at The Daybook, just did this (http://www.thedaybookblog.com/2012/01/mama-beauty.html) and I couldn’t help but be inspired to do my own version.

My kit is the result of a long journey involving years of poor decisions (I used to have a thing for bronze eyeliner, oh the shame) which taught me the golden rule: less is more. Generally, I focus on highlighting one feature – either my eyes or lips and keep the rest as simple and natural as possible.

My favorite products have evolved over the years but I feel I have finally found a core set of cosmetics which I can turn to everyday. Typically I turn to products which multi-task the most and that can be layered to create a dramatic look if necessary.

Starting at the top and then moving clockwise:

1:: Bobbi Brown Sheer Finish Loose Powder in Pale Yellow ($35 at bobbibrowncosmetics.com). This is the best loose powder I have ever found – it helps my make-up stay put for hours and is very sheer and clean-feeling.

2:: a generic Eyebrown brush (usually under $1 at most Walgreens). Even though I have very thin and light eyebrows, I still need to keep them groomed. This little brush works like magic after I apply my eyebrow mascara – just wait a minute for the mascara to set and then swipe it through your eyebrows to soften and polish the look.

3:: blinc Mascara in Black ($24 at birchbox.com). This is the most expensive mascara I have ever tried but I really love it. All of the blinc mascaras have ‘tube technology’ which coats your lashed in a tube and which come off in the shower with a little soap and water. It’s so much less messy than normal mascara (and less harsh than waterproof mascaras) and it’s actually fun to slide off your mascara at night. Weird but worth a try if you’re looking for an innovative beauty splurge.

4:: Cargo Eyeliner in black. This isn’t actually made anymore as far as I can tell but any well-formulate black eyeliner can really emphasize your eyes. I love a demure cat-eye for work – it looks wonderful and still professional.

5:: Bobbi Brown Eyebrow Mascara in Brown. This, unfortunately, is also no longer available but a good eyebrow mascara can help you shape your brows and fill in sparse spaces without looking theatrical.

6:: Physician’s Formula Gentle Cover Concealer Stick in Fair ($6 at the Physcian’s Formula website). This concealer is a fabulous all-purpose which swipes on cleanly. I always blend this in around my under-eye area with my ring finger (gives the least amount of pressure) and it stays on all day. And let’s be honest – you can’t beat the price!

7:: Maybelline Dream Mousse Blush in a shade no longer available but very similar to the #25 Pink Frosting shade (about $7 at Walgreens). A bright pink shade in a sheer formula looks so flattering on every skin-type and this formula is easy to use and blend.

8:: Pür Minerals 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Foundation with SPF 15 in Light ($25 at birchbox.com). I received a sample of this in my July Birchbox and have been obsessed since. This sheer formula have be built-up to cover just about anything and it lasts all day (not to mention the added SPF protection).

What do you keep in your make-up bag?

Ashley

Apollo, King of McQueen

My McQueen scarf finally came in the mail! However, Apollo seems to want to keep it all to himself so I have dubbed him Apollo, King of McQueen (and possibly McQueen’s first pug model).

He enjoyed modeling the scarf until he got himself all tangled up (look at those sad eyes)…

Ashley

P.s. Do not attempt this shoot yourself unless you want your lovely new silk scarf covered in pug fur.

Lifevesting’s First Guest Post: Wardrobe Essentials – Dark Wash Jeans

Today, Lifevesting is doing its first guest post over at leahmariev’s fabulous blog. If you haven’t checked out her posts yet, you must! She has fabulous ideas about DIY projects and delicious recipes – I always feel so inspired after stopping at her page.

Check out my Wardrobe Essential: The Dark Wash Jean guest post here: http://leahmariev.com/2012/01/12/wardrobe-essentials-by-ashley-at-lifevesting/

J Brand Cigarette Leg Jeans

What’s your favorite way to wear jeans?

Ashley 

5PFWM: Winter 2011/12

On November 22nd I wrote a post about the 5 Piece French Wardrobe Method (5PFWM) which is a way of building a quality wardrobe without being completely overwhelmed by choices. The whole theory is that every season you should pick five pieces you would like to invest in to build up your wardrobe. I think subscribing to this method is a huge Lifevestment simply because it forces you to concentrate on what your wardrobe needs and to find quality (not quantity) to fill the void.
 
Here are some pictures of my Fall 2011 5PFWM pieces. To re-cap, I added (1) a classic Anne Klein trench coat with single-breasted buttons, storm flaps and an a-line flair, (2) a black-and-white patterned wrap dress from Eliza J, (3) a velvet peplum blazer from Winter Kate, (4) a basic black sweater and (5) waterproof booties from Aquatalia (so in love with these boots)!
 

My Fall 2011 5PFWM loot

Trench Coat, Patterned Wrap Dress, Velvet Peplum Blazer

My absolute favorite addition from the fall season was my Aquatalia ‘Royal’ booties. They are so comfortable and the suede is so luxurious! They were a gift from Ian for Christmas and are the best investment shoe I own.
 
Aren’t they gorgeous (can you tell I am crushing on these boots)?
 

Aquatalia 'Royal' booties

They have a cute plaid interior (this photo doesn't do it justice)

Aquatalia makes a fabulous boot

These boots have me absolutely convinced (as if I wasn’t already) that wardrobe essentials will last so much longer if you invest in quality. A good mantra to remember is: Quality is always worth the price (though a high price isn’t always indicative of quality). I really tried to keep that in mind when picking my Winter wardrobe additions.
 

My Winter 2012 5PFWM includes:

1. An Alexander McQueen Silk Skull Scarf in Black/Blue. I have lusted after this scarf for a long time – to me it’s as versatile as a Burberry scarf. And the Black/Blue combination will work perfectly with jeans or a black suit.

McQueen Silk Skull Scarf

2. This fabulous Pleated Jersey Dress from Issa. I have always wanted a green dress and on my bucket list I did promise myself I would buy a nice designer dress with all my own money. Isn’t the cut so interesting? Plus this is dressy enough to wear to a party or wedding but the jersey fabric makes it easy to wear all-day at the office too. LOVE!

Issa's Pleated Jersey Dress, available at Net-A-Porter

3. A pair of well-tailored skinny jeans. J Brand makes the best for my body but I would suggest trying on a few brands before purchasing to make sure the fit is right (not one likes ‘wrinkly-knee’ skinny jeans).

J Brand Cigarette Leg Jeans

4. An L.K. Bennett Davina Dress is another investment piece which I have had my eye on for some time. I know this is my SECOND dress on a short list but a red dress is such a classic and L.K. Bennett really makes quality clothing. Plus the cut on the Davina is so flattering and timeless.

L.K. Bennett's Davina Dress in "Lipstick"

5. Cole Haan ‘Air Violet’ Patent Pumps in Black. These beautiful pumps actually contain Nike Air comfort technology which would make them extremely versatile and comfortable for all-day wear. Not to mention that black patent is such a wardrobe staple!
 

Cole Haan 'Air Violet' Patent Pump at Nordstroms

 What are you looking to add to your wardrobe this winter?

Ashley

My December Birchbox

My December Birchbox finally came in the mail yesterday. Apparently there was a delay with their distribution supply company and I was awarded Birchbox points for the wait. I can’t help but appreciate when companies take initiative to please their customers like that. So many times I have felt like my business didn’t mean anything to a particular company. Usually I solve this by “voting with my dollars” as Ian would say and just not shop with that company again. I was so surprised that Birchbox took initiative to email me about why my box had been delayed and to award me points for the wait.

Thank you Birchbox for having class!

As I have said before, I adore Birchbox. I have found several of my favorite beauty and lifestyle products through their service and I really enjoy getting a small box of goodies each month. When I saw my December box in my post-Christmas mail pile, I was very excited to see what I would get.

 My December 2011 Birchbox Contained:

1. Benefit The POREfessional ($29 for full-size). Despite Benefit being a popular beauty brand, this is the first product I have ever tried from them. The POREfessional is meant to act as pore-minimizing primer. When I put it on it when on cleanly like velvet and helped my concealer go on very easily. I’m always in the market for a good primer and this one may very well make it to my make-up bag.

2. Harvey Prince Yogini – 8.8 ml ($26 for full-size). The scent was so-so. Yogini is supposed to be a more sophisticated ‘new-age’ scent. While I like the concept, the scent didn’t live up to its promise. But then again I have never enjoyed Harvey Prince scents so if you are a fan you may enjoy this.

3. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse® OR Multi-Usage Dry Oil Shimmer 50 ml ($40 for 50 ml). This stuff was fun – a dry oil with a subtle gold shimmer which is perfect for a night out or a tropical vacation. However since I do not often go out to gold-shimmer appropriate events so I’ll just save the trial-size for my next tropical vacation (here’s wishing).

4. Jouer Moisturizing Lip Gloss ($20 for full-size). This was a nice formula and a pretty pink color but didn’t seem to last very long. I’m going to give it a few more test runs but I’ll likely be sticking with my regular lip gloss.

5. Showstoppers® Designer Fashion Tape in Nude/Black ($9.99 for a full pack). This stuff is INCREDIBLY handy to have. Fashion tape is extremely useful not just for fixing cleavage problems but also for keeping shoulder straps in place. I love to have these around for special events.

6. EBOOST Orange Natural Energy Booster. Very similar to the Vita-C stuff I already drink. And it never hurts to have more Vitamin C in your diet!

Ashley