Easy Cat-Eye Tutorial

Experimenting with clothes comes naturally to me, but mastering makeup has been more of a challenge.

Today, my friend Tracie helps me overcome my fear (okay, terror) of applying a cat-eye eyeliner.


It’s Fall…Kinda?

Pumpkin Silk

Fall is here–my favorite sartorial season! Host a bonfire! Mull some cider! Put a pumpkin on your porch! Pull the sweaters and boots from the back of the closet–er, wait–hold up on that last one for a minute. You see, I live in Florida, and the temperature still rises to 80 degrees by 10 a.m. here.

Understandably, many of my fellow Floridians reach for their knee boots at the first whiff of a 60-degree morning. Why should our northern neighbors have all the fun? We want fall, too, darn it! But while initially gratifying, those boots can be a little warm when the clock strikes 2 p.m.
But if we can’t don a sweater in October, how can we get into that pumpkin spice latte mood?
Here are my tips for weathering the Florida fall weather elegantly without looking like you’re holding on to your summer clothes:
  • Wear autumn colors in transitional fabrics. Instead of looking for fabrics traditionally associated with autumn (leather, suede, fur, wool), look for pieces in fall colors rendered in lighter fabrics. (Silk Pumpkin blouse)
  • Wear heavier fabrics sparingly. A wide leather belt, suede heels, or a light bomber jacket can bring a feeling of fall to any outfit without overheating you. One of my favorite tricks for lightly tripping into the season is to switch out my pumps for ankle booties; I get the look and feeling of wearing boots without the sweat of wearing knee boots.
  • Dress in light layers. That way, when the sun appears later in the day, you can shed the jacket or cardigan and remain comfortable (a little more difficult if you’re wearing a chunky fisherman’s sweater).
  • Add autumn colors to your beauty routine. A swathe of wine nail polish or lip color can make you feel more “fallish” even when your sweater is short-sleeved.
I’ve posted a bunch of examples of these on Girl About Downtown’s Pinterest board “Autumn in Florida.” Check it out now for a few wardrobe inspiring ideas!
Now tell me in the comments–what do you do to stylishly participate in fall in a climate that doesn’t seem to want to take part in the festivities?

Move Over, Lipstick Index

My latest polish indulgence--Ciate's "New England Fall"

My latest polish indulgence–Ciate’s “New England Fall”

While most say the “lipstick index”–that harbinger of a low economy proposed by Leonard Lauder of Estee Lauder–has been largely discredited (or replaced by the “foundation index” or “nail polish” index), there’s no denying that a small luxury in an otherwise chaotic existence can be somewhat grounding at times.

I think our impulse to indulge every once in a while is our body or mind saying to us, “I need you to take care of me.” When we refuse ourselves fun or novelty for too long, or race through our days without really living for too many days in a row, our “self” wants satisfaction–and will take it in whatever form is convenient at the time (there’s a reason that old cliché about eating a pint of ice cream in one sitting rings true).

I’ve found the best way to fend off that uncontrollable urge is to strategically indulge in little luxuries I know I’ll appreciate most, because when my “self” feels taken care of on a regular basis, I’m much less starved (figuratively and literally) for the unanticipated temptation (whether it comes in the form of skipping exercise, staring at my computer for 8 hours straight instead of taking lunch, or crashing on the couch instead of getting together with friends).

For me, this has always taken the form of nail polish. My feet are not exactly my best feature, so it always makes me feel pampered to have them gussied up a bit. And while I love the process of a pedicure (that hot stone massage, though!) my secret snobbery has been that I usually feel I produce a better end result than any of the salons I’ve visited.

My penchant for fancy nail polish began in grad school, when I was working through a particularly rough class. After you’ve spent every weekend studying for nearly a year, your eyes start to twitch a bit, and your body feels pretty neglected. I had recently seen an ad for Chanel’s Coromandel (although where, I don’t know, as I had zero time for magazines then) and immediately fell in love. While I had never before dreamed of spending $25 on nail polish, my spirit was running on empty, so I promised myself I would buy that polish if I made an “A” in the class.

I’m sure you can guess how that ended-I made the grade and drained that bottle to the last drop. And my love affair with luxury polish began. I probably buy 3-4 bottles a year, and at $100, that’s less expensive than two pedicures.

If you want to try out a home manicure or pedicure, read my previous post with tips for getting the best results, and if you’re wondering what colors are big this fall, check out this slideshow for inspiration.

Justina’s Five Tips for Aging Beautifully

Villacomma lounge1

Sunscreen and Vila, shades are an integral part of my age-defying arsenal.

On one of those dreadful days during my pregnancy when my skin was uncooperative, I had eaten more watermelon than I cared to admit, and even my yoga pants no longer fit, I hauled myself down to the walk-in manicurist at the mall to get a pedicure on the feet I could no longer reach myself. I needed to control something, to engage in some sort of comforting beautifying routine, and since I couldn’t do anything without feeling the guilt from all the all-natural mom articles I was reading at the time (“Could Your Mascara Be Killing Your Baby?!”), an emergency pedicure it was (I specifically avoided reading articles on how nail polish would certainly cause birth defects).

I signed my name on the login sheet, and went outside to wait and read on a park bench (I should at least get some brownie points for avoiding some salon fumes, right?).

A friend happened by (because of course I see one of the most stylish people I know when I’m wearing my now-mostly-elasticless gym shorts from 7th grade), and then just as I was settling in to my book, a lady, appearing to be in her 50s, settled herself primly beside me.

Noticing I was pregnant (as older ladies are wont to do), she asked me “Are you having a baby?” (as older ladies are wont to do). I replied, “Yes” and our conversation began.

It turns out that Justina (as I later learned her name to be) was a sprightly young 80-something-year-old, and I firmly insisted she divulge her most effective strategies for staying young. Without hesitating, she gave me several pointers, most of which I’ll pass on here (I have to keep a couple of tips to myself!).

“Take care of your skin.”

Justina insisted that most people put too much “stuff” on their skin, and not enough sunscreen (I immediately logged on to amazon and ordered a new tube).

“Don’t gain a lot of weight.”

This directive was accompanied by an impressive bicep flex and a rundown of Justina’s current gym routine. I’ve been trying to think of an acceptable excuse for not going to the gym ever since. Unsuccessfully.

Corsten is my current gym routine. Shades, Vila,. Earrings, Repeat Offender via Polk Museum of Art (3-D printed--how cool is that?!). Blouse, Elie Tahari.

Corsten is my current gym routine. Shades, Vila,. Earrings, Repeat Offender via Polk Museum of Art (3-D printed–how cool is that?!). Blouse, Elie Tahari.

“Have good posture.”

Thank goodness my mother wasn’t with me to hear that and elbow me in the ribs, since she spent most of my childhood with this admonishment on her lips.

“Rub oil on your belly every day.”

I assume this was a pregnancy-specific piece of advice, but just in case, I still use oil moisturizers.

“Stay marketable.”

As my jaw dropped, Justina maintained that she had been able to keep her husband interested over the years by remaining a hot commodity (his interest was evident as he offered his arm to escort her into the nearest store). After a half-hour’s conversation with her, I was thoroughly convinced that if he had half a brain at all (I’m sure he had quite the brain-women like Justina rarely tolerate men who haven’t), she never had to remind him just how marketable she was; it was undeniably evident.

Get A Party-Ready Mani–Fast

I love scrolling the trendy nail art on Pinterest, but my taste generally veers toward the understated and elegant where nails are concerned, and my available time and patience level generally veers toward the nearly nonexistent.

That being said, party season is upon us, and while I normally relegate my nail maintenance to a little filing and buffing, on occasion I appreciate the extra dose of glamour a manicure affords.

The thing about the holiday season is that one generally has less time to get ready than at other times of the year.

So I bring you this approach confided to me by my friend Stephanie–who always appears to have just stepped out of the nail salon, but in reality does her own nails. As with most things in life, it relies heavily on the proper tools and setup.

With only three easy steps, after two practice sessions you’ll be cranking out salon-worthy nails in 10 minutes (seriously!) for all your holiday parties (or even a random Tuesday).

Typic(1)This seems like a lot of products, but the process will go very quickly if you have everything stored in one portable container.

  • Remove old polish: this little bottle helps you work so much faster.
  • Apply cuticle remover and push back cuticles with curved tool.
  • File nails to desired shape.
  • Wash hands and thoroughly rub in cuticle oil to keep nail beds moisturized (this will have the added benefit of helping your polish last longer, so don’t skip this step!). I prefer grapeseed or almond oil, available at your local health food store.




  • Apply base coat. I like Sally Hansen’s Hard As Nails or CND’s Stickey.
  • Apply 2 coats of color. Use an orange stick to remove any extraneous polish from your cuticles and fingers (this will take a bit of finesse at first, but after 2 or 3 manis, you will have it down pat).
  • Seche Vite: this top coat will dry your nails in seconds and finishes to a high gloss shine–it’s indispensable!




Spend the rest of your party prep time working on your cat eye and dancing around the living room, then enjoy being the envy of all your friends.

Plan B: if 10 minutes is more than you’ve got (believe me, I’ve been there) give your nails some serious shine with this buffer. I keep one in my bag and one in the car for emergencies (or a random Tuesday afternoon).




The Eyes Have It

This is going to seem like a strange piece of beauty advice coming from a girl who once purchased a palette of eyeliner powders and used only the brown, but I’m telling you—I swear by well-shaped eyebrows.

Perhaps it’s my Italian heritage (a Korean friend’s mom once told me I could be a model in South Korea because of my hairy arms), or my hair stylist’s intensity of belief in the difference it makes (“I love eyebrows!”), but such a seemingly small detail as having your brows shaped consistently can really change the overall look of your facial features.

However, don’t take my word for it—hop on Pinterest and search that ageless Italian beauty, Sophia Loren, and see if you don’t agree with me. Loren’s brows range at times from delicate to downright solid (I personally prefer them on the stronger side), but they never fail to frame her features perfectly.

Sophia Loren

Here are my five steps to perfect brows:

  1. Stop someone on the street whose brows you love (perfect strangers included).
  2. Tell them you love their brows and ask where they get theirs done.
  3. Immediately whip out your phone and make an appointment with said brow magician.
  4. Keep appointment (that’s a key step) and tip generously (because this person’s work is about to get you major compliments).
  5. Smile, because you are ferocious.

The Eyes Have It - 3

Now that you’ve been inspired by your amazing brows, try this simple but stunning look worn at the Spring-Summer 2014 Jason Wu Show. Or the incredibly polished cat eye seen at the Yves Saint Laurent Show.


Top Buttons Wardrobe Makeover

IMG_5494Sometimes I wish I could walk around with a sign on my forehead reading, “Hello, Gorgeous” so that every woman I encounter might catch a glimpse of how beautiful they really are. Some of my happiest moments in life have involved helping women look and feel their best, and this past weekend was no exception. This Saturday, I was privileged to work with Top Buttons (a nonprofit organization that provides “a modest fashion resource for young women produced mainly by young women”) and a bevy of other truly amazing stylists, makeup artists, photographers, and students to bring wardrobe makeovers to girls in need in the community in which I live. Every aspect of this event was designed with the intent to instill confidence in young women and pair them with clothing resources to send clear, confident messages in a modest way.

I had only to look around at the faces of participants (girls nominated by organizations like Pace Center for Girls and Girls, Inc.), beaming from ear to ear, eyes lighting up with the discovery of their own potential as stylists helped them select clothing that worked for their body type, makeup artists doled out tips on eyeliner techniques, and photographers and videographers cajoled, “Show me that gorgeous smile” to see the impact being made on these girls’ lives.

One girl in particular walked into the event with slouched shoulders, averting eye contact, and left channeling Naomi Campbell. I am nearly floored by another girl, styled in bright yellow slim-cut pants paired with a geometrically-patterned gauzy black and white shirt focusing her laser-beam steel blue eyes at a camera, tears rolling down her newly-blushed cheeks, to say “thank you to the donors” that made the event possible.

As usually happens when one participates in an undertaking of this nature, I arrived happy that I was able to lend my efforts to helping someone else, and left realizing that it was I whose spirit had benefitted most. Special thanks to Top Buttons for inviting me to participate.