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5 tips to pack light on your travels

Travelling can be exhausting, especially if you are going on vacation solo. The biggest source of this fatigue is packing. You need a certain number of outfits for each day, and then you need options for if the weather is cold or hot, or if you are spontaneous and decide to go out for the night. And then there are the killer shoes — one is good for walking, one for dancing, one for rain, one for snow, and one for the beach.

It’s not just the act of packing either. It’s the weigh-in at the airport, baggage claim, lugging your suitcase around the city for half a day while you wait for your hotel room to be ready. And then there are the extra fees if you do any shopping while abroad!

Don’t stress too much. There are ways to pack light while travelling that will allow for plenty of shopping space and a lot less hassle. Here are five tips:

Pack outfits, not options: This will save you so much room in your suitcase. Do you need a pair of pants for every day of your trip? Probably not. Choose a minimum number of bottoms and one or two shirts per bottom. While packing, you can sometimes fall victim to the “options” mentality, in which you pack numerous tops with numerous bottoms so you have a lot of choice. While choice is great, it is not prudent for light packing. Outfits are complete looks, and therefore you only bring what you know goes well with other items in your bag.

Bring laundry detergent: Who says you can’t do laundry on your trip, especially if you are away for over a week? Bring some detergent that is sink-friendly so you can wash undergarments midweek if you need to. I travelled through Europe for three weeks and this saved me! It meant I just had to pack a few outfits, wash, and re-wear!

Sorry ladies, limit your shoes: Shoes are the hardest part about packing for a trip. On the one side, you want something practical and comfortable if you plan on doing lots of walking. But, what if you want to go to the beach? What if you want to dress up for dinner? What if it rains? This is a constant problem, and my only advice for you is to choose two, and then add flip/flops if the beach life is for your. It seems impossible, right? But honestly, no one is going to look at your feet while you are on vacation – so go with comfort first. Invest in good walking shoes that are waterproof. This ticks off two boxes. Then, choose a pair of nice shoes that you can wear with both jeans and a dress. My go-to is a cork-heel sandal, as it is relatively comfortable and works with everything.

Bare minimum makeup: Hair products, foundation, brushes, and jewellery are some of the bulkiest items you can put in a suitcase. Go minimal — either purchase mini bottles of these items or get a travel pack from the drug store for shampoo and soap. Think about what you will be doing. If you are spending time on a beach or in the water, you don’t really need much makeup to begin with. Bring foundation or concealer, some mascara and eyeliner, and a lipstick for the evening. Eyeshadow will melt if you are going somewhere hot and there is no need for blush if you are wandering through a cobblestoned town in Amsterdam. In terms of jewellery, pack easy to match items like stud earrings or simple necklaces. If you want something funky for a fancier night out, that’s fine, but limit it to one look.

Backpack it: If you plan on doing any exploring or long adventures, make sure to have a small backpack to bring with you. This way, you can pack a few granola bars or a bottle of water with you for easy travel. You can purchase small locks and use it for your big pockets so that when you walk through large tourist hubs, you don’t have to worry about theft. It’s a lot easier than keeping your passport or wallet in a purse that is easy to grab. Having a backpack also gives you a little more freedom if you, let’s say, want to ignore my rule on shoes and truly believe you need an extra pair. Simply put it in your backpack and when you get to the hotel, remove it. This saves on any extra weight limitations you may have and allows you to pack an extra towel or necessity in your suitcase.

Bonus: roll, don’t fold! You can fit more if you fold your clothing in half and then tightly roll them up. You can fit double the amount of clothing in your suitcase this way.

Remember, that if you don’t have enough of something, you can always go to the store!

Macy’s embraces diversity with modest line for Muslim women

Macy’s announced their intention to sell a modest clothing collection that would target Muslim women. The Verona Collection will feature “versatile, ready-to-wear pieces including maxi dresses, tops, cardigans, pants and hijabs in a variety of colours and fabrics.”

“Verona Collection is more than a clothing brand. It’s a platform for a community of women to express their personal identity and embrace fashion that makes them feel confident on the inside and outside,” said Lisa Vogl, founder of Verona Collection, in a statement. “Macy’s has been an amazing partner, helping us strengthen the foundation of our business through The Workshop at Macy’s and now introducing our brand to their consumers through this collaboration.”

Vogl said she converted to Islam in 2011 and had difficulty finding both modest and fashionable clothing in regular outlet stores. She invested $7,000 in her own online company, selling her own line while acting as businesswoman and photographer. Vogyl is a graduate of Macy’s The Workshop, a retail vendor development program supported by the department chain.

“Through The Workshop at Macy’s, we want to nurture and support minority- and women-owned businesses to build their capabilities and become the next generation of retail partners,” said Shawn Outler, Macy’s executive vice president – Licensed Businesses, Food Services and Multicultural Initiatives. “We are truly encouraged by the successes of our graduated businesses, including Verona Collection, and look forward to hosting a new class of participants this spring.”

Not everyone is thrilled about the decision. Feminists are torn — with some applauding Macy’s commitment to diversity in fashion and others criticizing the oppressive background of the hijab. The latter is causing a number of people to boycott the department store.

Verona Collection ranges in price from $12.95 to $84.95 and will be available at macys.com beginning February 15.

What do you think of Macy’s decision? Let us know in the comments below!

Toronto holiday trends to ditch this weekend

I love the holiday season in Toronto — the smells, the decoration, the winter activities, it all makes me smile! But, it can also make me laugh. And no, this isn’t the kind of mutual laughter you may see when people share a mutual joke or watch a scene from Elf. I mean the kind of laughter that may hurt someone’s feelings or make someone feel embarrassed.

I feel bad about this, but some of these holiday trends circulating the Internet are just plain silly. Laughable even. The good news is that this laughter is preventable. Simply avoid these five tacky and over the top trends this holiday weekend!

Bulb beards: This trend pops up every year — and every year it gets a little more ridiculous. This hipster style involves hanging small bobbles from facial hair. It looks fun, but it’s also incredibly weird. If you go to a party with little ornaments hanging from your beard, it’s all people will look at. I wonder if these men will jingle when they talk? Or if their beard’s bounce when they walk down the street. If you REALLY want to attempt this, go for it – but be warned! Your beard must be thick enough to handle the bulbs and if you decide to dip your hair in colour powders, glitter, or to experiment with tinsel — that shit gets everywhere!

Christmas tree eyebrows: Everyone can thank Canadian beauty blogger Taylor R for this one. Apparently, the latest thing in holiday fashion is to dress up your eyebrows with sparkles and tiny accessories. The idea is to spread your eyebrow hairs outward to create what many know as the “feathered brow”. Then, you add glitter, sparkles, and rhinestones. First of all, this is a lot of work for fancy eyebrows. The cleanup alone would be atrocious. I bet half of that glitter ends up in your eye ball at the end of the day. Can we please just not attempt this weird fashion trend and stick to regular mascara and eyeshadow?

Sweaters that light up: I love a good ugly sweater, but the ones that light up are just too much. They are distracting when you are trying to have a conversation. Imagine talking to someone and seeing flashing red or white lights blinking at you. Not to mention the dry cleaning bill because you can’t put that thing in the laundry machine! Just stick to a pleasant green or red coloured sweater and thinking of some interesting conversation starters instead of relying on your clothing.

Mac and cheese: There is turkey, stuffing, and potatoes — do we really need another starchy food for Christmas dinner? To me, macaroni and cheese is something I have on a cold Monday night, when I am craving carbohydrates and want to binge watch Stranger Things on Netflix. Instead of mac and cheese, why not come up with a different side dish, maybe something with a vegetable?

Exclusive holiday office parties: To clarify — I enjoy a good holiday party or luncheon. I think every office should have one. It’s the perfect opportunity to actually get to know your coworkers and enjoy snacks and drinks without having to pay an arm and a leg. What I don’t like is that employers only treat their employees during the holidays. There are 365 days in a year, and showing your employees you care only once in that time span means that the formality of the “office holiday party” is merely that, a formality. Step up, and how your employees you care a few times a year.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!

5 hair trends you need to leave behind in 2017

We’ve talked about beauty, fashion, and food that have all become a hot mess in 2017. This week we are going to close off the trends series by talking about some wacky hairstyles I’ve seen this year. Here are five hair trends you need to leave behind in 2017:

Unicorn Hair

This one should not come as a surprise! We are living in a culture that seemingly obsessed with a mythical and magical creature. Unicorn hair, or hair in layered pastel colours, is not uncommon to find, especially during the summer of 2017. There were lots of millennial pink heads out there in addition to the rainbow hair styles.

Silver Hair

At one point silver hair on a younger person became all the rage and it’s still present in 2017. Maybe in 2018, we should try not chemically stripping our hair for the sake of fashion and embracing our natural hair. Colourful styles can we fun, but by all means get highlights and stop layering in bleach and dye.

Chunky Highlights

Speaking of highlights, back in October of this year, a hairstylist from New Jersey posted a few pictures of her clients wearing this 90’s trend in 2017. It was well liked and many started to consider bringing back chunky look. Think Kelly Clarkson peak 2003 the Thankful album cover. While we have seen some embarrassing styles in the 90’s (I’m not afraid to admit I was once a lover of chunky highlights too), I think people should return to the preferable the thin, blended or ombre effect for 2018.

Half Shaved Head

It’s the classic ‘badass’ look. Having one side of your head buzzed and the other with a flip of luxurious hair. This look has been popularized in the pop music industry by people like Cassie and Rihanna. It also made its way to Hollywood. However, shaving half or even a bit of your head is a big commitment. If you really want this style you have to stick to it and maintain it, or deal with having uneven hair for a very long time afterwards if the look doesn’t please you.

Excessively Long Extensions

Long hair can be a lot of work, but it sure looks great.  However, if you’re a lover of wearing hair extensions, the excessively overdone look can be bit much. Celebrities like Kim and Kylie Kardashian have been known to switch up their looks ever so often using this trick, but half the time they are using some really good quality wigs. Earlier this year, Kim was known to switch up her looks from blonde to short to extreme 32 inch extensions. It was her “Cher’-inspired beauty look. This Rapunzel type look has been a favourite of celebrities to express drama and luxury — but that doesn’t mean it works for the regular everyday person.

Here is hoping you can leave all the excess baggage and negativity in your life behind for 2017 and focus on better things to come for the New Year!

Leave a comment below!

Try these holiday inspired beauty and fashion looks

Christmas and New Year festivities are real opportunities to dress with a slight touch of elegance. Think glitter, shimmer and shine. It’s the one time it’s acceptable to look like you stepped off the set of a glamorous Hollywood movie instead of rolling out of bed, throwing on a pair of jeans and a sweater. Here are some holiday inspired beauty and fashion looks

Headbands with style

A simple and put together look can be completed with a perfect headband. During the holidays, it’s fine to add a bit of shimmer and bling to your accessories. Every queen needs her crown, right ? Try a tiara-inspired headband to pull your holiday look together.

Red Lips

Thanks to Fenty Beauty and Rihanna’s newly released Lip Stunna, lip paint in Uncensored, red lips will be plentiful this holiday seaosn . I love a classic red lip and Rihanna’s universal red works for every skin tone. Red, after all, is the colour of love and celebration.

Glitter eyeliner/ eyes

The glitter eye look will be popular this holiday season. Fenty Beauty’s Galaxy Holiday Collection presented products like glitter eyeliner and a glitter eyeshadow palette. Put your creativity to use and explore different festive eye looks, think gold, silver, green, copper, and even burgundy. A smoky eye with some glitter eyeliner also works. These looks will certainly match your sparkly dress.

Glossy Lips

If you don’t want to be over the top with heavy eye makeup and red lips, there is the choice to keep it minimal on your lips with a simple gloss look while you play up the eye makeup. It’s a more neutral look, but you will sill look polished.

Glitter clutch

If you will be pulling out that little black dress for the holiday party, you need some bold and bright accessories! Consider adding the glitter and glow to your choice to party clutch or shoes. The perfect glitter and holiday-inspired accessories will help your look come together. Just remember to go classy rather than trashy. Too many bobbles your hair will ruin the work you put into your dress and makeup.

What will you be wearing to ring in the New Year? Let us know in the comments below!

5 fashion trends you need to leave behind in 2017

If you have been following with the trends to leave behind in 2017, you would have read my list of five food trends and five beauty trends that should be tossed in the garbage before you ring in the new year. This week, after a well-tested Instagram poll, I am tackling fashion. Sometimes, fashion trends stick around for way too long, and these five items are no exception!

Fluffy footwear

A little bit of faux fur on your feet —no problem. In fact, there was some cute Steve Madden pumps with a bit of  fur trim that was quite popular this year. I am talking about the extremely obnoxious full fur slippers that have been spotted on celebrities around Hollywood. The ones that look like bedroom slippers, but are worn in public for some reason. I get they are comfortable, but some things just need to be left at home (or behind) in 2017.

Bucket hats

After being a popular hit in the 90’s, these hats made a brief come back in 2017. I’ve seen Kanye West, Justin Beiber, Chris Brown, Pharrell, and even Rihanna wearing these hats. Maybe it’s my personal preference, but I just don’t find the bucket hat quite appealing. Maybe it comes in handy for a fishing trip though.

Off the shoulder/shoulder robing jackets

I’ve seen this look a lot in 2017, the “effortless throw off your bomber or oversized jean jacket and let it hang off your shoulders” trend. It has slightly replaced shoulder robing. It’s just that suggestive approach of showing off the right amount of shoulder. Popular on celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, this caught on fast. The jacket is never fully on, it’s just hanging there…

Coachella-inspired fashion

Have you even noticed, especially around the start of summer, the common look in stores, year after year is the kind of boho-chic festival style. It’s that carefree, wild child with a flower crown, in a distressed tank top and short shorts kind of look. We have seen her —we have been her, but it’s time to retire this Coachella look every single summer. Unless you’re actually going to Coachella then thats fine … I guess.

Over the top nail art

I love getting my nails done or doing it myself, but when I explore some of the nail design pages on Instagram, I am shocked that many people still get their nails done with over the top and elaborate designs like studs and flowers. I understand wanting to show off your creativity, but this can be a bit much. Did anyone see the fidget spinner nails? Yes, those happened.

What else should we leave behind when it comes to fashion trends. Comment below!

What the hell is a basic bitch?

Apparently, I am “basic”.

When I was told this, I immediately took it as an insult. Does this mean I’m naive or dumb? Does this mean I have no depth or that I can’t make an informed argument? Is this an insinuation of intolerance?

No — it all centres on my choice of drink, television shows, and music preferences. All of that combined makes me a #basicbitch. While some are embracing this new label (because what other choice is there), I find it just as offensive as my own personal definition.

Being “basic” is slang for someone who follows trends and lacks individuality. It is a term used to describe a person — particularly white women — who enjoy seasonal drinks, chic clothes, and healthy goods. A basic bitch watches Love Actually every Christmas, gets excited for pumpkin spice lattes, can quote Friends in any conversation, wears Uggs and leggings, and shops at Whole Foods.

This term has been circulating the Internet for about a year now, and doesn’t seem to be going away. If you google it, the term is synonymous with the word “airhead”.

Now, I know I’m not an airhead. I don’t brainlessly go shopping or talk like a valley girl. I’m an editor and a writer. I am capable of talking about anything from business, law and politics to fashion, food, and design. I am tolerant, intelligent, and I have a quick wit. I enjoy listening to other people argue about topics I don’t agree with because it exposes me to new perspectives. I love going to local coffee shops, watching documentaries, and reading.

At the same time, I enjoy a good peppermint mocha and will go to a Christmas market at least three times throughout the month of December. I practice yoga twice a week. I like going to health food stores and I love my blanket scarf. Do my consumption choices or habits overweigh the other aspects of my personality? Apparently so.

Ironically, the word “basic” is a lazy insult. It requires little thought and no creativity. It’s such a blanket term that very few people actually know what it means. Calling a woman “basic” is another way of saying “I have absolutely nothing to say about you as a human being so instead I’m going to make fun of you for what you are wearing, eating, and whatever activities you are doing over the weekend.” It’s a way of making people feel ashamed of who they are without actually pinpointing why they should feel ashamed.

It also shows an incredible lack of understanding into what makes a person an individual. I think you’ll find that most people are quite complex, and that just because a woman relishes in very female (I say with rolled eyes and air quotes) activities and likes to follow certain trends, that doesn’t determine who she is.

And yet, despite these arguments, the term it’s sticking. There are hundreds of quizzes online that will help you determine how “basic” you are. People are commenting on Instagram and Facebook with things like “so basic” every time a woman posts a travel photo of herself on the beach in a bikini or tasting a novelty dessert.

To me, the term “basic” is void of any meaning. It gives people the opportunity to mock and shame women for just being themselves. And anytime women are shamed for their personalities, society loses.

Let me put it another way: call me “basic” one more time and you’ll find out exactly what kind of a bitch I can be.

5 winter office staples for 2017

A change in seasons can already be difficult. It can cause a lot of stress and there are so many things to consider. Do you have your winter tires? Have you regulated the temperature in your house? What on earth do I wear to work now? It seems like only yesterday people were wearing skirts and light blouses to the office. With the weather getting cooler and cooler, it’s sadly almost time to trade them is for sweaters and long-johns.

But, long-johns aren’t exactly appropriate for that corporate meeting you have. Women’s Post suggests these five fashion staples that are winter-ready and office-ready.

Suede Blazer

The right blazer can do wonders to any outfit, even a simple white t-shirt and jeans. Try adding something like a suede blazer to your wardrobe. I am also not suggesting spending $3000 on an authentic suede jacket, but you can find a faux look thats just as fashionable for under $100.

Metallic Faux Suede Jacket- Zara CAD 99.90

Black Ankle Boots

Don’t we love our boots in the winter? Tall ones, short ones, black one, and even red ones. The possibilities are endless. But to keep that chic office look without having to freeze your toes, the black ankle boot is a classic staple. These boots can be neatly placed under black trousers or worn with stockings and a skirt.

Almond Toe Ankle Boot- Le Chateau CAD 99.95

Camel Coat

Having a chic coat can often do wonders in pulling an outfit together. Brighter coats, rather than the usual black or grey, will make you stand out. Don’t be afraid of a little colour.

 

 

Babaton Spencer Coat- ‘Constant Camel’- Aritzia       CAD 298

 

Jewelled Accessories

Your style in the office doesn’t have to necessarily change in the winter— try adding some jewelled accessories. Your office look does not have to be boring and definitely nothing too bold. A statement necklace added to a simple top can complete your outfit. Try a chunky necklace with a knit sweater.

Blue Gem Statement Necklace- Jane Norman         £ 18.00

Oversized Cardigan

A really good cardigan should definitely be an office staple when it gets chilly. You can be cozy and still put together. Try wearing a large cardigan with a wrap belt to cinch the waist.

Draped Neck Cardigan With Belt- Zara CAD 25.90

What’s your office style in the winter ? Leave a comment below !

 

Beauty Minute: Rihanna’s Fenty Makeup Line

The beauty world was buzzing this weekend as Rihanna released her widely anticipated Fenty Beauty Line.

Fenty Beauty uses the tag line “Beauty For All” and this is exactly the aim the pop star sensation tried to get across to the public. Fenty Beauty wants to include women of all shades, cultures, personalities and races — a makeup line where no one is left out. The Pro Filt’r foundation comes in 40 available shades, ranging from light to deep.

Rihanna has managed to add diverse options that long-standing beauty brands neglected to include. This wider range of colour options for various skin tones is fuelling the sales of Fenty Beauty and adds some much needed change to the beauty counter. Fenty Beauty is available online or at various Sephora locations worldwide.

Check out our review of the product:

By Leanne Benn

Fashion over compassion?

The damage caused by Hurricane Harvey was unexpected and devastating. On Aug. 29, U.S President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump boarded Air Force One in Maryland to visit flood ravished Texas.

Despite this headline, most people were struck by what Melania wore while boarding Air Force One. It was a rainy Tuesday morning and she wore a quite fashionable outfit: cropped black pants, a green bomber jacket, hair flowing, sunglasses, and the infamous thin black stiletto heels.

By all accounts she looked great, but the damage was already done. People began mocking the First Lady for wearing heels on a visit to a disaster zone.

By the time Melania arrived in Texas, she had changed her shoes, now wearing clean and bright white sneakers. Her hair was tucked back in a FLOTUS cap and she had on a raised collar crisp white shirt tucked into those cropped black pants. Sunglasses still in effect. The First Lady’s fashion choices were more talked about than the reason the President went to Texas in the first place — and how can I blame them?

Everyone is entitled to an opinion on this topic, but it’s hard to know what exactly the First Lady was thinking. Let us not forget Mrs Trump is a former fashion model. She knows how to dress. In fact, since she took office many have paid close attention to her fashion choices. Maybe if she wore the sneakers initially instead of changing on the plane this would not be an issue.

Her choice of heels is what ‘raises’ Melania Trump above the rest. I think even more alarming was her FLOTUS cap, (I believe we know you are the First Lady.) What you are viewing here is simply the reality of Melania’s world.  She is used to dressing well when she is out in public so she did not give it a second thought. However, I do believe there was some forethought into these outfits, as the FLOTUS cap gives away. She meant to wear these two specific outfits to Texas. They were fashion statements.

Her rise as First Lady has always been mocked, from her choice of words, to her stiff and cold expressions towards her husband. She does not come off as warm and loving. Instead she is represented as a upstanding trophy wife enduring  the spotlight. No one really knows why Melania chose those shoes, or what she was really thinking. All we know for sure is that the press is buzzing about her outfit rather than her effort and compassion. If you want to make a heartfelt visit to a disaster area, it may be best to wear some boots made for walking.

What do you think about the First Lady’s fashion choice? Was it on purpose, and why do we even care? Leave some comments below.