ELIZABETH AND JAMES NIRVANA: BLACK+WHITE.

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I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth and James for years now; the line has this very contemporary, edgy-feminine feel to it that always brought me back. On a completely separate note, I adore the Olsen twins. Like I want to be them. Then again, who doesn’t? Probably the Olsen twins on a really bad day, but I digress. The anatomy of the Olsen street style is a subject I am well versed in, and yet how I had no idea that two things (three, counting each twin) I have followed closely over the years were related is putting me in something of an existential crisis. ‘How could I not see this? I should have known… My life is a lie…’ and so on and so forth. Not really, but you get my drift. The Olsen twins had a clothing line. This I knew. That it was specifically E&J? Nope, I did not know that. The fact that it took the launch of a perfume years later for me to realize this is more than a little disturbing. Alas, Mary-Kate and Ashley have me covered. Their two new fragrances, Nirvana White and Nirvana Black, soothe all struggles, I promise. I snapped these two rollerballs up in Sephora a few months ago, and I can definitely say, we’re in love. Albeit we’re going through a twisted sort of love triangle, but these two scents are nothing short of gorgeous. Both are quite musk-based scents, with Nirvana White being the lighter of the two. The other notes in this more floral offering are peony and muguet, while Nirvana Black sees strong Violet, Sandalwood, and Vanilla. *I’m still working (very hard) on my fragrance terminology, so forgive any of my naiveté you might read.* In human terms, I find that the White version starts off quite fresh-smelling; it’s sweet without being garish. More of a soft, powdery floral than any Flowerbomb type scent. This one lasted around four hours on my skin, but being that it is in rollerball form it wasn’t much trouble to re-apply. Still, if you’re like me and prefer a fragrance to last all day, this doesn’t quite have the staying power. On the dark side we have the spicier scent of the two, Nirvana Black. This one had better lasting power on me at around six hours, but still shorter than I might have hoped. The scent is absolutely divine, especially if you like perfumes that have a slight masculine sort of feel to them. Never fear, things don’t get too manly with this one, as it does tend to sweeten over time. Again, very sophisticated scent that feels edgier than its sister. The real magic trick here is the two worn together, something I think the Olsen twins did really well to reflect the image of their brand: feminine with an edgy masculine kick (hence the name Elizabeth and James after their siblings). They work seamlessly to make the perfect mix of a deeper, richer floral that keeps things from getting too girly in any way. Overall, I think both scents are lovely, and I think most people will find one of the two that suits them quite well. Again, I’d like to get the smaller 1 oz size in each to be able to mix the two, but it does seem like a lot of hassle to go through for a perfume that doesn’t last well enough on the skin. In the end, I don’t think the hunt for my signature scent is quite over yet.

What are your favorite perfumes? I’d love to get your recommendations, let me know in the comments below!

THE SIMPLES. SUITCASE PART 1: BEACH HOLIDAY.

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Packing for a trip is probably one of the most tedious parts of travel: what do I bring? how many pairs of socks do I need? does that pair of heels have space priority over three pairs of shorts? Such are the burdening questions that must be dealt with before we fly off to soak up the sun. Whether you’re jetting to the Bahamas to sip piña coladas, taking a road trip for a city holiday, or heading for a weekend getaway in the countryside, I’ve got you covered.

THE ESSENTIALS:

Swimsuit. A beach holiday is no beach holiday without-you guessed it-the beach. There are few feelings as horrible as realizing you’ve left your bathing suit at home just as you’re getting ready to descend to the shore. Make sure you pack one of these before anything, and I do mean anything, else; you don’t want to end up having to buy an overpriced swimsuit that makes your bum look sub-par when you reach your tropical locale.When in doubt, hit up your local Victoria’s Secret. You can find the bikini pictured here. They do some gorgeous patterns and styles that last forever, though I’m having serious daydreams about getting my hands on a Triangl bikini

Sunblock. Everyone loves a good summer tan, but getting your glow on certainly isn’t worth developing skin cancer later on. The sun can be incredibly damaging, especially to the face, causing premature wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, etc. Is it a joy to put on? Absolutely not. But let’s be honest, you’re on holiday at the beach. Slathering on sunblock before exposure next to the ocean blue isn’t the worst thin in the world. I find that using the same sunblock I use on my body for my face tends to break me out; try using a facial sunscreen separate from your regular sunblock for the rest of your body to be safe. Neutrogena makes excellent offerings, and if you want to use the same sunblock all over, I highly recommend their Ultra Sheer Dry Touch sunblock range. Works like a charm, smells decent, and doesn’t break me out. Love.

Sunglasses. Not only do they look beyond fashionable, these really are essential when out and about to protect eyes from harsh sunlight. You can find a ton of cute pairs as cheap as chips at stores like Forever 21, but it’s a much better plan to invest in a good pair of polarized sunglasses to get the most bang for your buck in terms of eye protection. I’m very picky when it comes to shades; my general philosophy? If you’re not still in shock over how much you love them weeks after buying, you’ve got the wrong pair. I first got my hands on a pair of Tiffany lenses back in December (blogged about here), and ended up exchanging them for my current pair of Ray-Ban clubmasters, which I’m still head over heels in love with. Definitely a must-have for any summer holiday.

THE MAKEUP BAG.

I love a good sheer base, especially in the summertime, so of course my trusty Chanel Vitalumière Aqua foundation in B40 got drafted for the trip. Easy to apply sans brush faffing with just the fingers and long-lasting, she’ll be your best friend if you’re willing to take the plunge. Pinky promise. In terms of powder, of course it came down to another Chanel offering, this time in the form of their Les Beiges Healthy Glow Powder, also in B40. It’s incredibly lightweight and practically invisible, but keeps shine at bay and comes in a touch-up friendly compact with packaging that’s absolutely to die for. To avoid any greasy situations on the ‘ol face, Korres’ Pomegranate Mattifying Treatment is a gorgeous primer that really does keep oil at bay underneath it all (review here), while this teeny-weeny sample of Becca’s Shimmering Skin Perfector in the shade Opal is perfect for travel to add some glow back on them cheekbones after all this “mattification”. Lastly on the skin we have another Becca offering (are you sensing a theme here?), their mineral blusher in Songbird, which I spoke about in my last post. I love this stuff: it’s one of the longest-lasting blushes I own to beat the summer heat, and looks absolutely stunning in sunlight with the most gorgeous micro-shimmer that just makes you glow. On the eyes, the only thing we’re packing here at succhisimples. is the ever travel-friendly Clinique Neutral Territory 2 Palette (review here), which is the size of my palm but miraculously fits eight gorgeous, buttery shadows, making it the perfect smokey eyes product for the girl on the go. Last but certainly not least, Nivea do a great lip balm/sunblock hybrid (yes, your lips get sunburnt too-never a good look) that’s slightly mattifying and works as a great base under any lip product. On top, we’re doing Revlon’s lip butter in the shade Tutti Frutti, a delicious coral/orange that’s hydrating and easier to use than  Delphine from Orphan Black (did you SEE the finale? Let me know below. Let’s chat:)

What will you be packing on holiday this summer? Stay tuned for the next installments to come this week. So about Orphan Black…

 

 

THE REVIEW: CLINIQUE NEUTRAL TERRITORY 2.

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DSC_0284I’d like to introduce you to the most perfect travel eyeshadow palette in the history of the world. Clinique, you have outdone yourself. Feast your eyes, ladies and gents. She’s a beaut. Please welcom Clinique’s Neutral Territory 2 Palette. The palette itself is just about the size of my palm, containing eight of Clinique’s eyeshadows from the permanent collection. I was especially stoked about seeing the shade Black Honey in the palette, having lusted after it since Anna’s (yes, we’re on a first-name basis) post here. The shadows are all absolute stunners: silky smooth, intensely pigmented, the whole nine yards. I found that there isn’t actually much fallout from the shades at all, compared to other similarly buttery-textured eyeshadows. With a dab of primer underneath, these have great lasting power and don’t crease at all. I’d been wanting to pick this up since it first came out at the beginning of the year, and then it got put off until later, and later, and later… You know the drill. Until while out shopping for my birthday this weekend, Clinique was having one of their fabulous goodie bag offers that included a full-size lipstick, a nail polish, and travel sizes of the eye makeup remover, foundation, and visible difference moisturizer, so I knew I had to make the splurge. If you’re thinking about getting this palette, stop. Don’t think about it, just get your hands on it as soon as humanly possible. With spring and summer holidays coming up, I can see myself getting a ton of use out of this, especially because of the size. My only qualm about this is probably the shade selection; while they are all gorgeous colors, I think they could have included a few more mid-toned shades for deeper skin tones as all over lid colors. For those with Olive/Tan skin or darker, most of the non-dark shades verge on being different shades of highlighters rather than true swipe and go colors. For the quality, though, these are fantastic, and if you have lighter skin, it shouldn’t be a problem. My verdict? Because it’s limited edition, and for the quality, do yourself a favor and please, treat yo self here.

SPRING CLEANING VOL. 1: FAVORITE BRUSHES.

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mBrushes are definitely one of those beauty vices I can’t seem to get enough of. Personally, I don’t usually mind investing in good quality brushes; with the right tools, you can make even the cheapest of products look fantastic. With spring fast approaching, I thought I’d do a little series here on le blog of some of my favorites from different beauty categories that are definite survivors of the yearly product spring cleaning operation. While many of the best brushes do come at a high price, Sam (and yes, we’re on a nickname basis) Chapman of Pixiwoo proves that you don’t necessarily have to shell out fifty dollar bills to get amazing quality tools. If you haven’t already ventured into her line of brushes, Real Techniques, stop reading and go buy them now. Great prices with every brush and collection under $20 and amazing quality that rivals quite a few of my MAC and Bobbi Brown brushes. The bristles are made of synthetic taklon, making them easy to clean and softer than Angelina Jolie’s skin (if you can mentally picture touching her glorious face), which is obviously the deal breaker with all soft things. If comparable in softness to her face, then purchase. Done. My two favorites have to be the Buffing Brush, which I use for blending in foundation and concealer every day without fail, and the Multi-Task brush, amazing for everything from setting powder to blush to bronzer. MAC were the first higher-end brushes I’d ever tried, with the award to first ever brush bought going to the Angled Contour Brush, the 168, which is perfect for bronzer to give a subtle hint of a contour and maintain that sunkissed glow. Purchase of the 109 soon ensued; this one’s the most  perfect brush to contour with, being dense enough to blend and deposit product in all the right places. I love it for blush too, when I want really precise application on the cheekbones. If you’re looking to buy a new MAC face brush, I’d say start here. It’s incredibly versatile; use it for foundation, blush, contour, bronzer, highlighter, etc, and it maintains its shape perfectly. Love. Next up, if I could only use two brushes on my eyes for the rest of time (which I probably will, since I’m so in love with these), they would be the 217 and the 239. Everyone and their mother raves about the 217, and you know what? Listen to the mothers. Those women know what they’re talking about. This thing is the most perfect crease, concealer, do-it-all blending brush ever created. It’s also great for a soft wash of color over the lids for an easy everyday look, while the 239 does a great job of packing on product to the lids or smudging shadow under the eyes. Last, for the non-MAC offerings, I adore the Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Liner Brush for gel eyeliner and the ELF contour brush to smudge eyeliner on the lower lashline. The Bobbi Brown brush is amazing for two basic looks: thick lines or super-thin, sculpted lines. It also does a great job of flicking up cat eyes because of the pointed tip, so if you’re into gel liners, I’d definitely give this a look. It won’t replace your basic angled liner brush, but it’s a great addition to any brush hoarder’s collection. Last, but not least, ELF’s contour brush is the bargain of the bunch, weighing in at just $3. It’s the best brush I’ve ever found to smudge eyeliner on the lower lashline for that lived-in, smokey effect that makes everything look more natural, and for the price, it’s an amazing buy. Oh yes. Brushes. . . I loves them.

What are your favorite makeup brushes?

CURRENTLY TESTING: BOLD LINER.

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fotd 2I’m typically not one for adventurous eye looks; I’m much more of a stick-to-your-neutrals-one-sweep-wonder-eyeshadow kind of gal. BUT. With the new year come several resolutions: the box is broken, and I am stepping out. Into a new box. Boxed liner, that is. Whilst browsing on Sephora.com, I came across their not-so-little corner of the internet in which they post beauty tutorials, etc. and was so intrigued by their boxed eyeliner look I knew I had to try it for myself and share it with you all. Instead of the classic kitten flick, I started at the middle of the eyelid and drew a flick upwards. Then, at the outer corners, I drew a cat eye at an almost vertical angle with the same pencil liner, Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide-On Liner in Perversion. I find that pencil works better for this look than liquid; it’s much easier to shade in the box with, and this product didn’t budge all day. Lastly, I filled it in added some mascara and blush, and was good to go! I used Orgasm from the Nars One Night Stand Palette on the cheeks, paired with the Revlon Nearly Naked foundation, Tarte setting powder (review here), and the Revlon Lip Butter in Pink Truffle. Not exactly the most wearable look, but I think it is a fun take on the usual angled liner for a chic night out. Simples. Will you be trying some new eye looks this season?

URBAN DECAY OCHO LOCO 2.

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ud 82I’m sure we’ve all heard our share about how incredible Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide-On Eyeliners are, since the beauty world has hyped them up to the point of no return. I’ve tried sample sizes of the pencils before, and even then was completely blown away by how amazingly they get the job of defining them eyeballs (and lashes, of course) all too well. Even on my beyond-oily eyelids, once these set, they don’t budge ever. So naturally when I heard there was a set out for the holidays including not one, but eight full-sized pencils, I was a woman obsessed with getting my mitts on this year’s version of the “Ocho Loco.” The set includes three shades from the permanent collection (Perversion, Roach, and Deep End), and five that are new and exclusive (Mars, Ultraviolet, Tornado, Crave, Twice Baked).

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Roach is a shimmering reddish copper.

Twice Baked is a medium bronze. It’s lighter than Roach, and less warm-toned.

Crave is a dark mate chocolate brown.

Perversion is UD’s classic matte jet-black shade.

Mars is a bold, shimmering green.

Deep End is a stunning aquamarine/teal.

Ultraviolet is a deep blue with noticeable shimmer. This one has quite a purple tone to it.

Tornado is a blackened, shimmery purple. It’s quite dark, and looks like a glistening black in some lighting.

Overall, I’m completely in love with this set. I was skeptical about a few of the brights, but I think they’ll be great for simple statement looks worn alone with mascara for summer. Ultraviolet in particular is beyond gorgeous on its own as a bold take on a cat eye, and Deep End is stunning on the waterline to thrown in a pop of color. While there are a few bright shades, I think the set is totally wearable on the whole with all the neutrals and a great way to get your hands on a lot of shades for a great price. It retails for just $59; if each pencil was bought alone, it would set you back a whopping $160, so it really is an amazing value. It also includes their Grindhouse pencil sharpener which is amazing, and worth $10 alone. Plus, you get the lime green exclusive one, which kind of makes the whole thing totally worth it. It is limited edition but still available at Ulta.com here and the Urban Decay website here. All the eyeliner you could ever need (for the next two months), simples.

 

 

 

 

THE NYE EDIT.

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DSC_0248Happy New Year everyone! I’ve got quite a few begginning-of-the-year-themed posts lined up, but I wanted to share the manicure and eye look I sported last night with all of you. I didn’t go crazy with the nail art this time; just simple, black cherry/wine colored tips for the evening with a bit of sparkle. Butter London’s La Moss (can you tell it’s Kate-inspired?) is my go-to deep burgundy shade for this time of year; smooth formula and stunning in two thin coats. I added a little sparkle to the mix with another Butter shade, West End Wonderland on the accent nail and I was good to go in under ten minutes. Eyes were kept simple, an itsy-bitsy kitten flick courtesy of Mrs. Bobbi Brown and my gel liner of choice, Black Ink, with lashings of mascara. Apologies for not taking a better photo of the makeup; we had company and I was in a rush to snap some photos and go. End of the year eyes and tips, simples.

What did you sport on your eyes and nails for NYE? Let me know in the comments below!

14 WEEKS OF MELODIES, #14.

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Long Black Road-Electric Light Orchestra

… And here we are. It’s the last of the fourteen weeks for this blog hop as 2013 comes to a close, so I won’t bore you by droning on and on about this week’s pick. I’ve been loving listening to the American Hustle soundtrack (which is incredible, by the way) as a little 70’s throwback, and the song Long Black Road? Yes. I’m obsessed. It’s not for everyone, but I do love listening to it while jogging (I’m a bit of a sucker when it comes to 70’s and 80’s music…). I can’t believe I actually managed to do every single post in the blog hop; I’ve been quite busy but I’m happy I stuck with it and did all fourteen. Wishing you all a very happy New Year’s tonight :)

 

DIY PRADA MARFA SIGN.

Screen-Shot-2013-05-21-at-9.11.33-AMIf you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you’ll now how much I love Gossip Girl. If you watched the show, then you’ll also know that in her apartment on the Upper East Side, It-Girl in chief Serena Van Der Woodsen has this stunning Prada Marfa canvas. After doing some snooping, I found the piece for sale by the artist, Elmgreen and Dragset, on Art.com for $430. Take a sec to imagine how much makeup $430 can buy. So, after doing a bit of searching on some décor blogs, I figured I could make my own for under $50.

Here’s what you’ll need: 

Canvas (I used a 30 x 40 like the original, but you can use whatever size you want)

Black Acrylic Paint

Paintbrush (If you’re buying a brush, I found the Filbert brush to work the best.)

Painter’s Tape

Black Permanent Marker

Photo Editing Software (Adobe Reader and Photoshop)

I first found a photo of the artwork online here and copied and pasted it into a photoshop file, which should have the same dimensions as your canvas. After cutting the sides down and stretching it to fit the background, I saved the file as a PDF file. Next, I opened the file using Adobe Reader to print it to scale. This took some trial and error, but I found that if you set the dimensions to the size of your canvas and set the print setting to “Tile” for a large poster, the lettering is spaced out over around 7 pages to scale.

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sign 2After cutting those with an exact-o knife, I spaced them out and taped them onto the canvas, making sure they were leveled correctly with a ruler. Next, I traced the letters and numbers onto the canvas lightly. I can’t stress this enough; paint is much easier to erase than pencil on blank canvas.

pencilWhen that was done, I removed the stencils and traced over them with permanent marker. Make sure everything’s clean; you want straight lines and even edges all the way through.

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pentooAfter that, all that was left was to fill them in with black acrylic paint. Because it’s water-based, it helps to wet your brush and wet the paint a bit before you start to thin it out; start with thin layers of paint and then build them up until it looks jet-black. If you make any mistakes, just grab a paper towel, wet it, and rub away any stray paint marks carefully. It helps to wrap the wet paper towel around your index finger and almost “scratch” away the paint lightly. After all that is done, wait for it to dry and you’re done! Serena’s chic Prada sign, simples.

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WHAT I’M WEARING: SPOTTED.

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“Good Morning Upper East Siders. Gossip Girl here. And I have the biggest news ever. Spotted: Lonely boy, shoe-less and clueless.”

Oh, how I do miss GG. I’m sure there’s a few of you reading this thinking the exact same thing. Give me New York, a killer wardrobe, and Chuck Bass any day over reality. But, for those of us still struggling to find our own way to the Upper East Side, we have to get our “Spotted” news elsewhere. And so, God created the spotted pant.

Yes. I wore polka dots. I picked these up on a trip to Manhattan’s H&M a few years back, but pushed them to the back of my closet, because come on. No one wants to look like they’ve just skinned a dalmatian. But. The other day I’m staring into my closet, trying to figure out an outfit, when these peek out from a pile of clothes on a rack, and I must say, I’ve has a change of heart . Yes, they’re absolutely outspoken and scary, but they have this cool artsy sense about them, something street-chic and completely spontaneous. Paired with a bright peach bag and black tee, also from the fashion house, and my trusty Prada flats, I think I’m in love.

Thoughts? Love it, hate it? What’s the last statement piece you sported? Drop me a comment below :)