Sunday, August 21, 2011

checking out my new apartment area + shopping haul

Throughout the week the forecast for Saturday had been super heavy rain, so I was not expecting to take photos at all that day! The forecast on the actual morning then became "scattered showers" and my boyfriend messaged me if I wanted to take photos about an hour before picking me up. So I was very flustered in the morning as I scurried between my bedroom and the computer room (I don't have a wardrobe in my room, only a rack and some drawers- I put the rest of my clothes in the computer room which has a proper wardrobe), trying to dress according to the weather which was sending me more mixed signals than a broken traffic light. The wind was very strong and cold (it's hard to pose when hair keeps flying over your face!), yet the sun was bright and warm, and I was still unsure if it would actually rain or not!

I ended up wearing this cardigan top with a draped front from Yesstyle, over a plain shirt in case it became hot. I also had a strong yearning to wear skirts (as I usually wear shorts or leggings) so I plucked out this purple skirt I've had for a few years now. Ever since I stopped working and focused on my studies, I've been trying to save money since I no longer have a way of earning $$ on top of my expenditure, lol. Like the Rime of the Ancient Mariner goes "water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink", I say "clothes, clothes, everywhere yet nothing to wear" (which doesn't sound as poetic). I'm therefore making the effort to pull out old clothing pieces from my closet and wear them out as much as I can, so I don't have to slap myself next time for thinking I *need* new clothes!

The location we went to is actually where I'm moving out to at the end of this year, so we were just checking out the surroundings and sussing out what would be my future home :) I'm super duper excited,  there are all these beautiful parks, water features, and even mangroves all within walking distance, yet the vicinity still looks very modern and clean. I absolutely cannot wait! 

Cardigan with drape top: Yesstyle
Shirt: Cotton On
Birdcage necklace: Equip
Skirt: Imprint
Socks: Sportsgirl
Wedges: Therapy
Rings: Diva, Disney Couture

No planning involved with this outfit as I thought it would be heavy rain on the weekend, so no sketch.

Also, here are some of my most recent buys (this is all within about a month, so not too unreasonable, no? ^^")

Staple off-shoulder metallic top $30 from $80, Forecast purple shawl $40

Mustard knit and mint green blouse from Mink (used my store credit note)

Portmans sequin jacket $50 from $160

Portmans maxi $50 from $100

At least almost everything was on sale or was on a credit note! (although the real damage to my bank account was done online *guilty eyes*)

Yesstyle haul + Taobao haul using Taobao Spree

Yesstyle Haul

The order was delayed by a few weeks as one item was out of stock- which is always an inconvenience I hope to bypass every time I make an online order, as usually the status will read something like "waiting for stock from supplier" for a few weeks and the order ends up cancelling most of the time! Not only is the extra delay bothersome because it's delay and I'm such an impatient greedy "I want the clothes from my computer screen in my hands now!" brat, but it does give me a lot of time to reflect upon my latest online damage and cast doubt upon the necessity of certain items. It gives me a gratuitous amount of time to contemplate whether it was wise to purchase shorts I've never tried on which could be dangerously close to resembling adult diapers (see the Tokyo Fashion shorts) but you wouldn't be able to tell from the model of course, because the model always looks cute and even if they did look like diapers she would still make it look cute.

Firstly, the items I bought with their stock photos:

Yeomong- sequinned peter pan top (in black, still with gold sequins)

for my boyfriend's mum.
(I see that the price has now been jacked up to $22!)

Personal review of the items:

elasticised waist shorts

Cream crochet or lace shorts are all the rage now, and I decided to try my hand at them, although it was difficult to find a pair on Yesstyle that wasn't too white (resembling underwear) or too frilly (resembling pyjamas). I thought these shorts were the perfect oatmeal colour and looking at the stock photos on the link, the length seemed perfect as well- too long or too short and people will be giving you funny looks and quietly judging you for forgetting to put pants over the underwear you stole from your grandmother this morning. 

However to be honest when I saw them for the first time out of their packaging, a wave of regret did wash over me lol. Personally I don't find them very versatile and easy to pair with a variety of my outfits. As a practical matter, they are also rather sheer at the back (despite having two layers) and you can see my underwear (which was already seamless and white). You could allay this problem by wearing some "safety" shorts underneath- but as I don't really like the item that much I'm not going to go out and buy them specifically for this. The shorts look much better with a shirt over it and not tucked in as in the above pictures, which you'll see with the next item reviewed below.

Nonetheless the quality of these shorts is pretty decent, and it is true to stock photos, although they are a bit deceiving as the model is wearing a tight, long top over the shorts which make them look shorter than they actually are. I recommend examining the measurements because personally I would've preferred a shorter length. The shorts are listed as "one size", which is rather reasonable as the elastic waistband is actually pretty generous and could fit a variety of sizes.

I'd still give this item 4/5, because the quality and price for the shorts are great, but it's only because of my personal preference and inability to see this pair up nicely with the other clothes in my wardrobe, that I'm returning this to Yesstyle. Not 5/5 because of how it's still rather sheer at the back.

Sequinned Peter Pan top

This is lovely! I have no problems with this whatsoever. The fabric is soft and comfy, the sequins are intact and securely and neatly glued on, and it's pretty much true to stock photo. I really have no complaints with this, so 5/5 and that is the end of that review lol.

Double breasted coat

The most expensive item of the bunch ($65). I really wanted a pink coat after seeing Natalie Portman wear one in Black Swan (beautiful movie by the way):

A few minor differences between hers and mine of course, where hers has a Peter Pan collar and is longer, which is fine because I prefer the shorter length.

I actually wore this out two nights ago, where I had only received this the day before. It had a bit of an unpleasant, musty "factory"odour when I took it out of its packaging and I hadn't aired it out, so I was a bit self-conscious of someone going, "who smells like wet cardboard here?" Thankfully no one did and the smell must have already dispersed in the air.

However it is a very warm, snuggly coat and it will definitely be one of my go-to pieces during the extremes of winter. Despite feeling a bit like a rough body towel to the touch, the inside lining is not so abrasive. However in terms of value for money, I really don't think this is worth anything over $50 so I'd probably give it 3.5/5.

Contrast scalloped top

Well I didn't even bother trying this on because as soon as I removed it from the wrapping I knew instantly that I would be returning this to Yesstyle. The material is very, very thin and the item just looks cheap overall. Although from the stock photos I could tell you would have to wear a white singlet underneath, I expected the material of this to be a little more solid and not so flimsy. Everything else is fine as it looks pretty true to stock photo, but one of biggest gripes with clothes is cheap-looking material so I'm definitely returning this one.

Taobao Haul

I ordered via TaoBao Spree, since apparently most sellers on TB don't ship internationally. TBS collects the items from the domestic sellers and then proceeds to ship them out to me, which means I have to pay 2 x shipping fees (domestic and international) as well as service fees to TBS. This means the fees payable not on the actual items can add up to quite a hefty figure and therefore I deliberately chose items not over 100yuan (which by itself is equivalent to only about 15AUD, but tack on shipping and then service fees the total amount can double in size).

To order from Taobao using TBS, I visited their website and emailed them with an order with the item links, colours and sizes when applicable. Visiting Taobao and trying to order from it can be quite formidable for those lacking any ability to read Chinese, but if you translate it to your desired language via Google it does become pretty clear how the site is divided into categories, making browsing easier. A big plus about Taobao is all the reviews for the items at the bottom of each item's page (if it's relatively new there might not be any), where other customers will provide some pretty useful information about the quality, sizing, and promptness of delivery from the seller.

After sending in the order form to TBS, they replied back with how much money I needed to deposit into their account for the items plus the domestic shipping from TB sellers to TBS. After paying them, TBS went off and ordered from the sellers, and the items were received by them in less than a week. When they received them, they sent me an email requesting the international shipping fee from them to me in Australia (I used EMS). I then had to deposit that international shipping fee into their Paypal account before they shipped the items out to me. Therefore the amount payable was divided into two lots- one before TBS orders from the TB sellers, and the other after they've received them from the sellers.

TBS didn't actually specify in which sum they added the service fee charges, but from their website it seems that this was inserted in the first lot (items + domestic shipping + (most likely) service fees). The items by themselves made up 309yuan, or about 46AUD. I had to pay 67USD (about 64AUD) for the first sum payable, so the domestic shipping and service fees must have added up to about 18AUD. What really made my strained bank account shed tears was the international shipping via EMS, which was about 33USD (32AUD), so the money spent on service and shipping fees added up to about 50AUD. Keeping in mind the total price of the items themselves were only 46AUD!
It then took about a week for the items to arrive after TBS shipped them out, which makes total waiting time about 2 weeks, which I have no complaints about :)

Anyway, on to the reviews!

69yuan (10AUD)

I've been so very obsessed with the sequins trend lately, and this gorgeous little thing did not disappoint. My favourite item out of both hauls! It came in a cotton bag inside the plastic wrapping, so as to protect the sequins. The sequins are quite intact, although a few have already fallen off. It's not exactly true to stock photo however, as in the photos the sleeves are longer and the sequins look slightly smaller. However, this is only a small issue, and I'm not really complaining as every time I catch sight of a sequinned item instore my excitement quickly deflates like a balloon as I read the price tag and see that it costs way over $100. I'd still give this 5/5.

99yuan (15AUD)

The most expensive item out of the bunch comes to a meagre $15! (although there is that additional $10 shipping/service fee on top) I love this playsuit! The colour is so lovely and the design is too adorable, with the little buttons down the front and the ribbon at the waist (although I suck at ribbon-tying). Once again, the colour and design aren't exactly the same as the stock photo (mine is a more dull colour, and the buttons and ribbon look slightly different) but it's still a lovely item and I'm grateful for the rock-bottom price. 5/5!

43yuan (6AUD)

Well this is obviously a bargain! This top is definitely very sheer, but the material and quality are still pretty decent. The sequins at the neckline are lovely, and so is the colour. There are also very light shoulder pads to help preserve shape and structure of the top when worn. It's also very true to stock picture. 5/5!

49yuan (7 AUD)

Now why do I have a picture of the shorts lying on my bed, and not being modelled as I've done with all the previous items? Well, it might have something to do with the fact that I cannot actually even zip these up on my hips! There were two sizes available on the site and I read the reviews to help me decide which size to get. After getting the general idea that these shorts were a bit of a small make, I decided to get size M. However since they are so narrow, the zip doesn't pull up smoothly, and there is zero stretch in the material, I could not get the zip up a millimetre on my hips. I may have gotten a few centimetres or so but I didn't want to  break the zip (or snag my skin in there lol), since it was already pretty obvious these were unwearable. 

However the quality is pretty decent, and the sequins seem pretty securely glued on. They are also pretty true to stock photo. I'd just recommend staying away from these shorts if you're not petite. 4/5 (I'd definitely wear them if they fit me!)

Since I can't fit into these shorts, I will be selling them. If anyone is interested at all please leave a comment below!

49yuan (7 AUD)

This bag is so lovely! There are a few loose threads and uneven stitching here and there, but that's just being pedantic. The quality is great for the price, the clasp works, and I love the fact that there are two compartments (see the above picture). Quality is totally fine and it looks just like the picture. 5/5!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

makeup tutorial request

I'm actually really surprised that I'm being requested to do a makeup tutorial, since I find absolutely nothing special or interesting about my makeup routine, which is the same every weekend (on weekdays I will just skip the false lashes). However I did get a request a few days ago so here is my feeble but hopefully sufficient first-time attempt at one! 

I did try to do a makeup tutorial about a few years ago, out of utter boredom, but it was a epic fail and a total waste of time for a few reasons. Firstly, my makeup is relatively subtle so the progress wasn't very clear between photos. They might've been clearer had I used an SLR, but due to my impressive track record of klutzy and expensive gadget-dropping moments (especially my iPhone!) I haven't exactly earned the prerequisite trustworthiness rating for taking expensive equipment home, from my boyfriend (or anyone else for that matter). Another drawback was that I kept on stuffing up the routine (I guess you could call it "performance anxiety" lol). Preparing a makeup tutorial actually requires quite some skill, effort and time, so props to the people who do upload them on a regular basis with an illusion of ease and effortlessness.

Therefore, because of all these issues with photo-taking, and I don't really have much spare time nowadays, I decided to whip up a really quick tutorial on my iPad and illustrate my makeup routine instead! It's not the best I know (>_<) but I think this way is a lot more effective and clearer. I hope it's somewhat helpful to Amanda, who requested it, and anyone else who might be interested!

I've also received a few messages in the past in regards to how I do my eyebrows so I've put some focus on that.

Overall I know the tutorial is pretty simple- but that is how my makeup routine is. Again, I would whole-heartedly agree with you that there is nothing really special about it =P

Face base:

Dr Jart Rejuvenating BB cream, Bobbi Brown Skin foundation, Anna Sui pressed powder

Yes my eyebrows really are like that before being filled in. Work of art, isn't it?
It's because I have naturally really dark eyebrows, so in order to create an even, taupe/dark-brown look in the end, I need to thin them out and trim them as much as possible so that the black doesn't clash with my filled-in brows.

For the base- I just use BB Cream by Doctor Jart, and Bobbi Brown's Skin foundation. (I've had this for 1.5 yrs now, still nowhere near running out!) I guess it's because the majority of my base is BB Cream and the foundation is just to smooth out the skin tone (since this BB cream has noticeably grey undertones on my skin). The Skin foundation however matches my skintone perfectly!
I then pat my face lightly with Anna Sui's pressed powder, which sets my makeup and makes it look less shiny and possibly oily, later on in the day.

I also pop in EOS Dolly Eye Grey circle lenses, which I've used for almost all photo shoots. 
I also usually keep my lips simple- just hydrated and slightly glossy. I use Palmer's dark chocolate and peppermint lip butter. I'm obsessed with this lip balm and slather it on my lips whenever I can- although I'm not sure if it's the cool, hydrating effect it has on my lips or the scent of my absolute favourite food in the world (chocolate) that is the real enticement.


NYX Eyebrow cake powder, B+C liquid eyebrow pencil, Kiss Me Heavy Rotation eyebrow mascara.

I fill my brows in first with the cake powder, which I do lightly so that it's not too pigmented. The purpose is to create a gentle and soft base underneath the eyebrow liner applied afterwards. Otherwise the pencil and liquid liner would look too harsh and have that unnatural, drawn-on appearance.

I go over this with the pencil side of my B+C eyebrow liner (there's a liquid pen on the other end) to create a more defined shape. If you compare this to the previous picture, at this stage my natural brows are looking more concealed and blended in with the eyebrow pencil. 

I then use the liquid pen side, to outline the shape of the brows and then fill in some of the holes. By this point it's alright to draw precise lines with such a fine nib of a pigmented liquid pen, since I've already created a base underneath- so you're not going to get that "chola" lady effect! 

Then I lightly brush blonde mascara over my brows. There are two purposes for this- to lighten my eyebrows in a subtle way (since the colour would be too strong if it were a pen, and if I use pencil over pencil it wouldn't show up well), and to neaten my brows up.
The mascara isn't actually as yellow as in the pictures, but I've used a lighter and brighter shade in the illustration, just to accentuate the difference.

One thing to note, is that using an eyebrow powder, and then a pencil, before putting on the liquid pen really helps to establish some natural-looking, symmetrical eyebrows that aren't too thin or uneven, which might occur had I only used a pen and mascara- or even if I had only left out the powder. I personally don't like eyebrows that are too thin, and if I had the gorgeous, sultry eyes of Camilla Belle (and the rest of her facial features for that matter) I would certainly be sporting some beautifully thick eyebrows resembling hers:

Anyway the point is, putting on a light powder and pencil beforehand is pretty useful in defining the shape of your eyebrows and making sure you don't make them too thin or some other undesired, uneven shape.

Eyes (it's pretty standard and boring)

Apple Super Lash mascara, Dolly Wink liquid eyeliner, Kate my color pencil, eyelash curler

Darkness false eyelashes in K.ma6, Duo eyelash glue

I use Dolly Wink's liquid pen to line the top part of my eyes and create a flick at the end, which I then fill in. I try to make sure the flick emerges from an extension of the line I've already created, to make it look more natural.
I can't really give any precise measurements- but I do make sure the flick isn't too tiny and that it is relatively close to the outer corner of my eye; otherwise when I put false eyelashes on later, the flick won't be visible.

The point of doing this is that it elongates the eyes and makes them bigger.

I don't use the same black liquid pen to line the bottom of my eyes. Because of how precise and dark the line is, the whole effect would look too harsh against my pale skin (also when I have black hair).
Instead I use a brown pencil (although it looks grey in the picture- but that's because I can never get the exact colouring right when I transfer an image over from my art app on the iPad onto the computer!), to simply line the bottom of my eyes.

I then curl my lashes and go over them with Apple's Super Lash mascara. A mascara for a meagre $2 that I have shipped via Ebay all the way from Mexico, is quite honestly the most fantastic mascara I have ever used- it does a wonderful job in darkening, thickening and lengthening my naturally sparse eyelashes.

I then apply Darkness' false eyelashes (around $9 for two pairs). Best falsies I have ever used- this is a Korean brand so I suspect they have tailor-made their range for Asian eyes. With MAC I had the problem of them being too long and I didn't know how to cut it in such a way that didn't destroy a new pair of overly-priced (as I later discovered when being exposed to more brands and variety) falsies.
I only use false eyelashes on the weekends nowadays, but yes they do create a dramatically wonderful difference to your eyes.

Face contouring:
Milani blush and bronzer, Etude House Top 10 v-line maker, Etude House Cookie blush

I apply Etude House's Cookie blusher! I just become a ridiculous, money-splurging, no self-respecting consumer whore in the face of cute packaging sometimes (this is why you can't take me to Asian supermarkets) and this blusher is no exception. To my credit it's not too bad of a product lol- the colour is lovely and suits my skin and you can be quite flexible with the puff (would you just look at that cute little pink bow on it!) so that you don't apply too much.
Again, when I apply the blush it's not as accentuated and pigmented as in the picture- however I've drawn it that way to emphasise the difference and to show clearly where I apply it.
Different people apply their blush around different areas of their cheekbones. I think if you want to create a super duper sweet, girly look you could apply it right underneath the eyes and on either side of your nose (but make sure you do it subtly, to avoid looking like a clown!) However I always apply it right underneath my cheekbones because I'm big on face contouring rather than face colouring. Adding the blush in these areas, adds a further dimension to my cheekbones and makes them pop more.

As I mentioned, I'm quite a big fan of contouring and highlighting! For the areas lined in brown in the picture, I use my Milani bronzer. Applying a shade darker than your skintone to these areas, helps create an illusion of shadow on either side of your face, slimming your face down. Applying it on the sides of your nose also makes it appear thinner.

For the parts lined in yellow, I use the highlighter from Etude House's V-Line Maker (I sometimes use the bronzer as well but I just prefer my Milani one- the colour is more natural and less shimmery). Highlighting the top part of your cheeks makes your cheekbones appear more prominent, and the same effect is seen when it's done right in the middle of your nose.
The whole effect of slimming the face down, and making the cheeks and nose protrude more obviously, is best created when combining both highlighting and contouring. You don't have to do both of course (some people don't like adding dark shades to their face, or the highlighter might have too much shine) but the combination of both really does help in creating more defined bone structure.

In the end it all looks like this:

So I hope that was in some way useful and effective! Thanks for reading :)



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