Happy New Year Reader!

After a year of crickets on my blog, I'd like to share in this post my lessons of vulnerability, authenticity, and my intentions for a more wholehearted 2016. 

"Vulnerability is being willing to express the truth, no matter what. The truth of who you are, the essence of your core, of what you're feeling at any given moment. It's being able to open up your soul and let it flow so other people can see their soul in yours." 
- Oprah Winfrey

Y'all should know that I truly love me some Oprah. Through her website I discovered a remarkable woman named Brene Brown. She's a researcher, author, and speaker on the topics of Shame and Vulnerability. Her work helped me challenge a lot of ideas I had about how vulnerability is weakness, creativity is self-indulgent, and success is defined by how much I earn. When I think about it, a lot of these ideas are not my own beliefs, they were planted from my external environment but I let them become my truth.  These false-truths resulted in many moments of hardships and self-doubt but I'm learning and growing and that's what matters most.

For many, success is measured in the paper-chasing-work-grind and how busy you are that you don't have time to eat/breathe/have a social life. If that were a true measure of success then sure, you can say that I was successful last year. My self-worth was largely hinged on how 'busy' I was for the wedding season but as I reflect on the year and the achievements that I was most proud of, none of them involved earning a penny. In fact, they involved personal investments of time, skill, and being vulnerable. I participated in wildly creative photoshoots that produced published, beautiful works of art, I explored my creativity beyond hairstyling to design and handcraft a beautiful garter and hairpiece for my sister's wedding, and I poured my heart into a photoshoot where I was the makeup artist, hairstylist, creative director, and photographer. Brene states that, "Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change." Well, amen to that. 

Krista Fox Photography
Giulia Ciampini Photography
Photography by MonStyleFile

"Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen." - Brene Brown

In my profession I'm meeting new people every day and I've struggled with the idea of what a successful stylist should be like - super extroverted, chatty, loud, with a massive personality. I'd worry that a client would doubt my skill if I wasn't those things. Over this year I've realized that I should embrace who and how I am. My intention is to be down-to-earth, authentic, and connect with people. I want to make my clients feel seen, heard, and understood. A hard lesson I learned was I won't be compatible with every client that comes to me. I do have an ideal client, and it's someone that acts with mutual respect, authenticity, integrity, and openness. 

Struggles with maintaining my authenticity has come up on the administrative side of my business as well. Four years ago I partnered with a big wedding network and invested time, money and trust in them for a marketing campaign. In the past it generated a lot of business leads for me and communication with administrative support was great. Last year, their business model changed, the way they addressed vendor concerns changed, and I felt like it was no longer a partnership of integrity. Our business goals were no longer aligned.

"Our ability to unlock action in the perceived face of weakness and vulnerability involves the questions we ask ourselves. So many of us focus on 'What if I fail?' ...rather than 'What if I succeed?'  or What if I do nothing?" 
- Jonathan Fields, founder of The Good Life Project

In this scenario, I feared not being as busy and 'successful' in the upcoming wedding season, I feared the uncertainty of less advertising exposure. But the worst feeling of all? Doing nothing and continuing to be in a relationship that felt wrong. I decided to end the relationship and take a leap of faith and trust that better opportunities were ahead. 

It turns out many opportunities were ahead because I have a wonderful network of people that inspire and support me as I support them. The coolest part of this journey of vulnerability and authenticity? I'm attracting my ideal kind of clients and relationships. 

My intention going forward is to redefine how I measure a successful and wholehearted life. If it involves courage, vulnerability, expressing myself creatively, authentically, and empathetically with others, then I am abundantly successful. 


Wishing you your own definition of success for 2016,

Monica.

Growth. Adventure. Life. And it's beautiful. 

Looking back at the amazing opportunities I've had, they all existed beyond my comfort zone. I find that the more awkward, or difficult the experience was, the more rewarding the outcome. 

4AM.



Awkwardness Level 1: 
When I was in hair school I had the serendipitous opportunity to be the assistant, to a designer's assistant, for Toronto's World MasterCard Fashion Week. I remember being very nervous knocking on the hotel door to the designer. They ushered me in and I helped with model castings, and coordination backstage on the day of the show. When the assistant asked if I was also interested in waking up at 4am, on a school day, to style hair for models because they were appearing on Breakfast Television... the obvious answer was absolutely, yes. I was told not to let the designer know that I was still a hair student and I played it cool even though I was so uncool on the inside! I made it to school that day and functioned like a zombie but it was such a worthwhile adventure.

Some Inspiring Champs
Awkwardness Level 2:
In June I attended a 3-day intensive salon industry boot-camp run by Inspiring Champions, partnered with L'Oreal Professional. I sat in a room with my hair heroes, people that I so greatly admire as badass hairstylists and industry leaders. It was humbling to see that no matter the level of experience we had, the desire for personal growth was a common denominator. This course involved approaching strangers, talking about your dreams and failures to said strangers, public speaking, role-playing, number-crunching, stomping on balloons and so much more.  By day 1 I was wondering what I got myself into. By day 2 I was exhausted and struggled to finish my assignments. By day 3 I was reluctant to say goodbye to the inspiring mentors that I met. 

At one point during this course I was sitting down at an empty table for lunch and suddenly it was filled with L'Oreal's top hair artists discussing their upcoming projects. I felt like I was accidentally seated with the cool kids. One of the hair artists at the table was Matthew Collins [@matthewstylist]. I really admire his work, personality, and ability to educate. I had taken an advanced cutting course with him a few years back when I was fresh out of hair school and quickly discovered I was way out of my element. I appreciated that his approach to teaching was down-to-earth and modern. He emphasized the need to put your work on social media, to focus on the client experience, and to help educate on hair-care and at-home styling. 

Although I initially felt like a fish out of water in both of these courses, the knowledge and tools I've obtained are invaluable. I'm continuing to apply those elements to my business and it has been rewarding to see that I'm helping my clients. 

Beautiful Utah
As you can probably tell, education and personal growth are so essential to me. I'm very excited to share that I will be venturing beyond my comfort zone again by combining solo travel & education together. I have another hair hero by the name of Stephanie Brinkerhoff [@hairandmakeupbysteph]. You may not know her name but you'd love her work. I'll be making my way to Utah to take a bridal styling class with her because I am a big fan of her work, and so are my clients. At least 95% of the hair styles that my clients request are from Pinterest, and they're of Stephanie's work.

Although I won't know the terrain, the streets, or the people when I land in Utah, I think the adventure scale grossly outweighs the awkwardness scale this time.

I'll be snapping away on Instagram and rambling on Twitter so follow my adventures here: @monstylefile.  

Thanks Reader,

Monica
Dear Reader,

I was watching the Emmy Awards last night and was surprised to see a blonde Rose Byrne.
She is one of those underrated stars whose beauty is ever-evolving, always sophisticated, and forever luminous. She has an enviable complexion that allows her to be a colour chameleon.

From warm to cool tones, dark damsel to golden goddess, long locks to long bobs, she has confidently rocked her bold hair changes.



The one constant in her looks? That mega-wattage shine. Her hairstylist definitely knows that radiant hair is always in style. She is one beauty whose style will continue to inspire.


Get your shine on: Try the Alterna Bamboo Shine line. Paraben, sulfate, and phthalate-free. Find it at your local Trade Secrets/Glamour Secrets salon. 


Dear Reader,

I was never an early riser. Back in university I was the kind of girl who would let my group members get started on the project meeting while I was still pressing snooze. Awful, I know. 

What I am though, is a sucker for wedding dresses. It's the fashion-lover in me. I hardly watch TV. Newest shows? Online shows? I wouldn't know, because I don't follow. But if I happen to walk by while TLC's Say Yes to the Dress is on... well, all else is forgotten and I'm gravitating towards the TV. The danger with TLC is they play show after show so after 2 hours pass you suddenly realize you had something to do. 

For someone who dreams of weddings dresses, I have never grown up dreaming of my own wedding. There's the idea that little girls fantasize about Prince Charming and their wedding day while coddling baby dolls from Fisher Price. My 5-year-old cousin is proof of this. I don't know where the ball dropped with me but I didn't dream of fairytales. I grew up fearfully imagining that E.T. was in my closet and dragging around my stuffed animals by a coiled tether linking its arm and mine with velcro straps. The same tether that my mom attached to me when we went out in public; in fear that I'd get lost, bolt, run away, whatever. The day that I was introduced to velcro shoes was the day the tether was rendered useless. 

Back to the current day. 

As I set my alarm clock the night before a wedding job for 4AM, 5AM, and the blessed 6AM I do so on autopilot refusing to let my mind calculate the hours of sleep I won't be getting. It goes off a few hours later and my bleary eyes open to a dark room - a taunting reminder that, yup, it's that early. I go through the morning in a hazy blur, staring at my half-conscious reflection and curling my lashes. If I pinch my eyelids one day, that would wake me right up. 

The morning drive is sobering, it's just me and road, little else around besides some morning birds. Each red light seems longer than usual and the streets are peaceful for a change. 

With weddings it's a fine balance between you, the clock, and the bridal party's agenda. Monopolizing the conversation, telling someone that they can't possibly look like Jessica Alba, and not meeting the deadline are big no-nos. I listen intently, manage hair expectations, and work efficiently. 

It's a special day. For her, for her loved ones, and for a beauty artist like me. I'm invited to be a part of an intimate day and entrusted to make someone and her party look and feel beautiful. I've been privy to a lot of special moments. It's warming to hear the group remind each other of past memories with "Remember when..." stories and see them burst into peals of laughter. To hear one party affectionately call each other by "friend" instead of by name, to see one bride quietly reflecting while writing her vows (she was a writer by profession so I know she conjured up something good), and to witness the moment when the finishing touches are complete and the room goes absolutely quiet as she enters in the ever-magical wedding dress. Our faces light up, we're in awe, and we all cheer her on. 

That is why I love weddings. 


Not only have weddings allowed me to have meaningful and early starts to my days, they've really got my time management going! For a girl who was never an early riser, whose notorious tardiness gave life to the phrase "Are we meeting in real time or in Monica time?"... weddings are a magical thing indeed. 

Yours truly,
Mon
My commitment to Gwyneth Paltrow's blog (Goop.com) has faltered. I've strayed and have found a new source of emotional support. A new love.

Oh, Oprah. Yes, the one and only Oprah Winfrey. I always watched her show as a child growing up and I stumbled upon one of her LifeClass episodes recently. The engaging Oprah Winfrey Show has ended but now she's spreading the wisdom and positivity with her OWN television network. And magazine. And website. And newsletters. I don't mind if she takes over the world.


I love positive readings, positive thinking, and positive action. Her website is all about living your best life. And I intend on doing so. So what, my gmail has been overtaken by all things Oprah, and I don't have enough time to read nearly 2% of her newsletters... at least the topics that I have indulged in have been very inspiring.

It's ironic that today I find an email about being burnt out. In this article they even mention an author who wrote a book named, "Tired of Being Tired". The article identifies 5 levels of burn out and I went from Driven to Draggin. I also identified people I know at the dangerous Losing It and Hitting the Wall stages. It's scary when life becomes so negative and you feel like you've lost control of it. See how you can help yourself or others that are struggling with stress. To the Oprah site!


(That could be you or a loved one. Formerly fabulous, but now burnt out by life's stressors.
Do yourself a favour, get help.)

Happy readings,
Mon
I've travelled past many villages in my life. I never ventured into them to see what they had to offer a passerby like me because from the outside these villages looked dull and unimpressive. With so many other places to visit, why would I stop by there? On a fateful day I was brought into one of these villages and I realized that they were like oysters of society... really unappealing on the outside... and concealing treasures on the inside.



Boy, did I have a darn tootin' good time at Value Village. I'm not completely new to this bargain hunting activity though... I once was taken on a date to an underground flea market that was dark, dank, and real stank. Never again. That's what I envisioned Value Village to be like; depressing, stale, and full of junky items. When I got in there my prediction wasn't too far off but my years of Winners department store upbringing kicked right in. I expertly searched rack after rack for a winner, my eyes zipping over each item for some indication of it being worth rescuing. It turned into a high-speed game of treasure hunting.

There were some pretty baubles...such as a silk black sleeveless body suit for $3.99 and a pink Marciano bustier for $7.99. I was amused by my finds but the village hadn't won me over yet.

And then I found the mother of all treasures. The pearl of this oyster. And my face went like this.


There she lay. I revelled in her beauty. One unassuming pair of Hudson jeans for $9.99 sandwiched between crap, and more crap. I yanked it right out of the rack and felt pure joy wash over me. I was triumphant, I was giddy. I had won the game.

I purchased my items without trying them on and inspected them at home. The turmoil began. I checked the label of the silk black body suit. 'Private Expressions. Size XL.' It got me wondering...whose extra-large privates once engulfed this body suit? I stared at the  crotch area... and it stared right back at me. The next time we came face to crotch was two wash cycles later. Satisfied that I wouldn't contract a communicable disease from it, it joined the ranks of my wardrobe.

I was impatient to put my 'new' Hudson jeans on. I stuck my legs in, shimmied it up, and... hit a roadblock. My ass. Turns out, it was a size 24. I haven't been that tiny since the pre-pubescent ages. With stubborn determination I squeezed myself into them like a stuffed sausage and only when the top button was secure did I dare to exhale. It was beyond tight, and I couldn't actually sit down in them but they sure looked good!

At that moment, I was sold. The village had me and I became a value villager...


Young (wo)man, there's a place you can go.
I said, young (wo)man, when you're short on your dough.
You can stay there, and I'm sure you will find
Many ways to have a good time.

Have you heard of the expression 'biting off more than you can chew'?

It often happens in the workplace. We hear stories of eager beavers who continually take on more workload in order to assert themselves as valuable assets to the company. You know, the Ugly Bettys of the working world. They sometimes bite off more than they can chew.

I did a similar thing at work. I bit into my lunch - a seemingly normal submarine sandwich dropped off to me by my mother (it was so thoughtful of her). As I worked my way to the middle of the sandwich I took an overzealous chomp and felt the luau commence in my mouth. Like a small fire pit party with people dancing around it. The creep of dread travelled up the back of my skull like a warning sign of bad things to come and there was a solitary thought in my mind, "Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!". The luau evolved into a volcanic eruption threatening to singe my taste buds and the party people were now running for their lives.

It was so ironic that she had also dropped off a 1L bottle of water with my lunch. Was she forshadowing what was to come? I was gulping down water but it was futile. The fire would not be subdued. I'm such a wimp when it comes to spicy food. For my mother to drop off that sandwich laden with all sorts of lethal peppers...it led me to believe she was trying to kill me.

I felt hysterical so I dashed to the washroom and did the only logical thing - I started drooling.

With nothing to do until the fiery sensation subsided I focused on my reflection and observed the tears pooling in my eyes, the drool running from my tongue, and the drip forming from my nose. It was a miserable moment in Monica history; ridiculous and hilarious all at once. It's kind of perverse how people willingly consume spicy things to shock their senses. How can you taste anything with all of the hurt? I heard it's an acquired taste.

The only things I acquired were a massive headache and an aversion to my mother's taste in food. Should I ever feel the urge to spice things up in the future, I'll pop in my Spice Girls CD.
I've fielded many questions at work lately.


"When is the shackle arriving?"
"Where is the crinkler?"
"Is my black spackler in?"
"Can you show me the black cracker?"

And most famously...
"Do you have Katy Perry's crack?"

That was the most accurate description so far.
The true name is Black Shatter, by O.P.I.

Pop Powerhouse + partnership with O.P.I brand + heavy advertising = consumer frenzy.

I can spot them now. The customers who are after the crack. They come in wild-eyed, muttering excitedly (sometimes with a friend in tow), and when their eyes start to frantically dart around the store I usually end their anticipation by saying, "Hi there. You're looking for the Shatter? I'm sorry, they haven't come in yet." I've witnessed a lot of devastation this past month and learned to plaster on my sorry-to-disappoint-you face.

The product itself is a nail polish that 'shatters' when you apply it. I gave in to the trend to see what the fuss was about and after applying one coat of the black shatter, you watch as the colour slowly breaks apart to settle into unique segmented patterns. The real draw is experimenting with different base colours to create customized, signature looks. The possibilities are really endless. I've spied nails that so attractively look like a cow print as well as 'shattered' french manicures.

From a business point of view, it's genius.
From a shopgirl point of view, it's entertainment.

I can see this being a formidable trend that will eventually go down in history once it's overdone like TNA pants or Jersey Shore. In any case, silver shatters as well as coloured shatters are rumoured to be arriving so it's well on its way to fulfill that destiny. Let the mayhem ensue.
A moment, s'il vous plait.

I'm experiencing a temporarily heightened awareness of my mortality and it's causing me to think about big topics. These big thoughts are filling up the spaces of my mind and I need to address them before my head overflows.

Are you aware that you are not guaranteed life tomorrow? Neither am I. Neither is your neighbour, your pet, your professor, your best friend, or your worst enemy. At any given day, someone can cease to be and it will be a rude awakening for those nearby and involved. It's easy to ignore such unpleasant thoughts but reality-checks are necessary to become more proactive in navigating the future. 

Everyone has a say in how you ought to live - your momma, your poppa, the government, society, your significant other, down to the daily horoscope. Press mute on the external noise and you may be able to hear yourself again. What did/do you dream of as a child? What are your goals in relationships, finances, career paths? What is vitally important to you in living a happy lifestyle? What are your core values? Pay attention to those things and keep them alive. If you are currently unhappy about something, sit down, dig deep, and evaluate the causes. Apathy is a dangerous feeling that can lead any of us off track in any aspect of our lives. Taking part in an unfulfilling relationship, drowning out your unhappiness with your career choice, or ignoring the state of your finances will guarantee that your troubles are never-ending. And if something unforeseen happened to you tomorrow, well, that would just suck even more.

The point of life is not to live in paranoia and fear of things beyond our control, it's not about bearing hatred and anger in our minds and hearts and it's most certainly not about living a mediocre, unfeeling existence. I believe we all have our fears and insecurities to manage but keep your dreams and goals close at heart to navigate through to the good stuff in life - love, joy, peace, inspiration, and abundance.

This world is vast, our opportunities are limitless, and each life holds great potential to be someone great, meet someone great, and do something great. Let's be more present and learn to live, a lot.

ML
At the salon I met a cute guy. I had a crush on him instantly. He looked so much like the actor from Slumdog Millionaire. He stared at my appointment book and lingered around the reception desk, I think he liked me too.

I asked him his name and he said it was Siddarth.
He was no taller than a meter stick so I asked him his age. It turns out he was a little too young for me. We confirmed that he was in Grade 2, but he confessed in his cute accent that he was much smaller than the Grade 1 kids and that they could easily pick him up.
"I am so weak" he said in a deadpan manner. It made me laugh.

He took the handful of chocolates that I offered and off he went to continue his journey leaving me behind like Latika on the train tracks. Heartbreaker.


Tell the truth.

It'll set you free.

On September 25, 2008 I received my first letter from Gwyneth Paltrow. She shared with me her passions in life and told me that I should be expecting more letters from her about things to make, see, get, do, and be. I savoured her letters and anticipated their weekly arrival. Each one was refreshing in its own way. Sometimes she would tell me about her favourite dishes to cook, sometimes it was of the romantic places she visited in Paris, and sometimes she made me question the way I lived my life.

I suppose I should mention that it was more of a one-way correspondence. And that these letters were e-mails. And that I had subscribed to her weekly newsletter.

I admire Gwyneth Paltrow. As an actress I never considered her to be very entertaining or memorable... but as a woman simply writing about her life and passions, she is a heavenly thing. Her writing style, lifestyle choices, and enlightening discussions appeal to me. She often questions simple things about human nature and has leading figures (like Deepak Chopra) provide their personal insight.

On the topic of the purpose of giving, Deepak Chopra expressed this:

"Looking around, one realizes that giving everything is the most natural way. You and I are here because Nature stinted in nothing. The air, the sky, the plant and animal kingdoms enrich the earth freely. The creative source that gave rise to life allowed single-celled algae and bacteria to evolve into the human brain, the most complex structure in the known universe. When the spirit of life really sinks in, and we realize the incredible gift we've received, the only possible act of appreciation is to give back with equal generosity."

I mull over the diverse perspectives provided by these spiritual leaders and end up in my own personal reflection. These contemplations are not life-changing but amidst an inbox full of superficial e-mails from Glamour on topics like "A Trick for Making your Cleavage Look Extra Awesome"*, it's a welcome break.

Although I immediately think of Shallow Hal when I think of Gwyneth Paltrow's acting career, there's little that's shallow about her newsletter. Get enriched.



*It's contouring using body shimmer and bronzer...in case any of you were curious.


Wiktionary says:

Noun

  1. Any language not native to particular person or place.


Monica says:

Noun

foreign tongue (plural foreign tongues [and ill-advised])
  1. When you don't understand the words coming out of someone's mouth.
  2. When you find a stranger's tongue in your mouth.
  3. A good way to get herpes. On your mouth.

I've had some experience with #1 and #2, and thankfully not #3. Enjoy.

Someone get this boy a GPS.
It was a cool summer night, I was at a party and a cute acquaintance of mine had asked me to go on an outdoors walk with him. I enjoyed the funny way he ate nachos so I had agreed - did I mention he was cute? Note: He ate nachos in a slow-motioned manner because he was under the influence of many substances, as I would later discover.

Him: "I'm surprised you agreed to go on this walk with me."
I ask, "Why?"
Him: "Because I have no sense of direction."
Me: "Oh, don't worry about it I know where the path is."
Him: "No, I mean in life."
Me:

After a few more moments of silence I was still dumbfounded. A normal person would've taken this as a golden opportunity to make a lame excuse and return to the comfortable haven of familiar friends. Being the perverse person that I am I decided to go along with it and see how bad it could get. He had verbal diarrhea and I felt for him. It became apparent that he was out of his mind and although he spoke English the sentences no longer made sense so I zoned him out and started looking for the Big Dipper while he continued to babble beside me. That's what I get for being perverse.
Take home lesson: Don't be a pervert.

When in Rome.
It was a Sunday night in Rome and my friend and I befriended two dashing young men from Vancouver and Miami at the internet lounge. Miami was fluent in many languages and knew all the Argentinians staying at the same youth hostel as us. We rounded up the rest of our friends to go hit the club with Vancouver, Miami, and the Argentinians. At the club, the loudest, rowdiest Argentinian invited me for tequila at the bar. I happily tagged along and after we took the shot he planted one on me like I was his lime. Again, I was struck dumb and he spoke to me in broken English only to further my state of confusion. That was my first kiss with a stranger. Although it's fun to say that I got to make out with an Argentinian dude in Europe, the experience wasn't very thrilling. He must have known because I burst out laughing once the wheels in my head resumed turning.

As a result, I kept a low profile for the rest of my stay in Rome. Especially since the Argentinians were conveniently staying on the same floor as us. I thought that was the last of Ferrerico that I would see but while reviewing the vast collection of videos from our Europe trip, my sister called me over to watch something. To my horror it was of a drunken Ferrerico stumbling on the street towards the camera and letting loose - what I can only assume to be - a slew of expletives in his foreign tongue. Followed by 5 seconds of his wagging tongue. My sister chose that moment to pause the video and laugh at me. It was a good opportunity for me to reflect. And die a little bit inside.
Take home lesson: Embarrassing memories are fun to look back on but get rid of the kind that can be re-wound, fast-forwarded, and re-played by others.
I could really start a website on the adventures of being a manager in the retail world. You encounter every shade of wonderful and zany people. It really opens your eyes to different personalities and how quickly things can turn sour if you read a person wrong. I'll recount one 're-tale' that happened recently.


I arrive at work and occupy myself with morning duties. Young man enters. I glance at him to acknowledge his existence and leave him to my fellow shop girls to attend to. He walks to a shelf and steals glances at me. I watch him in return. He thinks I'm interested, I think he's about to shoplift.

He requests my help so I walk over, guard up and ready to grumble. He tells me he's interested in finding a good facial scrub (meanwhile he's been browsing hair products). I pick up on the inconsistency of his story and it furthers my belief that he's up to no good. I had that part right. In between unfocused and inane questions about the products, he inquires about my ethnicity and comments on my appearance. At this point the alarms are ringing in my head. The cloud of confusion settles and I understand his true intentions. Despite my new-found enlightenment I try to close the sale but he leaves empty-handed.

My fellow shop girl tells me that he balked at the $14 price-tag on the scrub and claimed, "I might as well wash my face with bar soap!" I laughed at that and thought to myself if he can't afford a $14 scrub, he can't afford to be taking me out.

I receive a call to the store from him minutes later and - as anticipated - he asks me out for a date. I firmly reply that I'm uninterested and unavailable.

As I hang up I realize we both had one thing in common: We don't want no scrub.

Cue: TLC's hit song.
Imagine that we were living in a world where designers were doctors and clothes became patients. A material world.

In this world, clothes get old. They become dated, less desirable. Wrinkles form...areas start to sag... and they wind up spending more time hanging out at home than going out for a night on the town. Sound familiar? Designers respond to the aging crisis by developing new anti-aging procedures. The solution? Going under the scissor for some minor enhancements with major results - a little snip-and-tuck.

Luckily for this material girl, this material world exists.
Behold: From simply conservative to sexy cut-out.







What's your take on the expression that less is more? Despite my material girl nature, I hole-heartedly agree with it.
Last year after graduating from university a few friends and I decided to check off 'Europe Backpacking Trip' from our list of "Things to Do Before We Have Real Responsibilities like Mortagages, Marriages, and Babies". I'd like to clarify that when I say backpacking, I mean luggag-ing. None of us could actually live out of a backpack for 2 weeks; we were going to the fashion capitals of the world so how could we afford to look like tourists?! Truth be told, my bare essentials would be 1) my Nikon  2) comfy clothes 3) flats. Those items alone would fill up a backpack.

Everyone had their own agenda when we arrived. The guys wanted to visit soccer stadiums, the girls wanted to go shopping, and I really wanted to take a lot of pictures. Of everything. I found the store display windows really neat so I captured mementos from Rome, Cannes, and Paris.

Here is my snap-happy collection of European fashion. After all, they are the Little-Bo-Peep of the fashionable world and we're the faithful sheep.





One day I would like to be front row. Not way back in the bleachers where the general public sit. But alas, I'm publicly general. A couple of years ago I started attending shows when I discovered that such shows were available to my kind. Here are my highlights from the ELLE, LG, and F.A.T. fashion shows. I try not to blink too often in fear of missing something exciting. The attendees are all so beautiful and freakishly tall. Their statuesque stature isn't natural of course. I'd find myself scanning the floor for a pair of easily identifiable Christian Louboutins (with its signature red sole) and I'm greeted with a sea of sky-high stilettos. The incredible part is they carry themselves like they have Crocs on. That's true talent. I enjoy wearing heels too but you'll never find me in stilettos - that's asking for a guaranteed face-plant. The embarrassment simply isn't worth the effort.


There's something so feminine and empowering about the fashion industry. At these shows you feel an understated hum of energy. We collectively sit there politely whispering about the model sashaying down the runway, the clothes draped on her, or the famous face spotted in the front row but everyone is aware that they too are on display. Once the lights go on another show begins. Meticulous thought is put into hair, makeup, clothes, accessories, shoes, right down to the details of the nails but every woman acts like it came together effortlessly. That's the illusion of beauty. I wouldn't call myself a slave to fashion because that implies that it's against my own will. I am a devotee to the fashion world; it's frivolous, fanciful, and freeing. And on second thought...if I ever had the chance to go to a show in Paris or Milan you could classify me as general public any day.


New trend alert!

I was enjoying my bi-weekly magazine fix and happened upon a stunning advertisement of Drew Barrymore (below). Call it great marketing, or call it Drew's gorgeous face but I knew I was sold and I didn't mind. The idea that I truly needed this product was planted in my head and there was this niggling urgency to get it as soon as possible. I paid a visit to the local Shoppers Drug Mart and made a bee-line for it. After standing there for a drawn-out 5 minutes it looked like my hand had a scuffle with a box of markers. I picked up every tester and put streaks upon streaks of colour on my hand to the point where I couldn't remember which colour belonged to which tube. In the end I was flustered and went with what Drew wore. 
As a girl who has commitment issues with the full colour impact of a lipstick, a lipstain is a great alternative. And with a name like Everbloom Kiss how could you - and potentially any suitor for that matter - resist?
As a child I would play hide and seek in the racks of clothes in Winners. Fast forward a few years and I started taking interest in the clothes that once engulfed me. I grew up in a salon environment and consequently, was raised by hairstylists. At 16 years old I observed my mom reading an InStyle magazine. At 16 years old I started paying more attention to said magazines than I did to textbooks. These environmental factors shaped me to be the beauty-lovin' fashionista that I am today and I couldn't change it if I tried.

During my university years before a big night out, the girlfriends would get dolled up together and I often did the dolling. Hair, make-up, outfit advice - I was more than happy to help. When I was asked to do make-up for a wedding party I was hesitant. I mean, I've always done this for fun, not because someone depended on it. I was up for the challenge so I wo-manned up to the task and started getting requests to do prom styling too. Here are samples of the lovely ladies...and gentleman (the Star-Wars make-up was for a filming project).




I thought being girly was inherent to being female but I met one young lady (pictured above) who, at the age of 26, had never encountered an eye-lash curler. The experience was certainly eye-opening for her. Pun intended.
Cue: Kylie Minogue's Love At First Sight.

You stop dead in your tracks and do a double, sometimes triple take.
The attraction is immediate, the pull is irresistible...like someone's playing at your heart strings. Post lovestruck sighting, your mind is filled with nonsense and an obsession is born.

I'm not talking about a Hottie McTottie sighting, as fun as those are.
I am talking about something serious here.

That limited edition Prada purse, those bejewelled sandals and crystallized ballet slippers, that chain-strapped construction of a heavenly bag... and the rockin' dress that'll set you back a paycheque. Or two.

In these fanciful moments I empathize with Kate Winslet's character in the film, The Holiday. She speaks of love and says this, "There's another kind of love: the cruelest kind. The one that almost kills its victims. It's called unrequited love. Of that I am an expert."

Dearest Kate, my heart aches too. I adore these objects, but they do not love me back. I will never be with them, and must continue my life coveting what can never be mine.

In these instances, crimes are committed. Crimes of the heart.

Exhibit A - The offenders.

My only hope is to go broke uniting with my loves... or find cheaper objects of obsession.
The most marketable new products are ones that are based on convenience.

Sure, we could take the time to pour the eye make-up remover onto the Q-tip, but now there are Q-tips that contain the solution within (they function like a glowstick, snap it and watch the magic unfold).

We were taught to use brushes to apply eye shadows but now you can plop the colours on with a sticker.

We used to shampoo our hair when it was dirty...but now you can just spray on a powder?! They've been around for a long time but now they're getting wildly popular. Dry Shampoo. We can barely keep them on the shelves at work.
It's something commonly used in hospitals for patients unable to bathe during their stay (post-op, lack of mobility etc). So...what excuses do mobile, healthy people like us have for not keeping up with regular hygiene?

Saving time.

That's what all of these goods are marketed as - convenient time savers. If you're pressed for time and your hair is looking mighty oily or limp, spray on the dry shampoo and the powder is absorbed instantly into your hair to combat those excess oils. Fluff up your mane and you should have instant volume. I personally prefer the KMS Makeover spray over the Bed Head Dirty Secret - yes, I'm guilty of trying both.

They're great products that not only do they cater to busy people... the lazies are loving it! Therein lies the issue - good looking smelly people. If you ever encounter a female with amazing, voluminous hair but a less than impressive odour...you know her dirty little secret.


Dear clueless male,
I'm here to help you. With your wardrobe.

I've always approached fashion in a simple way - by asking myself "Would that look good on me?" I could try it on, or I could imagine the clothes on me. Now, when I look at men's fashion I wouldn't imagine it on myself but I picture it on an imaginary man. An imaginary, stylish, good-looking man. If you lack that talent, don't worry about it. With websites such as GQmen there are real-life, stylish, good-looking men modelling the clothes for you already.


Take a look at this Man of Style file that I've been building. It has all the elements you need to create a professional wardrobe for work, a clean look for going out, or a sharp look for a formal event. Pay attention guys and there will be one less thing for you to be clueless about ;).

Sincerely,
M