Friday, June 23, 2017

The essence of a luxurious life (on a budget)

Let’s talk about one of my favourite topics – skincare.  I have loved taking good care of my skin from a young age, probably around 13.  In the past, younger days I have coveted fancy brands and their high-priced products.  Estee Lauder was always the brand that I imagined having my bathroom stocked with ‘one day’.  Every so often I would splash out and buy something from their range – always when there was a Gift with Purchase on! – but I always felt a bit sick at the cost, knowing there were less expensive products that would do just as good a job, just not have that touch of luxury.

Over time, I have gotten to the point that the ‘touch of luxury’ has been separated from the product and this has helped me not covet high-priced items so much.  Let me explain.  I now can appreciate the allure of a shiny, gold-trimmed cosmetics counter and all the beautiful jars, yet be happy with my simple skincare routine bought from the supermarket.  I don’t need to use those products from the glamorous jars to be happy.

I get my fix in other ways – by keeping my bathroom clean and spa-like with touches such as white towels, a rose in a bud vase and beautifully scented hand-soap; not by spending lots on a single beauty product.  I polish and clean my small collection of makeup items, displaying them in a way that looks to me like a cosmetic counter seasonal display.

As far as what I now use on my skin, it was brands such as Olay, but I find myself wanting to explore more natural brands now.  I am enjoying New Zealand skincare such as Essano, Moreish and Goodness.  You may not be able to get these brands in your country, but I’m sure you will find reasonably priced natural brands where you live, because they seem to be the trend right now, which is great!

The natural brands feel more nourishing on my skin and more ‘real’, not so plastic-y as some of the big brands have started feeling like.  It’s entirely unscientific, but it feels like there are more ingredients with a purpose in the natural brands, as opposed to ingredients that just fill up the jar and feel slippery on your skin.

It’s my belief that there is a lot of smoke and mirrors in the beauty industry, and that the miracle ingredients which are supposed to make you look younger are not that effective or worth your hard-earned money.  (The book ‘Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Lustre’ by Dana Thomas is an illuminating and fascinating read.)  Mostly the people who are saying how good their skin feels after using X product, either got it for free or at a staff discount.  For me, I have never seen a huge difference after using an expensive product.  Often the jar is nicer, but that’s about it.  More importantly is ‘little and often’ – cleaning and moisturising your face twice a day, every day.

We recently had a bed demonstration, and the man showing us all its features worked for the company, not the store.  He was an excellent demonstrator, never pushy, and even said a few times ‘bear in mind I got my bed for free’.  Imagine if all sales people were so honest?  We didn’t order a bed that day, but he helped us choose a good model of bed if we decided to go with that company – a model that had everything we needed and nothing we didn’t (the fancier bed had Bluetooth and inbuilt speakers!!)

Something I often ask sales people is ‘if it was you buying, which would you choose?’ or ‘if you were helping your mother buy one, would you recommend it given the price?’ or a similar question.  I have found when you turn it around to them, they often pause and give quite a thoughtful and honest answer.  It’s not that I’m trying to trick them, I just want to peek behind the salesperson’s veneer and get a more organic response.

In the photo on this post, I am getting a touch of luxury for $5 – by having coffee at the Langham Hotel in Auckland.  They charge the same as anywhere else for coffee, and you sit in beautiful, fragrant surroundings.  They even bring a tiny slice of cake or a few miniature cookies on the side for no extra cost.  When I mentioned I was strictly gluten-free they exchanged the sweet nibble for a gluten-free option.  That’s service.

What is your favourite way to feel luxurious and spend very little (or nothing)?  Please share your juicy idea for us all to enjoy!


PS. I am so passionate about getting my message out to ladies such as yourself that anyone can live a successful and beautiful life without spending a lot of money.  If you know anybody that you think might enjoy my posts I would be so grateful if you could share a link with them.  Thank you!

Friday, June 16, 2017

How to have style in all areas of your life

I’ve been having such a great time this week thinning out my style files in preparation for packing (or rather, in procrastination instead of packing…)  I am updating them – throwing out what no longer speaks to me and only keeping the gems, plus looking at a different way to house them because I have decided to donate the filing cabinet they are in.

There are magazine articles, printed out blog posts and newspaper snippets.  Some have survived many, many culls, and I want to share one such piece with you.  May I present a magazine article that I would guess is from the mid-90s, from a magazine called She, which I believe was Australian.

I remember She magazine being very inspiring for a city-dwelling twenty-something, with uplifting articles and classic/modern fashion pages.  You can click on each page of the article to enlarge them.

When I am going through my style files, deciding what to recycle and what still deserves space, a piece has to give me a flutter of excitement when I read it.  This piece certainly does.  The title ‘Chic tricks: How to do everything with style’ – firstly, how fun and enticing does that sound?

I love that there are different categories covering various aspects of your life – wardrobe, outings, gifts, meeting guys, entertaining, romantic outings, home d├ęcor, at work, wine, making a good first impression, travel and beauty.

Part of personal style to me is being stylish and ‘of your own style’ in every part of your life, not just clothing. 

The outfits – yes they are somewhat dated, but they still really appeal to me.  The colours and basic components, if updated to today’s silhouettes, I would still wear.  Considering this article is probably close to twenty-five years old that’s pretty impressive.  Oh, how I love classic style!

Articles such as this inspired me to come up with my own ‘chic lists’ where I would detail how I wanted to be in different areas of my life that were important to me.

I found a printed out list I wrote probably circa 2001 or 2002 from the looks of it.

One category was how I wanted to look – my weight, good (vibrant, energetic and balanced) health, and the fact that I desired to be kind, generous, thoughtful and fun to be with.  I noted that I wished to curate a small, well-put-together wardrobe of simple, chic, elegant and stylish clothes and accessories and simple jewellery.

Other categories were my ideal husband because I had not met yet him.  I wanted him to be romantic, to enjoy telling people how we met and how lucky he is, that he is in excellent health and a good dresser.  Everything I wrote down, my husband turned out to be.

I detailed how our home would be – lovely and modern in a desired part of town; orderly, with a calm, relaxed feel about it, ‘still with energy though’, and a sensual haven.

Under my ‘career’ category, there is writing; at that stage though I thought I would write novels.  Who knows what the future will bring?  In my hobbies I list that I’d like to do photography, framing, sewing, reading, walking and going to the gym.  Photography and framing are not things I have pursued, but the others still appeal to me.

I finish off my ‘My Life’ list with my beliefs:

I am brave and strong
I am kind and generous

And my standards.  I love these!

I pay my bills on time
I don’t partake in gossip
I buy quality
I eat quality food and drink quality drink
I clear my credit card each month

The great thing about doing an exercise like this – listing out categories and then brainstorming your ideal under each one – is that not only is it quite fun to do at the time, but when you come across them later, they are fascinating to read, and very motivating.

I also believe that you are putting your wishes out there into the universe (like a prayer) and in my opinion, this greatly increases your chances of getting what you want.  It’s not only telling the universe, it’s telling you what you want.

I think you’re either a list person or you’re not.  I inherited the gene from my mother.  Are you a list girl like myself?

See you next week, I’m off to procrastinate, er pack some more.


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