How to Pull a Lauren Conrad

lauren-conrad-gradient-nails

do we think LC gave herself this blue-crushworthy ombre mani? maybe!!

I read somewhere that Lauren Conrad (AKA, L.C., to the MTV crowd) paints her nails every single night. What? I scoffed. What kind of a spoiled princess has that kind of time? But as my nails started to experience an unfortunate amount of damage from repeated gel manicures (Hi, my name is Jenny and I am addicted to shellac.), I realized that maybe the girl was on to something.

I’ve always loved doing my own nails. I find it both cathartic and fun. If it’s a busy night and I have to slap some polish on quickly, I go for nudes or creams that won’t show mistakes too easily. If it’s game day and we’re camped out in front of the TV, like last weekend, I’ll go full-on with a five-step mani including a glitter fade comprised of crafting supplies. That one was a hit!

IMG_0681

hint: try glitter. it makes things look so much cleaner.

Now, I still don’t do them every night, but I’m at the point of about every-other. My polish collection is honestly disgusting. It started with a bottle of Chanel my mom gave me when I went off to college and it’s amassed into an entire (large) shelf in our bathroom armoire. And onto the kitchen counter. And a scattering on the side table by the couch. And then there’s the red and the pink I keep in my gym bag just in case.

photo

i ADORE this essie from last spring, bikini so teeny. looks great every time!

Experimenting with your nails is fun and easy. It’s just like accessorizing in any other way, but it’s pretty damn cheap. So, how do you make them look amazing at home, a la L.C.? Practice is important. The more frequently you do your own nails, the better you’ll become. But here are some of my personal tips for achieving a salon-quality mani on your couch. Or, if you’re like me, in the middle of your living room floor:

1. Moisturize. Just like your skin, your nails crave moisture. Before applying any polish, wash your hands and then dab some eye cream onto each nail. I know it sounds nuts, but I use eye cream for everything. It’s rich and full of nutrients that your nails will soak right up.

2. Invest in a proper base and top coat. The base coat keeps your actual nails protected from the pigment and dyes in the colors you apply. It also evens out the surface of your nail, preventing a bumpy look. A top coat is important for preventing chips and creating a uniformed aesthetic. I like Essie’s Good to Go; it’s super-shiny and dries in a flash, leaving your nails shiny as glass in a few minutes flat.

3. Make like a nail girl–shape, buff and shine! It takes a little extra time, but when you do your own nails, you can’t skip these steps. Filing is great, but get yourself a 6-in-1 or at least a 4-in-1 so you can also shape, smooth, buff and get those nails to a shine! These are easy to find for under five bucks at any drug store.

photo-1

this took a while (and some craft glue, not pictured) but was worth it.

4. Take your time. Paint slowly, and allow a full five minutes to pass between applying each coat. The more time you give yourself to apply the polish, the better it will look. And the longer each coat dries, the less likely you’ll be to smudge it later.

5. Have fun! Nail trends run the gamut these days from flair nails and glitter to ombre, rainbow brites and nudes. Whatever you fancy in a magazine, give it a whirl at home. You might just be surprised by your own chic talons… and I guarantee, your friends will be thinking, “What kind of spoiled princess has that kind of time?”

Well, you do, now. Because you decided to make it for yourself.

Advertisements

Outfit Ideas: A Casual Cotton Dress Suits Up

I really didn’t feel like getting dressed this morning. I barely slept last night thanks to having a Diet Coke way too late in the evening on top of a pretty searing headache. Uninspired and running late, I threw on my go-to for mornings like these: a base of black tights (in this case, footed. It’s 80 degrees in Texas) and a fitted black tee. Now what?

Usually, in my slimming body armor, I can just sidle right up to my dresses and pull on whichever strikes my interest. But I was still feeling blah and couldn’t find one that would be comfy enough. I just needed comfy this morning, as I’m sure we all sometimes do.

A-ha! The genius idea struck me like sartorial lightning. My new cotton weekend dress. Initially envisioned paired with cowgirl boots and likely not even a bra underneath, suddenly this cute little dress was all I wanted to wear to work.

I recently got a shipment of Free People dresses (Josh’s absolute favorite brand of clothing on me, so I can get away with shopping there a tad more heavily without being scolded). Among them is a fabulous little navy dress in the absolute comfiest cotton I’ve ever felt. It features a racerback and a drop waist for a dose of California-cool but is not so lax that it can’t be made luxe. I dressed mine up today with my favorite little hot pink Marc by Marc mouse flats, and off I went.

dress1

All day, I felt like I was wearing pajamas, but that didn’t stop the compliments from rolling in. And this dress is so lightweight and breezy, it will work just as well over my bikini in two months when Josh and I steal away to go floating down the river with our friends. Talk about the place where fashion meets function! This is one happy girl.

Get yours now, before they sell out! It’s on sale, too, people.

Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend

I can’t lie, I’ve always loved diamonds. Long before I met Josh, I used to tear out Tiffany ads, making an engagement ring wish-list scrapbook. I have a few vintage diamond pieces from both grandmothers, and I’ve always felt just a little more special when I wear them. My mom wears her fingers (and sometimes ears and neck) stacked with sparklers, and whether she’s headed to the mall or a ball, they always work.

stamp2

there’s my beautiful diamond, a 2-ct. round brilliant in a four-prong, timeless platinum setting.

Last year, when I briefly worked at Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue, my absolute favorite two hours spent on the job were during the store tour we were given as part of orientation. I had to keep running to catch up with the group, because (especially on floors one and two), the chance to stop and stare at the bling was just so amazing. I couldn’t stop.

Of course, just after the tour I returned to work and was sent home for being dressed inappropriately, which sort of soured the moment. But that’s nothing new for an envelope-pushing girl who’s always felt confined when faced with a strict dress code. I digress.

Tiffany & Co. Celebrates Its Blue Book Ball At Rockefeller Center In New York City

The company’s annual Blue Book event features their best of show-stopping jewels. I’m personally most impressed by the diamonds, natch. This year’s top celebs to attend were Gwyneth and SJP. I came across these photos from the blue carpet; do you not love how Sarah Jessica Parker pairs two over-the-top necklaces together, for a Carrie-esque, eclectic re-imagining of the designs?

Tiffany & Co. Celebrates Its Blue Book Ball At Rockefeller Center In New York CityBreathtaking. I love this look but must admit, I’m perfectly happy with my own amazing diamond. Every time I look at it I think, “It’s true! Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” And hey, it doesn’t hurt that the heart of the guy who gave it to me is much more valuable than the world’s most impressive stones.

Sunday Afternoon & A Couple of Vogues

Yesterday Josh decided to play tennis in the afternoon, so I decided to go to the gym. And then I decided to instead give myself an afternoon off and indulge in my greatest dual pleasure–sunshine and fashion. I leashed the dog and headed to our rooftop, getting some much-needed color on my blindingly white legs and flipping through this and last month’s Vogues (it’s been a busy eight weeks!), along with an Us Weekly and the latest Martha Stewart Living. Heaven!

voguecovers

I dog-eared some chic spreads, ripped out a cool recipe, and happily watched my pup catch some sun-soaked Z’s. Sure, I prefer when Josh is around because anything with him nearby is more fun than not. But it was still lovely.

When you have two free hours on a Sunday afternoon, what do you love to do with them?

Un-Manic Manicure

I stopped dead while flipping through a mag recently, upon discovering the ad for Tom Ford’s latest beauty collection. It wasn’t the gorgeous face (those are everywhere!) but the simply (and I really mean simply) amazing manicure featured on the page.

main1_021813I mean, is that not just so striking in its neutral simplicity? So elegant, feminine and strong at once? We’ve all had our Ballet Slippers and other bare and creamy Essie moments, but a nude this gorgeous is something I haven’t come across before. I became obsessed.

Unfortunately, I initially decided that on a bridal budget I don’t have much of an excuse to shell out $30 for a bottle of polish right now. But if you do, please hop over to Nordstrom right now and buy yourself a bottle of Toasted Sugar. I hunted the racks and was unable to find a suitable replacement. So, scratch what I said above. I now plan to buy the polish when my next paycheck lands. In the meantime though, I’m being tided over by Essie’s Sand Tropez, which is much paler than the Tom Ford but a truly delightful beige. Have you found one you love?

For more inspiration on getting nude nails right, check out the glorious article in this month’s Vogue. Eva Chen takes the reader on a wild ride from New York Fashion Week to China, focused on those subtly sexy, sheerly brilliant new nudes.

A Better Cream

Close-up face of  young pretty woman squeeze skin on forehead

I have a troubling wrinkle developing in the middle of my forehead. It is neither ever-present nor completely deniable. Depending on stress, fatigue, headaches, and my beauty routine, it can be anywhere from the fainted recess not visible to any eye but mine–to a full-on crater (I’m exaggerating a little, but still) right in the middle of my forehead.

My brother was experiencing a similar situation with his own forehead, though he was pleased to unveil his incredibly tight new skin this past Christmas. Ever since then, it has continued to firm up, the lines melting away. Granted, the kid is 25, and he didn’t need much help. But this one line was bugging him, so he jumped on the Kiehl’s Rosa Arctica train and hasn’t leapt off since.

kiehlsWhen I saw how amazingly taut his skin looked, I immediately ran to Neiman Marcus and got myself a pot. I opted for the lighter version due to my combination skin, that’s prone to breakouts. I’ve definitely noticed a difference in the month since I’ve started using this product. The unique blend of ingredients in this powerful potion are recommended for beauties of all ages; just start using it (applying in an upward motion, as Noah taught me) and watch the magic unfold.

This past weekend, I was in New York and opted to use his instead of packing mine (even though the jar is not over 3.4 oz., I’ve had my precious stuff dumped so many times before at airport security, I’m very leery of traveling with it now).

Surprisingly, the emerging pimples I had at the beginning of the weekend are completely at bay, even less threatening than they were on Saturday morning. And my skin looks markedly tighter and dewier–just from four days with the thicker formula. I’m amazed! In my several years of testing and trying every product on the market, I can honestly say I’ve never seen this dramatic a difference in such a short time. I’ll definitely finish up my bottle of the lighter formula, but will be moving to the more potent stuff for my next one.

I strongly suggest that you and your forehead wrinkle, or whatever else plagues you, head over to your nearest department store or the Kiehl’s online shop and stock up. Trust me, your skin will be very happy with this decision.

What a Difference a City Makes

I was in New York for family reasons over the weekend. While in town, I did have the distinct pleasure of meeting my dear friend’s two-week-old son on the Upper West Side. I also enjoyed the exquisite Japanese tasting menu at a hot new restaurant in Williamsburg and made it to one of my bridesmaid’s bridal showers in the West Village. I found an hour to visit my doctor in Midtown East; also very necessary. It was quite a hectic, yet important, trip.

Fashion-Week-Street-Style-New-York-Spring-2013

My return home was delayed due to a security scare and subsequent evacuation at La Guardia airport this morning. The good news: no one was hurt, and I managed to find a cab in the scramble and get the hell out. The other good news: I have one extra night on my little brother’s couch in Williamsburg, and had one extra afternoon to wander the streets of Brooklyn soaking it all in.

Last night, we saw a friend whose first words to me were, “Where’s your big hair?” Since stepping off the plane Saturday morning, I’ve been wearing it bone-straight like I always did here. I whipped out my cell and showed her some shots of the voluminous, curly style I’ve been sporting in Dallas. She approved, natch.

-1Dallas is an incredibly chic city. So is New York. But the differences, large and minute, are everywhere. Things are more pared-down here, more subtle. But then a black trench that you think is just a black trench is actually a vintage Burberry find worth upwards of $3,000. I’ve been living in Texas for about seven months now, and my eyes are newly opened each day to the over-the-top beauty of the Southern girl’s guide to style.

A woman in the Uptown Dallas highrise where we live stepped off the elevator the other afternoon wearing the pale pink studded Valentino stilettos I’ve been eying for months. Being the loud-mouthed Lawn Gisland Jew that I am, I couldn’t help but gush. “OMG, I love your shoes.” Maybe a New York girl wouldn’t have been so inclined to gush back at me, “Get them! I could run a mile in these,” and then turn to Josh and confirm, “Really. I could.” OK, girl. Let me just dig around in my purse for the 800 bills. He’ll totally approve, now that he knows you could run in them. It was really quite sweet.

10224981_1164884_1000

these are SO dallas, and i love them SO much.

But then you’ll find yourself in Manhattan on a Monday afternoon and a woman in a black leather bomber jacket and the brightest of poppy-hued lipstick is hailing a cab. You won’t tell her how chic she looks because, even though she wants you to notice, she doesn’t want you to tell her. But you’ll smile at her and she’ll smile back in an unspoken exchange of, “Work it, girl.”

HBZ-street-style-0218-8-2de

polished NYC street style at its best.

Just over the Brooklyn Bridge you’ll find a punkier, messier, just as sexy appeal. Street style runs the gamut from H&M to Alexander Wang, from Max Mara Weekend to J. Crew, Helmut Lang and more. There’s a glorious high-low mix that I appreciate and adore in Brooklyn, and now that I’ve submerged myself for a few days, I’ll be sure to bring it back to Dallas with me when I return. You can only be from one place, but you can sprinkle the style that you soak in everywhere you go to help create your own unique look. And no matter where you are making a glam new life for yourself, it’s always important to remember — there’s no place like home.

new-york-street-style-denim-watch-L-zVPre2

LOVE it.

Layers of Lace

Image

At Sparkles & Fun HQ, we seriously love lace. My mom once famously responded, “A little white lace peeking through never hurt anyone” when my bra strap was showing and I wondered if the look worked. She put me onto lace as a little girl and I remain obsessed. There might just be a very important dress coming up in my near future that incorporates lace. But, you will have to wait and see about that.

For spring, there’s tons of lace to choose from. Do you plan to cardi-up in a cool lace throw-over that works with all your favorite casual duds? Will you be sporting lace frocks freely, paired with everything from flips to boots? Are you a fan of the lace shorts that have been appearing with greater and greater frequency of late? I’m going for all of it, as always. Here are some ideas:

Image

bright pink lace is ladylike and fun. consider this kimchi blue dress from urban outfitters for a mere $69

Image

white lace is timeless and elegant. this burnout tank from top shop is perfect for a day at the office or a night on the town. $45

Image

black lace is dark glamour at its best. if you’re in for a splurge, swipe that plastic on a dolce & gabbana net lace cocktail dress at barneys. $1,595

Image

hello, oceanside gorgeous. a lace coverup is divine. $70 at bloomingdales

Whisper’s the Word

color-whisper_model-shot

your lips are NOT going to look like this when you use this product. trust.

Has anyone seen those incredibly enticing commercials for the new Color Whisper lipsticks from Maybelline? As a beauty writer, I’m always ready to try the latest things and I have to admit I was pretty impressed by the glass-like sheen and subtle color that I saw in these print and TV ads. I picked up a tube at a local drug store and raced to the car to apply it. The first layer provided me with nothing more than doubt, so I went ahead and swept on another, and then another.

colorwhisperWhat can I say? The product is definitely true to its name. It’s an absolute whisper of color. I purchased “Coral Ambition,” which is a really pretty hue. But it takes about six coats to get it to my desired level of opacity. The good news? This lipstick is super-moisturizing, so it feels great when you put it on, and it smooths and conceals dryness unlike chalkier varieties. Oh, and at about $6 a tube, you’re not making any major investment here.

IMG_1035

here it is in action… thoughts?

I guess what I’ve learned from this experiment is that I’m not a middle-of-the-road girl. I either want a hint of gloss, or a full-on lipstick. Sheer lipstick is probably just not my thing. If you seek a similar product with a heftier dose of color, try Maybelline’s other recent lip launch, Baby Lips (I favor “Pink Punch,” natch).

tumblr_m7h67wVTru1qdetvyThat said, I definitely recommend Color Whisper for an under-$10 tube of lipstick for all girls searching for a hint of color and a good hour and a half of staying power. Just make sure you’re someone who likes to actually whisper, at least, color-wise.

Life Changes, Big and Small

Laura-Schultz-1

if we keep this up, our house is going to look like THIS when we have children….

Sometimes, you look around and realize everything is changing. This is a good thing, a terrifying thing, and one of those things about growing up that you just can’t change. I am getting married in five months and I have been waiting for this time to come since I was a little girl. Yet, with it comes complicated things like moving across the country for your fiance’s work, learning how to put someone else’s needs before your own, adopting a second animal when you already felt guilty about not spending enough time with the first… and, of course, figuring out how to clean for two.

Josh has often accused me of being a “fashion hoarder.” And to that end, I must admit to my horror after we fled Brooklyn with him telling me to bring “just the essentials!”, when I discovered a large box of vintage cell phones had snuck its way into his packing list. What?!

Josh and I both have major OCD. But the funny thing about compulsive cleaning and organization is that when you are so busy that you can’t handle it the way you want to, many are unable to do anything at all. Thus, you find yourself coming home from a pleasant Tuesday at work and looking around your apartment in horror.

How did this happen?

There are dirty clothes on the floor in most of our rooms, clean ones folded and stacked from here to the ceiling in the living room. There is a constant stream of dishes going in and out of the dishwasher and yet always a stray glass by the computer, fork under the coffee table, and so on.

url

Between focusing on my career, nurturing my relationship with my wonderful husband-to-be, making new friends in a new city, and of course holding on dearly to those from home, things have gotten a bit hectic. But today is the day to turn a (minor) life problem into a (major) life change.

Am I ever going to be the perfect housewife who leaves not a single surface undusted and whose family comes home to individually personalized cubby holes with their monograms at the top and a color-coded system below? Um, no. But maybe one day I’ll be able to afford to hire someone to come in and do that for me. (Hey, a girl can dream.)

When I was a little girl, and then a teenager, and then a college student, and then a starving editorial assistant living in Manhattan… I would have these major revelations about my personal messiness and go on massive cleaning binges. At the end, there would be bags of items to give away, and everything left was lined up in rainbow order, labeled and put away. My mom or dad would always say, “This looks great! Now, are you going to keep it this way???”

This past Sunday I chatted with my dad and offhandedly remarked that I planned to set aside some time to truly organize this walk-in closet, get Joshy’s man cave spic and span, and step up my kitchen game so that one half of the counter was no longer cluttered with paperwork we’ve accumulated since August. His response?

“That sounds great! Now, are you going to keep it that way???”

Let’s see!

PS – I will post before and afters; stay tuned.

url-1

a lofty, yet wonderful, goal.