Fashion

Le Tote Review

August 21, 2016

Le Tote TBAGS Printed Maxi DressDress: TBAGS (25% off) // Bracelet: Rebecca Minkoff // Necklace: Kendra Scott // Sunglasses: Versace 

Happy Sunday! It has been a few weeks since my last post! I have been busy searching for an apartment in San Francisco and buying new furniture. Everything is coming together nicely and I cannot wait for my husband to join me next month! Today is my last day of #funemployment because I start my new job tomorrow!

I had a chance to try Le Tote in July so I want to write about my experience. Le Tote is a clothing subscription service that costs $59 or $69 (maternity plan) per month. The difference between Le Tote and Stitch Fix is that you can select what goes into your box and you can request multiple boxes a month. When you first sign up, you can browse the selection and add items to your “closet.” Le Tote stylists will recommend 3 garments and 2 accessories per box, and will try to include at least one item from your closet. You can review the selection and swap out any items before they are shipped, so you have almost complete control of what will be sent to you. You can wear the items for as long as you want (you just keep paying the monthly subscription fee). There is a discount to purchase items you want to keep (normally 20% off retail), and the rest you can send back in a pre-labeled bag–no need to clean/wash the items! It sounds like a great service so I wanted to try it out. Here are the two totes I received:

Tote 1:
le tote review

My first tote arrived 1.5 weeks after I signed up. I liked the items I received, especially the TBAGS maxi dress. I wore all the items except for the French Connection Mesh Detail Tank. It looked like a night cami and not something I would feel comfortable wearing outside the home. I thought the clutch, bracelet and embroidered top were so-s0. You can see the retail price and discounted price above. After wearing these items once, I sent all of them back for a new tote.

Tote 2:
Le Tote Review

My second tote arrived a week after I sent back the first tote. As soon as the tracking code got scanned at the origin, a new tote was ready for me to review online. I loved that because it eliminated having to wait for the first tote to arrive at the Le Tote warehouse, which sped up the time I received Tote 2. I loved the Coin 1804 sweater–the material was extremely soft and the fit was flattering. I wanted to purchase the item and the discount was 20% off retail price, but I would rather purchase it brand new. I searched for it online but couldn’t find it anywhere except on the Le Tote website. I tried all the other items in my tote except for the La Fee Verte Cardigan. It looked great in the photo, but it was too long on me and it was also very heavy. I would highly recommend the French Connection Clutch–it goes with so many outfits and is very fashionable. I have a similar one from Rebecca Minkoff.

Overall Thoughts:

I enjoyed trying out Le Tote but decided to discontinue after one month. Even though the clothes are clean, I don’t like wearing clothes that have been worn by someone else. For the same reason,  a 10-30% is not enough for me to purchase previously worn clothing. If I love something, I would like the option to purchase it new. Le Tote is great for people who wants to try out different clothes/accessories, and you can receive 3 boxes a month if you send items back quickly. I loved that I didn’t have to clean the products before shipping them back. If you don’t mind purchasing previously worn clothing, the discount is nice. Le Tote is also great for people who prefer basic styles because I didn’t see anything that was trendy or in fashion. Most items can only be found on Le Tote’s website because they are past seasons’ clothing. Rent the Runway does something similar except their monthly fee is $139, but the selection is a lot larger and it carries designer clothing.

Let me know if Le Tote or Rent the Runway is something you would try! If you use my referral link you can get $25 off your first tote.

le tote review

MAX STUDIO Embroidered Keyhole Top

OCTAVIA & CO Color Block Clutch

REBECCA MINKOFF Pave Triangle Hinge Bracelet

TBAGS Printed Maxi Dress

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Beauty, Makeup, Skincare

July 2016 Beauty Discoveries

August 1, 2016

july 2016 beauty discoveries

Happy Monday! Hope you guys had a wonderful weekend. I am in a transition period. I graduated from business school mid June and moved to San Francisco in July. Most of my things are still in boxes because the movers won’t get them out to SF until mid September and I have been trying not to purchase too many new items, so I haven’t had the chance to try many new products the last couple of months. Here are four new products I have discovered and have been using for most of July:

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer
Isn’t this just STUNNING?? Hourglass is one of my favorite beauty brands because of the high quality formulation and easy application. I have been wanting to purchase this bronzer since purchasing the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in shade Radiant Magenta a few months back. Since I have gotten tanner this summer, my Tom Ford compact bronzer doesn’t show up on my skin anymore, so I needed to find a new bronzer. This bronzer looks very natural on my skin and has a little bit of shimmer.

MAC Lipstick Shade Cosmo
MAC has several lipstick formulations. I prefer a matte finish, but MAC matte lipsticks are too drying, so  my favorite formula is the amplified creme because it is ultra creamy but not too shiny. I purchased the shade Cosmo almost a year ago, but didn’t get a chance to use it until recently! This is a beautiful everyday pink and easily goes with most makeup looks.

Glamglow Thirstymud Hydrating Treatment
When I fly, I love to put on a sleeping mask or hydrating mask such as the Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight or Laniege Water Sleeping Mask. I wanted to try something new so I picked up the Glamglow hydrating treatment. It is extremely hydrating and smells like coconut. When I have a trip coming up, I prep my skin by applying this at night two days before my trip and then again before my flight. This keeps my skin moisturized and soft. I plan to use this weekly during the winter as well!

Tatcha Polished Rice Enzyme Powder
I was skeptical about this product, so I purchased the small size to try. This starts out as a dry powder, but when water is added, it creates a creamy foam. The product website says the rice bran with papaya extracts reduces the look of fine lines and addresses uneven skintone, hyperpigmentation, and breakouts. The pearl protein extract conditions and balances the skin while natural exfoliants gently polish away dullness and dead skin cells. I use this in the morning when I don’t have any makeup on and I do think it does a great job of exfoliating the skin and have noticed clearer skin. I love this product but I am not sure if it is worth the price. I would recommend trying the small size first, and if you do like it, keep your eyes out for any discount on Sephora or Tatcha.

I think this was one of the few times I liked every item I tried! Since most of my times are packed away, I am happy that these great products are currently in my beauty bag!

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Beauty, Makeup

Makeup Brushes 101

July 23, 2016

makeup brushes 101

When I first started using makeup, choosing and purchasing makeup tools and brushes overwhelmed me. I didn’t know what are the essentials vs nice-to-haves, the differences in materials and brands, or simply the purpose of various brushes. This post is a basic guide for those new to makeup. Hopefully you will find this useful and easy to understand! I have also included information on my personal collection in the bottom.

The Essentials

For everyday basics, a few tools will get the job done. Here are my recommendations on the essentials:

  • Beauty Blender – Great for foundation, concealer, blush, and powder. An absolute must! I use this everyday to apply liquid foundation, under eye concealer, spot concealer, and under eye setting powder. If you use this exclusively, you won’t need a foundation or concealer brush.
  • Foundation Brush – Provides easy application and the right brush won’t give you any streaks.
  • Concealer Brush Blemishes – Never use your fingers to cover blemishes! It’s full of bacteria and a brush will be much more effective in covering up the spot.
  • Concealer Brush Under Eye – A larger brush for the under eye helps to buff and reduce creasing.
  • Blush Brush – A tapered brush allows a natural application. Use a light hand because this will pick up a lot of product.
  • Powder Brush – Multi-functional–can be used with powder foundation, bronzer, blush, and setting powder.
  • Eyeshadow Brush – There are so many eyeshadow brushes for different purposes: blending, contouring, smudging, etc. This Tarte double-ended brush will be enable the everyday eye look.

If you’re just starting out, purchasing these in a set will be the most cost effective. Some of my favorite sets are from Sonia Kashuk, MAC (on sale now!!), and It Cosmetics.

The nice-to-haves: contour brush, bronzer brush, highlighter brush, eye liner brush, and fan brush.

Natural vs Synthetic

Makeup brushes are either natural or synthetic. The best choice depends on the product you will apply with it. Natural brushes are typically made out of animal hair or fur, and are more expensive. They are softer than synthetic but tend to shed more. They are also harder to clean because they hold on to products so well. They are best used with powder-based makeup such as eye shadow, powder blush, powder bronzer, and finishing/setting powder. Synthetic brushes are made out of nylon and polyester. They allow more precise and smooth application. They are best used with liquid and cream products such as liquid foundation, concealer, cream blush and gel eyeliner.

Brushes are costly investments, so it’s best to purchase a starter kit or purchase one at a time. Take time to do your research and have fun practicing! Make sure to take good care of your brushes by cleaning them regularly with a makeup cleanser or DIY solution. I like to use dish liquid soap and olive oil on a 3:1 ratio.

Here are the brushes I have in my collection.

best foundation brushesBeauty Blender Pro // Artis Oval 8 // Morphe M439 // MAC 180 // Sephora 55

best concealer brushesMorphe E20 // MAC 286 // Lancome 8 // Artis Fluenta Oval 4

best face brushesTarte // Lancome 3 // Real Techniques 300 // Morphe E2 // Sephora 55 // Morphe M501

best eyeshadow brushesMorphe E27 // MAC 239 // Sephora 70 // Sephora 73 // Real Techniques 202

best setting powder brushesIt Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe // Morphe E3 // Morphe E2

best makeup brush cleaning toolBeauty Blender Solid Cleanser // Silicon Scrubber

Fashion

2016 Nordstrom Anniversary Picks

July 15, 2016

Early access to the Nordstrom Anniversary sale started yesterday! The early access runs from July 12-21, the public sale starts July 22, and prices go up August 8th. I love this sale because new fall merchandise temporary go on sale during the summer and the products featured are amazing! I had a chance to check out the sale yesterday and here are some of my favorite picks!

Shoes

I never lead with shoes, but I am most impressed by the shoes selection this year. The Tory Burch flats is a staple–super comfortable and perfect for work or a night out. The UGG high top sneaker reminds me of Converse and I just love this one in brown. The SARTO bootie is another alternative that is comfortable yet stylish. Lace-up is still very popular, and I love this one by Vince Camuto that would be perfect with cropped jeans or dress. The sale is the perfect time to purchase boots, which are usually pretty pricey! I love the over the knee boots by Halogen because the slit on the back and the elastic is great for someone like me who has big calves.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2016

Beauty

I always look forward to seeing the beauty items. The skincare and makeup items are usually bundled at an amazing value so this is a great time to try something new or to stock up on favorites. Here are some of my picks:

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Beauty Palette // MAC Advanced Brush Kit // GLAMGLOW Set // Kiehl’s Skin Favorites // LUNA Mini / Beauty Blender Set // Eye Mask

nordstrom anniversary sale 2016Clothes

I love cute jackets and sweaters that I can layer over a shirt or dress, so that was my focus this year. I love this these leather jackets by Marc New York and Halogen. Even though it’s summer, winter will be here in no time (speaks like a true Midwesterner). The Mackage parka and Patagonia down jacket will keep you warm all winter! My summer picks are these: Leith dolman dress, Milly fit and flare, and Halogen lace skirt.

nordstrom anniversary sale 2016Handbags and Accessories

Last year I purchased a Rebecca Minkoff bucket bag and has gotten so much use out of it. I love the shape and functionality of bucket bags. This cherry colored bucket bag by 3.1 Phillip Lim is perfect all year long! The Kate Spade crossbody bag is perfect for casual, every day use such as running errands or shopping. I became a big fan of Kendra Scott jewelry this year, and I think the large cuff is so versatile. If you’re looking for something sparkly, the Monica Vinader bracelet and Nadri hoop earrings are great options.

nordstrom anniversary sale 2016Have you checked out the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale yet? I would love to hear what are on your wish list!

Beauty, Makeup

No Makeup Makeup Look

July 1, 2016

no makeup makeup look

Summer is here and most days I do not wear any makeup. However, on days when I do wear makeup, I keep it minimal. This has been my go-to “no makeup makeup look” because it looks like skin instead of makeup. I also love that it stays matte even in the heat! Here are the products I’ve been using and my thoughts:

Always apply sunscreen first!

Primer: I used to think priming is unnecessary, but that’s because I was not using the right one for my skin. The Make Up For Ever Mattifying Primer is perfect for oily skin, dries quickly, and makes makeup application easier. I never skip this step anymore!

Foundation: I have been using Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation. The product description says it is infused with an RGB powder that enhances the natural tone of one’s skin complexion. I agree with this because it’s hard to tell I’m even wearing makeup when I use this foundation. The formula is very runny and lightweight. I use the beauty blender to apply one layer for light coverage but it is buildable to achieve higher coverage. One negative on this foundation is that there are very limited shades, especially for tan individuals. I am wearing the darkest shade and will need to switch to a different foundation soon since I get a lot tanner in the summer.

Concealer: Maybelline Instant Age Rewind has been my go-to concealer for years. It’s perfect for brightening dark undereye circles. I have not been applying concealer on my blemishes since I don’t mind the imperfections.

Blush: The blush I have been using came from a Memebox last October. It was my first cream blush and I immediately fell in love because of how well it blends and how natural it looks. As you can see, I’ve hit pan. I am wearing shade #3 Selena. The color stays on all day!

Bronzer: The Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Matte Bronzer is a long-time cult favorite but I only recently made the purchase. The shade is a little light on me during the summer, but it’s perfect because it just slightly gives me the sun-kissed look without looking like I am wearing bronzer. I dust a little bit on my forehead, cheekbones, and jawline.

Mascara: I have been using the Tarte Tarteist Lash Paint Mascara but I am actually quite disappointed with this product. The Tarte Lights Camera Lashes is my favorite mascara ever, so I had high expectation on the Tarteist, but I found it to be clumpy and average at best.

Brows: Most days I don’t do anything with my brows, but if I feel like it, I will use Anastasia Brow Wiz to fill in my brows.

Setting Powder: This is such an important step in the summer! The Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Power is the absolute best. It sets the makeup for longer wear, blurs out imperfections, and provides a natural matte finish. I use the Morphe E2 brush to apply this powder.

Lips: I typically don’t wear lipstick in the summer but still like to have a little bit of color, so I apply Vaseline Rose Lips. This has been my favorite lip product for over five years. I used to only be able to get it on Amazon (though it was always out of stock), so when I saw this in Taiwan I purchased three of them. Recently I read that Target carries these now, so I am really happy to know I will never run out!

Here is the completed look! Hope you’re having a great summer and have a great July 4th weekend!

no makeup makeup look

no makeup makeup look

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Life, Lifestyle

Lessons Learned From Business School

June 23, 2016

Lessons Learned From Business School

Last weekend I graduated with my MBA! I vividly remember the torture of studying for the GMAT, the exhilaration of getting accepted into business school, the overwhelming sadness of starting a long distance marriage, the anxiety of moving to a new city, and the excitement of starting a new chapter. Two years flew by and it was an unforgettable experience! I made lifelong friends, shared laughters and tears, learned to overcome failure, and celebrated successes. I am grateful for my time at business school and the people I have had the chance to meet. I want to take a moment to write down some lessons learned from business school:

Dig beneath the surface – People come from all walks of life and experiences, and the only way to learn more is to show genuine interest, ask questions, and listen. A week before business school, I traveled to Peru with 24 classmates. During the trip there was one rule: we cannot reveal our alma mater, major/concentration, job before business school, where we lived before business school, hometown, relationship status, and which program we were accepted into at school. This was extremely difficult because when two strangers first meet, they are bound to talk about one or more of those things!! But this rule forced us to throw out preconceived notion, dig beneath the surface and get to know each other at a much deeper level. During the trip, we passed around a notebook to write clues and predictions about each other. This was eye opening because it showed people’s first impression of me and how well they were listening. Below is what my classmates wrote about me. When I asked my classmates about it later, they thought I went to an ivy and/or was a consultant because I am well-spoken and come across as extremely intelligent. One person gave the example of when we were waiting in a long line at Machu Picchu and I made suggestions of how the line could be more efficient. I did not attend an ivy or was a consultant. This made me wonder if I had revealed that I went to a Big Ten school and worked in brand management, what would have been the preconception?

kwest

Remember how you got here – Sometimes when a dream is achieved, one forget the difficult path it took to get there. During convocation, our dean told us to turn around and thank the people who supported us. My eyes welled with tears thinking about all the people who supported me over the years. I have faced many obstacles and could not have achieved my goals without their help. When the itty bitty shitty committee in my head tells me “I can’t” and to give up, my family and friends let me vent and then tells me to persevere. During my two years in business school, I was also shocked by the strangers who helped me, whether it was to give up their interview slot because they know I wanted it more, or to inspire me to dream bigger.

Never stop exploring – There was a portrait project this year with the theme “A message you would like to remind yourself of 10 years from now.” My message to myself was to never stop exploring because I have learned that I’m happiest when I am continuously learning, finding new passion and things I love, traveling to new destinations, and opening myself to new opportunities.

I am excited to be done with business school and to start another new chapter. As I look to the future, I hope:

  • To never lose touch of a friend/family because of time or distance
  • To inspire others around me
  • To follow my dreams and passion

never stop exploring