Sunday, April 6, 2014

Lupita Nyong'o- Beauty Queen 2014

All over the world, little girls grow up watching Disney princesses, beauty pageants filled with light-skinned women, and soap operas in which the only diversity are servants and minor characters. Brown and black beauty goes widely unrecognized no matter the location. Here in rural Costa Rica, the little girl who I am currently living with (who is lighter skinned than me, but brown none the less) worships Rapunzel, watches Mexican novels where the stars are always matcha, and wishes she was lighter skinned like her sisters. She only seven and is already aware that light skinned is viewed as more beautiful than brown. This beauty image is not only Western, it has infiltrated those who live in communities of brown and black people where attaining western beauty standards is ridiculous as well as impossible. No matter the sparse chances of growing up to be model height, thin, and blond, girls all over the world are growing up to believe that they are not beautiful if they do not fit the Western mold.
            Due to this being the current state of the beauty industry, Lupita Nyong’o’s new status as “It Girl” of 2014 is huge. Although Lupita is thin, she has beautiful dark skin and hair. Her acceptance speech on beauty and self-confidence given at the ESSENCE 7th Annual Black Women in Hollywood luncheon in February, rocked the tabloids and quickly had millions of views online, making it’s rounds though all the major social media platforms (ESSENCE online). Within this speech Lupita spoke about her struggle accepting her skin color, and eventually listening to her mother and understanding that beauty is not only exterior but also a way of being. That outer beauty cannot sustain a person and is a temporary gift.  Lupita stated, “my mother again would say to me, ‘You can’t eat beauty. It doesn’t feed you.’ And these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be” (ESSENCE online)
Although her speech was very powerful, and I found her words to be consoling, Lupita did not state outright that dark skin IS beautiful. More over, she stated that she needed to accept who she is inside as opposed to worrying about outer beauty. 

            A few days ago, Lupita Nyong’o announced on Instagram, that she has been made the new face of Lancôme Paris (Fashionista). Just as Lupita’s acceptance speech was powerful, this bold recognition of her beauty in the cosmetics industry is an incredible milestone. Lancôme Paris, has not been known in the past for catering to the cosmetic needs of women of color, although it is owned by L’Oreal, who’s drug store makeup line is know for is wide range of foundation shades. This recognition of dark skin as beautiful, accompanied by makeup in deep pigments, is extremely rare within luxury makeup lines, which in the past has lead to the creation of lines such as Iman Cosmetics solely for women of color.
            As us brown ladies know, finding cosmetics for our wide range of skin tones, can be a project. The cosmetics industry rarely recognizes the diversity of skin colors and likes to either leave out dark tones completely, or move from “medium” tones which tend to be very light, to “dark” tones which are either relatively dark, or not even close to brown. Undertones are not included, and finding natural makeup often proves almost impossible. Even within countries where the majority of the citizens are of brown completion, it can still be tricky to find a good match. Here in Costa Rica, although I am darker skinned than much of the population, I am also lighter than a good portion. Morena is the norm here. This being said, when my foundation ran out, finding good makeup proved to be difficult. The department stores just do not carry foundation that is darker than tan. When I finally found a good match, my shade was the second to darkest the store carried. It is also an an over-the-counter brand, accessible to those of low-socioeconomic status, which as we know goes hand-in-hand with dark skin more often than not.
            Lupita Nyong’o’s position as a beauty icon for women of color has broken the confines of beauty magazines, TV channels, and makeup lines solely marketed at black and brown women. By being recognized by a luxury cosmetics company as main stream as Lancôme Paris, Lupita's beauty will be front and center in advertisements, magazines, and billboards marketed at the general population and there for at white women as well as brown. This is the cosmetics industry acceptance of black as beautiful, and a huge step in the direction of multiracial beauty recognition within mainstream fashion and beauty ideals! Let’s hope this proves to be an example for other companies!
Con mucho amor,
P.S.- Makeup Tip of the day:
Ladies, check out Findation.Com- Foundation color matching website. For those of us that struggle to find a perfect match, this website has proved to be very helpful to me! Just enter a few products that have worked color wise, and the website will find you more foundation options without having to sit at a makeup counter or try to decide between Almond, and Warm Tan at Rite Aid ;) Much cheaper than Sephora's color matching station, and just a few clicks away. Have fun!
Disclaimer: Images are not mine- Taken from Google Images

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring Break- Costa Rica Edition

Here in Costa Rica, spring break is coming up in two weeks during Semana Santa! I for one, can not wait. Preparing for spring break in my world, not only involves some major gym action, but also shopping! Ohmygosh what could be better? Here in Costa Rica, being the fashionista I am, I have more than scoped out the San José shopping scene. Although I have been disappointed by the priciness of the clothes here like I wrote about in my Costa Rican Style post, there are definitely a few gems. After being in San José for two months, I have a few recommendations for those of you spring breakers out there looking to look good for Semana Santa!

  1. KC Bikinis: Spring Break is all about the beach. Cute sandals, cocktails and Sol. There is no way you can hit the beach without a cute suit and KC Bikini’s is golden. Not only are their prices right, but they sell their bikinis as separates. For me this is key because I for one am completely different sizes on top and bottom, and love to mix and match. KC Bikini’s are made in Costa Rica as well, which is a big plus due to the amount of imported brands here. KC Bikinis are colorful, reversible, and trendy. This store is also instaperfect, so if you are a photo fanatic like me, you will love it! Check them out on Facebook or Instagram.
2) Ibiza: This store is true to its name. With electropop in the background, Tropical-chic is reality in this store. From floral dresses and rompers, to patterned pin skirts and leather detailing, Ibiza is a dream. There are a few locations in San José, including one is San Pedro and another in downtown. Although the prices are a bit steep, the quality of the clothes in this boutique are worth their prices. Trendy but classic, Ibiza does island day-to-night perfectly. Located in San Pedro, on Calle 2 y 0 Avenida 1 in San José centro, they can be contacted by phone at (506) 2233-1085. 

3) Carrion: Carrion is a small department store with mainly clothes and shoes. Coming from The States, where I am not used to sales women following me, I love Carrion because one can shop in peace. The clothes are overpriced for their quality, but there are good sales and the shoe department is adorable. This store is overly trendy, but perfect for going-out looks (bandage dresses, and chiffon galore)! Also, seriously nice knockoff designer purses for under 50 bucks. Real leather and all! So long Michael Kors! With locations in Multiplaza Curridabat and San José centro among others, take a look at their website here!

4) Charlie’s Loft: Located in Multiplaza Curridabat, this store has both price and quality going for it. The clothes are sophisticated but also simple enough for everyday wear. A mix of printed and plain pieces, the clothes in this store look well made. I had my eye on few beautiful maxi-dresses! Currently they are selling the most adorable sandals that are definitely a trending item currently in Costa Rica. For the same price as the majority of downtown store selling cheep versions of these sandals, Charlie’s Loft is selling real leather, less glitzy versions! Enter with caution of your credit card ;) Find them on Facebook or Instagram!

5) Desigual: Part of the Cirque de Solei line, this shoe boutique has some of the most beautiful heels I have ever seen. From adorable leather flats, to wedges and stilettoes, Desigual’s colorful collection of footwear is impeccable. The prices are similar to that of U.S. high-end shoe brands, but definitely worth every colon.  Currently turquoise is trending, and I fell in love a few times in this shop! If you are looking to be taconeada like the Ticas, this is a good place to start. Located in Multiplaza Escazú, Lincoln Plaza, Paseo Metrópoli, Novacentro, Plaza América, Multicentro Desamparados, Paseo de las Flores, Terramall, Mall San Pedro y San José centro, contact them by phone at 2524-0974 or in person.

With Semana Santa right around the corner, take advantage of the summer sales in San José! Spring break is the perfect time to break out a new bikini or clubbing outfit, and San Pedro has some great boutiques to take advantage of. While you are at it, hit up the salon La Calle de La Amargura and get your hair washed, cut, blow-dried, and pressed for 4,000 colones (8 bucks!). Also Brazilian waxes for 3,000! That’s a serious deal. I have heard they do nails for very reasonable prices as well, and in Costa Rica, you don’t have to tip or pay extra for designs! Aproveche!
Besos y Abrazos deste Dominical!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Fashionista's Guide to Practical Travel Packing

I am what could be called High-Maintenance.  “Hair done, nails done, everything done,” is my style. Lets say style-practicality is not exactly my forte. I am more of a beauty-hurts type of girl. This being said, I am adventurous, and love to travel. Although, I would not say I am a pro quite yet, I am learning to be “low-maintenance chic with a plane ticket.” Because I am currently studying abroad, and have had to pack for a six-month trip in only a backpacking backpack, I have learned how to really narrow down my wardrobe necessities. Here are some of my tips for light packing for long-term travel! 

Myth busters: In the U.S. many people have the idea that the rest of the world is stuck in the dark ages. They imagine rural, undeveloped places fit only for REI’s best hiking gear. Don’t be fooled! There are fashion forward, cosmopolitan cities all over the world. Obviously if you are going straight to the jungle to trek, practical sporting gear is your ticket, but for those of you traveling to cities, beach towns, etc. bring fashionable items you wear at home. Your Teva’s and quick dry pants are just not going to cut it at the mall or the bar no matter the location.   

Packing Tips:

1)   Be yourself: This is a Cliché statement I know, but sometime you need to state the obvious. When you are packing to travel, bring clothes that you love and wear at home. Its important to remember when traveling that almost no matter where you go fashion will have had an impact. Don’t be fooled by the idea of “undeveloped countries” or the “third world.” I guarantee you that globalization will have had an impact and you may be surprised to discover that people dress better than they do in devolved first world nations *cough Latinas cough*. From my own experience, Latinos have a way with fashion and beauty that doesn’t stop in LA and Miami. Its important that when packing to travel you bring clothes that you feel are stylish, fit your personality and the location you are visiting. These should also be pieces you feel comfortable wearing on a daily basis. This goes for beauty products as well. Bring your makeup (enough for the entire trip), your hair products, and hot tools (in mini versions if possible) if you use them on a daily basis. I guarantee you will wish you brought them if you don’t.

2)   Versatility: When I pack to travel I bring neutrals and choose two accent color palettes for my wardrobe choices (this time around I brought teal pieces, and pink/red/orange pieces). This is in order to maximize the amount of outfits I can make with minimal pieces. I only bring pieces that can be coordinated with at least three other items and bring a balanced amount of bottoms and tops. I personally love dresses because they are their own outfit and an easy way to look put together. I also try to balance my printed pieces with my plain pieces.  It is important to bring items that can be dressed up as well as dressed down in order to maximize space and create a versatile wardrobe with minimal items. 

3)   Accessories: Accessories are a great tool to spice up a travel wardrobe because they are lightweight, small, and add bling to your outfits. Just by changing the accessories you wear with a basic look, can change the vibe of each outfit completely. Belts, jewelry, and hats are great ways to make plain pieces unique.

a)    Shoes: Shoes are a very important part of fashion. You can make or break a look with your shoes. That being said, shoes take up a lot of space and are very heavy, so it is best to bring as few pairs as possible when traveling. Make sure to have a pair for walking long distances that coordinates with your different outfits, be it nice walking sandals or chic sneakers with arch support. You should bring a pair of going out shoes, wedges for me, but maybe flats for you, that can also be warn to church, the mall or another day time event. I think its also important to have sneakers for running, hiking, or the gym because I big part of traveling is often outdoors activities. Just because you are traveling doesn’t mean exercise routines have to stop. If you have chic running shoes like Nike Frees they might just take out two birds with one stone (walking and running)! It is important that your shoes are a neutral color so that they can match different outfits.

b)   Bags: Bags are very important when traveling. I like to move locations so I stick to my travel backpack, but it is also important to bring a small duffle for side trips if you are more stationary. A foldable tote is key also for day-to-day sightseeing as well, and it can also be used as a beach bag, and a school bag, if you are studying abroad. I also bring a small purse for going out and seeing if I don’t need much.

4)   Practicality: Practicality of clothes is very important when traveling. Bring durable, easy to clean items and leave cheep, complicated items at home. I find that cotton is my best bet when traveling because it washes easily, dries quickly, is durable, and breathes. Cotton is perfect for hot weather and easy to layer for cold. It is also important to bring a range of items for different occasions. It is good to have exercise clothes that can double for outdoor activities and get dirty, layers for both hot and cold weather, and comfortable clothes for walking long distances (both city and rural). Also bring clothes for going out at night, and beach wear if applicable.  *Style Tip: Beachwear can be particularly fun to pack for travel. Because the items are small, you can get away with bringing a few bathing suits. Also big hats, sunglasses, and cute sandals can bring Florida chic anywhere with you for almost no space or weight. 

5)   Technology/ guidebooks: These days your iPhone is your chicest accessory. Let's be honest. This doesn’t change in the rest of the world, and these days technology has reached the farthest corners of the earth. When going abroad, bring your phone. At least for the camera. Having internet access and the ability to connect is important no matter where you are. On an old fashioned note, along with your trusty smart phone, be sure to bring a guidebook of your destination as well. This travel guide is sure to be well loved and doesn’t need an internet connection to work. You will be surprised how much these books come in handy no matter how adventurous of a traveler you are!
Here is a little preview of what I packed style-wise for my study abroad experience:
Travel Wardrobe- Tops and bottoms
Daily Tops and Bottoms

Easy Dresses

Mix and Match Beach Wear

Although my travels have been mainly in Latin America, my tips would be very similar for “traveling on a shoestring” to any other part of the world. For traveling to Europe, Australia, or other first world nations, I would recommend that your packing style be similar, but I would definitely make sure to bring especially good quality, stylish items, and some specifically nice outfits for nightlife. 
Bon Voyage!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Star Struck: I Luh Ya Papi- Jennifer Lopez

I Luh Ya Papi- Jennifer Lopez

After the release of her new single "I Luh Ya Papi" yesterday, I am once again completely star struck by Jennifer Lopez. She never fails to impress me with her style and is glamorous, classy, bronzed, and voluptuous in this video. This single captures various sides of JLo, from her "Jenny from the Block" look, to a completely captivating "Tropical Glam" that she fully embodies. I am not that huge of a fan of "I Luh Ya Papi" as a song, but the video is gorgeous and the fashion is impeccable. After watching the video at least six times, I have gained new motivation to eventually look as good as JLo (even if it takes me until I'm 44 like she is). Apparently it's gym time ;)

As much as I love the full length romper look Jennifer Lopez wears in the video, my favorite of all her outfits is the white and gold set. White and gold is not only my favorite combination of all time, but this look is attainable, and I could see it being worn outside of a luxury music video setting. White is such a crisp, clean color, and it never goes out of style. Jennifer looks stunning in her white shorts and long sleeve top and I decided to recreate the look here for you guys :)


I luv you papi
"I Luh Ya Papi" Style Remix
Without the randomly chosen jewelry that I put in this look, my modified JLo look is very reasonably priced (other jewelry could be easily substituted). Go with knock-off Ray Bans and the makeup and signature perfume you already own, and you have got your next going out look, beach getup, or shopping outfit!
Just remember, confidence is everything and glam is always stylish :)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Costa Rican Style: Trendy and American

As many of you know, I have been studying abroad in San José, Costa Rica for the last five weeks. Due to this, I have had some trouble keeping up with my blogging but I have been making a point to notice the style of this country in order to write about it. Although Costa Rica does not have an interesting cultural style of its own, fashion is life here. Ticos are extremely well dressed and make a point to look put together all the time. Clean cut is the way to go. San José is a very cosmopolitan city, and people tend to go for over-dressed instead of under-dressed. The city is full of beauty salons, plastic surgeons, and boutiques, all selling the latest trendy items. Although these services mostly cater to women, the men here are also very put together with fresh haircuts, cologne, and ironed attire. Sloppiness is practically non-existent, and even when people where sports attire they look put together. Coming from the U.S. where the fashion industry is booming, Costa Rica's definitely gives us a run for our money. I have compiled a little list of Costa Rican fashion trends for you all. Enjoy!

Costa Rican Women's Style:
1) Jeans- Jeans are the way to go is Costa Rica. Almost all women wear jeans on a daily basis, and it is rare to see young women in dresses, although older ladies wear skirt suits often. Due to the hot climate, I personally find it impossible to wear jeans everyday, but the girls here prefer them to skirts and dresses. Shorts are also rare for Costa Rican women, but I see them being worn more than dresses.

2) High Heals- In Costa Rica everyone wears heels all the time. Heels are not reserved for special occasions are stilettos are trendy. Although I wear heels on a daily basis at home, the streets here are not in prime condition for wearing them. This does not seem to deter the Ticos though, who navigate the bus, badly paved roads, and tile floors with ease in the trendiest wedges and pumps. Even little girls wear mini- heels.

3) Straight hair- Tica's love the salon. These ladies never have a hair out of place. Almost all the women have straight hair and many dye their hair lighter shades of brown, but fake blond is one trend that is not to popular. Luckily for me, my host mom has a straightener because that was one item I deemed unnecessary for my trip.

4) Brands- Costa Rican's love "ropa de marca" (brand name clothes). Although they are ridiculously expensive here because they are imported, there is definitely a market for brand name items and people pay close attention to labels.

5) AVON- Catalog shopping is popular. My host family buys much of their beauty products, clothes, and household items from catalogues. Many women here work with companies selling for AVON or other similar companies. I found this to be very interesting because in the states, now that there is the possibility of buying online, catalog shopping is uncommon. International shipping is expensive though, and many people don't have international credit cards so catalogs are the alternative. Also, this is an interesting way for non-working women to make some extra cash. A little old school, but it works!

6) Ropa Americana- Ever wonder how Goodwill could possibly sell all the millions of items donated to its store everyday? Interestingly enough, some of those clothes end up in Costa Rica (as well as the rest of Central America) in second hand stores called "Ropa Americana". These stores sell imported used clothes from Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Although these items seem to be the discards of the discards, there are definitely gems to be found if you look hard enough. I wonder how Michal Kors would feel if he knew one of his 100-dollar shirts was being sold in Costa Rica for 3-4 dollars?

A Little Bit of Style Analysis:
Due to my university girl mindset, it is interesting to think about the results of outsourcing and mass production of clothing after seeing the fashion industry in Costa Rica. The majority of the clothes being sold here are U.S. brands or U.S. discards. Much of this merchandise is being sold for much higher prices than it gets in the States and much of the clothes here are cheep brands that are found in the LA fashion district, or trendy boutiques and generic mall stores. The quality of the Costa Rican clothes does not match up with the prices they are selling for. Much to my dismay, I found that the clothes here are not cheep as I was hoping and quite frankly out of my price range of the quality of the items. Forever 21 quality at Gap prices? No thank you!

Analyzing outsourcing of the fashion industry shows up ideologically as well as materially in Costa Rica. Although there are differences within the look that women are going for from that of women in the states, much of the desired look here is taken from U.S. media ideals. Tallness, light skin, and straight hair all are in style, although it is not necessarily attainable for many Costa Rican women. Overall, the population here is fit, people are not necessarily thin. Voluptuousness is in style as opposed of the European aesthetic of ultra-thin women. This is shown in the media, as well as in people's personal opinions of beauty. The mannequins in stores have drastically different proportions to the one in the states, and are much more curvy. Exercise is popular in Costa Rica, although the amount of overweight people is surprisingly much higher than I expected it to be. Plastic surgery is also huge, not only for Tico's but also for medical tourists, who come here to have work done and get some beach time in at the same time. I have found it interesting how much U.S. beauty ideals have come to Costa Rica, not only in terms of Transnational companies and products, but also in terms of personal ideals. Who knew Victoria Secret body spray would be available at the corner store in Costa Rica, or that the hottest Quinceñera gift these days is a boob job? I certainly didn't before I arrived.

Anyways, there is some food-for-thought from my experience here so far. I have not been to the beach yet, or able to explore the natural beauty Costa Rica is known for, but as I have noted in this post, although the women here are definitely beautiful to start with, natural beauty is far from in style for Ticas in San José.
Happy Sunday everyone & Pura Vida!
Besos &Abrazos,

Photos used in this blog are not mine. All were taken from Google Images.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Love Your Body- PLUS Magazine Editorial

So, as I was looking at my ideas for my next blog post, I realized that I had planned to write about slimming clothes and techniques to use while you are still workin' on that extra tummy. Cue the "new year- new you" mantra. Due to my new years resolution of keeping this blog as "real" as possible, I decided to scrap that idea completely. Every women's magazine on this side of the checkout isle has a whole section devoted to reminding you that you are fat but wearing all black will make it better, and I am tired of reading about it. Therefore I am not going to reiterate the idea that women are worthless unless they are thin once again, because frankly it is complete BS. Also, on a side note, I think listening to Beyoncé on repeat for the past few weeks has had an effect on me ;) #thequeeniskillin'emonceagain.

After making the decision to ditch the slimming shpeel, I decided that instead of writing about ways to attain thinness, I would celebrate curves instead. Below is an editorial that I discovered recently, from PLUS Model magazine's "Love Your Body" issue from October 2012 (ancient, I know). These images not only blew me away, in just how stunning these naked ladies are, but I found their messages about body positivity in the plus size modeling industry inspiring. Check out these photos!

Those are some seductive ladies if I have ever seen any. Clothes or not, you can tell this are some confident divas.

This editions of PLUS magazine also included a section about looking sexy naked, which although a bit problematic because this insinuates that you are not already stunning naked without trying, I like that fact that they are promoting the nakedness of curvy women which is something that is often shied away from.

This article suggests jewelry, stilettos, bronzer, and vanilla perfume for bangin' nudity. Sounds good to me. I might also add coco butter and body shimmer. Personally though I think PLUS got their wording wrong. I wish they had called the article, "How to Feel Good Naked." Because you do look good, its feeling good that is the hard part, and feeling good about your body is the root of self confidence. So on that note, go take a bath with candles, and remind yourself that those curves ARE sexy, with or without the ten pounds you promised you would lose this new year (and lets be honest, it's February already and I may or may not have forgotten about my new years resolution already).

Hugs & Kisses,

Photo Editorial:
Found via Tumblr at PLUS Model Magazine. The remainder of this issue can be viewed here.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Golden Globe Awards 2014

"Tremblant" brooch, 1962. Bulgari.
Yesterday I pretended I was rich and famous. I went to see the Bulgari collection at the de Young Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, and drooled over the designer gowns on the red carpet at the Golden Globe Awards 2014. Oh the luxury of fame. The high-class ladies of the Golden Globes were stunning to say the least, as was the Bulgari jewelry. It is to bad there are not more exciting options for men in fashion apart from the classic tux. They just don't stand a chance next to the women.

This year my blog posts are supposed to be powerful according to my New Years resolution, but I am going to throw in a few fun, glamtastic posts as well, just to keep things interesting. Check out my favorite gowns from yesterday's Golden Globes:

1) Tina Fey in Carolina Herrera, and Amy Poehler in Stella McCartney (
2) Sofia Vergara in a Zac Posen dress and Lorraine Schwartz Jewelry (

3) Emma Watson in Dior (fashiongonerogue). The "yoga to banquet" chic ;)
4) Paula Patton in Stéphane Rolland (redcarpet-fashion).

5) Lupita Nyong in Ralph Lauren - A la Gwyneth Paltrow circa 2012 Oscars (redcarpet-fashion).

Apparently I am into red this year, along with classic black and cream. I loved the simplicity of these dresses in shape and color with interesting embellishments and fabric use, making each individual dress stand out. The selection of gowns at the Golden Globes was impeccable, and definitely set the bar high for 2014's fashion. Although the majority of the dresses were fabulous, with only a few overly colorful or embellished pieces, these were my overall favorites of the bunch.