Style 101: NYE Outfits

In just a few short hours, 2015’s end will give way to 2016’s inception, and if you’re celebrating 2016’s arrival at a fabulous party, you’re going to need an equally fabulous outfit to ring in the new year in style. That’s why THL has four different outfit ideas to inspire your New Year’s Eve style, all courtesy of the lovable Lulu’s.

Synonymous with NYE is sparkle, and that’s why we selected the Launch Sequins Silver Sequins Dress. Available in silver, matte gold and matte navy, this halter dress is complete with a strappy open back to ensure a sexy NYE look. This sparkly bodycon will make a great outfit for your NYE party and will only cost you a sale price of $58.

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The Launch Sequins Silver Sequins Dress found on Lulus.com.

If jumpsuits are more your style, try the Jump Start Black Jumpsuit. This number features a high neckline that transitions into a stunning open back. Also available in royal blue, this $54 jumpsuit will make a statement at any NYE party you may attend.

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The Jump Start Black Jumpsuit, found on Lulus.com.

If you want to inject a bit of color into your NYE look, try the Express Yourself Red Lace Romper. Featuring a mock neck and a lace-overlayed bodice, the romper’s sheer lace sleeves give way to a sheer lace back. Also available in black, this romper will make for a fashionable NYE ensemble for only $59.

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The Express Yourself Red Lace Romper, found on Lulus.com.

Finishing up our NYE looks is a classic little black dress — the Date Night Black Lace Dress, to be exact. Available in navy blue and burgundy, this dress is done in an all-over lace, with a wide v-neckline at the front and a plunging v-shaped back. Finishing off this $49 frock is a sheer scalloped hemline.

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The Date Night Black Lace Dress, found on Lulus.com.

With these four great looks to choose from for your NYE parties, you’re sure to end 2015 looking chic and welcome 2016 in high style.

Happy Shopping!

 

Take Her Look: Year in Review

In a year filled with great fashion, it is easy to forget even the most glamorous looks to grace the red carpets of events near and far. But as 2015 draws to a close, we can’t help but recall the most fashionable, eye-catching looks of the year that made us stop in our tracks.

Kicking off awards season in a sparkly Zuhair Murad number was Giuliana Rancic, who stunned on the Emmys red carpet in the embellishment-encrusted gown. Rancic’s gown was complemented by soft, subtle waves and dainty jewelry.

In an equally breathtaking look on country’s night to rock, Jennifer Nettles took to the red carpet of the CMAs in a pale pink gown with a mesh-covered bodice and beading at the chest. She completed her striking look with upswept hair and dramatic eye makeup.

To celebrate Glamour’s 25th Women of the Year Awards, singer Jennifer Hudson rocked the red carpet in a slate-grey gown with floral appliqués and a plunging neckline. The singer polished off her look with some sparkly bangles and earrings.

Taking the British Fashion Awards by storm in a stunning black and white number was model Jourdan Dunn, who took to the red carpet in the colorblocked number that was complete with waist cutouts and a thigh-high slit. She completed her mock-neck gown with silver single-strap sandals and minimal jewelry.

Wearing an out-of-this-world style for the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was Lupita Nyong’o, who wore an Alexandre Vauthier Haute Couture crystal-encrusted gown complete with satin-trimmed cutouts. The actress topped off her look with a bright red lipstick and Chopard jewelry.

While all of these ladies were styled to perfection in 2015, there is one thing to remember from their looks to apply to the way we dress not just in 2016, but in all years to come:

The key to any good outfit is confidence; when you feel good about yourself and what you’re wearing, it immediately elevates everything from the simplest T-shirt and jeans to the most elaborate couture gown.

So in 2016, remember that you are beautiful, and dress like you know you’re beautiful.

Myanmar’s Female Rap Duo

In their song “Porn Face,” Myanmar rap duo Y.A.K. tears apart what group members Aye Aye Aung and Thazin Nyunt Aung call the stereotypical Southeast Asian woman — that is, “the pretty young woman who seeks out a rich older man to ‘sponsor’ her designer handbags and shopping trips to Bangkok.” The rest of their raps seem to follow a similar trajectory, rewriting their culture’s idea of femininity one song at a time.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Y.A.K. recorded “Porn Face” after facing traditionally beautiful and successful female singers in recording studios. Aye Aye, who goes by the moniker “Triple A,” explained that those women looked down upon them and wondered how they became successful, prompting the rap that is designed to “protest a lack of diverse female role models” in Myanmar.

Citing Missy Elliot and MC Lyte as their inspirations, as well as local rap collective Myanmar Hip-Hop Assn., Tripe A and Thazin said that they try to write songs that “elevate the status of women,” says “Women in the World.”

While the duo isn’t shy about the topics covered in their raps, 32-year-old Thazin shared that there are two things they will not write about: “No politics, no sex,” she said. “It was a very conservative place. It still is.”

Two years ago, Y.A.K. achieved mild Youtube success in their home country, but the LA Times says that the duo still performs at small clubs and international cultural centers in order to raise enough money to produce an album.

As Myanmar continues its political transition, Triple A and Thazin hope that their music gains wider acceptance and support from their home country.

Thank you, Thazin and Triple A, for working to change definitions of femininity through music and show us that it is okay to stray from the norm.

Makeup For All

When you’re shopping for something and you can’t find exactly the product you are looking for, it can be quite an annoying experience. But imagine consistently not being able to find what you’re looking for simply because it’s not built for the color of your skin.

This is exactly how Florence Adepoju felt while working at a Benefit makeup counter in London; according to “Women in the World,” the makeup company would often release products that didn’t flatter her dark skin, which sparked an idea in Adepoju that would change this.

Once she earned a degree in applied chemistry, Adepoju set her mind on creating a line of makeup that would flatter women with darker complexions. This led to MDMFlow, Adepoju’s own brand of makeup which is now available online at Nasty Gal.

According to “Women in the World,” the brand “offers up an array of boldly-colored, luxe lipsticks inspired by Adepoju’s love for hip hop,” and it includes hues such as “vibrant oranges, greens, blues and yellows.” The lipsticks’ names refer to different hip hop songs and artists, with some shades named “Milkshake” (after the song by Kelis) and “Two Chains” (after the rapper 2 Chainz).

The lipsticks, which are made by hand in a shed in her parents’ backyard, are also available at the Topshop in London’s Oxford Circus and Colette in Paris.

Thank you, Florence Adepoju, for showing us that makeup is not exclusive to certain skin tones.

Merry Christmas!

Waking up on Christmas morning as an adult is not as exciting as it was when I was a child. The magic of Santa Claus has dissipated, the piles of toys are now a few boxes of sweaters and clothes and the remainder of the day is not spent playing with my new presents in my pjs. Although Christmas is not as magical for me as an adult, it is certainly different — and in a way that I appreciate more.

Christmas is no longer about presents to me, as it was when I was a child. Now, the best part of the day is gathering in the living room with my family and watching them interact as they open their gifts. It’s not what’s inside the boxes that matters; just being all together is enough for me.

I love to sit back and take it all in, I mean really look at each of my family members. When I do this, it usually hits me that we all will never be in this moment ever again; never again will we be our respective ages, on this specific day, in this specific year, in these specific circumstances. I wish I could freeze time and keep me and my family together in that moment for eternity.

When I realize this, I am immediately washed with melancholy,  but I slowly become filled with gratitude — gratitude for the day, for my wonderful family (and dog), for our cute little house, for my life and theirs. I suddenly recognize just how blessed we are not only to have the things we have, but to share these things with each other.

In moments like these, I always ask myself, “How did I get so lucky to have such a loving family? What did I do to deserve such incredible people in my life?” It amazes me that, for some reason, I not only get the chance to occupy the same time and space as them on this Earth, but that I also get the honor of calling them my family. It’s truly incredible how things align to create our current circumstances; call it luck or call it God, all I know is that I am the luckiest girl alive to have them for a family.

As all of these thoughts swirl in my mind in the midst of opening presents, I finally realize that while Christmas may no longer be about gifts for me, in a way, it still is — my family is the gift. Not just on Christmas, not just tomorrow, but every single day. For now and for always.

I have so much to be grateful for this Christmas, from my family and friends to you, my readers. I took a chance in creating this website all those many months ago, and seeing what it has now grown into is incredible to me. Thank you for sticking with me, and I hope you continue to follow me on this journey.

Merry Christmas, THL readers. I hope you are spending the day with those you love the most — I know I am.

XO,

Nicole

Inside the Inspired Life: Music’s Big Sister

Turn on a radio in any city around the United States, and the odds of hearing  Demi Lovato’s “Confident” or Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” are through the roof. While this recent trend toward positive — and even body-positive — music is infiltrating the world of mainstream pop music with catchy beats and encouraging lyrics, one musician is taking a different approach to body-positive music, and her movement may be just the thing the industry needs.

Meet Ilana Harkavy, a Los-Angeles based singer-songwriter whose latest EP,  The Just, Girl. Project, is a five-track record infused with her own personal struggles to inspire girls to persevere through their own obstacles.

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Ilana Harkavy. Photo by Instagram user @justgirlproject.

The JustGirl. Project, described as “a fiery musical movement that empowers girls to embrace their passions, be blatantly honest, and to take ownership of their individual struggles,” followed stints in electronic music and TV placement writing, both of which the 27-year-old Harkavy said she didn’t find personally fulfilling. After finding both paths to be stifling her creativity, she decided to take a chance and invest her savings into recording an EP. But when she began to write tracks for the EP, Harkavy strayed from the normal pop-song topics of boys and heartbreak and decided to get personal.

“I felt like I had written about heartbreak a lot, and I got really tired of it. I didn’t feel like I was helping anyone with my songs,” she said. “So I started writing about my struggles with being a woman and the things that I went through when I was 15 and 16 that I still go through, like body image and my relationships with other girls and my relationship with myself.”

After co-writing songs for the EP with her best friend, Harkavy let three years pass before revisiting them for what became The Just, Girl. Project. In that time, her music took a back seat to her online branding company, Nailed It! Media; this move proved beneficial, as it provided some funds for her EP.

But the funds from her business were not enough to produce a music movement that would reach her intended audience. Harkavy knew that she had to reach out to the public to help fund her project and get the exposure it needed, but she also knew that for the project to succeed, it had to have a specific goal.

“I knew that I wanted to do something more than just ask people for money to help me promote my record. I wanted to make it mean something,” Harkavy explained.

Thus, The Just, Girl. Project was born. Harkavy said she started the project to create “functional music for girls to help them get through really tough stuff,” which could include handling everything from body image issues to  eating disorders to depression.

“I wanted something for those girls because I don’t feel like they really have anything right now. I feel like most of the music I hear is ‘I love myself,’ and … as much as that music’s awesome and wonderful, I wanted to hear a song that’s ‘I want to love myself,'” Harkavy said of the goal of The Just, Girl. Project.  Because of this, Harkavy wanted her songs to not only resonate with girls who may not love themselves yet, but also give them subtle instructions to help them accept themselves.

Harkavy’s The Just, Girl. Project EP includes five songs, each of which has a specific message for her listeners that stems from her own self-reflection. In discussing the track “My Body,” Harkavy explained that it was the product of a six-hour process of reflecting on her own insecurities.

“I am going to write about something that I hate talking about, that I’ve avoided in every therapy session, and it’s going to be humiliating and I’m going to hate it, but I’m going to do it,” she said of the writing process for “My Body,” the song inspired by her own struggles with eating disorders.

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Ilana Harkavy of the Just, Girl. Project. Photo by Instagram user @justgirlproject.

The honest, raw writing process of “My Body” spurred a similar method of songwriting for the rest of the EP’s tracks, prompting Harkavy to face uncomfortable situations from her past and present. While the songs fall into the pop music genre, she said that their meaning is very dark, allowing her to infuse her “artisticness with commercial appeal.”

But make no mistake: while Harkavy is trying to reach 13 to 17-year-old girls with her music, she doesn’t strictly follow pop’s formula for songwriting that appeals to this demographic.

Harkavy described the structure of her songs as mimicking the process of change. “The verse is allowing people to say what’s upsetting them — don’t hide it, say why you’re upset. The pre-chorus … says ‘I’m going to do this, watch me be awesome.’ And instead of the chorus being, ‘I did it,’ it’s more like, ‘Now I want to do it.'”

Because The Just, Girl. Project is so personal, Harkavy hopes that her listeners will not only relate to her struggles, but also find comfort in knowing that she has experienced similar difficulties.

“My music is supposed to give a sense of comfort and motivation. I really want girls to look at me like a big sister,” she explained. “A big sister is not always right, but she can help, and she often knows exactly what you’re going through.”

And just like a big sister, Harkavy wants nothing more than to make a difference in the lives of the girls listening to her music.

“If I got an email from a girl that said that something I did made her want to get help, I think it would make my life.”

 

To learn more about Harkavy and The Just, Girl. Project, visit the project’s Tumblr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooper and The Patriarchy

Every year, Barbara Walters films her ABC special, “10 Most Fascinating People,” which highlights the most popular (and sometimes controversial) figures of the concluding year.

This year, Walters profiled actor Bradley Cooper, known for his work in such movies as Silver Linings Playbook, in which he shared the screen with Jennifer Lawrence. According to The Huffington Post, Cooper discussed his Silver Linings Playbook and Joy co-star with Walters, specifically talking about her  op-ed on wage inequality.

In the interview, Cooper said that the patriarchal society in which we live is just part of a mammoth problem. “It’s symptomatic of a larger issue. And she was bold enough to come out, write an op-ed about it. I think probably other professions are much worse than our profession. But it’s rampant. And why not start a conversation?”

To watch the interview, click here.

 

Take Her Look

Seattle in December may not always be the best weather-wise, but things got a little hotter when singer Ciara stopped by on Dec. 15.

The singer and brand ambassador for Topshop visited the Downtown Nordstrom to celebrate the two retailers’ partnership. Wearing pieces from Topshop, Ciara stunned in a top with a plunging neckline which she paired with a leather midi skirt and black pumps.

Ciara’s chic all-black ensemble may look like it costs an arm and a leg, but it is actually quite affordable. In fact, we’ve found the exact pieces she’s wearing (which are all from Topshop, naturally) so you can take her look, and we’ve even found the perfect black pumps to pair with it. Read on for the results!

After following a lead from Topshop’s Twitter, we were able to find Ciara’s top, which is actually a bodysuit. Its deep neckline will frame your face while also creating a sexy look. Ciara’s Square Plunge Bodysuit will form the basis of your new outfit, and it will only cost $35.

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The Square Plunge Bodysuit, found on Topshop.com.

Ciara paired her bodysuit with a leather skirt — the Topshop Leather Midi Skirt, to be exact — and you can too, for $180. The zippers placed on an angle at the hip are not only cool, edgy details, they are also shape-enhancers, accentuating your natural curves.

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The Topshop Leather Midi Skirt, found on Nordstrom.com.

Completing your sexy and stylish ensemble is a pair of black pumps, and we found the perfect pair in the form of the Aldo Waycien Lizard Pumps from DSW. The subtle lizard print invokes the pattern on Ciara’s pumps, making them the perfect alternative to her heels. These heels will complete your look for only $59.95.

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The Aldo Waycien Lizard Pumps, found on DSW.com.

While this may not be a look for less, this outfit is certainly affordable, thanks to the reasonable prices at Topshop. With our look-alike pumps, you can take Ciara’s entire look for only $274.95.

Happy Shopping!

 

Watson Stars in New David’s Bridal Ads

Retail wedding dress chain David’s Bridal is set to launch in the United Kingdom, and marking the launch is a London-themed ad campaign featuring model Mercy Watson.

According to The Huffington Post, Watson is a size 14 model from Australia who has a body-positive presence on Instagram, where she posts everything from inspirational quotes to images from her photoshoots.

Watson isn’t the first plus-size model to be featured in ads by the Pennsylvania-based company; Candice Huffine starred in their Fall 2015 campaign. The Huffington Post says that nonetheless, this marks “yet another step forward in changing the perception of David’s Bridal, whose average customer is the same size as Watson.”

Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer of David’s Bridal Trevor Lunn acknowledged the chain’s move toward representing their average customer this way: “We recognize that our customers are all different sizes and silhouettes and felt it was important to reflect this diversity in our ad campaign creative.”

Lunn also praised their latest campaign, saying “We are proud that these images further reinforce our commitment to helping every bride-to-be find the gown of her dreams, regardless of her shape, style or budget.”

 

 

 

Lawrence Discusses Pay Gap

If females in the public eye are seen as role models for young women, Jennifer Lawrence is trying her best to use her fame to do just that.

According to The Huffington Post, the 25-year-old actress discussed her recent essay on the pay gap with Charlie Rose of CBS News, citing the Sony hack as the impetus for becoming more vocal on the issue. The hack, which “revealed that Lawrence was being paid much less than her male colleagues,” made her realize “there was no one to blame but myself,” she said.

Lawrence explained that it wasn’t Sony’s fault for her lower pay, but instead her own fault for not speaking up. “I feel awkward negotiating, I feel uncomfortable asking for more money. I don’t want to seem like a brat,” she said.

As she gets older, Lawrence has found that she is still learning how to not only advocate herself, but also advocate on behalf of other women. “As I get older and I learn more and I have opinions I go: ‘I have just as much of a right to speak and with something like that, with something that’s so clearly unfair, if I don’t use my voice for women who don’t have a voice then what’s the point?'”

In another portion of the interview, The Daily Beast says that Lawrence expressed her hopes of becoming more comfortable dealing with uncomfortable topics. “I want to be that person who will say that thing that’s really hard to say, that’s really awkward and really difficult,” she said. “One day I want to be able to just say it, and not make a joke, and not try to make it cute, but to just say it.”