Pretty. Rocker. Chic. Totally Bad-Ass.

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Pretty. Rocker. Chic. That’s the tag-line of Colleen Poitras‘ jewelry line. When a friend introduced me to Poitras jewelry I was immediately intrigued – after all, swap “Rocker” for “90’s R&B/Hip Hop aficionado” and you’ve basically described my personal style in a nutshell. I love the juxtaposition of tough + pretty. When it comes to clothing, I gravitate towards classic basics, so to kick things up a notch I’m always on the look-out for accessories that add some edge (not to mention, I have a weakness for black leather.) Colleen Poitras delivers exactly that.

Poitras works with metal, concrete and leather to create jewelry that’s totally bad-ass yet inherently feminine. In other words, exactly what her tagline describes. As Poitras explains, the tagline describes “the different sides of my style. It can be pretty and soft. It can be edgy and rocker. It can be sophisticated and chic. My brand is really an extension of who I am.”

As a Toronto native, Colleen also has a handful of pieces that feature familiar scenes from “The Six.” I have a soft spot for this pendant featuring the ubiquitous TTC streetcar and text that pretty much sums up 85% of my time spent in the city, ha.

A few months ago, I had the chance to interview Colleen about her collection and try some of her top pieces. The Interchangeable Necklace II, a show-stopping statement piece and two sets of earrings – the Cobalt Leather Earrings & a custom variation on The Silver Leather Earrings.

Although she uses lots of different materials, the pieces I received were all made of a mix of leather and metal – which, suits me just fine. Like I mentioned above, this lady loves leather. So, I was really happy when the pieces arrived and I discovered that the leather used for the necklace and earrings is super soft and luxurious to the touch.

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Let’s start by talking about the custom Leather Earrings. I’m going to be honest here – I rarely wear dangly earrings anymore, preferring instead to wear understated studs. With that said, the Leather Earrings ended up being my surprise favourite.

Although they’re only available in silver on the site, they can be customized to be whatever colour leather  you want. I love that Colleen chose black leather for mine!

Featuring chain and a metal hoop suspended from a leather strip, I thought these earrings would look really “heavy” on me, but they’re strangely subtle. They’re lightweight and delicate with just a hint  of a bondage/rocker vibe. I could totally see myself wearing these with a sleek black cocktail dress, heels and not much else.

Want something softer and a bit less dramatic? These Cobalt Leather Earrings are a great option. Once again, you have the same rich leather with a minimal stainless steel hoop dangling below.

FullSizeRender-8 2Of all the pieces, the The Interchangeable Necklace II was the one I was most looking forward to wearing….and it’s easy to why. It’s a stunner.

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Made of three different kinds of chain (silver and pewter tone) that are suspended from a velvety soft leather strap, the The Interchangeable Necklace II is sure to make a statement. It’s a very dramatic piece but still versatile. You can wear it with a cocktail dress, to dress up your favourite well-worn t-shirt & jeans combo or even with fetish-wear in the bedroom (I recently paired it with a black leather bustier. Photos forthcoming.)

I chose to wear the necklace with a simple black top and my beloved leather jacket. I have to say, I felt like a total badass biker-babe.

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FullSizeRender-11If the ability to channel your inner Lisbeth Salander wasn’t already enough of a selling point,  The Interchangeable Necklace II also comes with an alternate interchangeable strap in the colour of your choice. Colleen was kind of enough to send me both leopard print and cobalt blue. As you can see, if you change the strap, it totally changes the look of the necklace.

FullSizeRender-12 copyThree necklaces in one? I’ll take it.

Overall, I was really impressed with Colleen Poitras jewelry. It’s Canadian, it’s handmade and is great for any of us who want to add a bit of rocker edge to our everyday look.

 

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Thank you to Colleen Poitras for providing these lovely pieces. All opinions are my own, because that’s how I roll.

Review | All’s Fair in Love & Wardrobe

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(A book review by Contributor, Suzanne Paddock)

“To all the girls who’ve ever wanted to shop, dress, eat, party, travel and Instagram like a fashion editor. Now you can date like one.”

So starts off All’s Fair in Love and Wardrobe: A Fashion Editor’s Rules on Shopping for Love by Stephanie Simons, “fashion editor, television beauty expert, and single girl about town”. The concept to have an inside look at the exclusive dating world of a fashionista definitely intrigued me. What are their dating lives like? Does being a fashionista immune you from rejection, get you any man you want? What hidden fashion knowledge has this elusive enclave cloistered from the rest of us?

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The book stays true to its intent, literally consisting of 121 succinct dating “rules” with a few “closet confession” vignettes and a smattering of dinner and drink recipes, how-to’s, and other odds and ends all interspersed by fantastic watercolor illustrations.

The illustrations, drawn and painted by Malia Carter, really make the book. They bring the words on the page to life and solidify the book’s playful, coquettish and feminine vibe by creating a unifying flow and narrative consistency to the varying rules and sundry text.

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The sumptuous illustrations and punchy text make the experience less like reading a book and more like flipping through an, albeit, lengthy magazine spread. It’s a very quick and easy read.

Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 2.11.21 PMSimons almost exclusively uses metaphor to compare how shopping and fashion relate to dating. The comparisons range from the banal, Rule 93: “A purely physical attraction has about as much value as a gorgeous pair of shoes you can’t walk in,” to the at times almost thoughtful, Rule 80: “The “happily ever after” you read about in fairy tales comes from within, just like shinier, healthier, thicker hair comes from eating at least two daily servings of iron-rich foods,” to the downright offensive, Rule 4: “At some point a man may informally say to you, “Let’s get married!” Without jewelry as collateral, this is merely his way of putting your love on layaway,” (and numerous other oppressive comments about exploiting unpaid interns, using the term “Indian givers” – I could go on).

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Most of the comparisons fall flat and offer little insight. Rule 64: “Look before you leap into any sort of final sale arrangement for the rest of your life.” But they also reveal that this purported group of fashionistas experience the same level of confusion about male behaviour (Rule 2: “Men ask for numbers they’ll never call, like women buy clothes they’ll never wear), rejection and heartbreak as they rest of us; it’s good to be reminded of our common fallibility after all.

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And the book did provide some warm human moments. In a list of “pity party” ideas to organize post break-up, one suggestion included, “Do make it a potluck and have everyone bring a Post-It with their biggest qualm about him written on it”. This made me chuckle. We’ve all relished asking our friends what they really think of our ex as we struggle to convince ourselves it’s all for the best when things don’t work out.

Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 2.07.24 PMAll’s Fair offers a glimpse into the values and thoughts of at least one mainstream fashionista’s perspectives on dating but provides little in the way of any fashion insight. The illustrations do charm and give the book that magazine layout feel, making it somewhat entertaining.

As I read the rules and pondered how hard dating can be, I reflected on my own dating journey and felt a faint but collective sense of sadness and fear, as many of us struggle with the idea of being alone. Not quite the fashion editor’s bravado I expected, but certainly in line with its title.

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If you’re looking for a list of awesome, female centric must-reads, make sure you check out this list and this list for some of our top book recommendations.

How To Style Your Nightstand 3 Different Ways

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Today I’m here to talk about one night stand – and not the kind I usually write about on this blog. I’m talking about nightstands of the furniture variety, not the “I overindulged at  99 cent margarita Monday and now I can’t feel my face” variety. While working my way through Mission: Make Bedroom Sexy, I’ve learned that when it comes to making your space feel like your own, furniture is important. Up until a few months ago, I was using a repurposed stool (that I’m pretty sure my parents bought at Ikea in 1981) as a nightstand/bedside table. While functional in the most basic sense, my stool didn’t exactly ooze sex appeal or offer any additional storage.

Now enter Overstock.com. This website has been instrumental to my bedroom makeover (remember those cute chevron pillows?) When the nice people at O.co offered to help me upgrade my nightstand game, I leapt at the chance.

For my nightstand I wanted something that would go with my existing furniture and offered both a drawer and a shelf underneath where I could display some of my favourite coffee table books. If it had a bit of a retro look – even better. I was really impressed by how many really great nightstands and end tables that I found on O.co. There’s literally something for everyone. However, I decided on the Daniella 1-drawer Wood Storage Accent End Table (below.) It had all the features I was looking for & had received really good reviews.

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The Daniella table came disassembled. I’m always weary of putting together furniture, however I was pleasantly surprised by how easy and straightforward the assembly was for this piece. From opening up the box to positioning the product in my bedroom, the whole process took about 20 minutes, tops.

Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the Daniella table. The quality is great. The piece is made from sturdy wood veneer and finished nicely. It’s also incredibly versatile – you can use it as a nightstand or an end table. I also love that it has a drawer to stash everything from your lipbalm and Kindle to your sexy time goodies.

To show off it’s versatility, I decided to take photos of “Daniella” styled three different ways. Not sure what to do with that awkward space next to your bed? Here are a few fun options –

1. BRIGHT & QUIRKY

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Although I was attracted to the Daniella table in yellow, I am so glad that I went with white. The smooth white finish looks amazing with bright accents. When you’re living and working in a  small space, it’s so important to surround yourself with objects you truly love, so for this look I chose to style it with some of my favourite books, pottery pieces, my beloved 2Pac print and cactus – a gift from The Secret Agent. The pottery animals are all from Jonathan Adler – including the zebra tray that I picked up on a recent trip to Seattle. The Jonathan Adler store = my happy place.

(PS. I just finished Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance & it’s definitely worth checking out. I snort laughed throughout.)

2. ELEGANT & SEXY

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For the second look, I wanted to do something sexy and glamorous. Cheetah print? Check. Glam gold accents? Check. Erotic literature like The Story of O? Check. Handcuffs? Feather tickler? Sexy coffee table books? Check. Check. Check. Check. The lovely print is by Jen Ramos of Made by Girl. The vintage gold plate and hand are thrifted. The sexy products on the bottom of the shelf are by two of my favourite companies, Kama Sutra & Sliquid. Meow!

3. KIDS ROOM

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When I was putting together this post I realized that this nightstand could totally work in a kids room (in the case of this photo, a very hipster-y kid who reads Dave Eggers…) I paired a few of my beloved sock monkeys with some of my favourite pottery and voila! A cute & chic kids look (however, I’m not sure how well pottery would pair with tiny, curious hands..)

So, which one of these setups is actually in my bedroom? If you guessed the first one, you’d be right! Although I love how the ‘sexy & elegant’ look turned out ( I imagine this is what people think my bedroom looks like – you know, handcuffs lying around like no big deal), I prefer my nightstand to be bright & bookish with 2Pac looking over me while I sleep.

Which look do you like best?

This lovely nightstand was provided to me free of charge by O.com in exchange for my honest review of the product. All opinions are my own because that’s how I roll.

Why You Should Buy a Woman Flowers & How to Do it Properly

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If you check out my Pinterest or Instagram, it’s pretty obvious that I’m kind of obsessed with flowers – especially now that so many of them are in bloom around here! When it comes to me & flowers, the brighter, the more vivid, the better.

Over the years I’ve learned exactly what kinds of flowers I do and don’t like – especially when it comes to romance. I love peonies, camellias, orchids and anything bright & tropical. I despise carnations and daisies have never been my thing. I love roses, but prefer the brightly coloured ones (deep red roses have always seemed kind of morbid to me.) I used to think it would be super romantic if a guy scattered rose petals on my bed, however the two times someone has done this for me I haven’t enjoyed either experience because it just seemed contrived and forced (hence, my aversion to rose petals.) However, pick me a single camellia while we’re out for an evening walk and I’m yours.

Although I have my preferences when it comes to flowers, I still believe any kind of flower is better than no flower. Here’s a few reasons why I think we should all send and receive more flowers in general.

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Seriously though, I don’t know why people don’t send more flowers. It’s such an easy way to make your loved one feel special and thought of. Any guy who takes the initiative to bring me flowers – even if they’re wild ones he’s picked himself – wins major points. Because, #ROMANCE.

Since Easter and Mother’s Day are coming up, I thought I would consult with Ola Balas, owner of EuroFlowers – one of my favourite florists located in Mississauga, Ontario. Here are a few of her flower giving tips. I’ve also piped in with a few of mine!

FLOWERS 2As you have probably surmised, flowers can be a very personal thing. Although I’m always happy when I receive any kind of flowers, it’s always nice when you can tell that the person took the time to choose something that suits me. For example, I think it’s pretty obvious from my blog that I love bold, bright colours like fuchsia and pink, and all things tropical. My personal style is classic with a bit of edge. Even if you don’t know what kind of flowers she likes, if you have a general idea of her favourite colours or her personal style, that’s always a good place to start. Also keep in mind that your florist is there to help!

FLOWERS 3If you don’t want disappointing flowers, Balas suggests sticking with a local florist. As she explains, the trick is to avoid using a large, discount, flower service like 1-800-flowers and the like.  “These flowers come in a box, dry, with a vase and a set of instructions. The recipient has to set it up herself. It’s awkward and cheap, and the flowers themselves look like they’ve been through a war. Never do this” says Balas. By cutting out the middle man and going directly to a local florist like EuroFlowers, you not only get to support a small business in your community, you’re also more likely to get an arrangement that’s high quality, unique and artful – in other words, you’re going to get a lot more bang for your buck.

FLOWERS 4Still not sure what kind of flowers to send the object of your affection? Fear not, that’s what your florist is there for! As Balas advises, if you can’t find something perfect on the website, don’t hesitate to call the store directly. As she explains, “always offer a few guidelines but let them use their judgment and expertise. “Something really spectacular”, “something different and edgy”, “romantic but not roses” “as unique and beautiful as she is” and trust that your florist will put together something awesome based on the budget you’ve provided and what’s in stock. As Balas likes to remind us, “florists are artists! Let them show off their talent!”

PS. If you think you might need a vase or container of sorts, make sure you let your florist know. Nothing kills the romance like a gorgeous bouquet that ends up slowly dying on her desk. 

FLOWERS 5And by personalized message, I don’t mean writing something like “Nice boobs, lol” (true story, unfortunately.) However, a sweet, thoughtful, personalized message goes a long way. As Balas explains, “Do NOT just have them add your name to the card. Say something. Imagine the state she’s going to be in when she opens the card after receiving the flowers–take advantage of it.” Also, it  never hurts to include a funny inside joke that only she’ll get. Keep it short and sweet. Be cool. Be appropriate. You’ve got this! 

FLOWERS 6When is a good time to send flowers? Any time! Although flowers are always nice on birthdays, Valentine’s Day and other special holidays or anniversaries, you don’t need it to be a special day to send flowers. Want to make a memorable impression? Send your special person flowers during the day if you know you’re going to see them that night. I asked a couple of my girlfriends what their most memorable flower experience said and unsurprisingly, most of them said that it was when they received them “just because.” However, there is such a thing as overkill. As Balas reminds us, send flowers whenever “but not too often. Don’t spoil her too much!” 

Do you like sending and/or receiving flowers? 

*This post was brought to you by EuroFlowers, a Mississauga florist and flower shop that has been serving Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington and Toronto for over 20 years. All opinions are my own. Thanks for reading posts that support Skinny Dip

Celebrating Galentine’s Day with Gifts, Good Reads + a Giveaway

leslie-knope-galentines-dayIf you’re reading this on February 13th, Happy Galentine’s Day!

Anyone who has spoken to me in the past two months is probably aware that I’ve become completely obsessed with the show Parks and Recreation. People have been recommending this show to me for years – and now I finally understand why. I mean, there’s just so much to love: the witty humour, endearing characters, Leslie Knope’s undying chutzpah and determination to make the world a better place. December was a weird month, and Parks & Recreation was what got me through on those 48hr hangover days when all I could do was lie horizontally and seriously question my life choices.

Anyway, Leslie Knope is an avid celebrant of Galentine’s Day, so I thought it was only fitting that I write my own Galentine’s Day post (plus, I wanted an excuse to share these Parks & Recreation themed Valentines because they are everything.)

Although I wish I could make personalized Valentine’s for all of you (a la Leslie Knope) and present them over waffles, instead I’ve put together a bunch of female centric “Galentine” gifts to make your life more fun & enjoyable.

lesliecardWhen it comes to treating myself, I love to indulge in new reading material. Although Leslie Knope tends to favour books written about famous political figures like Eleanor Roosevelt and Hilary Clinton, I think she’d appreciate these female penned titles. All of them are great reads and inspiring in unique ways.

Galentines 3Yes, Please by Amy Poehler – A no brainer. Amy Poehler is delightful and this book is the perfect warm & fuzzy, feel good read.

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham – If you like GIRLS or Dunham in general, you’ll enjoy this collection of relatable essays chock full of awkward moments that are as cringe-worthy as they are familiar.

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso – Leslie Knope is the ultimate #GIRLBOSS. This book by Nasty Gal’s CEO, Sophia Amoruso is full of motivational pep talks and business advice for ladies looking to take over the world.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay – I’m totally obsessed with Roxane Gay’s writing and this book of essays. Gay tackles everything from Twilight and competitive scrabble, to gender and race. A must-read for everyone regardless of whether you have a vagina or not.

I Forgot to Be Famous by Almie Rose – My lovely friend Almie wrote this awesome collection of essays about love, dating & LA. After reading Lena Dunham’s book, I still prefer I Forgot To Be Famous. Not only is Rose funnier in general, but I Forgot To Be Famous has all of the awkward, twenty-something insights of Not that Kind of Girl, minus the hype and privilege. I also have first-hand knowledge that the author is a lovely human being.

annecardMy friends are an awesome and talented bunch. I feel like the often unlucky in love Anne Perkins would totally dig these books written by two smart women that I’m honoured to know.

Galentines 5Respected: How One Word Can Change More Than Just Your Love Life by Akirah Robinson – Heartbroken? Lonely? My friend Akirah Robinson believes that you can heal your brave heart.”When it comes to finding love, it seems like everyone has an opinion. Rather than joining the loud choir of love experts and dating gurus, Respected helps women bolster their sense of self-worth and as a result, become better prepared to participate in healthy romantic relationships.” Sounds good, right?  Fun tidbit: yours truly contributed to a chapter.

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda by Tara Lee Reed – Hey, remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books from childhood? Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda takes this concept to a whole new level as an interactive romantic comedy with 60 different Sometimes Happily After Endings. The perfect read for anyone who loves witty one-liners and has ever yearned for a romantic “do-over.”

AprilGDCardParks and Recreation’s April Ludgate hates a lot of stuff. You know what bums me out? Bad sex. That’s why last year I worked with one of my favourite companies, Lucky Bloke, to create the Skinny Dip “Her Pleasure” condom and lube sampler.

kinny-dip-sampler-2-e1385431631219I truly believe that you can have scorching hot, safer sex. Having access to the right products really helps with this. Inside the Skinny Dip condom and lube sampler you’ll find a bunch of my favourite condoms and lubes – curated for your pleasure. As I’ve discovered, these make awesome bachelorette party favours and/or gifts for your single girlfriends. Buy one for yourself and a friend. You won’t be disappointed. A portion of all proceeds go to help women in need at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre in Vancouver.

DonnaCardDonna Meagle is a total baller. Not only does she have a penchant for all things luxurious, she also seems like the kind of woman who would have no qualms taking her pleasure into her own hands. Hence, the reason I think she’d totally dig the Crave Vesper gold plated vibrator necklace or this lingerie set guaranteed to tap into your inner wild woman. Don’t want to mix sex and fashion accessories? Treat yo’ self to one of my top 10 favourite sex toys of all time. You’re worth it.

DonnaNow, here comes the really good part! As my Galentine’s Gift to you, I have one copy of Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda by Tara Lee Reed up for grabs. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post and follow the prompts below. I’ll select a winner on Wednesday, February 18th. 

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