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In the summer, my work uniform is usually a dress (often COS) with a cardigan. The cardigan is a necessity — the a/c is blasted on the bus, ferry, and in the office and I also prefer to cover my arms if I’m wearing a sleeveless top. I fell in love with the Uniqlo lightweight cardigan last summer and was sad that the long version didn’t return this year. I did, however, end up buying this Uniqlo light v-neck long sleeve cardigan in black and then returned to get the blue and white. It’s sheer, made of a tencel/lyocell blend, hopefully blocks some UV rays, and is super affordable. I wash it in the machine on delicate. It runs TTS. Uniqlo also says it has a cooling touch and is anti-microbial. Sizes online are scant, but were plentiful when I stopped by the Fifth Avenue store.

Images: Uniqlo JP

I have too many striped tees. This one by Maison Labiche is a favorite (tied with Petit Bateau x Kitsune collab). It’s a heavier material (not for summer), but it has a flattering fit and is soft. The sleeves are also not too long on my arms which typically align with petite sizing charts. I think it runs slightly big, yet tailored and neat. They come with an embroidered message on the chest, sometimes cheeky. You can also make your own (if you order from Paris or go to their Paris store). In comparison, Petit Bateau’s classic marinieres cut is boxier, the length/sleeves too long, and made of a stiffer material. And I never was into the classic Saint James tees either for similar reasons. This Maison Labiche top is of better quality than the striped tees that you’d find at J.Crew, Gap, etc. made of thinner material.

Currently Anthropologie has some styles on sale (long sleeve, short sleeve). Also find it at ASOSFarfetch, Shopbop, East Dane (for him).

I saved a lot of shopping for Q416 sales…

1. Atopalm

Atopalm is a Korean drugstore brand that was created by a doctor. Its star ingredient, MLE, is designed to repair the skin barrier and perfect for those with sensitive skin conditions or looking for clean moisture. I started using this line in December and I love the products I’ve tried — Moisturizing Skin Revitalizing Complex, Intense Moisturizing Cream, Moisturizing Eye Repair Serum, and Daytime Undermakeup Moisture Cream. I don’t wear these together but will apply a layer or two depending on the weather. It dries quickly, has a smooth texture, isn’t heavy or greasy, and layers beautifully under sunscreen.

  • Great for? Sensitive skin, skin barrier repair, and intense lightweight moisture with some anti-aging benefits.
  • How much? I got everything for 40% off in November. It was <$30 for most items, with the daytime cream being $12.
  • Where to buy? There are multiple outlets online (including Dermstore, Target, Peach & Lily), but I recommend purchasing from the Atopalm USA website, which has by far the best prices (30-40% off promotions).
  • Rebuy? Yes, and I like the complex and eye serum the most since it’s in a convenient airless pump container and they also contain anti-aging ingredients.

2. Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream, Lippe, and Babyfacial

Drunk Elephant introduced a new airless pump for their Lala Retro cream in December which made this much more enticing. Otherwise, I have to pause my routine to wash my hands with soap and dry them to stick my fingers into the tub. I got a deluxe sample of it and it was indeed very lightweight and moisturizing. I use a number of actives at night and I like to top ’em off with a heavy dose of moisture in the form of cream and/or oil. This has both.

  • Great for? Dry skin and cold weather. It has oils in it so I find the moisture to be more intense than a single Atopalm product. If you’re sensitive to oils, best to spot test first. I also find that DE products play very nicely with each other — this is especially the case for the Lala and the marula oil.
  • How much? $60 for 1.69 oz. I got it from Dermstore with a 25% off coupon.
  • Where to buy? The normal DE stockists: Sephora, Lock & Mane (via Amazon), DermstoreDrunk Elephant (20% off for new customers, referral link). Given the recent packaging change, just make sure you’re getting the new airless packaging.
  • Rebuy? Yes, I really like airless packaging and the grease-less feel.

Lippe is a simple lip balm. I got it through a set. It’s quite small (0.13 oz) but packs a punch — multiple antioxidant oils (marula, avocado, mongogo, and cranberry), shea butter, and peptides, sea fern algae for moisture.

  • Great for? Dry lips and maintaining good lips
  • How much? $22 for 0.13 oz. I got it from Dermstore in a value set with a 30% off coupon.
  • Where to buy? The normal DE stockists: Sephora, Lock & Mane (via Amazon), DermstoreDrunk Elephant (20% off for new customers, referral link).
  • Rebuy? Maybe. It’s a solid lip balm, but I also have a huge stockpile of lip balms.

TLC Sukari Babyfacial is DE’s newest product. It’s exclusive to the US and as of writing, exclusive to Sephora but will also be sold at DE and Dermstore. It did well enough that it sold out at Sephora for a bit. It’s $80 and 1.69 oz so the biggest complaint you’ll hear about is the price. The Babyfacial is an at-home peel. I probably used more pumps than I cared to but it’s cheaper than going to a facialist for a peel. I don’t get facials regularly (less than annually), so that’s how I justify the money I spend on the numerous masks and skincare.

Despite having fairly resilient skin, I felt some tingling. I followed instructions and washed it off after 20 minutes and slathered marula oil on top. It also comes with a travel size marula oil. I experienced no redness. My skin was indeed baby soft. I will most likely use this once a week (on the weekend) for the first month or so. Since the product is so new, there are no reviews of long term use yet. If you try this, make sure your skin is dry (active ingredients penetrate wet skin much deeper and can cause harm) and space out any other AHA/retinol products so they are not back to back. June 2017 Update: Most likely using once every 3 weeks or so. With summer rolling around, I find my skin to be more sensitive given the increased sun exposure. I would avoid it in general if you know your sun exposure is or will be high!

  • Great for? Skin that isn’t too sensitive. Futurederm has a great review and explains why the chickpea flour may not be the best for those with dry skin.
  • How much? $80 for 1.69 oz
  • Where to buy? For now, Sephora, Dermstore at a future date, and Drunk Elephant (20% off for new customers, referral link).
  • Rebuy? Most likely. I love baby soft skin and hope some sun spots will fade. However there are so many other darn tempting products out there and I have only one face.

3. Tatcha The Essence

The essence step comes after the cleansing and toner. I previously used the Cremorlab essence but kind of stopped this step. Aside from hydration, I didn’t see a difference. When Tatcha started to market its new product, I was intrigued but wasn’t planning to spend $95 on a bottle of essence. But then they released its Lucky Bag promo and I gave in. (For the record, you had to spend $100 to get a Lucky Bag worth over $100. I got a full sized bottle of the Deep Hydration serum and a travel sized exfoliant cleanser in my Lucky Bag, worth over $100 as advertised.)

As expected from Tatcha, the packaging is gorgeous. I splash some essence on my face after cleansing and gently patting my face dry. The essence looks, feels, and smells like water, however it has a trio of superfoods (green tea, rice, algae) that produces lactic acid through natural fermentation. If you read up on Tatcha’s site, they describe the essence as soaking through layers of your skin so your subsequent steps can penetrate deeper and perform more effectively. After using this for a few weeks, I can say that Essence works really well to boost my other products and feels like a skin softener. Since it is a booster, the overall effect on your skin is dependent on the other products you use. Similarly, your skin is only as good as the worst product that you use. In the morning, I apply my DE Vitamin C day serum on my wet, essence soaked skin. I don’t always have time to wait for it to dry and the day serum is harmless. In the evening, if I’m putting on actives, I have to make sure the essence layer is dried or else the active may penetrate too deeply and damage the skin.

  • Great for? People who aren’t too lazy to perform multiple steps in the skincare routine. Good for all skin types.
  • How much? $95 for 5.1 oz. Tatcha has occasional promotions.
  • Where to buy? Tatcha, Sephora, or QVC. Through Feb 8, use code DMLUCKY for a Lucky Bag valued $100+ (examples).
  • Rebuy? Most likely unless a cheaper alternative presents itself.

4. Fresh Sugar Face Polish and Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask

I’m been using Fresh lip products for years but missed the boat on their facial products until I got my soy face cleanser/rose mask birthday gift from Sephora. (I didn’t love the cleanser but liked the rose mask.) Based on research, the Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask and Sugar Face Polish kept on coming out as the top two products I had to try. The mask is cooling and soothing — perfect after a peel (like Babyfacial or Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask) and smells like melons. I don’t use physical exfoliants often but will make an exception for the Sugar Face Polish. It will help your pores disappear. I use it after the Tatcha cleansing oil.

  • Great for? Mask is good for all skin types. Polish – stay away if you have sensitive skin.
  • How much? Mask is $92 for 3.3 oz, polish is $62 for 4.4 oz. Ouch? Yes, back to my point earlier on not getting facials. I tried using a mask brush with the mask but still prefer using my fingers due to its pudding texture. I wonder how long the mask will last with 1-2x/week use.
  • Where to buy? Nordstrom, Sephora, Neiman Marcus, or Barneys. Fresh has promos but they aren’t that great. I bought these from Nordstrom since they had a good GWP for Fresh and two other beauty gifts.
  • Rebuy? Definitely!

5. Sulwhasoo Clarifying Mask EX

I love the Overnight Vitalizing mask, which I often use as lotion in dry, cold weather. This Clarifying Mask is a gooey peel-off mask also full of Korean herbal ingredients. It is very gentle and somehow purifies without leaving your skin a dry mess. Sulwhasoo recently updated its masks to an EX version — I’m not sure how this compared to the non-EX version. I can’t tell the difference between Overnight Vitalizing EX and non-EX masks.

  • Great for? All skin types. Stay away if you hate herbal smells.
  • How much? $41 for 5 oz. Cheaper at duty-free in Asia.
  • Where to buy? Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus
  • Rebuy? Maybe. I have a lot of masks… variety is fun.

Images: Google

I made three boot purchases this winter season. The J.Crew Chelsea Boot was the one of them. I tried both my normal size and half a size down. I have wider feet (but not officially wide) and liked my normal size more with thin socks. The heel is a little over an inch and very comfortable. It also comes in two other shades of brown, but I’ve always been more of a black boot person. I got them for a great sale price in-store and am very happy with the purchase. Otherwise, I was keeping an eye on & Other Stories for Chelsea boots.

The Mansur Gavriel pop-up shop in the Soho area of NYC has been open from mid-November through January 11. After MG announced the expansion of their Saffiano line on December 13, it gave me incentive to check out the saffiano bags. Unfortunately, MG bags are still final sale when you purchase from mansurgavriel.com, which I strongly dislike because (1) they are expensive (2) many styles/colors are only available directly from MG who normally doesn’t have a storefront and (3) MG can be difficult with any flaws on the bag (this is based on personal experience and what I’ve read on TPF). I consider myself lucky that I live near their pop-up.

The pop-up is very spacious, minimalist, and pink. If you don’t like rose quartz pink which is popular with MG and Glossier, tough luck! I went mid-afternoon and got personal attention from both SA’s — not all stocked items are displayed and they also mentioned that they have the large lady bag in stock. There is also plenty of seating for the men and a fancy flower shop.

As I was trying on the bags, I realized that if I ever were to get another, I would need a regular sized lady bag so I can hold letter sized paper. I also was surprised at how gorgeous the tumbled leather is! The tumbled leather bag was lying around (the sales assistants try their best to put away bags while answering questions) and I think I might like it more than the saffiano, which is unfortunate for my wallet. The tumbled leather style is thicker than expected, perhaps due to the canvas lining, and will not stand on its own unless you stuff it. Out of all of the MG bag styles, the lady bag is my favorite and uniquely MG.

Pricing is higher than the bucket, given the style and construction:

  • Mini Lady: vegetable tanned $750, saffiano $795, tumbled or calf $1050
  • Lady: vegetable tanned $895, saffiano $945, tumbled or calf $1195

Orders with MG sent to NJ, NY, and CA have sales tax.

This “baby bucket” is exclusive to the pop-up and designed for a baby/toddler. It fits your smartphone if it’s not XL.

The mini lady bag in black saffiano and rosa saffiano with matching interiors.

I compared the mini lady with a regular lady in calf leather and quickly noticed the fraying thread. Ick. I have a detailed post on regular lady vs mini lady bag size here.

The saffiano leather is a very structured leather. Maybe it’s a little too structured for the lady bag style.

It’s hard to see, but there were dirt marks on the rosa saffiano. Not impressed even if it’s a floor sample. This cemented my decision to steer away from a rosa saffiano lady. I have a rosa saffiano mini bucket (review) which has some dirt marks that couldn’t be easily removed with a baby wipe. I asked the SA how to clean it and referred me to Leather Spa. That’s a cop out answer to me.

Regular lady bag in peony pink calf leather, mini lady bag in royal blue tumbled leather

Circle of MG lady bags, clockwise from left: black saffiano mini lady, red calf lady, rosa saffiano mini lady, and blu tumbled mini lady.

Love the non-knot of this peony tumbled leather mini lady

Closer look

(Left: AHA Moment and Let’s B Clear, Right: Dermstore Skin of Dreams Trio, C-ing is Believing)

I’ve been taking advantage of the recent promotions to restock my beauty closet — both on cost-effective drugstore favorites (that the mister uses too) and on the splurges. I consider Drunk Elephant to be a midrange splurge and current holiday value sets makes the price easier to swallow. Each value set comes with deluxe samples that are the same size as what’s in The Littles set — I can’t justify paying $90 for these deluxe samples. In most cases, the set is about the same price as a single regular priced item.

My Drunk Elephant experience to date:
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Two thumbs up to this faux suede moto jacket from Target’s ongoing Who What Wear collaboration. I held off on posting this for a few weeks because it was sold out online. It appears to be back in stock for most sizes. It looks like suede, is supersoft, and doesn’t come with the maintenance costs of real suede. Sizing is TTS (I take my J.Crew size). I layer it over this Uniqlo sweater in olive. It also comes in plus sizes. This jacket is pricey for Target. I got it on sale but would buy it at full price in a heartbeat. If you like shoes, make sure to check out the latest additions to this collab — most of it is too trendy for my taste.

This bright Merona red/blue plaid blanket scarf also gets a honorable mention. While a 100% acrylic scarf is far from luxurious, the price is great, it’s warm, and it has a red/blue plaid print that matches most of my outfits.

There are two stackable promotions right now: use code COLD through Thursday for 25% off (good for cold weather wear) and code STYLE through Saturday for $10-25 off if you purchase $50+ (applies to all clothing).

Image: Target, Who What Wear for Target Moto Jacket

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I love Uniqlo — it’s such a great value, good quality, and practical. Here is what I’ve seen or bought lately:

Extra Fine Cotton Oversized Shirts
Comes in stand collar, solid collared, and striped collared. I initially saw this on someone on IG and loved it. I wouldn’t have given it a second look otherwise. I ended up keeping 3 of these (all of the collared shirts were on sale for $9.90). The prices were raised and the smaller sizes are pretty sold out. It looks great with legging pants, sleeves rolled up and is light enough for yearround wear. This is an oversized fit, it runs big. Size down!


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Tatcha‘s 20% off Friends and Family sale is ending tonight (was extended but now dead). The sale is the same discount as the Sephora VIB sale, but I was waiting for Tatcha’s own sale because (1) I have gift cards and Amex offers (current offer is spend $50+ get $10 credit) to stack, (2) Tatcha naturally carries more on their own site than on Sephora, and (3) Tatcha samples (you can pick up to 3)! Shipping is also free on all orders. What Tatcha will be doing for Cyber Week/Black Friday/Cyber Monday is unknown — last year it coincided with their F&F.

The general consensus is that Tatcha is pricey and has great packaging. Despite all the marketing, it’s not a Japanese skincare line. In fact, it’s not even sold in Japan — Japanese-inspired and developed is more accurate. As I get older, I really gravitate towards the luxury beauty splurge. Not every product is a hero — the ones I got were based on reviews I read and weren’t a blind purchase. I also appreciate that almost all of the products come in (somewhat) wallet friendly, deluxe travel sizes, which makes it feel like less of a splurge and potential sunk investment.
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