2014, a smartphone picture retrospective on life

I remember doing a New Year's blog post two years ago, sort of touching on the subject of being depressed when looking back at what had happened that particular year. It was the year I graduated and got my first real adult job, but also the year both my father and a dear friend died. Additionally, I was not hired on the PhD project I'd set my hopes on, and the first job I did get hired on was only part-time. My boyfriend and me still struggled from time to time to make ends meet, even though both of us had been looking forward to my graduation as the moment when things would be getting easier financially.

Life, it was not the best during 2012. But then I started doing research at the University of Antwerp in 2013 thanks to some awesome professors I impressed by being a know-it-all during class, and in September 2013 I was hired on a PhD project about children and media sexualization. As the cherry on top, I also ended up having awesome colleagues and a beautiful workplace in my favourite city: Antwerp.


my feet on my very first day at the new PhD job - office inside joke (translation: regrets are donkey shit) - beautiful Antwerp - Foucault love (even though he's a terrible writer at times)

This PhD project is a dream come true, but since the stakes were so high, also a major source of stress. 2014 was about finding confidence and earning my stripes at this new position, overcoming fears and insecurities. I traveled abroad on my own for the first time, visiting a conference in London and giving a presentation on my research. 


a quick look at London from the taxi


the gorgeous conference venue

2014 challenged me to grow and mature. The stress of work, life and bills made me grow closer to my life partner, more keenly understanding him and his worries and frustrations. We learned to communicate better, and reached a major milestone: our first holiday abroad together. Throughout our 10+ years together, I can't count the instances when we were watching television or scrolling through our facebook feed, and happened on shots of beautiful vacation destinations. I'd ask my boyfriend "we'll go there one day, won't we?" so often it became sort of a running gag. "Someday", he'd assure me, but as I grew up in a household that didn't have money for family vacations, I'd sort of accepted my situation. After all, vacation is a luxury, not a right. No one NEEDS to experience the world. Holidays abroad are an immense privilege. 

But this summer, we finally had the money, the time and the plan to make it. We drove all the way down through France until we reached the Ardèche-Drôme region, and experienced the most beautiful, relaxing, carefree couple of days in my life. I was so proud of the two of us reaching this point in our lives that I felt we'd been travelling towards since forever.





sunflowers - no fuss peaches on nutbread lunch - pitstop in the shade - goofing off

In 2014, we took steps to reach our ultimate goal of stability, prosperity, harmony. I sound like a Star Trek tagline, I know, but sometimes life comes together so beautifully that you can only describe it by being corny. Here's to another year of moving forward and up! And thanks for checking in with me :)

Subtle christmas colours in the snow

plaid scarf, snow, pom pom hat, knee high boots
plaid scarf, snow, pom pom hat
double faced plaid scarf, snow
knee high boots, snow, vintage skirt
pom pom hat, plaid scarf, snow
plaid scarf, snow, pom pom hat, knee high boots

boots: Mano - skirt: thrifted - leather jacket: Henleys via Get The Label - double-faced oversized plaid scarf: c/o Sheinside (currently on sale!), also available in red - fluffy pom pom beanie - Oakwood via Company Antwerp - white cross body bag: H&M

Just after Christmas it started to snow, and it didn't stop until the next day. It had been almost two years since we last saw snow around these parts, so obviously I had to convince my poor boyfriend to come outside for a few minutes to capture the moment. He still thinks I'm a bit crazy for making him trudge through the awful weather to take pictures of my outfit and, well, I don't blame him. However, snowy pictures are always the prettiest, and snow only happens every once in a blue moon, so IT WAS WORTH IT OKAY. The white contrasts beautifully with my dark outfit, and brings out the Christmassy vibe of the red and alpine green accents.

These pictures were taken during twilight, but I made it work with a 1.8 aperture and after throwing a filter in there. Just check out the before and after, goes to show how important post production is during the dark months.

photo editing make dark photo lighter

Snow pictures are always a win, because they can carry a lot of over-editting. Seriously brightening up high ISO pictures taken in low light conditions gives pictures a vintage film-like grain. Goes with my thrifted skirt.

PS: this scarf is ridiculously soft, blanket-sized and it has two sides with different plaid prints: SOLD.

Perfect layers

burgundy coat cardigan, white purse
burgundy cardigan, white purse, marled sweater
burgundy cardigan, marled sweater
layered hair, burgundy lipswhite purse, dream in green boots
burgundy cardigan, white purse
outfitblog burgundy cardigan white purse
oversized burgundy cardigan, marled sweater

marled 'graduator' knit: c/o Bench - skinny jeans: H&M - coat/cardigan: Sheinside - purse: Emmy Wieleman - boots: Dream in Green via Zalando

You probably thought the "perfect layers" title referred to my outfit, right? Well, it's true, but it also refers to my hair. I've had a haircut a few weeks ago (you might have noticed in this holiday party outfit post), and ever since, my hair has been DIVINE. I've discovered that, while I hate layers that are shorter than about mouth-length, my hair looks its best when it has layers starting at chin-length. I don't have to do anything to it but scrunching in some styling mousse if I want my hair to have extra body, and letting it air dry, and this is what I end up with: full, naturally wavy hair. It's like it has come alive after years of hibernation, and my locks are making me very happy these days.

The outfit is good as well, of course: I'm wearing a few of my favourite pieces. The skinny jeans are pajama-soft and even though I have been wearing them to death for about a year now, they still look great. The cardigan/coat hybrid is heavy, cozy, beautifully burgundy and very versatile - see me pair it with my mint oversized scarf here. Lastly, the knit sweater has a lovely cowl neck and is slightly longer at the back, which makes it pair perfectly with leggings. Also, it keeps my back warm during these cold winter days, so thank you, sweater!

What items have you been living in lately?

Christmas glam in Little Mistress

red party dress lauren little mistress
red party dress lauren little mistress
burgundy lipstick gold hoop earrings
Christmas red gold glitter ombre manicure
burgundy lips gold hoop earrings
red party dress lauren little mistress

red party dress: c/o Little Mistress - mules: Dorothy Perkins - gold hoop earrings: H&M - rings: Diamanti per Tutti

Hey guys, I hope you are having a truly wonderful Christmas time. I have spent it with my boyfriend and his kids, eating good food, playing games and watching Robin Hood (all time favourite Disney movie). As promised, I put together another party look for you. A more formal outfit, featuring this stunning red Little Mistress Lauren dress and some black and gold accessories. Make up wise, I put the focus on sharp eyebrows, a glittery manicure and burgundy lips, this dress needs nothing more. I did the overlined lips thing again, working with a lip pencil to get the clean lines so needed with dark lipstick.

This dress is, as you can see, totally stunning, but it is also very nicely made. It's fully lined and it has some padding around the bust so you skip wearing a bra without having to worry about showing nipple (even though you shouldn't worry because nipples are really cool), and the fabric along the armpit has stretch to it so it won't pinch. Flattering and very comfortable: two thumbs up! I've heard great things about Little Mistress before, and I can only confirm that they're a great destination for well made dresses for formal occasions or parties in general, with prices ranging from about 40€ to 130€. They also have some really pretty plus size, so go check them out if you need a party dress. 

I can't wait for a real occasion to wear this dress, but some of my boyfriend's family got engaged last year so it probably won't be long.

Merry Christmas! Hope you're having a good one.
 

Beauty review: Dior's Golden Shock holiday collection

I'm not a "real" beauty blogger who knows everything about all the trends and new collections, but I am a big fan of make up and beauty in general. In a way, that makes my approach to beauty very similar to my approach to fashion: I don't pay attention to trends or innovation really, but I keep my eyes open and I pick up inspiration here and there, honing my taste palate, developing my knowlege and skills and keeping my approach playful and close to my daily life.

Recently, I've started branching out to more expensive products, both in fashion as well as in make up. Now, that doesn't mean I've gone from H&M to Hermès, but with more disposable income comes a broader range of options to choose from, which makes every choice more thought out. Is investing in a higher end product always worth it, if you have the cash to burn? The answer varies, obviously, which makes reviewing beauty so interesting!

As someone who is relatively new to upscale beauty, I was absolutely delighted when I received part of the Dior Golden Shock to review for you. Not just because this was the first real recognition I've received as a budding beauty blogger on-the-side, but also because, well, look. JUST LOOK and imagine the weight and the gloss of these beautiful, stunning containers.

dior golden shock review

*swoon*

Dior's Golden Shock collection is a holiday collection, designed specifically to create a beautiful party look and to be gifted. Just imagine finding a box with one or more of these products under your Christmas tree! I received the 5 Couleurs eyeshadow palette in 756 Golden Shock, the Diorific nail polishes in 241 Gold Equinoxe (the gold) and 990 Smoky (the dark), the Diorshow Fusion Mono in 621 Mirror, and the Diorific Golden shock illuminating pressed powder in 002 Pink Shock.

As you can see, the containers exude luxury, especially the gold highlighter compact and the nail polish bottles. Too pretty to hide in your make up drawers for sure!

dior golden shock review diorific vernis

Ugh, so gorgeous. I chose to show these bottles lying on their side because it shows that the dark nail polish isn't black, but a beautiful shade of eggplant. Incidentally, dark eggplant/burgundy and glimmering gold are two of my favourite nail polish colours: the gold because it's like a more festive nude, wearing off beautifully rather than showing ugly chipping, and the eggplant because I think dark, off-black nails are just about the sexiest manicure in the world.

dior golden shock review diorific vernis gold equinoxe smoky

The brush is thin but it does its job just fine, I had no issues using the brush to do my nails.

dior golden shock equinoxe smoky review

Gold Equinoxe is an almost pearly, soft, warm gold that leans bronze. The consistency of the polish is rather thin, and the formula is opaque after two layers. Smoky has a high shine, gel-like consistency and is much thicker, but surprisingly easy to work with for a thick, dark nail polish. Both polishes dry quickly and neatly, which is especially important with regards to the Smoky shade because dark nail polish shows every mistake you make while the polish is drying. Smoky can be opaque after one thick layer, but I did two thin ones here. In short: beautiful nail polishes, great quality, but maybe not innovative enough to warrant the 27.25€ price tag. HOWEVER, those bottles! Unf. These would make wonderful gifts to someone you know who loves nail polish, as the bottles are basically collector's items.

Next up: the Diorshow Fusion Mono in 621 Mirror, which is a creamy eyeshadow that is packed with champagne glitter and has a beautifully smooth consistency.

review dior golden shock diorshow fusion mono mirror

The product comes with a small sponge applicator which works great when used in the inner corners of your eyes, or to add some sparkle to your cupid's bow (my current favourite beauty trick). This eyeshadow does not give an opaque result, but is a lovely way to add a wash of shimmer to your eyelids or even cheekbones. The container is also pretty huge and will likely last you forever, so I'd say this is good value for money.

The next product is undoubtedly the show stopper of the collection: Diorific Golden shock illuminating pressed powder in 002 Pink Shock.  

diorific golden shock pink shock highlighter review

diorific golden shock pink shock highlighter review

Again, what a gorgeous product. It comes in a little velvet pouch with an extra pocket holding a small, incredibly soft real hair brush, and the golden compact itself is heavy, shiny and completely stunning. The sort of make up product that looks like it will magically transform you into a glamorous dame. Well, that or a Sailor Senshi. The pressed powder is embossed and reminds me of a compass rose. It looks mega shiny, but the glitter is an overspray, which means that the compact underneath the initial layer isn't nearly as glittery.

diorific golden shock pink shock highlighter swatch

On the right, you see the powder including the glittery overspray, on the left, you see the powder after the overspray has gone. The effect is smooth and soft, but more satin than glittery. It's too bad the pretty glitter layer doesn't remain, and I actually don't mind a bit of glitter in my highlighter when used strategically (on the cheekbones and browbone), but most women I know are intimidated by glitter in make up that isn't eyeshadow or nail polish. Pink Shock is a subtle, natural highlighter, and as such a versatile product you can use on the forehead, the bridge of the nose and the chin as well as the cheekbones and the brow bone. In the picture below, I've used it on the nose bridge and the cheekbones. The effect: a healthy, pastel pink glow that works wonderfully well with my cool skintone. I used it with a matte blush so you can really see the effect.

diorific golden shock pink shock highlighter review

End verdict: not the most exciting highlighter I've tried, and the overspray disappearing is a bit of a disappointment, but the packaging is stunning and as a highlighter, it is versatile and not too intimidating to people who prefer a more natural look. Expensive, but definitely great Christmas gift material.

Next up, my personal favourite, the 5 Couleurs in 756 Golden Shock.

diorific golden shock 5 couleurs review

Again, eye candy to the max. This palette consists of  (clockwise) an eggplant purple with a satin finish, a purple leaning medium brown with a satin finish, a frosted beige-gold, a light pink with a matte finish interspersed with scatterings of glitter, and a warm, sparkling yellow gold that almost looks like pure glitter. The palette also comes with two applicators, but I wouldn't recommend using sponge applicators for powdery eyeshadow.

diorific golden shock 5 couleurs swatches

I like most of these shades well enough, as they are smooth, blendable and nicely pigmented. The colours could be more pigmented, but I don't think most people would wear bright purple on the regular, so the smooth but slightly sheer formula makes this palette very wearable for, well, regular people that aren't make up artists. However, I would have liked to see more pigmentation from the light pink and the glittery gold. The best part of the palette is how well these colours work together to create a beautiful make up look. It really is a nice combination of shades that flatters my hazel eyes immensely, and I would never have thought that purple and gold were such a match made in heaven! I created two different party make up looks to demonstrate the palette. I tried something new this time, illustrating where every colour goes with a neat paint-by-numbers esque photoshop diagram (is that the right word?). I used a primer underneath both of these looks.

First, a look where I use all of the colours.

diorific golden shock 5 couleurs review swatch

diorific golden shock 5 couleurs review swatch

Keeping in mind that this make up was more pigmented in real life than in these pictures, this is pretty impressive, no? I used the light pink in the inner eye corner and on the brow bone, both of the golds in the middle of the eyelid, the purple in the outer corner and under the eye, the brown as a blending colour in the crease and between the purple and the gold. I was pretty much in love with the end result.

And here is the second look I put together.

diorific golden shock 5 couleurs review swatch

diorific golden shock 5 couleurs review swatch

This time, I used the two gold shades all over the lid, the brown in the crease, the purple under the eye and the Diorshow Fusion Mono in the inner corners and in the cupid's bow. Love it!

To round up, I feel like this is a stunningly designed and packaged collection with good quality make up, that will probably make many people very happy this Christmas. I know it made me very happy. All of these products are available at the Dior beauty counter in, for example, Ici Paris XL, Galerina Inno or Planet Parfum.

Prices:
Diorshow Fusion Mono 621 Mirror // €35
Diorific Vernis // €27,25
Diorific Pink Shock Illuminating Pressed Powders // €74
5 Colours Golden Shock // €60
Hope you liked my review! Which of the products appeals to you the most?

Office holiday party outfit: sweater dress and glitter tights

office party outfit sweater dress gold glitter tights
gold glitter tights pointy toe mary jane pumps
gold star stud earrings
diamanti per tutti circle of life ring
office party outfit sweater dress gold glitter tights
office party outfit sweater dress gold glitter tights
gold star stud earrings
office party outfit sweater dress gold glitter tights

sweater dress: c/o OASAP - glitter tights: H&M - pointy toe mary jane pumps: ASOS - ring: Diamanti Per Tutti - earrings: Winston & Celeste

Today, I bring you another party outfit, inspired by my many friends who aren't so lucky as to have time off for the holidays. Hustle! This look is classy and subtle, great for after-hours office holiday parties, or even spending the holidays with more conservative in-laws. Gold and grey is an uncommon colour combination, but one that works well when you want to put together a more subdued festive palette with the grey toning down the gold. When your outfit for the day has to do double duty and be professional as well as festive, gold/glitter tights, and a chic sweater dress are the perfect solution. Not too revealing or too tight, but still kinda hot. Finish off with a low maintenance bun, subtle but festive accessories like these gold star studs, and make up that is just a bit heavier than what you would normally wear for a work day, et voila!

Check out my other party style suggestions here:

I still have one more coming up, which will be a bit of a show-stopper. Hope you like this subtly festive one as well!