Things to leave behind in 2015 – VPL

VPL…

It’s like…the biggest faux pas ever.

Seriously…let’s consider:

Visible bra straps? Hell…showing your whole bra is a hot trend now.

Free the nipple? It was a movement on social media at one point and side boob is a thing to behold. 

Underwear as outerwear inspired entire designer collections back in 2014.

But one thing no one has EVER found even an iota of couture in…is the visible panty line.

Since the dawn of time, women have been saddled with the burden of finding the appropriate under garment for every outfit.

The most elusive of these has been, no doubt, that drop dead sexy slinky dress that hugs every crevice, cranny and valley of your body. You know…those dresses that look painted on, but the material isn’t sturdy enough to keep your underwear from printing through.

And with these dresses…it’s not just the panty line around the derriere that we have to contend with…it’s the straps of the underwear that create that less than flattering indentation in the hip and gives you that dreaded muffin-top-like illusion on even the fittest of females.

So what have we done? Well to date…women have fallen into one of three camps:

Camp 1: Those who don’t wear that kind of thing at all. They’re the boring bunch.

Camp 2. Those who rock the look AND the visible panty, and don’t really give a damn. They’re the nonchalant crew.

Camp 3: The commando cadets. These ladies are the devil-may-care bunch who rather spend an evening sans draws than subject themselves to panty-line scrutiny.

However…there’s a fourth camp emerging. It’s a little radical…and some may say even a little bit of a fad. But from personal experience I can say there’s something to it.

I first came across Shibue strapless panties in the run up to Carnival 2015. I bought a pair and used it beneath my costume on Carnival Tuesday and let me tell you…God send.

It wasn’t until I was approached by the rep for Shibue to write a review of the underwear that I began to consider its other applications – much like the scenario I presented above.

I own a lot of close-fitting, body con dresses that are made of a stretch cotton or jersey material.

I wore one of the aforementioned dresses for my birthday dinner back in October and it was a real relief not to have to worry about any unsightly visible panty line, with the security of coverage you’d enjoy from a regular pair of underwear.

The Shibue strapless panty has a strip of silicone on the front, as well as on the rear end of the underwear.

You have to ensure your skin is clean and free of moisture and press the front part of the underwear to your lower abdomen (basically where you’d expect your underwear to rest normally) and then pull the other end through your legs and attach the back end just above your butt. Make sure it’s snug…you don’t want to be all loosey goosey down there.

shibue

When you’re ready to remove it, just unstick both ends from your skin, hand wash your Shibue and leave to air dry.

Turns out Shibue was also the official underwear for the Trinidad and Tobago Fashion Week (2TFW) 2015 and is used by Claudia Pegus in her runway shows.

Babes like Chrissy Teigen and Jennifer Lopez also use Shibue.

If it’s good enough for Chrissy…it’s good enough for me.

shibue

Before (yikes) and after

Persons interested in retail or wholesale purchases can email shibuecouturetnt@gmail.com

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. I was, however, given a Shibue strapless panty for my consideration. 

#ShopLocal // Christmas Gift Guide

Hide yo wallets! Hide yo ATM cards!

The recession is here y’all and so is Christmas!!!

I’ve always seen Christmas time as my own personal recession anyway…since it’s the time of year I spend with reckless abandon…both on my loved ones and myself.

Anyhoo! In my humble, completely unprofessional opinion, there’s no better way to stimulate a country’s ailing economy by spending more money…locally.

So tell Amazon to go suck an egg (most of the Skybox companies have passed their Christmas shipping deadlines anyyyywaaayyyy) and check out these great gift options for your peeps…or….yourself.

$800 and under

So if I’m even bothering to get you a gift, and you’re not Mombert or Dadbert or Brobert, you probably fall into this category. You ma top tier peeps so I’m gonna shell a little more on you than I would other folks in my life.

Rebel Swimwear – $700-$800 at The Shop

IMG_1421IMG_142011950537_929331977139320_1730144120_n

Woven Baskets – $576 – $684 at The Shop

IMG_1412

Meiling Tunic – $650 at The Shop

IMG_1415

Shop Shari Necklace – $600 at Exhibit A

IMG_1442 (1)

Delia Alleyne Wrap Jumper – $600 at The Shop

IMG_1410

Lisa See Tai Fringe Kimono – $558 at The Shop

IMG_1407

$500 and under

Cocoa Vintage Necklace – $475 at The Shop

IMG_1399

Toni Crockett Design Throw Pillows – $400 each at Exhibit A

IMG_1446

Lend & Borough Tote – $351 at The Shop

IMG_1408

The Urban Factory Bracelet – $380 at Exhibit A

IMG_1440

Colouriot Jewelry for Bene Caribe Necklace – $280 each at Akimbo

IMG_1427

Zidelle Crop Top – $360 at The Shop

IMG_1418

Island Bags Pouch – $320 at Exhibit A

IMG_1444

Aya Made Necklace – $250 at Akimbo

IMG_1429

Wholesome You Body Care Gift Set – $225 at Akimbo

IMG_1426

JoVew by Makisa Bag – $315 at Akimbo

IMG_0973

Drevait Clutch – $360 at Akimbo

IMG_1431

Bay Leaf Tunic – $350 at Akimbo

IMG_1430

Sanianitos Sunnies – $250 at The Shop

IMG_1406

Greta Michelle Tea Cups – $245 each at The Shop

IMG_1403

$200 and under

Yes this category exists!

Cocoa Vintage Cocoa Pod Studs – $125 (gold) and $100 (brown/yellow) at The Shop

IMG_1398

Nikki Biedes Bracelet – $175 at Exhibit A

IMG_1443

Immortelle Beauty Gift Set – $150 at The Shop

IMG_1413

Wholesome You Hair Care Gift Set – $140 at Akimbo

IMG_1425

Turtle Warriors Tassel Bracelets – $150 each at The Shop

IMG_1400

Immortelle Beauty Ambré Candle – $125 at Exhibit A

IMG_1439

Nola Daniels Coconut Tea Cup – $72 at The Shop

IMG_1416

Classy Gents Beard Oil and Balm – $130 and $60 at Akimbo

IMG_1432

I still have to hit up Exhibit A and Blue Basin to see what they have on offer, so this guide will probably get updated on the weekend.

This list is by no means exhaustive – there’s no way I could document every single item at these stores, so I just selected the items I liked the most :)

Please pay a visit to either The Shop at the Normandie Hotel or Akimbo on Pro Queen Street, Arima, to grab some locally made goodies for the loves in your life.

Happy shopping!

Go Barefoot on the Beach for NYE

NYE is fast approaching and the thought at the top of everyone’s head, as usual, is how to celebrate.

I suspect my Ole Year’s will involve copious amounts of prosecco and Netflix…but for those of you heading over to the sister isle, there’s a slightly less ‘future cat lady’ option.

Mount Irvine Bay Resort is making NYE in Tobago fabulous with Barefoot on the Beach, a premium all-inclusive event, hosted at Mount Irvine’s Private Beach Facility on December 31st, 2015 from 9PM to 3AM.

Mount Irvine Bay Resort recently enjoyed a rejuvenation if you will, enlisting the superior branding expertise à la the geniuses at Abovegroup and embarking on a significant redesign via the Mac Farlane (yes, THAT Mac Farlane) Design Studio.

How do you lose with a combination like that?

Spoiler alert: you don’t.

IMG_2561

Imagine ringing in 2016 with waves lapping gently around your feet, with a glass of champagne in one hand and the other holding a plate stacked high with food. If that isn’t a great way to start the year I’m not sure why you’re reading my blog because literally…all I care about is food.

Now naturally, when an event’s tagline is ‘island chic, footwear optional’, you start thinking about what faboosh wardrobe you’d be stuffing into Caribbean Airlines Dash 8-friendly carry on suitcase for the weekend.

IMG_1784

Here’s what I would pack for a weekend away in Tobago, and a New Year’s Eve romp in the sand at Barefoot on the Beach.

Indie Swim

Indie Swim bikini available online or at NIXPIXX

Jae Jolly 1

Jae Jolly playsuit available at Exhibit A

Shop Shari

Shop Shari dress available online

cocoa vintage

Cocoa Vintage earrings available at The Shop at Normandie

Kite Dress

Kite dress by Meiling available at 6 Carlos

Sokanaval

Sokanaval ensemble available online

So…before the booty shorts and crop tops of Carnival come out to play, let’s end 2015 with some style.

Barefoot on the Beach tickets are available through Island E Tickets.

You can get more information or RSVP to the event on Facebook or send a message via Mount Irvine Bay Resort’s Facebook page.

 

I’ll be hosting a giveaway on my Instagram profile @CeolaB this week. One lucky winner gets a pair of tickets to Barefoot on the Beach, courtesy of the Mount Irvine Bay Resort.

Just repost the Barefoot on the Beach image and my caption and you have a chance to win a ticket to this exclusive bram!

 

Disclaimer: I was not paid to post about Mount Irvine Bay Resort or Barefoot on the Beach :)

Treasure Hunting // Akimbo

East people…our time has come!

Finally there’s a shopping resource in the east for people who want to put their money where their mouth is and buy locally (and regionally) made clothing, accessories and beauty products.

Akimbo, located on Pro Queen Street, Arima (obliquely opposite the tennis courts near the Arima market) is a newly opened boutique which carries products from Trinbagonian artisans, as well as a few folks from other islands.

I missed the opening on November 7th but was able to pop in today.

They carry a variety of designers and makers, with products ranging from clothing to jewellery to handbags to toiletries to furniture to art.

Prices are reasonable IMO – ie, you don’t get the impression you’re paying a heavily inflated price for purchasing from a retail outlet as opposed to directly from a designer.

The store itself is spacious and comfortable. You don’t feel cramped while browsing the items. I didn’t get to check out the changing rooms but they seemed to have quite a bit of space in the area behind the register, so I’m optimistic those also give you enough room to wiggle into some of the pretty dresses on offer.

If you’re still stuck for Christmas shopping, and not able to make it to any of the local markets, consider Akimbo as a shopping destination “past the lighthouse” (eye roll, eye roll, eye roll).

Please note that Akimbo doesn’t currently have a LINX machine. They’re working on it, but for now it’s cash only. Luckily there’s an RBC a stone’s throw away.

Check out my pics from Akimbo:

IMG_0975

AYA Made necklace (custom order)

IMG_0984

William McIntosh

IMG_0973

JoVew by Makisa

IMG_0965

KisKiddies by Xala Ramesar

IMG_0945

Bay Leaf

IMG_0947

Ai Naturals soap

IMG_0970

All Things Pallet

IMG_0946

Tizik

IMG_0969

Affrillance Haiti

Subscription Addiction // diemBox

Subscription boxes have become my latest guilty pleasure.

Somehow I managed to convince myself that it’s not really shopping if you get it routinely deducted from your credit card, without you actually having to go back in and click ‘Make Payment’ each time.

Right.

Anyway, right now I’m subscribed to a few foreign-based boxes, but have long ruminated on the feasibility of a locally-based subscription box, specifically one that carried locally-made items.

I was happy then, to receive an invitation to the launch of diemBox, a subscription service which positions itself as the Caribbean’s premiere subscription box service.

The launch was originally carded for July 24, which, if your memory is sharp, you’ll recall is the day POS thought it was going to burn…but then didn’t. Ie, POS Prison jailbreak day. So everyone cancelled all their evening plans, save for the usual Avenue rats who fear nothing, not even gun-toting prison escapees.

ANY. WAY.

The launch got postponed to the following Sunday and I was unable to attend because I went to CPL finals instead *record scratch*. More on that another day.

Elena of diemBox was kind enough to deliver my box to me at work, so I could bask in the glory of the first of the ‘Caribbean-inspired’ monthly offerings.

DiemBox

Hello gorgeous

According to the description, each box is carefully curated based on a monthly theme, which embodies life in the Caribbean.

Cost: $60USD per month; with free shipping for addresses within T&T. Regional/International subscribers will incur an additional shipping cost.

Note however that there are different costs depending on the length of subscription you take.

Diembox3

Promotional Image of diemBox contents

The information card I received with the box listed the items and their retail value:

MIKASA Stemless Wine Glass – $163TTD

MG Oolong Tea – $138TTD (Wasn’t included in the box I received)

Immortelle Beauty Esscentials Shower Gel – $69TTD

Bottega Mini Black 200ml – $59TTD

Anigram Ring Holder – $95TTD (Mine was a whale. I saw others got giraffes and rabbits)

Porcelain Ramekin – $45TTD

Stonewall Kitchen Raspberry Peach Champagne Jam 3.75 oz – $45TTD

MACO – $44TTD

Total Retail Value of items: $658TTD

Note: I received a Cailyn Nailpolish – which I priced in Starlite Pharmacy at $20TTD (This was not listed on the info card, so I presume it was a last minute replacement for the Oolong Tea).

DiemBox2

I think the assumption most people made/are making (myself included) is that this box was supposed to be a box of locally-made products.

Not so…as diemBox clearly states on their website and all social media profiles…it’s a Caribbean-inspired box.

Inspired.

Verdict:

I think this is a good first attempt at a Caribbean-based subscription service.

I’m not unreasonable…I know a service like this is expensive to curate, especially since we here in the Caribbean don’t have the benefit of mass-produced items to pop into subscription boxes.

However, that’s not the consumer’s concern. The consumer’s concern is whether they’re getting value for money.

Value is a pretty abstract concept. It’s not just dollars and cents; it’s the intrinsic benefit added to your life by a product or service, and that’s very subjective.

Would I pay $60USD per month for this box? Not based on the contents of the first box. And that’s not a dig at the quality of the items…they’re very good quality, tastefully designed products. Would I use all of them? Sure!

Like…I love me some prosecco any day of the week, and Bottega is the bomb…that ring holder is adorable…I never realised I needed a ramekin until I got this box (not even kidding)…Immortelle Beauty body wash went straight into my gym bag.

My real issue is that I want more locally made products. If this box included even two or three more locally made items, I would happily pay the asking price.

I must note that I have seen a concerted effort on the part of Elena and her team to get more local artisans on board with the project.

Hopefully this will encourage more local artisans to actually produce more of their goods in sample sizes, so it can be economically feasible for them to contribute to the box.

I could easily see an Amara Organics, Koko Karibi, Peta Odini, Shop Shari, Turtle Warrior TT, etc fitting in with this box, based on the type of products they make.

I’ll be monitoring the contents of the next few months’ boxes to see how the curation progresses.

Let me emphasize again – in terms of product quality and retail value…this box is worth the money. But if you’re looking for something you truly can’t get from a foreign subscription box, it’s not all the way there yet.

I encourage you to check out diemBox for yourself though, and decide whether this is a box you’re willing to try.

Website

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Travel Diary // Eating the Big Apple I

Hi, I’m back and slowly but surely getting over my intense NYC withdrawal.

For those of you who follow me on Instagram and Snapchat (@CeolaB), you probably witnessed me successfully eating my way through The Big Apple last weekend with my best friend Sandi and her sister Ashanna.

IMG_0004

No makeup selfie on the way to Brooklyn from JFK. Shout out to Jose who was the best host ever (AirBNB y’all).

P1000288

These beauts on the A train ^^^

Normally my trips to NY are just huge shopping marathons with my mom but on this trip I wanted to focus on eating at places I’d never been to before. I polled my FB friends before I left to try and get a gist of some of the best NYC eateries that I should hit up while on vacation.

Naturally I couldn’t hit them all, but I think I achieved my goal of enjoying a true foodie experience in New York.

Check out the pics below for a run down of all the grub I had.

Spice was one place that kept coming up when I asked about good food in New York. It’s a chain restaurant with extremely quick service, which doesn’t come at the expense of the quality of the food. We had a great meal and all our entrees came with complimentary appetizers. Don’t mind if we do.

P1000290

P1000292

P1000293

P1000294

IMG_0015

P1000296

P1000297

That night we decided to check out a Zagat rated southern comfort restaurant nearby where we staying. Peaches Hot House was packed to capacity when we arrived around 8:30pm. We placed our names on a board and went outside in the cold to wait, staring daggers at this group of folks who were taking forever to pay their bill and leave.

Eventually we got a seat and started in on some good ol’ comfort food. Not too shabby, but admittedly, didn’t live up to my expectations. I was super excited about the mac n cheese and blackened catfish but the fish turned out tasting a bit overseasoned and the cheese was slightly too sharp given the tartness of the salsa on the catfish.

Sorry about the dodgy pics, the lighting in the restaurant was next to none and I didn’t want to blind my fellow diners with my flash.

IMG_0027

IMG_0029

IMG_0031

That was day one of my NYC eats. Look out for the next post in which I gush over Chelsea Market.

Mini-Haul // The Shop

I popped into The Shop at The Normandie Hotel on Friday evening with every intention of grabbing my mom a Mother’s Day gift.

I left with a bag full of stuff…none of which were for my mom. Usual behaviour.

The Shop has really expanded its stock of local vendors considerably since it first opened.

It’s so refreshing to me to be able to find new artisans that I haven’t heard of before. I honestly fell off the local market scene for a bit because I began feeling like I had seen and experienced all there was to experience. Visiting The Shop showed me that there is still a lot left to discover, and new artisans are emerging every day with products that are just as impressive as the ones I’m used to.

Anyway, let me show you what I grabbed.

IMG_9853

ESPJr Snow Cone Onesie – TTD$125

My Uncle Chris, who lives in Holland, is expecting his first child in July. I figured that he, like all displaced Trinis, will be wanting to dress up his baby in Trini paraphernalia. ESPJr’s Mini Trini onesies are the perfect, non-cliché identifiers of the offspring of Trinidadians everywhere.

IMG_9858

Wholesome You Oatmeal and Walnut Exfoliating Cleanser – TTD$125

I’m not nearly as into skincare as I should be. I suppose that’s because I don’t really have much problems with my skin, so I’ve taken it for granted.

Recently I’ve noticed my skin is getting much oilier than I’m used to, and I’m not sure why.

I saw this brand Wholesome You at The Shop and decided to give them a go, seeing that I’d never purchased it before.

This Oatmeal and Walnut Scrub is made “for gentle exfoliating to rid of acne, scars, excessive oil, it also tones, safely cleanses your skin and much more.”

IMG_9855

Wholesome You Clove and Rose Facial Mist – TTD$70

Totally new product for me to try. I’ve never bought or used any kind of facial mist before. This one “is perfect for hot sunny days as it soothes and cools you down while your exposed to the sun or after. It also has antibacterial properties for the flu season and it cleanses and hydrates your skin on the go!”

Sounds good to me. I thought the smell of the clove would be off putting but it’s actually not bothersome at all. I actually quite like it.

IMG_9854

Tea-licious Chocolate Mint Black Tea Leaves – TTD$65

I am a tea stan. I love tea. I also love loose leaf tea and got a tea maker from my friend Sean over Christmas so I can make pretty sweet cups of loose leaf tea.

Mint tea is one of my favourites, so when I saw Tea-licious CHOCOLATE mint tea I was like nah…gotta have it.

I’ll be trying this tonight while I take in some Game of Thrones so I’ll let you know how it goes.

IMG_9857

Cocoa Vintage Ceramic Cocoa Studs – TTD$100

Long love Cocoa Vintage and her amazing jewellery. I saw that she had done a plethora of new ceramic pieces (they’re all amazing by the way) and was all too happy to grab up this pair of dainty cocoa pod studs. The ends are gilded as well to add a bit more dimension to the earring. For some reason my ears haven’t been playing nice with longer, heavier earrings so I was glad to see some nice small studs that I could buy. New every day earrings perhaps?

IMG_9856

There ends my mini-haul.

I hope you enjoyed it and I hope you take the time to pop in to The Shop to take in some of the best that local has to offer.