Beauty

For the Love of Skin Care: Part 1

Skin first. Makeup second. I have so many fun cosmetic finds I am anxious to share, but first, let’s talk skin. If your skin is hydrated and healthy, your makeup will go on flawlessly. Skin care is essentially your foundation. I struggled with dryness all winter, which made applying makeup, (which I typically love doing), a pain in the tush.  After loads of research and testing out bundles of products,  I have perfected my skincare regime. Today I am sharing the products and rituals that will get your skin glowing, and perfectly primed for make-up.

~Exfoliate. Skin exfoliating removes the old cells and debris, revealing the fresher skin below. Without proper exfoliation, dead skin cells can get trapped and build up on the skin’s surface.  This can lead to clogged pores, dark spots, roughness, dullness, dryness, and more gross stuff.  I believe my dryness issue steamed from not exfoliating regularly. Without removing that top layer of icky skin, the hydrating serums and masks I was using were unable to properly penetrate.  The hydrated new and improved me use’s Dermalogica’s gentle cream exfoliant 2-3 times a week. 4-5 days a week I use Dr. Dennis Gross’s extra strength peel pads. I can’t recommend these bad boys enough.  So quick and easy, and your skin looks refreshed and radiant immediately after. I also remain dedicated to shaving my face once a week. Game changer. Even if a little peach fuzz does not bother you; a gentle shave will leave your skin exfoliated, silky smooth, and perfectly prepped for makeup. I have tried many different razors, and my favorite is Forever 21’s eyebrow razors. They are gentle yet effective, and $2.90 for a pack of two. Have no fear, it is a misconception that the hair will grow back thicker or faster. Shaving does not change the number of hair follicles in the skin or rate of hair growth. For more scoop on shaving, check out my past post, Weird Beauty Hacks that Work.  This is a topic I am very passionate about people!

Now that we are polished and prepped, let’s talk moisturizers. The options of fabulous brands are endless, and this girl does not limit herself to just one. I believe a little variety is good for the skin.  Brand new to me is a product I recently discovered Brevena. Brevena’s proprietary ingredient, Macro B Complex, is proven to provide long-lasting hydration resulting in visibly plumped fine lines while boosting firmness.  I use the daily hydration moisturizer, and love that it is lightweight and leaves my skin silky smooth. A couple times a week I use the Restore&Hydrate Overnight Cream.  After a couple weeks of using this cream regularly, my skin felt smoother and better hydrated. Brevena is the only skin care to combine the scientific power of Macro B Complex with nature’s purest vitamins and minerals.

Another line I am a huge fan of is Image Skincare, a clinical skincare brand powered by safe, proven ingredients and smart botanicals. They offer a collection of lines to cater to your skin’s specific needs. On their website you can take a quiz, (it’s pretty fun), to determine which products are best for you. I love the Vital C hydrating line for collagen boosting production, and help against free radicals and damage caused by UV radiation.  A couple times a week I use the AGELESS total overnight retinol mask. Any dermatologist will tell you retinol is the gold-standard ingredient in skin care. Prior to discovering this amazing mask I was not using retinol…I was skeptical that it would cause dryness and sensitivity.  My skin felt hydrated and firmer after the first night using this breakthrough treatment masque. You can also score my favorite lip balm from Image Skincare. The balancing lip enhancement complex is fabulously hydrating, and not at all sticky.  I usually purchase two at a time!

Moving along to another great passion of mine…eye masks! I love everything about sheet masks…except getting them in the right spot…and keeping them in that spot! Modern day problems. Thankfully I discovered VIIcode oxygen eye masks, and the positioning drama is over. Every other eye mask I have tried slides around, but these babies peel and stick right on…and don’t budge! With natural potent antioxidants, skin is left refreshed and invigorated. These are the first eye masks that are safe to leave on for up to 8 hours. I recently popped them on before a road trip…because why not?

Soft luscious lips are every beauty gals dream. Just as skincare is the foundation for makeup, lips must be properly hydrated before applying lipstick.  Laneige lip sleeping mask is the answer to a perfectly kissable pout. The softening balm texture glides on silky smooth, and smells and tastes delightful. A generous layer of this soothing mask at bedtime reduces flakiness so you wake up to supple lips that are primed for your favorite fabulous lipstick. I love this product too much to limit its use to strictly bedtime…I use it all the time.

One can never have enough fabulous moisturizers. I adore the award winning Lala Retro Whipped Moisturizer by Drunk Elephant. This all-purpose rescue cream, whipped into an airy blend of six rare African oils, recovers and locks in intense moisture for hours after application.  It goes on so nicely, and I just love the clean mess-free packaging.  Drunk Elephant is cruelty-free and committed to using only ingredients that will directly benefit the skin’s health.

Last but not least on the list…lashes! Come hither lengthy lashes are a key component in the pursuit of glam. Just like our skin and lips, it’s important to  properly care for your precious lashes.  I have been using Monat Eye Wonder Lash&Brow enhancing serum a few times a week for the past few months, and I see visible improvement in my lashes length and strength. Adding just about 15 seconds to your beauty regime, apply one easy swipe along the lash line, and you’ll be on your way to flutter-worthy lashes. Monat offers a full line of naturally based anti aging hair care products. One of my best girlfriend’s is a rockstar Monat representative, and a certified healthy hair care whiz. Find her at Hair Tonics by Ginny, she will happily hook you up!

I am signing off with a fourth grade throwback…who remembers Glamour Shots?!

“May your day be as flawless as your skin.”

XOXO,

Julz Chez

Fashion

Designer Spotlight: Alice+Olivia

Blogging has been great for many reasons…but a stand out FUN bonus? The social component! Becoming a part of the Chicago fashion scene has seriously amped up my social life. However, I had filed hosting my very own event in the “scary” folder.  But when an opportunity with one of my all time favorite designers Alice+Olivia presented itself…I simply had to say YES! The brand embodies everything I love about fashion….whimsical and feminine, fearless and fun, sexy and sophisticated…in short…EVERYTHING!  Stacey Bendet, the creative director and mastermind behind the label, perfectly embodies the glamorous brand.  She also happens to be an amazing yoga practitioner. You can find her on Instagram nailing crazy yoga postures in 5 inch heels. Talk about my fashion icon match made in heaven!

My event had the good fortune of landing on a beautiful Chicago evening. I was sooo excited…yet also sooo nervous. The evening turned out to be a smash success.  The store was packed, and the crowd was vibrantly fun, stylish, and all over the fashion.  I had a great energy with the A+O team going into the event, which made the experience even more special.

Let’s take a look at my favorite outfits! First up, we have this bright neon pantsuit.  Fun fact: the brand was actually born from Stacey’s personal quest to create the perfect pair of pants. And girlfriend sure did succeed. These wide legged Paulette trousers are the best fitting pants I have ever owned. Comfy and cool, flattering and polished…and the bright neon shade is sheer dynamite. A simple fitted white tee tucked in looks great with theses statement styled stems…but I couldn’t resist the matching neon crop top. I love a monochromatic moment…and a chance to look like a human highlighter. This outfit to me is the perfect combination of sophistication and FUN.

When I was doing my pre event “research” at the store…I knew it was not at all realistic to think I was capable of not purchasing anything. But 2 pieces I did NOT plan for…a little black dress, and a denim jacket. Two pieces I need like two holes in my head.  But every fashion girl knows a black dress is not just a black dress, nor is a jean jacket just a jean jacket.  The second I put on this V neck ruffled dress (also available in red), it was a no brainer. Had to have it. The A line fit and cinched waist is dance party perfection. I am a longtime lover of jean jackets…and this high low distressed edition is like no other. Rock n roll glam at its best!

70’s style glam has always had a special place in my heart…and these Iyanna flares nail the vibe.  Crazy versatile…these beauties could be styled with a cropped blazer and high heels for a polished lady like look, or a rocker tee for a casual cool girl look. The style options are endless, but I rolled with the matching Laura Cropped Halter Top, for the full floral jam. This look was my beloved Aunt Dianne’s (who has understood and supported my love of fashion since roughly age 6),  favorite of the bunch, so that makes me love it all the more.

Note…all the following photos were snapped inside (or right outside) of the Alice+Olivia boutique on Michigan Avenue. The decor is just as fabulous as the fashion!

I am slightly addicted to bodysuits…again another item I needed like a hole in my head. However, unlike most “leotard” tight fitting bodysuits, this Harmon bodysuit has the fit of a drapey camisole, minus the stress of tucking in. Genius. Pair it with the Genevive Distressed jeans to embrace your inner rockstar. I typically don’t care for straight legged jeans, but A+O did serious vintage research when designing their denim, and got the fit just right. These Danielle heels are perfect for Spring and Summer, and are super comfy. Out of my many (basically whole store) favorites, this Cam leather biker jacket was at the top of the list. The structure is crazy cool, the fit is fabulous, and the fact that it is white puts me over the edge! An investment piece no doubt, but a piece that can be worn year round, and will last forever. My Hubs is quite particular with my fashion (especially when he’s buying:), but when I tried on this baby…he straight away said YES.

Next up, we have the Katz Neon pleated skirt. A romantic and rad piece, that is sure to add a pop of pizzazz to your closet. Pair it with a simple black camisole, or roll rocker chick style with this super soft Shira tie dye tee. When it comes to A+O heels, no heel is high enough. However, they are made so magically marvelous, they are shockingly comfortable. These Tenley wedges (also available in neutral), are no exception.

The 60’s called…and they managed to bring tie-dye back to the fashion scene. Trust A+O to vibrantly bring the trend back in the best way possible. There is nothing granola about this fabulous Shannon tie dye maxi skirt, and I loved pairing it with this beautiful Arletta cropped sweater. The brunette babe, Dani, by my side is rocking the Emmie tie dye mini dress. If you are going to pull the trigger on this hot trend, I recommend rolling it the A+O way.

Wrapping up (sorry this is more of a short story than a post)…with a few shots from THE night! Here I am sandwiched between the incredibly sweet and crazy hard working store manager Rachel on the left, and the cutest stylist in the world Mia on the right. LOVE these babes! We are all wearing all things you guessed it…Alice+Olivia!A peak at my many fabulous guests! Hot to trot influencers, longtime best friends, fitness friends, family…even my hubby’s bestie (obviously the rocker dude throwing up bunny ears) showed. I seriously felt the love…and I loved it!

Saving the best for last…my Hubs was essentially my cohost! He knew the night was crazy important to me, and that translated to the night being crazy important to him. When I suggested we arrive a good 45 minutes before the event started…dude responded, “no boo…lets get there at least an hour before.” Swoon. This next hilarious story sums up just how rad my dude was. The Saturday after, I attended an influencer beauty panel. A lovely gal approached me and sweetly asked…”so how long has your husband been a stylist at Alice+Olivia? He does such a great job!” I died. When I told my dude, I thought that might put him over the Instagram husband edge. But he thought it was hilarious and asked…”should I get a gig at A+O?” DREAMBOAT!

All photos taken by Dani Sommerfeld (the darling brunette rocking the tie dye dress above), of the duo blogging sensation Once Upon a Dollhouse.

PS…If you are still reading…I love you! So sorry so long!

All the X’s and O’s, 

Julz Chez

Fashion, Fitness

Is Leopard the new neutral? Welcome to the Jungle.

I’m back today to share yet another pair of crazy pants that I am finding to be (as the great Chris Harrison would say), SHOCKINGLY versatile. Dare I say…practical? I can actually visualize my mother rolling her eyes as I typed that.  But seriously, leopard has stood the test of time as a fun print that can tastefully be incorporated into any gal’s wardrobe. When leopard jeans first started trending, I resisted jumping on board.  I figured I would wear them a couple times with a black tee, and the jig would be up. Well my willpower eventually failed me…and I am oh so glad it did! Yes indeed, leopard looks great styled simply, but also rocks when treated as a neutral tone. Style your animal print with a funky graphic tee, a fun pattern…essentially anything and everything goes! I decided if I was pulling the trigger on the leopard jean movement, I might as well roll with one of my favorite sources of denim.  Mother denim is high quality, comfy, and flattering.

For this first look I choose a classic red  Topshop sweater and SJP collection heels.  Sealed the deal with a bright red lip. My favorite is Stila cosmetics lip stain in shade Besos. Gorgeous shade of red…and when they say stain they mean STAIN! It’s not going anywhere, in the best possible way. Gucci belt (thank you Greek Mommy!)

Photos by Denise Kokinis

A quick switch into a KISS tee from Revolve clothing. Would y’all believe my KISS swag collection is catching up to my husband’s?! Watch out dude.

Let me conclude this leopard print love letter with these deep words: I dug the denim so much, I decided I needed a work day version. Which as a fitness instructor translates to….SPANDEX! Beach Riot is my current crush when it comes to leggings, and their leopard edition does not disappoint. Shop them at Carbon38, and drop the code JCHEZ20 at checkout for 20% off your first order. Here I am with my Ballerina besties, the ladies of MaZi dance fitness…who are clearly on board with the leopard movement! My sneakers are APL from Carbon38, and they are my favorite sneakers I have ever had! And there have been many, ask my dad if you don’t believe me.

“Take a walk on the wild side.”

XOXO,

Julz Chez

Fashion

How to Rock the Pleather Pant Trend

Whoever said leggings are not pants was seriously disturbed. There are endless cool styles of leggings that when styled up right, most certainly pass as pants. The latest hot commodity are the faux leather aka pleather edition.  Nothing says rock n roll glam like a shiny pair of leggings. There are loads of fun ways to crank up the heat or tone down the temp with this trend.

You can’t go wrong styling with a basic tee.  Make it a fun graphic number that speaks to your personality. Pump up the volume by adding heels and a leather jacket for a night out.  For a casual daytime look pair the pants with a cool pair of sneakers and a chic hoodie.

A feminine sweater and heels is another look I love with these pants.  Keeps people guessing ya know? Naughty on the bottom and nice on the top kinda jam. I did some serious searching and these fabulous black faux leather leggings I ended up with are from H&M and cost $24.99.  If you are debating what size to get, I recommend sizing up, I am in a 4 for reference.  Too tight in this style makes taking on and off a doozie of a time:)

One pair of shiny leggings leads to another, especially since there are such great options that won’t break the bank. The faux leather leggings I am sharing below are under $20 from Forever21. Same rules apply with the red variation…there are none.  Have fun playing around with different combinations…you will be shocked how versatile they are! Dare I say…practical? My tie front top is also under $20 from Forever21 (I recommend sizing up, I am in the small but wish I would have rolled medium.) White heels are under $100 from Topshop.  Trade the sassy top for a sugary sweet sweater for a whole new look!

Photos by Denise Kokinis

“I could give up shopping but I’m not a quitter.”

XOXO,

Julz Chez

Beauty, Fashion, Love

A Valentine’s Day gift idea for her featuring Monica Vinader

Happy February, loves! I love this month as it presents occasions to celebrate 2 of my favorite people; my mom and my hubs who are both born in February…as well as LOVE on Valentine’s Day, which I of course LOVE! Target and any paper store are a dangerous zone for me this month…give me all the X and O swag! I could go crazy sharing heart day gift ideas for the leading ladies in your life, (or yourself-yes you deserve it), but that has potential to go from a post to a short story. And so today I am sharing just one fabulous gift idea!

Monica Vinader is a British luxury jewelry brand opening a new category between fashion and fine jewelry.  I personally am a huge fan of this category. I am not ready to pull the trigger on Cartier, however I would rather invest in quality statement pieces that I adore and will have forever, than crowd up my vanity with trendy fashion jewelry I will quickly outgrow.  Vinader’s stylish contemporary designs have a diverse celebrity following. My first MV piece was her iconic friendship bracelet which I had engraved and absolutely adore (more deets in my past MV post featuring the bracelet).

These slender cocktail earrings add a pop of red-carpet style sparkle to any look. A delicate row of irregular shaped pink quartz gemstones are set in a 18ct rose gold vermeil on sterling silver. My ears are very sensitive, and these beauties are light weight and comfortable.  They are no doubt eye-catching with their beautiful sparkle, but also not so dressy that they look odd with a casual outfit. Pair them with a simple sweater and pull your hair back in a low pony for an effortless feminine look.  Or go big and throw on your favorite party dress to amp up the drama! No matter what look you are feeling…don’t forget to seal the deal with a pretty pink lip (I am wearing my current favorite by YSL beauty slim matte shade #16). I highly recommend checking out Monica Vinader for extra special quality pieces for yourself or an extra special someone. If you are not a big online shopper and prefer shopping in person, Chicago babes can find MV at  Nordstrom. 

Photos all by one of my leading ladies, the beautiful Danielle Sommerfeld of the bombshell blogging duo Once Upon a Dollhouse.

All the X’s and O’s,

Julz Chez

 

Beauty, Life

Last Minute Gift Ideas for Everyone!

Tis’ the season to shop…for others! There is nothing better than pulling together a special gift for a special someone.  Here are my top picks this season.

For the domesticated darling:

I love a great themed gift.  I may not be susie homemaker myself, but a kitchen themed gift for a foodie friend is a home run.  Think outside the Bed Bath and Beyond gift guide…go for something unique and innovative. My choice is the Wonderbag.  The  Wonderbag is a non-electric portable slow-cooker that allows food to be slow cooked or kept warm off a heat source.  This groovy gadget also works to keep food cold; perfect for keeping wine chilled for an outdoor concert or picnic, and great for transporting a cold dish on a long road trip.  Bonus: the Wonderbag is an economic catalyst.  In rural African communities the invention can help a family go from 20 cents a day income to $2.  One more fun fact…Prince Harry and Meghan received a Wonderbag as a wedding gift!  Add a fun cookbook, (my pick is True Roots by the great Kristin Cavallari),  a cute set of dishtowels, (Anthropologie has the best), and your kitchen themed gift is ready to rock!

For the fashion girls:

I generally steer clear from gifting clothes other than simple tees or hoodies, (sizing is just too tricky), but a great handbag fits everyone.  If you have been following my blog you know I am a huge fan of Hammitt handbags.  Hammitt bags are high quality and classic styles that stand the test of time.  Visit my past posts Designer Spotlight: Hammitt HandbagsThe Perfect Clutch Bag, and the Hammitt Handbag Finale to see some of my favorite styles. Bonus: every Hammitt bag is covered with a lifetime warranty…and they arrive packaged beautifully!

For the glam girls:

When gifting a glam girl, keep in mind she likely has set products she is loyal to. So go for the fun stuff.  Every glam gal loves a new scent on her vanity, but it is always more fun when it is gifted.  My pick is OUI by Juicy Couture.  The refreshing scent is tart and fresh with notes of watermelon, jasmine, and woods. Bonus: the packaging is crazy cute!

Roll with the fun stuff theme for your glam girlfriend, and treat her the Watermelon Glow sleeping mask by Glow Recipe.  I am a proud mask-a-holic, and this is my favorite mask of the year.  The lightweight formula refreshingly hydrates, smooths, and perfects skin overnight with a revolutionary pillow-proof formula. Bonus: the packaging is also beautiful, and it smells delicious! The brand also offers a Watermelon Glow moisturizer, which is equally amazing. Add a bright fun lip color for the cherry on top.  Stila makes awesome lip stains. Shade Beso is my all time favorite red, and it truly stays on great all night!

For the beauty lover with sensitive skin:

For your girlfriend you know has sensitive skin; look for practical products with non-toxic ingredients.  My choice is the safe and super effective line Eczema Honey.  Their miracle healing cream is 100% organic and super effective. Pair this magic cream with the brands nourishing lip balm and oatmeal bath bombs to complete the organic goody bag.

For your eco-friendly beauty buddy:

C’Nu is a brand new luxury skincare subscription box that delivers a months worth of clean skincare to your doorstep.  All products are chemical free and made with natural ingredients. Each box contains a new green beauty line of 4-6 full size products. Bonus: the company is working with The Humane Society and is donating a portion of each order to stop animal testing.

Need a great beauty gift in a pinch? Walgreens and Target have seriously stepped up their beauty game by offering top quality brands. Vichy’s Clarifying Charcoal mask extracts dirt and toxins from the skin’s surface, leaving your skin silky smooth.  Add to the gift by scooping up another amazing product available at trusty Target and Walgreens, La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water. This water mist refreshes and tones the skin in one quick spray.

For the health nut:

My pick for your wellness loving friend is Matcha Collagen by Vital Proteins.  I make a smoothie with this collagen at least three times a week, and I absolutely love it.  Matcha contains 137 times the amount of antioxidants as other green teas, and improves hair, skin, nails and joints.  Make it the cutest Matcha themed gift ever by adding Vital Proteins “Meet Your Match (A)” sweatshirt! 

A classic gift for anyone:

A classic watch set is a home run extra special gift.  Daniel Wellington is a great source for elegant watches for everyone.  They are currently offering 10% off all their men’s and women’s watch sets. Use code JULZCHEZ for an extra 15% off. Bonus: they ship super fast and arrive beautifully gift wrapped.

For the rocker:

I am a huge fan of the company Time Warp Tees, a brand built to pay homage to icons of pop culture past and present with vintage-inspired throwback tees.  There is a tee for everyone in this rad collection.  Some examples: Will Smith, Stevie Nicks, Dr. Phil, ABBA, Blair Waldorf, Patrick Swayze, Britney Spears, and so many more. This is a gift that is sure to make anyone smile!  I am wearing a size XS for reference.  Use code julzchez10 for a discount. Hit up your local record store and find an old school album to complete the gift.

Real talk: I love receiving gifts. Also real talk: I love gifting even more! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas spent with loved ones.

“It isn’t how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”

XOXO,

Julz Chez