Zara - the changeroom review ( tweed blazer, nude front dress, bermuda shorts)

I'm sort of on a self imposed shopping ban- after quite a few years of work, retail therapy has been great, and I also have an enormous closet collection now....

I took a lunchtime stroll to Zara Sydney store trying to see whether there's any new items I like. I find with Zara clothing, I really have to try them on to decide whether I like them or not.

Problem today is that I love everything!

p.s. all pricing below are in AUD, which is very similar to USD right now, Zara Australia is probably slightly more expensive by anything between 5USD-25USD depending on what sort of clothing.

For reference, I'm 166cm (5"5) and typically US size 0 top or 2 sometimes for bottom, and Australian size 6 or 8 (more rarely). I wear about size 26 in most jeans.

1. Pleated blouse (sorry don't know the actual product name as per websites, since they never list it in Australia)- I think the bottom feels like chiffon while the top is a semi see-thru cotton. $59.95. The pleating is both back and front. There was only a size M (medium) left in store so I tried it anyway:

2. Sequin nude Skirt in size S (small). it retails for a whopping $159, which I thought is a bit overpriced. It is very nice though, the sequins and beadings are well made. The waistline is elastic. With some Zara skirts there doesn't appear to be any other sizing apart from S, M and L, so I assume this is the case with this skirt too.

3. White tweed frill hem blazer with gold buttons and pocket. $99AUD. Size XS here.
It's a shorter jacket, but not exactly 'cropped' quite yet.

The shade is a snow white , not off white, ivory or anything, a true sparkling white.

Ok here's a quick outfit, I didn't really intend to wear it together but I didn't pick another top that was more suitable to be tucked in.  I'm also wearing my own white singlet inside, otherwise the pleated sleeveless top is a bit sheer.

The size XS blazer for Zara is usually such a good fit for me, I get good arm length, good shoulder length and bust area always fits well too. (I'm just average sized bust, not really big).

The sequin skirt is really lovely, because of the elastic waist you can probably pull it down a bit more depending on what length you want it dropped. I'd say it's not exactly a super mini, but definitely shorter than normal length Zara work style skirts.

The hem at the edge of the skirt is slightly mesh-like. The skirt is lined and is generally sufficient and I probably dont' need another slip underneath.

Here's the top without the blazer. Because I only found a size M, it's a bit too big for me, a size S or XS is probably going to be better. I'm not sure how I feel about the really sheer top section, it's really see through and having any other straps peeking through isn't a good look.

4. Open lace caridgan/ bolero size S.

Now the next item, it reminded me of the open lace cardigan on Zara US website right now, but it has a different lace print and fabric. This one is $79.95AUD, it's just a lace shell, unlined. 

Close up:

I thought it would look nice in a very casual/ romantic look, but once I put it on I really thought the cut was unflattering. Maybe I needed a more fitted top to really appreciate this cardigan, but definitely my least favorite top for the day. Especially at the whopping $79 price tag.  There was also a hole on the shoulder already which means this is probably those tops that gets teared or caught on things easily.

I really look like I'm swimming inside this top...

5. Open front nude dress in size S, $69.95.

I REALLY wanted this dress, since the outter shell is the most pretty fabric color and finish, it feels like a nude-peachy-pink silk. However the inner layer is a sort of cheap slip material, a bit polyester feel. It felt too much like a slip you wear inside something else, than exposed outside.

I couldn't bear the look of wearing it as a skirt, it's also so sheer (on the bottom especially) that there was no way to wear it without at least 2 other slips underneath.  So I tucked in the inner layer inside the sequin dress (hence the slight bulge at the front).

I wish they made this as a fish tailed top! It's so pretty:

There's a slight gather in the back which makes it not too loose.

Ok that ends my Zara adventure for the day. I commend myself for not purchasing anything, since I thought I'd look at the pictures and have a think about whether I really NEED any of it. I actually ordered some sequin skirts off the Zara US website already so I couldn't justify getting another one again. (Though this one is such a classic). And at $159, it was a pass for me.

The pleated top was too big so that was a pass.

The blazer is nice, but I already have a huge collection of white jackets, so it was a nay. I didn't quite like the golden hardware button either, as the gold is a slightly cheap looking shiny gold. Would've been better if they made it a matte gold or an old gold.

The nude dress- I really really want it, but I know I'd never wear it as a dress since it's just too sheer. As a top it's nice but unless I spend $30 to get it altered and cut out the front, there's just too much fabric to be tucked in.

Hope you all enjoyed this reading that's a slight departure from my usual beauty stuffs.

p.s. The US shopping crowd is ridiculous, I was camped in front of my computer looking at Zara USA black friday sale, I put a few things in my shopping basket within the first 5 minute of the website working, by the time I was ready to check out, just about every item was sold out in my shopping bag!

I wanted these ones:



What I liked from Japan: Rohto Z!, Lion Cooling Sheet for Legs, Tokyu hands Woodyhouse brush, Lycee Rohto Eyewash reviews

Well it's been ages since my Japan trip, where I bought quite a bit of random beauty gadgets. Some I saw from magazines, some I just saw in stores and was interested in trying.

Firstly, Rohto Z! Refresh you eyes eyedrops. There are a few versions (by box color), like super minty vs mild etc. These are a step up from the pink bottled Rohto Lycee cooling eye drops. They give really great cooling sensation to the eyes and clear any redness. I use it in the morings a few times a week as I get allergies regularly (as with all eye drops, not recommended for prolonged regular long term use).

In Japan these are not prescription products so they are available in most drugstores alongside other eyedrops. I think you shouldn't use this with contacts, but if I recall correctly there might be a special version for contact wearers as well (same with Lycee eyedrops- there's a contact lense version).

I like how it's plastic sealed internally too. the square/ triangular bottle shape is also easy to hold.

Next is Lion Cooling Sheet for Legs. The brand is "Lion". This always received rave reviews in many beauty magazines and are recommended as a holiday treat when you are in Japan after too much shopping and walking. Basically it's a leg mask that's aimed at cooling and refreshing the legs and soothe that tired/ sore feeling. 

I was very sceptical but it really does work- it's like an improved version of those traditional medicinal plasters and pastes.

Each pack contains 3 individually packed sachets (see left of box in pic below). Each sachet contains 6 sheets (each use is 3 sheets per leg).

Basically you stick the masks on your legs like in pictures below.

The sheets are 13cm x 8.5cm, they are a bit like a pink 'gel' look (but it's not runny and doesn't drip). You peel off the separator sheet on top and stick the pink gel patches on the foot, back of leg and ankle. Leave for 15-20min (or longer like 1 hr if you want, they stick on fairly easily so you can still walk about).

You can feel an immediate cooling and soothing sensation on the legs, it's hard to describe, but it's such an "ahhhhhhhh so nice" moment after a long day of walking and shopping. 

They are not reusable. Each box retails for about USD15 so I consider them to be for special occasions only. They don't exactly have skin treatment properties either so it wouldn't leave your skin moisturised etc etc.

I also went to Tokyu Hands (which is like a medium sized department store that really specialises in selling random things, from hairdryer to cosmetics to cute garden tools to calendars etc).  I've always wanted a boar bristled round brush for blow drying my hair (especially doing the slightly curled inward look for the ends of my hair). Having looked at mason pearson then I decided I didn't want to invest that much just yet. 

I bought this one instead, which says it's made with natural boar bristle and the brush is heat resistant and static resistant, sounds perfect for blow drying. 
 (and made in Japan with real wood handle, the actual brand is called "Woodyhouse") 

It was 1470 Yen so about 16USD. Made in Osaka I think.

Personally I thought it's a very nice and reasonably priced brush, I wish I got a slightly bigger diameter size, but it still works quite well with a hairdryer to avoid that messy hair look where the ends sometimes curl at a weird angle. I still haven't quite grasped the technique for a perfect home blowdry with beautiful inward curls though.

The varying length of the bristle (at the base there's more densely packed shorter bristles, then mixed with longer bristles) also meant it was great for smoothing down hair (to avoid that static flyaway finish).

Only thing to complain about is that it's slightly difficult to clean (i guess with any similar hair brushes though).  A lot of fluff and hair gets trapped in the very root of the bristles. Sometimes I spend a good 2-3 minutes with a tweezer to clean it. However a good trick to clean your hairbrush (one that's well made), is after a thorough shampoo and while your hair is still full of foam, use the brush to brush your hair (through the foam) without tangling it, then the shampoo will clean any dirt or oil in the brush as well.

Lastly Rohto Lycee eye wash. I've been meaning to try this for a while. The Lycee line is not as super cooling as the Z! line (I'd actually prefer the Lycee eye drops since they are cooling enough for me and comes in cute pink bottles).

See the plastic strange looking cap on the top of the bottle- that's the holder for the eyewash. You squeeze some eyewash liquid into the holder, then put the holder over your eye, press against the skin, then squeeze the bottom of the holder while your eyes are still open, it then rinses your eyeballs easily.

I know it sounds silly to wash your eyeball with a special product, but this really works especially if you are one of those people who always find you wake up with gluggy eyes or after removing your eye makeup, it still seems a bit foggy or there might be random mascara residue or shimmers that's floating around in your eye. This gets rid of the last bit of it (and is really soothing and cooling when you use it). It really does feel different to using just plain water.

I got the smallest 80ml size which still lasts a good 3 months (used a few times a week). There's also a giant 400ml size but I just prefer to use my eye products within a few months to ensure everything's clean. 80ml retails for like 10-12USD.

This works great with those who suffer from hayfever or slightly bloodshot eyes.

I like most items above and would happily repurchase most of them. Quite a few items are probably available online too like ebay or adambeauty.com etc. Definitely take a look, I love fun Japanese gadgets.


Kanebo Kate Designing Eyebrow N EX04 (eyebrow powder palette) review/ swatch

I was on a quick business trip overseas then realised despite having already brought my usual arsenal of massive makeup bag, my eyebrow pencils must have both fell out at home somewhere, so I desperately tried to find a safe and cheap substitute in a random department store. 

Then I spotted the Kate counter, with the designing eyebrow compacts again, which I've had at least one of that I can recall (several years ago). It's also very similar to shiseido "ff" brand of eyebrow compact even more years ago. These eyebrow compacts last almost FOREVER, I find I use the lightest and medium color far quicker than the darker color, but you'd easily get more than 18 months use out of it even with daily use.

Personally I think I overpaid- it costed me almost 12-13AUD for the compact (it's rather small, but lasts forever, but Kate being a drugstore brand I kept on thinking it shouldn't cost more than $8 especially in Asia). They retail for 330NTD in Taiwan which is 11AUD, but sometimes goes on sale for 10-15% off.

Anyway, here's the Kate Eyebrow compact below , shade is "EX04" which is printed on the back of the compact.

There's also EX05 from the line.

Shade colors per their website. EX04 is slightly lighter than EX05, but personally I dont think the difference is huge.
EX04 below:

The compact is just a long rectangular plastic compact, with mirror inside. I think it's extremely portable and well designed, because you can hold both the compact vertically or horizontally to utilise the mirror with just one hand.

There's a dual-ended brush included. The brush end is a rather soft bristle. It doesn't feel scratchy.
The smaller end is a more firmer and shorter bristle so you can do a precision eyebrow especially for the arch and the ends.

EX04 feels like a warm toned palette to me, but if you are Asian I think the slight warm undertone is rather flattering no matter you have an ash or yellow based hair color or a more reddish dark brown hair color. From top to bottom it's a dark chocolate, a muddy brown, and a muted beige. All shades are finely pigmented and densely packed and more matte than satin (in a nice way). No shimmers.

Here are multiple swatches, darkest color on left and lightest on the right. I used my fingers to swatch, you can see  how subtle the colors are. But they are very buildable, once on the eyebrow and applied with the brush you can really build to a darker eyebrow. 

Now my eyebrows- they are naturally a bit longer and slightly sparse, so I really like to just pluck a few stray ones and fill in the gaps to give more definition. Because of my face shape, I suit a more wider natural brow than a thin, well defined one, so eyebrow powder are the easiest thing to use for me. 

I can see why this has been a staple in many Asian blogger's makeup bags and has been one of the Kate product line for as long as I can remember. The powder texture is really suitable for an eyebrow powder, it's firm so as to allow precision application, so it doesn't fly away everywhere, yet it's finely pigmented so it looks "natural", rather than the "look at my obvious brows".

In addition Kate's designing eyebrow N is also designed to be a contouring powder for the eye area. Due to the face shape of many Asians, one of the common makeup technique is to slightly shade the area between bridge of nose/ underneath the beginning of the brow, to give a more defined eye look. The lightest shade is amazingly good for this- anything other than something just a tinge darker than your natural skin color would look really silly in contouring this area. 

I also like using the lightest shade (sometimes mixed with the shade in the middle) as an eye socket shade to add more depth. The overall finished look is polished and contoured and very very natural.

Below I'm using the medium and lightest shade over most of the brow using the bigger bristle end of the applicator, then mixed the 3 shades together and used the smaller end bristle to define the end of the brow. (Usually I'd go even slightly finer and longer at the end).  Then used the lightest shade at the beginning of the brow, and also just the small 1cm area under it for the shading/ contouring I mentioned.

Overall 5/5. A nice compact to have and I'm quite glad I'm using an eyebrow powder again (strayed previously to a MAC eyebrow pencil for a while).