I feel for young women these days.

On one hand, it seems society is becoming more accepting of diversity, and yet on the other, the pressure to look Instagram-worthy has created a completely unrealistic baseline of what is considered beautiful. 

Call it the Kardashian effect. When I was young, one of the only ways to fake your looks was to add stuffing to your bra.

Now, you can:

  • visit a salon to have false eyelashes attached
  • get a spray tan
  • have long thick hair with extensions
  • use an electric lip plumping device...

And voila, you can look just like Kim (or Kylie or Khloe or whichever K is getting the most attention at the time).

The cost, time and effort to maintain this popular beauty blogger look is staggering.

Consider gel nails. A full set runs $50 or more, and refills need to be done every two to three weeks at $35 plus each time. Even a conservative estimate puts this expense at over $600 a year.

But a classic French manicure doesn’t cut it any more. Now, you need to add fancy art and jewels to your fingertips that runs an extra $5 or more per nail.

Lash extensions cost anywhere from $100 to $250 and last up to eight weeks, though most salons recommend touch-ups each month.

Researching this article, I discovered something I’d never even heard of: lash perming.

Apparently. the procedure lifts your natural eyelashes to make them more prominent, and best results are achieved by adding a tint.

And while you’re at it, get your eyebrows microbladed, a semi-permanent tattooing technique, for another $500. Because your natural eyebrows are simply not good enough.

Please understand, I am not judging any individual who gets such procedures. 

We all have aspects of our looks that we would wish to alter. And it’s great that there are new beauty tools and procedures to remedy minor beauty complaints. 

But I do take exception with the exploding industry built upon the premise that we should look radically different than we really are.

Rather than being viewed as one-offs, like getting a spray tan before your wedding, it seems the expectation is that women need these maintenance treatments to roll out of bed looking like a model every day.

And infuriatingly, all these techniques are geared toward making women look alike rather than accentuating one’s natural assets. 

I’ll admit to being more vain than most. But I simply don’t have the energy to complicate my life with monthly visits to “fix” my normal lashes, bushy eyebrows, and non-blinding teeth.

Maybe these are the non-physical benefits of aging — perspective and acceptance. 

The world certainly has more than enough over-bleached professionally-plucked injection-pouting Instagrammers. Just do you.

Because, truth be told, the social media icons are the most fake of all.


What's inside your bag?

Decades ago, handbags morphed from simple satchels to bona fide fashion statements.

While style bloggers wax poetic about the latest trendy leathers, logos and colours, no one talks about what’s  inside that expensive tote.

But since that’s essentially a purse’s purpose, it is worth discussion.

Over the years, I’ve discovered these are some of the niftiest essentials to have on hand, and so they are always in my bag:

  • Secrid Cardprotector — Instead of a bulky wallet, this sleek aluminum case holds four to six ID/credit cards and protects against identity theft. Available at Lake House store downtown Kelowna.
  • Fisher Space Pen — Yes, this instrument was actually designed to write in space. While you may not be an astronaut, the ultra-compact pen writes smoothly even upside down. Available at House of Knives in Orchard Park mall.
  • Victorinix Swiss Army nail clipper 580 — Hands-down the handiest gadget ever created for a woman. This tiny device holds a portable nail clipper, nail file, scissors, tweezers and a toothpick. Note it also has a small knife, so don’t try to take it through airport security or you will lose it (like I did). Also at House of Knives.
  • Hand sanitizers — Fight those germs! The tiny bottles from Bath and Body Works fit perfectly in your purse and come in every imaginable yummy scent.
  • Folding hairbrush — Pocket brushes including a mirror are available through Amazon.
  • Stain removal pen — If you’re sloppy like I am, having one handy will save a lot of clothes.
  • Foldable tote — Ensure you always have a reusable bag at the ready. 
  • Portable reading glasses — Because you never know when you, or someone with you, is going to need them to read the menu or the minuscule writing on those pill bottles.
  • Lip balm — Nothing worse than having chapped lips with nothing on hand for relief. My new favourite balm is Agave Lip Mask by Bite Beauty. All their products are made with food grade ingredients so you don’t ingest chemicals licking your lips. Comes in clear or various tints at Sephora.
  • Blotting tissues — Instead of carrying a bulky, pressed powder compact, these thin papers blot away any shine on the face instantly. Many types at Sephora and Shoppers Drug Mart. 

Also very practical to always carry spare Band-aids, bobby pins and a hair elastic.

I keep all these items handy in my purse organizer from ChameleonInserts.com.

Their organizers include four narrow pockets that are perfectly made to hold the Space Pen, Swiss Army knife, lip balm and Tide pen.

What are the most useful items you always carry in your bag?

WTW: Okanagan wedding

What to wear to an Okanagan wedding

'Tis the season for outdoor nuptials, and we are in the midst of Okanagan wedding season.

With sunny days and long warm nights, this region makes an ideal and popular location for couples throughout Western Canada to tie the knot.

I was fortunate to join a wonderful wedding on a quintessential bright Okanagan day at Shylynn Ranch near Falkland recently . The ceremony was on a grassy field and the reception in an open-air, dirt-floored hall.

While magical in its setting, such events present unique challenges plus fashionable opportunities for what to wear.

The main benefit, as well as the main detriment, to an outdoor wedding is the weather. In the Okanagan, yes, it is hot.

But no matter what the thermometer reads, it’s still not appropriate at a wedding to show too much skin. Likewise, the warmth makes a clingy outfit undesirable.

So my suggestion is to look for a loose and flowy sundress or jumpsuit made in a natural fibre such as silk or cotton.

Unless noted on the invitation, the tradition of avoiding white or black still applies. Florals and stripes in pale to bright tones make great options.

Balance your desire for style with comfort. You will be in this outfit for several hours — standing, sitting, dancing, hugging, and eating.

Invest in undergarments that won’t show but that stay in place and do their job. Nothing worse than feeling itchy, pinched or sweaty while speeches are going on. Not to even mention the need to pull a strapless bra up. 

Bring along a matching pashmina or light cardigan for the evening when temperatures drop.

If the event will be on grass, think carefully about footwear. Wedges or block heels will prevent you from sinking into the field. 

However, if you are set on your stilettos, there are clear plastic heel protectors that add more base space to the bottom of the heel to stop you from spiking the lawn, plus protecting your shoes against damage. 

Sole Mates protectors are available at many stores, including Strut Footwear and Bliss Bridal in Kelowna.

Weddings can be long events, so if you know your feet will become uncomfortable in heels come nighttime, bring along a pair of folding flats to change into. 

As there is no guarantee of shade during the ceremony, cover any exposed flesh with sunscreen. And if you’re on grass, a quick spray of bug repellent around the ankles could save you from itching the next day.

Take as small a bag as you can. Schlepping a large bag with a summery outfit just doesn’t look right, plus you don’t want to have to fret about your tote on the field or under the reception table.

I prefer taking a petit wallet-on-a-chain or simple clutch with a wriststrap. Really, all you need to carry is a credit card, ID, lipstick, packable flats (if needed), phone/camera, and tissue.

Especially the tissue. Trust me.


24/7 jewelry

In a previous column on time-saving, I mentioned the concept of wearing certain jewelry pieces every day, all the time.

In addition to sparing valuable minutes each day figuring out what shiny baubles complement your outfit, wearing 24/7 jewelry saves money and resources.

It is better for the environment because it forces you to be more careful about purchases and not buy cheap trend jewels. And therefore over the long run saves your budget.

In my trial and error to find the perfect ensemble of 24/7 jewelry, I’ve discovered:

  • A pendant with a central piece that is anchored by the chain on either side avoids the pet peeve of the clasp always sliding to the bottom.
  • Thinner rings are more comfortable to wear 24/7 than thick solid bands.
  • Any jewelry with curlicues and sharp prongs will forever be getting caught on fabric and your hair.
  • Chain bracelets are much easier to wear than heavy solid bangles.
  • Small closed hoop huggies and flat-back studs, available at body piercing shops, are totally comfortable to sleep in.
  • Silver can be a great alternative to gold and platinum as long as it is of good quality. Fine silver as created by Little Jems (described below) and rhodium-plated sterling by brands such as Tacori and Tiffany rarely have tarnishing issues. 
  • Gems higher on the Mohs hardness scale are more durable for every-day wear. Lab-created gems can be just as hard as mined ones and offer an affordable alternative.

Currently I wear tiny, rose-gold huggies, a name necklace in white gold, a silver bead bracelet, my wedding ring set, and a simple solitaire on my right hand. None of these items ever get taken off except for cleaning.

If you’re thinking of investing in a necklace, ring, earrings or bracelet for 24/7 wear, there are excellent local jewellers for you to shop.

Leisa Williams is the creator of Little Jems jewelry, named after her beloved daughter born prematurely eight years ago.

Williams employs a newer method of metal-smithing using clay embedded with recycled silver. After firing, the organic clay is burned off leaving 99.9 percent fine silver.

This means Little Jems silver content is even higher than 925 sterling and therefore almost completely tarnish-proof.

Williams creates necklaces, earrings and rings inspired by nature, and is also experimenting with bronze amulets. Shop her creations at littlejems.ca and feel free to contact her directly with custom ideas.

If you like delicate styles in a variety of precious metals, the Canadian Jewelry Exchange, or CJEX, is a must-visit. Store manager Dilpreet Deu suggests women come in to try on their extensive range of designer and estate jewelry.

“Every day people come with Pinterest images of what they think they want, but once they try it on it can look completely different,” Deu explains.

She says the hot trends right now are for layering of dainty pieces, mixing metals, geometric shapes, and unusual elongated stone cuts.

CJEX carries the Tacori line, which Deu describes as “heirloom meets contemporary." Tacori creates styles in a variety of metals and gems so people can create an ensemble that coordinates without looking too matchy-matchy.

The store also has a great selection of stacker rings in a variety of metals by designer Noam Carver. His matte-rose-gold-pyramid band is beautiful — just the kind of simple yet unique piece perfect for everyday wear.

While I’m happy with my current jewelry ensemble, I think I’m going to have to go back to CJEX to try it on. After all, 24/7 doesn’t mean forever.

More Fashion File articles

About the Author

Marla is best known for her 19-year career in the local charitable sector as a fund development and marketing manager with the Okanagan Regional Library, United Way, UBC Okanagan, and Kelowna Community Resources. 

In 2014, Marla and her husband decided to take a break from the work world, and, four years, later they are still enjoying Okanagan summers, winters in Mexico, and extensive travel. 

Marla has had a life-long passion for fashion, designing her own graduation dress and formal gown for the 1990 Miss Interior competition before age 20.

In 2014, she was named one of nine Style Ambassadors for a year-long marketing campaign at Orchard Park Mall. Her motto is “Life is short...you might as well go through it looking good."

If you have a style question or topic you’d like Marla to cover in this column, contact her at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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