life curation · style

Preparing for Spring: Wardrobe Ideas

Since doing the Kibbe test and confirming that I’m a Soft Classic, I’ve been spending time brainstorming what pieces I should add to my wardrobe. I want to add some whimsy to my wardrobe (along the lines of the Joe Browns line) but I honestly look best in clean, streamlined silhouettes.

Using the Soft Classic information I gleaned from the Truth Is Beauty website, I found that Naomie Harris is one of the few Black celebrities that falls into this category. And when Naomie gets it right, honey, she absolutely knocks it out of the park. I’m loving the fact that she appears to have a neutral undertone that leans toward coolness (much like my own). So I should be able to wear most of the same shades that she does, since our coloring is similar.


Photo of Naomie Harris (courtesy of InStyle magazine)

So, I don’t have a red carpet lifestyle – yet. So my daily wardrobe can’t be quite as ornate as Naomie’s. But I can draw some inspiration from the way that she styles herself. Here are a few items I’m considering adding this spring:

A duster in pale taupe or light gray


Naomie at a Calvin Klein show (from Business of Fashion)

The key to making this look classy (and not sloppy on my frame) is to make sure that it has some moderate structure, light tailoring and minimal frills.

This light tan trench by Aphratti gets pretty close to Naomie’s look. A belt gives some extra definition in the waist.

A magenta blazer


Naomie at the 2014 BAFTA Awards (from Elle)

Structured but undeniably feminine, a bright blazer in an intense pink hue would be a great addition to my wardrobe. a 3/4 length sleeve is perfect for me, so I’ll aim for a blazer that closely replicates the top half of Naomie’s dress. I couldn’t find anything quite like this yet, but if I do, I’ll be sure to post it here!


Sunny A-line dress


At the Spectre press conference (from Vogue UK)

An A-line dress that skims gracefully over the hips but remains tailored in the waist is great for creating the hourglass silhouette.

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The Eva Square Neck Midi Skater Dress is a bright yellow that isn’t too acid or too warm.

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Another option is the Zoey Sleeveless Cut Out Mixi Skater Dress: no cleavage but the side cutouts keeps it sassy.

Pale blue or green chiffon skirt (tea length)


Naomie at the Mandela screening (from The Fashion Spot)

A pale blue, gauzy skirt is soft and unique. It’s the kind of signature piece that can be dressed up or dressed down.

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This crepe skirt from Boohoo is giving me a similar vibe (the Neave Crepe Pleated Mini Skirt). It isn’t as soft as the chiffon material that Naomie is wearing, but the below-the knee length and structured pleating gives the garment more shape.

Drape-y satin blouse in oyster white, pewter or champagne


With Olivia Palermo at the launch of Maison Makarem (from Getty Images)

I’ve always shimmery satin tops in pearlescent hues. Add some careful pleating and draping, and I should be able to get the Greek goddess effect without getting lost in a sea of fabric. I’m still looking for one of these, so if I find it, I’ll post it here as well.

That’s all of my ideas for now. I suspect that I’ll continually refine and improve on this list, and as I do, I’ll share it all here.

life curation · travel

Another Weekend in Charlotte, NC

Happy Monday, beautiful ones! I hope your week has gotten off to a pleasant start.

I just returned from a girlfriends getaway in Charlotte, NC. I told you all about a trip that I took to Charlotte a few months ago, but I just visited again over the weekend. It was a good weekend for a trip: St Patrick’s Day festivities and warmer weather were just what I needed.


We had plans of getting out into nature and spending some time on the trails, but we couldn’t quite get things to work out as we planned. As you know, plans are great but the decider is fate, so we rolled with the schedule changes and still had a blast. After all, it’s really about the COMPANY, and not the activities. And the company I enjoyed on this trip was superb!

We had a fantastic weekend and I can’t wait to return! I’ll post more specifics about our trip in a few days (including a hotel review) but, in the meantime, enjoy this video about Charlotte, the Queen City, that I found on YouTube. Talk to you all soon!

luxury · beauty

Review: Roja Parfums Gulf Collection Perfumes

One of my friends – a stylish globetrotter with impeccable taste – encouraged me to try some luxurious perfumes that she adores. As a self-professed perfume fanatic, and a lover of all things luxury, I was up to the challenge. I was excited to try something new!

The perfumer she recommended, Roja Parfums, has sumptuous scents that are highly concentrated and intoxicating. I purchased a sample set from Lucky Scent, featuring a collection of fragrances inspired by the aromas of the Gulf region. The Gulf Collection has six scents, each named after a different Middle Eastern/Gulf-area country: the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the Sultanate of Oman, and United Arab Emirates. The scents all contain oud and are described as orientals due to their spicy aroma.


My samples from Lucky Scent

You can feel free to click on the country names above to get the scent profiles for each of the fragrances, because listing out all of notes would take FOREVER! My personal favorite was the Kingdom of Bahrain: it has citrusy top notes (including lemon and lime) but a vanilla and leather base note that are warm, sensual and erotic. I have to apply carefully during the daytime, since the scent is sexy and tends to be better suited for the evening.


Photo of The Kingdom of Bahrain, from the Roja Parfums website

These are among some of the priciest perfumes on the market, costing more than $500 for a 50mL bottle. But the smaller atomizers are more affordable, at approximately $80 each. The fragrances are concentrated enough that even a small amount should last for quite some time. You definitely get value for your money!

Any other perfume addicts out there? Let me know about some of your favorite brands in the comments below!

culture · festivals

Are You Pub-Crawling Today?

Today is St Patrick’s Day, the US beer lover’s favorite excuse to try a new brew (preferably one that has been dyed green). I will probably head out for a drink this evening, because pub crawling means an inevitable good time.

I enjoy beer, with Abita’s Purple Haze and Red Stripe being the beers I’m most likely to pick up when I grocery shop. I like local craft beers best, and I’m fortunate to live in a city that has a thriving beer, cider and ale scene.

The cups at the top of this delicious spread are ciders from Blue Bee Cider

food · international

Review: Rebecca Ethiopian Cuisine

You already know how I feel about Ethiopian food. While I haven’t recently tried my hand at making more Ethiopian dishes at home, I still find myself frequently craving the savory, flavorful East African dishes. And if I’m craving it, I’m going to have it, whether I make it from scratch or buy it from the pros.

A couple of weeks ago, I caved into my cravings and purchased a vegetarian combo from Rebecca Ethiopian Cuisine, a food truck that serves several locations in Washington, DC.


Photo as snapped by Art P. and posted on Yelp

For starters, the staff are super-friendly, and the food is prepared quickly. While you wait, you can nibble on a free lentil sambusa (at least, every time *I’ve* gone, I’ve gotten a free sambusa: your mileage may vary). I got back to my office and proceeded to chow down. Here’s a photo of my lunch:

Clockwise from top left: tomato fitfit, salad, atkilt wat (cabbage, potatoes and carrots), gomen (collard greens), kik alicha (yellow split peas) shiro wat (powdered chickpea stew), and my favorite, misr wat (red lentils) in the center

The food was great! Everything cooked perfectly and incredibly flavorful. I’m especially fond of their vegetarian combo offering because they have more sides than most of the combos I’ve had at other Ethiopian trucks. Usually, you get 4 or 5 sides when ordering from Ethiopian food trucks; with Rebecca, you get 7 (SEVEN!) sides. The price is very competitive, too: you can get all of this food for $10 before tax.

There is only one drawback when it comes to this truck: I can never predict when they will be close to my job! They don’t have a Twitter account, so whenever I see them, I know I’ve just gotten lucky. If you happen to spot them while you’re out and about in DC, just know that you’ve gotten lucky, too! And then, after you revel in your amazing luck, go ahead and order some food – you won’t regret it!

beauty · luxury

Glass Skin Challenge – Updates

So I’m 15 days into my Glass Skin challenge, and yes, I have updates.


(from Pinterest, courtesy of Getty Images)

For starters, keeping up with the routine is MUCH easier than I anticipated. I did, however, make a few modifications.

For Step 6: Serum/Booster/Ampoule, I added a benzoyl peroxide cream along with my serums. I’m currently bouncing between Oxy Maximum Action Spot Treatment and Mary Kay’s Clearproof Acne Treatment Gel. I apply both in a thin layer all over my face, right after I apply my Niacinamide but before I apply the Buffet serum. I apply the benzoyl peroxide cream every time I cleanse (morning and night).

I’ve done the mask consistently two times per week, and I’ve noticed that my skin really enjoys the extra moisture. Also, I decided to forgo the Mary Kay Firming Eye Cream. Instead, I’ve been using Mary Kay Indulge Soothing Eye Gel, with a layer of The Body Shop’s Smoothing Night Cream on top on the eye area only.

I’m saving the photos for the end of the month, but let me just say, I’ve been LOVING the results so far! I’m looking radiant and even, and I’ve been skipping foundation on most days. When I do decide to use foundation, I need so little of it. I’m delighted with how things are going!



international · travel

Review: Ibis Styles Nairobi Westlands Hotel

During my incredible trip to Nairobi, I stayed at the Ibis Styles Hotel in the Westlands neighborhood. The recently remodeled hotel is a member of the Accor Hotels family. It is modern, secure and tastefully appointed. I stayed for a week, so I’m pretty comfortable mentioning the pros and cons of the hotel as I experienced it.

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The rooms are small but comfortable. The view isn’t particularly incredible but it’s a major city, so you should expect to see lots of buildings and not a ton of lush greenery. Oh, it was kind of nice to look down from the room and see schoolchildren playing during recess. I could even hear them when the television was turned off: it was fun hearing them laugh.

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Room photo as available on the Accor Hotels website


Views from my window

The hotel security is top notch, quick and pleasant. Had I chosen to drive, I could have parked there for free all week (that’s a big plus!). The hotel has a restaurant on site that served incredible meals (I chose half board, so breakfast and dinner were included in the price of the room). There was also a small cafe that served quick, tasty snacks and small meals. Sadly, these options weren’t available after 11 PM, so if you want to nibble late at night, you’ll either have to stash goodies in your room or be prepared to go out and grab a bite.

? ibis Styles Nairobi Westlands ?

Utamu is the hotel’s restaurant, and Sky Bar is the Cafe



Some of the meals I enjoyed during my stay

One of the advantages of this hotel is the excellent insect control: the room did not have – nor did it need – mosquito nets. During the entire stay, I didn’t experience any bug bites. That may have been because I visited during dry season, but my hunch is that the hotel has a stellar repellant setup to make up mosquito nets unnecessary.

Now, as great as this hotel was, there were some drawbacks. For starters, there is NO space for storing clothing. There are no dressers, and very little hanger space in the room. But what it lacks in storage space it makes up for in room under the beds: it was easy to slide my luggage out of sight. There are also no in-room refrigerators, so you’re limited to room-temp snacks (not a big deal, unless you plan on staying for more than a few days). There is also no in-room iron or ironing board, though there is an ironing room on the floor. Every time I went to iron my clothing, no one else was in there, so I’m guessing this setup works for most people.


Painting in my room

The room shower gets hot enough (yay for that!) but the drainage isn’t so good: water puddled and spilled out of the bathroom no matter how hard I tried to prevent it. That’s a design flaw that I don’t anticipate will be fixed any time soon. However, it was easy to contact room service and get more towels as needed.


Mirror detailing in the room

Also, despite describing itself as having an exchange counter, the staff seemed uncomfortable and confused about exchanging US dollars for Kenyan shillings. Their rate is MUCH higher than going to the ATM at the mall that I visited (The Hub in the Karen neighborhood). It’s easier and more cost efficient to withdraw from the ATM than to exchange money at the hotel. Not a con, per se, but something I’ll remember during my next visit.

So, would I return to Ibis Style Hotel in Westlands? Yes, absolutely! The pros far outweighed any cons, and I was pleased with my stay overall. The only way I’d consider a different hotel in Nairobi is if I planned to stay longer than ten days: I need a dresser in my room LOL!