Novelty Bags – Unusual, Practical & Beautiful!

Hey there,

Novelty bags.

I’m an absolute sucker for these babies.
Not only are they so damn unique, but they also add a pop of character to an otherwise “classy” or “chic” outfit that would be bland, all on it’s own.

These novelty bag images are taken from Paris Vogue’s F/W Collections magazine

Prada has novelty bags, Chanel has novelty bags, Dolce&Gabbana has novelty bags, Moschino, Tomasini Paris, Charlotte Olympia all have novelty bags! These high-end designers understand the statement that comes from their highly coveted unique novelty bags. And of course, on the lower priced side of things, Kate Space and Betsey Johnson are reigning queens when it comes to funky, fun accessories.

As such, you can imagine how difficult it was for me to pass up the opportunity to snag my own novelty bag to spruce up my outfits and make me smile endlessly, each time I carry it:


I found this Betsey Johnson ‘Cats Meow’ wristlet at Winners and I’m absolutely and positively in love with it! This particular piece from her Cats Meow line is unavailable on her website, but she has many others worth looking at. I love the details on the wristlet strap, and I love the quilted pattern as it adds a certain kind of chic look to something so fun and unique.


The back side is no less beautiful in a quilted cream with ears peeking out, over top, so you still get some spunk on a more simplistic side of the purse.


What do you think? I’m imagining walking the streets of NYC with this baby; do you think I’ll fit in or stand out, a little too much? Leave me a comment!

xo
C

Bibliophile Inspired

Hey there,

This page, full of Parisian dreaming & the beauty and fashion that is infused in living that Parisian lifestyle, is meant to inspire those reading to follow their dreams, just as I am on the road to follow my own. “Empowered women empower women,” is one of my favourite quotes because it rings so true, and the effect of that empowered woman can have a ripple affect for ages.
This is one of the reasons I teach, and one of the reasons why I hope to empower the young women that I teach to be better versions of themselves, to stand up for injustice, and to change the world, one fist-raising at a time. I hope they leave my classroom feeling as though they can accomplish anything (especially anything a man can do), and make great change in their lifetimes. I want them to be inspired. My grandmother was an inspiring woman for me, as is my mother, and so, since I don’t intend of having children, I hope to pass on this inspiring spirit to my female students.

But even adults need inspiration, and I find my inspiration in books written by empowered – and empowering – women. These women, mostly based in the fashion world, all stand for the same thing: taking your life by the horns and working hard to ride it to whatever feels like success to you, the reader. Success is different for all people, and these female writers cater to that known fact, never giving a clear definition of success to the reader, only giving tips and tricks on how to get there. These women made a life for themselves that they knew they would be most happy in, just as I am working to do the same in my own life.

I’ve reviewed some of these books either in Instagram posts or blog posts, here, on lifeofcloud.net, and those that I haven’t will get a review someday soon. But in the meantime, I just want to post the names and authors of some books that have truly lit a fire underneath me and kick-started me into making change in my life. I recommend these books to women young and old, students and retired women, anyone who wants a little motivation or inspiration in their lives…

  • Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange
  • Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht
  • Love x Style x Life by Garance Dore
  • Capture Your Style by Aimee Song
  • My Paris Dream by Kate Bettes
  • Always Pack a Party Dress by Amanda Brooks
  • #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
  • The Vogue Factor by Kirstie Clements
  • The Gospel According to Coco Chanel by Karen Karlo
  • Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (- this book inspired my workshop at a conference!)

What are your favourite, most inspiring and motivating books written by female authors? Please share some suggestions with me, in the comments!

xo
C

The Power of Scent + Buy These Perfumes!

Hey there,

Today I woke thinking about my grandmother, and I woke thinking about the familiar scents I associate with her and her home. My nonna was very particular when it came to scents in the house – candles and incense irritated her – but that didn’t mean that her home didn’t have a smell to it; it smelled like warmth, and freshly cooked meals, and it smelled welcoming. And when I was young, she also wore a bit of scent, herself. It was like talcum powder and a light musk mixed together. I remember her gifting me perfumes as a teenager that smelled just like it, and at the time it wasn’t a particular scent I wanted to wear, but now I wish I had kept them. They were Nina Ricci ‘NINA‘ perfumes, this I recall. I don’t know if she wore the same scent herself, but those ones were very frequently gifted to me at Christmas time.

Scent is a powerful thing. Scent is associated as being the strongest trigger linked to memories. I can hold this to be true for both traumatic memories in my life and joyful ones. For example: the smell of Garnier hair products bring me back to having just cut my hair in the tenth grade, and being on a cruise ship with my parents. And certain scents bring me back to Parisian dreams, this is for sure! Warm pastry smells lingering on a cool breeze, the smell of lavender as you pass flower shops, the smell of frankincense that surrounds old cathedrals and churches… these are some of my favourite Paris smells. Scent and memory are truly the most remarkable thing.

And so, it reigns true that perfumes have the same powerful link to memories. Many people find one perfume and stick with it through all their lives. My mother wears Lancome’s Tresor and this will be a scent I never associate with anyone but my mom. She was very particular about this perfume choice; she wore nothing else. Even scents that resemble Tresor lead my thoughts back to my mother. I did this for a while, changing yearly between all the Escada Limited Edition lines which all have the same sugar-sweet scent, but it’s no longer a perfume that suits who I am or what I represent.

Perfumes are powerful in that way, as well. They are truly the ultimate accessory; a specific scent can truly add or take away from an outfit. They can make people say, “chic” or “weak” when they walk by you. Rather than an extra necklace or another bangle, choose that perfume carefully and layer to perfection! You wouldn’t add a soft fruity scent to a heavily layered wool look, and yet the opposite holds true for masculine musks. You can add masculine scents to a light, silken dress and you create a gorgeous juxtaposition to your entire look that is only felt once an individual gets close enough to catch your perfume. Perfume is a powerful thing!

I no longer stick to one scent, and have started a collection of perfumes, where I let my morning decision post-shower be based upon my outfit ideas for the day, and simply what “feels right” in the moment. I really  consider it to be like adding another layer to my outfit, and I know my scents well enough to know what will work and what won’t. There is a certain emotion or thought that each perfume evokes, as well, and depending on what mood I want to convey with my dress, I pick a corresponding perfume for that mood.

And so, now that you that you understand the power of scent, let me introduce you to my perfume collection. Keep in mind that most of these are my high-quality perfumes, because it truly makes a difference if your perfume has had been extracted through a good process and is a quality scent or if it’s one watered down with chemicals and poor extraction processes. These poor methods are what help celebrities create their multitude of scents for quite cheap. The smells have no depth to them (no top, middle and bottom notes) and they don’t linger for much longer than an hour or two, when quality perfumes are meant to change over each hour and release a new smell to the person wearing it. This is one of the reason why places like Sephora, or high quality perfume companies like Dior and Chanel, give out mini perfume samples. You cannot truly understand what a perfume smells like until you have worn it for a day – and keep in mind that each perfume reacts differently to each person, as we all have our own smells and oils beneath our skin.

Starting from left to right, and bottom to top…

Illume Coconut Milk Mango – This rollerball was purchased from Indigo Books in their beauty section and, if you can’t tell, there isn’t even a drop left. This scent was light and easy to use as a quick pick-me-up when other scents started to fade. It layered nicely over any other floral or fruity scent, and the milk notes really create a warm mood to this perfume.

Outremer Ocean This masculine scent truly brings a “beach side” mood to mind when worn. It’s got a musky bottom note with hints of sea salt over top, and it’s got a really mature feel to it.

Leitmotiv Neroli Toujours and Sunday Madeline – These were an Anthropologie fragrance set which unfortunately they do not carry anymore. The base note of Sunday Madeline paired with the top note of Neroli Toujours creates a perfect balance of musk and floral scents, reminiscent of a morning in Paris. These two paired together are a favourite of Mr. J who says they smell “sophisticated”.

Royal Apothic Kensington Garden – This scent was a bit of an impulse buy from Anthropologie because at it’s tiny, adorable size and at 40% off it’s sale price it only cost me $6! With a name like Kensington Garden, it’s a floral based scent but it has a spicy base note of what seems to be coriander that only seems to hit you a few hours after wearing it. I wear this scent paired as a base with other perfumes, and this company has some really amazing products in their collection.

Pure Home Couture Italian Blood Orange – This local Hamilton company gives me a feeling of stepping into Paris each time I walk through it’s doors. The company not only sells amazing wares but also makes so many of it’s own products with essential oils, and the quality of their oils shows in their products, like this perfume. No base note, not top note, no middle note, just a simplistic and powerful smell of blood orange that is outstanding (and gets numerous compliments) all on it’s own, or paired with another scent from my collection. One of my favourites of all my perfumes because it’s simplistic and beautiful!

Le Blanc Jasmin This perfume is simplistic like the last but unfortunately has an overpowering scent of the alcohol used to water-down this scent which reveals itself after hours of wear. It was picked up in a small shop in Paris, and is another perfume I use specifically for layering, as it doesn’t last long on it’s own and can be quite strong. The prominent scent of jasmine is no less beautiful, though.

Guerlain Champs Elysees – Guerlain perfumes are known to be outstanding products in all of France, and having visited their store and dispensary on Champs Elysees in Paris, of course I would leave with the store’s signature scent. This particular perfume cannot be purchased anywhere but that store (or third-party sellers) and that’s what makes it all the more special to me. It’s a very feminine and classy scent, reminiscent of Lacome’s Tresor, but with more of a talcum powder base-note. I wear this scent when I’m feeling extra girly.

Maison Margiela Replica Flower Market – If you haven’t read about this company in my previous posts, Maison Margiela has created a line called Replica which, rather than invoking moods, is meant to invoke moments in time. This particular one is a Parisian flower market in 1996. I think it’s obvious why I was drawn to this scent, and it’s my favourite in all my perfume collection. It’s immensely feminine, and so fresh, smelling like flowers and the fresh spritz of water on stems. I can’t praise this scent enough. Their whole line is out-of-this-world (but rather pricey).

Crabtree and Evelyn Florentine Freesia Flower Water – This is a flower water and not a perfume, which means it doesn’t have the alcohol base that often strengthens scent and keeps it lingering longer. It’s recommended that flower water be used with scented or non-scented lotion to keep the smell long-lasting, and to put the smell on lower pulse points on the body (eg. back of knees) because scent rises as the hours pass. This one smells of a light freesia flower scent, and has a light musky base-note of amber that makes it less of a floral scent and more feminine and chic.

Crabtree and Evelyn Summer Hill – This was actually the first perfume I purchased which got me out of the crappy-perfume phase of my Escada days and into more sophisticated scents. That’s precisely what this smell is; it is reminiscent of dusk in late August. It’s got spicy grass base-notes and floral top notes with fruity orchard notes in the middle. It feels warm, it feels chic, and I really love this one (it’s nearly done!), not only for how it pairs with certain outfits, but because it got me interested in the amazing world of perfume.

Do you have any of these perfumes I have in my collection? Which scent sounds more appealing to you? What’s your favourite perfume and how does it make you feel? Please let me know in the comments below!

And don’t ever forget about the power of scent!

xo
C

Online Window Shopping

Hey there,

I’m an online window shopper. I will often browse websites – especially their tempting sales – and dream about what the clothes might look like on me (though we all know the sizing is almost never right from screen to bod, but it’s sometimes worth the risk).

Sometimes I will fill up a cart with my favourite things, as I’m browsing the site. I end up going back to the cart after I’ve made my way through all 63 pages of the sale items and have a look at what I’ve collected.

Shocked at the total amount of my cart, I give my head a shake and start cutting the items that I could probably do without, whittling away at the total, cent by cent. Finally, when I’ve come down to the last items that I just know would look great on me, and I’m sure the total with shipping will fall under $100 (for some reason, spending anything less than $100 seems reasonable, even if it’s $96) I sit there and stare at my cart.

I stare at my cart for a good twenty minutes, running back to the pages of those last few items I decided I couldn’t live without, “hmmm”ing and “hah”ing, contemplating, contemplating…

And then I decide I shouldn’t be spending that money. And I close the website.

And I repeat the process the next day, on a new website.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this?

xo
C

Post Scriptum: I also do this with book websites…

Sherway Shopping Spree! + Shop this look #3!

Hi there,

In case you didn’t read my post from Friday morning, I got an amazing surprise in my Instagram Direct Message Inbox from Sherway Gardens Mall (the best mall close to me, without question) that said that they loved my Instagram feed and were gifting me a $100 gift card! It was an absolutely amazing surprise and, of course, meant that a shopping excursion was in my near future (aka this weekend)!

super excited about my surprise gift!

Firstly, I want to mention something so we’re all on the same page. I often get compliments on certain outfits, or certain pieces or accessories, or even certain perfumes I am wearing, and it’s totally flattering and it’s really an honour to hear. I have never been considered to be “stylish” before, but it’s my love of Paris that put fashion in my brain, and I dress nice or make myself look nice not for anyone other than myself. I feel more confident when I feel good in what I’m wearing.

That being said… recently, my partner J has been saying that I “look rich” and I also noticed I will be treated differently (ie. with more respect) and will be shown different merchandise (ie. more expensive merchandise) when this is the case. I want to mention a few things about this:

Number one: it is not the case. I am not by any means wealthy. At all. I’m an educator (whomp whomp salary) with a solo mortgage (monthly yikes) and a car that’s over four years old (needs random repairs all the time) who has four animals (re: four monthly vet bills). I do not have money. But I am a savvy shopper, and I’m never opposed to used merchandise.

I only ever buy clothes if they’re truly worth the cost (rarely will I spend over $40 on a piece of clothing) or on sale (I LOVE SALES!), and I’m always in thrift shops. I love used clothing and accessories and think vintage wares make amazing statement pieces in an outfit. Brand name vintage? Even better! And not to mention hand-me-down jewelry or shoes from family members is always welcome (as are random travel souvenirs or “thought of you” gifts!). I’m as thrifty as they come and mix and match what I have to create something new, chic, and “wealthy looking”.

Secondly: I don’t like the idea that rich people get treated differently than others. Just as I can fool someone with my clothing into thinking I have money, another person can fool the same individual into thinking they have none. You never know who you’re interacting with, and a person with a $20 bill in their pocket should be treated the same way as someone with $100 in their pocket. That’s not to say that I don’t like the extra attention (I play it up and act like I can afford everything I’m being shown — today I was shown $399.99 perfume, as if I can just whip out my Visa and make that purchase, no problem), but it doesn’t mean it’s right.

Hence why $100 from Sherway was so absolutely and positively exciting; it’s not every day that I have $100 to spoil myself with (although when it comes to books, it’s as if I have an endless supply of money… a strange thing…)!



Perfumes were my focus going in and I checked out a lot of different kinds. By the end of the day, I smelled overwhelming and it was giving me a headache!

Initially, I had my heart set on a Chanel perfume, because I love Chanel and it’s classic scents, but they simply didn’t jive with J. They didn’t feel authentic or sophisticated to him, which blew my mind considering they’re CHANEL! But since he’ll be spending a lot of time next to me, smelling the scent, I figured he should have at least a little say into what lingers in our home.



We got a little sidetracked along the way and were distracted by watches. I love watches. As a teenager, I used to collect Fossil watches in particular, and my parents would gift me one on every trip we went together. After a while, wearing watches became a tedious task for me and I put away my collection. After a trip to Switzerland, I gifted myself a limited edition Swatch watch, after years without anything on my wrist. And last Christmas, I was gifted a limited edition Swatch watch again! Only recently did I buy myself my first watch in years; a cheap but classy watch from ASOS. I love it. And now I’m back into the watch swing of things! I love minimalist watches, but I can’t help but admire the kitschy watches of Kate Spade with as much love. It’s an expensive item to collect, but it can really add something amazing and unique to an outfit.


i love the one with the script!

Of all shopping days, we were lucky enough to see a Cirque event happening at Saks Fifth Avenue (my dream store, where I just shop with my eyeballs and cry when I’m told the price of items). Food and drink were out for the taking, and shop floor sales men and women were on and ready to go! (That’s where I was shown and told to try numerous $399.99 perfumes and to look for a lovely woman named Zara if I was interested.)

The displays were amazing pieces of art, and my time spent there reminded me of being back in my favourite mall in the entire world, Galleries Lafayette (Paris, France). I could have spent hours there, just browsing each floor and taking my time through beauty and the perfumes, but the J seemed to be getting restless and I still needed to decide what I was spending my gift card on!


the silver birdcage purse held by 'HIGH SHINE' mannequin was to DIE for
I wrote about all these “in” items in my Fall Fashion post!

Finally, I landed at Sephora and I settled upon a scent that I have been eyeing for a few months, now: Replica’s Paris Flower Market perfume by Maison Margiela. It is truly a most Parisian scent, and what, for me, could be more fitting? It was slightly beyond my gift card amount, but it will be one of those perfumes I cherish and use sparingly.



It really was an exciting day! It was very much like winning the lottery  and I’m so grateful to Cadillac Fairview Sherway for gifting me this opportunity to spend with some carefree whimsy!

But I think my favourite part of the day was when I was at the Dior perfume counter at The Bay and the woman was talking to me about the new Dior perfume having been made in Grasse, France and I said, “Ah yes, the scent capital of the world. Are the flowers pressed with alcohol or through a natural extraction process?” and she looked at me (and the Sephora bag I was carrying) and said, “Do you work at Sephora in perfume or something? Because you’re really knowledgeable…” hahaha #IwishIwasAperfumer I just read a lot and people think I know what I’m talking about… I’m really good at faking it if I’m passionate about it!

And, to end the post, here was my outfit of the day…



It got a handful of compliments and there was really nothing to it:
Top – plain white, basic t-shirt
Bottoms – vintage Levi’s that cost me $3.99 (can you believe that?)
Shoes – GAP loafers (what?!) that were on sale from $50 to $13 dollars (WHAT?!)
Jacket – A thrift store find with the tags still on – some Polish brand ($10)
Hand-Me-Down Jewelry and a wicked hair style I’ll be doing more often, from now on!

xo
C