Beth’s Favorite Things in 2012

If Sarah and I were multi-billionaires and owned a studio space in Chicago, we’d invite all our readers to join us for a Favorite Things giveaway where you’d all receive our favorite products from the last year. Alas, we are not in such a position. BUT, we can compile our lists and share them with you via the Internets. Second best thing, right? So here we go!

Cirque French Roast Nail Polish

I’ve been really digging “boutique” nail polish brands. These are brands that you can’t find in Sephora, Walgreens, CVS, or Target. They’re made by small companies, sometimes even by a single person, mixed in small batches, and available online only. They’re more expensive than a bottle of Revlon nail polish, but they’re typically highly pigmented, in unusual colors, and extraordinarily beautiful. My favorite of the boutique colors I’ve tried this year? Cirque in French Roast. As you can see from the photos above, this is a brown glitter polish, with specks of spring green and gold. It is amazing, and was so perfect for this past fall (though I’m sure I’ll end up wearing it all year round). The photos above show it applied alone, but I like a darker look, so I applied over one coat of dark brown polish, as seen below:

This polish has lot of glitter, so it sucks up clear polish pretty handily, which means it requires at least two top coats of clear, otherwise you won’t get the shiny look.


Chain Link Bracelet

I love the chain link trend in jewelry this year. I had been coveting J.Crew’s Classic Pave Link Bracelet, which was just too expensive, at $125. Thankfully, a couple months ago, I stumbled across Coldwater Creek’s Jeweled Links Bracelet as shown above. I like this version of the trend even better than the J. Crew bracelet–it has less bling, so it’s more restrained and appropriate for every day wear. When I bought it at full price, it was $40, which I thought was a steal. Now? It’s on sale for $20! What? Highway robbery. Available in gold, chocolate, and hematite wash (steely gray). (Note: this bracelet was really big on my wrist so I took one of the circle links out with a pair of trusty pliers, so you may have to do the same.)


Downton Abbey

By now you’ve surely heard about this addictive PBS series. The first season takes place at the beginning of the 20th century, right after the Titanic sinks. It has everything we love in a soapy drama: clandestine affairs, forbidden love, treachery, scandal, all set amid the Victorian mores of an estate in the countryside of England. Plus, it incorporates that wonderful dry, stoic British humor, best delivered by the incomparable Maggie Grace. If you thought you might be interested in this series, now’s the time to catch up on Seasons 1 and 2, as Season 3 will begin after the New Year!


Green Eye Makeup

Several years ago, I quit using any kind of brown eye makeup, because I realized that because I have brown eyes, adding brown makeup didn’t add a contrast, and thus wasn’t flattering. It didn’t look bad, but it didn’t make my eyes pop. I’ve thus turned to dark purple, gray, and yes, green eye makeup to complement my eyes. My favorite green cosmetics are Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliner in Mildew and MAC Greensmoke Eyeshadow. To get the look above, first I applied Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. Then I applied the MAC eyeshadow on the lid, to just slightly above the crease. Then I applied a neutral shadow like MAC Shroom Eyeshadow to the brow bone. I lined my top and bottom lids with the Urban Decay eyeliner. Then I applied several thick coats of Maybelline Volum’ Express The Falsies Mascara to the top and bottom eyelashes. The green of the eye makeup brings out otherwise unnoticeable flecks of green and gold in my eyes!


Born boots

Born Treddy Boot – $146.90 ($219.95); Born Nuri Boot – $157.99 ($175)

I’d read fashion bloggers raving about Born boots, but they were always so pricey–well above $100–that I never seriously considered purchasing a pair. Then in March of this past year, I spied a pair of grey Born boots in my size on for $73.50. Uhhh, sold. They arrived and I fell in love. Or my feet did. The lining is sumptuous–soft, cushy, and even beautifully patterned:

My boots have about a 2-inch heel yet they’re more comfortable than any of the flats I own. Great arch support, no crowding in the toe. They are not the most fashion forward boots, but they’re definitely cute and I can wear them forever. I’d pay much more for a second pair, knowing how great they are.


Sock bun

One of the earliest posts I did for full clutch was about the sock bun. Forever I admired the full buns of random women I saw out and about, and I wondered how they managed it. Despite my thick hair, my buns always disappeared into tiny nubbins of hair. This easy hairdo is quickly managed after a couple tries, and gives you a beautiful, voluminous bun. Here’s the original video I used to teach myself how to do it. I wear this ‘do at least once a week.


Bouvier jewelry

Sarah and I did a guest post over at Dappered, giving men gift recommendations for the women in their lives. One of my picks was the jewelry maker Bouvier Jewelry. Bouvier Jewelry is high quality costume jewelry, made from real and faux pearls, crystals, and semi-precious stones. Owner Cynthia makes pieces that “evoke elegance, confidence, and the essence of femininity.” Many of her pieces look like something an old Hollywood film star would wear. I own two pieces myself and I love them.  Featured above are Silver Springs for $132, and Sunshine for$110.


Nude Lip

I love a nude lip–it looks good on everyone, provided you pick the right color for your skin tone. After a couple false starts, I found my perfect recipe for achieving a nude lip. First, I apply Too Faced Perfect Lips Liner to the entire lip. I usually outline slightly outside my natural lip shape for a bigger pout. The top photo above shows this. Too Faced makes this liner in only one color, so I have to believe that it looks great on a variety of skin tones. Sometimes I’ll leave it at that–it’s a nice matte look that’s subtle, yet gives my lips a bit of pop. If I want a bit more shine–but not a ton–I’ll layer on L’Oreal Infallible Lipcolor in Forever Frappe. This combination will last all day, including meals. I usually touch up the lipstick once, but the liner is not budging unless you take a tissue and rub it hard against your lips.


Paula by Isabel Allende

Okay, maybe this is cheating a little bit because this book came out in the mid-90s, but I only read it this year, so that’s why I’m including it. Writer Isabel Allende has long been a critically acclaimed fiction writer, but when her daughter Paula became gravely ill from a rare disease, she began writing letters to her while sitting at her hospital bed. Eventually, she published them in this memoir. Part epistolary, part memoir of Allende’s life, part history of Chile, this book incorporates many of the magical realism qualities that made Allende famous as a short story writer. It is charming and heartbreaking. I thoroughly recommend it.


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

This book really did come out in 2012. Gone Girl is about a marriage, a missing woman, an affair, and a wife with sociopathic and homicidal tendencies. Doesn’t it sound delicious and soapy? I also included in the image above Dark Places, also by Gillian Flynn, as I’m told this earlier book of hers is even better–it’s on my wish list from Santa. Hopefully he agrees I’ve been a good girl and will put it under the tree for me!


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