I also write for / Scriu si pentru

I also write for / Scriu si pentru

Revista Tango Romania

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Unboxing – Topbox Beauty Box

I have never ordered, or purchased, or subscribed to a beauty box, and lately I have been tempted by the idea of the beauty box; so after a quick research I decided to try on one, and I ordered the Canadian Topbox for a month, which cost me about $13.

I placed my order sometime in July, and I was supposed to get the box at my address on or shortly after August 15th. Once I placed my order for the month of August, Topbox sent me an email update advising me that I could personalize my beauty box by making wish lists and choosing to include specific items in my monthly beauty box, subject to availability. However, I didn’t want to personalize it in any way, I was totally ok with getting whatever items Topbox decided to include in it, because this is exactly what a beauty box is all about anyway, isn’t it – the surprise of the new cosmetic products that you may find inside, without knowing in advance what it would be.

On August 15th I got another email from Topbox letting me know that my box has been shipped, that it should arrive at my address shortly, and a spoil alert about what is going to be inside my beauty box when I receive it. I opened the email, but I tried not to read it, because I didn’t want to spoil the surprise!

The box arrived at my address yesterday, and I was very excited about what I would find inside. So, let’s unbox!

This is the package that I found in my mailbox yesterday.
Then I opened the package, and this is what I found inside – a cylinder.
Then I opened the cylinder, and I got out this package wrapped in purple paper tissue, and a coupon for Mereadesso products.
Now let me tell you a little bit about Mereadesso. I don’t know if you are familiar with this beauty brand, but I came across it for the first time a few years ago, at one of the fashion events that I attended in Toronto in 2012. The goodie bag that I received at that fashion event also had a few Mereadesso products – a face cream and a couple of lipsticks, pretty good and decent products. I guess I completely forgot about Mereadesso since then, I haven’t used any other Mereadesso products ever since. So anyway, I now have this coupon that came in my beauty box – I will have 20% off my next Mereadesso online order, if I decide to purchase anything on Mereadesso.com.

Back to my beauty box – I unwrapped the purple paper tissue, and this is what I found inside.
Say goodbye to visible pores! Prime to perfection, plus dramatically blur and reduce the appearance of pores instantly and for up to 8 hours.
Available at SmashBox.com

Manna Kadar Cosmetics 
Create a sun-kissed glow with our Radiance Bronzer and Highlighter Duo. This 3-in-1 product in a universal shade can be used as a bronzer, highlighter, or eyeshadow.
Available at MannaKadarCosmetics.com

This all-in-one, Level 3-hold crème reduces your drying time, detangles and defrizzes the friskiest of hair strands; offers heat protection up to 450 degrees and layers easily with other hair styling products.
150 ml
 Find a salon near you at Joico.com

Elizabeth Arden 
These exfoliating facial pads effectively retexturize and cleanse the skin and promotes skin renewal. Reveal a more radiant, smoother, brighter and even toned complexion.
60 ml
Available at ElizabethArden.com

So I’ll try them and see how good they are. :) My package had one more item, which I didn’t see in the envelope right away, but after I unwrapped the whole thing – this coupon.
It’s a coupon for a free brow waxing and design, offered by Caryl Baker Visage, a Canadian beauty salon chain with 32 locations across Ontario and Alberta provinces. Usually I prefer brow waxing, as opposed to other brow methods like tinting or threading. I usually go to a local salon close to my home, and my beauty lady has been doing my eyebrow waxing for years – she’s really good at it, and I am happy with her services. An eyebrow waxing at her salon costs me $8, and I always give her $10 to include tips. But I am curious about eyebrow waxing at this salon Caryl Baker Visage as well (worth $15.50), so I’ll use this coupon at one of their salons in Toronto next week or so.

All in all, I think I got a pretty good deal with my beauty box – the eyebrow waxing coupon and the products inside are well worth $13 that I paid for a Topbox monthly box, and maybe I’ll do it again in the future.

Photo credit: Victoria West

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

An Interview with Canadian Singer and Songwriter Sean Jones

Singer and songwriter Sean Jones
Recently I had the opportunity to interview Sean Jones, an R&B singer and songwriter based in Toronto. His single “Stoplight” is a delightful song, and I urge you all to listen to it and get it on your favorite playlist. Among his musical achievements are a Juno Award, a series of concerts that he is giving every Monday night at Casa Loma this summer, and one of his songs being featured in the “Sons 2 The Grave” film. We talked about his career, his ups and downs in music, his dreams, his disappointments, his current and future musical projects.


Victoria West: Please tell us more about yourself, what is your story? 

Sean Jones: I was born in Etobicoke and moved to Montreal for a couple of years. At the age of 5 my dad got a job overseas in Saudi Arabia and moved the entire family over there. For 5 1/2 years I lived over there and experienced a lot of cool stuff. It’s only now I realize how fortunate I was to have had that kind of experience at such a young age. I also got to take some really cool vacations. I’ve seen much of the world and it’s definitely opened my eyes in so many ways.

I grew up listening to all kinds of music. The band Whitesnake was the first album I ever bought. Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Michael Jackson, Motley Crue, Guns And Roses, Kool Moe Dee, Big Daddy Kane, Levert, Heavy D and The Boyz, Prince... nothing was off limits. No boundaries.

My parents are both Jamaican and I have a sister. The amount of support I have received from them over the years is nothing short of phenomenal. Through the ups and downs, of which there have been many, they have always been there cheering me on. Family is everything to me.

I have a degree from York University in Kinesiology. Hopefully I'll never have to use it!

Victoria West: How did you start your music career and what made you choose this path? 

Sean Jones: Here’s the short version of a long story: Basically I was a shy kid that wanted attention from the ladies but didn’t know how to get it. I was humming in French class one day and my teacher asked me to come to the front of the class and sing. With great hesitation I did it and every girl was in awe! After that I was hooked!

Victoria West: Can you tell us about obstacles that you had to overcome in order to get where you are today? 

Sean Jones: For me I think the biggest battle that I’ve faced, and still continue to is “doubt”. Not just from people but from myself. Believing in yourself and the art you’re creating and trying to share with the world can be trying at times to say the least. Could be the emptiness in your wallet that has you pondering if you should just give up and find a “real job”. Might be that executive gate keeper who holds the key to your art being heard or seen by the masses BUT refuses to let your dreams pass through because they THINK they know what the world needs to hear. Could be the voice in your head telling you that your time has passed. Time to pack it in and move on. I have personally experienced all of these and more. But I’m a dreamer. For some crazy reason I believe that if I work hard enough, long enough, my time will come. That I will share what I was meant to share with the world at large. It’s a constant struggle but my belief in my destiny is greater than the doubt that surfaces from time to time. I will win... and that’s that.

Victoria West: Please tell us more about your song “Stoplight” (which by the way is an amazing song), what is the inspiration behind it? 

Sean Jones: So here is an interesting story about this tune. I performed last year in Dallas at a fundraising gala for an organization called Best Buddies which pairs people with kids who have intellectual disabilities. It was there I met a wonderful young lady named Lisa Smith who cannot sing because she has Down Syndrome. However, her desire to perform and love for music is so strong that Lisa actually signs the words to any song while someone else sings it. I remember meeting her at sound check. She was so excited ad maybe a little shy. But when she came back for the performance... wow! She had on a tight fitting tiger print dress and she was ready to rock the stage. And she nailed it. And as the crowd was applauding and she was taking it all in I just thought to myself: “She deserves the spotlight tonight. She deserves to shine! Tonight she is the star!” Michael Shand, Miku Graham and myself finished that song months later, and while I can’t say that the song is completely about Lisa, I can with 100% honesty say that I drew inspiration from that experience in Dallas to create it. Will be sending her the finished version shortly. Maybe I can get her to sign on it! 

Victoria West: You are giving the “Soul in the City” concert series at the historic Casa Loma in Toronto every Monday night through the entire summer, please tell us more about this project, how did it start, how did you make it a reality, who helped you along the way? 

Sean Jones: To play at the castle every Monday is truly amazing. It really is one of, if not the, best venue in the city. I’ve got an 8-piece band that kills and every week I invite 3 special guests to perform a couple tunes for the audience. The whole show takes place outside in the beautiful Casa Loma gardens. There is a glass pavilion that seats about 300. However, because we are now experiencing numbers of 900+ per Monday, the castle has added seating in the gardens themselves. And to make sure that those seated in the garden get to see the same show as the people in the pavilion, a jumbo screen was erected to make sure all can enjoy the show.

I have to thank Nick Di Donato, President and CEO of Liberty Group, as well as my manager Jeffrey Latimer for putting the idea together and then handing it over to me to work out the show itself. Nick was simply looking for another event to compliment his “Symphony in the Gardens” event he throws every Tuesday night in the summer. He had seen me perform on numerous occasions and believed that together we could make a night like this successful. He chatted with Jeffrey and viola! “Soul in the City” was born. It is hands down the best showcase for soul/R&B in this country.

Victoria West: You are a Juno Award winner, please tell us all you can share about this experience. 

Sean Jones: It was a magical night. We not only got to perform on the show but we won Best R&B Soul Recording for our album “The Master Plan”. We had worked for 10 years to get to that level and when our name was announced as the winner I teared up a bit. We were on top of the world. I remember my phone ringing non stop for the rest of the night. People just calling to say congrats and that they’d seen us on TV. Definitely something I’ll always remember.

Victoria West: Please tell us more about your work on the feature film “Sons 2 The Grave”, how did this project become a reality for you? 

Sean Jones: I met Sasha and Lynn Stoltz over 8 years ago when Sasha was doing Public Relations for the label I happened to be signed to. I heard about the film and one night was inspired to write a song for the movie. I recorded a very rough demo and gave it to them.

Movies can take a long time to finally get filmed but, when the movie was in its final stages they reached out to me about the song I wrote for them years ago. They also wanted to know if I had anything else that might be appropriate. I sent them “When I'm Gone” and they liked it even better than the tune I had originally given them for the movie. The rest is history I suppose.

Victoria West: And the song from the movie, “When I’m Gone”, what is the story of this song, what’s the inspiration behind it? 

Sean Jones: “When I’m Gone” was not originally written for the movie. It was just an idea I came up with while playing guitar one night. I ended up sending it to Sasha when she asked if I had any other material suitable for the film.

Sounds kind of morbid but I’ve often wondered to myself “What will people say about me when I'm dead and gone?” If the only thing they remember about me is that I had some good songs and a nice voice, then I think I’ve failed on some level. When I was younger I really didn’t care. It was all about clubs, drinks, girls, and the spotlight of the stage. Nowadays I’m doing my best to mentor youth and give aspiring artists a chance to shine on a stage that I’ve helped build. I was completely blindsided the other night when a young man named Matte Black came up to me and explained that I was responsible for him not killing himself many years ago when I gave him an opportunity to open for me. You just never know the impact your gonna have on someone’s life.

Victoria West: What else are you working on right now, or will be working in the near future? 

Sean Jones: Always working on creating new music. That just never stops. Gonna be releasing some new music shortly so that takes a bit of planning. Also working on putting together a tour and exploring new territories.

Victoria West: Where do you find your inspiration as an artist? 

Sean Jones: These days I’m finding inspiration in some of the young artists I’m bringing to Casa Loma. Their talent is so raw yet so good! It’s exciting to see them do their thing and it’s equally exciting to see the crowd react to it. I love all of that.

I’m also inspired by the crappy state the world is in. So much hate. I can let it depress me or I can find a way to fight against it and inspire people to love. I choose the latter.

Victoria West: What are your thoughts on the Canadian music industry nowadays? What does it take to make it as a successful singer and songwriter? 

Sean Jones: 99% of the time, if you want to make it as a successful singer or songwriter you will NEED to leave this country. That’s just the facts. There are sooooooo many reasons I could get into about it that but I would need to write an essay to express myself properly. There is a problem here. So much talent and yet that same talent has to go elsewhere to be recognized before WE as Canadians will recognize their abilities. Why??? When are WE going to be the FIRST to figure out and nurture the diamonds in this great country of ours and THEN share them with the world!!!???

Victoria West: Please share with us a memory of yours that you are particularly fond of. 

Sean Jones: After singing “What a Wonderful World” to end a performance in Georgia, an 80- year old woman came up to me and told me that that song was the first song her and her recently deceased husband had ever danced to. With tears in her eyes she said “Thank you”. To this day it is one of the most touching moments I have ever experienced.


The song “Stoplight” by Sean Jones is available on iTunes, Spotify and SoundCloud. To learn more about the artist and his music, please visit SeanJones.tv.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Sasha Stoltz Publicity

Thursday, August 04, 2016

An Interview with the R&B Singer J Matthew, aka City Black

Jay Matthew, also known as J Matthew, aka City Black, is an emerging R&B artist from Toronto. Besides R&B, he also sings pop and soul. He recently released his debut single “Can’t Stop”, which is now available on iTunes. The artist worked closely with experienced producers and songwriters to create his first single. J Matthew is set to perform in front of thousands at the iconic Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto, on the TDOT FEST stage, on September 4.

I had the pleasure to interview J Matthew recently, and the artist shared about his music, his career aspirations and his hopes for the future.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Sasha Stoltz Publicity
Victoria West: Who are you, J Matthew aka City Black? What is your story? Please tell us about yourself, where do you come from, where were you born and raised, what is your background? 

J Matthew: I’m 25, born and raised in Scarborough, one of the six boroughs in Toronto, Ontario. I recently completed my undergrad at University. I’m looking forward to pursue my Master’s in September. Since a child, I had a passion for R&B music and had favorites like R. Kelly, Michael Jackson and Aaliyah. Everyday I continue to learn more about music and have become open to all genres and decades of music. I want to contribute to the evolution of music and create great hits that people will listen to forever.

Victoria West: Please tell us a bit about your music career and how did you start as a singer. 

J Matthew: I’m currently working on my first album which will help promote me as an artist by allowing the public to listen to a good amount of music, I hope it will help generate feedback about the music they enjoy most from me and their overall opinion. Singing is something I’ve always enjoyed, but knew that if I wanted to pursue it professionally, I would need vocal lessons which I have begun taking continuously, about 2 years ago.

Victoria West: What were the challenges that you faced along the way on your music path? 

J Matthew: One of the challenges I face is releasing an efficient amount of material that will allow new audiences to listen to my music. With only one song being out at the moment, there are people that may be curious to hear more and they are not given the chance. Also, more content would allow me to take up more space on social media sites like YouTube so that more people can become more familiar with me and my music.

The second challenge I face is vocal control. As I continue to develop my vocal skills, there are many things I hope to accomplish so I can use these same skills within my music to bring out stronger emotion, performance and creation.

Victoria West: When was the first time you knew that you wanted to sing? 

J Matthew: I’ve always wanted to sing. Since I was a child, I would always imagine being on stage in front of thousands. It was a place where I felt happy and free.

Victoria West: You just released your debut single “Can’t Stop”, please tell us more about the song and the story behind it. 

J Matthew: “Can’t Stop” was released to get public feedback about my project. We are working towards the song “The Sound of the Six” by developing a new distinctive sound of music that I can brand myself to, while at the same time acknowledging the current sounds used within the music listened to today.

Most people that have heard the song at first were those who helped create it, friends and family who were also surprised with the result. We felt it would be the best choice for a debut single because the song caters to a wide audience. The song reflects a person stuck in a memory with someone they’ve cared for and hoping they could get one more chance to make things better. The music video is available on YouTube.

Victoria West: You will be performing on the TDOT FEST stage at the Yonge and Dundas Square this September, what does it mean for your music career, what do you hope this event will bring you?  

J Matthew: TDOT FEST will give me an opportunity to sing live in front of a diverse audience and promote my music. Yonge and Dundas Square is one of the most popular places in Downtown Toronto and TDOT FEST is one of their biggest annual events. I hope this event will bring me the opportunity to gain more performances and even one day have my own show.

Victoria West: Is this your first performance of this scale? 

J Matthew: Yes.

Victoria West: Please tell us what are your projects for the near future, say the next 12 months. 

J Matthew: We are planning to shoot another video in a few weeks and debut another release near the end of August. I plan to travel to New York to meet and hopefully work with some producers. The main project I will be working on is to complete the album and to have each song be of something we can all relate to or have experienced at some point in our life.

Victoria West: What inspires you as an artist? 

J Matthew: The mystery of nature. Its sounds and visual environments are always changing. I often visualize my music as a seed that is beginning to grow until the final project is complete. By doing so, it helps to try and think of ways I could help make things sound better.

Victoria West: Where do you hope your music career will take you in the next 5 to 10 years? 

J Matthew: I hope to become established in the music industry and continue to develop my talent. I hope to meet and collaborate with other musicians who may also guide me to help develop myself by sharing their experiences. I would find it a big achievement to tour the world.

Victoria West: What is the advice that you could give to the young, emerging artists who are trying to make it in the music industry? 

J Matthew: Don’t quit. There can be days when you feel as though things may never work out and it’s a long journey. Be patient, practice, and give it your best. Be thankful for the people who work with you and support and share the same goals as you.

Victoria West: And to conclude, please tell us about a hobby of yours, how do you like to spend your free time? 

J Matthew: Some of my hobbies include: reading, world news, yoga/working out. I enjoy spending my free time with friends, dancing and parties.


J Matthew can be followed on Instagram and Twitter.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Calatorii prin Statele Unite – Cascada Niagara

M-am bucurat sa ma revad cu Niagara mea draga, involburata, puternica si plina de energie, dupa patru ani de cand am vazut-o ultima oara. In aceasta vara drumurile de calatorie m-au dus din nou in America, sa refac un voiaj pe care l-am mai facut in urma cu patru ani, dar de data aceasta ochii mei au vazut aceleasi locuri intr-o lumina diferita.
Mai intai am fost la Buffalo, un oras situat in apropierea granitei dintre Canada si Statele Unite. Am scris mai multe despre calatoria mea la Buffalo in cel mai recent articol pe care l-am publicat pe Blog Tango. Iar dupa ce mi-am incheiat vizita la Buffalo, am continuat la Cascada Niagara, pe care o vazusem de mai multe ori in anii precedenti; de 6 ori de pe malul canadian, intre 2006 si 2009, si o data de pe malul american, in 2012.

Cand eram mai tanara, eram dornica si insetata de calatorii si descoperiri; si pe atunci ma gandeam ca nu mi-ar placea sa ma intorc a doua oara in acelasi loc, ci de fiecare data sa plec in vacanta intr-un loc nou. Nu-mi placea sa revin in acelasi loc nu pentru ca mi-ar fi fost teama sa stric farmecul acelei prime intalniri cu locul respectiv, ci pentru ca sunt pe lume atat de multe locuri pe care as fi vrut sa le vad, incat de fiecare data cand plecam in vacanta vroiam sa descopar un loc nou, decat sa revin undeva unde mai fusesem in trecut.

Asa gandeam acum, sa zic, 15 ani. Dar intre timp mi-am schimbat parerea. Acum nu ma deranjeaza sa revin in acelasi loc de vacanta, si asta pentru ca imi place sa descopar acel loc a doua oara altfel. Si mai ales, in timpul unei vacante niciodata nu reusesti sa vezi acel loc in intregime; cand pleci de acolo, regreti ca n-ai avut timp sa vezi si aia si aia si aia, si un alt obiectiv, si inca un altul. De aceea, acum nu ma deranjeaza sa ma intorc in acelasi loc de vacanta, pentru ca a doua oara il voi vedea altfel, si imi dau ocazia sa vad acele lucruri si sa traiesc acele experiente pe care le-am omis prima oara.

Am fost la Paris intr-o vacanta acum cativa ani, am petrecut acolo 5 zile, am vazut cele mai “fierbinti” obiective turistice, adica spoturile clasice – Turnul Eiffel, Luvrul, Champs-Elysées, Sacré Coeur, Montmartre, Moulin Rouge, Notre Dame, Ile de Cité, Sorbona, Sena, Podul Nou, Arcul de Triumf. Dar vreau sa revin la Paris, ca sa vad si alte obiective turistice, e imposibil sa vezi Parisul in 5 zile, asa ca data viitoare cand mai merg acolo, voi putea descoperi si alte frumuseti ale Parisului.

Si ca o paranteza, prefer vacantele pe care mi le organizez singura, decat cele in grupuri organizate sau cu ghizi turistici. N-am plecat niciodata intr-o vacanta de tip organizat, prefer sa-mi aleg singura traseul si sa fac totul in ritmul meu, decat sa depind de un program gandit de altcineva.

Revenind la calatoria pe care tocmai am facut-o in Statele Unite acum cateva saptamani, cand am vizitat orasul Buffalo si Cascada Niagara americana, prima oara le-am vizitat in vara lui 2012, iar acum le-am vazut cu alti ochi. Buffalo s-a schimbat foarte mult, in bine, in ultimii 4 ani, si m-am bucurat nespus sa vad aceasta schimbare, m-am bucurat mult sa vad acum orasul cu alti ochi, sa-l percep diferit.

Cat priveste Cascada Niagara de pe malul american, atmosfera din statiune mi s-a parut mai primitoare si mai ospitaliera decat in vara lui 2012 cand am vazut-o prima oara. Atunci eram dezamagita de atmosfera de “lasa-ma sa te las” pe care am simtit-o pe tot parcursul vizitei la Niagara. Potentialul turistic al Niagarei americane parea ca nu era expoatat la maxim. M-au dezamagit inconveniente precum lipsa aerului conditionat in cladiri, sau lipsa usilor automate la intrare in restaurante si magazine, sau lipsa rampelor de acces pe strazi si la intrari in spatii publice care sunt atat de necesare persoanelor cu dizabilitati sau parintilor cu copii mici in landouri. Acum toate acestea pareau ca au fost imbunatatite, ceea ce a facut vizita noastra mult mai placuta, si caldura caniculara mai usor de suportat.

Dar oricum n-ar fi, ma bucur de fiecare data sa revad Cascada Niagara, indiferent cum a fost ultima oara cand am fost acolo, sau cat timp a trecut de la ultima mea vizita. Este un loc unde imi place sa revin iar si iar, si voi mai merge acolo pe viitor. Inca sunt multe pentru mine de vazut la Niagara (de exemplu, un muzeu al figurilor de ceara de pe malul canadian al Niagarei este un obiectiv pe bucket list-ul meu), incat stiu ca vreau sa mai merg acolo in curand, intr-un alt weekend lung sau intr-o alta vacanta de vara.
Photo credit: Victoria West

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

An Audrey Hepburn Inspired Look and a DIY Embellished Purse with Thrifted Finds from Value Village

I am an avid supporter of sustainable fashion and I have incorporated a number of sustainable practices in my wardrobe, which are reflected in my every day outfits. I buy less and wear more; I buy vintage and thrift; I don’t buy fast fashion (ok, sometimes I do, but I limit my fast fashion purchases to very few items); I buy from local designers and I’m a big supporter of the Canadian fashion industry; I dress outside the box, whenever the design of a garment allows it (some of the clothes can be worn beyond their original scope, like a dress worn as a skirt or a skirt worn as a top or a blouse); I let myself inspired by the right side of my walk-in closet, incorporating some of my husband’s clothes into my outfits (I’ve worn the Boyfriend Shirt look, the Boyfriend T-Shirt look, the Boyfriend Shorts look); I mend, alter and refashion clothes, giving them a completely new look and/or a new purpose.

One of my favorite ways to practice sustainable fashion is by buying thrift and vintage. I have been an avid thrift shopper for a long time now, and Value Village is my favorite place to go to thrift shopping. Over the last few years, since I became a frequent thrift shopper, I’ve found some amazing and unique items on the racks at Value Village, which I absolutely love and wear dearly. 

#RethinkReuse is a philosophy that I have adopted in my wardrobe and now I am very considerate as to how I wear and take care of my clothes. I am saddened to see how many clothes are being discarded and end up on the landfill every year as a result of overconsumption in our Western society, when in fact they deserve love and proper care. Most of the unwanted clothes that get discarded are still in good shape and perfectly reusable, and they could get a second life in another wardrobe if only we were willing to make an extra effort to give them that second chance, instead of simply discarding them. And, besides the fact that I’ve become a greener shopper and more environmentally conscious while buying from Value Village, I also love the thrill of the hunt when I go thrift shopping!

To prove my point, I partnered up with Value Village to show you what great items can be purchased while thrifting, both in terms of clothes and accessories, so today I am going to show you an outfit made up entirely of Value Village finds (except for the shoes and eyewear). My mission was to create an outfit inspired by Audrey Hepburn’s style. My intention has not been to recreate or copy her looks, but rather use her as an inspiration that spoke to my own style.

So a few days ago I went to Value Village to find the items that I would use to create an Audrey Hepburn inspired look. I was after a black dress, a colored blazer, a purse and jewelry. When I was done with my thrift shopping, this is what I got.
The dress
It’s a Cleo bandage dress. This picture of the dress on the hanger may not tell you a lot, but wait until you see me wearing it. I love bandage dresses and tops due to their silhouette slimming effect. I actually have another bandage black top, a White House | Black Market, which I also scored at Value Village a couple of years ago, and which makes me look awesome and I absolutely love it. The dress was new, and it still had the original price tag attached to it. You can find many new items at Value Village, with the original price tags still attached to them, which is great of course. The only thing that makes me sad about it is that it’s a pity the person who had bought this dress in the mall didn’t enjoy it at all, didn’t wear it even once, and donated it to Value Village without wearing it – it’s a gorgeous dress, why wouldn’t you want it! Why did she bother to buy it if she was not going to wear it, such a waste! But, if she didn’t want it, now it’s mine, and I am happy to add it to my wardrobe.
The blazer
Considering that I wanted to create this look with a black dress, I thought to brighten it up with a colorful blazer, and I found this one – both its color and its style are gorgeous!
The purse
I also wanted a black purse for my outfit, so I added this one to my shopping cart.
Another purse...
That day I also bought this little cutie, because I love vintage inspired embroidered purses, however I’m not going to include this wristlet in this story, I bought it because thrift shopping is so fun and I love a good treasure hunting, and this is just a little side item that I got for myself, besides the ones that I was after for my Audrey Hepburn project.
The jewelry
As to the jewelry that I wanted to include in my Audrey Hepburn inspired look, I thought to go with a couple of bags of jewelry like these that are available at Value Village. When jewelry items don’t sell individually, they are grouped in bags for a second chance to be sold. I have always wanted to buy these jewelry bags from Value Village, because of the thrill element of discovering what beauties I could find inside. It’s like subscribing to beauty boxes – you are sure to receive great beauty products with a beauty box, but you never know what’s gonna be inside. I never bought this kind of jewelry bags from Value Village before, because I would always choose specific jewelry items that I liked on the display rack. But these jewelry bags have always been a wish item for my thrift shopping at Value Village, so now I thought it was a perfect occasion to buy them – with all the jewelry pieces included in two bags like these, I would surely find something inspirational to create the look that I wanted. I chose these two out of all available at Value Village on that day, because they looked the most promising. I was also after a pearl necklace, and one of these bags seemed to have what I wanted.

I could hardly wait to come home that day and open my jewelry bags, to see what I am going to find inside, and this is what I have found inside.
Bag #1
Items that I liked the most from bag #1
Bag #2
Items that I liked the most from bag #2
In my mind, I already knew how my Audrey Hepburn inspired outfit should look like, but I wanted to add an extra flavour to it and accessorize it a little bit more, especially since I had all these jewelry pieces that I could use! What I mean is a little DIY project, and I decided to embellish my black purse with some of these jewelries. I chose this necklace for my purse embellishment purposes.
What I was going to need for embellishing my black purse was the necklace and the purse (of course), and a few tools -- a pair of small scissors, a cutter, and black thread and a needle. If you don't have a pair of small scissors, like this one, you can totally use a regular size or a bigger scissors for such a project, but I prefer to use my small scissors for this kind of delicate embellishment projects. All of these tools can be found at craft stores like Michael's.
For what I had in mind, I didn't quite like the necklace the way it was, I thought those bows were too much, so I decided to remove the bows, for a cleaner look. I carefully removed the bows from the necklace, using the cutter.
I may use the bows for some other DIY projects, so I kept them, but now I like the necklace better than its original version. Then I stitched the necklace to the purse from inside, and this is the end result.
Everything that I needed for my Audrey Hepburn inspired look from Value Village was ready, so all I had to do was to wear my new outfit. I wore it earlier this week, when I met a friend downtown Toronto. The jewelry that I chose to complete my look was a pearl necklace and a black bead bracelet. First I was tempted to add a couple more pieces, but then I remembered what Coco Chanel said -- before you leave home, have a final look in the mirror, and remove something; and this is exactly what I did, so I kept it simple with one necklace and one bracelet.
Photo credit:

Alexandra Wren (the look)
Victoria West (the items)
DoctorMacro.com (Audrey Hepburn)

This story is a collaboration with Savers/Value Village. The Savers family of thrift includes Value Village, Village des Valeurs and Unique Thrift, with more than 330 awesome locations in the United States, Canada and Australia.