Rachel Zoe Box of Style: April 2015

Brand new this year to the sub box game is the oh so chic, stylist Rachel Zoe with her Box of Style. Boxes ship out four times a year and you can opt to pay quarterly for $100 per box, or $350 for an annual sub. The moment I heard about this new seasonal sub, I knew I’d be nabbing a box.   I really love Rachel Zoe’s aesthetic and am always on the lookout for awesome fashion and celebrity curated boxes. To save $10 on your own sub use code use code SUBTHERAPYSP10!

It’s always so exciting to try the very first box of any sub, so let’s stop talking and start ripping open cardboard.
Box Open Box 1

The actual box the items come in is very nice and similar to the kind in the Popsugar Limited Edition boxes. I’ll definitely be reusing mine.
Box 2 Open Box 2
Inside, everything has been lovingly packed. The attention to detail (with even a cute little sticker) makes this box feel super luxe.
Closeup Wrapping
We get a brochure from Rachel with a description of the products, styling ideas and why the item was included. Each item also has a special coupon code that subscribers can use on the product websites for extra discounts.
Booklet
Rachel writes, ” Every day, my team of editors at The Zoe Report and I set out to discover and share the best new products.  Now, we are making these virtual recommendations a reality with Box of Style: a curated assortment of the best fashion, beauty, and lifestyle items of the moment–and of course one styling tool to make sure you’re looking your most glamorous all year-round.  Brought to you four times a year, our very first box kicks off our spring obsessions…”

HERO ITEM:
Bracelet Bracelet on Wrist
Miansai Modern Screw Cuff:
(Estimated Retail: $200.00)
Rachel’s Description: “There is nothing more chic than simple gold cuff—it’s the perfect addition to your everyday look. You won’t want to take this piece off!”
Rachel’s Styling Ideas: “Stack it with an armful of yellow, white, or rose –god pieces (whatever works best for you), for a “wow” look. For evening, pair it with your favorite cocktail ring or statement earrings and a smoky eye.”
Verdict: Frick’n Love
Rachel calls this the “hero item” and was the big ticket pick of the box. They released this one as a spoiler, which was extra motivation for me to purchase it. I love, love the classic cool of this cuff. It looks fab on it’s own, or mixed with other bracelets. You could wear this with a suit to a job interview or with a tshirt and jeans to a rock concert. It’s beautiful, versatile and chic. And as someone with a smaller wrist I love cuffs that don’t fall off or move around a ton. I also appreciate that Rachel Zoe released this item as a spoiler since it’s the big ticket product and might not fit bigger wrists. Just knowing this was in the box was enough to give consumers a good idea if this purchase would work for them.

Zoya Box Zoya Open Box
Swatches
Zoya Nail Polish in Zoe, Chantal and Haley:
(Estimated Retail: $30.00)
Rachel’s Description: “These polishes are perfect for the season yet transitional and will last the entire year. I worked closely with Zoya to create the perfect custom opal color, Zoe which I used in my Fall 2015 fashion week presentation—hence the name.”
Rachel’s Beauty Tips: “Layer a coat of Zoe over a coat of Chantal for a chic opalescent-nude color. Create an updated French manicure by using Chantal as a base color and Zoe in a half-moon style on the tips. Use one coat of Zoe for a sheer, two coats for a semi-sheer and three coats for an opaque pearl color.”
Verdict: Love!
You know I love polish and Zoya has one of my favorite formulas. This set is beautifully packaged and offers some classic shades everyone should have in their collection. I collect Opal polishes because it’s my birthstone, so I was extra psyched to see a special Opal polish that is unavailable on the Zoya site. These colors are wonderful for women of all ages and Rachel did a great job with the selection.

Glasses
Traveler by TOMS
:
(Estimated Retail: $68.00)
Rachel’s Description: “Every girl needs amazing black sunnies—this pair by TOMS is a brand-new shape that works wonders on virtually every face. Bonus: They come with a crazy-cute bold, floral case. What more could you ask for?”
Rachel’s Styling Ideas: “Channel a boho-chic vibe by rocking them with a wide-brimmed hat or whatever style works best for you. For added drama, pair them with a red lip.”
Verdict: Hit!
It’s always fun to get new sunglasses and this shape is interesting but not so weird or bold that most women couldn’t pull it off. I also love the colorful case. I’m adding this to the travel kit I’m building up so I can rock these during my next trip.

Mascara
Tarte lights, camera, lashes 4-in-1 mascara
(Retail: $21.00)
Rachel’s Description: “I firmly believe that taking an extra few seconds to put on mascara instantly trnasforms your look and literally opens your eyes. It’s hard to overdose on mascara and this formula is one of my all time faves!”
Rachel’s Beauty Tips: “To make your eyes pop, use an eyelash curler before you apply. Once an initial coat has been applied, add more product on the outer corner of the lashes to create the illusion of falsies. We are huge advocates of top and bottom lashes, so don’t be afraid to trip up on coats.”
Verdict:
Like
Mascara in a sub box is not exciting, but Tarte is a great brand. I have pale lashes so mascara is a must for me and I love trying out new formulas.

Style Tape
Bristols 6 Stylin’ Tape
(Estimated Retail: $10.00)
Rachel’s Description: “A styling kit is incomplete without double-sided tape. Always keep in your bag for both day and night—you never know when you’ll have an unexpected wardrobe malfunction!”
Rachel’s Styling Ideas: “If you’re wearing a billowy top or caftan, use small section sof tape to xsecure it to your body—near cleavage, at the shoulder sor anywhere eyou need a bit of extra security. This takpe can be used to keep the straps of a top in place on your shoulder o to adhere bra straps to your shirt so they don’t slip out. Keep a large bangle or ring in place if your jewelry is a little too big.”
Verdict:
Like
I love the idea of using this tape on oversized jewelry. I’m sure this will come in handy for dressier events when I want to keep small straps under control. This was a really thoughtful addition as we head toward warmer weather.

OVERALL:
Full Box
Where have you been all my life?

FINALLY.  A celebrity curated box that is everything it should be. This box was thoughtfully curated, seasonally appropriate and arrived on time. It had a great balance of beauty and style items and would work just as well for a 25 year old woman as a 45 year old. Even the packaging had lovely little details. All the brands are high end and nothing feels out of place or thrown together. This was an amazing box. I paid $100 and received $429.00 of product. The bracelet alone was worth more than the value of this box.

This sub has quickly moved to the top of my favorites list. If you can swing the cost of it, I can’t recommend it enough. I’m already looking forward to what will show up for summer.

Have you ever tried a celebrity curated box? If so which one and how was it?

THE BACKSTORY
Box of Style has Fashion, beauty and lifestyle items you’ll be obsessed with!   Over $300 worth of product in every box.

   Box of Style ships 4 times per year—March, July, September & December

   Membership renews each quarter

COSTS:
DISCOUNT!:  Use code SUBTHERAPYSP10 to save $10 off!
Seasonal Membership:
$100.00 / 4x year
Annual Membership: $350.00 / year
Free shipping!

Seasonal membership:  Cancel any time (after the shipment of your first purchased Box of Style)
Annual Membership: Renews each year (membership is not cancellable during the year)

 

Popbasic: The Felicity Collection – February 2015

I lust after all the Popbasic microcollection releases and the folks there were so fabulous that they sent me the Felicity Collection just so that I could review it for you guys. The cost of this collection is $70 and it features a dress and two pieces of jewelry.
(To save $15 off your first collection, use my referral link.)

For folks that are unfamiliar with Popbasic, they introduce “micro-collections” of quality basic pieces that you purchase as a set. In December, I purchased the Jovial Collection, and while I loved the design of all the pieces, the fit on the jeans was a miss for me. I was very excited to see how a dress would compare.

Once again it came in a super cute box.
Box Open Box

Also included is a dual sided card describing the pieces on one side, then offering styling options on the other.
Card Card 2

Dress
Grey Forever Dress (RRP $60)

Description: You loved our Forever Dress so much we decided to bring it back in grey marl. This version is just as soft and cosy, but with a little more space at the hips for an even more flattering fit. Pair it together with our Luna Cuff and Mixed Metals Necklace for a night out. Or with a parka and ankle boots for a coffee run. 94% rayon; 6% spandex. Length: 39.”
Verdict: Like
I don’t know what fabric this is, but it’s seriously amazing. It’s super soft and I would love to buy a bunch of tops made from it. Now when I first saw the dress I was worried that it would be too clingy and the sleeves might be too short (I have long limbs). But I was pleasantly surprised. This fabric is the type that doesn’t hide any issues but it’s not super clingy either. It has a lovely drape and the sleeves and hemline are a bit longer than I expected (which is a good thing!). I’d recommend wearing this with undergarments designed not to show pantylines. I’m a larger size and I was worried that this would show too much to be wearable for me, but it didn’t.  My one issue was the color. I’m not a fan of this light of a grey because I feel with my super pale vampire skin it washes me out. If this had been in charcoal grey I would have fallen absolutely in love. Because of the pale color I’ll probably end up wearing this layered rather than on it’s own.

Bagged Jewelry

Necklace Necklace Closeup
Mixed Metals Necklace (RRP $25)
Description: Silver or gold? Why not both? We’ve created the loveliest mix of both. Pop it on with your Forever Dress for a night out or with a white tee for a casual look. Alloy; gold and silver plated.”
Verdict: Love!
This is a perfect layering necklace. It will work with pretty much any necklace you own. This items was thoughtfully designed so as to maximize your options and I know I will get a ton of use out of it especially layered with my short dainty necklaces.

Bracelet
Luna Cuff (RRP $20)
Description: A super simple, yet pretty piece to pair with an assortment of bangles or on its own. The cuff is easily adjustable and can be worn on the wrist or on upper forearm. Alloy; gold plated.”
Verdict: Love!
I’m obsessed with all kinds of jewelry (and beauty) that references the moon. This cuff will look fabulous stacked with other pieces or on its own.  As a person with tiny wrists, I love the scale and size of it. Some cuffs overwhelm me or move around too much and this is perfect. I’d love to grab it in silver too.

MY STYLING
One of the reasons I love Popbasic is that I tend to get obsessed with unique pieces and stuff that is romantic or edgy or maybe a touch complicated and then I get them home and I’m like “okay so what the hell do I wear this with?”  Popbasic is perfect at supplying the items that make my more unique pieces really pop (hence, the name Popbasic I guess).

Using my own wardrobe, I’d style these pieces with a romantic pseudo-steampunk vibe.

I’d wear my boiled wool Anthropologie ruffle coat over the Gray dress that I’d pair with black leggings and my black Jeffrey Campbell Joe Lace Up boots.
Anthropologie Sweatercoat Boots

For the Jewelry, I’d add the Kate Spade Saturday locket I snagged as a Birchbox freebie, for a pop of color.  Then add some extra bracelets to the Luna cuff like this enameled heart bangle I just got from Scoutmob and my gold ID bracelet I’ve had since forever.
Kate Spade Necklace Bangle

OVERALL
Full Collection

Hit!

The regular cost of this collection is $70, but I received this one for free in order to review it. If I had paid full price and received this set I would still be thrilled. The quality of the fabric and the design of the dress are fabulous. I love the versatility of the pieces and would be psyched to pick up more items in the awesome fabric of that dress.

NEW COLLECTION!
Popbasic has also released their Isla Collection! It features a cobalt skirt, a black tee and a cute necklace. I am sorely tempted to nab it, but we’ll have to see how my budget feels about the idea.

What did you think of the items in this collection? How would you have styled them?

THE BACKSTORY
Popbasic offers micro-collections of fashion forward, limited edition basic pieces at an affordable price.
For $15 off your first collection, please use my referral link.

Popbasic: The Jovial Collection – December 2014

So I’ve been quietly stalking Popbasic’s page and lusting after their cute tops and jewelry for some time before I decided to finally jump in and try one of their collections. (For $15 off your first collection, use my referral link.)

For folks  unfamiliar with Popbasic, they introduce “micro-collections” of adorable basic pieces that are a one time purchase.  When I saw their new Jovial Collection, I fell in love.  I was a bit hesitant to jump in since I have a terrible time getting jeans to fit properly and I’d need their highest size (I’m a size 14/16).  But I was swayed when Popsugar offered a refund if you didn’t like the jeans.  I figured I had nothing to lose so I put in my order.
Box Open Box
It arrived in a super cute box with a lovely handwritten note and some freebie hair ties. (We are already off to a great start).
Hair Ties

Also included a lovely dual sided card describing the pieces on one side and then offering styling options on the other.
Card Side 1 Card Side 2

Shirt
Garnet Long Sleeve Top (RRP $60)

Description: Perfect for casual outings, our Garnet Long Sleeve Top is 100% cotton which means you can wear it during cooler nights in the Summer, or throw on a knit in Winter. 100% cotton.”
Verdict: Hit!
This is a high quality top and it’s perfect for layering in the winter time. I have a ton of navy pieces and nautical inspired pieces that this will pair great with.  Surprisingly, the fabric had a really nice stretch to it which I imagine is so that it doesn’t lose its shape (like many cotton tops do over time). I was very impressed with the quality on this.

Pants
Great Stretch Skinny Jeans (RRP $80)
Description: A magical combination of legging and jean, our Great Stretch Skinny Jeans look lovely with a cotton tee, or dressed up with a silk blouse and wedges for night time. Lizzie wears size x-small. 69% rayon 26% polyamide 5% elastane.”
Verdict: Miss for Size/Love for Design
There is good news and bad news. The good news is these jeans are well made and totally bad ass. The bad news is they run super small. I attempted to try these on (aka desperately tugging and praying to the patron saint of Weight Watchers)  and I was a sad sad panda. While I have a range of sizes in my closet (from 12 – 16) I’d say that in most brands I’m fine with a 16 in jeans.  I Often it will be loose, occasionally a little snug, but zipping up is never a problem.  I’d be shocked if these jeans were a size 12 in the average brand (like the Gap). Thankfully I can return them, but I do wish Popbasic went up a few more sizes (particularly for pieces that run small). It’s actually much tougher for the higher sized folks to find awesome, classy basics than the size 2s and 4s. For the ladies who live on the cusp of regular sizes and plus sizes it’s a particular nightmar,e because you end up too small for plus sizes and too large for regular sizes.

Necklace
Sugar Crystal Necklace (RRP $20)
Description: A pretty addition to your treasure trove, wear our Sugar Crystal Necklace with a black shift for meetings, or with a party dress in the New Year. Crystal; silver plated alloy.”
Verdict: Love!
This is a great statement necklace that goes with everything. It’s lightweight but it doesn’t feel flimsy.  Strangely, I owned no statement necklaces in silver tone so this was a welcome addition to my wardrobe. It came packed in a little velvet bag which was a nice touch.

OVERALL
Full Collection
Verdict:Hit!

The regular cost of this collection is $75 (including shipping), but I used a referral link and paid only $60. This collection is an amazing value at that cost. These pieces are versatile and can be paired with tons of things I already own. Everything was packaged so nicely and the freebie and note were lovely. Because my jeans needed to be returned, I contacted Popbasic and they refunded my card $45 immediately for the jeans (I mailed them back, but they didn’t even wait on receiving them). The customer service was super responsive and friendly. Even though I couldn’t wear the jeans I wouldn’t hesitate to order from Popbasic again and I’d recommend them to anyone looking for nice basics at a great price.

Have you ordered from any of the fashion subs or boxes? What did you think?

 

THE BACKSTORY
Popbasic offers micro-collections of fashion forward, limited edition basic pieces at an affordable price.   You don’t subscribe, but just order individual collections.
For $15 off your first collection, use my referral link.

Nina Garcia Quarterly (#NGQ04): November 2014

So if you are an avid reader here, you may remember my last Nina Garcia Quarterly review, the box so epically bad that it inspired me to write a poem about the tiny black rubber shoe it included. In homage to that box, I’ve decided to rate my Fall Nina Garcia box, with a new “tiny rubber shoe” rating. Worst = 1 tiny black rubber shoe, Best = 5 tiny rubber black shoes.

Box

Now you may think this review is super late, but this box that was supposed to arrive in October, but showed up in late November. I have to admit it was a bit of a bummer since you kind of want a Fall Fashion Box to show up at the start of the season.
Open Box 1

Now enough chitcat, let’s put on our judgy pants, bust out the little rubber shoes and keep our fingers crossed there won’t be another #$#%# hat in this one….
Open Box 2 Cards

And…

Sigh…
Hat
Ballin’ Hat by Brian Lichtenberg: (Estimated Retail: $48.00)
Nina’s Description: “Brian’s pieces are playful and adored by the fashion set. This hat will keep you cool and stylish all season long.”
Tiny Black Shoe Rating: -10 shoes
FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY – STOP TRYING TO PICK OUT HATS!
Yes, that is a knit hat with the word “Ballin” on it. Okay, just think about what your day would be like if you walked down the street with the word “Ballin” on your fucking forehead. I can’t even…. There are a million awesome hats out there, why does Nina keep picking out hats with crap written on them that most women would rather be caught dead than wear? Seriously?

Mug
Pantone Mug:
(Estimated Retail: $15.00)
Nina’s Description: “Whether you are a coffee, tea, or hot chocolate drinker, the winter is a time for hot beverages to keep you warm. I find that having a stylish go to mug makes the experience even better”
Tiny Black Shoe Rating: 2 shoes
zzz..zzz.zzz.zzz
What, oh, what’s that? Sorry, I was so bored I fell asleep. Now there is nothing wrong with a mug, but it’s pretty uninspiring. The fashion-y aspect of this makes it suited to the box but it’s just not interesting enough, imho. I also think it’s pretty funny that the Panteone color on the label doesn’t match the color painted on the mug even though they are supposed to be the same very specific shade.

Comb 2Comb
Sweater Comb by the Laundress
:
(Estimated Retail: $18.00)
Nina’s Description: “It removes pills and keeps everything looking renewed and refereshed season afters season. I even use it on wool coats and scarves.”
Tiny Black Shoe Rating: 5 shoes!
I know that a sweater comb doesn’t scream out excitement, but this is incredibly practical and is something I  didn’t know existed. I have that little vacuum shaver thingy that you use for pills but that really lessens the life of your knits. This looks like a less abrasive alternative and I’m totally digging it.

EarringsEarrings Close
Rue Gembon Earrings:
(Estimated Retail: $65.00)
Nina’s Description: “These earrings are a versatile accessory in that you can wear them to both the office and out to dinner or a party. They are also a good way to show your personal accessory style when you are all bundled up..”
Tiny Black Shoe Rating: 8 shoes!
I love, love, love these earrings. You can actually wear them several ways since the pearl piece is separate and can be removed. So you can wear the pearls piece either in front of your lobe (or behind) or just wear the studs. That’s a lot of looks for one small earring. I agree with Nina that these can easily be dressed up or down and I love the way they lay on the ear – almost like a cool ear cuff. This is exactly the kind of thing I expect from Nina and I wish more items showed this type of sophistication and practicality. This also came with a coupon code for the Rue Gembon site. I couldn’t find these exact earrings, but I linked to ones that are very similar.

Oil
Nude’s Progenius Treatment Oil:
(Estimated Retail: $39.00)
Nina’s Description: “ …is made of plant oils containing omegas, but is free from parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oil, or petrochemicals…”
Tiny Black Shoe Rating: 5 shoes!
I’ve really gotten into cleansing and face oils in the last year or so, so I always welcome trying out new products, especially all natural ones. I think this is a perfect beauty item to include in a Fall/Winter box so Nina definitely chose well with this.

PolishSwatch
RGB Cosmetics Polish in Oxblood
(Estimated Retail: $18.00):
Nina’s Description: “ …As the season change, so does our nail color. To keep your nail game on point, I have included a chic, wintry polish.…”
Tiny Black Shoe Rating: 3 shoes!
Okay you know I love polish and you know I love dark reds, but I had to knock off a couple shoe points because this looks very very similar to the polish Nina sent in last year’s fall box. I know it’s a different brand, but I think it’s still way too similar. I think other folks got different shades so this might just be an issue with my box. The polish seems quite nice though.

Bag
Deux Lux Cross-Body Handbag
(Estimated Retail: $75.00):
Nina’s Description: “ This cross body satchel is right on trend with its fringe and is a super fun, lightweight piece to tote your goods around town. A seasonal handbag is a great way to update your look and make your wardrobe feel fresh…”
Tiny Black Shoe Rating: 2 shoes
Okay so I agree with Nina on a lot of points here and I’m 100% behind the *idea* of this bag. The problem for me is the execution. This is a “vegan leather” bag which pretty much means pleather. I actually own a lot of vegan leather bags and I love them, but this particular color, in this fabrication, with all that fringe just looks (as Nina would say) “inexpensive”. I think in another color or with less fringe or something it might be better, but this just looks a bit Forever 21 for my taste. Perhaps if the fringe was shorter or finer, but this just isn’t sophisticated enough. I would have wanted to use this at the start of the fall season, so getting it in November just seems a bit on the late side. I couldn’t find this exact bag on the site, so I linked to a similar one. This one has a different strap and different colors, but you can already see how much nicer and more expensive that makes the bag look.

OVERALL:
Full Box
Hit!

Was this a perfect box? No.
Was it well curated with thought put into most of the selections? Yes.
The only truly horrific item is the Ballin hat.  While a knit hat is appropriate for Fall/Winter, it’s only that particular beanie I take issue with (and there’s a sentence I never thought I’d type.) While I didn’t love the bag or mug, they fit perfectly with this type of sub and I can easily see other folks loving them.

With using similar priced items to the ones that I couldn’t find exact matches for, this box came out to a retail value of $278.00. I paid $100 for it and got a few items I love, a couple I really like and a few I’ll give away, so I definitely think I got my money’s worth.  Nina had a lot to make up for with her last box, and while this isn’t the roaring success of the 2013 Fall box, it’s a huge improvement over the mess we saw in July.

Theoretically our next box should come in March and I’m excited to see what shows up for spring.

What did you think of this box? Would it be worth the $100 to you?

Nina Garcia Quarterly (#NGQ03): July 2014 (An ode to a tiny rubber shoe)

So friends, this was supposed to be one of the four times a year when I get super excited because my favorite subscription box shows up at my door: the Nina Garcia box from Quarterly. If you’re a beauty or fashion enthusiast (or a Project Runway fan) then you know who Nina is. Her first box (Fall 2013) had a “glam grunge” theme and to date is my favorite sub box that I’ve ever received. Her last one in March, was a bit more of a hodge podge, but that was expected since it was a “favorite things” box. It had a couple misses, but overall was quite excellent. I’m giving you this background so you know where we’re coming from and that way maybe you can tell me how we ended up with this July box.

Box
I tried to think of many themes for this box and the one that features most prominently in my mind is: “What the #$&*%#&* Nina?” I usually don’t give you my overall opinion so early on in my review, but you need to prepare yourself. Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Open Box 1 Open Box 2
So where should we start…I know with one of my oh so favorite items…

Cap
Muito Cool Baseball Cap: (Estimated Retail: $55.00)
Nina’s Description: I worked with SP϶NGLISH to design this custom Muito Cool baseball cap for you. As one of the coolest accessories for this summer, it is not only perfect for the moment, but will also serve as memento of the 2014 World Cup for years to come.”
Verdict: What the @&*#$&(!
Cool – I do not think it means what you think it means.
You know what all the fashion and beauty obsessed ladies who are willing to fork over $100 for a beauty sub, want? A baseball hat. And not just any baseball hat. One to commemorate the World Cup. It’s what every American woman dreams of receiving. We spend all that time doing our hair and all that money on hair products just so we can shove it all under an ugly hat. This is the same brand featured in the last NG box, only that shirt was a million times better designed and infinitely more useful. Putting aside that we didn’t need a repeat of this brand so quickly, this item is just absurd. There were so many other fashionable options if you really needed a “memento of the 2014 World Cup” like a sophisticated charm bracelet with a removable World Cup charm or maybe you just don’t need to bring sports into this box at all. Maybe.

Let’s move on to another winner…

Clutch
Koku Pouch: (Estimated Retail: $108.95)
Nina’s Description: “The other accessory that every fashionista must have every summer is a go-to bag. Whenever this item of year hits, I set aside my usual lady-like purses and opt for a lightweight clutch. One of my personal favorites is a Koku pouch that doubles as a summer clutch. All of Koku’s products are handmade in Greece. This clutch…features raffia fringe and a plexiglass decoration—giving it an unparalleled summery feel”
Verdict: Seriously?
Nina says ‘Unparalled summery feel” I say “dollar store reject.” I cannot express to you enough how much cheaper this looks in person. It’s like something you put together from odds and ends of the Luau aisle of Party City. I couldn’t find my exact version so I linked to a similar pouch with a plexiglass decoration and raffia. The linked one is much more attractive than mine, but if you’re willing to pay over a $100 for either one, I have some land in Florida I want to sell you.

Oh, so what’s our next high end fashion, oh so unique find?

Sunblock
Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration SPF 30 (Estimated Retail: $10.79)
Nina’s Description:“Of course with the onset of summer, most of us go through ha change of routine and encounter new priorities. At the top of my list is protecting my skin. For that purpose I have included Hawaiian tropic silk hydration spf 30. Its classic Hawaiian Tropics scent evokes the feeling of summer and its broad spectrum protection will keep your skin safe, helping you stay worry-free.”
Verdict: Sigh, are we even trying anymore?
I’m going to put aside the fact that SPF 30 is really not high enough for a lot of folks and point out that you can pick this up at any drugstore. Hell, you can probably pick this up at a gas station. I highly doubt that Nina is spraying herself with this sunblock. If we’d gotten a luxury brand or even a new emerging one, sunblock would have been a great addition. Because of the low SPF I won’t be able to use this.

Oribe
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray: (Retail: $21.50)
Nina’s Description: “It acts like a dry shampoo in that it absorbs oil at the roots, but adds volume and texture to your hair. It gives it a ‘just done look, and will keep your style looking fresh for a couple of days….”
Verdict:
Hit! (Finally)
I actually have a big can of this courtesy of the Popsugar Neiman Marcus box. It works amazingly well for updos and this travel size is perfect for summer. It’s just the thing for keeping your hair looking fabulous during an August wedding and the small size is great for traveling. Finally, something I can actually use!

Shave Cream
Organic Shave Gel by Surya Brasil (Estimated Retail: $20.39)
Nina’s Description:“..an incredible, vegan, organic shave gel by Surya Brasil. Your legs will be super smooth, and you can rest easy knowing that it doesn’t contain any GMOs and is cruelty free.”
Verdict: Hit!
A useful product from an interesting new brand. Hot Damn! A shave gel is perfect in a summer box and I’m excited to try out this new company that has vegan products. Progress, we’re making progress!

Hydrator
Joico K-Pak Intense Hydrator (Estimated Retail: $16.00)
Nina’s Description:“It will moisturize and calm your hair, making it healthier, shinier and just overall more manageable when styling.”
Verdict: Like
A hair moisturizer isn’t super exciting, but it seems useful and this is another new brand for me. I’ll try adding to my hair routine once or twice a week.

LipstickLipstick Swatch
ck One Lipstick in Entice: ($8.97)
Nina’s Description: “No summer look is complete without a bright lip and nail—‘tis the season for bold, intense, saturated colors!.”
Verdict: Hit!
I actually really love this shade and the color stayed put for a surprisingly long time. I’ve never tried any ck One beauty products so it was nice to add this to my collection.

Polish Polish Swatch
Formula X Nail Lacquer in Push the Limits (Retail: $10.50)
Nina’s Description:“No summer look is complete without a bright lip and nail—‘tis the season for bold, intense, saturated colors!..”
Verdict:
Like
Despite my plethora of polish, I don’t have any of the Formula X so it’s nice to try this one out. I tend to favor blue reds, while this one is an orange. I don’t have anything like it so it’s a nice addition to my giant polish hoard. The color applied smoothly and I think the shade will be fabulous for pedicures.

Pouch
Palm Tree Print Clutch by Print All over Me (Retail: $20.00)
Nina’s Description:“It’s summery pattern makes it the perfect pouch to hold all of your summer essentials.”
Verdict:
Gift
What is this trend with calling pouches, clutches? This is a pouch. It is a cute and lovely pouch, but it is not a clutch. I don’t ever see people walking around with these things as bags. They are what you put your makeup in and then in turn throw into your actual bag. So putting that aside, this isn’t a bad pouch, but the Popsugar Summer LE Box had a much nicer one that is very similar. I’ll be gifting this one since there are only so many ocean printed pouches that I can use at a time. This is yet another editorial choice I just don’t understand. Nina already included that hideous, I mean quirky “clutch”. Why not do a tote bag instead? There are plenty available from Print All Over Me. I couldn’t find any pouches on the site, but it’s very hard to navigate. Their tote bags cost $28.00, so I’ll estimate this at $20, since I would think a tote bag would cost more that a medium pouch.

Towelette
Red Flower Italian Blood Orange Refreshing Hand & Face Towelette
(Sample Estimated Retail: .71; Estimated Retail: 7 pack/$5.00)
Nina’s Description:To freshen up when you are on the go…”
Verdict:
Like, but…
Really, just one towelette? Maybe you could have omitted the terrible baseball cap so we could have a couple of these instead. I like this item, I think it’s a great addition, but just one seems very stingy to me. This is what I expect in a Birchbox sample, not in a $100 box. And a 7 pack is only $5.00 so it’s not like the uber expensive Revive sample from last time…

Gift Card
OtterBox Brazilian Pop! Symmetry Series Phone Case (For iPhone 5/5s or GALAXY s5)
(Estimated Retail: $49.95)
Nina’s Description:“…your device deserves an upgrade in the accessory department too! In the spirit of Brazil and summer, I worked with OtterBox to design this protective case inspired by Brazilian street art.”
Verdict:
Miss
I have an Iphone 5 so I was one of the folks who could actually use the gift card for a case. (Apparently you don’t need a case if you don’t own an Iphone or a Galaxy). The design is bright and cheerful but I just don’t love it. I did redeem it so I may just pass it along to someone else or save it for when I want to take my super hardcore case off my Iphone.

Shoe
Desk Ornament from Melissa (Retail: ???)
Nina’s Description:“I have also included a desk ornament from the Brazilian shoe designer Melissa. Melissa creates vegan, rubber shoes and has collaborated with designers such a Vivienne Westwood, and architect Zaha Hadid. On the shelf at home or on your desk at work this little shoe is the perfect item for the fashion obsessed.”
Verdict:
Somewhere there is a sad doll, searching, just searching for her missing shoe.

I don’t even know where to start. Really, this is a tiny rubber shoe. One tiny rubber shoe. It’s more like the beginning of a sad beatnik poem, than a “desk ornament”. Does Nina really keep this on her desk? My desk only has things I can use or things I adore. And I can’t imagine adoring one miniature rubber shoe. Maybe I’m missing something? Maybe fashionistas all over the world truly believe this is the perfect desk accessory? Maybe I’m out of touch? Maybe I should quit being a blogger and roam around the world visiting shoe stores until I can fully appreciate the craftsmanship of this tiny piece of art. Wait, it has inspired me! Here it is, an ode to the tiny rubber shoe:

So much depends upon,
a black rubber shoe,
wrapped in tissue paper
beside a red polish.

Headphones 1 Headphones 2
In-Ear Headphones from Frends (Retail: $99.00)
Nina’s Description:“There’s no better way to get you in the mood for summer than with some great music. That’s why I’ve chosen to include these super chic white, in ear headphones decorated with a gold wire overlay from Frends. These beauties are so pretty that they almost look lik ea piece of jewelry—why shouldn’t your tech gear be super stylish?”
Verdict:
Love!
Finally! A big ticket item that actually feels like Nina Garcia would use. These headphones are so pretty and while I have a bunch of earbuds these are the nicest. I’d never splurge on these myself, but am so excited to try them out. If you love them, they are available on Birchbox so you can hoard your points to get them.

Candle
Vanilla Orchid & Almond Classic Candle by Nest (Retail:12.00)
Nina’s Description:“I absolutely adore these candles and the summery scents are incredible..”.
Verdict:
Miss
I would have loved this in another scent. This one is way too strong and it’s not summery at all. I noticed others got scents like “orange blossom” and I would have infinitely preferred that.  I own a Nest candle I adore that came in that Popsugar Neiman Marcus Box which also had the Oribe spray. Except that box had larger sizes of both items. I find it very odd that Nina would include two items that were already packaged together in another box. It just seems poor planning to me. I would have held off and included the Nest candle in the Fall box and left the Oribe spray in this one. She just set herself up for a comparison where her box was going to look worse.


Full Box
OVERALL:
I sit alone in the corner, sobbing, clutching a tiny black rubber shoe to my chest…


Oh Nina, what happened here? Did someone hold your dog hostage and demand you include that hideous “clutch” and baseball cap? I don’t understand this box. It leads me to (gasp!) question your taste level. I cannot imagine you running around with that yellow raffia clutch and spraying yourself down with Hawaiian Tropics sunblock while wearing a baseball cap. As you so often ask on project runway – who is the woman you’re designing for? Would the woman who wears that baseball cap also be the one who needs a super pricey texturizing hair spray?

Theoretically this box is valued at $$455.76 (excluding the shoe and with my estimated cost on the pouch), but that’s with items like the shark clutch priced at over a $100. I paid $100, and there were a few items I liked (like the pricey headphones), but I can’t shake the disappointment I feel. In my opinion, I didn’t get what I signed up for. Nina is known for being chic and sophisticated and only a few items in this box fit that profile.

I am not canceling since I have faith that Nina will turn it all around and offer us a fabulous Fall box, but if it comes with a tiny rubber hat, I’m out.

What did you think of this box and what would you do with one tiny black rubber shoe?

Nina Garcia Quarterly Box: March 2014 (#NGQ02)

Okay peeps, it’s that time again.  That oh so special time of year when the Nina Garcia Quarterly box shows up on my doorstep!  This is only the second box in the subscription and yet it’s at the top of my favorites list.   Quarterly is a service that offers quarterly subscriptions curated by all kinds of interesting folks who send select items in their special area of expertise.  Nina Garcia of course is a “Style Expert” and this is a fashion and beauty focused subscription.

BoxOpen Box 1

I was super excited to see what the theme of the box would be. Nina Garcia invites us to celebrate her fifth anniversary with Marie Claire and the arrival of spring.   So it turns out it is a “celebration box that includes a mixture of accessories, beauty products and home items”.
Card

Once again the first thing in the box is a lovely letter from Nina describing her items and why she’s chosen them.  The inclusion of personal and detailed letters from the curator are a feature that make Quarterly stand out from a lot of the other boxes.  The letters make these boxes feel extra special and like the curator took time and care putting the box together.

Open Box II
Okay, okay enough backstory, let’s get into this box!  Drumroll, please…

TshirtMuy Cool T-shirt by SpƎnglish: (Estimated Retail: $55.00)
Nina’s Description:  This oversize tee can be worn dressed down with jeans and stylish sneakers, or dressed up with a skirt and blazer.”
Verdict: Love!
This is a special edition T-shirt created especially for Quarterly subscribers and includes Nina’s signature on the tag.  I was incredibly surprised to find a sized item in the box since Quarterly doesn’t ask for that info.  Amazingly the shirt came in a size I can wear (large) and I think it will fit great.  I love the flared cut and because it can be worn “oversized” it will probably fit a lot of the smaller folks as well.  I do think including this was a gamble since it won’t fit everyone, but for me personally I love it.  Because this is a special edition, I’m estimating the value based on the only women’s tee available on the SpƎnglish site.

Necklace
Sterling Silver Shark Tooth Necklace by Sara Beltran:  (Retail: $100.00)
Verdict: Miss
Nina’s Description:  “It’s an incredibly versatile piece—you can wear it alone, or mix it up with other necklaces to create a bolder statement.  Its happy and brightly colored cord will seamlessly transition from spring into summer and the silver shark tooth gives it a trendy edge.”
My first instinct was that this looked cheap and sort of dated.  Color me shocked to find out it actually costs $100.00.  I like the daintiness of it, but the shark tooth just doesn’t feel fashion forward.  I do think it might be cute layered with some other pieces, so I’ll give that a shot.  If the pendant had been something that felt a little more fresh I would have adored this item.

Nail Polish
O.P.I “Greenade” Polish (Estimated Retail: $9.00)
Nina’s Description: “As with clothing and accessories, nail polish also changes from season to season.”
Verdict: Miss
This is another exclusive item for Nina’s Quarterly subscribers.  You all know I love polish and O.P.I is the first brand I really started using.  I like their polish, but this shade will in no way work for me.  I think this bright yellowish green is  a really hard color for a lot of folks to pull off.   I also don’t get a Nina Garcia vibe from it.  It’s not a color I imagine her wearing—even in spring.  I’m sure someone else will enjoy it though so I’ll probably trade this one out.  Since this is another exclusive I based the value on regular O.P.I. polishes.

Bracelet
C Wonder Delicate Skull Cuff:
 (Retail: $34.00)
Nina’s Description: “This fun bangle can be worn alone or stacked with other bracelts you wn to create a signature look.”
Verdict:
Miss
I don’t know about you but for me “skulls” do not scream out springtime (or celebration).  If this had come in a fall or winter box, I’d probably like it, but I’m looking for birds and flowers right now, not skulls and shark tooths.   It kind of looks like something I could pick up from a discount accessory place.  After googling, it seems like other folks got different styles, so I may have just been unlucky.  I may try it out with some other bracelets (like my hot pink gorjana and griffin from a long ago popsugar box) and see if I can “spring” it up.

ReVive
ReVive’s Moisturizing Renewal Serum : (Retail: $??? Full Size: $235.00)
Nina’s Description:  “I wanted to include some of my favorite beauty products that turn back the clock for my skin.  Apply..every night and you will wake up feeling naturally refreshed with dewy skin.”
Verdict: Love!
So throughout my boxes I am quickly accumulating a billion serums, but I love trying out uber fancy pants expensive products so I’m excited to give this one a shot.  I hope I don’t love it too much because $235 for one beauty product is not going to happen.

Wallet Wallet Open
Wallet from Charming Charlie(Retail: $15.00)
Nina’s Description:  “The radiant floral print will be the perfect finishing touch and pop of color for all your spring outfits.”
Verdict:
Hit!
After this never-ending winter, I’ve been craving florals so this cheerful wallet was a nice addition.  It is extremely practical with lots of slots for cards and the hardware has a rose gold color that is really nice.  I don’t know if the fabric on the wallet will stand up over time, but it’s an extremely affordable piece so if it lasts for just a season I’m fine with that.

Soap
LAFCO “Fleurs de Baies” soap (Retail: $17.00)
Nina’s Description:  “The scent leaves subtle floral notes on your skin without being overwhelming, and the packaging is beautiful.”
Verdict:
Gift
This is a lovely soap and Nina is right the packaging is beautiful, but the scent is just not for me.  I’m super picky and sensitive about scents and this one is too reminiscent of heavy old lady flower perfumes.  I’m going to gift this to someone who will love it and appreciate it.

Parfum
Tom Ford’s “Jasmine Rouge” Perfume (Retail: Freebie/Sample; Retail – 1.7. oz: $210.00 )
Nina’s Description:  “…Jasmine Rouge as another way to get your floral fix…this scent is lovely and I like the finish.”
Verdict:
Miss
So like I said fragrances for me are problematic.  I hated this one.  It was too strong and overpowering.  I think a lighter floral would have been better for spring.  Despite my perfume pickiness, I do think spring is the perfect time to pick out a new fragrance so including one was a good idea.

Palette
Laura Mercier Bonne Mine Compact (Retail: $48.00)
Nina’s Description:  “…contains neutral colors for blending, to give your skin a fresh spring glow.  Additionally..100% of the proceeds to go toward the Laura Mercier Ovarian Cancer Fund, which is a cause close to my heart.”
Verdict:
Love!
I adore Laura Mercier and use her products regularly.  I’ve been eying plenty of cream cheek products for spring but luckily haven’t committed yet.  This product looks like it will work well with my skin tone and I’m going to have fun trying it out.  The best part is not only does this palette make you pretty and the proceeds go to charity, so this is officially my favorite item in the box.

Tea
Donkey Co. Tea Bag (Retail: €$7.95; USD $10.97)
Nina’s Description:  “Donkey Co. makes absolutely adorable tea bags and in honor of my 5th anniversary at Marie Claire, they created a Nina Garcia 5th Anniversary Marie Claire Special Edition of their Pret-A-porter.”
Verdict:
Hit
So now I can have morning tea with Nina Garcia!  Well, sort of it.  It’s a fun little whimsical addition and I’m trying to broaden my tea horizons so I’m going to give this one a shot.  Since this is special edition, I based my prices on similar tea bags from their site.

Notebook
X Pen Ballpoint Pen (Retail: $??? Estimate: $8.00)
Graphic Image Pocket Notes Notebook:(Retail: $36.00)
Nina’s Description:  “This X-pen ballpoint pen is both functional and fashionable—an accessory that works with any outfit.  The graphic image pocket notes notebook is the perfect size (and weight!) to carry around with you on a daily basis.  I think there is something classic about taking handwritten notes and keeping a personal touch.”
Verdict:
Love!
These guys were packaged together so I figured I’d review them that way.   I hoard blank notebooks so this is right up my alley and I love high quality pens. For spring I had planned to re-organize my workbag and these items will be my new go-to pad and pen.  I couldn’t find the retail value of the pen so I’m estimating it at $8.00.

Frame
Happy Chic By Jonathan Adler (Retail:12.00)
Nina’s Description:  “The modern design on this Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler picture frame makes it perfect for holding some of your fondest memories.
Verdict:
Miss
I guess this item was included because Nina is the “resident style voice at JC Penney” and they want us to know they have low budget Jonathan Adler items.  Problem is this one is boring and the quality on it is pretty cheap. It looks like something you’d get on sale at Target.  Don’t let the Jonathan Adler name on this fool you, you could spend the same amount at TJ Maxx for a similar but much better quality frame.  I think other folks got different designs, which I may have liked more than this one.

Serum
Philosophy’s Time in a Bottle Serum (Retail:74.00)
Nina’s Description:  “For long lasting beauty, start your morning with philosophy’s time in a bottle serum.  Its impressive cocktail of antioxidants will protect and perfect your skin.  I use it on a daily basis to keep my skin healthy and smooth.”
Verdict:
Hit
Another serum?  So I guess we have learned that serums are really important and this is Nina’s day serum.  It’s been a long time since I tried a Philosophy product so it will be nice to revisit the brand.  Although at this point  I’m going to need to create a spreadsheet to figure out when to use all the serums I have now accumulated.

Marie Claire
Marie Claire Magazine & Fausto Puglisi Collage (Retail:4.99; Freebie?)
Nina’s Description:  “one of the most special items in the box is the illustrated Fausto Puglisis Collage which he create din celebration of my 4th year at Marie Claire.  I adore Fausto’s runway collections.”.
Verdict:
Hit/Miss
We all know there will be Marie Claire in the box and I always enjoy reading the magazine.  I understand the idea behind the collage and it’s a nice thought, but it’s not particularly attractive and I don’t know many people who would want to put this up on their wall.  Sadly, it will most likely end up in the recycle bin.  So sorry, Nina.

Overall:
Full Box
Hit!

The tshirt, notebook/pen and cheek palette made this box for me.  Unfortunately, there were also a lot of misses, but the value on this is so high that overall it was still an uber fabulous box.  I paid $100 for this and received about $420.00 worth of items even excluding the cost of the two sample items.

While I do love this box, I found her first one to be much more cohesive and on trend.   Perhaps the nature of the “anniversary” and “my favorite things” pushed this box into being less thematic and more random.  I had been hoping for an amazing spring fashion box and I did get some great items for spring, but this box had quite a few things that felt out of place for the season.

I’m interested to see if the next box is more thematic (like the fall) or more eclectic like this one.  And as usual I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

If you’re interested in the celebrity boxes at Quarterly, check back soon because I should be receiving the Andrew Zimmern box shortly!

Which box did you like better?  The November box or this one and why?

Nina Garcia Quarterly Box – November 2013

When I opened my mailbox and found a jury duty summons there was only one thing that could make me feel better.  The fact that it was sitting on top of my Nina Garcia Quarterly box.  Quarterly is a service that offers quarterly subscriptions curated by all kinds of interesting folks who send select items in their special area of expertise.  Nina Garcia is listed a “Style Expert” so this is a fashion and beauty focused subscription and November 2013 is the launch of its first box.
Box
I was a little perturbed by the size of the package.  It just didn’t seem big enough for a $100 subscription, but I’m not going to panic because I trust Nina.

First ImpressionThe first thing I find when I open it up is the nicest descriptive info I’ve gotten from any of my boxes.  It’s a long letter from Nina detailing all the items and why they were chosen.

CardsNina writes, “For my first box, I’ve handpicked products from this season that reflect what’s happening in fashion today: hot brands, wardrobe staples, beauty essentials and up-and-coming designers.”  She goes on to explain that she’s connected the items with an underlying theme: Glam Grunge.

Okay people, this is going to be good.

The first item is:
Leather Cuff
Leather Dual Cone Cuff by Baublebar:
(Estimated Retail: $32.00)
Verdict: Love!
This item is exclusive for Nina’s first Quarterly mailing. She writes that it “strikes that perfect balance between polish and edge”.  Okay one, how cool is to have something that only the other folks smart enough to subscribe to Nina’s box will get and 2. This thing is just badass.  What I also love about it is that it has 3 rows of snaps, so whether you have a larger wrist or a freakishly small one like I do, it will fit you.  This item also came with a Baublebar coupon for $15 off of any order of $30+.  Because this is an exclusive, I’m basing the retail on a somewhat similar studded bracelet on the Baublebar Site.

Ear Cuff
Jack Vartanian Ear Cuff:
  (Retail: ????)
Verdict: Love!
The ear cuff trend is everywhere and I think it looks pretty damn cool, but I’ve been on the fence as to whether I could pull it off.  But now that Nina Garcia has given me permission I am totally ready to rock this.  It’s so dainty but edgy, and its subtle enough to make that touch of punk seem effortless.  Now I googled trying to find a retail price only to discover that Jack Vartanian is super fancy – as in jewelry at Barneys with price tags in the thousands of dollars.  This might not be gold and diamonds, but I’m betting the retail on costume jewelry from this caliber of designer is quite high.

Stole
Faux Fur Stole by Adrienne Landau
(Estimated Retail: $39.90)
Verdict:
Love!
How did Nina know that I’ve been pinning fur scarves to my Pinterest board for the last two months?  This little stole is quite soft and has an easy Velcro closure.  It’s small so it can add just a touch of fur without overwhelming your outfit.  Plus it’s warm, which is helpful for facing NYC winters.  This is yet another item made exclusively for Nina (clearly everyone loves Nina or she’s got a safety deposit box chock full of incriminating photos).  So this is another one where it’s difficult to pinpoint a retail value.  Adrienne has products in stores from Saks Fifth Avenue to HSN.  Since this stole is faux we’ll estimate the price to be on par with this piece she has on HSN.

Liptstick
Too Faced La Créme Color Drenched Lip Cream in Teddy Berry:
  (Retail: $21.00)
Verdict: Love!
Nina chose four different shades of plum lipstick and included a different one in each box.  Mine seems to be a little on the lighter side, but I think it will complement my skin tone really well.  I’ve never tried any Too Faced cosmetics so I can’t wait to give this one a whirl.

Essie
Essie Polish in Shearling Darling:
(Retail: $8.50)
Verdict: Hit!
I am a sucker for dark red polishes and this is a lovely shade of burgundy.  I only own one Essie polish, so this will help build my collection.

Soap
Pearl+ Luxury Soap: (Retail: $6.00)
Verdict:
Miss/Gift
This is a detox soap comprised of crushed pearl and charcoal.  It sounds fascinating but I am really sensitive to smells and this one is just too strong.  It’s definitely a manly type soap (think musk and cologne).  I think I will be adding this one to the gift pile.

Open Kit
VBeauté It Kit Anti Age Skin Care System:
(Retail: $99.00)
Verdict: Love!
Okay so the cost of this little kit pretty much covered the entire box.  It is an anti-aging skin care system and this little clutch is designed to be TSA friendly.  I have to say this is the most luxe travel skincare set I have ever seen.  Included with this was a coupon code for $25 off of a $75+ at vbeaute.com. I am unfamiliar with this brand, but if their product is half as good as their packaging I will love it.

Magazine
December 2013 Marie Claire Magazine:
(Retail: $3.99)
Verdict: Hit!
We all knew this would be in here.  I don’t subscribe to this magazine, so it’s nice to get a free copy.

Full Box
Overall:

Amazing.  Badass.  Awesome.
I had high hopes for this subscription and it more than exceeded them.  I paid $100 for this box.  Without including the Jack Vartanian ear cuff or the coupons,  my estimated retail is already at $200.00.  I love nearly everything, and with the exception of the soap I will use it all myself.  It’s clear that Nina had a lot of input and took a lot of care with this box.  I also adore that she gave all the items a theme.  I have to say I think this is my favorite subscription box to date.  Brava Nina!

There is just one downside to this box.  I have to wait a few months until the next one.

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