Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Disappointing Beauty Products

As I wrote about my current favourite beauty products last month, I thought I’d tell you about the products that have let me down. While I'm shouting AVOID, AVOID, AVOID, bear in mind that we all have different tastes, skin types, hair types, and so on. Just because something didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.

Soap & Glory Supercat Carbon Black Extreme Eyeliner Pen (€8): Soap & Glory say this pen is “foolproof” and they’re not wrong - it’s super easy to use. The felt-tip is sturdy and the colour is a deep, glossy black. The issue I have with it is its longevity. While there are no long-lasting claims on the packaging, I expected this to wear well without primer. That’s not the case. Without primer, this smudges within 3 to 4 hours. Once my primer is on, Supercat lasts all day, but as I don’t have oily eyelids, having to apply primer every time I use this really irks me.

Bourjois Liner Feutre Ultra Black 24H Felt-tip Eyeliner (€8.99): Oh dear. This is the worst eyeliner pen I’ve ever tried. Even with primer, this fades and flakes. You must be thinking at this stage that my primer is useless! Not so. I use the much-lauded Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. It’s not cheap and I prefer to keep it for nights out. We’re all used to mammoth claims from the beauty industry but this 24 hour declaration from Bourjois is just plain bizarre!
Garnier Ultimate Blends The Revitalising 7-in-1 Dry Shampoo (€4.99): Seven actions? More like no action! This dry shampoo made no difference to my unwashed hair. Not a thing. This was commended when it was first released due to the fact that it doesn’t leave a white cast like traditional dry shampoos, but I think that’s where the problem lies. At least with those products you know they’re absorbing oil. As much as I disliked Garnier Ultimate Blends, it’s nothing compared to the level of loathing I have for Herbal Essences Dry Shampoo. It left my hair in such a sticky mess that I threw it in the bin before I could take a photo of it. I’ll never stray from my darling Batiste again!
Rimmel Brow This Way Brow Styling Gel (€5.49): The only person I can imagine getting on well with this is Chris de Burgh. I’ve been ‘blessed’ with naturally full brows but even this brush is too large for me. Despite wiping excess gel on a tissue (the brush holds a lot of product) and careful application, it’s impossible not to get some gel around your eyebrows. The product itself is quite wet and takes a few minutes to set. What’s more, the deepest shade Dark Brown is more like a chestnut brown. A big thumbs down from me.

Sleek Matte Me Ultra Smooth Matte Lip Cream (€6.49): The description says “this doesn’t cake, flake or dry out”. I’m afraid it does all that and more. Matte lip products are notoriously difficult to wear, so I prepped my lips before application and kept them apart while the cream set. Nonetheless, it wore away quite quickly on the inside of my bottom lip which was really obvious. Reapplication was disastrous with the product balling up into little clumps. When I removed the product, which I couldn’t wait to do, my lips were sore and dehydrated. Admittedly, I’ve never had an easy friendship with matte lipsticks; I think my lips are naturally too dry. I do have one good thing to say about Sleek Matte Me; the colour is very strong and vibrant, but Fandango Purple didn’t suit my skin tone at all.

Lipcote (€4.99): My never-ending quest for long-lasting lipstick brought me to Lipcote. This is a lipstick sealer that has been around for 50 years. While most of the negative reviews online focus on the strong alcohol scent and the fact that it stings on application, my problem with it is that it doesn’t work! Again I followed the instructions to a T, but my lipstick faded within the normal time frame and began to look patchy. One plus - it didn’t feather, but I still couldn’t recommend this.

What products have left you feeling a little “meh”?

Friday, 14 August 2015

We Wear Short Shorts

Man, dig that crazy chick

High waisted black shorts have been on my wish list for quite some time now, along with high waisted black jeans. I found both in H&M earlier this summer and I used a gift voucher I received for my birthday to foot the bill. Thank you, Cynthia! I’ve worn the shorts countless times since; almost every time the sun has made an appearance here in Ireland. I adore the retro silhouette they give me, and the stretch fabric is lightweight and comfortable. They're also the perfect companion to crop tops. I picked up this daisy print crop top for a fiver in a closing down sale in Maynooth. The spending ban is still very much in place, but I’m now allowing myself to purchase the odd reduced item, and buy from charity shops too. I've styled these shorts differently on Instagram - have a look!

Shorts - H&M
Top - Catch
Sandals - River Island

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Thrifty Tip: Astonish Fabric Refresher Kicks Febreze Ass

I’m very particular about taking care of my clothes. A lot of money has gone into my wardrobe over the years despite being quite frugal, and a lot of time too. I’ve spent hours carefully purchasing items that make me look and feel good, so it’s essential that I put a bit of effort into extending their lifespan. Over-washing is the quickest way to prematurely age your clothes. Apart from underwear, socks and gym gear, which should be washed after every wear, you don’t need to throw most items in the machine until you’ve worn them two to five times. Wrinkling your nose in disgust?! Of course I'll wash a garment if it smells or is stained (although I spot clean most of my vintage and dry clean only items), but if it can be worn again, I hang it up to allow any creases to fall out and spritz with fabric freshener. I’m never without fabric freshener (and a lint roller!). Febreze is synonymous with the stuff and there’s very few alternatives, but I recently discovered one that’s much cheaper and far superior.

Astonish Fabric Refresher is available in Dunnes Stores, Mace and Eurospar. Astonish is a UK company that produces cruelty-free, vegan-approved cleaning products. I couldn’t get over the price; the Fabric Refresher comes in a huge 750ml bottle for only €1.29. A 500ml bottle of Febreze varies from place to place but it normally retails for over €4. Price and size aside, Astonish outperforms Febreze in scent and longevity. My clothes were instantly revitalised and the lush just-laundered fragrance lasts all day. Save yourself some cash by picking up this excellent product; your laundry load will be lighter, and you’ll be doing your bit for the environment by reducing your water and energy consumption! 

In my quest to preserve my clothes, I’ve also tried Tesco Fabric Freshener which is €1.86 for 500mls. I found it poor at neutralising odours and the scent is quite synthetic.
How do you keep your clothes in good nick?


Sunday, 19 July 2015

Sew Seventies

The generous gift of a voucher brought me to the door of an antique and vintage shop in Rathmines recently. The 3rd Policeman’s extensive collection of authentic period clothing is beautifully displayed at the back of the store and I made a beeline for it, but not before stopping to ooh and aah at a mishmash of antique furniture and quirky knickknacks, which included a Victorian tea set, toy airplanes, a 1960s record player, lamps in every size and style imaginable, a stuffed fox, typewriters and a picnic set from the 1950s! I wasn’t distracted for too long as I had clothes on the brain (a spending ban will do that to a girl) and I spent a blissful hour trying on items that spanned the twentieth century. This hand finished 1970s sundress fits like a glove and I adore everything about it – the flared skirt, the pockets, the charming embroidery to the bodice. It will see me into autumn too when I plan to channel Russian beauties Miroslava Duma and Ulyana Sergeenko by pairing it with my thrifted knee high boots and a heavy knitted cape.

Sandals - New Look


Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Current Beauty Favourites

1. Max Factor CC Cream in Fair (€14.99): None of my everyday foundations stood a chance when this colour correcting cream entered my life, it’s like Photoshop in a tube! While the coverage is light to medium, it neutralises redness, covers imperfections and softens the appearance of pores and fine lines. The lightweight formula is really hydrating; this is definitely best suited to those with drier complexions.  But the best part? The finish. Max Factor CC Cream imparts a gorgeous, dewy glow. The shade Fair blends seamlessly into my pale visage, another big plus. Application is easy; I use either my fingers or the Real Techniques Stippling Brush, and you only need a tiny amount so the 30ml tube lasts for ages. €15 well spent.

Max Factor CC Cream in 40 Fair

2. Revlon Photoready Powder in Fair/Light (€16.49): When it comes to affordable pressed powders, I know my stuff. I’ve tried them all; from Natural Collection to L’Oréal, and everything in between. However, this one is in a league of its own. Revlon Photoready Powder contains light reflective particles that give skin a natural but luminous finish. If you prefer a matte look, this probably isn’t for you. Nevertheless, it effectively sets foundation and eliminates shine. As it’s so finely milled, it doesn’t look cakey on the skin - a problem with many budget powders. The compact itself is sturdy and contains a mirror and a brush, perfect for touch-ups on the go.

Revlon Photoready Powder in 010 Fair/Light         

3. Soap & Glory Bright Here Bright Now Instant Radiance Energy Boost Balm (€16): Continuing with the glow theme, this balm (it’s more like a lotion really) was a gift from a friend. I apply it after moisturiser and before foundation, and on occasion, on top of my cheekbones after my makeup has set. This delivers a very subtle sheen to the skin without any shimmer. I’ve been really enjoying using this; the minty fragrance is refreshing and I feel it makes me look less fatigued. However, there are more affordable dupes out there such as Botanics All Bright Radiance Balm, which is what I’ll be purchasing when this runs out.

Soap & Glory Bright Here Bright Now Instant Radiance Energy Boost Balm              
4. No7 Precision Lips Pencil in Paprika (€8.75): Orangey-red lipsticks are everywhere this summer but it’s hard to find a liner to match, especially an inexpensive one. This moisturising pencil is the answer to your coral-hued prayers. I love pairing it with Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick in In Love With Ginger.
5. MAC Lip Pencil in Currant (€16.50): This is the product of a Brown Thomas gift card, I wouldn’t normally spend so much money on a lip liner. It is, however, incredibly long-lasting and worth every cent. I was advised to team this with MAC Rebel but I feel Rimmel Glam Plum Fulham is a more suitable mate.
6. Essence Lip Liner in 07 Cute Pink (€1.29): Yes, another lip liner! This creamy pencil is the ultimate my-lips-but-better shade. I like to wear it on its own or with No7 Moisture Drench Lipstick in Pink Hint. I strongly recommend checking out the Essence range of lip liners; they have some gorgeous shades for mere pocket change.
                                From left to right: No7 Paprika, MAC Currant, Essence Cute Pink          

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The Wardrobe Shake-Up #5


I don’t really know how to do casual clothes
                                                          - Oscar de la Renta

Oh I hear you, Oscar. I'm not really a jeans girl but when I do venture out in public wearing them, they’re always paired with heels and a bold lip colour, and in this case, a killer cut-out shirt and a novelty bag! The three year old oversized shirt was a victim of my spending ban. Instead of tossing it aside, I gleefully took the scissors to it and created a brand new top in mere seconds. This super easy DIY doesn’t involve sewing and won’t cost you a cent. Simply cut out the fabric following the seams of the shoulders, button strip and neckline. Denim doesn’t have to be boring, eh?! The peach bag was a birthday present from my lovely friend Fiona last month. I was also lucky enough to receive H&M and Penneys vouchers. Yes, I have new clothes. New! They’ll be featuring in future outfit posts so make sure you stay tuned.

Shirt – DIY

Jeans – ONLY

Bag – Asos (sold out)

Boots – H&M

Saturday, 30 May 2015

The Wardrobe Shake-Up #4

While my self-imposed spending ban has been wretched at times, I’ve been really enjoying the challenge of creating new outfits from my existing wardrobe. Clothes I had long forgotten about are now firm favourites, and I’ve given a few pieces a new lease of life by customising them (more on that in my next post). Not only is the ban saving me money but it’s also forced me out of a style rut, my creative juices are flowing! I’ve even found myself planning ‘future’ outfits, like this one. I’ve no idea where I’ll wear this to but I was chuffed when it all came together. I bought the skirt for €6.50 in Oxfam on George’s Street last summer; their vintage section is tiny but delightful. Just look at those pockets! The shoes and necklace were purchased around the same time, and the Bardot crop top was part of my last shopping haul in January.

Skirt – Vintage 1980s from Oxfam Ireland
Crop top – Asos (available here)
Shoes – F&F at Tesco
Necklace – Dunnes Stores

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The Wardrobe Shake-Up #3

While shaking up my wardrobe, I discovered a dress that still had the tags on. Now you know why I've had to embark on a clothes and footwear spending ban! In my defence, the only reason I hadn't worn it was because it’s a bit too big for me. As the returns period had well and truly passed, I had a few options – sell it, give it to a charity shop, or keep it. You tend to become very possessive of your current wardrobe while on a spending ban, and I was loathe to part with this lavender blue, mod style shift. You tend to become very inventive too, so I decided to alter it or use a belt to cinch it in. However, I realised pretty quickly that neither would work due to the nature of the fabric, stretch scuba, but then I had a lightbulb moment. Simply popping a jumper on underneath turned a baggy party dress into a snug but sweet daytime look. Eureka! The jumper in question is an oldie but a goodie; an acrylic and wool mix with tiny pearl stars stitched onto it. I purchased the silver T-bars with their wonderful block heels back in November. I adore this outfit and its icy hues; it makes me feel like a 1960s Space Queen.

Dress – Asos (available here)
Jumper – Penneys/Primark
Shoes – New Look

Monday, 27 April 2015

Old-Fashioned Vanilla Fudge

Fudge isn’t difficult to make, but it is dangerous and a tad tedious. You must be willing to stir a pot for 25 minutes. That’s nonstop stirring - no looking at your phone. If you’re lax with the stirring, or worse, you stray from the cooker, you’ll end up burning your saucepan or yourself. These oh-so-sweet, melt-in-the-mouth cubes of comfort are worth the trouble though. Box them up or wrap in cellophane like I did – they make a gorgeous gift for any occasion.
Ingredients: 450g demerara sugar, 1 x 397g can of condensed milk, 115g butter, 150ml milk, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1.       Line a square tin with greaseproof paper.
2.       Place all of the ingredients, apart from the vanilla extract, into a large heavy-based saucepan. Melt over a low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves.
3.       Bring to the boil for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring all the time. To test it’s ready, drop a teaspoon of mixture into a bowl of cold water. A soft ball of fudge should form.
4.       Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
5.       Beat the fudge with an electric whisk for 5 minutes or until it's very thick and starting to set.
6.       Pour into the prepared tin and the smooth the top as best you can.
7.       Allow to cool, there’s no need to put it in the fridge, before cutting into squares.


Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Wardrobe Shake-Up #2

I’ve been making a mammoth effort to save money lately. Apart from a pair of knee high boots I thrifted for €8 and a reworked top from Nine Crows, I haven’t bought new clothes or shoes since January. This has required iron will and rigid self-discipline. Don’t get me wrong; I haven’t denied myself lipstick or mascara, life is hard enough without the occasional treat, but they’re always from budget brands. A wardrobe shake-up, I featured my first one here, was needed to keep me on the straight and narrow. This involves sorting through all your clothes and removing anything you don’t love. Drop the unloved items to your local charity shop and put the cherished pieces back in your wardrobe - but not in the same place. Yes, shuffle them around! You’ll be amazed at how many new outfits you’ll create by doing this. I unearthed this four year old shirt and paired it with this skirt, one of my last purchases in January, for a 1960s style dolly bird look.

Shirt – Asos
Skirt – Missguided
Cardigan – Schatze Vintage (formerly Shotsy)
Shoes – Asos
Bag – A gift from a friend  

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Thrifty Treat Of The Week: MooGoo 100% Certified Organic Rosehip Oil

Rosehip oil has become a cult beauty product. Rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants, it hydrates dry and ageing skin, while also improving the appearance of scars and stretch marks. Acclaimed skincare brand Trilogy is synonymous with rosehip oil; a 20ml bottle will set you back €19.99. However, I’ve found a much cheaper alternative that blows Trilogy out of the water.

MooGoo is an Australian company that make a range of natural products for sensitive and intolerant skin. Most rosehip oils come in a glass dropper bottle, but MooGoo’s is sealed in an airless pump bottle to prevent oxidation. This occurs when oil is exposed to air and sunlight which causes the oil to lose its effectiveness. The pump also dispenses the perfect amount of product without any mess. While I love the packaging, it’s what’s inside that counts. The oil is a beautiful amber colour that absorbs quickly. I’ve been using it a few times a week at night instead of my night cream and eye cream, and I’ve noticed a huge difference in the texture of my skin. Dry patches are reduced and my skin appears plumper. I wasn’t expecting much from this €10.50 oil but it’s really dazzled me.

MooGoo is stocked in pharmacies and health food stores across Ireland. To find your nearest stockist click here.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Golden Girl

You may know by now that my style is a mishmash of vintage, secondhand and high street. I love to create unique looks by mixing original vintage pieces with modern items from high street brands. Tiny vintage touches, even if it’s just an accessory, will give your current clothing new life and help you stand out from the trend-driven crowd. I wore this outfit recently to a gig. I’ve had the leather skirt a few years now, and while I still adore it, it needed a little rejuvenation. Even my shoes received a revamp; they originally had black ankle straps, but I thought burnt orange was a more suitable mate for leopard print!
Skirt – H&M
Bag & Shoes – Penneys/Primark

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Thrifty Treat Of The Week: Essence Liquid Eyeliner

I’ll get straight to the point – this €2.89 eyeliner is outstanding. The deeply pigmented formula (I’m talking black black) is one of the most long-lasting I’ve tried. This stuff doesn’t budge; it stays in place all day without smudging or flaking. The sponge-tipped applicator, similar to L’Oréal’s Super Liner, takes a little getting used to if pencil or gel is your liner of choice. However, after one or two attempts, a smooth, precise line will be yours. I find it ideal for creating a dramatic cat eye. The compact tube fits snugly into my makeup bag, and removal is a cinch with an oil-based cleanser. Good job Essence!

Thrifty Treat Of The Week is a weekly series on The Retro Suitcase. Occasionally, the series will only appear on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram so follow me for excellent bargains, tips and offers!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Waiting For Spring

 April come she will
When streams are ripe and swelled with rain

                                                                   - Simon & Garfunkel


Windswept. That’s been my permanent state these past few months. I’m not quite sure if this coat has left my back. I certainly got my money’s worth. While my heart is longing for luminous shades and pretty florals, I can’t get my head around the fact that it’s spring. Until the bitter weather eases, I’ll be sticking to my winter palette. In the meantime, in an effort to be less gloomy, I've been wearing jumper dresses without black opaques. Of course, there’s two tops under this one!  

Coat – River Island

Jumper Dress – Asos (available here)

Boots – Thrifted from my local SVP

Suitcase – Vintage 1960s

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day With A Simple Zesty Green Cocktail

I plan to be quite unpatriotic this St. Patrick’s Day. When I toast family and friends, there won’t be Guinness or a famed Irish whiskey in my glass. No, a Kiwi Caipiroska will be my tipple of choice. This Brazilian-inspired cocktail is incredibly refreshing and sweet, and easy to make. It’s also green, well, green-ish!  

Retro Recommends: This recipe requires muddling. What’s that, I hear you ask?! Well, it basically involves mashing fruit/herbs in the bottom of a glass to extract juice/oil. You can buy a muddler; I purchased mine in my beloved Tiger for €3 (see below), or you can use the handle of a wooden spoon.

Ingredients: vodka, kiwis, limes, caster sugar, tonic water

1.       Juice a lime and put to one side. Take another lime or two (it depends on how many people you’re serving) and cut into wedges.
2.       Peel and dice the kiwis.
3.       Line the bottom of your glasses with kiwi, lime, 1 teaspoon of sugar and approximately half a shot glass of lime juice.
4.       Muddle together.
5.       Fill each glass with ice and pour in a shot of vodka. Top with tonic water.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

“If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, you’re lucky enough.”

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Retro Rates: Ashley Williams x Red or Dead

Be still, my beating heart (and rebellious credit card!). Never before has a shoe collection grabbed my attention so fiercely as Ashley Williams’ collaboration with Red or Dead. The British designer has teamed up with the label to create a seven piece range entitled #MakingMovies. The retro-inspired collection includes provocative vinyl kitten heels and pointed monochrome stilettoes. Williams was influenced by Red or Dead’s back catalogue from the 1990s and early noughties and her own kitsch designs. Her spring/summer '15 runway show featured an East meets West theme which fascinatingly came about after she saw photographs of Vietnamese prostitutes in the 1960s.  

The #MakingMovies collection is available now exclusively on

"For girls who live their lives through movies”

See more of Ashley Williams’ divine SS15 collection here

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Spell It Out This Valentine’s Day With Quirky Irish Gifts

Valentine’s Day needn’t cost the earth. I’ve put together a unique but affordable gift selection that’s sure to impress your sweetheart. Save your pennies while supporting Irish design and business.

Illustrated cards by Salty Philip
The card is often the most appreciated gift. These pun-tastic lovelies by Dublin-based illustrator Lynn MacPherson will give your special someone a right ol’ chortle. You can buy them in The Loft Market  in Powerscourt Townhouse.

Handmade cards by A Little Idea
These charming cards are by Dublin designer Ali. She also crafts stationery, headscarves, bunting, cushion covers and costume jewellery. Ali sells her pieces at numerous markets including the Ha'penny Flea Market, but you can purchase them on Etsy too.

Blind Date With A Book at Dubray Bookstores
Surprise your beloved (and even yourself!) with a beautifully wrapped book from Dubray Books. What’s inside? Oh, the intrigue! There's a selection of ‘blind date’ books in every branch. A novel idea, eh?!

I had to include this wonderful piñata after spotting it on Instagram. Piñatas Piñatas is owned by Louth-based designer Ruth O’Reilly. Ruth handcrafts everything from Minions to cupcakes and will custom-make anything you’ve in mind…like this anti-Valentine’s Day gem.