It’s that time of year again, where sparkle and shine come out to play during the wonderful winter season. Winter is also the time for one of my personal favorite things: holiday parties! Whether you are attending an office party, or are leaving work to celebrate somewhere else, there are tons of different outfit combinations for you to choose from. So, unwrap the sequin skirt or plaid dress from your closet, and arrive to your next holiday party in style!
Plaid and Leather
If you want to try an edgier look this holiday season, pair a plaid dress or skirt with a leather motorcycle jacket. The preppy plaid will bring in winter’s hottest colors with deep reds and greens. The leather jacket will harden the combo, adding a tough but approachable detail. Finalize the look with a simple black pump and gold accessories.
Sequined Skirt and Sweater
Sequins were practically made to be worn at holiday parties and are the perfect way to dress up any outfit. If you don’t want to look too overdressed, pair a sequin skirt or dress with a light sweater in a complementary color. Add tights and chunky ankle boots for extra warmth and glam.
Metallic is a huge trend this season and can be seen on any over-the-shoulder bag, peplum blouse, or work trouser. The best thing about metallic is that it can be dressed up or down. To really stand out at a holiday party, mix a bold metallic cropped pant with a simpler top. For this shimmery look, you won’t want to be seen without a strappy heel or statement necklace.
Holiday Dress and Blazer
One of the easiest and most chic pairings is a fancy dress and a long blazer. This year, grab your favorite holiday dress and then pull on a blazer (every girl has one, or two, or three) over it. Accessorize with a dramatic necklace and small clutch to emphasize the elegant simplicity of the look.
Personality and Confidence
The best way to get noticed at a holiday party is to walk in with your two best assets: personality and confidence. It sounds cheesy, but some of the most memorable outfits come from using your creativity. Try a new combination you haven’t thought of before and play around with different patterns and textures. Use as many bows and polka dots as you can – after all, the holidays are meant to be a cheerful and fun time!
As a now local celebrity in the Phoenix Valley, Oscar has had the privilege of meeting wonderful people and doing amazing things, but not without a lot of hard work, dedication, and sacrifices. As busy as it gets, he doesn’t forget about giving back to his community.
Oscar de las Salas was born in Barranquilla, Colombia. He grew up surrounded by fashion and bright colors, which explain his passion for style and all things fashion.
With education being such an important part of his life, Oscar found himself traveling to receive the best education. He graduated as an architect from Pilot University of Columbia. He worked for the American Embassy in Bogota Colombia for four years before the projects came to an end.
He decided to continue his education and traveled to Spain to get his Masters in Architectural Interiors. When looking for a place to write his thesis project, he found himself traveling to Phoenix, Arizona. With just three pieces of luggage at hand, Oscar came to the United States with almost nothing but his work Visa.
Among Oscar’s many skills are his fluency in multiple languages. He speaks, writes and reads Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and English. Oscar believes that while being of a different ethnicity is a good thing in other countries, it is a disadvantage in Arizona. While Oscar is fluent in English, it was not always that way. He had a hard time expressing himself, especially at work. “Imagine knowing this much and not being able to say it,” said Oscar.
As if things weren’t hard enough, Oscar had to deal with even more put-downs when others found out he was gay. However, Oscar did not let all the insults slow him down. He only let it help him learn and grow as an individual. He pushed himself to attend Phoenix College and took English and composition classes to help with his speech and writing abilities.
Oscar is the proud owner of “O” Productions, LLC. As a businessman, Oscar has learned the definition of hard work.
While architecture is still in Oscar’s background, he has taken a big role in the fashion community here in the valley. He plays every role from stylist, to producer, and even emcee for local fashion shows and events.
With all the success Oscar has had, he made sure not to leave his community behind. “Everything I do I bring my Hispanics with me…I bring my heritage with me,” he said. He makes sure to give back to the people that need it most. He participates in many non-profit organizations, where he donates his time and talents.
Oscar has become a voice for individuals that don’t have one. “My goals are not to find solutions, but to give tools to find solutions,” said Oscar. He wants to give people the tools needed to succeed on their own.
He is very proud of how far Hispanics have come across the U.S. “Things are changing…there is no problem with an accent anymore,” Oscar said.
With Oscar’s popularity growing quickly, he has noticed how vicious some people could be. He has been criticized on Facebook, but he makes sure not to let it get the best of him. Oscar does not wish to ever reach fame, “that’s something I don’t take in my life…fame comes with many complications,” Oscar said. He just wants recognition at a lower level.
Oscar does not plan to slow down any time soon. He has big things planned for the near future, and is excited to see what life has in store for him.
The much anticipated 2013 American Music Awards not only brought together talented performers to the stage, but standout fashion to the red carpet as well. While most of last night’s looks are surely to be forgotten, a few stars got it right in memorable ensembles. In fact, these fashionista celebrities all had one thing in common: the cut-out.
Singer Christina Aguilera channeled Marilyn Monroe with curly gold locks and a white long-sleeved silk dress that hugged her in all the right places. In addition to the plunging neckline, the Maria Lucia Hohan gown featured cutouts drawing her waist inward. She topped off the look with sparkling accessories.
Glee star Naya Rivera put a spin on the effortless black dress in a Michael Kors look at the 2013 American Music Awards. The dress also featured long sleeves, ending in gold cuffs to accessorize. The cutout in this ensemble showed the actress’ cleavage, but the high neckline kept it from looking too revealing.
Celeb Nicole Richie also opted for a white cut-out gown, accentuating the mom of two’s killer body. The short-sleeved number showed off her arms while a gold statement necklace made for the perfect accessory. A fringed-chain clutch only added to the fierce look.
Singer Taylor Swift continued to wow in shimmering gold looks at almost every award show this year. The metallic minidress showed off her amazing legs, while a sheer fabric triangle cutout on the singer’s chest added intrigue to the overall look. The strapless dress was definitely a stunner paired with an easy tousled hairdo at the 2013 American Music Awards.
The dynamic duo, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, hit the carpet in matching looks that showed just enough skin for the young beauties. Kendall (left) wore a white strapless minidress with interesting angles and an uneven cutout along the waistline, while Kylie (right) chose tight black pants and a white crop top to go along with her new “banged” do.
All photos from the 2013 American Music Awards courtesy of E! Online
As a skin cancer survivor I found out the hard way that what you put on your skin does truly go in but I also found some information that most people just don’t know. The United States has almost no restrictions on the cosmetic industry and companies can put just about anything in a bottle and sell it. The companies in the U.S. that manufacture these products would be in violation of the law if they were to try to sell these products in Canada or most of Europe. The United States is about 30 years behind when it comes to cosmetics as most of the ingredients we use here have been banned for decades in Europe.
Phthalates are known to cause a broad range of birth defects and reproductive problems when these chemicals are exposed during and after pregnancy, yet companies continue to use them. These Phthalates are also known to have hormone-mimicking chemicals which can disrupt the normal hormone functions and is believed to increase the risk of breast cancer.
My younger sister has suffered from cystic acne all her life and now she is enduring chemo for breast cancer. She expressed to me her anguish as she can no longer use acutane on her face and her acne is incredibly aggressive right now. In addition she cannot use cosmetics either because of the Phthalates and so she expressed her embarrassment with her hair-loss, raging acne and inability to use cosmetics. My heart ached for her and so I called Cherylanne DeVita to see if there is anything that can be done.
Although I am already a raving fan of DeVita Skincare, the founder Cherylanne DeVita has really helped me understand. DeVita is a pure vegan skincare and cosmetic firm and has nothing that will interfere with her hormones or her chemo. In addition to enlightening me she also took my sister’s address and sent her a beautiful gift set with all of the DeVita skincare products.
My sister called me and was so choked up by not only Cherylanne’s generosity but that she said it was the first time her skin felt good in months. She also went on to express how exquisite and elegant the packaging was. DeVita products are amazing and two of the women I love most, my sister and daughter, now use them. It’s rare in today’s world to find a company you can trust. I feel better knowing that there are CEO’s like Cherylanne who will take on the big cosmetic firms and do the right thing!
Debbie Gaby’s Celebrity Catwalk was a complete success. Hundreds of fabulous people showed up to the event that showed all of its guests that it is possible to have fun, and help the community at the same time.
Suits, ties, dresses and heels… Catwalk’s guests were ready to have an amazing time as soon as they walked to the door. The event was hosted at the Montelucia Resort in Paradise Valley, Arizona.
Guests were greeted with a glass of champagne at the door. There were local celebrities at arms reach, and the entertainment put smiles on everyone’s faces throughout the event. Everyone enjoyed a five-course meal while enjoying all that the event had to offer.
Letitia Frye helped raise tens of thousands of dollars with her amazing auctioneer talents and charisma. She made sure that her audience was well entertained while raising money. There were smiles, laughs, and happy faces all throughout the crowd.
Tara Hitchcock emceed the fashion show where local celebrities took the time to show off their chosen look from Dillard’s. Everyone from Catherine Anaya, to Johnjay and Rich, and even Joe Arpaio cat walked down the runway.
Some of the most significant donations in the history of catwalk were made by SmartFem experts, Volvo of Phoenix and Evans Furs of Scottsdale. One lucky winner walked away with a two year lease on a new Volvo, while another left the event wearing a gorgeous full length mink coat.
The afternoon ended with a small award ceremony honoring those who helped make Catwalk such a huge success. SmartFem’s very own Lea Haben received the MVP award for all her hard work and contributions to the event. A very well deserved recognition… Bravo Lea!
My Commitment to our SmartFem readers and to women everywhere is that I will only work with the very best and most trusted brands. SmartFem researches everything so that our brands are companies that I know to be safe and responsible.
I am ALWAYS skeptical when it comes to fast weight loss or instant results because my personal experience is that the weight comes on fast but goes off slow and I need concrete proof to believe otherwise. Maintaining my weight has been a struggle over the last few years as my metabolism has definitely slowed. I will be the first to admit that I cringe at the monthly gym membership fee that I pay for and don’t use. I feel the pangs of guilt daily as I drive past the gym on my way to work.
I hate to admit that despite my skepticism I still harbor a secret hope that just one will ring true. I recently heard that Imaj Institute had created a laser that melts the fat and of course inches, which makes me automatically curious and skeptical at the same time. Although I was apprehensive I was pretty excited to hear that someone had lost 7 inches during one session. Being the impatient girl that I am I had to find out for myself immediately.
My experience at Imaj Institute was fabulous, as the facility is beautiful and the staff is always warm and friendly. The women are all excited and passionate about what they do, which is always a plus when the world can be so negative sometimes.
‘I had three fabulous girls working on Me, Augustina Snowden, Nicole Good and Amanda Gardiner. Before we got started we took pictures and measurements of the problem area, your basic mid section. They took three measurements across the belly button, above the bellybutton and below.
I have gone to Imaj prior so I know that they are accredited and they have done some outstanding work on my surgical scars so I was definitely in the hope zone about the procedure. (Skeptical but still hopeful). Unlike Cool Sculpting I did not freeze and I actually had results!!!! What a concept. I am happy to report that I no longer have a muffin top and can’t wait to get into my skinny jeans.
I am a bit too shy to give you my before and after photo’s but I will give you my before and after measurements.
Belly button before 29 ½ inches After 28 ¼
Above Belly button 28 After 26 ¼
Below Belly button 31 ½ After 30
Well ladies that is almost 5…count them…5 inches in an hour and a half. My skirt was so loose I had to change it. I am so thrilled with the results and really love the special treatment and pampering that I received from Imaj Institute. I may sneak in one more treatment before the Holidays!
“Can One Pair of Shoes Truly Make a Difference and Convey a Distinctive Image?”
Finding the ideal pair of shoes to fulfill numerous essential requirements…is there such a pair out there?? Recently I’ve been on the search for the perfect pair of comfortable, sexy, stylish, fashionable, sophisticated shoes which fit my personality, reflect a certain image and fall within a set budget. “Can one pair of shoes truly make a difference and convey a distinctive image?” In my business, which is Personal and Corporate Image Consulting and Makeovers, the answer is a resounding YES!!! Can one pair of shoes truly make a difference and convey a distinctive image?
As far as we know the history of shoes began with the Ice Man 3300 BCE, wrapping his feet with rawhide bearskin and woven plant fibers.
Early Egyptians created sandals, the first “flip-flop”. In Egyptian times sandals were a sign of power and rank, they were considered a luxury and not everyone could afford them. Social class was allocated by color…gold and jeweled sandals were for Kings and his court, pastels for dignitaries, red and yellow were the only colors allowed to be worn by the middle-class. The poor and slaves went barefoot.
The Greeks excelled at shoemaking and by 400 BC shoe and sandal making became quite sophisticated and people’s obsession with footwear accelerated to a point where “social” rules came into play regarding them. Shoes were only worn outdoors…the exact opposite of today’s no shirt, no shoes, no service policy. Certain shoes were for certain occasions, soldiers wore a certain type, brides wore another, actors another, etc, etc…
With each passing century shoes have became more refined, developed and elaborate. Shoe fashions are cyclical…platform shoes which are popular today were very popular in the 1970′s as well as the 1990′s, but they originally came to us from the Venetians in their 16th-century chopines. These high soled shoes were a necessity to keep one’s feet off the dirty streets.
Even the mystical Chinese practice of foot binding has been copied yet today, 88% of women in the USA wear shoes that are too small!
Truth be told…all present day shoes are modernized adaptations of past styles…
More than ever modern day shoes convey social status, make fashion statements, show wealth or poverty, wing-tip or flip-flop, cowboy boot or pump…shoes say it all!! Christian Louboutin’s red soles, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Alaia, Rick Owens, Chloe, Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy just to name a few for those status seekers…
But, to get back to my original question “Can one pair of shoes truly make a difference and convey a distinctive image?” Believe it or not, yes! Let’s take a look back in history…
Dorothy – the Wizard of Oz
Carrie Bradshaw – Sex and the City
James Bond – 007
Captain Jack Sparrow – Pirates of the Caribbean
and Steve Jobs
…just to name a few. All of these examples identify, as well as convey, a distinct image for a particular individual. They also changed the wearer’s life forever…
Keep in mind that you too can find the ideal pair of shoes which “fits” you, your personality, conveys your image and stays within your budget…it just takes a bit of time and perseverance in the treasure hunt. Happy Shopping!!
Melissa Hornung is so much more than the girl next door, she is a Renaissance Woman. The dictionary describes a renaissance man or woman as someone who has acquired profound knowledge or proficiency in more than one field. I had the opportunity to meet Melissa at the Scottsdale Ferrari-Maserati Polo Championships: Horses & Horsepower this November. In addition to being a world traveled equestrian and polo player, she is an international model, published writer, an incredible artist and recently a clothes designer.
I met Melissa several times during her stay in Scottsdale while she participated in the Scottsdale Polo Championships. I haven’t previously had much exposure to polo and found myself totally enamored with this fascinating sport and the camaraderie of the players. Melissa was kind enough to introduce me to her fellow players Sunny Hale, Erica Gandomcar-Sachs and she even introduced me to the Captain of the Wales Men’s Polo Team Ricky Cooper. Melissa was very complimentary of her fellow team members and especially gracious to the leadership skills for her team captain Sunny Hale. Despite the competitive nature of professional sports there seems to be a mutual respect and elegance which drew me in to polo.
Here is a few things about Melissa in her own words…
I was born…in Westfield, New Jersey.
The most influential person in my life as a child was…God….if that counts as a person. If not, I would have to say my mother. She is really feisty and fun, always seeking adventure and dressed for the occasion. Oh, and she can cook!
I believe women can do anything that they put their mind to… even play in a predominantly male, high contact sport and be good at it while wearing her favorite lip gloss.
The biggest challenge being in a male dominated profession is… probably the high physical contact and risk of injury.
My guilty pleasure is… Guinness beer and southern fried chicken! Mmmmmmmmm!
My favorite movie of all time is… by far the God Father Trilogy! Classic
One thing no one knows about me… I am really just a farm girl at heart. My dream is to raise goats and sheep and make cheese and soap some day. Maybe even harvest my own honey. The name “Melissa” means honey bee. I am happiest when I am surrounded by nature and my menagerie of pets.
My proudest moment was… winning the World Cup of Beach Polo in 2011. I had played every year since 2009 and it’s a tough competition to win. The final was so intense and we won with sheer determination and team work. Carlos Gracida, a polo professional from a very famous polo family walked up to us after the final and said “that was the most intense final I have ever seen…and I don’t mean women’s final, I mean final;” A very proud moment indeed.
One thing I’ve learned that I want to pass on to young women is… One of my favorite quotes is “Don’t flaunt your pearls in front of swine for they will trample them in the mud” Hold yourself in the highest esteem, the greatest gift you can pass onto yourself and to the world is your very own passion and the willingness to believe.
One of my future aspirations is to write a book that will inspire people.
Melissa is a beautiful and down to earth woman with a big heart whom I consider a fabulous girlfriend and she really makes me proud of what we can do and be as women.
As a journalist it is always been fun for me to interview and write about people from all walks of life. Once in awhile I get to meet people who have left a lasting legacy. I recently had to opportunity to meet G. Darrell and Bonni Olson of Jewels & Estate Gallery. I met them as a result of their generous donations to Debbie Gaby’s Celebrity Catwalk being held on November 21st. The Olsons have been giving back to the community for years but this year’s generous donations were unprecedented. I really wanted to get to know them more. Bonni was kind enough to spend time with me and let me interview her.
…I must say sitting down in a lavish jewelry gallery is not the worst way to spend an afternoon. I fell in love too many times to count but let’s get back to the story.
G. Darrell Olson, the founder of Jewels & Estate Gallery, has an incredible and tragic story of how he got into the jewelry business. His interest in jewelry started in 1935; at the age of five he began traveling with his father George L. Olson who was a partner and inter-mountain salesman for a wholesale jewelry company in Salt Lake City. Tragically Darrell’s father was robbed and killed by one of his clients. His interest in the jewelry business ended until 1943 when he then became a shipping clerk in his father’s old company.
He moved up to become a salesman and eventually opened up his own retail jewelry store here in Phoenix Arizona. The Olsons remained at the same location for thirty years and only recently relocated to their new gallery at 1846 East Camelback Road.
One of the things I realized right away about the Olson’s is their warm friendly attitude and that they truly are kind people. Darrell and Bonni Olson‘s staff has been with them for many years and they even bring their little dogs with them to the Gallery each day. It was so fun to see Darrell in action with a passion for jewelry that has never waned and a refreshing commitment toward educating his clients. One of the things Bonni pointed out which I hadn’t thought of was the importance to really spend your time finding that perfect stone for your jewelry.
After meeting with the Olsons at Jewels & Estate Gallery I have a new perspective on jewelry and the importance of heirlooms and the lasting legacy they bring.
“My commitment to our SmartFem readers is that we will work with the best and most trusted brands. SmartFem will do the research so that you don’t have to. DeVita Skincare is an established, award winning, certified Woman Owned Business and one of those products that I’m proud to review and recommend.”
As much as I love to travel, with all the new security regulations for airlines it has become more and more difficult for a woman to pack and organize her toiletries. For the last few years I’ve been buying empty three ounce containers and attempting to squeeze my skincare products into them to get past the watchful eyes of the TSA.
I like the idea of having these kits ready in case I have to travel unexpectedly, which does happen quite often. Except I have found this to be cumbersome and messy and often I find I’m not always good about keeping my travel kit prepared and scramble at the very last minute to put one together.
Recently SmartFem found DeVita Skincare to be an incredible vegan skincare and cosmetic line. I was pleasantly surprised that they sold “Travel & Try-Me” kits that are already beautifully pre-packed.
I have also found that these are fabulous gifts for the incredible women in your life. This allows them to sample the high quality look of “Chanel-like” products all the while knowing that these products are safe and made with the highest manufacturing standards. DeVita Skincare products are all-vegan, paraben-free, and the gorgeous “Eco-Chic” packaging is also Eco friendly and made from recycled materials.
Here is why I really like DeVita Natural Skin Care Systems and why you should try them.
- Treat Your Skin to The Latest Technology from Nature
- The Natural Cosmeceutical Choice
- No Chemicals
- No Parabens
- No Alcohol
- No Pesticides
- No Fragrance
- PETA Certified
A great way to take your DeVita products along with you on a quick trip. Also a perfect way to sample nine of their most purchased daily care products. The travel kit comes with a usage guide and a DeVita clear vinyl tote.
The DeVita Deluxe Travel Kit Includes:
- Aloe Vera Moisture Cleanser, 2 oz
- Gentle Aloe Facial Scrub, 2 oz
- Moroccan Rose Facial Toner, 2 oz
- Cool Cucumber Facial Toner, 2 oz
- Solar Protective Moisturizer 30, 1/2 oz
- Evening Rich Moisturizer, 1/2 oz
- Revitalizing Eye Lift Creme, 1/2 oz
- DeVita-C 17% Serum 1/8 oz
- Optimal Rejuvenation Serum, 1/8 oz
Keeping these travel kits on hand sure makes my travel life a lot easier. Bon Voyage and don’t forget to try DeVita Skincare products, you will never go back.