Back when the FLARE team shared an IRL office space (RIP to my abandoned aloe plant…), my mornings looked a little something like this: rush to get up the elevators in time for our 8:30 a.m. daily meeting (for which, I admittedly showed up to at approx. 8:32 most days), hit the button on my Nespresso machine, roll my chair over to our meeting table and start discussing the trending news items of past 24 hours with my brilliant colleagues. We’d assign a new story or two, check in on the status of our scheduled posts for the day and then invariably our attention would turn to what new outfit, eyeliner or gadget one of us was debuting.
Since WFH became our new reality, there’s been less opportunity to share sale scores and new obsessions. For one, most of us put a hard stop on unnecessary shopping; and furthermore, we found ourselves wearing sweatsuits much of the week. But now that we’re settling into our “new normal” (and we’re opening up our wallets again) we decided to take our conversation online—like everything else right now—and a new series was born. In FLARE Faves, we’re sharing our top fashion, beauty and home buys from the past month.
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Here, the best things we bought or were gifted in November.
Opaque Tights, $17 USD, yourthreads.co
I know what you’re thinking: “Pantyhose? In this economy??” And, trust me, I was right there with you. At the end of summer, when that first fall chill started to creep in, one of the pandemic silver linings I sold myself was: “Since I’m working from home indefinitely, at least I won’t be subjecting myself to the pure torture of wearing tights this winter.” Then I was introduced to Threads, courtesy of a lovely package of samples that showed up at my door. Skeptical, it took me a few weeks to actually try them, and I finally did when meeting a friend for a chilly patio lunch in early November. The temperature was hovering around zero but my legs actually stayed warm?? More surprising, these tights were so comfy (we’re talking no digging or rolling waistband, no sagging, no suffocating qualities whatsoever) that I didn’t immediately strip them off and change into sweatpants when I got home. Reader, I kid you not: I sat down on my couch in REAL clothes and watched Netflix. Mind. Blown.
LXMI Pure Nilotica Melt, $41, thedetoxmarket.ca
One of the other pandemic silver linings I’ve been taking advantage of is really upping my skincare routine, which over the past few months has included adding a new vitamin A serum to the mix. My sensitive skin always takes a little while to adjust to any new product—especially one with actives like retinol or AHAs—so I’ve been pampering it nightly with this luxurious balm-to-oil salve from LXMI, an organic skincare line that focuses on a singular star ingredient, Nilotica. A form of shea butter, Nilotica is intensely moisturizing, but doesn’t leave a shiny residue on my skin (blessings!). I slather this stuff on my face at night as an intensive sleeping mask, and have also used it as a lip balm, a cuticle treatment and a healing ointment for a bike-accident scar, which I swear looks like it’s healing faster already. Get you a balm that can do it all!
Best kitchen knife set
Opinel Kitchen Knife Essentials, $225, hopsongrace.com
I spied these French kitchen knives in my IG feed back in June and immediately saved them to my wish list. According to the team at Hopson Grace, which is one of my favourite spots in Toronto to browse for tableware and decor, Opinel knives are so renowned for their form and functionality that the Victoria & Albert Museum named them one of the 100 best designs of all time. Indeed, these beechwood beauties are a much-needed upgrade to my mismatched (and admittedly pretty dull) stainless steel set.
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Budapest Booties, $450, lacanadienneshoes.com
Photos simply don’t do these Chelsea boots justice. Between the pointed toe, the manageable heel height, the gold hardware and the subtle western details on the shaft, they’re the answer to my most enduring and elusive fashion want: a simple, yet interesting black leather bootie that will stand the test of time. And please don’t get me started on the unique heel shape—cool enough to feel special but not so wacky that it renders the boot less classic. They’re an investment, but one that’s Canadian-designed and Italian-made, and as beautifully constructed as this pair isn’t one you’ll likely regret. To me, they are perfect.
Best face oil
Face Oil, $110 USD, mutha.com
Yes, I absolutely wanted to try this buzzy brand after spotting it on Instagram and sites like The Cut, and now that they ship to Canada, we easily can. While it’s loaded with antioxidants, omega fatty acids, evening primrose oil, squalane and active ingredients like tsubaki, kalahari and borage seed oils to replenish the skin’s moisture, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and soothe the skin, this face oil’s true super power seems to be its uncanny ability to absorb quickly and leave you feeling dewy and glowy, but not shiny. The oil is naturally scented with jasmine flower extract, giving its application a lovely spa-like experience. I like to up the ritual aspect even more by applying the face oil before going in with my gua sha.
Best cozy throw
Oui Chevron Chenille Throw, $59.50, chapters.indigo.ca
The intersection of pandemic lockdown number two and the threat of winter means a few things: a dramatic rise in homemade soups, an increased urge to improve one’s home base, and a spike in the need to be nestled in soft, comforting fabrics. Much like the frequency at which I google “best flannel sheets,” my cozy blanket collection has increased exponentially. This ridiculously cozy throw, that comes in the most soothing off-white shade, complete with a subtle chevron pattern and charming nubby bits, is my latest fave from Indigo’s newly launched home line, Oui.
Best quilted jacket
U Recycled Down Jacket, $100, uniqlo.com
I’m sorry, but I can’t be the only person who wants their entire life—and wardrobe—to reflect The Crown. While I may not be itching for a marriage like Prince Charles and Diana’s, I *am* itching for all of the Royal Family’s Balmoral hunting looks. And this newly released jacket from Uniqlo fits the bill. From the chic brown colour that I favour to the quilted design, this jacket screams for me to be atop a thoroughbred horse, galloping through the English countryside. (FYI, it also works over a sweatsuit for a Sunday coffee run.) Plus, as part of a sustainable initiative from the brand that started in September 2019, these jackets use down collected from around 620,000 unwanted Uniqlo jackets across Japan, repurposing older Uniqlo garments and making this purchase stylish and sustainable! Pro tip: The jacket is unisex, meaning that it runs a little larger. I’m typically a S and wear an XS in this item.
Kosas Tinted Face Oil Foundation, $56, sephora.com
As someone with naturally oily skin, I was hesitant about trying out a face oil, but this light foundation provides the perfect amount of coverage for my daily Zoom calls and virtual meetings, camouflaging redness and dark spots while also still looking super natural. I don’t find it adds any extra oil to my face; and as a bonus, the brand really emphasizes makeup as an extension of your skincare routine, meaning their products, in addition to being sulphate-free, are packed with clean treatment ingredients like rosehip seed and avocado oil.
1800 Anjeo Tequila, $51, lcbo.com
This isn’t your typical university-experience tequila. Whether you’re looking for a nice gift for your dad for the holidays or just want to treat yourself, a bottle of tequila *might* just be the best decision you make. This aged tequila is perfect for sipping (because that’s something I do now) with a spicy aroma and notes of caramel and toffee. Want to really warm yourself up this winter? Try it out in your evening cup of hot chocolate (with marshmallows, obvi). You won’t regret it.
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J+ Hybrid Down Jacket in Wine, $180, uniqlo.com
It hasn’t even gotten supremely cold yet, but I’ve still donned this jacket and felt uber warm and super snug. True, I’m not planning on going anywhere far for the next few weeks (abiding by lockdown rules over here!), but I still wanna feel cute. Plus, I’ll be using this jacket as an excuse to get my vitamin D-deficient self outdoors to see the light of day on some afternoon walks around the neighbourhood.
Best haircare kit
Olaplex Holiday Hair Fix Kit, $80, sephora.com
I’ve been trying for a while now to find the right treatment to get my partially heat-damaged hair back on track and feeling revived again, so I picked up this holiday kit from Olaplex, which includes a minis of their beloved shampoo and conditioner, as well as pre-and post-shower strengthening and smoothing lotions. A few uses later I think it’s working quite nicely!
Organic Buckwheat Hull Pillow, $109, comfycomfy.ca
I’ve been progressively upgrading my sleep game over the past year with a weighted blanket and new mattress but, honestly, this pillow is probably the biggest game-changer for me. I don’t wake up feeling like I got whiplash in my sleep anymore, and it’s all thanks to the buckwheat filling of this pillow. It’s firm enough that I don’t feel like I’m wrestling with my pillow, I never need to flip to the cool side since it doesn’t heat up, and I can shape the pillow to take whatever firmness I want. Bonus: It’s Canadian-made.