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 December.
Best snow boots
Palmroth Ankle Boot with Front Zipper, $130 (regular $348), brownsshoes.com
It’s been a pretty mild winter so far but I’m always cold no matter what the temperature is (and according to my doctor I’m not anemic, so what gives?). My old fall boots just don’t cut it for me anymore, but luckily I snagged these warmer boots on mega sale. This Palmroth pair has the softest wool inner lining that keeps my forever-frigid toes happy, and they’re super comfortable too. Plus, the silhouette is lovely with the soft exterior suede and thick tread on the sole, overall making for my perfect winter shoe.
Best lip balm
Jack Black Moisture Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25 in Black Tea, $11 sephora.com
I’ve tried so many different lip balms in my life, and I thought I figured out the perfect lip moisturizing routine that works for me (applying lip balm before bed, after showering, and each time I head outside), but my newest concern has been balms that are too minty and burn my eyes when I wear my mask. So I’ve recently switched back to this old faithful and haven’t had any issues since. Definitely one of my holy grail products.
Best diffuser blend
Saje Liquid Sunshine, $18 saje.com
One of the things that’s helped me immensely in dealing with the negative aspects of quarantine is trying to “re-learn” my space at home. It’s not a lot of space to begin with, so introducing New Things isn’t necessarily the best option for keeping it uncluttered. But adding sensory elements like this citrus-y diffuser blend helps me bring moments of peace in some otherwise semi-chaotic days, and sometimes a simple uplifting moment like that is all I need. —Elham Numan, graphic designer
Best lounge set
Dynamite Luca Puff Sleeve V-Neck Sweater, $45, and Sauve Wide Leg Pant $60, in Stone Blue, dynamiteclothing.com
This is honestly one of my favourite finds of 2020, and the best and easiest WFH ‘fit ever. The sweater is just stylish enough to look like you’ve made an effort for your work Zoom calls, but also *so* comfortable. I’ve worn this to work from home in, to run to the grocery store in and for a virtual holiday party—it really is just super versatile! Plus, anyone can rock it. My mom just placed an order for a matching set of her own!
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Glossier Lash Slick, $20, glossier.com
A tried and true favourite for many people, I’m a new convert to the Glossier mascara family, and am truly obsessed with their Lash Slick. As someone who unfortunately has a penchant for lumping my eyelashes together (taking a cue from the spider eyelashes found on ladies from The Bachelor), the lash slick is a saviour, easily separating my eyelashes while giving me tons of length. I honestly can’t believe these are my IRL eyelashes!
Best wireless headphones
Apple AirPods Max, $779, apple.com
I’m always an Apple product skeptic. As in, I can’t believe that a product is actually *as* good and life-changing as people hype them up to be. And every time I doubt them, I’m proven wrong. So it goes with the brand’s latest launch, the Apple AirPods Max. These are definitely a luxury purchase (I was gifted this pair), but if you’re in the market for a great set of headphones (for work, gaming or personal use), and have a bit of extra cash to spend, you need a pair of these. They’re surprisingly light weight, have amazing sound quality (seriously, listen to Bon Iver’s “Hey Ma!,” you won’t regret it), and cute as heck. My pair is pink, and when I tell you I feel like the chicest DJ while bopping around to the new Taylor Swift album in my room…I’m not lying. —Katherine Singh, assistant editor
Best throwback sweatshirt
Club Monaco Crest Sweatshirt, $129.50, clubmonaco.ca
My loungewear collection has never been more robust (I basically could have created an advent calendar with a new pair of leggings or sweats for every day in December) and I don’t intend to stop wearing my cozies anytime soon. That said, in 2021 I’m planning on reserving my ~fanciest~ athleisure for work from home days and only reaching for my truly ratty retired workout leggings for weekend cleaning sprees. This crisp Club Monaco logo sweatshirt, part of the brand’s beloved limited-edition collection of retro-feeling styles featuring the Club Monaco crest, is ideal for a day of editing and Zoom calls. Come for the varsity vibes, stay for the soft, lived-in feeling cotton.
Best overnight skin treatment
SkinCeuticals Glycolic Brightening Renew Overnight, $110, skinceuticals.ca
Don’t you just love when you can really see results from your skincare?! I can always count on science-backed brands like SkinCeuticals to get the job done. This glycolic and phytic acid night treatment promotes skin’s cellular turnover leaving your mug positively gleaming, and with an improved texture and more even tone, after regular use. The texture is lovely, too; more substantial than a day cream but not quite as thick as most overnight face creams and with just a hint of bounce. After using it nightly for about two weeks, I began detecting noticeably smoother, glowier skin in the morning.
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Rowenta X-Cel Steam Pocket, $80, thebay.com
In my version of hell, I’ll be forced to battle an old, squeaky ironing board and piping hot clothing iron until the end of time. (Is there a more sinister appliance than a red hot iron, just taunting you to trip on its menacing cord?!) This handheld gadget makes the traditional de-wrinkling duo seem positively archaic, while relegating bulky full-size steamers, the likes of which you might find backstage at a fashion show or in the dressing room of a boutique, look like actual torture devices. (Do not ask me how many times I burned myself on the evil steam while smoothing clothes at my university retail job, I absolutely lost count.) This cutie is lightweight and super compact, with its collapsible head making it even easier to stow—or pack, when we can travel safely. It uses very little water so you don’t have to refill it every time you want to steam a garment, and it heats up in 15 seconds. The efficiency! Timely bonus: hot steam sanitizes as it combats wrinkles, attacking bacteria, mites, odours, pollen and other allergens. —Jennifer Berry, managing editor
Best everyday earrings
Jenny Bird Toni Chubby Hinge Hoop Earrings in Gold, $110, nordstrom.ca
It took several months, but I think I’ve finally figured out the staples in my pandemic wardrobe, and key among them are a pair of earrings that are bold enough to actually show up on a Zoom call, but not so heavy, dangly or otherwise cumbersome that I have to take them off for a lunchtime workout. These chubby gold-plated hoops from Canadian jeweller Jenny Bird are exactly that—the kind of goes-with-everything accessory that is still unique enough to garner a compliment or two every time I wear them (which nowadays is pretty much daily!). They’re statement-making enough on their own, but on days when I’m feeling fancy I’ll pop them in my second holes and layer them up with other gold earrings, and maybe even throw on a gold necklace if I’m going *all out*.
Best hot brush
Revlon Salon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer, $70, canadiantire.ca
Blame it on TikTok: I could not resist trying the hot tool that has taken over my social media feeds for the past several months. After an IRL friend bought this hair dryer brush and confirmed it is as good as its hype, I was sold. At $70 it beats many of the pricer hair gadgets I’ve tested over the past year, both in terms of its ease of use (it’s all one piece—no interchangeable brush heads or charging nests to fumble with) and getting the job done; that is, smoothing my colour-damaged waves into a shiny actually healthy-looking lob. I’ve been using this on its own and as a first step before creating bends with a curling iron, and it’s noticeably shaved minutes off my morning routine. She’s a keeper!
New Day Calendar, $40, newdayproject.ca
It’s been a while since I purchased an actual wall calendar. Honestly, the last time may have been from the Scholastic book fair in grade school (best day ever, am I right??) and it came with a matching bookmark and door hanger. This calendar—a collaboration from Toronto-based photographers (and former FLARE collaborators!) Saty + Pratha and floral designer Coyote Flowers—is decidedly more sophisticated, not to mention chic as hell. In fact, I’d categorize it as wall ART, especially since the monthly prints can be saved and framed after their time marking your important dates. But the best part of this project is that the artists are donating every dollar from sales to Red Door, a shelter and crisis centre in Toronto that is working to break the cycle of family homelessness. Wins all around. —Charlotte Herrold, editor-in-chief