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SUMMER RECAP: Cosplayholic

Just like last year, I took a break from blogging for a few months – I mean, summer IS the prime season for social events and outdoor activities. But apart from that, it gave me the opportunity to dabble in a side job, reprioritize my life, set aside some much-needed time for myself, and improve some aspects of my lifestyle that I wasn’t satisfied with. But since I can’t recap my entire summer in a single post, I’ve decided to do a series of entries to get all my followers caught up. Enjoy! :)

Cosplayholic is an eBay shop (with an impressive positive feedback score) that I had been eyeing for months. Since I know many of my readers are comparison shoppers like myself, I wanted to share an honest and detailed narrative of my purchasing experience with this seller.

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My boyfriend and I decided to order the custom-tailored Tidus and Songstress Yuna outfits, since we had two events coming up – my annual trip to New Jersey for AnimeNext and a Final Fantasy themed rave in Brooklyn called Vinyl Fantasy IV. We sent Cosplayholic our measurements and paid the outrageous shipping costs, thinking it would be worth it. Unfortunately, my bank thought the order was fraudulent and activated a chargeback – which would take several weeks to process, even after I cancelled it.

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Since the convention was approaching soon, I made an agreement with the seller to pay the $220+ total again via PayPal while the chargeback was processing, and in the event that the money would get taken out of my bank account a second time, they would return it to me. Yes, I know that the terms of agreement on eBay specifically state that they are not held responsible for arrangements done independently of their site. So I took the risk, thinking the seller was trustworthy.

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When the costumes arrived in the mail several weeks later, we were pleased to find that both fit perfectly and looked just like the photos in the listing. (They even included a note in the package that asked us to leave them positive feedback, since they’re feeding their families in China with the money they make from their cosplay shop, and any store below a certain score is banned from making any more transactions.) It was a personal decision for me to wear a different skirt, since I thought the one included was too long. Nonetheless, we received many compliments at both events – so I’m not taking a jab at the quality of their products at all.

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Now fast forward a little over a month later, where the cancelled chargeback was finished processing and I am charged a second time for my order. Despite our agreement, Cosplayholic denies receiving the second payment. After many phone calls and messages between me, my bank, and PayPal – the consensus was that the seller did receive the money. After threatening to file a dispute with them through my bank, and giving them both PayPal transaction numbers as proof of my payments, they CONVENIENTLY only responded back to me once a week – promising they would return my money but never actually doing it until months later. Ultimately, it took them from April until September to return $220+ to me even though I was messaging them every week. I do not recommend them, the customer service is a nightmare.
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Blonde Envy

aka “How to go from dark brown to light blonde at home for under $50.”

I do admit that from time to time, I feel a pang of inadequacy because of my natural dark hair, skin, and eyes. Especially since two of my closest girlfriends are gorgeous blondes, I often find myself feeling so mediocre next to them. I suppose society’s standard of beauty is to blame, but I genuinely enjoy bleaching my hair every once in a while for a change of pace. :)

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There are varying opinions of Asian women with blonde hair. The general consensus always  seems to be,”It’s just not natural.” I disagree. Sometimes, it’s pulled off well. And other times, it’s just a disaster. It all has to do with skin tone, and finding the perfect shade for you. This time, I wanted to reach a cooler almost-platinum blonde instead of golden/strawberry blonde.

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The new Fèria Absolute Platinum in Extreme Platinum sounded promising when I first laid eyes on it. Unfortunately, it only lifted my hair a few shades lighter from dark brown to a medium orange-brown. It was at this point that I was getting frustrated with my reluctant strands, and went for a brand I’ve been wanting to try out forever.

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Palty is known for being very effective on dark, thick, Asian hair. It doesn’t hurt that the packaging is downright adorable, as well. I’ve read tons of online reviews, and was thankful to find a huge selection hidden in a beauty store at my local “Chinatown”, Flushing. I thought the most appropriate shade would be Super Flash Sparkling Blonde.

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It was a bit pricey at $13 per box, and I needed two.. but my hair successfully lifted more significantly. I have to admit that I felt a mild burning sensation on my scalp during the process. But I suppose that’s the price you have to pay for beauty. It came out a lovely golden blonde with brassy undertones. As you can see in the photo below, my ends are already getting fried. :X

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Unfortunately, I’m very hard to please and wanted to get rid of the orange tones completely. So I counteracted it with a cool blonde shade, Garnier Nutrisse: #82 Champagne Blonde (Champagne Fizz). I was going to get the lighter, White Chocolate shade, but couldn’t find it anywhere. :/ I was happy with how it came out, though. I got a lot of compliments at work. :P

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But after a month, my roots were already growing out and the brassiness was coming back. So I picked up two boxes of Garnier Nutrisse: #100 Extra Light Natural Blonde (Chamomile) to touch it up a bit. And to be honest, I’m in love with the results. It’s the perfect medium between warm and cool, and matches my skin tone pretty well.

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As you can see in this photo, I’m almost as blonde as my beautiful friend Kristiana. <3 I’m in dire need of a trim, though. My strands feel like straw, which I’ve been trying to nurse back to health with lots of deep conditioner and by only flat-ironing my hair on the weekends and special occasions. Next month, I might just get my roots and highlights done professionally. Because the bottom line is that as much as I love doing my own hair, I could have just saved myself all the trouble and went to a salon. The extra money would have been well worth it, given the hassle I went through. x_x

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Miss KL Haul

I can’t resist a good sale. Especially when already discounted items are 33% off. I’ve always been a fan of the urban chic style on Karma Loop and ever since they released their ladies-only website Miss KL, I have been lusting for their amazing collection of clothing and accessories. Since everything is usually too pricey for me, I jumped at my chance to order while the promotion was still available. ;)

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The Bangle Set, $22.00 $8.54 // The More Action Necklace, $20.00 $8.54

I’ve finally accepted that gold and bronze jewelry compliment my skin tone better than silver. (About time, huh?) And since I already have slim wrists, I figured that these thin bangles would make them look even daintier. Shortly after opening my package, though, I found they were a little loose around my wrists. It’s not too inconvenient, but I can always wear them as armbands like those exotic depictions of Greek Goddesses and Egyptian Queens in older films. ;D

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The bullet necklace was exactly what I had been expecting, but I was surprised that the chain can be adjusted into a headband as well! :o Definitely need to try that out sometime. :P And I was able to score this Betsey Johnson ring for 75% off because there was only one left in stock. I was hoping that “one size fits all” would be accurate in this case, since the band is stretchy. But it’s a tad too loose on my middle finger – not enough to fall off completely, though.

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Betsey Johnson Ring, $45.00 $11.85 // Feather & Lace Headband $8.00 $5.28

I do admit that this headband was purchased purely on a whim because I thought it looked fancy. >.<; Excuse my derp face, but I was a little uncomfortable with how stiff the lace on the headband is. I suppose it helps keep the shape, but since it hangs down onto my face a bit, I find it a little itchy. Nonetheless, it’s an excellent accessory to spice up an otherwise plain outfit. It reminds me of femme fatale inspired fashion, you know? I actually plan to wear it to a rave this upcoming weekend, if I can put together a killer outfit to match! :D

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Next up.. some of you already know from my previous posts that I’m a sucker for sexy lingerie – especially when it can double purpose as a cute top underneath a cardigan or blazer. I tend to only purchase pieces with underwire, since my figure isn’t very cooperative with flimsier styles like babydolls. Appropriately, while I was adding this bustier to my shopping bag, these tights showed up in the “Recommended For You” sidebar and it was love at first sight. :3

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Vintage Mix Bustier, $34.00 $13.17 // Black Chain Tights, $14.00 $9.24

I ordered the bustier in Medium, and it fits like a glove. My favorite part about it? It has amazing push-up abilities. I swear my cleavage looked a whole cup size larger! >.<; There are several rows of tiny hook-and-eye clasps running up the back like a corset to adjust the sizing, and the fabric is actually more vivid and less sheer than suggested in the photo. It doesn’t feel cheap at all, and the garters are removable. :D

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No photoshop, I swear. I think I’m actually getting more toned? :o

As for the tights, they’re a bit inconvenient to pull on because you need to be careful not to accidentally poke holes through the sheer part of them. The opaque part of the tights are actually really thick and feel like leggings. I think it’s cute that it looks looks like you’ve layered thigh-highs over the stockings. Additionally, the chain-garter illusion and ribbons are a nice touch. :P

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The Black Deck, $10.00 $6.60 // Tokidoki Polpettina Vinyl Toy, $12.00 $5.25

And just because I’m a spontaneous online shopper, I bought my boyfriend the coolest pack of cards. We often find ourselves at a friend’s house wanting to play Crazy Eights but can never find a deck, so at least we’ll be prepared next time. XD Lastly, I thought this tokidoki vinyl toy would make a great addition to the others that I’ve received as presents from friends. :)

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Overall, I’m impressed with how fast Miss KL ships. My package arrived in only four business days after placing the order, and all items were true to the photos on the website. I would definitely recommend shopping here if it’s your kind of style, but only when they’re having sales like this one. Until next time! ^.^
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SABRINA by Dr. Martens

It’s no secret that I’m a bargain hunter. I’m really not the type to spend over $20 on a pair of flats/sandals, or more than $40 on a pair of heels/boots. But a few weeks ago, I discovered a sale on a pair of black lace-up cutout wedge booties by Dr. Martens that was too good to pass up. Originally retailing for $120, the SABRINA model was limited in sizing and was a steal for only $60. <3

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Every fashion-forward individual should already be familiar with Doc Martens and their reputation for quality leather footwear. (They’ve been around forever, after all.) Which is why I think these shoes were a great investment. Doc Martens are known to endure all kinds of weather, and thus be able to last many years. But what makes them different?

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For one, the rubber soles are much thicker than the average shoe, so they cushion and absorb the shock of every footstep. They don’t crack like cheaper imitators, either. Second, the soles are cemented instead of glued – making it highly unlikely for them to separate from the upper. Third, their leather is the real deal. Unlike fake leather, it doesn’t scratch as easily or create permanent wrinkles after the first few wears. And although a bit stiff at first, especially in colder weather, the material molds to the unique shape of your foot after some time. :)

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Like my style? Hype it on Lookbook! ~ Grown Man Cry

To be honest, I can easily see these becoming my favorite booties because they’re so comfortable and versatile. I especially love the peep-toe and heel cutout because it gives your outfit a little modern edge. And the wedges aren’t all that tall, making it a breeze to walk or dance. Believe me, I would know! I wore them on a date to Dave & Buster’s this past weekend, and had no trouble playing Dance Dance Revolution after a few drinks. ;D Until next time! ^.^
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Iron Fist Clothing

If you’ve ever stepped into a Hot Topic or other alternative fashion store lately, I’m sure you’ve seen a pair of Iron Fist shoes being displayed for sale. They’re pretty hard to miss, as they often feature punk-inspired print and details. Although a lot of them are too loud for me to wear regularly, many of them have just the right amount of feminine edge for my taste. But what I love most about this brand is how fearless and unique each piece is.

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Iron Fist also carries a lot of clothing and accessories, but to be honest I would never purchase them. Their footwear more than makes up for it, though. I was literally scrolling through dozens of pages on Punk.com trying to make up my mind on which pair to get! >.<; Eventually, I decided on their Santeria peep-toe platform pumps – a wonderful black/green/pink floral print that simultaneously reminds me of Kat Von D tattoos and Dia de los Muertos. The lowest price I could find was being offered on Amazon (yay, free shipping!) by Newbury Comics. Surprisingly, it arrived in only three business days. :D

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And you know what? THEY LOOK SO MUCH BETTER IN REAL LIFE. The photos on the website don’t do them justice – the colors are actually much more vivid, and the print looks sharper. The only detail that I would have preferred was if the straps at the front were made of patent material instead of matte elastic.

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And the fit? Since they don’t come in half sizes, I ordered these in a 5. They’re a bit snug, but comfortable to walk in, given the height of the heels. I’m still in the process of breaking them in, but I can’t wait to flaunt these at parties. ;)

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Like my style? Hype it on Lookbook! ~ What You Want

During a quick photoshoot with my boyfriend outside my local church, I paired these lovely shoes with a casual outfit – we were going to a few bars later that night, so I didn’t want to show up overdressed. :P But I feel like the studs on my purse and collar really complete the whole “bad girl” look. ;D What do you guys think, would you rock a pair of Iron Fist heels?

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Play Lounge

Happy New Year! :) My boyfriend and I were able to celebrate the countdown to 2013 at Play Lounge in Elmhurst with our favorite couple, Kristiana and Jonathan. <3 She found this amazing VIP package on Yelp. ;) I don’t know about you, but I can never pass up an open bar – especially at the price of only $25. We made online reservations the night before, just to make sure we were guaranteed the tickets. :P

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Located right on Queens Boulevard, this place is impossible to miss with its lime green exterior. Immediately after walking inside, I was already impressed by the vibe of the décor – blacklights, gold bead curtains, and leather couches. A very upscale feel without the upscale price. There’s a mandatory coat check, too. Which we didn’t mind at all, since it only costed $3. (I’ve been to venues that have charged as much as $10.) And the dress code is pretty standard as far as club casual goes: no sweatpants, sneakers, or hoodies.

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What really perplexed me was the fact that only two bartenders were working that night. I mean, if you’re going to throw a New Year’s Eve bash and expect a huge turnout, prepare to provide the necessary service to meet the demand. Fortunately, we arrived early and were able to score our first four rounds with no problem. But after 10pm, it was madhouse. There were at least sixty people crowding the bar by then.

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Another bonus to arriving early is that you can bowl without a long wait. Since there are only three bowling lanes, I can imagine how in-demand it must get later in the evening. The setup is quite nice, but I was a bit concerned after a waitress failed to check on us during our entire game. All we wanted to do was order dinner and a few more drinks. :/ Little did we know how terrible the service would continue to be throughout the night.

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We decided to relocate ourselves to the sitting area near the pool and ping pong tables and find someone to take our order. Long story short, it took about two hours for them to get our food to us. Ridiculous and unacceptable. D:< This place was severely understaffed and disorganized. The waitresses kept “losing our order”, and it was only after chasing around several employees that we were able to track down and speak to the manager. He made sure we were promptly served, and even gave us a huge discount. After everything was settled, we were still a bit upset, but everything was a lot more enjoyable.

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The music they played was mostly Top 40’s and although there wasn’t an official dance floor, we got down to it anyway in the open lounge area by the DJ. And when midnight came around, everyone was able to watch the ball drop in Times Square on the television screens that lined the walls. As per tradition, you’re supposed to give that special someone a little lovin’. ;D

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Despite our poor experience with the service at Play Lounge, I’m sure it was just management underestimating the volume of people that would show up that night. The fact that this place is so unique almost fully redeems our terrible waitresses. And to be honest, we still had a great time regardless. :P If you want to read more of my reviews, check out my Yelp account! ^.^
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Trend Alert: Gold Sequin Dresses

I’ve been so busy trying to get myself situated with my new job at the hospital, that I was neglectful to wish you all a Merry Belated Christmas! I spent the 24th, 25th, and 26th with family and food – what about you? :)

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Although I’m too old to still be receiving gifts from my parents every year, I’m so grateful that they still do. :) Knowing that I’ve always wanted to explore the realm of loose leaf teas, I opened a package on Christmas morning that included: a Sophie Conran teapot, a wire mesh tea strainer, a 4 oz. tin of Genmaicha (my favorite Japanese tea), 20 satchets of Peppermint Herbal, and flavor samples from Harney & Sons. :D

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And to celebrate my new salary, I also bought myself a little gift. ;) Working girls deserve nice purses, so I didn’t hesitate at all when I found this Betsey Johnson satchel at Burlington Coat Factory. Even though the retail price was around $110, I was able to score it for only $50. The color reminds me of plum wine, and the juxtaposition of studs and ruffles was practically screaming my name. :P Since I found it hidden on a shelf under a pile of ugly bags, I can only assume another shopper was going to come back for it. Sorry! >.<;

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I’ve also decided to buy the new iPhone 5, along with this adorable tokidoki case from GelaSkins, in the upcoming week. Because I’m diagnosed with hyperhidrosis of the hands, the responsiveness of my current phone’s touch screen has been getting worse and worse. In comparison, my iPod touch is still in perfect shape. I can only assume the technology behind Apple’s touch screens are more suited to people with a condition like mine. :< I’m excited to finally join the ranks of iPhone users, though.

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Anyway, on to the real content of my post – gold sequin dresses. When done right, they exude glitz and glamour. And with New Year’s Eve being tomorrow night, it’s no wonder that this trend has been a huge hit lately. In this case, spending the extra money for quality counts. You wouldn’t believe how many sequined items of clothing I’ve tried on over the past few months, only to have some of the details fall off in the dressing room. :(  The two dresses pictured above are from PacSun, and the two pictured below are from ASOS.

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If you have a special event coming up, and are willing to splurge on looking like a diva for the night, you will definitely turn heads with a gold sequin dress. Personally, I can think of many more worthwhile things I can spend $100 on, so I’m waiting for one of these to go on sale so I can hopefully have one in my closet by the next time someone invites me to something fancy. ;)

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Speaking of gold, my boyfriend’s mother gave me the most beautiful shade of Clinique Long Last Soft Shine lipstick that contains finely milled gold shimmer. :) Appropriately named All Heart, it’s a warm rose shade. Although my camera shouldn’t capture the tiny gold flecks, it has a subtle sparkle in the sunlight. A perfect match for my New Year’s Eve outfit. ;) The best part? It moisturizes like a tinted lip balm without the sheerness of one! I’ll definitely consider buying another tube in a different shade when I run out. Until next time! ^.^

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