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Packing List: Italy

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Next week, I’m making my first-ever (and long-overdue) trip to Italy. (Squee!) My boyfriend and I are starting in Lake Como and then working our way through Cinque Terre, Tuscany, and Rome. I’ll be honest: I’m most excited about the food. That’s not to say I don’t want to wander the piazzas, explore the Tuscan hill towns, and wonder at the Sistine Chapel—I’m just planning to bracket all those delightful things with many quartinos of Montepulciano and cones of gelato. Here are some of the essentials I’m bringing with me:

Madewell Transport Tote: This roomy leather bag is tailor-made for travel. It easily fits my laptop, copious amounts of beauty products, magazines, and (of course) many, many plane snacks.

Rodial Dragon’s Blood Hyaluronic Mask: In Tuscany, we’re staying at La Bandita, an absolutely dreamy inn that is owned by my former Condé Nast Traveler colleague Ondine Cohane and her husband John. Ondine only had one request from New York: Rodial’s famed skin-plumping mask.

Number 4 Haircare Styling Foam: I’m a full-on mousse evangelist. I find that it’s the best/easiest/quickest way to give hair a bit of texture and wave. Number 4’s version smells incredible and dries without any tackiness. I scrunch it in and go—no need to blow-dry. 

Atelier Cologne Vetiver: Spoiler alert: We’ve got an awesome gift-with-purchase deal coming up with Atelier Cologne’s travel-size spritzes. Keep an eye out! Me, I’m taking this unisex one on the road.

Inika Mineral Foundation: I recently got a sample of this and liked it so much that I begged our brand team for a second (backup) sample to take with me. The formula is extremely light, dries to a velvet-matte finish, and blends gorgeously. 

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector: While I don’t plan on wearing much makeup, that doesn’t mean I can’t use a wee bit of highlighter over my blush—you know, to prettily reflect all those golden Tuscan rays. Right? 

Karuna Hydrating Treatment MaskBlame it on Birchbox, but over the years the list of things I consider travel “musts” has changed dramatically. After realizing how tough planes and travel are on my skin, I now consider a great exfoliator and a hydrating mask to be core trip essentials. I love sheet masks because they’re single-use—how great to return with less than when you started!

Davines Love Smoothing Conditioner: Can’t leave home without it. That’s all. 

And Sons, David Gilbert: I bought the hardcover of this novel after my friend (and consummate reader) Eimear raved about it. I’m looking forward to unplugging and doing some nondigital reading while I’m away.

Whew! Can’t wait to see you guys in a week!

—Mollie

See what all the buzz is about! #BBBuzz, that is—in our October Teaser video

Wedding-Worthy Hair Pins: Lover.ly

We’ve been planning our dream weddings since we were five years old. So it’s no surprise that we can’t get enough of Lover.ly, a wedding inspiration and e-commerce site that lets you search through pics of swoon-worthy gowns, bouquets, and everything else you need for the big day. Once a week, the ladies behind Lover.ly will be sharing their expert advice for getting through the craziness of the season—whether you’re standing at the altar or enjoying a view of it from the audience.

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(Pussy Willow Hair Pins From BHLDN via Lover.ly)

One of this year’s big trends in wedding hair accessories is elegant hair pins. Dainty hair pins and combs look oh-so-elegant when tucked into romantic braids, curls, and chignons. And though the look is very now, the hair pins themselves have a definite vintage feel; think pearls, jewels, Deco styles, and metallic touches. Here are some of our favorite hair pins for brides.

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4 Destination-Inspired Scents

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Swoonable travel destinations have inspired countless movies (Midnight in Paris, nous adorons), classic books (In Patagonia was one of our first loves), and an endless number of postcards. Hot spots also serve as the inspiration behind some of our favorite fragrances. Whether you’re heading to a hip locale or simply indulging some wanderlust fantasies, spritz on one of these winning fragrances to channel your inner vagabond.   

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Destination: Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy 

On a hike in the mountains of Italy, Atelier Cologne founders Sylvie Ganter and Christopher Cervasel stumbled upon a rare flower known to locals as the Brunello and were immediately entranced by its amber bouquet. After returning home, they were inspired to create a scent that paid homage to their fragrant memory, and Ambre Nue was born. A spritz of this highly concentrated scent will transport you (at least mentally) to a chic Italian ski resort. Buon viaggio!

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Destination: East Hampton, New York

You don’t need a chi-chi summer rental to fit in with the locals—simply tear open Nomaterra’s seaside-inspired Eau de Parfum Fragrance Wipes. Perfect for world travelers and weekend warriors alike, the handy wipes stand up to the jostling of plains, trains, and automobiles. Inspired by founder Agnieszka Burnett’s childhood summer travels, East Hampton pairs bright citrus notes with enigmatic Egyptian jasmine and Indonesian patchouli. 

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Destination: Papeete, Tahiti

Inspired by the South Pacific, niche perfumery Comptoir Sud Pacifique is dedicated to creating sweet scents inspired by exotic beach getaways. One of our faves: Vanille Coco, which pays homage to Tahiti’s lush climes and black sand beaches. The mix seamlessly blends sparkling heliotrope with layers of coconut milk and relaxing Tahitian vanilla—and will have visions of thatched roofs and clear blue water dancing in your head in no time at all. 

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Destination: Los Angeles, California

Juliette Has A Gun’s offbeat Not a Perfume may not be specifically inspired by the City of Angels, but it channels L.A.’s rock-and-roll sensibilities perfectly. This unique blend relies on the single note of cetalox, a synthetic substitute for grey amber. The result is clean and pure, as well as being allergen-free. Makes us want to head for the (Hollywood) Hills.

—Ally

No need to ditch your favorite scent while traveling for fear of spillage and breakage. FLO Fragrance Atomizers make any fragrance portable. 

3 Spring Trends and Fragrances to Add to Your Wardrobe (Now!)

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We approach scents much like we do our wardrobe: mixing, matching, and rotating fragrances throughout the season. Is it any wonder that our favorite fashion looks tend to influence both our outfits and our spritzes? While reporting at the Fall/Winter 2013 shows, we spotted three trends that we can’t wait to add to our closets. And since we’re never ones to selectively shop, here are the fragrances that will be joining our fragrance wardrobe.

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Buh-Bye, Stress: The Trick to Staying Zen During the Holidays

The holiday hustle-bustle will be a breeze this year. (Photo: wearefrends.com/birchbox.com)

A sad truth about the holidays: I am always busier in December than I am at any other time of the year (except maybe fashion week). With all the parties, get togethers and last minute gift-shopping trips, I can barely find more than a few seconds of “me” time to breathe. That’s why I make the most of the time that I do have by turning my apartment into a mini Zen palace. The secret? A relaxation trifecta of aromatherapy, candle light and soothing music. (If I can’t make it to the spa, darn it, I’ll bring the spa to me.)

But here’s the power-up move I’ve been using that really helps me get the most from precious stolen moments: I share these relaxation tips with friends and family, most especially the guys in my life. (Calm friends = calm me). Since most gents I know—hi, big brother!—find constant holiday socializing even more vertigo-inducing than I do, I’ve noticed that teaching them these tricks means I have one less stressor to worry about. Here are the candles, and appropriate music pairings, that I’m using this holiday season to soothe wrecked nerves and melt away stress: 

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