• By: Alexandra Hunt

Ask Alex: What’s Hot for the New Year

What’s hot for the New Year? Alex shares her expert style advice and tips on how to create a new and improved you for 2011.

Q. Alex, I’m looking for a spa that I can take my husband to that offers male-specific services. Are there any spas in Ottawa that cater to men but accept women as well?

A. I am a firm believer in taking some personal ‘you’ time to de-stress and rejuvenate your mind and body. I recently came across Bode Spa, located in a discreet building,which has a plethora of services addressing the particular needs of men — from skin care analysis, learning the proper technique to shave, or enjoying a deep tissue massage. I was particularly impressed with the masculine design of the spa and the thoughtfully laid out waiting room and service rooms. Appointments are booked so they don’t overlap (for those who want to keep their spa services a secret). Each client is ensured privacy. Women are welcome to join their partner for couples’ services.

Another option in the Ottawa region is my favourite spa, Le Nordik, in Old Chelsea.A lot of us have a strict schedule and find it difficult to arrange some ‘me’ or ‘us’ time. Le Nordik is open all week with extended hours that allow you to sneak off with your partner post-work to enjoy the Swedish baths.With no appointment necessary, you can show up last minute with some girlfriends on the weekend for a spa day. Le Nordik caters to both men and women and offers a variety of body treatments that, when mixed with the baths, will put you in a Zen state for weeks to come. If you get hungry during your visit, the dining room features a table d’hôte menu to satisfy even the most discerning palates. You’ll be put at ease by the casual dress code that encourages guests to show up in a robe. This makes it easier to return to your services post-meal. Le Nordik is spacious and provides quiet areas across the site for total relaxation. My favourite spots include the heated fireplace rooms for reading, the sauna and eucalyptus steam rooms.This year I made a NewYear’s resolution that I plan to keep.I am going to spend more time at Le Nordik Spa!

Q. I’ve been building my wardrobe to reflect a sophisticated and business savvy woman, but I’ve noticed that my closet has started to become a bit dull. What trendy pieces can I incorporate into my wardrobe and wear out on the town with some girlfriends while staying warm?

A. It’s your time to sparkle! This season’s biggest trend can be worn in a variety of ways and can be used as a substitute for accessories. Sequins are the perfect way to add a bit of glitz to your wardrobe and offer just enough pizzazz to wake up a muted day ensemble.Wear a sequin dress in the evening with a bright red lip to stand out or slip on a sequin headband to take your work ensemble from day to night. This casual gold sequin sweater is warm and stylish and should be paired with jeans and heels for drinks.

Q. I’m in my mid-thirties and have noticed that I’m starting to get some fine lines around my eyes and on my forehead. There are so many creams to choose from and I’m overwhelmed by the options. Have you tried anything that you’d recommend?

A. The biggest threat to our skin is the sun. Even during the overcast months when it seems like there isn’t any sun in Ottawa it is still important to use an SPF.These are the top three creams that I’ve found to combat fine lines, discoloration and dehydrated skin. Origins Brighter by Nature is a skin tone correcting moisturizer and offers an added SPF 35 to protect your skin from future damage. Clarins Brightening Smoothing Serum instantly refines the texture of the skin and works perfectly with makeup. The most innovative product on the market is Clinique’s Repairwear Laser Focus wrinkle and UV damage corrector. I love the lightweight oil-free texture which deeply penetrates to revitalize the skin.