June 6, 2018

R.I.P. Kate Spade

The news came unexpectedly -- not because of timing, but because suicide was not something I ever imagined would befall fashion designer Kate Spade.

I had admired her namesake label since my early days of following fashion. Her vibrant, feminine designs dripped with sunny optimism. She became the go-to designer for women who wanted punchy, youthful handbags. Although Spade sold her company in 2006, her legacy remained with the brand and up to this day, Kate Spade continues to invoke childish glee in shoppers with fun, adorable accessories. Standing its ground against the industry's haughty exterior to declare a smile as the greatest accessory of all, Kate Spade truly is the candy of fashion.

So never did I expect Spade to have harboured such deep suffering. She is now the third prolific designer to have committed suicide in the past decade, following L'Wren Scott and Alexander McQueen. In a sense of renewed urgency, what Spade kept hidden has now shed light on the shadows of depression and mental health.

To the woman who spread happiness to others through her creations, may you R.I.P.

Image Source: Hello

June 2, 2018

An Ode to Fashion

I greet you in the morning. You stay with me throughout the day.
You let a part of me go in the evening, but I stay to wish you goodnight.

I am punk. I am classic.
I am glamorous. I am conservative.
I am minimal. I am decadent.
I am feminine, androgynous, and masculine.

I am unique.

You use me to express your moments of greatest elation.
I help you express your moments of deepest grief.
Whether to hide, or to highlight, I change when you change.

I am a tabula rasa, for the young mind, or the old soul.
I am a woman. I am a man. I am neither.
I know no boundaries, for my love reaches all.

I was there during your first kiss. I was there during your final goodbye.
I will be there for you, always.

I am extravagant, but essential.
I am ephemeral, yet everlasting.
I am anything and everything you want me to be.

I am you. I am fashion.

Image Source: Modern Mrs. Darcy

May 18, 2018

You know you're a fashion lover when...

I took a trip down memory lane and unearthed a post I had written six years ago titled "You know you're a fashion lover when...", listing the many kooky ways I was a devoted fashion junkie. Looking back, I realize how enjoyable posts like that were. The response I got from people who were able to laugh and relate to my humorous real talk made me feel like I developed, even if for a brief moment, a connection with my readers (my post on The Language of Arm Candy also comes to mind as having garnered a similar reaction).

Now that I don't blog as frequently, I try to make up for it by posting heavy hitters. Analytical, comprehensive and thoughtful. Although those type of posts have also been among my most well-received (eg. Boy Meets GirlFix Me, PleaseI Am Not Fashionable), I want to come at you today with something more lighthearted. I always say fashion should be fun -- let me not be the first person to forget that!

So, how do you know you're a fashion lover? Well, let me tell you.

*By the way, I'd like to note that since the first installment of this series, I have acquired another six years of existence under my belt, thus making me all the more qualified to speak to this matter. As usual, these are based on my own life experiences (with some inspired by you, my readers!).


1) ...instead of buying lunch, you ignore your empty stomach and buy a copy of Vogue. At least you've got the latest issue.
                                                                                           - inspired by FashionGeek
































2) ...it takes you an entire year to find the perfect pair of black jeans.



3) ...you abhor a casual dress code at work because you actually love the opportunity to turn it up everyday.


4) ...you look at a pair of raggedy pajama pants and wonder, "How can I style that?"



5) ...there doesn't seem to be anyone looking, so you do a quick runway strut down the hallway.
                                                                                                   - inspired by Claire



6) ...your boyfriend has a picture of you as his wallpaper, and you have a picture of shoes as yours.



7) ..."Tell us about yourself" during ice breakers is a chance for you to talk about fashion.




8) ...you actually expend mental energy memorizing the name of Calvin Klein's new 205W39NYC line.























9) ...the first thing you do after accidentally stepping on someone's foot is check for damage on your shoes.



10) ...you've been blogging about fashion to the vast abyss of cyberspace since 2010 :)


Image Source: Pinterest, LiveAbout, Pinterest, WorkkpartyHeileven, Shutterstock, Business Wire, Pinterest

April 8, 2018

Who Wears the Pants?

Clearly, I do. And apparently, I need shoes to complete the look.

I'll be honest with you, I've been shopping a lot lately. Actually, not just shopping - I've been buying. Those closest to me know I may be a so-called fashionista, but I am certainly not a shopaholic. Thankfully, my recent purchases have been limited to pants and shoes, both of which are items in my wardrobe I can confidently say needed a refresh. I'm still wearing things I bought around 4-6 years ago, so yes, I think I can justify a few purchases. Besides, I've noticed considerable discounts popping up in the retail market lately. Now is the time to buy. And in my case, stock up for at least the next 4 years.

So brace yourselves. Here is what I bought:


PANTS

The Gap 1969 True Skinny Jeans


The Gap has been having some incredible sales lately. My parents bought me this pair of burgundy jeans for only $10. While you can't see in this photo, the jeans come with a bright gold button and hardware, which I think complement the tone of the pants. I liked that these weren't Crayola red, and instead were deepened to a more sophisticated shade. As soon as I tried the jeans on, I knew I would be keeping them. I've finally found my denim soulmate in The Gap's True Skinny line (which has served me well in the past) - the cut fits me like a charm.


The Gap Favorite Leggings


Before I get started on these pants, let me say upfront I actually ended up returning them the next day. I was initially seduced by the $14 price tag and the prospect of being among the trendy ripped jeans crowd. I thought if I was to buy jeans that are intentionally torn, then they might as well be cheap and done in a more unique colour. The one lacking feature that made me go straight back to the store the next day with receipt in hand, however, was the fit. Although my legs did look great in a Size 25, the rip on the left leg gave the pants away as being too tight. The threads along the rip were pulled taut against my knee, making it look like a sausage wrapped in twine. I tried moving up to a Size 26, but then the jeans looked oddly roomy around my knees. So because of the particular way these jeans are cut (literally), I ended up floating in limbo between two sizes. Without having achieved perfection, I decided to give these pants up completely.


Old Navy Pixie Pants


After the slight let-down with the ripped jeans (only slight because I don't settle for less than perfection when it comes to pants nowadays), I uncovered gold. The thing is, I uncovered it in a very unexpected store: Old Navy. Ever since my junior high days, I have not seriously set foot in Old Navy. I had labelled it as a place with suburban style and poorly made wares. Yet forced into the store by my mom who wanted to look at a shirt, I came across this pair of shiny gold, brocade-printed pants for $8. Eight. Dollars. I briefly wondered if these pants would be too outré for the workplace, but heck, when was I ever one to balk at being bold? My goal is to get a reaction out of people, and sure enough, the first time I wore them out, I got attention. One memorable instance was when my coworker stopped me to ask if she could feel my pants. She thought they were made of silk from a luxury brand, possibly Louis Vuitton or Gucci. Oh boy. I was incredibly flattered and got an extra kick out of telling her they were $8 pants from Old Navy. Even if the gold print rubs off (though I've already committed to hand washing), these pants are worth it just for the fun.


SHOES

I consider ankles one of the most fashionable erogenous zones, and as you will see, I went a little crazy with that notion. I've always thought my two bony joints were too skinny in proportion to the rest of my legs, which led me to feel comforted by ankle straps and their ability to create the illusion of more bulk. However, my closet contained not a single ankle strap, so when it came time to revamp my footwear, I was pretty dead set on getting strapped in.

Also, don't forget: pointed toealways.

Town Shoes Brooke T-Strap Flats
Four years ago, I finally bought a pair of black flats from Town Shoes for work. At the time, I had splurged $120 on them (a total act of desperation) so I could dress appropriately in the office. Now after four years of wearing those flats almost daily to work, at business functions, and casually on the weekends, they were barely holding up. I had a hole in the left sole, and the leather was worn and torn from confrontations with the rough pavement and days when rain unexpectedly poured from the sky. I once again found myself with a pressing need for black flats.

I knew I wanted either d'Orsay cutouts or ankle straps - or better yet, a pair with both. I browsed shoe stores multiple times a week looking for an affordable pair of genuine leather flats, and was about to start stressing out when I spotted this pair of t-strap flats in a Town Shoes outlet. Never have I considered getting t-strap flats in my life (although I realize now Valentino Rockstud cage flats are technically t-straps) and I was concerned they wouldn't look professional, but at a nicely discounted price of $38, I had to snag the last pair while I still could. Once I tried them on at home with some business pants, I was sold. I like the additional straps criss-crossing across the toes, the gold buckle, and of course, the beautifully pointed toe. Sure, there were some loose threads along the strap, but that was easily resolved with a snip of scissors. With the foot secured underneath the straps and not much else to scratch against my skin, these are actually wonderfully comfortable. Plus, d'Orsay flats come with the added benefit of lasting longer because they don't get bent as much when I walk. Score!


Coach Jameson Ankle Strap Flats



The thing with having bought the t-strap flats is it happened during a promotion Town Shoes was running: I was given a gift card for $20 off my next purchase. That's a decent amount to get off a pair of shoes, especially on one that is already discounted. You win, Town Shoes. You got me to buy another pair of shoes.

I went to Town Shoes multiple times a week again to find something worth using my gift card on, and was about to reach the expiry date on the card when I decided to revisit the outlet store. Okay, I get the appeal of outlet stores now. I've always thought they were dingy warehouses of B-stock clothing, but they actually do carry some current styles at cheaper prices compared to the regular stores. I came across this pair of Coach flats that had both d'Orsay cutouts and an ankle strap! I had actually seen these shoes advertised online a week ago and had thought they looked nice. It was fate I would meet them in real life. They aren't anything particularly special; even with the silver pebbled leather toe, it's a fairly conservative shoe. But I think these are bang on for work, and with all the discounts piled on, I ended up only paying $58 for them. Although there is more toe cleavage than I am accustomed to, the flats are clearly well-made and I appreciate the charm hanging from the ankle strap. Not a bad purchase considering these retailed for over $200.


ALDO Wiliwiel


Now this right here is a true success story. Last year, I fell for a pair of Zusien shoes from Aldo. I never ended up buying them, but shortly after, Aldo came out with a variation of the Zusien: the Wiliwiel. With a spattering of pearl-like embellishment on the heel, the Wiliwiel turned it up another notch on uptown style. However, having said that, I knew this shoe was of poorer quality: it was made of microfibre suede, had an unfinished seam on the end of the ankle strap, and already showed some discolouring on the embellishment. Despite being comfortable and classy, they were definitely not worth $70. I stopped monitoring the Wiliwiel for the next few months, until one day I noticed them on the sale rack for $35. By that time, the black version was no longer in stock - only the fuchsia and red were left. Since I didn't consider those colours to be as versatile, I decided to really push my luck and wait until they went below $30.

So I waited. And waited. And waited.

Until my mom ultimately convinced me to just buy them. I was disappointed at myself for breaking my discipline, but I made the trip out to an Aldo outlet one day to finally bite the bullet. I was already lucky enough they still had the fuchsia in my size, but then the sales associate rung up the shoes at the till and it came to...$18. What?! I got lucky after all. I had waited just long enough for the Wiliwiel to end up on the clearance rack. Cheapest pair of shoes I've ever bought! Yes, they're also not the highest quality pair shoes I've ever bought, but I think they look more expensive than they actually are. I'm so happy I now own shoes with a bit of a heel, and can't wait to highlight them come warmer weather with an all-black or all-white outfit.


Franco Sarto Brandy Booties



Tired of ankle straps yet? Here's an ankle boot for a change of pace. I purchased my go-to pair of ankle boots eons ago in high school, so I had been low-key on the look out for something to replace them. I decided I wanted a pair of cognac leather Chelsea boots after seeing how sleek they looked, but I had not yet found the perfect pair. What I didn't expect was my mom would beat me to it. In her own search for shoes, she found a pair of brown suede Franco Sarto ankle boots for $40. The defining feature is a silver chain sewn into the welt of the shoe. Although these boots aren't 100% my style - I wasn't fully keen on the button at the back and was hoping for a more traditional Chelsea boot in leather - I certainly don't mind sharing these with my mom. She is half a size bigger than me, but these boots fit great once I put my orthopedic insoles in. Well, that was easy. Guess my hunt for a pair of ankle boots is over!


CONCLUSION

I'm done shopping. I think. For now. I mean, I do kind of want some knee-high boots though...

Image Source: The GapOld NavyTown Shoes, The Style Spy, Aldo, Franco Sarto

March 17, 2018

Fifth Harmony

When Hudson's Bay announced in 2013 it would acquire Saks Fifth Avenue, I waited ever so patiently for the American luxury department store to one day open a location in my city. That day finally arrived a few weeks ago, when Saks set up shop and opened its doors in square footage formerly belonging to Target (whose shameful expansion failure will remain talked about in business schools for years to come).

I believe I had once visited a Saks when I travelled to Seattle, but don't recall much of the experience. However, I had an inkling Saks would be on par with Nordstrom, so I was curious to see how it would differentiate itself from its competitor who is - literally - just down the hall.


After checking out the store on the day of its grand opening, I see I was slightly off in my prediction. Saks actually falls between Nordstrom and Holt Renfrew: it is more high-end than Nordstrom, but not nearly as luxurious as Holts.

As I've mentioned in the past, Nordstrom is a mix of mid-to-high end wares. Although such a product mix can make it a more approachable department store, it does unfortunately weaken its air of luxury. Saks, on the other hand, focuses solely on high-end designers. Its handbag section is fairly rounded, carrying major names like Chloé, Alexander McQueen, Valentino, Loewes, Dolce & Gabbana, Givenchy, Saint Laurent, and Alexander Wang.


Its shoe section I found to be most interesting, though perhaps not in the best way. Besides being small in comparison to every other department, I found it lacking in variety. There were a lot of unique and quirky products I had not seen elsewhere - but that was it. It seemed almost like a museum of shoes. There were no classic styles or luxury brands to ground the footwear department, making it unlikely I will ever go to Saks for serious shoe shopping.


In spite of that, I was impressed with how Saks houses an apothecary, a Tom Ford beauty boutique (which I had never seen before), and private shopping suites. Walking into the store, I also approved of the glimmering and shiny interior décor, which truthfully outshines that of Nordstrom. My only critique of décor would be the jewellery section. With its orderly rows of glass jewellery cases, it looked surprisingly commercial and plain compared to the rest of the store.


In the clothing department was where Saks lower rank beneath Holt Renfrew was most apparent. Even though Saks carries high-end brands, it doesn't carry luxury clothing. All of its womenswear was from contemporary labels - which isn't a bad thing as many of those labels are one-of-a-kind in the city, but any feeling of granduer was certainly dampened. Nonetheless, the standout item for me that day was a light pink, beaded leather jacket from Elie Tahari.


As an overall shopping experience, I was pleased with the customer service. Granted I did attend the grand opening so I may have received particularly keen service that day, but I was greeted multiple times by sales associates who simply wanted to ensure I was enjoying my time and felt entirely welcomed to browse. I was not pressured to buy at any point.

One final, funny thing I would like to point out is I noticed every entrance was flanked by a security guard. I understand the value of the merchandise inside and I realize other stores do the same, though I found it amusingly jarring to see darkly uniformed guards standing among such elegant surroundings.

Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Holt Renfrew are like the Venn diagram of high-end retail in my city right now. They undeniably have overlapping offerings which will challenge all of them to be more competitive, but I think each has also carved out enough of their own market to co-exist in relative harmony.

Image Source: Retail Insider

January 14, 2018

Product Review: Eva Leather

For me, wallets have always been an item of functionality. A disgraceful thing for a fashion fanatic to admit, but as long as a wallet can hold cards and keep cash, I will use it. As a kid, I started off with a horrendous fabric, velcro holder. Years later, I moved on to a red, faux-leather portefeuille with quality so poor it was painfully obvious in the loose seams, glued-on pieces, and scratched hardware. Nowadays, I carry a more sophisticated wallet with a subtle checkered pattern and brown piping. Yet despite having "upgraded" since my childhood, every wallet I have ever owned has been gifted to me, so I have never really used one that speaks to my own sense of style.

Therefore, when I was given the opportunity to review some wallets from Eva Leather, I wandered into a new, unexplored territory of wallet shopping.

Eva Leather is an online shop offering genuine leather handbags, wallets and belts at wholesale prices. I ended up receiving two wallets: Rosaire Huguette, and Rosaire Catherine.

Rosaire Huguette



Rosaire Huguette is a larger wallet (approximately the size of a small purse) that stood out to me because of its functionality and clean, silver hardware clasp. As someone who prefers smooth leather, I selected a light blue shade from all the colour options thinking it would soften the texture of the pebbled leather - and it does! The interior comes with ample room to fit numerous cards, cash, receipts, and even a phone.



What I like about this wallet first and foremost is the number of different compartments. It comes with a back pocket, an inner pocket, a zippered pouch, and even additional card holders along the front. The Huguette will do a fantastic job of holding everything I need it to hold. However, at the size of a small purse, this wallet is much larger than what I am accustomed to. I would have liked to see it in a smaller size, because I think even if it were to be shrunken down on all sides, its usefulness would still be retained.

The silver hardware adds a polished touch to the Huguette, and I appreciate the chic use of a lock as a zipper pull on the interior pouch. Unfortunately, as you can see in the photo, the inner zipper will rub against the leather flap above it. I'm afraid that is an unavoidable side effect of the design, though I acknowledge Eva Leather did add cardboard separators in the wallet before shipping to help prevent scratching. Another comment I have is regarding the silver clasp in the front. Although it is very elegant in design, the middle portion simply snaps shut. I imagine a lot of future wear and tear on the clasp, and would suggest a magnetic closure instead.

Overall, I am impressed with the softness of the leather and how the compartments are designed to offer a lot of functionality. My mom tends to use larger wallets, so this will actually be perfect for her!


Rosaire Catherine

Although Rosaire Catherine was sent to me by surprise as an additional item, I am pleasantly pleased with it. This wallet is smaller in size and more understated in its silver hardware. Like the Huguette, the leather is soft and comes in a feminine light blue colour.

The interior offers pretty much all the functionality I would need. A couple more card slots and a clear panel to put my bus pass in would have been appreciated, but I am still very happy with the compartments provided. The size is perfect, and I adore the leather strap closure. Because it feeds so smoothly through the elegant clasp, opening and closing the wallet becomes a deliciously gratifying act. I will definitely make good use of this wallet, and look forward to using it with my more refined outfits.

Many thanks to Eva Leather for giving me the opportunity to review their wallets. Ironically, although I tried picking out something to suit my personal style, sometimes the best things come as a surprise.
~~~

Wallets courtesy of Eva Leather in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

December 24, 2017

Thighs Don't Lie

I know I vowed not to buy any more clothes, but I never specifically said I wouldn't buy any more shoes. C'mon. A girl, especially me, can never have too many shoes.

The thing about shoes is...I always seem to need another pair. I need variety. With boots alone, I need winter boots, rain boots, combat boots, ankle boots, knee-high boots, thigh-high boots, suede, leather, high heel, low heel, etc... When is enough, enough? Honestly, never.


Speaking of thigh-high boots, that was exactly what I had needed in my shoe collection. Thigh-highs have become trendy over the past year, but as much as I had liked the look, I couldn't find a pair that truly spoke to me. And you know me; I wasn't keen on being just another girl with typical plain black suede thigh-highs.

So I held off on buying anything until the right one came along (note: also good advice when looking for a man).

One day, on an impromptu amble through Winners, I came face-to-face with a pair of Catherine Catherine Malandrino Glitzy Glitter Over-the-Knee Block Heel Boots:

I promptly snatched them off the rack and knew instantly I was in trouble - because I had a bubbling hunch I was going to end up walking straight to the cashier with them in hand. The gold glitter heel made my eyes sparkle with lust, and when I tried the boots on, I felt the sensual power of thigh-highs coursing through my veins. A passing salesperson stopped to compliment the boots, and mentioned how they seemed to fit my thighs very well. She was right - they did fit nice and snug.

My heart was telling me to get the boots, but my mind still walked through some logic.

First of all, the boots were $60. To determine whether that price tag was justified, I inspected the quality. Although the suede-like upper was incredibly smooth, it appeared to be synthetic. Some glitter specks had already begun to shed, and the fact they were Catherine Catherine Malandrino also tipped me off the craftsmanship may be lacking. Moreover, I noticed the toe box curved upwards quite a bit, which has always been a sign of poor quality to me. The curved toe box not only made the boots uncomfortable, it exposed the tan sole underneath in an unflattering manner.
In terms of quality, these were definitely not up to par with my usual standard for shoes; however, I did consider the glitter heels to be a dazzlingly unique touch, so I threw in the towel and bought the boots.

I didn't wear them right away, though. I kept the tags on until Black Friday a week later, when the boots went down to $46. Score! At that price, I was more willing to keep the boots as an experimental and fun purchase. I figure if the glitter does eventually fall off, I can easily replace it with glitter from the crafts store. I just couldn't bring myself to return these shoes. They had such a sexy and feminine allure even my own mother said she prefers I wear it with some skin peeking through. In this special instance, being able to check off 'thigh-high boots' from my wishlist of shoes is worth any ultimate shortfall in quality. 

Image Source: Nordstrom Rack, Just The Design