July 14, 2014

Dressing for the Occasion

I feel good.  Just breathing in the moment, and boy, it smells sweet.  For one thing, I'm wearing a new outfit. In fact, these past three months have been filled with wonderful sartorial adventures, thanks to dressing up for the office.  I was too lazy to take a photo of my outfit today, but use your pretty imaginations: a navy Vince tee with the front tucked loosely into a pair of blue and white floral H&M shorts, a slouchy grey crochet cardigan from Hong Kong, gold snakeskin print Elie Tahari loafers, a maroon snakeskin minibag with gold hardware, and a blue-grey metallic stone necklace.  With an outfit like this, I felt decent enough to hit up Holt Renfrew for an afternoon of shopping.  Here's what I tried on:

Pink Tartan

This dress was in the sales rack, and it was a size 0 - how could I not pick it up.  I adore jacquard detailing, especially when done in sorbet pink, and the fabric had a quality thickness to it.  The bodice fit me wonderfully, but I just didn't have the model-esque figure to pull this off.  The dress landed below my knee (which actually isn't a problem once you have heels on), but the structured A-line slightly overwhelmed my petite frame.  

Needle & Thread

Both my mom and dad ohh-and-ahh-ed over this dress, so I definitely had to give it a whirl. The size 2 bodice fit a bit too snugly around my arms, even though the length was once again past the knee. However, the skirt was less poofy, making the length very chic.  I'm not too fond of the muddy colors, but the floral embroidery was quite pretty.  My parents thought the beading made it wholly worth its $500, and I guess they're right - this is better than any typical $500 prom dress you'd find in BCBG Max Azria.  Obviously I didn't buy it, but I have discovered a new dress label to ohh-and-ahh over.

Miu Miu

I never give up the opportunity to try on a pair of shoes at Holts.  I liked the artful sketch print on the toe of these Miu Miu pumps, although the stark white leather felt somewhat outdated.  The pointed toe added instant glamour to my legs (despite being very painful), but there's something about the shape of these heels that make it "off". I can't pinpoint what it is, but it didn't have the polished contours that a great pair of pumps should have.

P.S.: Managed to catch Germany's winning FIFA goal on a TV in the menswear floor.  It seems like all greatest looking, most stylish guys work on the Holts menswear floor...I should frequent more often.

June 20, 2014

Once Upon a Dream

I can be logical and realistic, but at the very core of my being, I am a dreamer.  That's probably the reason why the fashion world excites me so much.  No matter how my emotions are tested, no matter how my rational mind tells me to expect and accept the mundane, I still dream of the perfect career and of the life I've always wanted.

I won't let myself stop believing that with patience and hard work, things in life will finally click together, and the dreams I've had all these years will prove themselves to have been visions of the future.

Image source: Lucky Mag

May 21, 2014

Rookie No More

I don't know what made me search her up, but girl, it's been years.  Long time no see, Tavi Gevinson.

Boy, time goes by quickly.  In my mind Tavi will always be the miniature girl who took the fashion world by storm with her youthful (but knowledgeable) prose and her penchant for granny chic at such an early age. Admittedly, I wasn't one of those who had jumped on the Tavi bandwagon.  I looked through her blog and couldn't distinguish that beguiling voice that had readers riveted and high fashion designers ushering her to front row status.  She sounded like exactly what she was: a young girl exploring fashion.  Certainly much of her appeal came from the fact that most girls her age didn't care about Chanel, much less Karl Lagerfeld, but I wouldn't say she was more than just a girl having fun with the way she dressed.  I couldn't see that maturity or worldly insight she apparently had.

But while I was personally not swayed by her words, I was inspired by her life (and also a teensy bit...ok insanely...jealous).  Here was a girl who, years younger than me, was already doing everything I had only begun to work towards.  It was Style Rookie, along with Sea of Shoes and The Sartorialist, that inspired me to start my own blog.  I saw how they created their own community around their passions, and I realized that the freedom of being able to speak my mind was something I was missing in my fashion-obsessed life.  I needed a conduit for ideas that were, at that point, simply broiling over in the solitude of my head (a recipe for madness).  Sure, I jumped on the bandwagon late, but at least I caught its tail-end.

Sadly, blogging has now quickly been replaced with Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter - condensed, visceral, efficient forms of information exchange.  Traditional bloggers may no longer have the prominence they once had, but I will never forget those who inspired me daily by taking the time to spill their hearts and minds into cyberspace.

But anyway, back to Tavi.  The purpose of this post was to congratulate her on...everything, basically.  She's a magazine editor, she sings, she's dappled in acting, she's applying to college, she has a boyfriend, she's exploring life outside of fashion, she has a new style...she's growing up.  From an adorable girl in her granny knits and gray hair, to a young woman with Scarlett Johansson's sultriness, Michelle Williams' self-assuredness, and the Olsen twins' cool.  She's a rookie no more.

Image Source: Photo1, 234

May 10, 2014

How Fashion Saved My Life

After my alarm clock rings in the early hours of the day, I have a consistent routine: brush my teeth, attempt to wipe the sleep from my complexion, and turn on my phone to see what messages I missed.  One morning, I received a text from a friend that was a remnant of a conversation we had earlier.  It asked:

"How is it you put together your outfits the night before?  What if you're in a different mood by the morning?"

Good question.  Something answered by the idea it's not my mood that shapes what I wear, rather, what I wear shapes my mood.

Fashion to me is not some superficial "oh that's pretty!" relationship.  Fashion affects me on a much deeper emotional level.  My senses become hypersensitive to every detail of a piece, and I can almost physically feel a bond being formed between me and that which I love so much.  So it comes to no surprise that my mood is shaped by what I wear, not the other way around.

I've said before that fashion has the fantastic ability to transform.  But then the niggling thought arises: are these costumes actually masks?  Are we slaves to fashion; does it control who we become?  No, because no matter what you wear, you will still be who you are at the core.  What fashion does is bring out different facets of the patchwork that makes up who you are, enabling you to explore each inflection of your personality.  How can I be so certain?  Because I can speak to the notion personally.

Ever since I was a little kid, I was shy.  Almost chronically so, I would say.  The thought of speaking in front of people would cause my heart to beat so ferociously I could practically hear it, bring on waves of cold sweats, and leave my throat so dry my voice was a thin, wavering squeak.  I read in a magazine that being shy is having an acute awareness of yourself and everything around you.  It couldn't be truer.  Who's looking at me?  Am I standing weird?  I bet everyone's looking at my flat nose, pale lips and jutted chin.  Are my glasses slipping too low on my nose? Oh my god, that means I have to bring my hand up to push it back up and everyone will notice and think I'm even dorkier than I already am.

But when I started getting into fashion, something changed.  Yes, as I mentioned in I am Not Fashionable, I was under a lot of pressure to "be fashionable" and find my personal style, but when I got it right, boy, did I get it right.  That feeling when you close your eyes, turn up your music, and ride that flushing base to its peak...that overwhelming out-of-body experience of freedom and release of inhibition...that was how fashion made me feel.  A good outfit gave me confidence like nothing else.  It made me straighten out my spine, throw back my shoulders, hold my head high, and walk with purpose.  Fashion saved me.

Melodramatic, surely, but no less closer to the truth.  Fashion saved me from being that girl who would never believe in herself.  And it wasn't just clothing.  When I discovered fashion, I discovered a passion, a skill, a purpose, and a drive that I had never felt before.  After years of feeling insecure and unsure about what I would do with my life, I finally had a direction - and incredible ambition.  Some would call my goals unrealistic, but I've learned to ignore the naysayers.

In some ways, you do succumb to fashion to an extent.  You take a leap of faith with it, throwing aside your reservations to let fashion guide you out into that scary, wide open space.  But the reward is a confidence that empowers you to conquer your fears.  You could call fashion my crutch, but I like to see it as a loved one cheering me on, wanting nothing else but for me to know I am better than I perceive myself to be.  I am still dreadfully shy in groups more than one or two people, but fashion played its part in helping me embrace my self-worth.  Every morning, I don't dress for my mood, because I put on my outfit knowing it will bring out that part of me who has lofty goals, but who will triumph over each and every one of them, one by one.

Image Source: Photo1, 2, 3

April 26, 2014

I am Not Fashionable

In Shia LaBeouf style, I confess: I am not fashionable.  Despite being so enamoured with fashion, I've never been able to practice what I preach.  Up until this year, no one would've been able to guess I was even remotely interested in fashion.  That nerdy girl?  Please.  But this year, this year is different.  No, I'm not saying I'm fashionable; I'm saying I've finally discovered my personal style.

Sweater: Unknown | Button-up: Kent | Leggings: Gap | Boots: Michael Kors | Handbag: Balenciaga

I am a child of hand-me-downs, even though I have no siblings.  I wore mostly used clothing when I was little, and when I didn't, my mom would often buy clothing a size larger so I could continue wearing them as I grew. To say the least, I was never a fashionable kid. However, ever since I started getting into fashion, I felt the pressure to look the part.  This led to several years of trying to be fashionable and unique, while still trying to find my own style.  The result: painful to look back on.

Blouse: Joe Fresh | Pants: Joe Fresh | Fur vest: Ralph Lauren | Heels: Calvin Klein | Handbag: Unknown

During that transition period, I looked quite a mess.  Wanting to look fashionable, but not quite willing to spend money investing in fashion when I didn't know what my personal style was meant cheap Old Navy clothing (the ultimate in suburban style), Garage leftovers from grade 7 (the ultimate in tween style), and higher quality, brand name clothing from an affluent friend, all mixed together into eclectic (but not very cool) outfits.  I would have designer tees worn under colourful Garage zip-up hoodies, paired with ill-fitting flared jeans, and dirty sneakers.

Top: Alexander Wang | Skirt: Express | Flats: Town Shoes | Handbag: Danier | Necklace: Unknown | Ring: Unknown

Again, feeling the pressure to walk the talk, I pretended as if I knew what my style was.  I pretended as if I could walk into a store and instantly identify that which was worthy of my money.  I really couldn't.  I pretended as if my strange style was sooo me.  It really wasn't. I pretended in desperate hopes I could fit in with that seemingly elusive fashion crowd.

Dress: Topshop | Heels: Prada | Tights: Unknown | Necklace: Unknown | Ring: Unknown

Even up until last year, I didn't feel entirely comfortable in my fashion masquerade.  I was still trying to be someone I wasn't.  In some ways I was making progress towards my personal style, but I couldn't yet bring myself to spend too much on a style I didn't entirely call my own.  I still lived in the shadows of a better, more stylish girl, aspiring and trying so hard to one day grow beyond her shadow and become her.

Tank top: Garage | Lace top: Unknown | Shorts: S.M.D. | Flats: Town Shoes

Finally, this year.  I don't know what clicked.  Maybe it was going back to studying with the same group of classmates everyday that revived my interest in putting together outfits. Maybe it was just an unconscious shift of perspective that gave me a "who the heck cares" attitude.  Maybe it was simply the combination of my affluent friend sufficiently stocking my wardrobe with quality pieces (I'm still that child of hand-me-downs) and my recent shopping spree.  Whatever it was, it opened up my eyes to a whole new world of dressing.  I've become more daring with how I dress; I've gone from thinking "I can't wear that" to "how can I wear this".  I don't care what other people think.  I dress for the pure enjoyment of it.  I wear what I dare to wear.

Top: Le Ciel | Skirt: Grazie | Shoes: Converse

So what is my personal style?  Actually, it's not a style at all.  It's a state of mind.  I've given up trying to look fashionable in order to prove my ability.  My skill comes from my brain, not what pieces of fabric I have draped across my skin.  Am I fashionable?  No, I'm not, and I may never be.  All I know, and care about, is that I'm happy in what I'm wearing.

April 18, 2014

She's Got Game?

From Sports Illustrated  to Vogue.  As a model in both cases, you learn to seduce through the pages - but in different ways.  Kate Upton is the latest model to be touted as having successfully crossed the border from male fantasy to high fashion, consequently exposing the fashion industry to a new body ideal (see: voluptuous). As much as I would like to agree, I'm still skeptical about whether Upton's swimwear allure translates into high fashion appeal.

The first time I saw Upton in an editorial was in Vogue's June 2013 issue.  She was, I'll admit, average. The styling portrayed her as sexy and sophisticated, but it was an editorial I easily moved on from.  Just recently, I encountered her again in Vogue's February 2014 issue, and this time around, I went from being indifferent to being underwhelmed.  Before I proceed, take a look at the photos, which were photographed by Mario Testino for a spread titled "She's Got Game":

In case you jump to conclusions, my skepticism has nothing to do with her body.  I think she has a fantastic va-va-voom figure that both men and women would love to see photographed more often.  What I think she lacks, however, is a seasoned understanding of how to draw a reader in with her face, and a pose that goes beyond the standard hands-on-hips.  Looking at her face in these photos, I see a smile that doesn't quite reach her eyes, and an almost forced expression made all the more obvious by her energetic companions. You can't let a leaping Jimmy Fallon overshadow you, especially when you're a blonde bombshell.  I also couldn't sense any frisson of connection between her and those around her, making the reader feel just as awkward and uncomfortable as she looks in the photos.

It's tough being a model, and I don't want to give up on Upton quite yet.  But in order for me to be convinced she deserves a spot in fashion editorials, she needs to mesmerize me with her eyes, radiate her energy through the pages, and draw me into her snapshot in time of a heightened reality.  I need to desire the clothing she wears.  I need to feel like I want to be her.  I need to feel like she's owning it. 

Image Source: Vogue.com

April 14, 2014

This Is the End

What a year.  This was the year I started my business program, and I can confidently say I have not felt such a sense of academic community and camaraderie since my time pursuing an International Baccalaureate diploma.  The experience I've gained in my business program is one-of-a-kind, and I couldn't have been more grateful for the opportunity to be surrounded by like-minded, ambitious students who challenge me each and every day to think outside the box.

To celebrate the end of a rigorous - and oftentimes stressful - year, our school hosted a banquet.  I was excited for another opportunity to get fancied up so shortly after a fashion show I attended two weeks ago, but was faced with a big problem: I didn't have a dress.  I don't party very often, so eveningwear has never seemed like a worthy investment (as some of you know, I even borrowed my grad dress). However, my fellow fashion friend was generous enough to let me go through her wardrobe and pick out this number:

Dress: eBay (borrowed) | Heels: Calvin Klein
My other friend had actually worn this dress to the fashion show we attended, but I had no problem with that as I intended to wear it differently.  When I tried on the dress, it just felt so right.  It had fashionable elements that made it more than just a typical party outfit.  I absolutely loved the lace sleeves (so me!), and you can't see, but the back had only one layer of lace, subtly countering the conservatism of the long sleeves.  The skirt was a comfortable mid-thigh, and the soft peplum helped elevate the dress from clubwear to eveningwear. My friends and I agreed the look was busy enough without accessories, and so I simply threw on a pair of low-heeled, black pumps to keep it classy.  It was an overall sultry look, but one that was grounded by elements of sophistication.

I received a couple compliments that night, but in the end, I felt confident in what I was wearing and that was all I needed.  Our year-end banquet was, of course, bittersweet.  It wasn't until my cab ride home that it hit me the banquet was the last time I would see all of my classmates together.  As hectic as these past 8 months have been, I know I will look back and realize how this was one of the best years of my academic life.  Time flies when you're having fun.  And so, a toast to an end that signals the beginning of new friendships, new opportunities, and new milestones.