July 27, 2015

Where There's a Will, There's a Way

I used to blog a bit about bridal a couple years ago, but there was only so much a single teenage girl could write about wedding dresses. I'm still not quite that qualified to speak to the world of bridal, but when Weddington Way challenged me to restyle one of their bridesmaid dresses into a summer date outfit, I thought I'd give it a go. Being a girl who tries to make the most of her clothing, I was drawn to the concept of giving further mileage to a dress that is commonly perceived as something you wear only once. Using the Dove & Dahlia Isabelle dress in turquoise sea - which, with its own built-in pockets, is already designed to traverse the line between dressy and casual - this is how I would re-work a bridesmaid dress for a flirty rendez-vous:

Dress: Weddington Way | Denim Jacket: maurices | Handbag: Chloé | Sandals: Rene Caovilla | Necklace: Seaman Schepps | Bracelet: Chloé | Ring: Joomi Lim | Sunglasses: Steve Madden | Nailpolish: Dior | Perfume: Hermès 

A date outfit should certainly be nice, but most importantly, it should be comfortable. I would never be the type to wear short-shorts and high heels on a date, because dressing stylishly comfortable is what translates into killer confidence. So for this look, I aimed to not overwhelm with too many awkward bells and whistles, instead keeping to a comfortable (but still very feminine and pretty) flat sandal. I also find modesty to be a greatly endearing quality to have, which is why I've chosen to both cover-up and dress-down the dress with a cropped denim jacket. I used gold jewellery and pink-tinted aviators to add polish and glamour to the entire look, and for finishing touches, threw in a swipe of blush pink nailpolish and a spritz of Hermès Kelly Calèche (my favourite perfume).

Any item in your closet that you've relegated to 'one-time use only' has the potential to be restyled into an entirely new and inspiring look. After all, where there's a will, there's a way. With a bit of creativity, this bridesmaid dress can now accompany you on your own journey to finding love.

July 20, 2015

Waisted

I used to blog a bit about the latest fashion trends (check out my Trends tag), but I realized I haven't done so in a while! Coincidentally, this is a great time to take it up again because I have noticed a very ubiquitous trend taking over the streets since last summer:

The plaid shirt tied around the waist.





















What's interesting is that this trend isn't quite as new or as old as you might think. Besides being characteristic of the grunge era, I still remember how my mom used to tie her sweaters around her waist out of pure practicality in the '90s. Back then, it was less an accessory and more a way to simply free up the hands.

But this past year, the trend has been revived as a purely decorative piece, with particular focus on plaid button-ups. The first time I saw this trend in action was on a girl who had tied a blue plaid shirt in a breezy, lightweight fabric over a pair of white shorts, white t-shirt and white Keds. With each step, her plaid shirt fluttered in the wind like a skirt. It was very soft and clean, yet still edgy at the same time. She was a great example of downtown polish, and to me, she was oh-so-cool.

Even guys have been getting in on this trend, and major props to those who take that fashion risk (JusReign, I'm looking at you! In addition to being downright hilarious, this guy's style is always 100% fresh).


But, like a good song that's been played too many times on the radio, this trend became stale from endless copycatting. As a university student, I saw this trend EVERYWHERE on campus. And it wasn't even interesting to see how girls interpreted the trend...because everyone wore it the same way. Every girl had a red lumberjack shirt paired with black separates and biker boots. Don't get me wrong - it's a decent look - but when you start seeing the same outfit several times a day, you begin to appreciate those who make the effort to break beyond the mould. Furthermore, I began to feel like people were wearing the trend for the sake of wearing the trend. Thought has to be put into what type of shirt you tie around your waist; I saw too many instances where the shirt was too big, too small, or too forced against the rest of the outfit. My tips: the shirt should frame the hips without being too bulky, and fit with the rest of your outfit either as a statement piece or as a continuation. But you can't wear a trend just because everyone else is wearing it - you have to make it your own. That's when a trend ceases to be just a trend, and instead becomes an extension of your personal style.


I love trends. They are an opportunity to experiment beyond your comfort zone and discover new ideas. But let us never forget that personal style is a craft; it requires an element of authenticity that cannot be satisfied by being a mere slave to trends.

As for me, I might give this particular trend a go. It's petering out towards the end of its lifeline, but perhaps the best time to take up a trend is when no one else is expecting it anymore. I already own a skirt with a built-in sweater around the waist (a gift from Japan, and is what I assume a copy of this 3.1 Phillip Lim skirt), but I may play around with my multicolored Lauren Ralph Lauren plaid shirt made from an airy fabric, a denim button-up, or maybe a sweater or cardigan with interesting texture. I won't be going grunge, but I might take inspiration from the one person I continue to think wore this trend the best - the girl who wafted through the streets in her blue plaid and white Keds, showing us what true confidence and style is all about.

Image Source: Kati-Rose, Aelida, AllWomensTalk

July 12, 2015

What's Up?

As boring as I sometimes think it is for you to read about my shopping adventures, I find blogging about specific fashion items to be a valuable exercise in exposing oneself to fashion's smallest, most fundamental unit of output. At the end of the day, these are the products that end up on the retail floor - these are the products that will have the most direct and intimate relationship with the consumer.

And so without further ado, let me share with you my excitement (and disappointment) over a couple of things I came across while shopping yesterday:


Marc by Marc Jacobs Metropoli Bucket Bag
Walking into Nordstrom, this was the very first item I took notice of. First of all, bucket bags are without a doubt this year's It Bag. I've seen a myriad of versions over these past few months, but this Metropoli Bucket Bag from Marc by Marc Jacobs has a little special something that makes it worth singling out - and that special something is a snap-flap envelope pocket stitched onto the exterior of the bag. While some of you may consider that pocket useful for carrying coins, I devise that it's the perfect size for slotting in a set of business cards. Forget those plain old metal business card holders everyone has. You have to admit that pulling a card out of your $400 Marc by Marc Jacobs handbag is much, much cooler.


Kate Spade Glitter Ursula New York Sunglasses

Remember how I tried on a pair of Kate Spade Shira Glitter Sunglasses last month? Well, I saw this glittery rendition of the Ursula New York, and I just couldn't resist! I slipped them on, and once again, Kate Spade surprised me with how good her frames look. Somehow she makes frames that fit my face perfectly, a rarity for a girl with a flat nose bridge and wider visage. I was pleasantly astonished by how chic, glamorous, and subtly retro the sunglasses were. Kate Spade, please continue to design eyewear because your frames are works of magic!


Freddy WR.UP Pant

Now on to something decidedly...less magical. Freddy is a new addition to one of my local malls, but my first impressions of it left me baffled. Its storefront was dominated by the Freddy WR.UP Pant, which according to the Internet, is a pretty popular product on Instagram and Facebook. The so-called WR.UP technology is said to shape and lift your derrière to epic, curvaceous proportions. If you ask me though, this sure is one unattractive way to achieve a perky behind. It's ridiculously clear that the jockstrap-like seaming is cut to create two exaggerated spheres on your rear-end; I don't quite see the appeal of so obviously declaring that you have to fake it to make it. Not to mention the seaming in of itself looks much too busy, with the bottom seam really just reminding me of visible pantyline. I, for one, am not keen on having my booty look like it's being pinched and pushed through a contraption which, let's be real, resembles a sort of strange wedgie. 

July 7, 2015

Worst Behavior

I've been talking a lot about retailers lately, but the retail landscape is in such an interesting state of change that I can't help but give my two cents. So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to vent about a recent development at one of my local malls.

In my city, there is one mall that everyone goes to. It is the ne plus ultra of malls where I live, and people will travel from all ends of the city to shop there. During its expansion and renovation a few years back, Forever 21 became one of the highly anticipated tenants. It was the only Forever 21 available in the city, and it occupied a vast area of square footage (as all Forever 21 stores do). The store was always teeming with women (young and old), and when I went shopping with friends, we'd never fail to take a look inside. If you've followed my blog since its early days, you'll know I'm hardly a fan of Forever 21, but I certainly do not deny it as a strong force in the retail industry.




















So when a shocked co-worker of mine appeared by my desk with news that Forever 21 had closed down, neither of us could believe it. We were stupefied. It is unimaginable to think Forever 21 had been lacking in profits. Could it be that the rent for such a large store was too much even for the fast fashion giant? After all, Forever 21 had nearby neighbours of Tiffany & Co., Tory Burch, Anthropologie, Free People, Michael Kors, Burberry and Nordstrom...only to name a few. Our mall has been working to craft a higher-end image, and perhaps the neighbouring tenants hiked up the cost of rent. But even so, we were not convinced such a highly successful retailer would find itself crumbling. Perhaps it wasn't that Forever 21 wasn't good enough for us, but that we weren't good enough for it?

Regardless, while the loss of Forever 21 does not sadden me, I found myself peeved by the retailer that ended up replacing it: Urban Behavior.

The only Urban Behavior store I've seen before was in one of our dingy malls - one whose only claim to fame is a Walmart. In fact, according to that mall's most current list of stores, it appears even it has ousted Urban Behavior. For all I know, Urban Behavior is basically a struggling retailer. So why is it now occupying prime retail space in our biggest mall?






















Clearly, the explanation escapes me. As cheap as Forever 21 is, at least it makes the effort to offer trendy clothing. Urban Behavior, on the other hand, makes poor quality clothing in very typical, uninspiring designs. There is certainly a place in the market for such brands - there are many shoppers out there simply looking for what they call "cheap, cute clothes" - but does a store like Urban Behavior really deserve such a prime retail location? In contrast to Forever 21's bright, gleaming storefront, the Urban Behavior storefront is now dim and gaudy, making it a bit of an eyesore against its higher-end neighbours. In all honesty, I can't deny there is a part of me that hopes I won't be seeing Urban Behavior in that space for much longer.

Image Source: Forever21, Urban Behavior

June 21, 2015

Closing the Gap

Gap has been having a tumultuous year. Back when former Creative Director Rebekka Bay left the company in late January, I posted on Facebook that I would address the issue...eventually. Turns out my procrastination has somewhat worked in my favour, as it was just announced this week that Gap would be closing 175 stores.

Let's start from the beginning. Patrick Robinson was hired on at Gap back in 2007 to revive the brand. He was a vibrant character, and he brought with him a youthfulness and hope that the company could shed its bland exterior and strike a note with buyers once again. I don't think he quite managed to accomplish the company's goals, as it was only until late 2011 that I found a Gap item worth blogging about. But as luck will have it, Robinson had already been dismissed earlier that year.



























Another year later, enter Rebekka Bay. The irony is, Bay was brought on for the same reason Robinson was: to revive the company. Once a boulder starts rolling, there's little you can do to stop it. The revival efforts just kept on coming, one after another. There has to be a point when one realizes revival has simply become a desperate fight for survival. Under Bay, the brand lost what little lustre it had left. It was selling incredibly dull basics - khakis, t-shirts, blazers - with absolutely no unique design elements. They were just khakis, just t-shirts, and just blazers. On occasion, there were one or two pieces that'd pique my interest, but more often than not, I'd walk into a Gap store and be bored by the end of it. Gap fell into what I call the Bermuda Triangle of fashion retail. Average quality, average prices, average design - deadly middle ground that leaves customers halfhearted and uncommitted.
















So then fast forward to 2015. Rebekka Bay has been removed - in fact, her entire position has been removed. Gap stated it would fly without a pilot, opting instead to leave design responsibilities to a team. Having a design team run the show isn't a bad thing (see: fast fashion retailers, Maison Martin Margiela's old model), and I was very curious about what would come out of it. As they say, two heads are better than one. Perhaps what Gap needed was just a bit of diversity.

But in February, Gap hired Wendi Goldman as the Executive Vice President of Product Design and Development. While the position in of itself was new, Goldman had essentially taken over Bay's role. The brief headless-design-team experimentation was over, and now we find ourselves in present time, with 175 Gap stores set to close in North America and Europe. The white flags are up, and defeat is in the horizon.




















I understand the history of the company as quintessential American sportswear, and am sad to see that in this case, sticking to one's roots is like shooting poison into one's veins. I do believe there is a place in the market for casual separates with an all-American flair, but the pieces need to be done right. There needs to be either quality construction or unique design. After all, wardrobe basics can be bought for a couple bucks from fast fashion retailers - Gap needs to prove it has more to offer.

Image Source: GQ, Elle, Social Broadcast Network

June 7, 2015

Welcome Home

The city I go to university in has terribly underwhelming shopping malls, which means I find myself deprived of high-end window shopping for practically 8 months a year. So when summer rolls around, I try to hit up Holt Renfrew and Nordstrom at least once a month. Walking into these stores is like falling into a warm embrace that welcomes me home and comforts me with the promise of great fashion. Here are a couple of highlights from my latest adventures:


Theory Ruffle Shirtdress



My first encounter with Theory was with one of its impeccable blazers. I was in high school, finally confronted with the trials and tribulations of finding a job. Back then, I only had enough credentials for retail sales associate or office admin postings, but my parents insisted early on that I always present myself as a professional - which meant shopping for blazers and business pants. In my quest to find the perfect blazer, Theory stood out as a winner. Theory blazers are divinely tailored, skimming the body in all the right places to create a crisp silhouette. But it wasn't a blazer that made me stop in my tracks during my most recent shopping trip to Holt Renfrew...it was a shirtdress. I quite like the look of shirtdresses (see: Now that's what I call menswear-inspired), but this ruffled number from Theory took it to the next level. Not only was it tailored to a T, the ruffle at the hip highlighted the tension between dressy and casual. Juxtaposition - what I consider one marker of good fashion.


Balenciaga Wire Shopping Tote


I first came across this tote in a fashion magazine, and already then I fell in love with it. So when I saw the bag displayed in Holt Renfrew, I had to take a closer look. The lines were clean and minimal, and the tote exuded a slicing industrial edge. I loved the use of rough metal wire against the flawless leather and gleaming gold logo plate. It's one of those cheeky items that reminds us some of the best fashion comes with a good sense of humour.


Alexander Wang Sneaker Bag






























Speaking of humour, Alexander Wang is chalk full of it with his latest sneaker bag. No, this is not exactly the prettiest of handbags, but it is definitely among the most creative. My curiosity was initially piqued by the two air bubbles; I remember thinking I had never seen anything like that on a handbag. It wasn't until I turned the bag to its side that I saw the heel of a sneaker materialize. I was floored. What a great design concept! While you might not carry this for purely aesthetic reasons, you could very well carry it to make a statement.


Valentino Rainbow Rockstuds






















Being the Red-Soled Fashionista, most people tend to think I'll spend my first paycheque on a pair of Christian Louboutins. Even though I certainly love the famous red soles, my dream shoe is actually a pair of Valentino Rockstud flats. I have lusted after Rockstuds ever since the they first appeared parading down the Fall/Winter 2010 RTW runway. It won't be my first paycheque, but one day, I do plan on being a proud owner of Valentino. While I will likely buy these now-iconic flats in red (staying true to my blog in some way), I found this multi-coloured version a fun way of transforming a classic pair of flats into a trendier option for potentially new audiences. I'd never invest in this rainbow rendition, but I certainly do appreciate it.


Mackage Arrow Bag




























I feel as if I've come across the name Mackage before, but despite having heard of the brand, I don't recall having ever seen one of its products in person. Our official meeting, therefore, was at Holt Renfrew when I saw this Mackage arrow bag. The body of the bag is a design typical of our modern minimalism - angular and spare - but I found the silver arrow closure an adorable feature. To unlock the purse, one must twist the arrow 90 degrees and slide it out. I can imagine all the cool girls deftly unlocking and locking their purses with an insouciant air, making this particular sleight of hand more coveted than the handbag itself.


Kate Spade Shira Glitter Sunglasses



As I've mentioned before, Nordstrom is a gold mine for sunglasses. What I found on my latest trip there was golden - literally. I have a guilty attraction to things glittery and sparkly (but classy, not tacky), and these Kate Spade shades were just begging me to try them on. I've been searching for a new pair of glasses over the past year, and I've come to find that cat eye glasses just don't jive with my face shape. So I actually wasn't expecting these sunglasses to look so good! The bridge fit my flat nose, which helped the frame sit up past my eyebrows (a rule of thumb my dad has passed on to me). When I put the sunglasses on, they felt so right and looked so chic. It's rare that a pair of glasses melds so well with my face structure, continuing the lines of my visage like an artist with a slick wrist. Maybe it's not that I can't do cat eye frames - I just need to find the right one!


Kotur Glitter Globe Clutch





























On another glittery note, I found this stunning Kotur Glitter Globe Clutch as I walked inside a boutique selling evening attire along a hip and artsy avenue. As a kid, I remember having a fascination with shaking snow globes as hard as I could, and as it turns out, that childish quirk can be satisfied even as an adult. Once shaken, the outer shell of this perspex clutch fills with glitter. The glitter you see in the centre is actually a sparkly pouch that can be removed to make the clutch entirely see-through, giving you options for different looks. I'm obsessed with this idea of dynamic fashion, where movement and metamorphosis play a role in making your outfit wholly unique. This clutch strikes me as a more elegant approach to Christopher Kane's gel-filled clutches (which I also adore!), and I would highly recommend checking out Kotur's other gorgeous creations.

Image Source: TheoryBalenciaga, Alexander Wang, Valentino, MackageKate Spade, Kotur

May 14, 2015

Who Wore it Better

FYI, I've been absent for a while because I've started working full-time for the summer again! I'll try to keep up this blog, but between my new summer job (which I am LOVING, by the way) and my continued involvement as Managing Editor at a fashion company, I'm left with few hours in a day. I do have a lot of blog ideas though, so check in occasionally!


It's been a long time since I've been to the mall to try on some clothes. The last time I documented my window shopping adventures was during the summer in Dressing for the Occasion, so when I went out shopping with a friend last month to help her pick out a dress for our banquet, I thought it was time to bring back my ever-classy changing room selfies.

P.S.: I take these photos with my ancient Blackberry 8520, so you'll have to bear with me on the photo quality. And full disclosure: the photos are edited in order to bring out the colour that gets washed out when you pair a Blackberry camera with changing room lighting.

BCBGMAXAZRIA Suzy Draped Asymmetrical Silk Dress
























I saw this BCBGMAXAZRIA dress displayed on a hanger and fell in love with it. It had so many design elements that I adore - sheer silk, gloriously long butterfly sleeves, a belt to create shape, and an asymmetrical hem - all done in a pretty pale pink. I had to try it on.

Sadly, the dress was no longer a shining image of perfection once I put it on. Don't get me wrong, the top half was fantastic. The sleeves were so ethereal and elegant that I am now contemplating including butterfly sleeves on my dream wedding dress. But the asymmetrical hem? That needed to go back to the drawing table. You can see in the photo that the skirt criss-crosses over itself - looks decent in the photo; looks messy in real life. The shorter tail of the skirt flapped awkwardly around my right side, and my legs did not look flattering with the odd placement and shape of the slit. Unless you plan on doing the Angelina Jolie pose all night, this dress is better left on the hanger.


Forever 21 Bejeweled Chiffon Suplice Romper



















If you've been with this blog since its early stages, you'll probably know by now that I never buy anything from Forever 21. However, I do have friends that shop there, and as a regular window shopper, I try on everything - from high-end to low-end. I picked up this romper from Forever 21 because the embellishment and plunging neckline caught my eye.

I do tend to prefer lower necklines, as higher necklines make me feel constricted, but even so, I have never worn a V-neck this deep before without a camisole underneath. While I would definitely need tape to keep the neckline in place, I found the long sleeves and bejeweled strap helped keep the look classy and more within my comfort zone (and the fact that flat chests make plunging necklines look high fashion helped...). As for the rest of the romper, my friend commented on how short the shorts were, but I actually didn't mind because they were done in a fancier fabric and looser design. What I did have a problem with was the shape. The ultimate cheap quality of the romper caused the shorts to flare out and the elastic waist to look bulky. But luckily, it doesn't matter because my conservative mother would never let me out of the house in this anyway! (Love you, mom)


Forever 21 Metallic Knit Maxi Dress






















There is an obvious colour difference here, but I honestly can't remember what the true colour of this maxi dress was. Nonetheless, I don't think I remember it being as light as the photo on the right. This dress was actually decent - I have no major qualms about it (but no major praises for it either). The only thing I personally didn't like was how the arm holes cut in. I find my upper arms to be a little chubby, and I hate it when tops cut in to reveal my shoulders. As a result, I thought I looked slightly top-heavy, and along with the showy metallic fabric, found myself strangely feeling like Lady Gaga with her shoulder pads.

Image Source: Bloomingdales, Forever 21