November 3, 2015

Smile for the Camera

Yesterday night, Essena O’Neill became the latest viral topic. O’Neill is a teenage Australian Instagram star who decided to break past her façade and quit social media. After years of obsessing over 'like's on her flawless candid shots - and feeling the pressure of making those very candid shots flawless - O'Neill finally cracked under her lack of authenticity. To her fans, she appeared to live the perfect life. She had corporate sponsorships and modelling gigs, and as far as her social media made it seem, she lived a gloriously happy life. But in reality, O'Neill was far from happy. Her life on social media was a careful construct of lies and deceit. She felt addicted and consumed. She had lost a sense of her self.

And so, O'Neill quit social media. She deleted a large portion of her online presence and edited her Instagram captions to reveal the true behind-the-scenes of her life. She could very well be jeopardizing her social media career, but there's a more fulfilling life to be gained in exchange.

I have most certainly been victim to letting the shiny veneer of Instagram get to me. I've spent more time than I would like to admit scrolling through Instagram accounts of girls who appear to have it all. Girls with enviable wardrobes, fantastic bodies, photogenic visages, incredible photography skills, glowing confidence, and of course, a seemingly glamorous life. These are the kind of girls I look at and think, she is more fashionable than me, she is more successful than me...she is better than me.

I had written last year about the moment it finally hit me how fabricated glamour and perfection really were in fashion editorials, but Instagram is a different monster to tackle. The thing with Instagram is that it is a platform for everyone. It is not an elite, industry publication, but rather a platform for the 'everyday' girl. We all know deep down that comparing ourselves to media portrayals of women is futile, but when it's a girl you know from school staring back at you with her pearly whites, expensive dress, and long lean legs, the feeling of inadequacy becomes more real. I see them in the hallway and I wonder how it is they live such a 'perfect' life, whereas I end up in my sweatpants, alone in front of my laptop, slaving over homework - day in, day out. What part of my life did I not work hard enough in to stray so far from the path of my peers?

But O'Neill is a noble reminder that things are not always what they seem. Even our peers smile for the camera and put on a face for show. The type of perfection Instagram is characterized by is not innate; no one truly lives like that. A mere collection of photos does not, and cannot, represent all the intricacies of someone's life - and so I shouldn't let Instagram fool me into thinking that it does.

Although let me admit I am not entirely pure. I, too, post photos on my Facebook page that attempt to paint my life as more stylized than it really is. Of course, a significant part of why I do so is simply wanting to share my excitement with others, but another part of me does feel the pressure to validate myself as a "fashion person". Yet hopefully, I keep it real often enough to remind all of you that I'm honestly just your average girl. I'm not a model; sometimes I pose awkwardly. I'm not a photographer; sometimes my photos are blurry. I'm not wealthy; sometimes my clothes are boring. My photos aren't professional enough to land me a sponsorship, but that's just fine. This is who I am, and while lives on Instagram do indeed appear quite pretty, I know I can find happiness on my own terms.

Edit: O'Neill has deleted her Instagram account

Image Source: Photo 1, 2

November 1, 2015

Campus Collective

Now that I've been back on university campus for two months, there are some very definitive trends that have arisen. In fact, spend just one day walking around campus, and you'll have acquired a full trend report by the end of it. This is where trends become amplified, and we sometimes spin inexorably towards a campus of carbon copies. Nonetheless, below are some trends I observed during September and early October. Entering the meat of autumn, new trends have already begun popping up (I've already seen four UGG boots on campus...why do people continue to wear boots that resemble loaves of bread?), so let's get started!

Ripped Jeans

Ripped jeans were cool when we were angsty teenagers, and now they're back for the grown up stylish set. There are two versions of this trend: boyfriend jeans with tears along the leg, or skinnies with rips across the knees. If you ask me, I prefer the former because the sight of two bare kneecaps can sometimes chop up the flow of an outfit. Plus it's not particularly flattering when one has to sit and one's bent knees cause the seemingly narrow rips to become gaping holes. But while ripped jeans generally elicit cries of confusion from people who don't understand the concept of buying ruined jeans - you know what, I get it. These aren't just any ol' rips. These rips don't resemble regular wear and tear because they are consciously created as part of the design. I call it "strategically ripped" (a phrase to which a guy friend of mine looks at me like I'm insane and cackles in dismay at the state of the world). But regardless, these rips are done just so and placed just so to make it a visual statement rather than a sign of sloppiness.

Blanket Scarves

So forget about tying a button-up shirt around your waist, the trendy thing to do this season is drape a scarf across your shoulders. Instead of a shirt flapping nonchalantly against your hip, now it's all about the dynamic movements of a scarf fluttering in your wake. I'm pretty sure this is a remnant of Burberry Fall/Winter 2014 (those blanket shawls!) finally catching on among the younger crowd. I do enjoy this trend, though. Its ease and oversized stature are really hitting the current cultural mood: cool and carefree. I can attest this trend is definitely worth a try; I felt amazing when I tried it out earlier this summer. Although, as a word of warning, if you are using a scarf as a poncho, it can sometimes be difficult to keep the scarf in place and arm movements can be limited. But hey, you only need a still shot for your Instagram anyway.


This was not a trend I had at all anticipated, but here it is, materializing before my very eyes on campus. I knew sneakers were all the rage over the summer, and I had expected to see more rubber pounding the pavement, but instead, girls are taking the comfort trend in another direction: Sperrys. In all honesty, I haven't seen Sperrys cropping up in any street style photos (or elsewhere, for that matter), so I'm guessing this is simply localized within the campus crowd. Coincidentally, just this summer, I discovered my grandmother's pair of old cognac leather loafers in the basement. I've been giving those loafers a second life, and although they are a great way to add colour and texture to an outfit, they can sometimes be too chunky and casual to do some outfits justice.

Thigh-High Socks

Admittedly I haven't seen this look happening too often on campus, but because of its complexity, it's worth a mention. The mini skirt - thigh-high socks - ankle boots combo. It's a look that can be cute, sexy and indie all at the same time, but it requires many parts of the equation to align flawlessly in order to work. Frankly, there are certain leg shapes that will pull this off better (ie. long and lean), and you have to be comfortable wearing a short skirt because you'll need to ensure you show off enough skin to achieve the look (tip: go with a romper!). Shoes can be heeled or flat, but generally look best when they hit the ankle bone or slightly above, and fit snugly around the ankle. Socks should be of thicker material and not look to be pinching your thighs. But despite these guidelines, the look can be quite hit or miss; sometimes girls look great in it, sometimes the outfit looks choppy and awkward.

Bodycon/Ribbed Dress

I have an inkling this trend was inspired by Kim Kardashian and her curve-hugging dresses, although, bodycon dresses have been around for years; what makes them so special this year? One, the fabric. The latest bodycon dresses are often done in ribbed fabric or thin material (quite unforgiving!). Two, the colour. For some reason, grey is the go-to shade. A Google Image search of simply "ribbed dress" will give you almost two entire rows of grey dresses. Perhaps people are drawn to its casual yet steely vibe, or grey just so happens to be a great neutral for pairing with other pieces. Three, the neckline. Necklines that cut in like a halter with two spaghetti straps are quite popular, and even if they don't cut in, the dress is at least sleeveless. I am personally not a fan of this neckline on myself because I don't like how my shoulders and marshmallow-soft upper arms look in it, but all the more power to girls who rock it. Last but not least, the hemline. I suppose to combat the seductiveness of va-va-voom curves, the latest bodycon dresses tend to hit at the knees or below. A surprising move to modesty, but I'd say it's a good design decision to keep this trend just the right amount of classy.

Image Source: Jeans,Scarf, Sperry, Socks, Dress

October 23, 2015

I Want Baggy Jeans

I will be the first to admit I'm not particularly well-versed in men's fashion, but when a friend told me there are men's jeans promoted as "Loose Fit", I refused to believe him. What kind of marketing is that? What kind of guy would willingly buy a pair of jeans labelled as "loose"?

A lot of guys, it appears. American Eagle does indeed offer Loose Fit jeans in its men's section. To be fair, I am coming at this from a woman's perspective. I can't imagine a girl actively wanting to buy denim that fits her loosely. Even if we do, we'd much rather say we're looking for boyfriend jeans (come on, it just sounds better). A quick Google search of "loose fit jeans women" comes up with results that direct me to "relaxed fit" jeans. So, yes, "loose fit" is not exactly in a woman's fashion lexicon. But getting over my initial disbelief, I do see why "loose" works for more comfort-orientated men. Although...through further research, things get a bit more perplexing.

Old Navy and Gap have tabs on their websites for "Men's Baggy Jeans".

Baggy? Yes, baggy.

Even phonetically, it sounds unflattering. Luckily, what Old Navy and Gap consider "baggy" is really just "loose fit", but I don't understand why anyone would think "baggy" is a good descriptor in the first place. Why not "relaxed"? Why not "casual"? If someone says you wear baggy clothing, I wouldn't bet it's a compliment.

However, my amateur status in the world of men's fashion is apparently once again showing, because when I bring this up to my friend, he shrugs, "I dunno...maybe if you're gangster?"

Clearly, I have much to learn.

Image Source: Photo 1, 2

September 26, 2015

5th Year!

As I said one year ago, it won't be until my 5th year of blogging that I perhaps begin to think I've been at this for a while. Now that the milestone has finally been reached, I can't say I feel any more experienced, but I can say I feel more content. My blog has opened many doors for me - it got me my first fashion internship and my first paid fashion job. It has become a conversation topic that has allowed me to both connect with new friends and reconnect with old acquaintances. It has become a source of creative pride and happiness. Thank you, everyone, for your continued support.

But with that, I want this milestone to be less about me, and more about you. And so I leave you with a few words:

I want. I will. I am.

A dream (I want), which with dedicated pursuit and an unwavering passion (I will), will eventually evolve into a reality (I am). This is my mantra, and maybe it can speak to some of you.

These will be tumultuous times; some days you will believe in your dream more than others. You will both gain admiration from those you least expect, and be rejected from those whom you most seek approval from. But you have to push.

I hope you will take the time to think about what you want. And when you've figured that out, work relentlessly and know without a quiver in your heart that you will be that person.

Who do you want to be? Who will you be? And years (or months, or even days!) from now, when that flickering flame of passion has become a raging fire of purpose, I want you to come back and tell me exactly who you are.

Image Source: Favim

September 4, 2015

Fall 2015 Couture

It's been a long time since I've blogged about runway, and I do regret it! Runway holds a special place in my heart; it was a huge part of how I had cut my teeth in fashion. It was through watching runway shows with wide-eyed fascination that I learned about each designer's modus operandi. The more of a designer I watched, the more I was able to slowly identify bits of commonality between each collection, arriving at an understanding of a designer's unique aesthetic. As well, high fashion not only honed my eyes to pick up on the tiniest of details in an outfit, but to also step back and decipher a collection's overarching message. Runway exposed me to a world of incredible creativity and fantasy - a world where rules and boundaries exist only to be broken.

Regardless of how influential fast retail, celebrity culture, and street style have become, to me, runway remains the epitome of fashion. So it is with happiness that I bring you my highlights of Fall 2015 Couture:

Maison Margiela

John Galliano at Maison Margiela (renamed from Maison Martin Margiela back in Janurary) brought back a type of fashion that is now a rarity: the unabashedly unwearable. This collection shattered all preconceived notions of beauty, and presented us with the 'ugly'. Silhouettes were mangled, with exaggerated protrusions extending from the body (wrists were given extra bulk with scarf-like gloves), and even potato sacks were given their time to shine. There was a small, underlying feeling of barely-contained creative madness, as if the snip of a single thread would cause it all to unravel in chaos. And in fact, Galliano clearly played with that idea of deconstruction, seen in a trenchcoat hanging for dear life from the small of a model's back, or sharp blades attached to the back of heels with mere strings. What was most astonishing, however, was the single row of seats along either side of the runway. It was clearly a private, exclusive, intimate setting, perfect for presenting the collection as more of an exhibit than a show.

There are very few people out there doing fashion in the way Galliano does fashion. One cannot even attempt to make sense of this collection by labelling it as avant garde, because 'art' is the only word that does justice to what Galliano has done. Galliano is clearly having fun in his new role, allowing his eccentricity to run free (while still remaining surprisingly modest outside of his work, as he no longer appears for a bow at the end of a show). He had beautiful years at Christian Dior - years I will never forget - but judging from the amazingly positive feedback, Galliano is right where he should be.

Watch the full show here.

Christian Dior

Speaking of Christian Dior, Raf Simons really impressed me this season. Besides the pretty sweetness of the airy dresses, I admired his demonstration of unexpected combinations through meddling with just a single item: the coat. Lusciously weighty coats differed from left to the right - one side sleeveless as if the coat were a cape, the other a full sleeve decked out in lush fur. The two different sides were almost visually slashed down the middle by models' hands clutching the coats shut at the chest (the clutch coat...a favourite look of mine). There was a restraint in the way the models paraded down the runway, but there were hints of temptation in the sheer dresses and peeks of bare skin. After all, the coats only required the release of a clutched hand...

Watch the full show here.


After learning this was a new start for Schiaparelli after the replacement of Marco Zanini with Bertrand Guyon as head of the design team, I began to understand why I paid more attention to this collection than those previous. Guyon focused on juxtaposing light and heavy (filmy dresses weighed down by cocoon coats bearing massive pockets), and played with unexpected or exciting texture (a motorcycle jacket done in a sheer white fabric with a reflective sheen, or coloured fur against brocade pants and transparent blouses). What I found most well-done, however, was the subtlety of the surrealism the brand is so known for. Embroidery along a shoulder in the shape of an eye or trompe l'oeil handbags resembling a manicured hand or postal letter were sly but effective. And lastly, the strings of rhinestones adorning the neckline and backs of two models were incomparable in their beauty and easily the height of the show. Zanini enjoyed the exaggerated, the bold, the OTT - and while that can be fun, it can be occasionally difficult to pinpoint a purpose. Guyon is subdued, but perhaps we could argue, more impactful.

Watch the full show here.

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


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