November 25, 2017

Blurred Lines

A few years ago, a friend sent me an article about Selfridge's new Agender space. The Agender space was an area within the department store that offered a unique genderless shopping experience. It contained clothing which did not fall into any particular category of gender. As Faye Toogood, designer of the space, explained, "Selfridges' ambition was to create a space where men and women could essentially come and shop together irrespective of gender, and that you would choose clothes as an individual rather than based on your gender."


Since then, I have been planning to write a blog post about the concept of gender-neutral fashion. I found it a compelling idea, yet push did not come to shove until now, when gender and sexuality are finally spotlighted by the current zeitgeist. Gender-neutral fashion could not be a more topical conversation.

However, before we get started, I think it important to establish some basic definitions to ensure we work off a common foundation of terminology. The broadly accepted definition of gender is the characteristic of being - traditionally speaking - masculine and feminine. I see gender as separate from sex and sexuality, and although there may be correlations, gender (and sexuality) are not determined by sex. To me, gender is identity, not anatomy.

So with that, let's talk about fashion.


Before I was introduced to the idea of gender-neutral fashion, I was familiar with androgyny. Androgyny is when one mixes masculine and feminine characteristics to create an ambiguous gender, and although this manner of presentation is essentially gender-neutral, androgyny was often superficially depicted in fashion as a woman in menswear-inspired clothing. So the extent of my knowledge only reached as far as knowing that people could identify or dress as the opposite gender. The moment my eyes were truly opened was when I read The Worn Archive, a subversive Canadian fashion magazine. It contained an article showcasing individuals who identified as gender-neutral.

And I was fascinated.

It never occurred to me that in addition to dressing as the opposite gender, one could completely defy gender binaries by dressing as an individual who is neither masculine nor feminine...but also at the same time kind of both masculine and feminine. I was blown away by the multi-faceted intricacy of such an identity. In the article, these individuals described the difficulties they faced shopping in traditional department stores. Those with female bodies may have wished to buy a menswear item, but had trouble finding sizing and clothing designed for their body shape. Or vice versa.


And so it was timely when Selfridge came out with their Agender space; a space where individuals were free to buy clothing that appealed to them rather than their supposed gender. Last year, Burberry and Vetements announced they would be combining menswear and womenswear into one show. Although that did not necessarily mean they would be designing gender-neutral clothing, it was a symbolic acknowledgement that the gender divide is blurring. Likewise when designers pared down womenswear and electrified menswear as a way of encouraging sartorial diversity and liberty. Nowadays, we are seeing more and more clothing that is genuinely transferable between genders. As society begins to break down barriers between 'him' and 'her', clothing itself will need to evolve. Evidently, the wheels of that process are already in motion.

Yet this is a conversation that will continue to grow and transform. In fact, only recently did I discover gender fluidity: the act of shifting between genders. Absolutely incredible. As discourse expands, what will that mean for fashion? The industry has always kept its finger on the pulse of revolution and rebellion, and I have no doubt it will react to the rumblings of change we feel now. Dressing is such an intimate and personal exercise that everyone should feel comfortable making fashion their own. Fashion is self-expression. Gender is a choice. So then let's give people that choice in fashion.

Image Source: Dazed, Madame Figaro, Qwear, Travelshopa

October 28, 2017

For My Eyes Only

Remember when I turned into an outright diva? Yeah, I thought I would put my diva days behind me for at least the next little while, but then I decided to get new glasses and prescription sunglasses. So back out I went - barely settled from my first foray - to become a spoiled brat yet again.

I was due for an upgrade anyway. I bought my current pair of Tiffany & Co. glasses six years ago, and my Coach sunglasses even longer before that. At that point in life, I was still trying to figure out exactly what my personal style was.


So I have been looking for new glasses for a very long time. My Tiffany & Co. frames are not atrocious, but they are quite ubiquitous. I've seen more women on the streets than I would like with the same or similar pair of Tiffany's. And while the robin egg blue on the inside of the frames was a fun touch, I wanted something more professional and refined now that I'm a working adult. As mentioned once before, I fell in love with browline glasses years ago. In particular, I developed a bottomless obsession with havana/gold Ray-Ban clubmasters. Yet every attempt I made to own a pair was met with failure. With such high prescription, I was told my lenses would end up being noticeably thick. The distance between the nose pads also didn't fit my flat nose. And, last but not least, they just fundamentally didn't complement my face shape as well as I had hoped.

So I tried other browlines. I dabbled with cat eyes. I thought of surrendering and succumbing to typical plastic frames. I even emailed Tom Ford at one point asking if they could please design a browline for women - with gold metal instead of silver, and a gold bridge instead of black...sorry for being picky... (I never did get an email back, but I saw Tom Ford came out with a pair of black/gold browline glasses for women this season). I initially wanted havana frames because I thought they looked softer against my dark hair, though over time I started to realize I should probably stick to black. Havana seemed to wash me out.



On the streets, I became jealous of women who could pull off browline frames. And of those with black and gold frames in those glamorous, quirky styles which are particularly trendy right now.

So it was quite an unbelievable feat when I finally managed to find my own pair.

It came to me swiftly and unexpectedly. A pair of Dolce & Gabbana browline frames. I was just messing around with different glasses while waiting for my mom to choose her own pair of new frames (she, ironically, settled on Tiffany & Co.), when I tried on these:

When I saw myself in the mirror, it was like being struck with an awakening and finally seeing the light of day. Because these frames just felt so right. There is a special soothing feeling I get when I try something on and I just know it's the right one. These frames made the stars align on my face, and to boot, it was a black and gold browline. It wasn't necessarily unique, but it was polished and refined. Here's how it looks on me:



What I find especially fateful is that I used to own a pair of Dolce & Gabbana frames before I switched to Tiffany. And guess what? I also ended up choosing a pair of Dolce & Gabbana frames for my prescription sunglasses. I guess Dolce & Gabbana and I have an inexplicable sartorial bond, and it was simply calling me back to my roots.

My search for a pair of prescription sunglasses was much more...last minute. I hadn't paid any thought to what I would want in new prescription sunglasses, so I was really going in blind (pun not intended). In an act of desperation, I went to the mall and tried on as many pairs of sunglasses as I could. What naturally caught my eye (oh man, I'm punning it up today) was of course gold detailing. I also knew I wouldn't want another pair of sunglasses from Ray Ban, so I started narrowing down my options. I came across a couple frames with gold trim along the brows, which were interesting, but for some reason didn't feel right. And now I'm grateful I trusted my instincts because I have ended up seeing more than enough people with those exact sunglasses on the train.

I ultimately ended up debating between these Tom Ford Penelope sunglasses, and the Dolce & Gabbana 4268 frames pictured above. However, as much as I liked the cylindrical gold arm on the Tom Ford sunnies, I knew the frame was simply too large and thin for it to look good with prescription lenses. So I went with Dolce & Gabbana. I asked for the darkest lens possible with no gradient colouring. I've learnt from past mistakes and didn't want any risk of my lens coming out more transparent than they needed to. Here's how it looks:

I didn't fully Jekyll and Hyde into a diva this time, but I did disregard a lot of opinions from others on what frames I should get. I was met with a hesitant pause from my parents when I showed them the frames I wanted. They worried the frames would be too big, too thin, too round, etc. And the sales assistant at the eyewear store warned my lenses would be thick, and the lack of nose pads on my sunglasses would affect proper fit. Yes, my lenses are visibly thick and I do have to get used to wearing sunglasses that sit lower on my nose, but I've come to realize the only choice that will make me happy is the one I want. As a wise saleslady at Nordstrom once told me, "Don't listen to what other people tell you. Don't even listen to what I tell you. Get what you want - because you're the one who's going to be wearing it". And she's right. These glasses are, after all, for my eyes only.

Image Source: Pinterest, Visio Factory, Jenn Im, Shenny Violet Kaplan 

August 27, 2017

Breaking the Fast

Uncharacteristically, I've been avoiding the mall lately. I'm afraid of window shopping. Because I know that if I wander through the racks, there's a chance I'll come across an item that catches my fancy. And if it does, I might start obsessively waiting for it to go on sale.

Why is that a problem?

Well, I've realized I have. Way. Too. Many. Clothes. When it gets to the point you open your closet and continuously find "new" clothes you totally forgot/never knew you had, you might just have too much. It's like some reverse bandit is sneaking into my room at night and giving me new clothes. I literally have zero recollection of certain items being under my ownership. Not only that, sometimes I can spend 15 minutes just deciding what pair of socks to wear because somehow I have 7 different pairs of white socks in my drawer. Or an entire box of nylons. Or three boxes of jewellery. Or clothing stored throughout the house and in the basement. I could literally open a thrift store at this rate. In fact, I've been selling away my clothes, and yet it barely makes a dent.

So point is, I can't buy anymore. I don't need anymore. Aside from a couple wardrobe staples here and there I could update, it would be silly of me to buy more.

But yesterday I broke the fast by walking into an ALDO store. Luckily, I didn't walk out with an item on my wishlist. All I walked out with were a couple quips about their latest collection.


ALDO is actually my favourite shoe store. I think it's good at producing shoes which are trendy, affordable, and can have decent quality - though let me expand on that last point. The majority of the time, ALDO shoes fall short in quality. However, they do always have a selection of shoes which I think step it up. While most are faux leather, it is possible to find a few made from genuine leather, and there are always a handful with better construction. You have to look for them, but they're there.



Yesterday, I found myself more conflicted than usual about ALDO. They have really interesting designs lately. If we look past the blatant Gucci imitation items (Floral embroidered sneakers? Horsebit hardware? C'mon.), or the Fenty x Puma copies (though honestly, who isn't copying those nowadays), there are some cool concepts. Heels and sneakers became canvases for metallic rainbow finishes, sparkly embellishment, shiny gold hardware, encrusted pearls, flecks of glitter, and soft fur. It was just plain FUN. I was honestly impressed with the attention to detail this season.



The only thing was...it all looked tacky. Not because of the design itself, but because the quality was not up to snuff. The fake leather had an unsettling sheen, the metallic was dull and probably easily scratched, and the pearls looked a bit pasted on. I find outré, trendy detailing like this does require some level of craftsmanship to make it look stylish. Otherwise, it can look like an item from the kiddie dress-up aisle (sorry).

I appreciate the design effort, ALDO, and to give you credit, I'm sure there are a couple good pieces in there. But, regardless of whether I'm abstaining from the mall or not, would I purchase any of it? Unfortunately no.

Image source: Aldo

August 8, 2017

Ange où Demon

Angel or demon. Feminine or femme fatale. Goddess or goth. There is no denying the beauty of fashion is the ability to shape-shift across a spectrum of personalities. Tobi was kind enough to send me a couple dresses to style, and two of my favourite pieces ended up being on opposite ends of the spectrum. So I had some fun with play pretend, and I ask you: ange où demon?

Ange
Dress: Tobi | Camisole: tout à coup | Shoes: Ground Green Store | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

This feminine dress with its dusting of rose pink and airy kimono sleeves reminded me of the flowing beauty of a Grecian goddess. I knew instantly I would have to pair the dress with my fringed gladiator sandals. I call this outfit the look of the angel, but it is hardly of pure innocence. I added a cheeky boudoir twist by layering a soft lace camisole underneath and bringing the criss-cross straps (which are intended to be worn in the back) to the front across my chest. Another way of styling this dress would be to have a tight lace underlay across the chest - enough to cover up the deep v-neck, but not enough to keep everything hidden. A game of hide and seek.


Demon
Dress: Tobi | Shoes: Ned-Nedy | Camisole: Old Navy | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

I was immediately drawn to the slits along the sheer sleeves of this dress, and couldn't resist ordering it in black to amp up the smouldering evening appeal. There is actually an opening down the front of the torso, but for the more conservative among us, a black lace camisole underneath will work just fine. However, although this cocktail number shows a bit more skin up top, I was greatly impressed by how perfect the length of the skirt was, hitting that sweet mid-thigh spot. I may have glided with grace in my previous look, but this dress gave me confidence of a different kind - the kind that made me walk with an extra strut in my step.
~~~

Dresses courtesy of Tobi.

August 1, 2017

Love, Actually

This is not my first time blogging about weddings. I've blogged about the outfit I wore to a wedding I attended three years ago, and even partnered with Weddington Way to style a bridesmaid dress into a flirtatious date outfit. But throughout my time crafting sweet lyrical prose about the elation of romance, I had never actually experienced love for myself. I was an outsider writing through rose-coloured glasses about what I thought companionship was.

Last week, however, I attended a wedding for the first time knowing what love really means.

But before we get there, let's review the wedding attire.

Morning

Although I struggled quite a bit with choosing a morning outfit, I managed to happily settle on a ballet-inspired look. The whole ensemble started off with this high-low dress I owned. In the past, I've had issues with how asymmetrical hemlines cut awkwardly across my short legs, but this high-low dress had some magical formula that worked fantastically with my particular stature.
Dress: Unknown - Chinese brand | Bolero: La Senza Girl | Boots: Ned-Nedy | Necklace: Unknown | Earrings: Jones New York | Handbag: Unknown | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

The only thing I'm not too fond of with this dress is the upper half. The black tank leads into the pink skirt too high up on the torso, leaving me with a slightly childlike chest. I combated that with a front-tie bolero I unearthed from my closet to lengthen the black top. If I was in junior high, I would have undoubtedly worn the bolero the way it's meant to be worn - with the bow-tie in the front. Though considering it's 2017 and I'm no longer a preteen, I took my own spin on the bolero by tying the strings around my back, similar to the more grown-up criss-cross tops which have been in style lately. From there, accessorizing was a breeze. I tightened a gold and pink chain choker around my neck, hooked in a pair of earrings that bore striking resemblance to my necklace, and slipped on a pair of black suede booties with gold hardware detailing. Et voilà.


Evening

I'm surprised by how my evening look coincidentally followed a similar theme as my morning outfit - black on top, colour on bottom. I honestly hadn't done that on purpose! All I knew was I wanted to get some use out of the Banana Republic circle skirt I bought a few years back. I classed the skirt up with some filmy black lace, and once again accessorized with gold jewellery. Although I don't follow many traditions, red and gold signify luck and fortune in Chinese culture, so I thought my outfit would be a fitting combination. Moreover, as hoop earrings appear to be on trend again lately, I rummaged through my mother's jewellery box and found around five different gold hoop earrings to choose from. I went with a mid-sized hoop to hit that Goldilocks formula.
Top: Nanette Lepore | Skirt: Banana Republic | Boots: Ned-Nedy | Tank Top: Old Navy | Tights: Unknown | Handbag: Unknown | Bracelet: Unknown | Earrings: Unknown























Now that we've done the obligatory outfit overview, let me get back to the actual wedding and open up about love.

Two years ago, I met the man who would become my first love. During our time together, I learned love truly is about the little things. When he walks back to the car without being told to, just to grab the scarf you forgot to bring. When he congratulates you for completing part (I repeat, part) of a hiking trail, even though you complained the whole way through. When he's seen you with your acne and eczema galore, and still never fails to remind you everyday how beautiful he thinks you are. And the list goes on and on...

In addition to the little things, love is about the rough seas you weather together. Love is as complicated as it is instinctual. As irritating as it is fulfilling. As painful as it is blissful. But ask yourself, if you don't feel the pain, do you really feel the love?

Mistakes and failures will be made, but apologies and kindness will always be genuine. At the end of the day, do you walk out of the storm hand-in-hand, knowing full well there's no one else you rather be going through the rain with?

As I watched the to-be wedded couple that day, I knew they had found that kind of love with each other. The way they joked during their vows about the mundane details of co-habitation, or the way they laughed off technical difficulties throughout the ceremony. They didn't need to make a big show of devotion that morning of their wedding, because they had already been showing it every step of the way since the day they met.

July 16, 2017

Giving the Cold Shoulder

A few weeks ago, I needed some me time. I had been planning to take a walk around downtown to snap pictures for a corporate scavenger hunt I was participating in, so thought I might as well stop by the mall while I was at it. Besides, I've been told by a few friends my ratchet changing room selfies are actually their favourite blog posts of mine to read. If that's really the case, y'all are weird.

But here you go.

Topshop Gingham Cold Shoulder Ruffle Top


Cold shoulder and off-shoulder tops have been trendy for about a year now, but this summer, I'd say the trend is at its prime. I have been seeing them absolutely everywhere. Though what goes up must come down, so I'll have my fun trying the trend while it's still hot. A variation on the exposed shoulder top I've been seeing lately is the ruffled cold shoulder. I love it! It's elegant and feminine. This gingham shirt from Topshop struck me as a mix between the ruffled cold shoulder and this Self-Portrait asymmetrical frill shirt I've been noticing in Holt Renfrew's window display. I hoped I would exude the glowing beauty of other girls I've seen wearing tops like these, but the final result was slightly underwhelming. The flared hem and sleeves did not complement the ruffles, and the shirt would have looked better if the silhouette was slimmed down (as I've tried to show in the photo).


TFNC Kimberly Jumpsuit


You might wonder whether there's a method to my madness when choosing what clothes to try on for my blog posts. While obviously I try on items I personally like, I also pick out items I would never actually buy. Oftentimes, these are trendy items, pieces with unusual designs, or things I don't have any occasion to wear. This jumpsuit was of the latter. Although I adore the sophistication of a jumpsuit, I can't fathom any occasion in my uneventful daily life that would necessitate such elegance. Except, well, taking pictures for my changing room blog posts. The lace shoulders on this TFNC jumpsuit were a nice touch, and the legs had a decently slim cut. My only complaint is how the off-shoulder didn't complement the class of the jumpsuit that well. I actually found it more flattering to wear the neckline higher up on my shoulders - like a boat neck.


Topshop MOTO Soft Cold Shoulder Dress


Yes, another cold shoulder. I thought the soft denim on this dress was a trendy companion to the exposed shoulder, and I was interested in how the shoulder hung lower on my arms. But overall, nothing too special. The cold shoulders ended up looking odd from the side; they were too severe for there to be a sense of continuity in the dress.


Topshop Floral-Printed Midi Dress



I picked up this dress purely for the unexpected hook and eye closures running down the torso. Although they reminded me of a corset, I knew the dress was too flimsy for that to be the intended effect. So I was very curious to see how this strange creation would look. After putting it on, I learned it was just as unusual on me as it was on the rack. The deep v-neck leading into the black strip of hooks was not flattering, nor was the square slit running up the front. A mumsy dress trying too hard to be youthful. Basically, I tried this dress on so you don't have to. You're welcome.


Topshop Embroidered Jamie Jeans


In one of my recent posts, I mentioned how patiently I had been waiting for these Topshop floral embroidered black jeans to go on sale. Last week, they finally went down from $120 to $48. And yet after all this waiting, these pants turned out less than stellar. I had been putting these jeans on a pedestal for months, but trying them on with the intent of buying them broke my stubborn obsession and allowed me to see these pants for what they truly were. The floral embroidery: absolutely stunning, but itchy on the inside. The cutting on the ankles: uneven and flared out. (Granted, these jeans are supposed to be cropped above the ankle, so I can understand why the ankle is cut wider.) If the ankles didn't look so weird, I might have whipped out my credit card. But for me, perfection is vital if spending $50 on a pair of jeans.


Topshop Embroidered Jamie Jeans


In an attempt to recuperate from a dashed dream, I picked up another pair of floral embroidered jeans. With mom-jean cutting and rips at the knees, this was a trendier variation of the embroidered Jamie. While the floral detailing was right up my alley, I still had many complaints. The embroidery made the lines of the leg very bumpy on the sides, the crotch was not as fitted as I would've liked, and the ripped knees made the overall look seem cluttered. However, I did walk away with one tidbit of knowledge: ripped knees on tight jeans make bending your legs to sit much easier.


H&M Frilled Mesh Blouse


I've passed by this sheer blouse multiple times in H&M's window display, and each time, I always think it looks so pretty. That day, I finally took it off the rack to try it on. I love the seafoam colour, and the tight ruffles and ruching are a great feminine touch. The elastic around the waist also helps add flounce and shape to the bottom half. However, what I didn't realize is this top is completely transparent. For wearability, I would have preferred H&M add in their own lining so I wouldn't have to expend mental energy thinking about how to layer this blouse.


H&M Jumpsuit with a Flounce


Another jumpsuit and exposed shoulder! I grabbed this jumpsuit because I found the sleek minimalism and emerald tone to be quite appealing. After trying it on, I noticed how everything was just generally...broad. I struggled with how exaggerated the flounce was at the torso. If the torso was sleeker and the wide-legs were slimmed down into a leaner cut, the shoulders would stand out to make a more sophisticated statement.


H&M Denim Bib Overall Shorts


I found these short overalls in the younger section of H&M, so I knew I would be showing off a more adolescent look here. Overalls have been trendy for a while, but this was actually my first time trying them on. And honestly, I didn't hate them. I liked how hip and casual they were. The ease of just throwing on a t-shirt underneath is quite appealing, and the look can be effortlessly dressed up with funky accessories. The only thing is I wouldn't recommend this particular pair from H&M - the bum is cut pretty flat so your rounded behind will look more or less like a straight line.

June 10, 2017

Fashion Tips & Tricks

If I were one to ride on internet trend trains, I would've shamelessly titled this post "Top 3 Fashion Hacks". I even considered titling it "Dope Fashion Tricks" (wow, hah hah, I'm so funny and clever and not lame), but I'll save myself the public ridicule by just calling this "Fashion Tips & Tricks".

Now, by no means do I have any sort of expertise in providing fashion tips and tricks - the following so-called life hacks are just little discoveries I have made in the past couple of months. I don't expect to impart any sort of valuable knowledge upon you; most likely you will find everything below completely irrelevant or very novice. But hey, I'm just sharing for fun and the minuscule chance you might actually find this interesting.

1. The Practicality of Bandeaus


This one is going to be pretty obvious for most of you out there, so bear with me. Bandeaus and bralettes became popular a couple years back for layering underneath sheer blouses, lace tops, or simply underneath a blazer. Being someone who grew up dressing more conservatively, baring any part of my torso seemed like a très risqué maneuver. So whenever I had tops which were too transparent or low-cut, I felt as if I had no option but to wear tank tops or camisoles underneath. While neither were necessarily bad options, tank tops sometimes looked too casual peeking through sheer blouses, and the square neckline of camisoles cut across the chest in ways which reminded me too much of my preteen years. I needed something a bit more grown up.

That's when I discovered the convenience of bandeaus. With my newfound confidence in dressing, I decided to wear a colourful bandeau under a sheer, low-cut white t-shirt I had. And wow, the freedom was amazing! Not only did the bandeau look cool and quirky underneath, it was perfect for that particular hot sunny day. In the past, I've often found it tedious wearing a tank top under wispy summer shirts, as if I weren't already sweating enough with just one layer of fabric. But now, air ventilation is greatly improve with a bandeau. As well, bandeaus help immensely with low-cut necklines. Because my bandeaus are so tight, there is no risk of my bra showing or any fear I will flash anyone if my neckline slips down or I bend over to pick something up. Beadeaus have given me so much liberty with my summer outfits, and they open doors in terms of being able to wear the looser or more revealing shirts I have.


2. Wearing Random Chains as Jewellery


I am definitely not a person who is good at fashion DIYs, but this DIY is simple enough for even the most amateurish of rookies. Digging through my jewellery boxes one day, I managed to find this random silver chain. I have absolutely no clue where this chain came from, or what it was previously used for - but regardless of its past life, I figured I could reincarnate it as a jewellery piece. Luckily, the chain has a bright, shiny finish that helps it seem less like just some random old chain I picked up, and more like an actual piece of jewellery. I've worn it in various ways, including as a knotted necklace, a layered necklace, a layered bracelet, and even the trendy tied choker look. If you have random material laying around, like chain, ribbon, or a leather tie, you could easily replicate these looks.


3. Fixing Patent Leather Scuffs with Vaseline


If there is actually anything you walk away with today, I hope it is this trick. Being a shoe lover, my heart aches whenever I see a pair of shoes I own getting (inevitably) worn down and used. I try my best to maintain the condition of my shoes by cleaning and polishing them regularly. However, one struggle I have had since high school was maintaining my patent leather shoes. Lately, I have been wearing a pair of super shiny patent Miu Miu loafers and a pair of orange patent Cole Haan oxfords, both of which have been accidentally scuffed in the process.

Thank goodness for Google, because I learned rubbing Vaseline onto patent leather with a clean cloth can help remove scuffing. AND IT WORKS. I thought I was done for when I scratched the orange patent on my Cole Haans against the pavement, but seeing the scuff go away with Vaseline made me burst with glee. Keep in mind, for patent leather which has been rubbed down to a dull finish, Vaseline likely won't work miracles. But if you have a scratch, you might be able to renew the leather. Either way, give it a try!

Image Source: Pinterest