May 23, 2016

What A Push Up

Well, after bashing Freddy WR.UP pants, I thought it was only fair I grant the pants fair trial by actually giving them a go and trying them on. Besides, my curiosity about their magical butt lifting abilities had me gravitating towards the store (yes, so what if I am curious about that bootylicious life).

While the Spring 2016 collection offered some crazy options (tri-coloured ombre?!), I decided to go for a pair of classic denim pants.

At first I was skeptical of trying on an XXS (I don't quite have that teenage physique anymore), but it turned out to be the right size. I don't have a photo of myself in the pants (I rather not have something like that saved for eternity on the Internet), so you'll have to bear with me as I explain.

The first thing I noticed was how incredibly tight the pants are. Luckily, it is made of a soft, stretchy fabric, so putting it on does not require breaking out into a sweat and swearing under your breath, but I was still surprised by how much it looked spray-painted onto my legs. While the waistline fit properly, I did have problems with length, as a significant portion of the pant bunched up around my ankles. 

But of course, Freddys are not about the legs - they're about sculpting that derrière. I must admit, my behind did look rounder. I still found the stitching to be awkward, but I guess once you have the pants on, you are slightly blinded by the magnificence of your new spherical asset. Although, I'm tempted to say part of why you get an instant butt lift is because of how tight the pants are. With jeans glued to your skin, any curvature (no matter how slight) gets brought to light.

At the end of the day, I still prefer my normal rump. I felt a little try-hard in those pants, and I was definitely not a fan of how tight they were. I thought my legs looked like two unappetizing sausages (though the friends I was with told me my legs looked good). Besides, $180 for a pair of denim pants? I understand designer jeans can cost upwards of $300, but Freddys still carry a hefty price tag themselves.

So after all that, maybe I have saved some of you from the embarrassment of having to walk into a Freddy store to quell your own curiosity. Or, perhaps, I've actually enticed some of you to give your own booty a push up...

Image Source: Livify

May 15, 2016

Make Me Look Cool

A good friend of mine recently shared this Buzzfeed article with me. In it, Buzzfeed staff member Chelsea Marshall goes to six different clothing stores and asks each of them to make her look "cool".

My first thought: why cool? Cool is a word inherently based on what is trendy at the time. If you ask a store to dress you "cool", you're just going to get an outfit consisting of the latest trends or whatever the store's brand image is. There is no concrete definition of what cool is, so this article essentially sets out to prove what is already known.

However, despite my initial skepticism with the premise of this experiment, I do like the final message Marshall leaves us with: "If you’re uncomfortable, even the 'coolest' outfit will look terribly uncool." Because you know what's cool? Confidence. It's the backbone of all good outfits. It's the reason why we say designers like Alexander Wang design for "cool" girls. Wang's designs are not intrinsically cool - it's the type of girls he designs for who are. Being cool is more about an attitude than what you wear.

One thing I did notice from the Buzzfeed article is how varied womenswear can be in terms of what is considered cool or trendy. What about menswear? Well, this is where my friend from earlier comes in. He actually decided to carry out the same experiment for his YouTube channel, More Merrick.

As you can see, in all cases, Merrick was given a pair of pants, a shirt, and a jacket. Of course, to the fashion-minded, there are many differences between these three looks, but generally speaking, the formula was consistent across all stores. Variety in menswear is definitely more about the subtle differences. Overall similarity between the looks could also be attributed to the fact these stores are based heavily on following trends (though you could argue Urban Outfitters is the exception, as it does have its own distinctive image). Also, notice how Merrick has to make rules for expanding on and clarifying what "cool" means to potentially confused sales associates, which just goes to show the ineffectiveness of using the word in the first place. I understand "cool" makes for a catchier editorial title, but again, it's a strange way of going about an experiment.

Nonetheless, whether cool, or elegant, or edgy, we have probably all tried to embody a certain descriptor at some point in life. Eventually, we come to realize the most important thing is staying true to ourselves. Who we are may evolve through time (hence the cringing when we look back at our younger selves), but achieving harmony between your inner self and your outer self will leave you with a confidence that carries more weight than any single word ever could.

Image Source: Buzzfeed

May 1, 2016

Are You Listening?

Diversification in business is meant to reduce risk, and some luxury designer labels go to great lengths to take advantage of that theory. Most infamous may be Chanel; from fashion and lifestyle, to sports equipment, to guitars, Chanel has dipped its toes into many industries. While it may be amusing to see all the things Karl Lagerfeld is willing to brand with his interlocking-Cs, his multiple forays realistically boast more style than expertise. Labels are forgoing specialization for ubiquity, and while it is possible for a company to acquire expert knowledge through partnerships, the truth remains: the knowledge is not innate.

Dolce & Gabbana has also been trying its hand at diversifying product lines. For Fall/Winter 2015, the label released ornately embellished $7000 headphones, decked out in materials like Swarovski crystals, pearls, nappa leather and fur. Stylish, indeed - but functional? I decided to share the product page for a pair of D&G headphones with a good friend of mine who is a techie (he's also the one who introduced me to video game fashion) to see how he would react. He acknowledged the visual appeal of the headphones, but as I thought, he quickly wanted to know some specifications. D&G's product description is clearly written with the fashion buyer in mind, focusing on aesthetic offerings rather than technical capabilities. Those looking to learn more about the technology behind the fashion will be hard-pressed to find that information. A bit of Googling revealed nothing.

Of course, the type of people who are going to buy $7000 D&G headphones are probably not too concerned with specifications; D&G has made no mistake in understanding and catering to its customers. I simply find it curious that if someone happens to be interested in how well the headphones perform, that information is seemingly no where to be found. Fashion techies do exist - and D&G is failing to give that niche part of the market the full picture.

A fashion x technology collaboration done with more professional grace is the Apple Watch and Hermès collection, released earlier this year. Two massive powerhouses in their respective industries, coming together to produce an accessory meant to appeal to both the techies and the fashionistas. The product page gives fair weight to explaining the technical and design clout of the watches, making this collaboration a clean and equal partnership.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Two heads are better than one. We all know the exciting possibilities made available from the dynamics of two specialists joining hands. Collaboration with those from diverse backgrounds provides an opportunity to explore beyond one's own boundaries into uncharted territory, but the greatest beauty comes when all parties are given the chance to shine.

Image Source: MegaDeluxe, Yucatan, Engadget

April 24, 2016

In Uniform

Nearly two years ago (Ha. Ha. Yes, I know), my friend sent me a link to an article from The Independent about how many of us end up gravitating towards a uniform in our adult years. The uniform may be idiosyncratic, but a uniform nonetheless. Think Anna Wintour with her A-line skirts, pointy toed pumps, and of course, her signature dark shades.

On a different but related note, another friend of mine was telling me how uninspiring and wearisome it is to be forced into a suit everyday for work. He calls it a costume he puts on for the office.

These two instances bring me to the topic of uniforms. As a fashion fanatic, I have always feared the idea of mandatory attire. Growing up, I hated the idea of a school with uniforms, and even cried when I learned I was accepted into a private school for junior high (I didn't end up attending that school, thankfully). My mom had a uniform when she was little and chides me whenever I voice criticism against it. She praises uniforms for making her morning routine much simpler. While I acknowledge the benefits of a set outfit, I most certainly believe they are not for everyone.

For me, fashion is my greatest form of self-expression. Like an artist materializing his/her mind's creativity, clothing is my paintbrush and my outfit is my masterpiece. I strongly value the freedom to wear what I want. I've always considered the liberty to dress outside of the box as a huge bonus of working in the fashion industry. Nonetheless, while I adore experimenting with fashion, I do recognize that the article from The Independent is right: we can develop our own uniforms over time. Call it personal style, call it a uniform - most of us will get into a groove. But the difference with these uniforms is that they are our own. They become our uniforms because we created them. As a result, we love them.

The problem is, as an adult, we may still find ourselves forced into a uniform - this time not of the school variety. I've been lucky enough to work for an organization that is not strict on dress code and encourages the right attire for the job, resulting in a wide range of casual to dressy. I am also glad to have worked around amazing people who were either appreciative of those who enjoyed dressing up, or liked the art of style themselves. But I can imagine if I were forced into the traditional blazer and pant for five days a week, I would very quickly begin to dislike my job. Is lack of self-expression really enough to make someone pack up and switch jobs? I think it is.

To some, clothes are just pieces of fabric. To others, they're much more than that. Being forced into a cookie cutter image can take its toll over time. Attire is an element of corporate culture that should not be overlooked, whether you consider it a priority or not. One size (or uniform, in this case) does not fit all. If you insist on a particular uniform, know that you consequently insist on recruiting a particular person. Understandably, that may be exactly what your organization wants. But if you value diversity, there's worth in having people discover their own uniform. Of course, there should always be baseline rules that must be adhered to, but freedom to operate within those rules (it can be as simple as casual Fridays) will give people the leeway they need to remain true to themselves.

Looking forward to my adulthood, I will continue to insist on my freedom of fashion expression. I never ascribed to a uniform as a kid, and I'm not going to start now. There are ways to dress appropriately for the office while still having fun. We're in the workplace for the majority of our lives - don't let it be a place you lose sense of who you are.

Image source: Speaking of Style, Pinterest, Memorandum

April 15, 2016

Work-Life Balance

Now that I've graduated university, it's time to enter into the next chapter of my life: my career. I actually love working partly because it gives me an excuse to dress up everyday. When putting together outfits for work, versatility is definitely a factor I consider if I have after-work plans with friends. T.M. Lewin recently asked me to share some tips for transitioning from the office to the pub, and I thought now would be a very fitting time to tackle the subject!

Of course, the classic solution to making an office look more casual for after-work drinks is to take off one's blazer (a transition that also works really well with men's suits). I took that basic idea and brought it up a notch by playing with colour. Traditional officewear can be a bit drab for a night out, so my advice is to update traditional silhouettes with punchy colours. Here, we have the classic sheath dress, blazer, and pointy-toed pump, but re-imagined in bright red, pure white and periwinkle blue. I also chose a pump in suede (instead of leather) to soften the look. As soon as your Friday night happy hour begins, simply take off your blazer and you'll be left with a statement-making colour-blocked look sure to turn heads.

Dress: Zibi London | Blazer: Alexander McQueen | Shoe: Kristin Cavallari | Handbag: Louis Vuitton | Watch: Skagen | Bracelet: Cartier | Nailpolish: Butter London

When dealing with such bold colours, it's best to stick with clean and simple pieces. After all, stark minimalism is the new name of the game. But remember, as much as you may want to dress with after-work activities in mind - business first, ladies! Never leave home without your black business tote and a watch. With an outfit like this that toes the line between '9 to 5' and 'after 8', get ready to command attention in the boardroom, and attract attention in the bar.

April 3, 2016

Guest Post: Spring Date Night

Today, for the first time ever on my blog, I am publishing a guest post. This guest post comes courtesy of Adam King, a Retail Merchandising student at Syracuse University, who asked if I could help share his post for a digital fashion course. Needless to say, I was happy to help! Adam has come up with a pretty outfit for a spring date night. The spring and summer seasons are undoubtedly the best times for a date, and I can definitely see myself wearing that lovely duster coat for a romantic walk around the park after dinner.

Spring and warmer weather are just around the corner and I cannot wait! It seems like everything's more fun when it's warm. There are so many more options for a date night and if you stay with just dinner plans you can walk around and extend the night. Here is a perfect simple outfit for a date night out!

I love this blue dress from Mango. It is such a classic staple for your wardrobe and it can be dressed up or down, and it's a perfect dress for all of those summer weddings you may be attending! If it is a cooler night throw a light duster on over to keep you warm.

Right now I adore gold jewelry and I love the gold and navy combination. Adding simple gold statement earrings dress up the outfit just enough. To tie into the gold earrings this clutch has the perfect amount of bling. Felix Rey co-founder Lily Rafii, now Lily Band after marrying Doug Band, designs her products with a vintage flirty vibes which is perfect for a date night!

To finish off the outfit, add a pair of cut out heels like these from Target. These heels are great for summer and you can pair them with so many different outfits!

-- Adam King

Thank you for the guest post, Adam!

March 27, 2016

The Final Destination

As I write this blog post, sunlight is streaming through my living room windows. I'm letting the sun warm my back as I sip on a blackberry smoothie and listen to "Dangerous Woman" by Ariana Grande. Despite dealing with a sore throat and the coughs, I'm overcome with a feeling of peace and happiness. I want to crystallize this moment - right here, right now - as a reminder of why the past five years of my undergrad have been so memorable. For the umpteenth time, I am ever grateful for the opportunity to study away from home and pursue my goals.

Today was an especially good day because I went out to explore the city one last time. I had brunch with a friend, discovered a quaint maze-like bookshop, and revisited our local farmer's market. My friend felt tired afterwards, so I found myself with a free afternoon. I decided to top off my day with a trip to the mall for a final window shopping experience in this city. Here's what I tried on:

Banana Republic

Metallic Boyfriend Cardigan

To start off casual, we begin with a Banana Republic metallic cardigan. Oversized cardigans are becoming a bit of a trend lately, but I was lucky enough to already be on top of things a year ago with two oversized cardigans I found in my mom's closet. While I don't really need a cardigan right now, I wanted to try on this metallic knit version from Banana Republic. Sadly, after putting it on, I learned it had an unflattering rectangular shape, and the metallic knit was very rough against the skin.

Forever 21

Faux Suede Shorts

Suede is a popular fabric these days, so I thought I'd give it a go in the form of shorts. The faux suede on these Forever 21 shorts were buttery soft to the touch, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well it fit. I liked the length of the shorts and the slight high waist, as they make for a relatively more modest take on summer shorts. But of course, being Forever 21, there were quality issues. The zipper on the back was close to breaking, so I predict these shorts have only a couple washes worth of life.

Ribbed Lace-Up Bodycon Dress

Yup. I gave in to the lace-up trend. Ribbed lace-up dress - you can't get more on trend than that. As I've said, I actually do enjoy lace-up and think it's sexy, so I did like how the lacing looked across the chest. The ribbed fabric was awfully thin though, so the bottom half of the dress was a disaster. I also wasn't entirely fond of the awkward length of the sleeves.

Cutout Midi Dress

I picked this dress up for fun because I noticed it had such little fabric around the torso area with its backless cutout, and was curious to see how it would actually fit on the body. As I expected, the chest area was too loose, but what I didn't expect was how the skirt zipped up snuggly around the hips. Nonetheless, the fabric was once again very thin, and I would've preferred a maxi length instead of a midi length to balance out the revealing upper half (the front also has a deep V-neck). Would not recommend unless you want to try something on for the laughs.

Contemporary Belted Mini Dress

Continuing on my track of testing trends, I tried out exposed shoulders. I've been seeing a lot of off-shoulder tops lately, but since I've never liked fully exposed shoulders (no strapless tops or dresses for me!), I thought the open shoulder sleeves on this Forever 21 mini dress would be an appropriate compromise. While the overall concept is good, I found the sleeves to be too low and baggy. The dress looked like it was about to fall apart. If the cutouts were tightened up, I could see this being a good look.


Lace-Up Top

What's this? Yet another lace-up top? Yes. I thought the gold hardware detailing on this Guess top was so unique I just had to try it on. Nevertheless, yet another design concept good in theory, but poor in execution. The gold pieces weren't all consistently flat against the chest, and they ended up disrupting the criss-crossing shape of the lace-up, which is arguably what makes lace-up so alluring in the first place.

Galena Sleeveless Dress

I love floral anything. So much so I have been known to wear floral pants to the office. Therefore, no surprise the pretty watercolour floral on this Guess dress caught my eye. The placement and colour of the flowers were impeccable, although I wish the dress didn't come in a sleeveless high neckline. I know it's a contemporary look, but something more classic would have been great.

BCBG Max Azria

Fabiana Long Sleeve Prairie Dress

I find prairie dresses to be endearing in their modesty, even though I clearly don't have the body type to pull them off. I thought the corset-like waist would help give me some shape, but the rest of the dress was still too overwhelming and matronly on my frame. Funnily enough, despite my preference for elegant covered up pieces, my body shape is the type that does best with more revealing, body-con silhouettes.

Rayah Sequin-Embroidered Draped-Back Gown

Now for the grand finale. I tried on this gorgeous white gown from BCBG. It is the kind of gown I would seriously consider as a wedding dress if it were custom fit. I've never been a fan of typical wedding dresses, and have always envisioned myself walking down the aisle in a chiffon, Grecian dress with long fluttering sleeves extending from the shoulders. The winning feature of this gown, however, is the sequined back. I actually felt like Cinderella at the stroke of midnight when I had to take the dress off and return to the commoner's attire of jeans and a cardigan...