October 25, 2016

How Smart Are You?

When it comes to technology, I am far from trendy. I am not even sub par. I am downright outdated.

I own a Blackberry Curve 8520. With no data. Let's just say that.

I was never concerned with whether I had the latest technology. It was all relatively unimportant to me. Technology didn't excite me like a pair of shoes did, and to this day, technology hardware remains pretty lackluster to me.

















However, something new has been brewing and gaining momentum in the past couple of years: the marriage of technology and fashion. The advent of wearable technology. Now that is something I can get into.

Fashion Magazine wrote a great article outlining some of the wearable technology options out there. Designer bracelets which notify you of incoming texts, charge your phone, or provide Yelp recommendations. Um, whaaat? We aren't talking about Google Glass grappling to gain mainstream appeal by partnering with Diane von Furstenberg to make its glasses less...dweeby. We aren't talking about Kate Spade phone cases we slap onto our devices. We aren't even talking about merely attaching LED lights to a dress. We're talking about fashion items inherently designed to be technological devices. I hadn't heard of the majority of items listed in the article - which goes to show the industry is still young - but I was surprised by how it was budding.


















Of  course the most popular fashion tech item to have taken shoppers by storm was the Apple Watch. It not only had the software of the technology giant, it also had a sleek, modern look, and a wide selection of wristbands to complement each customer's personal style. To be honest, when I first heard about the watch, I thought it was a pretty pointless product release. I didn't see the advantage of working off such a tiny screen - not to mention a tiny screen placed awkwardly on my wrist. While I understood it was meant to add a factor of convenience, I did not live the kind of lifestyle that benefited from having a smartwatch. As a style statement, though, I do see the attraction. Many times before has a classmate's flash of his/her Apple Watch grabbed my attention.


















Just recently, my boyfriend introduced me to Michael Kors Access, a line of smartwatches packaged in the skin of Michael Kors' distinctive (and insanely sought-after) link watches. You really wouldn't be able to tell the difference until you looked at the watch face. These watches intrigued me. They were smartwatches that didn't look like smartwatches. There were no rounded edges to mimic the cool minimalism of a smartphone screen. Instead, these watches were loudly, proudly glamorous.


















Funnily enough, what stood out to me about the watches was not the physical design, but the digital interface. One thing I didn't like about the Apple Watch was its bubbly main menu. Michael Kors Access watches, on the other hand, operate through a swiping motion. The design of the interface is also prettier; it's meant to align with the tastes of the quintessential Michael Kors customer. Even my techie boyfriend, who favours functionality over fashion, wants one of these watches for himself. Now that's saying something.

What's interesting is even though I had really only known of Apple Watches (and now Michael Kors Access), smartwatches as fitness devices have established themselves fairly well in the market. From Garmin, to Fitbit, to Microsoft...smartwatches are actually not few and far between. So why haven't I heard more about them? Probably because they aren't stylish. If the tech world wants to reach new markets, they might want to consider making products that also look mighty fine as fashion accessories - so much so even people like me, who aren't technological fiends, will want to buy them.

Image Source: EngadgetFashion Tag,T3Michael Kors

October 8, 2016

What is Fashion?

I am currently reading a book, titled 'Women in Clothes', filled with short stories, interviews, and blurbs exploring the relationship between women and their clothing. This book aims to fill a perceived gap left by fashion magazines:

"A problem I've always had with fashion magazines is that women are encouraged to copy other women ... The most compelling women are the ones who are distinctive, who are most like themselves and least like other women ... It's almost as if fashion magazines don't understand what a woman wants. I think she wants to be unique among other women, a creature unlike any other."
-- Sheila Heti in 'Women in Clothes'

Instead of instructing women on what to wear, how to wear it, and when to wear it, this book recognizes that style is very personal. Style is not about following the supposed all-knowing commands of the fashion elite, but the unique ways in which one makes a particular combination of clothing their own. Style is more about how one feels and acts than is it about what one wears. As a result, style is very difficult to transfer or copy because its essence is drawn from within.



One of my favourite concepts from the book is that the most stylish women are not always the most well-dressed. Rather, a woman is stylish because she has an acute awareness of the clothing she has on. It might be kooky and strange - wearing a sweater inside out to show the seams, or tying the sleeves of a jacket diagonally across the torso instead of around the waist - but that type of individuality demonstrates a keen consciousness about the clothing's presence on the body. Upon telling my dear friend about this book, he came back with the idea fashion is not bound by anything other than the rules we set for ourselves. Style is an identity. It may be a mixture of cultural influences and personal preference, but its inherent appeal is ultimately idiosyncratic. And that, I think, is exactly what this book is trying to say.

As I spoke more with my friend, he asked a question I couldn't believe I had not answered on this blog yet: What is fashion?























I have never formally articulated this, but fashion is not simply about the glitz and glamour, the runway shows and photoshoots, the gorgeous models and expensive clothes... These are certainly things encompassed within the realm of the industry, but getting to the deeper meaning of fashion requires thinking more intangibly.

To me, fashion is two things: self-expression and fantasy.






















Self-expression: Fashion is more than just the clothing we put on our bodies. It is a way of communicating who we are to the world. In aggregate, fashion can instigate movements and embody cultural zeitgeist. As individuals, fashion is a mechanism to express our inner selves. No matter how little someone claims to care about fashion, everyone sends a message with what they choose to wear. Someone who puts minimal thought into an outfit sends just as bountiful a message as someone who invests significant effort. And as much as the industry makes it seem like there is right and wrong in dressing, truly good fashion comes from having the confidence to shatter the rules.

Fantasy: An interesting thing about fashion is, in addition to being a form of self-expression, it's also a way for us to become someone we're not. Fashion gives us the opportunity to explore other identities - to almost play pretend. I might walk with a heavier step and more attitude in an all-black outfit with edgy ankle boots, and glide with poise and grace in an elegant knee-length dress with ballet flats. Fashion provides me with the tools to briefly inhabit different personas and change the way I present myself. As I've mentioned before, fashion is a form of art to me. The industry is rich with creativity because it's a platform to live out our wildest dreams and fantasies - a world where we can wear things which might be impractical or "unwearable", but which are oh so very beautiful and stunning.


















With regards to whether there is a distinction between 'style' and 'fashion', it depends on who you ask. "Fashion fades, style is eternal," Yves Saint Laurent once said. But I think if you really get to the heart of things, both are heavily rooted in confidence and self-expression. Fashion feeds into style, and style feeds into fashion. With no beginning nor end, the swirling duo whip up a glimmering cloud of beauty, fantasy and individuality.

Image Source: WorkShopCoop, Indian RootsStreet Peeper, emaze

October 3, 2016

Too Hot. Too Cold. Or Just Right?

Button-ups. Men look great in them, especially with the sleeves rolled up.





















But one thing I sometimes struggle with, and I'm sure men do too, is how much to unbutton at the top. For women, sometimes unbuttoning too little looks matronly, and unbuttoning too much looks scandalous. For men, they teeter-totter between looking too plain or too sleazy.

What triggers my discussion of this topic (of clearly paramount importance) is a video I saw pop up on my Facebook News Feed a while back:



Quite a genius idea, actually. Although I don't mind when men have it buttoned all the way up - I think it looks stylish, and for a girl like me, a stylish guy always gains extra points. But johnnie-O is doing good in giving men the option of 'just right'. Just a peek of chest does wonders, like a V-neck does wonders for women.

Perfectly unbuttoned with the sleeves rolled up...now that's a winning combo.

Image Source: The Idle Man