April 26, 2014

I am Not Fashionable

In Shia LaBeouf style, I confess: I am not fashionable.  Despite being so enamoured with fashion, I've never been able to practice what I preach.  Up until this year, no one would've been able to guess I was even remotely interested in fashion.  That nerdy girl?  Please. But this year, this year is different.  No, I'm not saying I'm fashionable; I'm saying I've finally discovered my personal style.

Sweater: Unknown | Button-up: Kent | Leggings: Gap | Boots: Michael Kors | Handbag: Balenciaga

I am a child of hand-me-downs, even though I have no siblings.  I wore mostly used clothing when I was little, and when I didn't, my mom would often buy clothing a size larger so I could continue wearing them as I grew. To say the least, I was never a fashionable kid. However, ever since I started getting into fashion, I felt the pressure to look the part. This led to several years of trying to be fashionable and unique, while still trying to find my own style.  The result: painful to look back on.

Blouse: Joe Fresh | Pants: Joe Fresh | Fur vest: Ralph Lauren | Heels: Calvin Klein | Handbag: Unknown

During that transition period, I looked quite a mess.  Wanting to look fashionable, but not quite willing to spend money investing in fashion when I didn't know what my personal style was meant cheap Old Navy clothing (the ultimate in suburban style), Garage leftovers from grade 7 (the ultimate in tween style), and higher quality, brand name clothing from an affluent friend, all mixed together into eclectic (but not very cool) outfits.  I would have designer tees worn under colourful Garage zip-up hoodies, paired with ill-fitting flared jeans, and dirty sneakers.

Top: Alexander Wang | Skirt: Express | Flats: Town Shoes | Handbag: Danier | Necklace: Unknown | Ring: Unknown

Again, feeling the pressure to walk the talk, I pretended as if I knew what my style was.  I pretended as if I could walk into a store and instantly identify that which was worthy of my money.  I really couldn't.  I pretended as if my strange style was sooo me.  It really wasn't. I pretended in desperate hopes I could fit in with that seemingly elusive fashion crowd.

Dress: Topshop | Heels: Prada | Tights: Unknown | Necklace: Unknown | Ring: Unknown

Even up until last year, I didn't feel entirely comfortable in my fashion masquerade.  I was still trying to be someone I wasn't.  In some ways I was making progress towards my personal style, but I couldn't yet bring myself to spend too much on a style I didn't entirely call my own.  I still lived in the shadows of a better, more stylish girl, aspiring and trying so hard to one day grow beyond her shadow and become her.

Tank top: Garage | Lace top: Unknown | Shorts: S.M.D. | Flats: Town Shoes

Finally, this year.  I don't know what clicked.  Maybe it was going back to studying with the same group of classmates everyday that revived my interest in putting together outfits. Maybe it was just an unconscious shift of perspective that gave me a "who the heck cares" attitude.  Maybe it was simply the combination of my affluent friend sufficiently stocking my wardrobe with quality pieces (I'm still that child of hand-me-downs) and my recent shopping spree.  Whatever it was, it opened up my eyes to a whole new world of dressing. I've become more daring with how I dress; I've gone from thinking "I can't wear that" to "how can I wear this".  I don't care what other people think.  I dress for the pure enjoyment of it.  I wear what I dare to wear.

Top: Le Ciel | Skirt: Grazie | Shoes: Converse

So what is my personal style?  Actually, it's not a style at all.  It's a state of mind.  I've given up trying to look fashionable in order to prove my ability.  My skill comes from my brain, not what pieces of fabric I have draped across my skin.  Am I fashionable?  No, I'm not, and I may never be.  All I know, and care about, is that I'm happy in what I'm wearing.

April 18, 2014

She's Got Game?

From Sports Illustrated  to Vogue.  As a model in both cases, you learn to seduce through the pages - but in different ways.  Kate Upton is the latest model to be touted as having successfully crossed the border from male fantasy to high fashion, consequently exposing the fashion industry to a new body ideal (see: voluptuous). As much as I would like to agree, I'm still skeptical about whether Upton's swimwear allure translates into high fashion appeal.

The first time I saw Upton in an editorial was in Vogue's June 2013 issue.  She was, I'll admit, average. The styling portrayed her as sexy and sophisticated, but it was an editorial I easily moved on from.  Just recently, I encountered her again in Vogue's February 2014 issue, and this time around, I went from being indifferent to being underwhelmed.  Before I proceed, take a look at the photos, which were photographed by Mario Testino for a spread titled "She's Got Game":

In case you jump to conclusions, my skepticism has nothing to do with her body.  I think she has a fantastic va-va-voom figure that both men and women would love to see photographed more often. What I think she lacks, however, is a seasoned understanding of how to draw a reader in with her face, and a pose that goes beyond the standard hands-on-hips.  Looking at her face in these photos, I see a smile that doesn't quite reach her eyes, and an almost forced expression made all the more obvious by her energetic companions. You can't let a leaping Jimmy Fallon overshadow you, especially when you're a blonde bombshell.  I also couldn't sense any frisson of connection between her and those around her, making the reader feel just as awkward and uncomfortable as she looks in the photos.

It's tough being a model, and I don't want to give up on Upton quite yet.  But in order for me to be convinced she deserves a spot in fashion editorials, she needs to mesmerize me with her eyes, radiate her energy through the pages, and draw me into her snapshot in time of a heightened reality.  I need to desire the clothing she wears.  I need to feel like I want to be her.  I need to feel like she's owning it. 

Image Source: Vogue.com

April 14, 2014

This Is the End

What a year.  This was the year I started my business program, and I can confidently say I have not felt such a sense of academic community and camaraderie since my time pursuing an International Baccalaureate diploma.  The experience I've gained in my business program is one-of-a-kind, and I couldn't have been more grateful for the opportunity to be surrounded by like-minded, ambitious students who challenge me each and every day to think outside the box.

To celebrate the end of a rigorous - and oftentimes stressful - year, our school hosted a banquet.  I was excited for another opportunity to get fancied up so shortly after a fashion show I attended two weeks ago, but was faced with a big problem: I didn't have a dress.  I don't party very often, so eveningwear has never seemed like a worthy investment (as some of you know, I even borrowed my grad dress). However, my fellow fashion friend was generous enough to let me go through her wardrobe and pick out this number:

Dress: eBay (borrowed) | Heels: Calvin Klein
My other friend had actually worn this dress to the fashion show we attended, but I had no problem with that as I intended to wear it differently.  When I tried on the dress, it just felt so right.  It had fashionable elements that made it more than just a typical party outfit.  I absolutely loved the lace sleeves (so me!), and you can't see, but the back had only one layer of lace, subtly countering the conservatism of the long sleeves.  The skirt was a comfortable mid-thigh, and the soft peplum helped elevate the dress from clubwear to eveningwear. My friends and I agreed the look was busy enough without accessories, and so I simply threw on a pair of low-heeled, black pumps to keep it classy.  It was an overall sultry look, but one that was grounded by elements of sophistication.

I received a couple compliments that night, but in the end, I felt confident in what I was wearing and that was all I needed.  Our year-end banquet was, of course, bittersweet.  It wasn't until my cab ride home that it hit me the banquet was the last time I would see all of my classmates together.  As hectic as these past 8 months have been, I know I will look back and realize how this was one of the best years of my academic life.  Time flies when you're having fun.  And so, a toast to an end that signals the beginning of new friendships, new opportunities, and new milestones.

April 9, 2014

Michael Kors Fall 2014 Menswear

"Find your style and invest in a good pair of shoes."  

That was the parting advice one of my professors had for the men in our class, and I couldn't help but smile when he said it. A man with style earns major points for me. It's not the idea of caring about looks, but the idea that a guy cares enough about himself to at least attempt to be presentable.

What's funny, however, is how little I actually know about menswear.  I had a taste of it when I read Elle Canada's first issue of Elle Man.  Reading Elle Man was like discovering a whole new world.  It was riveting.  It was exciting.  It was like falling in love with fashion all over again.  But otherwise, I'm a newbie. And so in my attempt to become more accustomed with this other side of fashion, I present to you my first time posting about menswear.

I've chosen to shine the spotlight on Michael Kors.  I found so much cheeky humour in this collection - but also some fantastic pieces - that I had to put my two cents in.  Overall, this collection was the definition of luxe loungewear.  There were drawstring sweatpants...but wait, they were double-faced cashmere sweatpants.  The slouchy sweaters were mohair, and those trackpants?  Suiting flannel.

Contrast that against structured coats and blazers, and you get a collection that mocks the uppity world of Wall Street, but closer to home, I saw it as the wardrobe of a stylish college boy.  I just adore the furry mitts above (how fun!), and the socks and sandals combo throughout the collection gave me a good laugh (shoutout to a classmate of mine who proudly worked the socks and sandals look during a group project, and my quick-witted friend who just wouldn't forgive him for it).

I don't really have a verdict for this collection considering the scant knowledge I have of menswear, but it's a collection that made me genuinely smile, and hey, a collection that can do that is worth something, isn't it?

See the entire collection here.

Image Source: Style.com

April 1, 2014

Live. Laugh. Love.

For the past three years, I've had the pleasure of attending an annual fashion show organized by a student club at my university.  I decided to write about it this year because it was such a memorable experience. Not only was the show done differently this time around in a more intimate setting, I had a great time dressing up before the show and attending with six of my good friends.  I'm not actually going to talk about the show - even though it was amazing - because instead, like every typical fashion blogger, I feel the need to blog about what I wore!  Here I am in the centre with two great friends I met this year:

Sweater: From Hong Kong (gift) | Skirt: Handmade by friend (borrowed) | Flats: Town Shoes | Belt: Laura Petites | Necklace: Charlotte Russe (borrowed) 

When deciding what to wear, I knew I wanted a long skirt.  University girls often opt for short dresses, and while many still look wonderfully fashionable, a long, ethereal skirt is more my style.  Luckily, my talented roommate had a handmade midi skirt in a pretty muted pink which she lent to me.  I love that the underskirt is cut shorter, allowing you to show some leg without, well, actually showing leg.  Walking in such a skirt is heavenly; it swishes around gracefully with each step.  Initially, the plan was to wear a lace top to really work the feminine look, but I didn't have one that paired well with the skirt.  And so I went with a black sweater with gold threads my friend gave me, and my new pair of black flats (as I said, future post on those coming up!) to finish off the balletic look.  I would have worn heels but I didn't have a good pair here and comfort was important as I needed to arrive earlier to help with set-up.  My neck felt bare, so I added my friend's statement necklace that I saw her wearing months ago and really liked.  Lastly, this was my second time curling my hair (my first was for grad), and it turned out alright considering I used absolutely no hair product.

Shoes: Town Shoes
Earrings: Betsey Johnson (gift)

And something I rarely do on this blog: beauty!  I wasn't going to talk about these products until I realized they all fit with the colour scheme of my outfit: pink, gold and black.

Nailpolish: Dr.'s Remedy | Perfume: BVLGARI Omnia Crystalline | Lipstick: Elizabeth Arden

I actually received the nailpolish from a giveaway I won, and the lipstick I blogged about in First a Rose, Then a Kiss.  The Bulgari perfume was a free sample I ordered online, and it had been mailed all the way from Italy.  The best part was the bottle in which it arrived:

A gold star to anyone who knows the secret to opening these bottles!  The scent was surprisingly good - very light, feminine and illuminating.  

Overall, I had an awesome evening.  The fashion show was classy, the company I had was priceless, and our "after-party" of McDonalds (complete with coupons) made it a hilarious, ironic night.  When I got home, I sat down, opened my laptop, and did what I do best: write. I was so honoured to have been asked to write an article recapping the show for the club's magazine, but of course, I spent my time writing for another group of people dear to my heart: you.

P.S.: A huge thank you to my friend who unexpectedly gave me a handmade headband as a gift that night.  So sweet of you!