December 28, 2015

Boxing Day Breakdown

In Canada, December 26 is Boxing Day, a day of year-end sales and buying frenzy. Realistically through, nowadays Boxing Day is more like Boxing Week and the sales are quite meager. With the weak economy and rise of online shopping, the malls are hardly as packed as they once were. Nonetheless, going out on Boxing Day is almost a family ritual for me even though we often leave empty-handed. For our shopping trip this year, I tried on a number of dresses, but found nothing I wholeheartedly wanted. Along the way, I came across a couple of pieces I found interesting - some of which I tried on (and bought!), some of which I simply admired.

Self-Portrait High-Neck Column Dress

Let's start off with something bold! I saw this Self-Portrait dress in Holt Renfrew, and was impressed by the quality of the thick teal lace overlay. At first I thought it was entirely see-through and meant to be used as a layering piece, but then noticed the bandeau and skirt inner. This is clearly a daring dress, but I like the plentiful display of skin juxtaposed against the midi-length and high-neck silhouette.

French Connection Slick Chain Mini Dress

Hudson's Bay was one of the stores this year that had fairly good sales. My mom found this French Connection chain dress discounted to around $40. What I found really unique about this dress was the string of chains across the chest and along the hem. The dress fit me perfectly, but as usual, I felt uncomfortable with the way the arm holes cut in. Shame!

Banana Republic Chiffon-Fringe Blazer

I saw this chiffon-fringe blazer hung up on display and thought it was a great update to a wardrobe basic. I would style the blazer differently than shown here to make it classier and draw focus onto the fringe, but I would have to try it on to really determine if it's as good as it looks on the rack. I did notice the fringe tended to stick to whatever is underneath, so it could be a nightmare trying to keep the strips nice and aligned.

Burberry Kensington Trenchcoat

At long last, I have tried on a Burberry trenchcoat! My mom picked up one of Burberry's classic Kensington trenchcoats in my size, and I was surprised by how well it fit. I always thought I was too short to pull off a trench, but the impeccable tailoring of the world's most famous trenchcoat maker balanced out the length perfectly. One day, if I ever buy a trenchcoat, I know there's only one place I'll get it from.

Banana Republic Red Full Skirt

At last! The only thing I bought during my trip. I have always wanted a full skirt because I think it is a staple for the sophisticated woman. I tried on this Banana Republic skirt I found on sale for around $20 (and in size 00P!). Not only did the skirt fit well, I liked the sturdiness of the thicker fabric and the standout shade. I practically made a split-second decision to buy it (I am rarely such an impulse buyer), and only realized once I got home that the skirt comes with the added bonus of pockets!

Banana Republic Shirred Drop-Waist Skirt

This is another skirt from Banana Republic I would have bought if it came in my size. I generally don't think I look that good in looser, shorter skirts, but the fitted waistband above the ruffled drop-waist helped create a more flattering shape on my frame. The skirt was short, but not too short for my comfort zone. I absolutely adored the soft pink colour and lightweight fabric - it made the skirt pretty and feminine, but also flirty.

H&M Glittery Skirt

I've always wanted a sequin skirt because it can add such great texture to an outfit, but it's difficult finding a unique design in both good quality and price. I found this sequin skirt from H&M in a cool iridescent shade on sale for only $10, so I thought I'd give it a try. While it fit pretty well, the quality was too obviously lacking. As you can see in the photo, the inner lining is actually shorter than the skirt, leaving a portion of the hem a little sheer. Even though I like the concept, the execution does not pull through on a skirt of such cheap quality. The sheer edge emphasized the thin material and the hem easily puckered into a wave in the back. An example of why I always shop with a discerning eye in fast fashion stores - sometimes quality can be cheated, sometimes it's just too obvious. 

Gucci Fur-Lined Slingback Pump

We started with something bold, now let's end with something bold. These Gucci fur-lined slingbacks are absolutely crazy! These are shoes that keep on giving - first the red leather, then the kangaroo fur, then the gold heel, then the two large crystals behind the heel. It's sensory overload, and although I initially thought it was a bit much, I've seen some brave ladies sporting these in street style pictures, and they look like the ultimate fashionistas.

Image Source: ASOS, Revolve Clothing, Drez, WhoWhatWear, Lyst, H&MGucci  

December 9, 2015

Product Review: Green Tree Jewelry

Long, long ago, I once mentioned I never leave the house without a pair of earrings on. That remains true to this day, although lately I have also been getting more into necklaces and rings. Regardless, an issue I have always had with earrings is that as gorgeous as they are, larger drop earrings can be very heavy. You look and feel great, but boy, do your earlobes pay the price. By the end of the day, the sensation of removing those earrings becomes akin to that of removing a pair of vertiginous heels.

As a result, I only wear my particularly heavy earrings on special occasions - which is a shame! However, when I came across Green Tree Jewelry, I learned their earrings are not only made of laser-cut wood harvested from trees through sustainable methods, they also promise to be feather-light. Since the brand appears to specialize in large drop earrings, I was looking forward to putting their claim to the test.

Green Tree Jewelry graciously sent me three pairs to test drive

Considering their earrings are made of wood, I decided to select pairs in darker tones and more geometric shapes to complement the material. After wearing each pair for a day, I can attest these earrings are incredibly lightweight, especially for their size. It feels as if you aren't wearing earrings at all!

I thought the size of these earrings would go great with winter dressing, and so I matched each pair with a cozy sweater of mine.

Chevron Deco Earrings in Purple

The Chevron Deco earrings feature a unique teardrop design, and I like how there are two shades to the earrings, allowing me to have a subtle pop of colour against my darker hair.

Interlocking Diamond Earrings in Cherry Red

I thought the intricate lattice design of these Interlocking Diamond earrings would look great in a brighter colour. I chose the red knowing it would perfectly match my go-to floral scarf.

Fountain Pyramid Earrings in Cinnamon

Finally, I couldn't be trying out wood earrings without getting a pair in a natural wooden colour. I knew instantly these geometric Fountain Pyramid earrings would go well in a darker brown, as well as paired with my classic camel sweater.

Green Tree Jewelry's other earring designs cover a wide range of styles, from adorable animals to elegant scrolls (which I find so unique!). While some may suit those with more eccentric style, with over 600 designs, there are certainly options for those looking for something more minimalist. As for me, I'm just happy I get big impact earrings without the pain.

If you're interested in getting a pair for yourself, or think this could be a great holiday gift for someone you know, make sure to use the promo code FASTSHIP15 after registering to receive free shipping in the United States.

Financial compensation was not received for this post. The earrings were gifted to me by Green Tree Jewelry for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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

July 12, 2015

What's Up?

As boring as I sometimes think it is for you to read about my shopping adventures, I find blogging about specific fashion items to be a valuable exercise in exposing oneself to fashion's smallest, most fundamental unit of output. At the end of the day, these are the products that end up on the retail floor - these are the products that will have the most direct and intimate relationship with the consumer.

And so without further ado, let me share with you my excitement (and disappointment) over a couple of things I came across while shopping yesterday:

Marc by Marc Jacobs Metropoli Bucket Bag
Walking into Nordstrom, this was the very first item I took notice of. First of all, bucket bags are without a doubt this year's It Bag. I've seen a myriad of versions over these past few months, but this Metropoli Bucket Bag from Marc by Marc Jacobs has a little special something that makes it worth singling out - and that special something is a snap-flap envelope pocket stitched onto the exterior of the bag. While some of you may consider that pocket useful for carrying coins, I devise that it's the perfect size for slotting in a set of business cards. Forget those plain old metal business card holders everyone has. You have to admit that pulling a card out of your $400 Marc by Marc Jacobs handbag is much, much cooler.

Kate Spade Glitter Ursula New York Sunglasses
Remember how I tried on a pair of Kate Spade Shira Glitter Sunglasses last month? Well, I saw this glittery rendition of the Ursula New York, and I just couldn't resist! I slipped them on, and once again, Kate Spade surprised me with how good her frames look. Somehow she makes frames that fit my face perfectly, a rarity for a girl with a flat nose bridge and wider visage. I was pleasantly astonished by how chic, glamorous, and subtly retro the sunglasses were. Kate Spade, please continue to design eyewear because your frames are works of magic!

Freddy WR.UP Pant

Now on to something decidedly...less magical. Freddy is a new addition to one of my local malls, but my first impressions of it left me baffled. Its storefront was dominated by the Freddy WR.UP Pant, which according to the Internet, is a pretty popular product on Instagram and Facebook. The so-called WR.UP technology is said to shape and lift your derrière to epic, curvaceous proportions. If you ask me though, this sure is one unattractive way to achieve a perky behind. It's ridiculously clear that the jockstrap-like seaming is cut to create two exaggerated spheres on your rear-end; I don't quite see the appeal of so obviously declaring that you have to fake it to make it. Not to mention the seaming in of itself looks much too busy, with the bottom seam really just reminding me of visible pantyline. I, for one, am not keen on having my booty look like it's being pinched and pushed through a contraption which, let's be real, resembles a sort of strange wedgie. 

July 7, 2015

Worst Behavior

I've been talking a lot about retailers lately, but the retail landscape is in such an interesting state of change that I can't help but give my two cents. So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to vent about a recent development at one of my local malls.

In my city, there is one mall that everyone goes to. It is the ne plus ultra of malls where I live, and people will travel from all ends of the city to shop there. During its expansion and renovation a few years back, Forever 21 became one of the highly anticipated tenants. It was the only Forever 21 available in the city, and it occupied a vast area of square footage (as all Forever 21 stores do). The store was always teeming with women (young and old), and when I went shopping with friends, we'd never fail to take a look inside. If you've followed my blog since its early days, you'll know I'm hardly a fan of Forever 21, but I certainly do not deny it as a strong force in the retail industry.

So when a shocked co-worker of mine appeared by my desk with news that Forever 21 had closed down, neither of us could believe it. We were stupefied. It is unimaginable to think Forever 21 had been lacking in profits. Could it be that the rent for such a large store was too much even for the fast fashion giant? After all, Forever 21 had nearby neighbours of Tiffany & Co., Tory Burch, Anthropologie, Free People, Michael Kors, Burberry and Nordstrom...only to name a few. Our mall has been working to craft a higher-end image, and perhaps the neighbouring tenants hiked up the cost of rent. But even so, we were not convinced such a highly successful retailer would find itself crumbling. Perhaps it wasn't that Forever 21 wasn't good enough for us, but that we weren't good enough for it?

Regardless, while the loss of Forever 21 does not sadden me, I found myself peeved by the retailer that ended up replacing it: Urban Behavior.

The only Urban Behavior store I've seen before was in one of our dingy malls - one whose only claim to fame is a Walmart. In fact, according to that mall's most current list of stores, it appears even it has ousted Urban Behavior. For all I know, Urban Behavior is basically a struggling retailer. So why is it now occupying prime retail space in our biggest mall?

Clearly, the explanation escapes me. As cheap as Forever 21 is, at least it makes the effort to offer trendy clothing. Urban Behavior, on the other hand, makes poor quality clothing in very typical, uninspiring designs. There is certainly a place in the market for such brands - there are many shoppers out there simply looking for what they call "cheap, cute clothes" - but does a store like Urban Behavior really deserve such a prime retail location? In contrast to Forever 21's bright, gleaming storefront, the Urban Behavior storefront is now dim and gaudy, making it a bit of an eyesore against its higher-end neighbours. In all honesty, I can't deny there is a part of me that hopes I won't be seeing Urban Behavior in that space for much longer.

Image Source: Forever21, Urban Behavior

June 21, 2015

Closing the Gap

Gap has been having a tumultuous year. Back when former Creative Director Rebekka Bay left the company in late January, I posted on Facebook that I would address the issue...eventually. Turns out my procrastination has somewhat worked in my favour, as it was just announced this week that Gap would be closing 175 stores.

Let's start from the beginning. Patrick Robinson was hired on at Gap back in 2007 to revive the brand. He was a vibrant character, and he brought with him a youthfulness and hope that the company could shed its bland exterior and strike a note with buyers once again. I don't think he quite managed to accomplish the company's goals, as it was only until late 2011 that I found a Gap item worth blogging about. But as luck will have it, Robinson had already been dismissed earlier that year.

Another year later, enter Rebekka Bay. The irony is, Bay was brought on for the same reason Robinson was: to revive the company. Once a boulder starts rolling, there's little you can do to stop it. The revival efforts just kept on coming, one after another. There has to be a point when one realizes revival has simply become a desperate fight for survival. Under Bay, the brand lost what little lustre it had left. It was selling incredibly dull basics - khakis, t-shirts, blazers - with absolutely no unique design elements. They were just khakis, just t-shirts, and just blazers. On occasion, there were one or two pieces that'd pique my interest, but more often than not, I'd walk into a Gap store and be bored by the end of it. Gap fell into what I call the Bermuda Triangle of fashion retail. Average quality, average prices, average design - deadly middle ground that leaves customers halfhearted and uncommitted.

So then fast forward to 2015. Rebekka Bay has been removed - in fact, her entire position has been removed. Gap stated it would fly without a pilot, opting instead to leave design responsibilities to a team. Having a design team run the show isn't a bad thing (see: fast fashion retailers, Maison Martin Margiela's old model), and I was very curious about what would come out of it. As they say, two heads are better than one. Perhaps what Gap needed was just a bit of diversity.

But in February, Gap hired Wendi Goldman as the Executive Vice President of Product Design and Development. While the position in of itself was new, Goldman had essentially taken over Bay's role. The brief headless-design-team experimentation was over, and now we find ourselves in present time, with 175 Gap stores set to close in North America and Europe. The white flags are up, and defeat is in the horizon.

I understand the history of the company as quintessential American sportswear, and am sad to see that in this case, sticking to one's roots is like shooting poison into one's veins. I do believe there is a place in the market for casual separates with an all-American flair, but the pieces need to be done right. There needs to be either quality construction or unique design. After all, wardrobe basics can be bought for a couple bucks from fast fashion retailers - Gap needs to prove it has more to offer.

Image Source: GQ, Elle, Social Broadcast Network

June 7, 2015

Welcome Home

The city I go to university in has terribly underwhelming shopping malls, which means I find myself deprived of high-end window shopping for practically 8 months a year. So when summer rolls around, I try to hit up Holt Renfrew and Nordstrom at least once a month. Walking into these stores is like falling into a warm embrace that welcomes me home and comforts me with the promise of great fashion. Here are a couple of highlights from my latest adventures:

Theory Ruffle Shirtdress

My first encounter with Theory was with one of its impeccable blazers. I was in high school, finally confronted with the trials and tribulations of finding a job. Back then, I only had enough credentials for retail sales associate or office admin postings, but my parents insisted early on that I always present myself as a professional - which meant shopping for blazers and business pants. In my quest to find the perfect blazer, Theory stood out as a winner. Theory blazers are divinely tailored, skimming the body in all the right places to create a crisp silhouette. But it wasn't a blazer that made me stop in my tracks during my most recent shopping trip to Holt was a shirtdress. I quite like the look of shirtdresses (see: Now that's what I call menswear-inspired), but this ruffled number from Theory took it to the next level. Not only was it tailored to a T, the ruffle at the hip highlighted the tension between dressy and casual. Juxtaposition - what I consider one marker of good fashion.

Balenciaga Wire Shopping Tote

I first came across this tote in a fashion magazine, and already then I fell in love with it. So when I saw the bag displayed in Holt Renfrew, I had to take a closer look. The lines were clean and minimal, and the tote exuded a slicing industrial edge. I loved the use of rough metal wire against the flawless leather and gleaming gold logo plate. It's one of those cheeky items that reminds us some of the best fashion comes with a good sense of humour.

Alexander Wang Sneaker Bag

Speaking of humour, Alexander Wang is chalk full of it with his latest sneaker bag. No, this is not exactly the prettiest of handbags, but it is definitely among the most creative. My curiosity was initially piqued by the two air bubbles; I remember thinking I had never seen anything like that on a handbag. It wasn't until I turned the bag to its side that I saw the heel of a sneaker materialize. I was floored. What a great design concept! While you might not carry this for purely aesthetic reasons, you could very well carry it to make a statement.

Valentino Rainbow Rockstuds

Being the Red-Soled Fashionista, most people tend to think I'll spend my first paycheque on a pair of Christian Louboutins. Even though I certainly love the famous red soles, my dream shoe is actually a pair of Valentino Rockstud flats. I have lusted after Rockstuds ever since the they first appeared parading down the Fall/Winter 2010 RTW runway. It won't be my first paycheque, but one day, I do plan on being a proud owner of Valentino. While I will likely buy these now-iconic flats in red (staying true to my blog in some way), I found this multi-coloured version a fun way of transforming a classic pair of flats into a trendier option for potentially new audiences. I'd never invest in this rainbow rendition, but I certainly do appreciate it.

Mackage Arrow Bag

I feel as if I've come across the name Mackage before, but despite having heard of the brand, I don't recall having ever seen one of its products in person. Our official meeting, therefore, was at Holt Renfrew when I saw this Mackage arrow bag. The body of the bag is a design typical of our modern minimalism - angular and spare - but I found the silver arrow closure an adorable feature. To unlock the purse, one must twist the arrow 90 degrees and slide it out. I can imagine all the cool girls deftly unlocking and locking their purses with an insouciant air, making this particular sleight of hand more coveted than the handbag itself.

Kate Spade Shira Glitter Sunglasses

As I've mentioned before, Nordstrom is a gold mine for sunglasses. What I found on my latest trip there was golden - literally. I have a guilty attraction to things glittery and sparkly (but classy, not tacky), and these Kate Spade shades were just begging me to try them on. I've been searching for a new pair of glasses over the past year, and I've come to find that cat eye glasses just don't jive with my face shape. So I actually wasn't expecting these sunglasses to look so good! The bridge fit my flat nose, which helped the frame sit up past my eyebrows (a rule of thumb my dad has passed on to me). When I put the sunglasses on, they felt so right and looked so chic. It's rare that a pair of glasses melds so well with my face structure, continuing the lines of my visage like an artist with a slick wrist. Maybe it's not that I can't do cat eye frames - I just need to find the right one!

Kotur Glitter Globe Clutch

On another glittery note, I found this stunning Kotur Glitter Globe Clutch as I walked inside a boutique selling evening attire along a hip and artsy avenue. As a kid, I remember having a fascination with shaking snow globes as hard as I could, and as it turns out, that childish quirk can be satisfied even as an adult. Once shaken, the outer shell of this perspex clutch fills with glitter. The glitter you see in the centre is actually a sparkly pouch that can be removed to make the clutch entirely see-through, giving you options for different looks. I'm obsessed with this idea of dynamic fashion, where movement and metamorphosis play a role in making your outfit wholly unique. This clutch strikes me as a more elegant approach to Christopher Kane's gel-filled clutches (which I also adore!), and I would highly recommend checking out Kotur's other gorgeous creations.

Image Source: TheoryBalenciaga, Alexander Wang, Valentino, MackageKate Spade, Kotur

May 14, 2015

Who Wore it Better

FYI, I've been absent for a while because I've started working full-time for the summer again! I'll try to keep up this blog, but between my new summer job (which I am LOVING, by the way) and my continued involvement as Managing Editor at a fashion company, I'm left with few hours in a day. I do have a lot of blog ideas though, so check in occasionally!

It's been a long time since I've been to the mall to try on some clothes. The last time I documented my window shopping adventures was during the summer in Dressing for the Occasion, so when I went out shopping with a friend last month to help her pick out a dress for our banquet, I thought it was time to bring back my ever-classy changing room selfies.

P.S.: I take these photos with my ancient Blackberry 8520, so you'll have to bear with me on the photo quality. And full disclosure: the photos are edited in order to bring out the colour that gets washed out when you pair a Blackberry camera with changing room lighting.

BCBGMAXAZRIA Suzy Draped Asymmetrical Silk Dress

I saw this BCBGMAXAZRIA dress displayed on a hanger and fell in love with it. It had so many design elements that I adore - sheer silk, gloriously long butterfly sleeves, a belt to create shape, and an asymmetrical hem - all done in a pretty pale pink. I had to try it on.

Sadly, the dress was no longer a shining image of perfection once I put it on. Don't get me wrong, the top half was fantastic. The sleeves were so ethereal and elegant that I am now contemplating including butterfly sleeves on my dream wedding dress. But the asymmetrical hem? That needed to go back to the drawing table. You can see in the photo that the skirt criss-crosses over itself - looks decent in the photo; looks messy in real life. The shorter tail of the skirt flapped awkwardly around my right side, and my legs did not look flattering with the odd placement and shape of the slit. Unless you plan on doing the Angelina Jolie pose all night, this dress is better left on the hanger.

Forever 21 Bejeweled Chiffon Suplice Romper

If you've been with this blog since its early stages, you'll probably know by now that I never buy anything from Forever 21. However, I do have friends that shop there, and as a regular window shopper, I try on everything - from high-end to low-end. I picked up this romper from Forever 21 because the embellishment and plunging neckline caught my eye.

I do tend to prefer lower necklines, as higher necklines make me feel constricted, but even so, I have never worn a V-neck this deep before without a camisole underneath. While I would definitely need tape to keep the neckline in place, I found the long sleeves and bejeweled strap helped keep the look classy and more within my comfort zone (and the fact that flat chests make plunging necklines look high fashion helped...). As for the rest of the romper, my friend commented on how short the shorts were, but I actually didn't mind because they were done in a fancier fabric and looser design. What I did have a problem with was the shape. The ultimate cheap quality of the romper caused the shorts to flare out and the elastic waist to look bulky. But luckily, it doesn't matter because my conservative mother would never let me out of the house in this anyway! (Love you, mom)

Forever 21 Metallic Knit Maxi Dress

There is an obvious colour difference here, but I honestly can't remember what the true colour of this maxi dress was. Nonetheless, I don't think I remember it being as light as the photo on the right. This dress was actually decent - I have no major qualms about it (but no major praises for it either). The only thing I personally didn't like was how the arm holes cut in. I find my upper arms to be a little chubby, and I hate it when tops cut in to reveal my shoulders. As a result, I thought I looked slightly top-heavy, and along with the showy metallic fabric, found myself strangely feeling like Lady Gaga with her shoulder pads.

Image Source: Bloomingdales, Forever 21

April 23, 2015

You Don't Have to Try

As I worked in the office last summer, there was a song I jammed to that had inspired me to write a blog post. The song was 'Try' by Colbie Caillat.

Obviously, it's been a year since I was listening to this song at my desk, and I've only now gotten around to typing up the post. Although I think the timing is actually perfect because I recently had an experience that gives me a - not necessarily new - but better understanding of the issue at hand.

What I want to talk about today is makeup. My mom has always been a strong proponent of no-makeup, and has been firm about wanting me to look natural. As a result, my encounters with makeup were few and far between. I used to wear it as a kid when I performed in The Nutcracker ballet on stage, and wore some of it during my Grade 12 graduation. For things like job interviews or events, I will generally swipe on some lipstick. Day-to-day, I wear absolutely no makeup.

While the lyrics of this song aren't groundbreaking, it was the message that resonated with me. I remember girls in my junior high who depended on their mascara; to be seen without it was their worst nightmare. But I think as Caillet would say: that's not the point of makeup.

Why should you care what they think of you,
When you're all alone by yourself,
Do you like you?

First and foremost, you need to love yourself. Makeup is most powerful when it's clear you would be just as confident about who you are without it. I've always admired girls who aren't afraid to post photos of themselves bare-faced because it shows that when they do put on makeup, it's for their own happiness - not for the approval of others. Makeup is about enhancing the natural beauty you have, but if you don't like who you are underneath, then makeup will only ever be a mask.

I mentioned the timing of this post is particular because, just recently, my friend agreed to help show me what I would look like with makeup on. She came over to apply eyeshadow, eyeliner and lipstick:

I wanted to share this because putting makeup on helped me change the way I look at myself. I used to be so jealous of girls who were pretty, wondering why I wasn't graced with the genes to look as stunning. I used to hate taking off my glasses because I thought my eyes looked awfully tired and flat. Yet as you can see, I'm not wearing glasses in these photos - and that's a big deal for me. I have never taken a photo of myself without glasses, nor have I ever been so happy to see myself without them.

But the real moral of the story here happened when I took my makeup off that night.  I looked at my once-again bare face, and realized that the features I so loved with makeup on were still there. I realized that the eyes I once thought were dull were actually quite wide and exploring, that the lips I hated for being too big were actually nicely plump, and the face I always thought was too wide was actually due to the way my cheeks pop when I smile.  Funny how I had to see myself with makeup in order to love myself without it.

I still adore the way I look with makeup, and I have a whole new appreciation for what a simple cat eye can do. I would definitely wear makeup again if I had the chance, but day-to-day, I will continue without it because I know I don't need it to feel good about myself. After all, the most important question you have you ask yourself is: do you like you?

April 12, 2015

Color Me Beautiful

Blondes have more fun. Redheads have a fiery personality. We've all heard of these sayings, and we all know amazing people who prove that, at the end of the day, these are simply stereotypes. Nonetheless, these expressions got me thinking: what does my hair color say about me?

Before we can even begin to delve into this question, I must first establish what my hair color is. I have what most people would classify as black hair:

Those with dark hair are said to be reserved, sophisticated, intelligent and mature. I mean, sure, I'll happily take those descriptors! But joking aside, I actually don't think these are all too far from the truth. I am very shy and timid (socially awkward is my middle name), and despite having a blog where I talk about me and my thoughts for days on end, I'm actually quite uncomfortable being under the spotlight. In real life, I prefer to be the one asking questions - the quiet observer. My sense of style errs on the side of sophistication and elegance, and while I won't call myself intelligent, I do value brains over beauty. School and career have always been my top priorities, which in hindsight, has helped me avoid all the craziness of the infamous teenage phase. I've always been known as mature, to the point even my Grade 5 BFF knew ten years ago that I'd grow up to be the type to relax with a glass of wine after work. So far, it appears I'm fulfilling all the stereotypes.

But wait!

In a plot twist worthy of a Christopher Nolan film, my hair isn't actually black. It's a dark brown. I once had a confused classmate ask me if I dyed my hair because under direct sunlight, it becomes a warm golden brown. I also specifically selected the above photo of myself because my hair happened to reflect a blue-ish tinge from the late afternoon sun streaming through my window. All in all, there's more to it than meets the eye, and I like to think the same can be said of me. For those who get to know me, they might realize I have a deep passion for fashion and writing, that I speak in strange self-made accents when I get particularly hyper, and that I love laughing (sometimes loudly and uncontrollably).

In the end, it's not about what your hair color says about you - it's about what you make it say. Because hey, I may not be blonde, but I sure do have a lot of fun.

I teamed up with Madison Reed to share my thoughts on hair color and personality. Madison Reed is a hair care company that specializes in hair dye free of PPD, sulfates, resorcinol, ammonia and gluten.

April 3, 2015

A New Chapter

I can't believe it's already been one year since my business faculty's year-end banquet (which I documented in This Is the End). How time flies. Last night, I attended yet another banquet, but this time, it served to celebrate our graduation. However, while my friends mark an end to a chapter in their lives, I am staying behind one more year to complete my dual degree program. I have yet to feel the buzz of excitement and nervousness of my peers as they advance into real world, but I am filled with both happiness and sadness as I see them begin their new adventures, knowing that I cannot join them. I wish them all the best, and know that they will do great things.

I'm pictured here with two friends on my left and right, both looking fabulous. For myself, I actually chose to wear the same outfit as the one I wore to a fashion show last month. The only things I changed were my hair, tights, and nails. I've mentioned before that my own attempts at curling my hair have never quite been that successful, but this time around, my wonderful friend offered to do it for me. The results are definitely worth applauding considering my hair is very flat and hard to work with:

The same friend also lent me her Essie Merino Cool nailpolish, which I applied literally an hour or two before the banquet was to start  It was my first time using Essie nailpolish, and I loved it! The brush was tiny enough for a clean application, and the formula went on very smoothly. Essie, along with Joe Fresh, are definitely on to my list of best nail polish brands. As for tights, I had opted for classier opaque tights during the fashion show, and so decided to go with sheer patterned tights for the banquet.

Overall, I had a fantastic time. There was dancing at the end of the night, and despite my generally reserved character, dancing is one activity I absolutely love. When I finally got the chance to make my way to the dance floor, my night was made right then and there. But more importantly, I was surrounded by the company of great friends who provided plenty of laughs throughout the night. The banquet was likely the last time I will see many of my friends, but the bond we've developed over the course of our time together will stay with us for years to come. And perhaps one day, if our paths cross once more in the next chapter of our lives, we'll pick up right where we left off.