December 27, 2016

Black on Bottom

Looking back at my old Boxing Day posts, I become quite grateful for the records I've kept of my shopping adventures. It's amusing to see all the items I've tried on, and my no holds barred commentary on each of them. Three years ago, I tried on a bunch of things - and bought nothing. Last year, I managed to purchase one item.

This year, Boxing Day was a little different. I went in with a mission: buy jeans. I've been living off the same 2 pairs of H&M jeans for the past couple of years, and although they have served me well, they have lost the rosy colour of their youth and are fading into a lackluster shade. As well, now that I'm older, my tastes have evolved to prefer black or dark wash jeans. Darker bottoms are an easy way to add instant class to an outfit, and pair well with pretty much anything up top. So, it was time to see whether I could snag some good deals on denim.

I ventured out first to H&M and Topshop...and was hugely disappointed. H&M jeans have always been made of thin material, but now they appear to be getting rid of all the front and back pockets. I never realized how much I actually appreciate the extra bulk of seaming and pockets until I saw how cheap pants can look without them. At this rate, I might as well just buy a roll of fabric from Fabricland and wrap it around my legs. Topshop, on the other hand, had meager discounts, leaving me immediately disheartened.

Luckily, my parents urged me on to The Gap. I don't usually shop at The Gap, mainly because the styles don't interest me and the sizes are usually too big. But earlier in the month, my parents did manage to buy a pair of pants from The Gap in a size that fit me really well, so I thought I would give the store a try. After all, denim should be one of the brand's specialties.

And ta-da! I found what I was looking for. My mom and I were just about to leave the store, when both our eyes caught sight of these Stretch 1969 Studded Front True Skinny Jeans:

Discounted from $98 to $25, I had to try these on. A Size 24 was all that was left, and though they were quite tight (jeans stretch, so I would actually advise buying jeans that feel a bit tighter in the changing room), the shape they gave to my legs was exactly what I was looking for. They have black beading down the front of both legs, which give off subtle sparkle with every move, much like stars in the night sky. For the price, this was a no-brainer purchase. However, I am worried about the beads falling off in the wash. Would I be crazy enough to commit to hand-washing these jeans? I might...

Remember those pants I mentioned my parents had bought for me earlier in the month? Well, we had already gotten them for cheap at $40 after a 50% off discount. On Boxing Day, however, these pants were discounted even further to $18. So, I saved a pretty penny after getting a price difference.

I couldn't find a photo of the exact pair I have, but they are black Bi-Stretch Skinny Ankle Pants with a gold diamond pattern, similar to the polka-dotted pair below:

Last but not least, H&M redeemed itself. I went to an H&M in a different mall, and managed to uncover gold - literally. A couple months ago, I had bought a pair of black Superstretch Trousers with shiny gold hardware on sale for $25. These trousers fit snug and are made of a thick, stretchy fabric. The gold buttons and zippers have a smooth sheen which outshine all the other dull finishes I've seen on H&M denim. These pants are truly a diamond among stones. I've worn these pants so often and love them so much I have been searching ever since for another pair. It was a roller-coaster of emotions to see these pants go in and out of stock at various H&Ms around the city...but never once in my size.

Until Boxing Day. My mom flagged me over from across the store with a look of urgency - she had found one in Size 2! They weren't on sale this time around, but the extra dollars were worth it. I now have two pairs of these incredible trousers. I don't have identical sets of anything else in my you know I'm serious about these pants.
Buying pants has always been a struggle for me. My legs are short and slim, which means jeans are usually always too long or too baggy. However, I've come to realize that if a pair of pants does not fit perfectly, I probably won't end up wearing it that often. I could buy a pair for a fantastic price of $10 and choose to overlook slight bagginess while in the changing room, but if I don't end up wearing it, it's $10 wasted. So, I'm particularly picky about how pants fit now (ok, I'm picky about every item of clothing I buy, but just humour me here). I'm happy I've managed to find my groove with The Gap and occasionally H&M, resulting in this year's Boxing Day reading as more a success story than a mere window shopping recap.

PS: I know I've been MIA on this blog lately. I've been busy with some free online courses I've taken up out of pure interest, as well as an exciting new project coming up (and yes, it has to do with fashion!). So please excuse the absence. I hope you'll stick around as I check in every once in a while. :)

Image Source: The GapBrittany Maddux, H&M 

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 that's a winning combo.

Image Source: The Idle Man

September 25, 2016

The Metropolitan Shopper

Wow.'s been over three months since I last blogged. This is probably the longest break I've ever taken from blogging, but life has been a whirlwind lately. In addition to graduating university and taking a week-long trip to celebrate, I started working full-time, moved to a new condo downtown, am getting involved in the local fashion/film industry on the weekends, and am spending more time hanging out with friends. Over the past few months, so many things in my life have fallen into place, and I feel an overwhelming sense of happiness. Living downtown has been my dream for many years, and as I wake up everyday to a view of the river and the energy of downtown, I find myself so grateful for all the opportunities I have been given.

But that's enough about my life. I've missed sharing my thoughts about fashion these past couple of months, so let's get right into it. I've been frequenting the malls more often now that I'm less than 15-20 minutes away from all the hot spots in the city. Here's a look at three interesting pieces I tried on at H&M:

Look #1: Giving the Cold Shoulder

The off-shoulder/exposed shoulder craze continues as shoulders strand strong as the latest erogenous zone. I've mentioned before I'm not a huge fan of fully flaunting my shoulders, but can find compromise in the cold shoulder trend. This dress had been on the store mannequin for a couple weeks, and everytime I saw it, I admired those two single straps running over each shoulder. I thought it was a unique variation on the trend. Finally, I gave in and decided to try the dress on. I was afraid I would be overcome with the adrenaline of finding a piece I love (and thus feel the desire to buy it), but thankfully, that didn't happen. The length and shape of the sleeves emphasized the width of my upper arms, and I felt strangely like a robot with stiff shoulders. The awkwardness of the sleeves was so prominent, the straps - the main reason why I liked the dress - dwindled into oblivion.

Look #2: The Little Mermaid

This dress was an amusing one. The tiered layers were reminiscent of the 1920s (and you know how I love Gatsby fashion), yet the way the ruffles were angled also reminded me of a mermaid. I didn't think the dress would actually look that good, though it did turn out better than I thought. The ruffled tiers might be a bit obnoxious for my personal tastes, but it was statement-making and fun. My only issue with the dress was how deep the V-neck was - so deep I had to keep it cinched with one hand. I don't like going bra-less or wearing crazy bra substitutes, so a gown like this wouldn't be too practical for me.

Look #3: Halting Traffic

Lastly, a halter dress. With my aversion to revealing my bare shoulders, I didn't think I would be able to pull off this dress. I kept telling my good friend I wouldn't do justice to a halter dress, but once I put it on, I had to take it all back. Because it looked great. I was surprised by how well it fit, and in retrospect, I believe the square neckline, embellished halter, and torso cutout all worked in beautiful harmony to even out and lengthen the wide-shoulder feeling I often get from exposed shoulders. If you look in the mirror behind me, you can also see the halter straps came with tassels on the end. An added touch of glamour. I wouldn't be able to pinpoint the science behind why this particular style of halter works for me, but it goes to show anyone can wear anything - it's just about the magic of finding the right design and cut for your own body.

June 23, 2016

5 Lessons From a University Graduate

Five years. Five years of hard work and fun times have led up to this moment. Earlier this week, I officially graduated from university with two undergraduate degrees. As I reflect back upon these years, I have a number of reminders I would like to pass on to those who are still in education:

1. Don't be afraid to leave home

If you have the capacity to attend university in another city - do it. I could not be more grateful for my parents' support in allowing me to move across the country for education. If I hadn't moved away, I would not have had the pleasure of attending arguably one of Canada's biggest and most beautiful university campuses. While I did break down in tears from panic and fear after saying goodbye to my parents, a mere one week later, I was thoroughly enjoying my independence. I learned what it's like to take control of my life, and experienced the consequences (both good and bad) of my actions and decisions. I ultimately came to appreciate all that my parents had done for me, and by the time I returned home after graduation, I had a new sense of maturity. There is also something special about living on campus. I was never forced to leave the campus environment at the end of my day. For years, I was surrounded by friends and fellow students 24/7 - and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

2. Meet people

Get out. Meet people. Talk to people. Despite being a horribly shy and awkward girl, I highly recommend meeting people during university. I met one of my friends after she spontaneously decided to sit beside me in the cafeteria. I have another friend I met after sharing a cab from the airport. I have friends from clubs, residences, and my two programs. Not everyone you meet will become your BFF, but even that brief chat with a stranger in the elevator will stay with you as a memory of how great the campus environment is. You don't need to have a lot of friends - just good ones. There won't be many other opportunities in life where thousands upon thousands of people pack themselves onto one campus. It's astounding how everyone is on their own individual paths, and yet here we all are, coming together for education. The diversity on campus is incredible. Take the time and muster up the courage to learn about other people's life stories.

3. Follow your dreams

University is not the place to be doing something you don't want to do. Do something you're passionate about, because that is the only thing that will ever truly motivate you. Never stop listening to what your heart tells you to do. Whether you find the answer in your existing program, in another program, or outside of university altogether, pursue it. If you have absolutely no idea what your dreams even are - relax. There are many in the same boat as you. Make the effort to explore and find yourself. I was lucky enough to be able to fulfill my goals at university, and I want to see you walk away from university feeling as if you're on your way to achieving your own dreams.

4. Do your own thing

In high school, I graduated with an International Baccalaureate diploma. In university, I graduated with a degree from a business school with limited enrollment. For years, I have spent my time surrounded by incredibly intelligent high-achievers - people I know I will be seeing headlines about in the future. While I adore such an environment, it comes with its own difficulties. There were many times I felt like the "admission mistake". A girl walking through hallways she didn't belong in. But I realized that no matter what everyone else is doing, have no shame if your goals are different from those around you. Don't be intimidated by those you consider more successful than you. Everyone has their own definition of success, so never let other people's goals define your own. This goes beyond education. If you don't like partying every weekend, then don't. Never feel pressured to. Stay in and huddle under your blankets for a night of Netflix. You'll be happiest when you do what you want to do. The university experience should not be wasted chasing after other people's definition of happiness instead of your own.

5. Seize the moment

One of my wise, beautiful, amazing BFFs (who is currently backpacking across South America for 4.5 months - love ya girl, safe travels!) sent me a letter in the mail this year. While the entire letter had me tearing up, one passage in particular stood out to me. I will let her words do the talking:

"Never delay happiness. It isn't compounded. It doesn't multiply with time. It simply slips through your fingers if it isn't accessed in the moment. Don't be afraid to make mistakes; they are the best way to learn and they serve to be marvellous stories afterwards. Live the life you would be proud of on your deathbed. Don't waste time being sorry. Life is so short - if it isn't lived, it will be a wasted life."

I've had five years to live out my university experience, but the approaching end didn't hit me until my final month. In that month, I made sure I appreciated and enjoyed every last second. For many, undergraduate education is a once in a lifetime opportunity. My dad tells me his college years were among the best years of his life, and I know he is right. The last thing you want to do on your final day is look back and realize you regret not having enjoyed university to its fullest. I understand that marks are stressful - there were days when my head felt like it was going to explode from all the pressure. Recognize that stress is a natural part of education, but never forget university provides much more than that. Absorb everything university has to offer: clubs, friendships, events, a community... For me, I made sure to admire how beautiful my campus was every single time I stepped foot in it. I may never get another chance to walk among the gorgeous ivy-covered stone buildings with the same comforting sense of belonging as I did as a student - and so I seized the moment. I hope during your university journey, you will find ways to do the same.

Dress: Topshop | Shoes: Calvin Klein | Necklace: Unknown

This moment is certainly bittersweet. Five years ago this milestone seemed so far in the horizon, and yet here I stand, already on the other side. Goodbyes are difficult, but as Winnie-the-Pooh once said, "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." As I close the book on this chapter in my life with a tender smile, I look forward to what lays ahead of me. There are more moments to experience, more friends to make, and more happiness to be gained. The future? I say, bring it on.

Image Source: PublicDomainArchive, Favim, Pexels

June 4, 2016

Thank You, Friends

Looking back at my most recent blog posts, something dawned on me: many of them have been inspired by interactions I've had with my friends (Make Me Look Cool, Are You Listening? and In Uniform). I've never denied the incredible influence of those around me, but seeing three consecutive blog posts which came to fruition thanks to seemingly passing conversation topics really highlights how grateful I am to my friends.

Fashion has opened up a platform to bridge me with people in ways otherwise not possible. A mutual love for fashion has helped me make new friends - and reconnect with old ones. From people with the same affinity for fashion as me, to girls who want outfit advice, to guys who could care less about what they wear, I am so honoured to be that friend people think of to send random fashion things to. Without the chats we have, without the links and photos you send me, without your thoughtfulness to share with me, I would not be able to build up this blog like I have over the years.

Even I am sometimes surprised by how this blog has managed to go on for almost six years. How have I not run out of topics to muse about by now? Yet I realize inspiration is everywhere and endlessly flowing. It's in the big news stories that sway the industry, and in the tiniest details of my daily existence. I have no fear of ever running out of inspiration. It may come sporadically and unexpectedly - but it always comes.

Friends have played a big part in keeping me inspired. That is the reason why I always acknowledge when someone has awakened an idea in my head. I may have started this blog, I may write all of the content, and my name may be what signs off on each post, but my blog is not a solo act. It is a compilation of my interactions and experiences with the people and things around me. My blog may not be professional (read: marketable / monetizable) nor popular nor perfect, but it's genuine. It's real. It's me. It's you. Friends, you have helped make this blog what it is, and for that, I say thank you.

Image Source: Favim

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...

March 20, 2016

Merci, Couture

For those who don't understand couture, perhaps these videos can help explain it.

When a creation comes down the runway, we tend to forget that each piece has a backstory. We may look at the garments in isolation, forgetting that every detail has been thought through and laboured over for hours upon hours. Remember, that which looks most effortless is that which actually requires the most skill. Behind every petal, every bead, every stitch is a team of specialists extremely good at what they do. And they do it with utmost love and care. Couture is beautiful not simply because of how it looks, but because of the people who bring it to life.

Thank you, Karl Lagerfeld, for always honouring the expertise of those whose passion remains unmatched - those whose savior faire brings a touch of fantasy to the everyday.

Thank you, couture, for showing us that even in an industry so hurried and rushed, there is magic in moments of devotion.

March 5, 2016

That Bootie Though

Every year around this time, I start fantasizing about summer. I start having idyllic visions of walking along the streets of downtown, taking in the beauty of local parks, and checking out adorable boutiques. However, since I live half an hour away from downtown in suburban quarters, I generally just end up staying at home doing nothing. I'm hoping this upcoming year will be different, and in anticipation of warmer weather activities, I've been daydreaming about new outfits to wear. For some reason, my latest daydreams have me focused on ankle boots, and I find myself craving the sensation of walking down the streets in a darn good pair of ankle boots (I'm not weird, I swear). To satiate my craving (or make it worse, rather), I took a scroll through ALDO's website. In the process, I came across some shoes I'd like to chat about:
Let's start with ankle boots, since they seem to be the latest objects of my obsessions. These Digosien boots were the best pair of ankle boots on the site. They've got smooth leather, a gorgeously pointed toe, and a stylish heel with metal detailing. What's even better? Last time I checked, they were on sale for $56. I would seriously consider buying these, and coming from a self-professed window shopper, that is saying a lot.
I've wanted oxfords since high school, but back then, I had my eyes set on more feminine iterations. Now, as both trends and my tastes evolve, I really appreciate the appeal of something unabashedly masculine (over the summer, I wore a pair of black menswear-inspired shoes snatched from my mom's wardrobe). These Qiniel oxfords strike the perfect balance between feminine and masculine. I love the dusty shade and polished demeanor. Although I had second thoughts about the cap toe, I think it's subtle enough and adds authenticity to the oxford design.
Oh boy. Where do I begin. Look, I like translucent heels, that's not the problem. The problem is the horrendous synthetic material. While visible steel rods can be a fun design element, when encased inside a plasticy heel, they only work to further emphasize the questionable material. The coloured sole makes me a little queasy (these are certainly not Louboutins we're talking about here), and the fact these heels also come in bright red and highlighter yellow is unsettling. A shoe with a design so dependent on material and crafted in such a bold colour should not be skimping on quality - it just looks awfully tacky. Want to see a shoe like this done well? Check out Christian Dior.

Ah, the trendy lace-up flat. At first glance, I thought these Alize flats were great. It had a gold heel against pale leather (they reminded me of ALDO's Nydellan flats, which I almost bought one time), and appeared to have a flattering shape. Yet on closer inspection, I noticed the eyelets along the edge. They ruin the shoe for me. If I were to buy a pair of shoes like that, I would prefer to do without the sneaker-inspired lacing. Close, but no cigar!

Image Source: Aldo

February 27, 2016

Trend Alert

With only about a month left before I complete my undergrad, I am determined to make the most of my final days in the beloved university environment (my working friends are telling me they miss the campus life, so I may as well breathe it all in while I still can). Of course, besides taking up kickboxing and catching up with friends, part of enjoying my final year includes going to the mall with my roommate. We went two Saturdays in a row because she was getting her boots re-heeled, so I did what I do best: window shop. Here are a couple of observations from my two trips:

The Latest Trends (ie. things that are everywhere)

Ankle Boots + Gold Metal
Remember when metal tips were in style? Well nowadays, the hardware is taking a backseat by adorning the heels. I am a huge fan of this trend, and have a feeling it was influenced by Alexander Wang's cutout heel. While gold heels are seen on flats too, golden accents are most prevalent on ankle boots. As for the boots themselves, I notice they tend to be either chunky heeled (possibly with buckles and cutouts), or flat and streamlined.

This trend has been going strong for a while (especially on Instagram), although lately there seems to be an increase in the number of lace-up shoes and tops as the warmer season approaches. Seen most distinctively in Givenchy's Spring 2015 collection and popularized by the Kardashians, lacing has reached mainstream retail. I don't inherently dislike the trend - I think lacing is sexy and fun - but as is with all trends, I fear it will become overdone.

The Sixties & Seventies
We're having a blast to the past (as usual) with a '60s and '70s hippie/boho revival. I've been seeing a lot of suede, bell sleeves, fringe, button-up skirts, wide-leg sailor pants, and off-shoulder tops. It's an aesthetic I didn't think would be so popular with young girls (being a '90s kid, zip-up hoodies, flared jeans and skater shoes were the extent of how fashionable we were), but in some ways it's nice to see the newer generations have more fun with fashion.

Pendant Jewellery
This trend makes me laugh. It so explicitly demonstrates how easily trends come and go. Not too long ago, statement necklaces were all the rage. Big, bold and colourful. Now, we've scaled back immensely, and simple pendant jewellery is the sign of a modern woman. However, women are often still layering multiple pieces for a fuller look. I remember disliking my minimal jewellery years ago and wishing I had more eye-catching pieces. Guess I better make use of this current trend wave and give my jewellery collection some mileage!

Shrunken Bags
I'm not sure if I would classify shrunken bags as a trend, although it is something I have noticed. I call them 'shrunken bags' instead of 'mini-bags' because I find the designs more typical of medium-sized bags: structured with top handles. I've mentioned this phenomenon to my shopping companions to see whether I'm just delusional and imagining up trends, but they seem to understand where I'm coming from.

Long and Loose Coat
Even though I may struggle to pull off this trend with my shorter stature, I do like the look of it. I've come across a number of long coats and loose trenches, and adore the stylishly languid silhouette. These coats are a fantastic layering piece and would create great movement as you walk.

Interesting Products

Kate Spade New York Makenzie Aviators
My roommate and I got caught up in the Hudson's Bay eyewear section, and I came across this pair of Kate Spade aviators. I've tried Kate Spade eyewear once before and loved it - once again, I was pleasantly surprised! My face shape does tend to suit aviators better, although I often have trouble finding ones that fit. Kate Spade, again, fit my face nice and snug. You can't see in this photo, but the gold rim of the frame is slightly shimmery, which I loved. The gold and pink combo is so chic, and I like the sleekness of the gold arms. My only complaint is the thicker transparent pink frame, which looks a little cheap from the front. If it were slimmer, these sunnies would be perfect.

Banana Republic Blue Lace Button-Up
I have a soft spot for lace, but wasn't expecting to see it in this form. My roommate and I were coincidentally conversing on the topic of how conservative business attire is when we saw this button-up. I'm torn. I think the thick lace would make this a very difficult piece to wear, yet at the same time, I appreciate that it's different and would welcome the challenge to style it (my mindset is how can I wear this, not I can't wear this). Unfortunately, I wouldn't recommend wearing this in a business setting, as much as I would love to shake up the world of traditional officewear.

Image Source: Lyst,Chaos-Mag, Trends.Jewelry, RhymeandReason, FashionAgony, MyLifeInPink, Zara, LeFashion, Bloomingdales