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