June 28, 2020

Product Review: PaintByNumbers.shop

Last month, I collaborated with PaintByNumbers.shop to host a giveaway for a paint by numbers kit. PaintByNumbers.shop is an online shop that sells art canvasses with small numbers indicating a corresponding colour for a certain area, making painting a masterpiece a piece of cake. In addition to sponsoring the giveaway, they also graciously offered to send me a kit to try for myself. After perusing their varied collection, I landed on Magnolia Blossoms, a beautifully serene and simple floral painting.

Shipping for my kit took 9 business days, exactly as advertised on the website. What I really appreciate about PaintByNumbers.shop is their paintings come with the canvas already stretched on a wooden frame—something many other companies do not offer as a default. Also included in the kit are varnish, canvas hangers and even a level for when you're putting your finished piece up on the wall. The attention to detail in providing a thoroughly complete kit helps make paint by numbers less daunting for those who are new to it (such as myself).

Despite having done art throughout high school and taken private acrylic painting lessons, I don't consider myself either an experienced or talented artist. I can't comment with certainty on the quality of the brushes and paint, but both of them did their job, which is really all I'm looking for. The paint was not dried out, and despite some splitting on the wide brush, I did not encounter any issues with the brushes shedding hairs. There are definitely higher quality brushes out there, but the ones provided were adequate for the task at hand. Although this painting did require at least two coats in areas with lighter colours to fully cover the numbers and lines, there was a sufficient amount of paint provided to complete the piece.

Left: Picture on website | Right: Picture on kit

The only drawback with this particular painting is the colours and composition do not closely match the picture on the website or even the picture on the kit. The paint provided for the blossoms are pinker than expected, and I could tell many areas—particularly the background—require much more finessing to be as subtle as what is depicted in the original picture. However, I have seen reviews of other paintings from PaintByNumbers.shop come out exactly as advertised, so the discrepancy I'm experiencing is just a lesson in how not all artwork is suited to the paint by numbers method. As you can see, I decided to take some artistic liberty and blend the colours together, using the numbers and lines as more of a guide than a strict science.

Overall, the hours flew by doing this activity. I normally don't end up painting artwork appealing enough to hang on the walls, so it was refreshing to be able to enjoy both the process of painting and of seeing the finished product come together nicely into something I actually look forward to displaying.

Discount Code

If you'd like to pick up a kit for yourself or someone you know, be sure to use the promo code REDSOLED at checkout for a 15% discount!


Kit courtesy of PaintByNumbers.shop in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

June 4, 2020

7 Impractical Fashion Trends

Quarantine got me like…trying on my own clothes at home so I have new outfits to wear once I emerge from the cave and look like a civilized human being again. Things going well for you too?

All jokes aside, I did unearth a yellow Tommy Hilfiger zip-up windbreaker from my closet to see how I could serve up some ’90s vibes this summer (wow, when you’re so old your childhood trends come cycling back…). As I was voguing in front of the mirror, I decided to zip up the jacket halfway and pull down the sleeves so they sat across my upper arms in that off-the-shoulder look all the girls we envy are doing nowadays. I loved the concept as soon as I saw it on the runway at Balenciaga Fall/Winter 2016 RTW, and have since wanted so desperately to pull it off myself. But truth be told, it’s not that practical. And that realization got me thinking about all the fashion trends we fall prey to that are just plain impractical…

1. Off-the-Shoulder Jackets

I remember back in junior high when the “oops—I didn’t notice my jacket had slipped off my shoulder” move was a bit try-hard, yet the result of this very deliberate act nowadays appears ironically blasé. While you can choose to bare your shoulders, there’s added appeal when the slight disrobe is done not to expose skin, but rather to give the impression of being vaguely undone. The visual interest of this maneuver rests in the flattering ‘V’ across the chest and the depth achieved by revealing a layer underneath. However, going through life with your jacket off-kilter is more difficult than it looks because…you can’t really move your arms. To maintain optimal positioning, the most you can do with your arms is bend them at the elbow. You’ll risk your jacket slipping on (?) if you lift your arms any higher. And using a shoulder bag can easily ruin the effect—top-handle purses or fanny packs only. But I guess as long as you don’t try reaching the top shelf, straitjackets are stylish, right?

2. Bell Sleeves

With my fondness for feminine and romantic styles, bell sleeves are in my toolkit when I’m feeling girly. Although depending on how you style them, they can be pretty, hippie or vampy. What does stay consistent, however, is how bell sleeves bring drama to a sway of the arms. I only wish they didn’t have to attract every single particle in their path when all I’m looking to do is reach over to grab something. It’s like my sleeves go fishing in various sauces and dusting off surfaces as a side job. And don’t think it’s any better when I’m reaching up to grab something; reaching up causes the sleeve to flip back and expose an underside of seams and stitching…as well as feeble, totally-not-toned arms I’m obviously not in the mood to flaunt if I’m wearing long sleeves that day!

3. Mule Flats

We can thank Gucci for making mule flats a must-have in every wardrobe. I actually used to own a pair of embellished, brocade mule flats in high school (clearly I was not démodé; I was just ahead of my time…), but their apparent ease is deceiving: they are far from comfortable when you have to pound the pavement. Like flip flops, your toes are constantly grasping to keep the mules from suddenly deserting you. Once, as my friends and I were running across the street to catch a light, one of my mules completely detached from my foot and landed smack dab in the middle of the crosswalk in front of a line of cars. Bathed in the heat of embarrassment, I stumbled and tottered as I wriggled my foot back in. Not cute. I say mule flats are better left for their originally intended use of making the trip from the fridge to the couch.

4. Shoulder Robing

Shoulder robing is the act of draping a jacket over your shoulders without putting your arms through the sleeves. The term itself already sounds pretentious, doesn’t it? Yet I confess every time I see a woman shoulder robing, I want to be her. Those who have the power to keep a jacket balanced precariously on their shoulders must surely be blessed by the sartorial saints. Because on mere mortals, a slight twitch of a microbladed eyebrow can send the whole contraption crashing down. Do these enviable beings tape the jackets to their shoulders? Hold them impeccably in place by sheer strength of their CrossFit shoulders? Are there secretly straps they have looped around their underarms? Whatever witchcraft it is, I must know.

5. Tiny Sunglasses

Micro shades had their moment…and I’m glad it was only a moment. I was initially charmed by the potential for these vintage, gothy frames to transform me into someone who looks artsy, cool and bearing a hard edge in the form of a constant grievance against the injustices of life. Alas, teeny tiny sunglasses only look good perched literally halfway down my nose. Anywhere higher and I look like someone out of the Matrix or John Lennon—neither of which make me feel remotely like Bella Hadid. I also love the shield of anonymity sunglasses provide (truth be told, I’ve enjoyed walking out with mirrored sunglasses and a face mask), so sliding them down halfway to leave my eyes fully naked strikes me as counterintuitive. Not to mention I can barely see where I’m going when I have to squint against the deadly rays of nature. What’s the point of sunglasses when they don’t even protect you from the sun?

6. Kimono Cardigans

I know kimono cardigans seem fairly innocent and they’re probably not what come to mind when you think of impractical fashion trends: they’re lightweight and airy, easy to put on and take off, and don’t require much styling to make a statement. Yet living in a city that has merciless wind even on summer days when the sun is shining brightly, I wish my silky kimono weren’t such a pushover. Forget draping and floating gracefully around me; half the time my kimono is either flailing frantically like a fish out of water, blowing between my legs when I walk like the tail of a frightened puppy, or flapping perpendicular to my body as I clutch onto it with dear life so it doesn’t fly away completely. Verdict: kimonos only look good indoors.

7. White Sneakers

As someone who once swore off sneakers, I have now admittedly acquired nine pairs of rubber soles—two of which are white. I still fantasize about adding white and green Adidas Stan Smiths to my collection (thanks to Alexander Wang Spring/Summer 2015 RTW), despite the absolute nightmare I know they would be to keep clean. I take five steps in any pair of white sneakers and they already look like I’ve dragged them through the Sahara Desert. Bless the poor unsuspecting soul who once stepped on my newly cleaned white sneakers during a street festival and had to endure the wrath of my internal monologue. If you see someone wearing white sneakers that haven’t yet turned brown, you know they love their shoes because it takes honest commitment to keep those babies clean.

Bonus Items

And then there are the usual offenders we already know of so well they require no further explanation, including…

  • High heelsEminem's 'Love The Way You Lie' ft. Rihanna (#throwback) is an apropos theme song: Just gonna stand there and watch me burn / Well that’s alright because I like the way it hurts.
  • Clutches – Already talked about this here.
  • Jumpsuits – Because we all love stripping down and shivering in the lavatory.
  • Short skirts – I do have to, you know, sit sometimes.
  • Large earrings – Does anyone know if Dumbo has room in his circus? Because I’m a clown for literally dragging my ears through that.
  • Nylons – I swear, those things would have the audacity to snag on a cotton ball.

Lessons Learned

After all this, I came to the gloomy recognition so much effort is spent making ourselves up for our still-frames. Let’s face it—from the wrong angle, we all have three chins. But instead, we adorn and display ourselves in what are essentially costumes for that one snapshot we can share on Instagram. What people don’t see is us tripping over our mule flats as our micro shades slide off the tip of our nose and our shoulder robes disassemble onto the sidewalk. Showing off our edited personas has the unintended consequence of making our followers aspire to the unrealistic…

…But before I fall too far down the hole of contemplating our sociological realities now that I have more time on my hands than I know what to do with, I think I’ve learned two simple lessons: (1) I’m a sucker for fashion, and (2) I need to get out of the house.

A word on recent events: we have made great strides but let us never remain complacent in our fight for a better world. We stand together in defending our right to breathe the gift of life. #BlackLivesMatter

Image Source: Savoir Flair, The Heart's Delight, Who What WearTelegraph, ElleKIM + ONO, Marie Claire