Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Reinterpreting the Shirt Dress

Shirt dresses are the best. They are smart, sophisticated but still very feminine and daytime perfect. Tailored, clean cut, prim and pretty, they are the sisters to classic DVF wrap dresses (and can even be worn by girls less well endowed in the chest area!). These kind of shirt dresses, like the ones shown from Ralph Lauren, will never go out of style. But in a more casual atmosphere, as I almost always find myself in, sometimes these shirt dresses make me feel slightly too dressed up, even if they are designed to be perfect for the daytime- like a sore thumb who somehow landed on the streets from the country club.
Luckily for me, the newly updated shirt dress this season neatly solves my dilemma. They are less structured, more casual, with fun, youthful details. And yet they still manage to maintain the very proper and put together effect of a classic shirt dress! These two are from DVF (left) and Sass & Bide (right). I especially love how they made it into a high collar instead on the Sass & Bide dress.
Over at Paul and Joe Sister (left) and Derek Lam 3.1 (right), they turned in the buttons and switched it for laces . Usually I'm not a fan of this type of lacing up (too Pocahontas!), but I think it works here. It gives it a more casual, outdoor-sy feeling to the whole look.
Here are two of my favourite reinterpretations of the shirt dress from Top Shop (left) and Corey Lynn Calter from Nordstrom (right). The Top Shop dress barely looks like a shirt dress with its wide round collar, bubbly sleeves and scrunching. But all the crucial elements are still there. With the right accessories i.e. big colorful necklace, this dress would look so cool and now. Going in the opposite direction, the dress from Nordstrom is loose but still structured in a futuristic kind of way. The addition of the bright yellow belt is absolutely genius. It completes the look. I DEFINITELY wouldn't mind owning this dress!

Image Source: Ralph Lauren, Paul and Joe Sister, Top Shop, Nordstrom and Net a Porter

Monday, July 28, 2008

Urban Renewal

I usually walk past the Urban Renewal section of Urban Outfitters, thinking it is vintage stuff, which is not really my thing (not unless they come from a member of my family anyway). At the back of my head, I'd always wondered exactly how they got so many vintage items of the same style in different sizes together in one place. I mean, aren't vintage items supposed to be unique? But I'd never really been interested enough to read the fine print on their website and find out how. It wasn't until my friend mentioned it the other day that I realized what it was. Apparently what they do is collect vintage clothes/fabric and put them together to form new, more updated clothes. That is how they come up with so many pieces of the same style in different sizes. You can buy it at the store or online, where they claim you can even choose colors and they'd make you a completely unique piece using different materials in the same cutting as shown. The whole idea is to re-use materials and it has been around for over 20 years (before the whole go green craze!)- I didn't even know that Urban Outfitters have been around for over 20 years, let alone this division.
One of the reasons I don't like vintage clothes is that whenever I see them they almost always look very dated, hippie and bohemian like, which is so over - thank god! And indeed they do have such stereotypical vintage clothing in this collection here (above: ugh). In fact, most of the collection is like this and I was not impressed. However, there were a few pieces that are intriguing- like this denim vest (right). The extra trimming is quite sharp and refreshing! I'm not really sure how this black blazer (left) is vintage, but I like the cutting.
The ruffled tunic shirt (left) is feminine and romantic looking. Perfect paired with that crisp cropped blazer above! And the floral skirt is cute, reminds me of the floral skirts in the Prada ads this season. Though one should be careful when wearing that in case you look like you're wearing your curtains. Paired with something smart, tailored and modern, it would look stunning.

The thing is though, I'm still not really sure how I feel about this concept of "Urban Renewal." Besides the fact that you still do not know who the previous (many!) owners are, I heard that the renewed material is very scratchy and not very comfortable. On the other hand, we do use recycled paper and bags......so why not clothes? Thoughts?

Image Source: Urban Outfitters

The UV Rays Up There

So remember how I've been travelling a bit last month? Most of the flights I took were daytime flights and one thing that really irritates me about daytime flights is the amount of sunlight in the plane. This might sound weird to most people, and even my parents think I'm a total freak for applying sunscreen before a flight but here's the logic: up there in the sky, there are no shades or clouds or anything so the UV rays are naturally stronger and more direct. And it doesn't help that almost all passengers love keeping their window covers up and let the sunlight get through. I usually try to get a windows seat just to keep the blinds down!

So maybe I'm a bit overly paranoid. But while going through my magazines from this year (before throwing them away,) I noticed Elle (UK) had a "Top Tips For A Healthy Flight" editorial from a few months ago. Most of these tips are pretty much what you always read about, like make sure you hydrate by drinking lots of water and applying good moisturiser *Insert product recommendations, naturally*. So most of the time I ignore these editorials since let's face it, they basically just tell you common sense and sell you a bunch of unnecessary beauty products. But there was a 'tip' that I just have to share here since not most people seem to not know or care about:

"Wear a lotion containing sunscreens. 'Recent Studies show that UV rays can penetrate an airplane's windows. Because you're higher, the sun's rays are stronger as there's less proection from the atmosphere,' warns Dr Tom Monroe, director of research and development at Clinique."

See! It's not just me. OK, so a doctor from a major beauty company saying this obviously has commercial reasons, but it sounds logical doesn't it? I'm no dermatologist so I have no idea which sunscreen is the best, but BG and I do love Bioderma's SPF products.

Anyhow, I actually wanted to write this post to rant about people who keep their window blinds up during the flight -just because you like the sun and don't mind the UV rays damaging your skin cells doesn't mean the passenger next to you wants that! OK, rant over.

Image Credit: www.bioderma.com

Saturday, July 26, 2008

White Flip Flops

For the longest time, my summer staple have been simple white flip flops. Not the rubber beach kind, but the more sophisticated and dressy type, with actual soles, made of non-rubber material. They are just awesome, because they are summery, comfortable and matches with absolutely everything- perfect for a casual summer day. Ever since my pair of Nine West white flip flops with chunky heels (just the right height!) expired a few years back however, I haven't been able to find a pair to properly replace them.
That is until I laid eyes on my friend's pair of Tory Burch white flip flops (over at their website, they call it thongs.... I have no idea what the difference is). They are just EXACTLY what I've been looking for. While the design is simple and casual, the little gold emblem and the wooden sole gives it just the right amount of sophistication that makes it elegant and classy. I LOVE it. Unfortunately, I've walked through the shop and all the usual department stores, and couldn't find them. They're also sold out online of my size! But while I was browsing, I noticed that they had this design in many different sharp colors, like this yellow one, which I think works great to match/clash with this season's bold color theme.
Another white flip flop I've looked at are these ones from Banana Republic. The patent leather strip and sole transforms this simple, classic design from the beach to the streets. This design also comes in a rainbow of sharp colors and are relatively cheaper than the Tory Burch's (more available too!). The only question now is which color? Other simple flip flops I'that also fits the bill are these ones from Nordstrom. They're basically the same as the ones from Banana Republic, except the straps are a bit wider and have a bit more elevation in the heels. These little details actually help to make these more sophisticated. But the gold shiny stuff on the soles kind of put me off even though I know it won't show when I'm wearing it.... should definitely go check them out!

Image Source: Tory Burch, Banana Republic and Nordstrom

New Glasses

I received my new glasses yesterday.
Although these don't look like a familiar time period, they are in fact from the 1960's.
Since the color red is like black for me. (all my accessories are always red) The color of these glasses couldn't be better. As you can see They go with this hand embroidered top with ease.







Unfortunately, you can tell from this picture that the glasses make
my eyes look miniature, ahah!


Without new glasses by you.


I'm glad my glasses came in time for my month long vacation in Europe.
I'm going to
Toulouse, France ( annual husbands family visit) 10 days
Helsinki, Finland 6 days
Riga, Latvia 3 days
Tallinn, Estonia 3 days
Stockholm, Sweden 6 days

I will make sure to take millions of pictures of the fashion,
and try to update while I'm there.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Chasing Harry Winston

Even without the fabulous pair of Louboutins and the three gorgeously fantabulous diamond rings on the cover, the name Lauren Weisberger is enough to make me pick up the book. Not that I think she's a particularly great writer, but because I know that it will be light and fun summer read- just what I am looking for. The whole fabulous, gorgeous people living extravagant and successful, perfect lives looking for love is a bit overdone these days, but I've always felt a connection with Weisberger's books. Even though it wasn't very memorable to some (HG barely remembers it), I felt a strong connection with the character in Everyone Worth Knowing. Bette's story might as well have been the fictionalized version of my future (she went from finance to the fabulous life of party planning to realizing that her true calling was writing)!
Back to the book at hand (at this point, you should realize that there are potential spoilers here). This one is about three best friends making a pact to change their way of lives. One tries monogamy after a life of polygamy. The other goes in the opposite direction and goes on a tour de whore. And the last attempts to convince herself that her perfect life really is perfect. Over all, I thought it was pretty badly written and that Weisberger is now just publishing by reputation rather than by content (this situation sounds oddly similar to the dilemma of yet another bestseller author mentioned in the book!). A lot of times the writing was long-winded and unnecessary. She spent the majority of the first chapter, where the author is supposed to captivate the readers, talking about Leigh's need for personal space and control freak quirks with a detailed description of her apartment. It just made me want to pick up a pen and edit everything out! Only her name on the cover kept me going.

The plot was predictable and mellow. I felt like I was just cruising along the story. Nothing exciting ever happens, because she tries this technique where she just ends the chapter when something does happen and then picks up again after the event. Leigh breaks up with her fiance and we get to read about how nervous she was before the event and her reflections after the event. Adriana meets her "future husband" and we hear about them dating from talks by the other two girls. It was like a whole book of reflection, where the readers were put in the peripheral of the story instead of INSIDE the story. And the other thing is that nothing bad ever happens to the characters. They all lead a charmed, perfect life and everything just magically comes to them, with no obstacles to overcome or anything. One decides she wants to travel the world and a fabulous job miraculously appears. One wasn't even trying and simply finds her true calling in writing. And the other just decides to leave everything she's worked for behind and everything works out. I know that being realistic is not exactly the primary goal of chick lits, but this is just a bit overboard. To give her credit, the characters do each experience life changing revelations (there really wouldn't BE a story otherwise), but everything just came together a little too perfectly.

The relationship between this story and Harry Winston is not a giant rock on a ring as I'd first imagined (and the cover alluded to). The only reference to Harry Winston is a pair of diamond earrings that Salma Hayek wore to the Oscars from there, that a suitor gave to one of them. I guess they were just looking for a catchy title.

One thing
Weisberger does do well however, are her characters. She paints them all in a very distinctive but relatable light. My favourite character is Leigh, who has the perfect job and the perfect boyfriend. The thing I love about her most is her control freak tendencies and need to be alone. I can totally relate to that. I LOVED it when she applied sunscreen on her body, then sprayed herself with more sunscreen in case she missed any spot and THEN applied a more expensive sunscreen on her face- rationing that the rest of them will regret it later when they need botox and laser treatment to get rid of their wrinkles and dark spots. That is MY rational as well (although I don't apply quite so thoroughly as she does). Next is Emmy, who just got dumped by her ex of five years, and her dearest dream is to get married and have lots of kids. Having never "played around," she is still very shy around guys and we get to see her get out of her shell in that respect. I feel for every step she took. Then there is Adriana, the fabulously gorgeous and wealthy Brazilian girl who leads the perfectly charmed life. However, even she feels a bit empty, lost and worried about her future. Sounds familiar?

Honestly, not a very original, engaging nor well-written book. But if you are looking for something light and brainless to past time on the beach (or just time in general).........then by all means. It's good and cheery enough to bring a smile to my lips in the end (happy endings always warms me up!).

Image Source: Amazon

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bras with Different Straps at the Back

At the end of last summer I evaluated my wardrobe (-something everyone should do at the end of a season or the beginning of a season,) and decided that I really didn't have enough young, casual clothes. Most things I owned seemed so stuffy and old -imagine really boring, plain clothes with boring, unhip cutting. So when I onlined shopped a few months ago, I made sure to reject clothes that were too plain and looked for some colour.

I really liked this tank top (by Kate Moss Top Shop) because it had a hint of colour and interesting pattern on it but it was still my style. But when I bought it, I didn't realise how low the hole at the back was and I liked the top so much I didn't return it. So then I started to look for a bra that was backless or had a ok-to-be-seen-strap.

Why not just show the back of a normal bra? Because I've seen a few people wearing tops and dresses with showy backs like these Top Shop tea dresses with their normal bras showing and believe me, they were not attractive!

Since the UK doesn't have Victoria's Secret, the first place I looked was Marks & Spencer. This bra was kind of what I was looking for. The straps at the back were thin and interesting enough to not remind me of the traditional thick back strap. Unfortunately, it only comes in black, and since the material of the tank top was pretty thin, I didn't want a black bra to be seen obviously underneath.

Then there was this bra. I admit that I've always thought transparent straps as sort of tacky-looking in most situations. (Is it just me?) But I love the idea that the back strap was transparent -an alternative style for the thick strap at the back. Alas, I forgot to buy one before leaving the UK. Now I have to figure out how to wear the tank top! (I prefer not layering with another camisole because it just doesn't look as nice and defeats the purpose of keeping cool.) Any ideas?

Btw, I didn't even consider a strapess, backless bra because I imagine they would feel very uncomfortable and insecure. If any of you have used one, what did you think of them?

Image Credits: http://www.topshop.com/, http://www.marksandspencer.com/

With darkness there has to be light



I'm not JUST into the darkness.
One look is never enough for me.

This light as a feather look is anything but light. Its made of plush toy fabric, ostrich feathers (curlier the better), FEATHERS IN ANY FORM, pastels, rhinestones, suede, and of course faux sheep fleece.
This look is like a brand new baby blanket...oh hell, why don't we just compare it to a baby shower!
Just think of all the possibilities of baby showers. Satin ribbon, baby layettes, PASTEL anything, stuffed animals, blankets...oh god the list can go all night!!
I myself am going to rock the light, powder look with this coat and rhinestone brooches, or a feather in my (soon to be powder blond) hair....
perhaps
http://www.ssb4.net/users/12851/coat-128.jpg#
What? yeah I know! A feather plume!

http://i20.ebayimg.com/05/i/000/f9/2f/10b3_1.JPG

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Everyone is doing it in Fall 08'

Join us into the dark, yet humorous fairytale.
Lets face it, Sleepy hollow and Edward Scissor Hands..... OK fine Tim Burton, has been at it for decades. I think Designers have gazed longingly enough at ghost stories and witch hunts. I personally, have always feared the cliche Gothic look or possibly stepping too far into "costume-land". Ive decided that I should no long push this look aside because I found that only a tiny bit of humor is needed to launch this look.

For example:
all black + some kind of animal (and/or some kind of surface detail) = dark humor
all black+solid black= cliche
all black+ a jolt of color=dark humor
all black+pale colors (neutrals dont count)
orange + black = perfect balance of cliche and dark humor
black + neutral or white=cliche
black (or orange)+ futuristic silhuette=dark humor



With that inspiration in mind for quite some time now (approx 1 year), I went a little mad last night and cooked up a dark humor blouse.

I'm standing right in front of my inspiration boards that Ive contributed to over the year
notice the miniature silhouettes by my right ear in the first picture.

As you can see my blouse is made of a lightly woven wool. The sleeves are ridiculously high(it was planned) and a little ruffle floats at the bottom. Oh yeah and the back scoops down a little further than the front.






Here I am frantically and desperately cutting out everything
at the crack of dawn


Monday, July 21, 2008

Chanel Paris-London 2008 Ad Campaign

OK, I know this post comes very late since this ad campaign is for Chanel's Pre-Fall collection -the images have already been out since last December and have been published in June 2008's magazines, (which we know means that they've out for years in fashion years,) but I just noticed the campaign seriously when I was in a Chanel boutique last week and saw the campaign booklet lying around. I saw the costume jewelry and I flipped through the booklet and fell in love with the campaign. It's been a long time since I've been able to honestly say I love an ad campaign but this one is absolutely stunning.

First off, I admit I simply do not know how to appreciate Amy Winehouse's music and I dislike her beehive hairstyle even more. You know how a few designers have been using that beehive hairstyle on their runway shows? Well I hated most of them. But the way the Amy Winehouse inspiration has been used in this campaign has totally changed that messy look into something very elegant and sophisticated. Coco Rocha manages to pull off an elegant, young, sophisticated girly look with a hint of dark edginess. Just look at the images above!

Usually I hate it when the models are randomly holding many bags or wearing way too many accessories in ad images, but this campaign pulls it off seamlessly. It's got a perfect balance of being gorgeously artistic and being commercial. I mean, after looking at it, I don't only think it's seriously captivating, I also really want a bunch of those accessories! This is definitely one of my favourite Karl Lagerfeld-photographed campaign!

I LOVE all the golden silver accessories -like this feather hair accessory and huge neckalce -it's so glamorous in an uncomplicated way.

Bravo to Coco and Karl for pulling off this ad perfectly!

Image Credit: http://www.chanel.com/

Street blogs are great


I was making my daily route down Powell street (San Francisco)
when Megan taps me on the shoulder and asks me if I could pose for a picture.
You can read her complementary description of me on her fabulous San Francisco blog.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lazy Nicole



I always force myself to do many projects over the summer.
I actually got a lot done but.....I still feel lazy

The first project i worked on was two dresses and 3 ruffs that I designed drafted, cut, and sewed. I made them in anticipation for a Alice and wonderland themed party.


My dress is made of stretch netting with tiny flocked hearts all over. I appliqued leather hearts on the front and the back.







My sister's dress is made of a synthetic silk crepe. I appliqued black leather ace of spades.





My husband and my friend both wore my ruffs. My husband was styled by me. Hes wearing a ace, hearts and club print top, with a lobster brooch. He was a good sport.


My next projects include my slight obsession with the fashion spot. This particular forum mimics project runway. Instead of sewing up designs, we just stick to illustrations. When you win you get to set the next challenge. Ive participated in a mood board + collection challenge, Mexico inspired, and Batman's joker children's wear. Out of all the challenges I personally like the mood board challenge(colonial barn ghost), because I REALLY got into it.

Colonial barn ghost





Mexico



Joker child






This summer
I wish I had....
  1. made more clothing
  2. made leather collars
  3. executed one of the "colonial barn ghost" (entire middle outfit)
  4. carved wood into bird pins
  5. sold some of my work
Oh well, no one's perfect