Summer party looks

12 Aug

On humid summer days, even dressing up for an event can feel like a chore. But with some simple yet stylish party look ideas, getting ready will be easy breezy. Whether attending a garden party, barbecue or outdoor wedding, have a few outfit, hair and makeup looks in mind for quick, fuss-free ensembles.

A chic alternative to dresses this season are jumpsuits and rompers. One of this season’s hottest trends, the one-piece is a fun go-to party look. Characterized by a top attached to either pants or shorts, jumpsuits and rompers allow a streamlined, unbroken silhouette. It’ll also save you the hassle of determining which top goes with which bottoms.

Slip on a romper for an quick summer party look.

Slip on a romper for an quick summer party look.

For a more understated look, go for jumpsuits and rompers in solid colours. Solid colours will also make it easier to pair the garment with shoes, bags and jewelry. Belts are an especially good way to break up solid jumpsuits and define the waist. For a more dramatic look, patterned jumpsuits will ensure you stand out from the crowd. Jersey and linen fabrics also offer a casual vibe while silk and satins are better for nighttime or more formal events.

If you prefer shorts to beat the heat, try changing it up with patterned versions. They can easily pair with a solid blouse or tank in a complementary shade. Subtle patterns such as stripes and polka dots are a great way to venture into the trend while the fashion bold can rock colourful prints such as batik, animal or giant florals. The key to finding flattering patterned shorts is fit. Baggy patterned ones tend to enlarge your hips and make it appear like you’re wearing a short skirt rather than a pair of shorts with defined lines. Whatever the length of your shorts, go for a patterned pair that is fitted without adding bulk to your lower half.

Add some colour with patterned shorts.

Add some colour with patterned shorts.

Summer party outfits aren’t complete without fun accessories, makeup and hair. Since hot days call for easy to maintain hairstyles, waves are an excellent, romantic option. This season calls for carefree loose waves that don’t need to be overstyled. One of the simplest ways to get the look is through braiding damp hair. Once dried, tousle the hair a bit with your fingers. And since messy side braids are also popular this summer due to the athletic fashion trend, you can work a braid for the daytime and untie the plait for the evening, creating beachy waves.

Braids were the highlight of the Calla show.

Braids were the highlight of the Calla show.

As for party makeup, piling on heavy foundation is the last thing we want to do in warmer weather, so it’s no wonder that a sheer, natural face is in this season for a base. Makeup artists backstage at the fashion shows relied on dewy moisturizers and light coverage this season, letting bold colours on either the eyes or lips do the talking.

For a bright pop of colour on the lids, aqua colours such as shades of blue and green were popular on the runway. Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu, for example, incorporated turquoise shadows and cobalt blue liner to eyes of their models. Prefer a less dramatic alternative to try the trend? Switch out your black or brown eyeliner with navy.

If you want to play up your lips, the hottest hue this season veers toward orange lipsticks. Spotted at the Rag & Bone and Prabal Gurung shows, try an orange-red for a more natural shade. Matte fuchsia is also a big trend for those who stick to pink lip colours.

Whether you’re making a statement on your eyes or on your lips, finish off with some mascara and a touch of bronzer or blush for a healthy glow. Summer’s the season to incorporate wild colours and patterns into your outfits, so have fun with your party looks!

[Article first appeared in the July 16 issue of Richmond Review.]

Summer accessory trends

2 Jul

With summer arriving it’s easier to let your personal style shine through accessories rather than layers of clothes. So take some fashion cues from this season’s biggest  trends and update your warm weather outfits with chic extras.

The art trend is huge for spring and summer, translating to paint-splattered accessories, sculpted heels, hand-painted bags and jewelry. Saint Laurent showcased patchworked shoes while elaborated painted boots were a showstopper at Miu Miu. Another example of the art trend is also one of the most dividing accessories of the spring 2014 season the graffiti printed canvas backpack at Chanel. If you like the look, avoid the hefty price tag and create a version of your own for your next DIY project. All you’ll need is a plain canvas bag, fabric spray paint, and some design ideas.

chanel

Globally inspired details are also on trend this season. Look for accessories with traditional embroidery, tribal beadwork and fringed tassels in vivid patterns and colours. The idea for this trend is to accessorize with items that look like souvenirs from an exotic trip. Even better if it’s authentic! Try adding a woven clutch in a bright hue to a neutral ensemble for a pop of colour.

Florals, of course, is always popular for the warmer months. Shoes adorned with flowers paraded down the runways at Christian Dior and Dolce & Gabbana, while floral prints made their mark on handbags at Nina Ricci and Christian Louboutin. There are a multitude of ways to incorporate floral accessories to your wardrobe, but for a festive touch try adding a floral pin or headband to your updo at the next party.

Gladiators are slowly becoming a classic style for summer sandals. So it’s no wonder another trend for this season is the warrior look. Bold metal cuffs, chunky buckled sandals and multi-finger rings made an impact at the shows. The key is oversized metals such as giant gilded belt buckles, statement necklaces with metal plating, and chokers — thick necklaces worn close to the collar bone.

Two trends in one, accessorize with a cuff like a global warrior.

Two trends in one, accessorize with a cuff like a global warrior.

In terms of shoes, mules and slings are making a big comeback, as seen at Fendi and Celine. Whether low or high heeled, pointy or round, closed or peep toed, designers gave their modern take on the mule. Rochas sported a feathered number, while beach-ready mules made of cork and fringed canvas were spotted at Chloe. As long as the shoes are backless, they’ll be on trend this season.

This season’s hottest shoe style, the mule.

This season’s hottest shoe style, the mule.

If heels aren’t your thing, then the sporty footwear trend may be more up your alley. Complete your outfits with athletic accessories such as sneakers and chic duffel bags. From Prada’s sport sandals to visors at Marni and DKNY, don’t be afraid to pair sporty extras with dresses and skirts. Slides and backpacks are also popular accessories stemming from the sport trend. A more polished alternative to flip-flops, slides can also be dressed with down boyfit jeans or dressed up with maxi skirts.

As for purses, bucket bags are the “it” accessory this summer. Roomier than most clutches and the ever so popular crossbody bags, bucket bags were found on the runways at Louis Vuitton and Chloe. Characterized by a structured sack silhouette that clinches at the top like a drawstring, there’s a bucket bag for every style. Look for a studded version if you’re more punk rock, for example. Or if you prefer a more glamorous style, go for a metallic leather bucket bag.

Stash all your summer essentials into a bucket bag like this one from Zara.

Stash all your summer essentials into a bucket bag like this one from Zara.

Accessories are the perfect starting point to explore outside your personal style. And with all the different fashion trends for the season, there’s definitely something for everyone.

[Article first appeared in the June 18 issue of Richmond Review.]

Spring trends for men

20 May

 

Though men’s fashion trends may not be as varied as women’s, they can often overlap. Borrowed from the boys, the oxford dress shirt is one of womenswear’s biggest trends this season. Over on the menswear side, spring fashions take a hint from the stereotypically feminine floral prints, with dark flower patterns making a statement on the runways. Designer menswear collections can be a bit over the top for the average guy who prefers the casual combination of jeans and a tee, so the key to making trends wearable is to incorporate them in small and subtle ways. A great way to experiment with the latest trends is through accessories. For example, add a floral print tie to your dress shirt or use a silk scarf as a pocket square.

Sporty and floral trends at the Dries Van Noten show.

Sporty and floral trends at the Dries Van Noten show.

The floral trend was in full bloom at a number of the biggest menswear shows. A new and fashionable spin on the tacky Hawaiian tropical-print shirts, Prada presented big and bold floral tops in primary shades of red, blue and yellow. At Dries Van Noten, the designer made flowers his theme, printing dark floral patterns on everything from button-ups and blazers to pants. Gucci also exaggerated the floral trend, sending models down the runway rocking full floral-printed suits. For a less dramatic but still unexpected way to wear florals, switch out your usual button-up with a floral print dress shirt. The smaller the pattern, the more subdued the print is. For the fashion forward, try a large floral pattern as a statement piece.

Floral prints also tie in nicely with another menswear trend, the dandy. An inspiration for collections such as Dries Van Noten and Haider Ackermann, the dandy romanticizes an era where men donned full suits, silk scarves and played with lively combinations of colours and patterns. A bit flashy but always well-dressed, the dandy was represented by metallic three-piece suits at Dolce & Gabbana. For a more casual approach to dandyism, try a variation of the outfit spotted at Dsquared2. A patterned bomber jacket was paired with a classic dress shirt and white pants. The trick for the dandy trend is to complete the look with chic accessories, such as thick-framed glasses, a bright bag or neck scarf.

The Dsquared2 dandy.

The Dsquared2 dandy.

A hot trend this season, for both menswear and womenswear, is the athletic look. Designers all over were inspired by sports, even taking cues from cycling, surfing and skating culture. Alexander Wang showed off sporty ensembles complete with leather baseball caps and sneakers. To avoid looking like you’re just heading to the gym, try this trend by pairing a sporty piece with something dressier. It’s also a great way to tone down a more formal item in your closet. At Gucci, sporty anoraks were worn with sleek dress pants.

1950’s-inspired wide pant legs and double-breasted blazer at Michael Kors.

1950’s-inspired wide pant legs and double-breasted blazer at Michael Kors.

For those with an affinity towards a more vintage style there’s the 1950’s trend. Characterized by high waists, spread collars and pleated pants, 1950’s-inspired casual looks were presented at Bottega Veneta and Missoni. Michael Kors, inspired by the 1940’s and Cary Grant, put out a collection consisting of vintage looking high-waisted pants with full legs, double-breasted blazers and wide lapels. A more polished silhouette, the 1950’s trend is great for emphasizing the waistline.

Blue colour-blocking at Calvin Klein.

Blue colour-blocking at Calvin Klein.

As for colour, blue is the “it” shade of the season. Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani all displayed a wide range of blues in their collections. Inspired by the sea and sky, the creative director of Calvin Klein’s menswear line, Italo Zucchelli, showed a multitude of blue on blue ensembles. Colour-blocking with varying shades of blue were applied to sweaters, cardigans and jackets. One of the simpler trends to incorporate into the wardrobe, an easy look would be to pair blue jeans with a top of another blue shade.

Whatever your style, this season is sure to have a trend to suit your taste. Fashion trends are all about experimentation and going out of your comfort zone, so try a new look this spring!

[Article first appeared in the May 14 issue of Richmond Review.]

Richmond fashion designers

20 Apr

There are a multitude of reasons to support local designers — whether it’s to build stronger communities, reduce environmental impact or just to avoid wearing the same mass-marketed outfit as someone else. But the most important reason to shop locally should be to bolster the creativity of talented artists. Some of these skilled fashion designers can be found as close as Richmond, at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Fashion Show taking place Thursday, April 24 at the River Rock Show Theatre. Featuring collections from the graduating class of Design, Fashion and Technology, this city is home to a variety of inventive designers.

Cindy Luo

Local lingerie line ANASTASIA specializes in undergarments for petite women. Designed by Cindy Luo, the spring collection is inspired by nostalgia and takes its aesthetic cues from diamonds with the cuts and translucency of each piece. Sensual yet sophisticated, ANASTASIA’s versatility allows its garments to be worn on any occasion — underneath everyday apparel, for special events, or even lounging around at home.

A look from Cindy Luo’s lingerie line ANASTASIA. (Photo by Desmond Mok)

A look from Cindy Luo’s lingerie line ANASTASIA. (Photo by Desmond Mok)

“Each piece is designed with petite women in mind, making sure exact measurements are made to meet their needs,” says Luo.

“Most of the products in the market don’t fit a petite woman where it is supposed to be because of long straps, flimsy bands or big cups that don’t give them any form of support,” she says. “Due to these issues, many women resort to purchasing undergarments that are unflattering for their body shapes. A well-fitting undergarment is key in any woman’s quest to feel sexy and confident. I want to create a product where they can celebrate and embrace what they have underneath.”

Jan Bautista

For another local designer Jan Bautista, the focus is on giving clothes a story and sparking the imagination. Bautista’s move from the Philippines to Canada only strengthened his love for fashion. Exposure to different lifestyles made him realize the importance of craftsmanship and the meaning of true beauty. His menswear line, Maison Beautista, strives to redefine the post-modern dandy gentleman, combining fit and comfort with bold colours and eccentric designs. This season the collection is inspired by art from the Post-Impressionist movement, especially Vincent van Gogh’s Irises painting.

“This particular masterpiece represents the celebration and adoration life deserves despite the congested, materialistic society,” says Bautista. “The designs are influenced by the expressive and vibrant hues of the masterpiece.”

A dapper ensemble from Jan Bautista’s Maison Beautista. (Photo by Gene Figueroa)

A dapper ensemble from Jan Bautista’s Maison Beautista. (Photo by Gene Figueroa)

With his enthusiasm and love for bringing stories to life, Bautista hopes to one day design for the theatre and film industry, where clothes provide a crucial part in entertaining and narrating.

Venus Lai

For those looking for office outfit ideas from a local designer, there’s the HaNa line created by Venus Lai. Inspired by history and different cultures, HaNa differs from the usual business attire with its fashion-forward details. This season the designer was influenced by her cultural roots, updating the traditional Chinese cheongsam dress with a modern silhouette and chic, office-appropriate style.

A dress from Venus Lai’s businesswear line HaNa. (Photo by Matthew Chen)

A dress from Venus Lai’s businesswear line HaNa. (Photo by Matthew Chen)

“My ideal customers are women who work in a professional field and require clothing with an identity,” says Lai. “To showcase themselves in a fashionable sense, but also to wear clothing with a meaning and a story.”

“What I love most about designing is to create aesthetically beautiful clothes, but also showcase the skill and the thought put behind it. Having to produce something from a visual in your head into a 2-D fashion drawing, and then thinking about it technically to draft and design the pattern and make it into a 3-D garment is process I enjoy the most. The whole design process is not easy and can be strenuous and difficult, but the outcome and the accomplishment you feel at the end is all worth it.”

For more on the designers and the KPU Fashion Show, visit www.kpu.ca/theshow2014.

[Article first appeared in the April 16 issue of Richmond Review.]

Revamp your wardrobe with spring trends

18 Mar

With snowfall earlier this month it still feels like we’re in the middle of winter, but this Thursday marks the first day of spring and fashion is already looking ahead to the warmer months. Transition into the new season by updating your wardrobe with some of spring’s best trends.

Winter was all about punk and grunge aesthetics, but set your distressed motorcycle leather jackets aside this season and go for a sporty bomber instead. One of spring’s biggest trends is the athletic look, so take a few style cues from the recent Olympic Games and incorporate sporty pieces into your attire. Satin varsity jackets were paired with metallic trainers at the Marc by Marc Jacobs show, while Balenciaga’s collection included track shorts, muscle tees and tanks. Even the usually glamorous Tom Ford added a few sporty elements to his collection, such as a loose leather net tank reminiscent of a basketball jersey. The key for wearing spring’s sporty trend is to find pieces with athletic silhouettes in unusual fabrics, such as leather, silk, neoprene and mesh.

Crop top trends and athletic looks at the DKNY show.

Crop top trends and athletic looks at the DKNY show.

If your style is less sporty and more dressy, then the metallic trend may better suit your taste. High shine dresses and metallic detailing were all the rage on the runway this season. Lustrous satin, lamé and brocade silks made up the majority of Lanvin’s spring collection. Proenza Schouler, on the other hand, presented a more subtle approach to metallics by adding silver and bronze strips to pleated maxi skirts. Don’t be afraid to break out the metallics for daytime. Try adding some shiny accents to your office wardrobe with metallic accessories such as belts, bags or jewelry.

Metallic detailing at Proenza Schouler.

Metallic detailing at Proenza Schouler.

Another huge trend for spring is the crop top. DKNY showcased sporty midriff-baring tops in pastel blue while Diane von Furstenberg paired her collection of bustier tops with printed knee-length skirts and pants. Over at Narciso Rodriguez, the crop top was more understated and showed only a hint of skin. For a simple and less daunting way to try the crop top trend, wear the top with high-waisted skirt or pants. It’ll limit the exposure of skin but still allow you to play with proportions.

One trend everyone can get into for spring is the oxford shirt. A true classic, collared button-ups graced the runways in a variety of styles and outfit combinations. Boyfriend-style dress shirts were worn over boxer shorts at Alexander Wang, while Christian Dior revealed a more feminine version of the button-up with an oxford shirtdress. Prabal Gurung modernized the silhouette of the shirt with structured sleeves, and paired it with minimalistic pencil skirts for a clean, clinical look. A wardrobe essential, the oxford shirt is a great layering piece for any style. Pair a crisp white dress shirt with a cardigan and pleated skirt for a preppy look, for example. Or go rocker chic by coupling an oversized button-up with leather leggings.

Seen at Alexander Wang, the dress shirt is spring’s must-have.

Seen at Alexander Wang, the dress shirt is spring’s must-have.

In terms of prints, pop art was a favourite among the designers. Inspired by art murals, Prada’s collection featured portraits of women on dresses, skirts and coats. It also revived colour-blocking for the season. The other collection that ignited the fashion as art trend is Chanel, with patterned fabrics resembling paint swatches. And, as usual, florals are back for spring. However, this season’s florals are less subtle and more of a statement piece. Marni created layers of textured petals for her ensembles and Mary Katrantzou also added a 3-D effect to her florals using embroidery and decoration.

Artistic flair at Chanel’s spring show.

Artistic flair at Chanel’s spring show.

As for texture, the trends this season are pleats, fringe and sheer fabric. Dries Van Noten’s spring show encompassed all three trends. The designer showcased ruffled and pleated metallic skirts, fringed tassel accents on embroidered tops, and veiled skirts with sheer fabric overlays.

Spring is great time to refresh your wardrobe, so have fun with fashion and try out a few trends this season.

[Article first appeared in the March 12 issue of Richmond Review.]

Finding the perfect jeans

17 Feb

No matter your personal style, jeans are a wardrobe essential. A great pair of denim can be dressed up with heels and a silk blouse, or dressed down with canvas sneakers and a graphic tee. Save for formal or business events, jeans can be worn to almost any occasion since dark rinse denim creates a polished look and can be thought of as an alternative to black pants. But because jeans come in such a variety of washes, cuts and brands, they can be difficult to shop for. One way to start jean shopping is to look for a style that would most flatter your body type.

Cuff your jeans to add some flair and show off your shoes.

Cuff your jeans to add some flair and show off your shoes.

If you’ve got an hourglass figure, go for a mid-rise that cuts higher in the back for more coverage. Solid colour wide-legged trouser jeans would complement your frame, but if you prefer a slimmer fit go for tapered legs instead of skinny jeans. The ankles of tapered jeans are less narrow than skinnies and offer more room in the thighs. Another trick is to roll the hem of the jeans to add width at the bottom and balance the hips.

For petite frames, skinny jeans and bootcuts work well to flatter and create proportion. Vertical fading down the front can help elongate the legs. Look for jean brands that offer shorter inseams so you can save a trip to the tailors. Straight figures can pull off most jeans styles and rinses, but for ones that flatter the most opt for slim fits. A comfortable alternative to jeans you can try are jeggings — they have high stretch content and usually come with faux front pockets to reduce bulk and create a super slimfit effect. Bootcut jeans can also work to add a curvier silhouette to straight shapes. If you’re on the taller end of the scale, try rocking flared denim to give proportion. Jeans faded from the thighs the knees can also help in breaking up the length.

Dark rinse jeans without any whiskering are perfect for dressing up.

Dark rinse jeans without any whiskering are perfect for dressing up.

For pear-shaped figures, avoid super tapered jeans. Instead, balance curvier hips with trouser style denim or low-rise flares. If you’re plus-size, dark rinse straight-leg jeans will create a slimming effect. Trouser cut denim will also enhance your figure. Check the rear pockets to make sure it’s flattering. Small back pockets can make backsides appear larger.

To hide tummies, pick a mid-rise jean so the waistband sits just below the belly button. Wide waistbands will also help flatten the stomach. Look for jeans with stretch so it’ll rest comfortably against the belly without squeezing. For those with a small waist, one of the problems you may encounter when sitting is gaping of the jeans at the back. Reduce gaping by finding jeans with a contoured waistband. Instead of one strip of fabric, this is where the band is cut on a curve and sewn together.

Change up your blue jean routine with a chic grey pair.

Change up your blue jean routine with a chic grey pair.

Take special care of your jeans to ensure your favourite pair of denim lasts as long as they can. Keep them clean, but avoid washing them too often in order to retain the colour of dark washes and prevent breakage of the fibres. It is recommended that for the initial washing, hand wash jeans inside out with a colour safe detergent like Woolite Extra Dark. Another option before your jeans go into a washing machine for the first time is to soak your denim in a solution of water and vinegar. The vinegar helps preserve the dye in jeans before the first wash. For raw denim, which takes a while to become broken-in, most brands would advise washing after six month to get the personalized fade.

The right pair of jeans can be a great confidence booster. So now that you have an idea of the type of jeans that can most flatter your figure, you’ll be well on your way to finding that perfect pair.

[Article first appeared in the Feb. 12 issue of Richmond Review.]

Make your own fashion

22 Jan

Ever walk into a store, see an item of clothing and thought to yourself, “I could make that!”? With the rise of DIY tutorials online, putting a unique, handmade spin on your favourite apparel has never been easier. Start by going through your wardrobe and setting aside the items you never wear anymore, either because it’s out of trend or don’t fit quite right. These pieces are the perfect starting point for DIY fashion. Ideas such as adding lace, studs or cutouts are simple to execute and can completely revamp an old piece of clothing, turning it into something covetable.

Turn old jeans into a pair of perfectly distressed denim.

Turn old jeans into a pair of perfectly distressed denim.

An old pair of jeans, for example, can be given the rocker chic treatment by adding a distressed look. Best for light to medium washed jeans, it helps to have a visual of how distressed you want the final product to be. Start by searching for an image of a pair of worn-in jeans, and use it as a point of reference for the rest of the project. Create a distressed look by rubbing the denim with materials you can find around the house such as sandpaper, pumice stone, steel wool or a small grater. For a more worn-in look, use an X-Acto knife or seam ripper to loosen the white threads in the denim after the area is distressed.

Add a fancy twist to cut-offs with lace trim.

Add a fancy twist to cut-offs with lace trim.

Another DIY idea for jeans that fit well but are out of style, such as flares, is to turn them into shorts. Add a boho twist to cut-off shorts by sewing lace or broderie anglaise trimming to the hem. For an edgier look, keep the hem unfinished and stud the pockets. Studs and spikes are easy ways to personalize clothing and works for most types of fabric — all you need are a pack of studs and a tool, such as pliers, to secure the prongs. If you’re working with thin material, add another layer of fabric to the underside so the prong will have extra hold.

Personalize your kicks with DIY studs.

Personalize your kicks with DIY studs.

Studs also work well on blouse collars and are a great way to add some glam to an otherwise plain button-up shirt. Since fashion has been focusing on collars the past few seasons, there are trendy ideas for neckbands for all types of personal style. For a feminine 1960s look, try adding a Peter Pan collar to a basic crew neck shirt. One variation of a DIY Peter Pan collar uses a crochet doily to act as the rounded collars. Divide a lace doily in half and align them to fit the neckline. Fold the excess part of the doily over and sew along the neckline to secure the collar.

Use unwanted patterned shirts to make fun detachable collars.

Use unwanted patterned shirts to make fun detachable collars.

For a button-up shirt that no longer fits, try trimming off the neckband to make a detachable collar. Cut just below where the collar is sewn on so the collar will stay intact. Trim off any excess fabric or threads. Jazz up the collar by adding studs, metal collar tips, or even just a decorative brooch in the centre over the button. Now you have a detachable collar to wear over plain tees, sweaters or collarless blouses.

These are just a few simple ideas to get started. Once you’ve got some DIY fashion experience under your belt, you can continue on to more complicated projects such as screen printing, knitting or embroidering. The possibilities are endless in transforming just about any item in your closet — even changing the buttons on a coat can give it a new lease on life. So with a fresh year before us, make it one of your resolutions to complete a few DIY challenges and turn the clothes you avoid, into items you love wearing time after time.

[Article first appeared in the Jan. 15 issue of Richmond Review.]

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