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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.]

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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.]

Stylish winter sportswear

20 Dec

Living in Metro Vancouver it’s typical to complain about the cold weather one moment and be ecstatic for an upcoming snowboarding trip the next. Since we’re bound to find ourselves participating in a winter sport this season, whether it’s snowboarding, skiing or snowshoeing, it’s best to have a warm and stylish outfit ready. The key is to layer with weather-appropriate items that will keep you warm and dry while on the slopes. Layers will also make it easy to change into a less bulky look when you’re relaxing with a hot chocolate in the lodge afterwards.

Keep dry with a moisture-wicking base layer, like this one from MEC.

Keep dry with a moisture-wicking base layer, like this one from MEC.

Start off with a base layer that will wick away moisture such as sweat. Cotton may be a breathable, natural fabric but it will also retain sweat once absorbed — a situation you want to avoid when doing winter sports. Go for synthetic materials such as polyester blended with a moisture-wicking textile. Most active brands carry clothing made with their own high-tech fabrics designed to keep the wearer dry and comfortable. For example, The North Face uses FlashDry fibre in their baselayer pieces while Columbia uses Omni-Wick and Omni-Heat.

Merino wool baselayer hoodie from Icebreaker.

Merino wool baselayer hoodie from Icebreaker.

If you prefer to go the natural route for a moisture-wicking layer, try wool. Merino wool is soft and comfortable, making it a great layering piece for any snow sport. Wool pieces also make for an excellent insulating mid-layer. Another popular insulator and more lightweight alternative is polar fleece. The only downside to fleece is that it’s not windproof, so it’s best to pair fleece with a jacket that is wind-resistant.

The proper jacket for winter sports should be able to repel water and also be breathable. Whether the outer layer is a full winter jacket or a shell, it needs to be able to protect your body from the elements and regulate heat. Built-in ventilation zippers on the sides of outerwear can also help wearers keep cool after hours of activity.

Colourful snowboarding pants will add some flair to any ensemble.

Colourful snowboarding pants will add some flair to any ensemble.

Once you’ve got the base, insulation and outer layers figured out it’s time to complete the look with accessories. Accessories are crucial for winter sports since your head and hands are more exposed to the elements while up on a mountain than in the city. They’re also a great way to change up your usual ski or snowboarding look without spending a lot. For toques, go for something made of fleece or wool. Slouchy beanies are a stylish option for this season, so grab one in a fun colour. For gloves, ensure that it’s waterproof and snug around the wrist. Consider adding glove liners for more warmth. You’ll be able to keep your hands toasty and dry in case a snowball fight breaks out. An item I always like carrying in my pockets are hand warmers. Once activated, they can stay warm for the entire duration of your snowboarding session and are great for those moments between activities, like standing in line for the ski lift.

Keep your head warm with a fun wool toque, like this one from Canada Goose.

Keep your head warm with a fun wool toque, like this one from Canada Goose.

As covered last month, footwear is one of the most important items in determining your comfort during a winter sport. Make sure your snow boots are waterproof and warm. Some boot brands, such as Sorel, also make removable thermo liners that are great for additional insulation. And if you’re snowshoeing, opt for lightweight snow boots so less energy is required for those steep climbs.

Complete the look with a pair of sunglasses or goggles, and sunscreen to protect your skin. Along your cozy layers and colourful accessories to match, you’ll be all set to hit the slopes in style. Because if it’s cold and raining in the city, there’s a good chance fresh snow is blanketing the local mountains.

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

Stylish Halloween costumes

17 Oct

There’s only two more weeks left until Halloween, so if you’re a huge fan of the annual celebration chances are you already have your costume picked out and ready to go. But for those of us who are still unsure about what to dress up as, or decide last minute to head to a costume party, here are some stylish ideas that are easy to pull together from pieces that may be available in your wardrobe. For something you’ll only wear once, it’s simpler to avoid spending a fortune and just create a costume from items you already have. Halloween is a great way to express your interest in fashion by emulating chic characters from film and television, or even popular fashion designers.

January Jones as Betty in Mad Men.

January Jones as Betty in Mad Men.

Breaking Bad’s yellow hazmat suits will be popular this Halloween, but for a more stylish costume option dress up as one of the characters from AMC’s other critically acclaimed show, Mad Men. Whether you want to go as Betty, Joan, Peggy or Megan the key is to find a tailored outfit that looks inspired from the 1960s. For Betty, go for silhouettes with nipped waists and full skirts. Try printed silk blouses, petticoats, shirtwaist dresses and swing coats. Complete the perfectly polished Betty look with an elegant hairdo and red lipstick. To dress like Joan, wear a figure-hugging dress in a vibrant jewel-toned colour, or a sweater and pencil skirt set. Peggy’s working look went through many changes over the seasons, but you can’t go wrong with a 1960s inspired plaid and pleated skirt suit. As for Megan Draper, the most fashion forward on the show, a mod minidress should be the main part of the costume. Style with a dramatic winged eyeliner and a bouffant.

Carey Mulligan as Daisy in The Great Gatsby.

Carey Mulligan as Daisy in The Great Gatsby.

Another fun period costume idea is 1920s attire seen recently in The Great Gatsby and Downton Abbey. To sparkle like Daisy Buchanan don a flapper dress, characterized by drop waists, slinky straps and art deco beading. Top off a short bob hairstyle with an ornate head band. As for Downton Abbey, channel Lady Mary and Lady Edith this Halloween with ankle-grazing empire waist dresses. Accessorize with hats, gloves, pearls and beaded shrugs in luxe fabrics. For a different spin on a Downton Abbey costume dress like one of the staff, such as the head housemaid Anna. Add a white collar to a plain, long-sleeved black dress and tie a long, white lace apron overtop. Finish the look with black tights and a white headpiece for the hair.

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary in Downton Abbey.

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary in Downton Abbey.

For fashion designers, Karl Lagerfeld is probably the most notorious and easiest to copy. The head designer for Chanel and Fendi, Lagerfeld’s always poised in a black suit with vest over a tailored white shirt. The accessories are key for his look. Wear fingerless black leather gloves, a skinny black tie, black sunglasses, a long chain necklace, black belt and loafers. For the pièce de résistance wear a white wig pulled back into a ponytail.

Karl Lagerfeld

Karl Lagerfeld

If you’re looking for a costume that’s more timeless, reference fashionable cult classic movies such as Clueless, Annie Hall and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. To dress like Cher Horowitz or Dionne Davenport, rock a tartan suit with matching mini skirt. For an alternate look try a plaid mini skirt and a white collared shirt under a sweater vest. Top off the ensembles with knee high socks and a beret. For another fun element, you can even include the Clueless vernacular as part of your costume by inserting the phrases “Whatever!” and “As if!” into your conversations.

Besties Cher and Dionne in Clueless.

Besties Cher and Dionne in Clueless.

To get Annie Hall’s menswear inspired look that is also a huge trend for this season, add  an oversized men’s vest and a long skirt or wide-leg trousers to your look. Accessorize with a bowler hat, boots and a tie. To dress up like Holly Golightly, Audrey Hepburn’s character from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, all you need is a little black dress, chunky pearl necklace, elbow length black gloves and big sunglasses.

Diane Keaton as Annie Hall.

Diane Keaton as Annie Hall.

Halloween is the perfect occasion to test an over-the-top style you wouldn’t normally wear, so have fun with it and experiment with dressing differently!

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

Spice up your wardrobe with summer accessories

15 Jul

With the warm weather and increased opportunities for casual get-togethers with friends, summer is the perfect time to wear over-the-top accessories. Perhaps it’s because the season just makes everyone more cheerful, or that we wear less in the heat and need another way to express our sense of style. Either way, bold jewelry, shoes, or bags are always a great and easy complement to any tank and shorts combo or sundress.

For a trendy way to incorporate accessories, try one of the biggest fashion trends of this season: black and white. Whether it’s in the form of a classic black and white checkered bag seen at Louis Vuitton or a mod pair of white-framed sunglasses at Moschino, opposites attract in this summer accessories trend. Because the colours are neutrals, black and white accessories will go well with all shades of clothing.

Black and white at Louis Vuitton's spring/summer 2013 show

Black and white at Louis Vuitton’s spring/summer 2013 show

Clear, lucite details have also been making a strong impact in jewelry, bags and even the platform and heel of shoes. Gucci and Chanel both created translucent purses for the season, while see-through details such as heel straps and side panels were spotted at many designers such as Michael Kors and Givenchy. For those who want to carry a translucent bag but prefer to keep some of their items concealed, store them in a small separate pouch before popping them into the see-through purse. It’ll also provide a tidier look.

Rock the lucite trend with this wedge shoe by Jeffrey Campbell.

Rock the lucite trend with this wedge shoe by Jeffrey Campbell.

Gladiator sandals are also in for shoes. But what makes this season’s trend different from the gladiator sandals popular a few years back is the bolder, knee-high approach. Presented in a multitude of shows such as Altuzarra, Tom Ford and Alexander Wang, the dramatic look is definitely not for the fashion shy. Try pairing it with a basic black dress for a stylish night-on-the-town outfit. Be wary of awkward tan lines if you’re rocking the knee-high gladiators trend in the daytime, though!

Overall for shoes, the trend is to leave the skinny stilettos in the back of the closet and opt for stacked, chunky heels. Balenciaga showed oxfords with cubed heels, Fendi studded the block heels of their shoes, and Chloe accessorized their models with an updated version of Mary Janes. The trend is a throwback to the 70’s when blocked and platform heels were de rigueur. At least this season’s shoes won’t have you sinking your heels into the lawn at backyard barbecues.

Chunky Mary Janes at Chloe's spring/summer 2013 show.

Chunky Mary Janes at Chloe’s spring/summer 2013 show.

For bags, crossbody purses and small satchels were popular on the runway. Lanvin, Stella McCartney and Diane von Furstenberg all showcased smaller but bold handbags in their collections. On the opposite end of the spectrum, shopper totes are also trendy. Perfect for the beach or picking up dinner ingredients at the farmers market, totes are ideal for those warm days where spontaneity takes rein. You’ll be at the ready with a tote packed with essentials such as sunscreen, swimsuit and shades.

Tote at Fendi's spring/summer 2013 show.

Tote at Fendi’s spring/summer 2013 show.

For sunglasses, oversized ones are always popular. But this year’s trend is also for round framed retro glasses reminiscent of John Lennon’s. Although if you’re planning on investing in a pair of sunglasses, find one that will complement your face shape instead of following a seasonal trend. For round faces, go for oversized rectangular frames. More angular faces will suit round frames while aviators will flatter those with heart-shaped faces. Most frame styles will go with oval faces, but I’m partial to shades with slight cat-eyes for a little retro glam.

Oval faces will suit this pair of round oversized, slightly cat-eyed shades.

Oval faces will suit this pair of round oversized, slightly cat-eyed shades.

Another easy accessory trend to incorporate is gold. Accent your day and night ensembles with gold sandals, belts or chunky link chains. Gold cuffs always make a striking impression to an otherwise neutral look. For a more bohemian look, add some fringed elements. Try a fringed necklace for a cheeky touch on a minimal ensemble. Bright dangly earrings are also popular for summer. Dolce & Gabbana accessorized their models with long earrings made up of colourful beads and clusters of raffia. Whatever your sense of style summer’s a great time to experiment with accessories, so go wild!

[Article first appeared in the July 10 issue of Richmond Review.]

Packing tips for trips

16 Jun

The flights and accommodations are booked, places of interest noted and organized, and list of fun activities already planned. Now you just have to pack — a somewhat tiresome but necessary task. The main idea is to pack smart so you don’t risk over-packing with things you never end up using, or realize an important item is missing by the time you’re at your destination. Make a list of items to bring at least a few days before you start packing for your trip. That way, you’ll never forget to bring something that is essential. Also check with your airline’s baggage regulations and the transportation authority of the countries you’re flying in and out of, especially rules for carry-on luggage. Then you can plan your travel bags accordingly and prevent any hassle at the airport.

Suitcases

For clothes to pack that will have you looking stylish in all your travel pictures, the key is versatility. Bring basic items that will go well with anything such as jeans, neutral tees, blouses and skirts. Pack pieces that are in a similar colour scheme so it’ll be easier to mix and match. Casual dresses are always great since they’re a comfortable, one-piece ensemble. Dresses can also be transformed into a different look by covering the top with a different blouse or the bottom half with a longer skirt layered over. Also pack layers such as cardigans, vests and thin sweaters so you’ll be ready for chilly nights or places that are heavily air conditioned. Of course, take into consideration the activities you’ll be doing during your trip, whether you’ll be attending a work meeting, hiking around scenic areas, spending time on a beach or dressing up for a night out. A dark blazer usually works to make a look more polished and dressed up.

Maxi dresses can take you from a casual breakfast to a fancy dinner.

Maxi dresses, such as this one from ASOS, can take you from a casual breakfast to a fancy dinner.

A must have for any trip are shoes that are comfortable to walk hours in and can go with most of your outfits. Low top Chuck Taylors are a popular option. Street stylish girls have been pairing the classic sneakers with anything from boyfriend jeans to miniskirts. As for bags, go with a cross-body purse, or at least one with a shoulder strap, for your travels so you’ll have both hands free to explore the town. If you do find it necessary to bring a lot of clothing, try using packing bags that you can compress in order to maximize available space. And for those going on a lengthy trip, there’s always the option of washing your clothes at your hotel, local Laundromat, or even hand-washing in the sink.

A simple white blouse like this one from Simons is perfect for any style of skirt, shorts or trousers.

A simple white blouse like this one from Simons is perfect for any style of skirt, shorts or trousers.

Try to bring items that are wrinkle-resistant — no one wants to take time out of their sightseeing schedule in order to iron. Usually manmade fabrics such as nylon, polyester, and lycra are wrinkle-free. Cotton blends, denim and knits can also go without ironing. Linen, a lightweight fabric great for hot weather, is supposed to be slightly wrinkled. So if you don’t mind an earthy, rumbled look, incorporate linen fabrics into your summer travel ensembles to keep cool.

Cross-body bags are a stylish and secure way to keep your hands free for all travels. (Source: Rebecca Minkoff)

Cross-body bags are a stylish and secure way to keep your hands free for all travels. (Source: Rebecca Minkoff)

For the actual packing process, whether you’re carrying a suitcase or a backpack, roll your clothes instead of completely folding them. It’ll create fewer wrinkles while saving more space. For shirts, align the sleeves together by folding the shirt in half lengthwise, tuck the sleeves onto the body, and then roll from the collar to the hem. For pants, bring the legs together and fold in half, and then roll from the open end to the crease. If you’re bringing formalwear, insert some tissue paper between each piece to prevent any creases and try to lay them flat at the top of the suitcase, or use a garment bag.

By not leaving packing until the last minute, planning ahead and preparing your luggage smartly, you’ll be on your way to a stress-free trip. Have a happy and safe journey!

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

Menswear trends for spring

24 Apr

Much like womenswear, the spring trend for men’s fashion is minimalism. Clean lines and toned down shades of neutrals, navy and olive were rampant at the spring and summer shows. Simple silhouettes were spotted on the runways of Raf Simons and Prada — basic suited ensembles cut with classic tailoring.

Prada Spring 2013 Menswear

Minimalism at Prada Men’s spring show

Another huge trend that is still going strong for both womenswear and menswear is the athletic look. Alexander Wang embraced the sporty side of minimalism by creating a spring collection of baseball caps and hoodies. Kenzo presented their most popular item of apparel — their tiger sweatshirt. Over at Louis Vuitton, outfits were inspired by water sports. Wetsuits and hooded anoraks that would fit right in on a boat were the standouts of their show. Baseball bomber jackets in bold metallic colours were showcased heavily on the runway at Burberry. But for a more daytime-friendly look, try a baseball bomber jacket in an earth-toned leather. It’ll go well with most outfits since it can be dressed up over a shirt and tie or casually worn over a graphic tee.

Add some street style with a baseball bomber jacket such as this one from G-Star.

Add some street style with a baseball bomber jacket such as this one from G-Star.

An item that should already be in every man’s wardrobe is the versatile polo. An essential for the warmer seasons, polos can work with a variety of styles. Pair one with shorts or khakis for a preppy look or go casual chic with a blazer over a polo and trousers. Both classic and on trend because of the polo’s sport association, the key is fit. Look for one that will provide a streamlined silhouette and avoid the oversized, boxy type that was all the rage in the 90s.

Stay stylishly cool in a coloured polo by Superdry.

Stay stylishly cool in a coloured polo by Superdry.

Fitting in with the minimalist trend is the sockless look. Appearing to go sockless in shoes from sneakers to loafers has become big over the years. Seen at the spring shows of Gucci and Louis Vuitton, to name a few, the look has been featured in a number of fashion editorials in men’s magazines. To prevent odours from sweat, try no-show loafer socks and look for ones made of antimicrobial material.

Wear two trends at once by going sockless and sporty as seen at Louis Vuitton.

Wear two trends at once by going sockless and sporty as seen at Louis Vuitton.

More often than not, guys tend to play it safe in neutral coloured ensembles. Even the menswear runways were awash with shades of grey, navy and olive. But the warmer months are all about colour. Whether you’re clothes shopping for yourself or a boyfriend, avoid the basic black, white or grey version and go for the more vivid colours. Play around with hues of pastel or bold blocks of complementary shades. For an easy transition from a monotonous wardrobe, add a splash of colour to a neutral suit with a bright shirt.

Don’t be afraid to incorporate prints into your wardrobe as well. Florals may seem intimidating at first, so start with smaller doses such as a floral tie. Trendy prints that are easier to mix into menswear are camouflage and stripes. Dries Van Noten revived the camouflage print again for this season, while stripes were seen at Dolce & Gabbana and Jean Paul Gaultier. For something a little more unexpected, pair printed bottoms with a solid shirt. Neutral stripes usually look sharp when combined with a solid, bold colour. Try wearing a striped tee with coloured denim for a smart, casual look.

Bold stripes at Jean Paul Gaultier's spring presentation.

Bold stripes at Jean Paul Gaultier’s spring presentation.

Accessories are always an easy way to add some presence and update your wardrobe. Bags, ties, sunglasses, belts, hats, jewelry and watches are all great for showing off your personality and sense of style. Fashion trends are about experimentation so have fun with it whether you’re out shopping or choosing an outfit for the day. It can help set the tone for your confidence, attitude, and how others react around you.

[Article first appeared in the April 17 issue of Richmond Review.]