Warm up with winter accessories

16 Nov

With the end of daylight saving time everyone’s gearing up for the change in seasons. Our closets may be packed with cozy sweaters and down jackets, but winter preparation isn’t complete without cold weather shoes and accessories. Here are some ideas on incorporating accessory trends to stay stylishly warm in wet and frosty conditions.

Other than a good coat, shoes are one of the main components of dress that can determine whether you’ll be dry and toasty for the day, or drenched and freezing. Warm boots are an essential. Cute rainboots are a great pick for rainy fall days, but when the temperature drops, you’ll want something both stylish and functional. When shopping for a winter boot, you’ll want to look for enough insulation to keep your toes warm, so check the lining and insole material. Shearling wool makes for a warm and comfortable option as does thermal material such as Thinsulate.

Mid-height snow boots, such as these ones from Sorel, make for a more casual look.

Mid-height snow boots, such as these ones from Sorel, make for a more casual look.

In addition to lining material, ensure your winter boots are waterproof and have enough traction. Wet leaves and icy sidewalks can easily lead to slips, so if you feel your favourite winter boots are doing more sliding than strolling, take them into a shoe repair shop to replace the outsole. Since you want to keep in heat, opt for slim fit bottoms to tuck into your winter boots. Pairing leggings, skinny jeans or tights with your boots will create a less bulky look. For a trendy option, try combat boots. Punk and grunge are huge for this season. Rock some combat boots with tartan jeans and a leather jacket for a punk style. Or portray a grungier sensibility by wearing combat boots with an oversized cardigan, babydoll dress and black tights.

For scarves, circular versions are still a popular option, whether as an infinity scarf or a snood. Snoods are tubular neckwear that can be either worn as a scarf, or pulled over the head and lower face like a hood. Whereas infinity scarves are usually wrapped around the neck several times snoods are a simpler, yet just as stylish, alternative. Scarves are a great way to add a pop of colour to an otherwise neutral ensemble, so go for chunky knit scarf or snood in a bold hue this winter. If you want to sport one of this season’s trends try wearing a plaid scarf. Plaids, checks, tartans and houndstooth are hot patterns for fall and winter, and accessories are the perfect area to try out a trend. Don’t be afraid to mix and match patterns in your outfit — the key is to find patterned items with a similar colour palette.

Change up your scarf routine with a chunky snood.

Change up your scarf routine with a chunky snood.

Just like a colourful scarf can provide some much needed brightness to dreary grey days, the same can be said for a fun winter hat. One easy-to-wear trend is a slouchy beanie. Also known as a tuque, look for beanies that are close-fitting around the head and loose on top for a slouchy style. Flattering for most face shapes, tuques are available in a variety of material, colours and patterns. Find one that expresses your sense of style or personality so you’ll be more likely to grab it before heading out the door.

Cure the winter blahs with a fun, colourful tuque.

Cure the winter blahs with a fun, colourful tuque like this mustard version from Zara.

Gloves are another winter accessory essential. While fitted leather gloves are a timeless and elegant choice, a more practical idea may be capacitive gloves for frequent smartphone users. The capacitive threads in the fingertips will allow you to use your touchscreen devices, so now you’ll be able to change your music selection or reply a text without exposing your hands to the elements.

Dressing for the cold weather doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style. Incorporating fashionable, yet functional, winter accessories into your wardrobe will allow you to stay chic even in subzero temperatures.

[Article first appeared in the Nov. 13 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.]

Fall fashion trends

18 Sep

It’s time to put away the scuba dresses, black and white striped pieces and anything neon. Fall fashion has arrived along with a new set of trends. For this season the theme is a play on feminine and masculine styles with a bit of androgynous punk thrown in.

For their fall show, Versace’s usual glamour was mixed with punk details.

For their fall show, Versace’s usual glamour was mixed with punk details.

Fall and winter shows coincided with the anticipation of Metropolitan Museum’s fashion exhibit, Punk: Chaos to Couture, held at the Costume Institute earlier this year. These events culminated in the alternative trend currently found in stores and as a part of street style. For fall, Rodarte showcased their punk sensibility with deconstructed dresses and oversized motorcycle jackets. Hardware details, vinyl pants and tangled layers of necklaces were spotted over at Versace. Even Chanel designed thigh-high leather boots draped with metal chains. To get the punk look, try pairing a distressed leather jacket with skinny tartan pants and combat boots. Incorporate details such as studs, chains and spikes. An additional and easy way to add a touch of punk to your ensemble is with an ear cuff. Seen at Jean Paul Gaultier and Thakoon, the ear cuff is definitely undergoing a revival.

Glitzy ear cuffs at Thakoon.

Jewelled ear cuffs sparkled down the runway at Thakoon.

Another returning 90s fashion trend is grunge, mostly due to the collection at Saint Laurent. For a grunge style, the key is to look like your outfit was assembled from thrift store finds. Flannel shirts, oversized sweaters, babydoll dresses, patterned tights, and jean jackets and vests were the essence of this subculture’s fashion.

Grunge at Saint Laurent's fall 2013 show.

Grunge at Saint Laurent’s fall 2013 show.

For silhouettes, both menswear-inspired and feminine 1940s shapes are on trend. The two were perfectly encapsulated in Dries Van Noten’s show. Slouchy, oversized contours were mixed with feathered textures and brocade pieces. The 1940s style was seen at in at a multitude of shows, such as Prada, Rochas and Lanvin. Characterized by nipped-in waists and full skirts, the refined ladylike look would fit right into Hitchcock’s film noirs. For menswear, the idea is to look like you borrowed a coat or blazer from your boyfriend’s wardrobe. Try oversized single- or double-breasted topcoats. For a more figure flattering approach, buckle a belt over the waist of the coat. Menswear-inspired style was spotted at Stella McCartney, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Chloe.

A dress at Lanvin that combines both the 1940s and pink trends.

A dress at Lanvin that combines both the 1940s and pink trends.

Another way to try out the menswear trend is through fabrics. Pinstripes, herringbone, houndstooth, tweed, argyle and Glen plaid are easy to incorporate into a fall wardrobe. Ease into it by adding a patterned piece to an otherwise neutral ensemble. For the bold, try wearing head to toe patterns. The key is to anchor the look by picking pieces from the same colour family.

A menswear-inspired look at 3.1 Phillip Lim.

A menswear-inspired look at 3.1 Phillip Lim.

Always popular for fall and winter is fur. Whether real or faux, fur pieces were all over the runways from accessories to dresses. Fendi even incorporated the texture into the models’ hair for a furry mohawk. A range of fur were seen at the fall shows, from colourful dyed fur seen at Lanvin and Versace, to classic fur stoles shown at Marc Jacobs.

For colours, both warm and cool tones ran rampant in the fall collections. Reds and pinks were popular for warmer hues while blues and greys ruled the cool shades. Even Valentino strayed from his signature red, aside from a few pieces, and focused on blue dresses. Over at Dolce & Gabbana, red gowns made a dramatic finale at their show. Cotton candy pink dresses and coats were refreshing amidst the dark ensembles at Simone Rocha. If you want to splurge on a trendy item for the fall, make it an oversized yet structured coat in a tone of red or blue. It’ll be perfect for layering over a chunky sweater.

Pink, a refreshing colour trend for fall, was the highlight of the Simone Rocha show.

Pink, a refreshing colour trend for fall, was the highlight of the Simone Rocha show.

Fall accessories also follow the masculine and feminine trend. Menswear-inspired flats such as oxford shoes and loafers are popular this season. For a girlier touch, there’s ankle-strap heels, stacked pumps and over-the-knee boots. As for bags anything goes in terms of size, from small clutches to big portfolio bags and slouchy purses.

Whether your usual style leans more towards ladylike, menswear-inspired or punk, there’s a fall trend that will complement and update your existing wardrobe. So layer up and have fun with fashion!

[Article first appeared in the Sept. 11 issue of Richmond Review.]

Hot weather style

18 Aug

With the temperature rising and everyone trying to get the most out of the remaining summer days, it can be easy for fashion to fall by the wayside and throw on any old tank and shorts combo. But with some tips and tricks, it can be just as simple to be stylishly cool in hot weather. And while our weather stays pretty mild compared to cities like Bangkok or Las Vegas, it doesn’t hurt knowing how to dress to beat the heat in case of spontaneous trips to hot and humid locales.

When it comes to hot weather, it’s always a good idea to skip the skinny jeans and go for flowy, loose-fitting garments. It’ll help circulate air around your body and keep fabric away from your skin, which is also what makes textured fabrics so appealing. Clothes made out of textured material such as linen, seersucker and madras are favourites for summer because they allow the skin to breathe rather than suffocate under tight, unbreathable fabrics like polyester. Especially in summer, try to wear clothes made out of natural fibres rather than synthetic. Cotton is always a good choice for casual looks. If you need a dressier outfit, go for silk. Items with sheer panels and lace will also allow any breeze to pass through.

Keep cool with one of summer's hottest trends, the maxi skirt.

Keep cool with one of summer’s hottest trends, the maxi skirt.

As for actual pieces, sundresses were made for summertime. Casual and feminine, it’s an easy outfit that doesn’t require much coordination — just slip on a pair of sandals. Maxi dresses and skirts are popular options for the season too. For a more sophisticated yet comfortable ensemble, try pairing a boxy shirt with pale linen pants. It’ll take you from an elegant brunch to a nighttime stroll along the beach. For a more eclectic look, try colourful kaftans and tunics made out of cotton or linen. Avoid unnecessary layering since that’s just additional fabric that will add to the heat. Also check your skirts and dresses for lining material. Linings made with satin or polyester will trap in heat.

Whether at an air conditioned office or a more formal event, look chic with a linen blazer.

Whether at an air conditioned office or a more formal event, look chic with a linen blazer.

For colours, it’s probably common knowledge at this point that pale and pastel colours are better in reflecting sunlight. So for those hot summer days, try to stay away from dark colours as it absorbs light and heat. A favourite I always make sure to have multiple versions of is a casual white dress. Not only does it scream summer, it’ll also contrast nicely with your tan and go along well with any bright accessories. It might also be a good idea to avoid colours that will make sweat patches more apparent, such as grey.

Aside from sunglasses, which are a necessity for this time of year, I always like to keep accessories to a minimum in hot weather since it’s just one more item that will be sticking to my skin. One way to show off your sense of style without bulky accessories is with nail colour. Fun vibrant colours are perfect for summer festivities. Another stylish but practical way to incorporate accessories is with straw hats. The material will let heat escape from your head while keeping your face in the shade. Try adding a floppy style hat to your look for a chic touch.

Stay in the shade wherever you go with a straw hat.

Stay in the shade wherever you go with a straw hat.

For makeup, avoid heavy layers of coverage for the summer and opt for a natural, dewy look instead. Sometimes a combination of tinted moisturizer, little cream blush, mascara and lip balm is all you need. Or skip the blush and go for a bronzer to give your skin a healthy glow. Whatever you put on your skin, make sure to slather on sunscreen first!

[Article first appeared in the August 14 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.]

A look at fashion in movies

21 May

Just like the relationship between music and style, the fashion industry is also intimately linked with movies. Who could forget about Audrey Hepburn’s iconic little black Givenchy dress, accessorized with pearls, a tiara, and classic Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Or Keira Knightley’s gorgeous emerald green silk dress in Atonement that set off a multitude of copycats? Ever since 1948, fashion has been recognized at the Oscars under their Academy Award for Best Costume Design — not to mention all the red carpet outfits that get fawned over or criticized by viewers all over the world. One of the best places to take style inspiration from is film. So the next time you’re mulling in front of your closet trying to decide on an outfit, take a cue from a favourite movie character.

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

With the recent release of Baz Luhrmann’s stylized adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, we can expect another Roaring Twenties revival in fashion. Retro looks were seen on the spring runways of Bottega Veneta, and glamorous fringed mini dresses were spotted at Versace. The flapper style previously made a comeback around the time Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris came out. Glitzy art-deco dresses paraded down the runway at Gucci’s show soon after the movie. And over at Etro in the same season, drop-waist dresses reminiscent of the jazz age were featured heavily in the collection. To incorporate the flapper look into your regular wardrobe, try pieces accented with beading or fringe, and mini dresses with straight waists. Accessorize with art-deco jewelry, embellished headbands, and layer together strands of beaded necklaces.

Flapper-inspired looks at Gucci's spring 2012 show.

Flapper-inspired looks at Gucci’s spring 2012 show.

For those looking to channel a style that’s less showy and more gothic punk, there’s the style of anti-heroine Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The movie’s release in late 2011 had a trickledown effect, making a moody impact for the fall and winter collections of 2012. Designers Proenza Schouler and Givenchy incorporated rebellious leather looks into their presentation while Fendi showed dark futuristic ensembles made of PVC and patent leather. The movie also inspired H&M to come out with a collection in collaboration with the film’s costume designer, Trish Summerville. To get the look, combine leather pieces with items such as ripped jeans, distressed tees, studded and spiked accessories, and combat boots.

Costume designer Trish Summerville with her looks for H&M's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo collection

Costume designer Trish Summerville with her looks for H&M’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo collection.

Another movie that strongly influenced the style of many, especially in the late 1970s, is Diane Keaton’s character in Woody Allen’s romantic comedy Annie Hall. Get the menswear-inspired look with oversized blazers, wide-leg trousers and flowy skirts. For the bold, complete the ensemble with a tie and bowler hat.

A movie character look that would be perfect to emulate for the warmer weather is Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. Tuck a crisp, short sleeved button-up into a dirndl skirt and add a chic scarf around the neck for a polished touch.

Audrey Hepburn's classic outfit in Roman Holiday.

Audrey Hepburn’s classic outfit in Roman Holiday.

A popular and stylish film that made a notable impact on those who came of age in the 90s is Clueless. Bring up the movie to any young woman and, chances are, she’ll talk about how much she still wants Cher Horowitz’s revolving closet. Los Angeles company Wildfox Couture created a lookbook for spring that paid homage to Clueless. You can channel your inner Cher or Dionne with a preppy plaid mini skirt, matching blazer, and knee-high socks.

A page from the Clueless inspired lookbook by Wildfox.

A page from the Clueless inspired lookbook by Wildfox.

For every style, there’s a cinematic fashion icon. These are just a few of the movies that can provide fashion inspiration for those days when you believe there’s nothing to wear. Whether you commit fully to a look, incorporate just a few pieces from a character, or take inspiration from a combination of characters, the options are endless.

For a more casual way to incorporate your favourite movies, try a graphic tee such as this one from local designer Thinkhead.

For a more casual way to incorporate your favourite movies, try a graphic tee such as this one from local designer Thinkhead.

[Article first appeared in the May 15 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.]

Start fresh with spring trends

22 Mar

Fall was all about opulence and lavish textures with its embellished details, baroque styles and layering trends involving leather, fur, velvet and brocade. But for spring, the fashion industry went down a more minimalistic route. The biggest trend this season is the simple, high contrast black and white. Usually designers stray from black and opt for soft pastels in their spring and summer collections, but the graphic duo of black and white made a huge impact at most of the major shows. From Calvin Klein in New York, to Céline in Paris, to Milan’s Moschino, black and white ensembles rocked the runways in a variety of styles. A combination that’s super wearable for everyone and suitable for day and night, black and white is now both timeless and on trend.

Step out in the hottest trend for spring: black and white.

Step out in the hottest trend for spring: black and white. (Dress from Zara)

For an updated way to wear black and white, try incorporating pieces with bold stripes or monochromatic checks. Marc Jacobs sent a number of his models down the runway with black and white striped and checked outfits. Stripes are another big trend for spring, so you don’t necessarily have to incorporate black and white versions of striped clothing. Michael Kors featured rugby stripes of red, navy and green in his collection while Christian Dior used bold lines of pink and black. Easy to incorporate into any style, try a navy striped tee with shorts for a nautical look or black and white striped denim for a Balmain-inspired rocker vibe.

Marc Jacobs spring/summer 2013

Marc Jacobs spring/summer 2013 (Photo credit: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GettyImages)

Another trend this is season is the boudoir look. This means adapting pieces we normally would associate with lingerie into transparent items for our everyday wear. Look for sheer and light fabrics such as organza, silk chiffon or mousseline. In terms of style, the transparent look comes through in lace details, mesh panels, cutouts and high slits. On the runways, Alexander Wang showed deconstructed dresses with sheer panels and cutouts. Crop tops and slip dresses were spotted at Rochas, and Akris presented a multitude of transparent ensembles. For a wearable and fun night look, pair a cropped tank with a high-waisted skirt or pant. Or swap a blouse with a bustier to wear under a blazer. The key is to keep things subtle — show just a hint of skin that isn’t normally revealed with the usual jeans and tee.

Cutouts featured at Alexander Wang’s spring show.

Cutouts featured at Alexander Wang’s spring show.

The luxe sport trend is also big for spring. Bomber jackets were seen at Stella McCartney and sporty dresses were included in a lot of the collections. A great way to wear this trend for the warmer months is with scuba dresses. Characterized by a higher neckline, exposed zipper, fitted sleeveless bodice, and usually with black panelling down the sides, the skirt of a scuba dress can either be a-line or more body conscious. Dress them up with heels or pair them with canvas sneakers for a more casual look.

Look sporty with a scuba dress like this one at Victoria Beckham.

Look sporty with a scuba dress like this one at Victoria Beckham.

Still going strong from autumn are the leather and pantsuit trends. Perfect for the transition into spring, opt for suppler, lightweight leather in unexpected colours and styles such as a flirty oxblood leather skirt. With the power suit, both masculine and feminine shapes were spotted on the runways. For a cool and versatile twist, pair a suit blazer with formal shorts or cropped pants, as seen at Tory Burch and Helmut Lang.

For smaller details, ruffles, exotic patchworks and Japanese silhouettes are also in. With frills prominent at Gucci, Givenchy and Chloé, the ruffle is an updated variation on the peplum trend from previous seasons. If you want to add a big splash of patterns and colour into an outfit, try a patchwork top or dress such as those seen at Rodarte or Proenza Schouler. Similar to a collage, the modern patchwork combines different textiles in complementary colours and patterns. And to emulate the Japanese-inspired looks at Etro and Prada, look for kimono-style wrap tops or dresses with wide, structured belts.

The patchwork trend at Proenza Schouler.

The patchwork trend at Proenza Schouler.

There’s a trend for every look this season. And with black and white pieces already in your wardrobe, you’re set to start out spring with style!

[Article first appeared in the March 20 issue of Richmond Review.]

Hats off to headwear

19 Feb

Hats and headwear made a big statement on the runways for the upcoming spring season. Whether it was the dramatic black hats seen at Alexander McQueen, whimsical animal ears spotted on the models at Anna Sui or biker caps at DSquared2, there were hats for every personality and style. Not only does the perfect hat take your outfit up a notch, it’s also great for covering up bad hair days and keeping your head warm during the colder months.

Alexander McQueen spring 2013

Alexander McQueen spring 2013

One hat trend that’s easy to wear and fantastic for the winter is a slouchy beanie, otherwise known as a tuque. Close-fitting around the head and loose on top, slouchy beanies come in a variety of colours, patterns and knits. Wool fedoras are also a popular, albeit more formal, option for this time of year. Try finishing off your outfit with a fedora at night if you want a dressy, polished look. For even more glamour, you can accessorize with a wide-brim felt hat, as seen at the Saint Laurent show — designer Hedi Slimane topped off his rocker chic models with 70s-inspired floppy hats in neutral tones.

Saint Laurent spring 2013

Saint Laurent spring 2013

An alternate approach to picking hats other than trying the trends is to go with one that will suit your face shape. Much like a hairstyle or a pair of glasses, hats can also help in flattering and framing the face. For oval faces, you’re in luck! Just like haircuts, oval faces are suited to most types of hats. Try a beanie without too much excess fabric at the top so you don’t elongate the face. To complement longer faces, stick to big circular hats such as thick beanies and Russian fur hats. Oblong faces also work well with curved brims like ones found on newsboy caps, cloches and floppy hats. You want to add width, not height, to your face. Another trick is to pull the hat forward to cover more of the forehead.

Look cool while keeping your head warm with this slouchy beanie from ASOS.

Look cool while keeping your head warm with this slouchy beanie from ASOS.

For round faces, look for rigid, structured hats with angled brims and aren’t too circular at the crown. You want to add angles instead of roundness. Fedoras, newsboy and conductor caps are great for rounder faces. If your face is more heart-shaped, try slouchy beanies or berets to balance out and soften angles of the jawline and cheeks. Heart-shaped faces are also best suited to hats with medium-sized brims such as cloches, as shorter ones tend to enlarge the forehead and longer brims will make small chins appear pointier. And for faces with square jawlines, opt for feminine hats with large brims and curved crowns, like trilbies, floppy hats and bowlers.

Get ready for spring with a straw trilby from Topshop.

Get ready for spring with a straw trilby from Topshop.

To prevent hat hair, choose hats made from natural fabrics like cotton, wool and cashmere. They’re less likely to cause unruliness from sweating of the head. Also take into consideration how snug the hat fits: tight beanies are more likely to cause hat hair while slouchy, loose berets are less likely to. Control flyaways and static with hairspray after wearing your hat. Spray some into your hand and run it over your hair for flyaways, and into the roots for a boost of volume. Those with short hair can also put in some volumizer before donning a cap. For longer haired ladies, you can pull your hair into a loose bun under a hat. Once it comes off, you’ll have waves since the hat insulates heat.

Baseball caps at DKNY spring 2013.

Baseball caps at DKNY spring 2013.

Hats are an easy addition to change up an outfit. Just think of the different styles conveyed when a hat is worn with a simple jeans and tee look: glam with a fedora, androgynous with a newsboy cap, or even urban chic with a baseball cap as seen at DKNY. Play around with how the hat sits on your head, tilting it for different angles to find the right balance for your face. You can also individualize your hats with brooches, ribbons and studs. Like any accessory, hats can be an extension of your mood and style — have fun with them!

[Article first appeared in the Feb. 13 issue of Richmond Review.]