Tag Archives: accessories

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.]

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.]

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.]

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.]

Outerwear trends: Fall/winter coats and accessories

26 Nov

Whether you dread the rain or embrace it, being caught in a downpour would go a lot smoother if you’re also dressed appropriately. Now that winter is coming, it’s time to dust off the wool coats and put the jean jackets back into storage. For those wanting to update their autumn and winter look with new outerwear, there are a variety of jacket trends to suit every style this season.

A really popular jacket at the moment is the parka. Utilitarian and a little bit sporty, the parka (or anorak, as it’s sometimes called) is a hooded jacket with the outershell usually composed of a polyester and cotton blend. The hood is typically fur-lined and, depending on the quality, parkas can also be down-filled and water-resistant for added warmth. Black and olive parkas are pretty ubiquitous so if you prefer to stand out in a crowd, opt for a more vibrant shade. Find ones that cinch at the waist for a more figure flattering silhouette.

Keep cozy in a fur-lined parka (like this one from Zara), one of this season’s hottest trends.

Leather is another huge trend for the season. Whether you go the rocker chic route or towards something more polished like a classic leather blazer, the texture’s versatility allows it to go well with both casual and dressy ensembles. A downside is they’re not so great with rain. Keep your leather jackets for days when it’s dry out and it will stay in good condition for years to come. It also helps to store the jacket away from heat on a padded or wooden hanger, and never in plastic bags since leather needs to breathe.

A mix of wool and leather, this Mackage coat is great for dry, windy days.

For those looking for outerwear that’s a little more avant-garde, try a lacquered jacket. Made from a type of plastic or PVC that imitates the sheen of leather and snake skin, lacquered jackets have a futuristic, waxy look to them. To avoid looking like you stepped out of The Matrix, go for shorter lacquered jackets that end at the hip or pick a vivid hue, such as burgundy or cobalt blue.

Another outerwear option for the colder months is the classic wool coat. The trend this season is for sailor- and military-inspired peacoats. Characterized by epaulettes and big, double-breasted brass buttons, pair a military coat with riding boots for a structured, polished look. Those shopping for a more timeless coat can skip the embellishments and go for a minimal, streamlined tailored wool coat in black or camel.

Add some structure to your look with Mango’s military coat.

Once you have your perfect coat, don’t forget about cold weather accessories — they’re an easy way to bring your outfit to the next level. Boots are always a stylish yet practical choice. Rubber rain boots, such as Hunter wellingtons, are popular and can be found in solid colours or fun patterns at all price points. As for other accessories, infinity scarves are still a big trend. Find one in a chunky knit for those really chilly days. For headwear, beanies and cloche hats are great for the transition into winter since they sit more snug on the head than hats with wider brims. And if you’re in the market for a new pair of gloves, try ones that incorporate capacitive threads into the tips — they’ll keep your fingers warm while still allowing you to use your touch screen devices.

Rubber boots: an essential for puddle jumping and heavy rain.

Last but not least, the one accessory you don’t want to leave at home considering this city’s fickle weather is an umbrella. I’m a fan of conventional stick umbrellas. They’re much sturdier and seem to come in more eclectic patterns than folding ones. So whether you’re going for cool, like an umbrella with a samurai sword handle, or trendy like a transparent dome one, find an umbrella that suits your personal style. It sets the final touch to your look and makes grey days a little brighter.

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

Sizzle with summer style: Dressing for weddings, grads and parties

23 May

The days are longer, the smell of barbecue is in the air and everyone is thinking about their next vacation — the summer party season is officially upon us. Whether you’ll be attending a wedding, graduation ceremony or just a general celebratory event, summer parties are the perfect occasion to ditch the rubber flip flops and jeans, and play a little dress-up. There’s guaranteed to be a bunch of photographs taken during weddings and grads, so it’s crucial to look your finest while remaining comfortable enough to enjoy the festivities.

Add some romance with a vintage-inspired floral dress from Ruche.

When finding an outfit for weddings, the most important rule is to not outshine the bride and groom. There’s the obvious tip about avoiding white dresses, but also take into consideration the couple’s culture. For example, Chinese weddings are big on the colours red and gold since they represent luck. The more modern brides will be fine with any colour, but their elders might disapprove of a little black dress since the dark colour marks somber occasions.

Comfortable and trendy, this French Connection maxi dress can go from a beach to a wedding.

Other factors to consider while deciding on a look for any summer celebration include the weather, location, time and activities. Weddings taking place on a beach or garden are usually more casual than those at a traditional venue. Go for flowy dresses with flat sandals. Keep the stilettos at home since they’ll be difficult to walk over sand or a lawn; opt for wedge shoes if you really want height. If you’re unsure how formal the event will be, a good indicator would be the invitation. If your invite came in the form of an ornate embossed card, it’s a good idea to dress more formally than if the invite was more on the rustic and simple side. Evening events are also fancier than daytime ones. If a dance floor is involved, try a less restrictive dress and comfy shoes such as flats or platform heels. Strapless dresses are also fantastic for the summer but consider using double-sided (or fashion) tape if you think you’ll be dancing a lot.

A little colour-blocking mixed with art deco, this BCBG dress is sure to turn heads.

For those participating in a graduation ceremony, pair your convocation gown with understated elegant shoes such as short pumps or flats. You want to keep the attention on you, not your shoes, as you cross the stage to collect your diploma. Also avoid full skirts or ones with extra long hems as they create odd silhouettes with the graduation gown.

There are a lot of options for summer party outfits, from trendy to classic. If you want to incorporate trends into your look, go for the four P’s. The most popular ones are pastels, peplum, prim, prints and 1920s — they were all big on the runways for spring and summer. Try a pale yellow shift dress if you like the pastel and prim trends, or a drop-waist embellished dress for a Great Gatsby or Downton Abbey 1920s look. Maxi dresses are a safe bet for any occasion since they’re a blend of casual and formal. If dresses aren’t your thing, pantsuits can work for formal events and are available in a wide variety of bold colours for the warmer months. Printed skinny pants are also in for the season and can easily be paired up with a solid blouse for a chic look.

Pair this Zara jumpsuit with fun accessories and heels and it would be perfect for chic summer parties.

Don’t forget your accessories to glam up even the simplest of outfits — especially hats and sunglasses since summer events usually take advantage of the nice weather and are held outside on patios or in backyards. Bring along a cardigan or shawl in a fun complementary colour for when the temperature drops at night and, most importantly, remember to use sunscreen!

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

Sweat in style: The basics of activewear

2 May

The view from my hike last summer at St. Mark’s Summit near Vancouver.

With the spring weather finally kicking in, it’s time to start shedding those heavy layers of clothes and absorb some much needed vitamin D. For most, the warmer temperature means ramping up fitness goals to get the body summer-ready or prepare for marathons. Whatever your objective, there’s nothing like a bright new gym outfit to inspire you to stick to a workout plan.

High-tech textiles

One of the key factors when looking for activewear is fabric. Read the tags to see what material the item is predominantly made out of and whether it will suit the type of exercise you’ll be doing. For moderate activity where you’re less likely to sweat, such as hatha yoga, try activewear made with a combination of spandex (or Lycra) and other breathable fibres. Spandex is durable and ideal for workouts dependant on flexibility. Keep in mind that although cotton is breathable and popular, it also loses its shape easily and absorbs perspiration, making the garment feel heavier at the end of a workout.

Great for layering or wearing alone, this Sugoi tank works for any exercise.

For high-impact, sweat-inducing activities such as running, hiking the Grouse Grind or hot yoga, look for moisture wicking fabrics. These are designed to move perspiration away from the skin and through the fabric where it can be evaporated quickly, leaving you dry and cooler in body temperature. There are a variety of synthetic, moisture wicking fabrics, with some of the major names being Coolmax, made from polyester fibres, and Supplex, made from nylon. Also, bigger companies carry products made with their own moisture wicking fabrics — Nike has Dri-FIT and Adidas uses Climalite — so check the labels to see if the item is made with the performance fabric you need to stay comfortably dry.

Stay dry in your cardio classes with Nike’s moisture wicking shorts.

Go green

If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly alternative, there are a lot of green options as well that don’t just cater towards yoga tops and pants. Many of them are locally-based, such as brands Tonic, Silver Icing and Public Myth, to name a few. All three use bamboo jersey in their designs and two (Tonic and Public Myth) even do their manufacturing locally. A good eco-friendly fabric to look for when shopping for gym clothes is Tencel — it’s soft, breathable and absorbent, so it’ll keep you dry in the sweatiest of workouts. Tencel, which also goes by the name Lyocell, is durable yet biodegradable.

Flexible fit

The other factor to consider is fit. Make sure the activewear you throw on is supportive, comfortable and allows for plenty of movement. The last thing you’d want is to be distracted by your clothing when you should be focusing on downward dog. Avoid loose, long pants in cycling or running, where it can get caught up in pedals or under the heels. It’s also a good idea to dress in layers for any outdoor activity. An easily removable zip-up jacket is a must have; bonus points if it includes enough pockets to stash your iPod, keys and other necessities.

This lululemon zip-up in a cheery orange is perfect for those early morning runs.

Keep in mind the conditions and alter your activewear accordingly. The weather is fickle even in late spring, so look into gear with water repellant properties if you exercise outside often. Moisture wicking fabrics are great for both the heat and the cold. Don’t forget about your accessories either: a cap for the rain or sun, a watch for time trials, reflective details for those jogging or biking at night and, most importantly, shoes with ample support.

From ASOS, a pastel blue Timex watch to time your laps.

A majority of stores now carry activewear lines so gym gear is readily available at all price points. And with the athletic look in demand on the runways this season, you’ll be looking on trend as you work toward your fitness goals.

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

Spring forward: Accessory trends for the bright new season

20 Feb

Whether you’re the type to pile on jewelry or adhere to a minimalist approach, accessories are a simple and cheap way to spruce up your wardrobe as we transition into the next season. And as spotted on the runways for spring, there are plenty of accessory trends to fit every style.

Pretty in pink… pastels

The look was ladylike and demure on the pastel-shaded runway at Louis Vuitton. Dreamy lace outfits were accentuated with candy-coloured handbags and pointy mules in combinations of metallics and light hues. Easy to wear, a pale purse or oversized envelope clutch will brighten up any outfit without stealing too much focus from the rest of your ensemble.

Art deco glitz at Gucci's spring show

Make a bold statement with oversized earrings, as seen at Dolce & Gabbana

As part of the 1920s throwback to the Great Gatsby trend emerging this year, art deco-inspired accessories are cropping up for spring. Seen on such runways as Milly and Alexander Wang, art deco fashions may be easier to incorporate through jewelry. Look for embellished pieces that use geometric designs and patterns in bold colours. A bonus if they’re oversized art deco earrings — you’ll be getting two trends in one since ear accessories are in vogue for spring and have become the statement jewelry for the Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana shows.

It’s a jungle out there

For those wanting to take on a bolder style as the weather starts to warm up, look for accessories inspired by tribal prints and materials. Burberry sent their trench coat-clad models down the catwalk accessorized in tribal belts, heels, bags and hats. Over at Michael Kors, the focus was all on safaris — his collection of earthy sandals strapped up the calf looked fit for an expedition in the wild. The key to a good tribal-inspired piece is multiple textures and vibrant patterns. Look for accessories that incorporate wood or beads for that extra flair.

Show some arm candy with this beaded tribal bracelet from Jewelmint.

Tribal patterns translate well for nails too. Whether done by a professional or painted at home using a nail brush, tribal designs will be sure to attract attention to your fingertips. As for other nail trends, a lot of designers opted for neutrals on the runway such as nudes, French manicures and pale pinks. Retro neon shades are also hot for polishes: classic reds in the style of Mad Men, bright corals and Pantone’s colour of the year, Tangerine Tango.

On your Marc, get set, go!

Another big theme for designers this spring is athleticism. Sporty ensembles graced the runway at Alexander Wang and Marc Jacobs, and along with that came the return of backpacks as accessories. This isn’t a revival of the mini-backpack trend that was all the rage 15 years ago though (I still have a patent leather one in pristine condition stored away in my closet). The ones popping into stores for spring are larger and are fashioned in an assortment of colours, shapes and exotic skins. But for those who feel their knapsack days are over, another simple and fun way to sport the athletic trend is through brightly banded, rubber wristwatches.

Not your average schoolbag -- sporty backpacks were featured at Alexander Wang.

Sporty punchout backpack from ASOS


Put a spring your step

If you’re looking to buy an ‘it’ shoe, go for heels with a platform. We’re not talking about platform boots typical of the Spice Girls, but something more understated. Look for vivid sandals or pumps with a slight platform. Comfort won’t be compromised too much in higher heels because of the heftier sole.

You’ll be standing tall and trendy with these platform pumps from Zara.

Accessories are a good starting point for experimentation with a trend or style not typically your norm. Don’t be afraid to branch out but try not to incorporate too many trends into one outfit. It’s also not necessary to dress in one trend from head-to-toe. Sometimes it’s more eye-catching if you’re wearing a basic ensemble accessorized with one or two statement pieces. Most important of all is to have fun with it — a good accessory can take your outfit from drab to fab.

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