Tag Archives: accessories

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.]

Bring on the bling: Make a statement with your holiday look

18 Dec

It’s that time of year again — festive ornaments adorn every corner, cheery carols are in constant rotation and your email inbox is flooding with holiday party invitations. It may be tempting to rely on the usual ensembles, but I encourage you to take your party style up a notch. December events are perfect for eye-catching glamour and most stores are offering a variety of options in their holiday collections. The trick is to have one amazing statement piece and use it as inspiration to build the rest of your party look.

Switch a skirt with sequined hot pants from French Connection to take an office look from day to night.

Incorporate different textures to make for a more interesting outfit: velvet, silk, feathers, faux fur. Sequins are always huge for the holidays. Whether it’s in black, gold or another vivid hue, the shiny embellishment can be found on anything from fully sequined dresses to shoes. The idea with this trend is to not overdo it. One sequined item per outfit is enough; keep the rest of the look subtle.

This shimmery sequined dress from ASOS just screams New Years Eve.

Lace is another popular choice. Depending on the design, lace can be either demure or sultry, so take that into consideration if you’re wearing it to an office holiday party versus a gathering with close friends. For a fresher way to incorporate lace into your wardrobe, look for items in colours other than black or white. It’s unexpected and more festive.

Channel Hollywood glamour in this Mango red lace dress

Accessories make for great statement pieces as well. An all-black ensemble with a pop of colour in the shoes or a bright, chunky necklace can be both understated and visually compelling. Patterned tights are also a fun way to liven up a simple party dress and can be found in a variety of designs like houndstooth or floral.

Add some glitter to your outfit with a pair of jazzy bow heels from Aldo.

As for hair, stylist and Suki’s salon manager James Valiant suggested updos.

“One of the most common and easiest holiday updos is a French twist. A French twist can look beautiful if worn with a formal gown and it can also complement a less dressy outfit,” said Valiant. Another popular request is a modern bun, or chignon.

“[A chignon] is quick and easy, and it’s sure to win you a few admiring glances. If you have at least semi-long hair it will be easier to do.”

For those wanting to wear their hair down instead, Valiant said to include lots of volume and movement — the biggest trend for the winter season. Whether it’s up or down, you can enhance your hairstyle further by adding sparkly barrettes or jewelled hair pins.

Jewel-encrusted hairbands are an easy way to add some glam to all hairstyles.

Makeup is another aspect you can take to the next level from your usual party routine. With the increase of beauty salons specializing in lash applications and extensions, fake lashes are becoming more prevalent for everyday use and especially for special events. A different way to play up your eyes is to swap your regular liner with glitter liquid liner. A swipe of sparkle across your lids will have others doing a double take. The bold but classic red lipstick is a popular choice for parties as well.

Those are just a few ideas for the ladies this holiday season. Sift through your closet and plan your outfits at least a day in advance. I’m a big believer that you don’t have to buy a new outfit for every party, but hit the shops if you’re feeling uninspired with what’s in your wardrobe. Take into account the dress code and theme, if provided (and disregard most of the above if it’s an ugly Christmas sweater party). Above all, feel comfortable and excited about your party look — it won’t be much fun if most of the night was spent adjusting your hemline or fretting over your lipstick!

[Article first appeared in the Dec. 14 style column of the Richmond Review.]