Tag Archives: denim

Finding the perfect jeans

17 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make your own fashion

22 Jan

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

Turn old jeans into a pair of perfectly distressed denim.

Turn old jeans into a pair of perfectly distressed denim.

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

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

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

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

Personalize your kicks with DIY studs.

Personalize your kicks with DIY studs.

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

Use unwanted patterned shirts to make fun detachable collars.

Use unwanted patterned shirts to make fun detachable collars.

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

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

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

Go back to school in style

22 Aug

Summer is winding down, sadly, and before you know it, bells will ring to mark the start of the fall school semester. Whether you’ll be shopping for a student or are a student yourself, this back-to-school wardrobe shopping guide will help make the transition a little easier.

Back to basics

While clothes shopping for school, it’s essential to find comfortable separates that can be quickly mixed and matched for stylish ensembles. Basics such as solid coloured tees and sweaters, button-up dress shirts and denim are classic options and can be easily paired with trendier pieces for a more fashion forward look.

This Zara girls denim jacket is a perfect transition piece from summer to fall.

The item that should be in any student’s closet is a pair of jeans. Denim pants have become so ubiquitous on- and off-campus that entire wardrobes can be built around them. For girls, skinny jeans are still very much in style and are verging on classic status. Jeggings are also popular with their combination of a skinny fit and soft, flexible material. For boys, it’s all about straight leg jeans or a slim cut. Coloured denim is hot for all ages but can limit outfit options. To get the most use out of a pair of jeans, go for a darker rinse — they go well with everything and can even be worn to dressier events. For an alternative to jeans, try corduroy pants. Stores usually carry a wide assortment of fun fall colours; it’s also durable and perfect for active kids.

Bundle up with layers

Sweaters are another staple for back-to-school. Whether it’s a simple crew neck or a cardigan, there’s a sweater for every style and it makes a great layering piece for chilly classrooms. Try patterns such as stripes or argyle to add some panache to casual outfits. This is when tees come in handy for the cooler months. Wear them under itchy wool sweaters or pair a graphic tee with a cardigan or hoodie. Stores try to get rid of their short-sleeved tops in August to make space for fall items, so this is the perfect time to load up on T-shirts and tanks while they’re on sale.

A striped sweater, like this one from ASOS, makes for a practical and stylish layering basic.

For students starting post-secondary, the preppy collegiate look never goes out of style. Try pairing casual pants or jeans with blazers over a tee for a more polished look. For girls, finish off the outfit with flats or even boots if the weather is cool. The guys can complete their blazer ensemble with sneakers such as Chucks or Vans. I know fashion may fall to the wayside when you’re dealing with exams and getting to class on time, but starting a new semester also means making a lot of first impressions — on teachers and fellow students. Sweatpants may be comfortable but it’s just as easy to throw on some jeans.

Look classically polished on campus with a grey marled blazer from H&M.

Add some trends

Whether the student is in elementary school, high school or college, incorporating colour and prints into the school wardrobe will help brighten up dreary fall days. Neon’s been big this year and is surprising easy to wear in small doses. Include a splash of highlighter pink or DayGlo yellow to an otherwise neutral outfit. Accessories and sneakers are a simple and great way to add some bright colours and individualize your look.

Tangerine was the “It” colour of spring and summer, but for the fall the trend is blue — especially cobalt. Much easier to wear than tangerine, pair blue with black if you want to channel runway looks. The black and blue combo was spotted in a number of designer collections such as DKNY and Stella McCartney.

A pair of girls cobalt coloured jeans hits multiple trends at once. This pair is from Old Navy.

Most contemporary fashion stores have a kids’ line so shopping for younger ones is made simpler at all price points. Check out Joe Fresh, Old Navy, H&M or Zara, for example, and your child will be scoring aces for school style.

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