Tag Archives: dresses

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.]

Advertisements

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.]

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.]