Tag Archives: fabrics

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.]

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.]

Fall 2012 fashion trends

20 Sep

Pack away the pastels and summer basics — this season is all about embracing darker tones and lavish textures. From gothic leather and Shakespearean baroque pieces, to a revival of military detailing, this year’s fall trends will have something for every style.

A cobalt dress from the Stella McCartney fall/winter 2012 show.

Colours

Orange was a big colour trend earlier this year, but the cooler months will see an influx of vivid blues and reds in stores. Usually paired with black, blues were dominant on fall runways at the collections of DKNY and Stella McCartney. Cobalt, in particular, was a designer favourite. Easy to wear, blue tones also look great paired with silver for a chic, modern look. Reds were also a standout colour in the fall collections. From deep burgundy to bright scarlet, try incorporating this trend with a bold red coat or dress to add some flair to cold grey days. For dressier ensembles, go for the gold — a slew of metallic gold dresses were spotted at Elie Saab and Michael Kors. For the day-to-day, limit gold to accent pieces such as belts, bracelets, coat trimming or small detailing on a blouse. For celebratory soirees, take the look to full items and dazzle in a gold sequined jacket or skirt.

Oxblood, a deep red, is another hot colour for fall. Find this dress with an embellished collar at H&M.

Fabrics

In terms of texture, leather is always huge for fall. Whether it was because of the popularity of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or just a general moodiness in culture around the time designers were creating their collections, the tone translated into gothic leather pieces such as matte trench coats and embossed dresses. A highlight of the Proenza Schouler and Givenchy shows, leather has the capacity to be classic and rebellious depending on the fit, style and texture. Another trend similar to leather is the fascination with PVC and other waxy material. Channel Fendi’s futuristic take on PVC with a shiny black skirt made from the plastic textile.

With its leather pants and black/blue combo, this ensemble from BCBG hits a few trends at once.

For a more romantic and soft fall texture trend, look no further than velvet. The lustrous fabric is not just for holidays and kids under ten anymore, as evident on the runways of Gucci and Marc by Marc Jacobs. Try a velvet blazer in a jewel tone for a luxe look or a structured dress for that extra indulgence. Fur is always a big trend for autumn but this year, the material is kept more for small accents than a coat made completely of pelts. Whether you want to follow this trend with faux or authentic fur, find items such as a top with fur collar trim or a skirt with fur panelling.

Styles

Military styling seems to return every few seasons and it’s back again this fall. Structured army jackets were prominent at Jason Wu and Tommy Hilfiger. Look for tops and coats with epaulettes, pockets and round, gold buttons. Baroque and Shakespearean influences were also featured heavily in the collections. Try this renaissance trend by sporting opulent pieces with heavy embellishments and intricate designs. Brocade, through the use of gold and metallic threads, is also characteristic of baroque style.

A military-inspired coat from Zara.

Pantsuits are another popular choice for this season. Go sleek and polished with a suit in a solid colour or, for the more adventurous, with matching patterns. Prada and Louis Vuitton both sent models down the runway with printed pantsuits. Try a jacket and pant combo in matching florals, tartans or checks. Oversized silhouettes, especially for coats, are also trendy. Look for roomy, slightly baggy coats that drape away from the body. Another trend that falls in line with the oversized look is exaggerated hips. Peplum is continuing strong from spring and summer, but for the daring there are dresses and tops with panniers — extra fabric that extends from the hips to give it extra oomph.

Whatever style you’re drawn to, update your wardrobe with a few of this season’s trends. Fall and winter is always a fun time to play with fashion.

[Article first appeared in the Sept. 12 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.]