Tag Archives: style column

Spring cleaning: Revitalize your closet for the new season

21 Mar

We’ve all been there — looking in frustration at a jam-packed closet, thinking “I have nothing to wear.” I uttered those very words just last month. So in an attempt to get a head start on my spring cleaning, I decided to reorganize my closet.

Cleaning out your closet is about removing emotion and taking a rational look at your clothes. That’s when the “If you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it” rule comes in handy — a phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of sentimentalists everywhere. It’s important to prune your wardrobe at least once a year in order to maximize outfit potential and not appear like you’re auditioning for an episode of Hoarders. The closet, after all, is where you start your day.

Begin by looking at each piece

I turned to professional organizer and author of Clutter’s Dirty Secret, Alison Roberts, for tips. As a first step in organizing your wardrobe, she recommends trying everything on while keeping in mind what works for your lifestyle.

“It’s not enough just to hold it up and think it will still fit,” said Roberts. “If necessary, have a friend with you so that he or she can give a more objective opinion. No point hanging on to items that aren’t flattering. ‘Keep the best and fling the rest!’”

Categorize everything

Go through and get rid of anything ripped, worn out or pilled. I made separate piles for items I wanted to keep, donate or take to the tailors to update for a better fit. There’s the additional option of selling your clothes at a consignment shop or on eBay if you think it may be worth it. Also check local listings for upcoming events to sell, such as Re-Fashion Vancouver. For clothes you know you’ll never wear but are emotionally attached to, such as wedding or prom dresses, “archive” them by packing them away elsewhere, like the attic or storage closet. Roberts suggested another option for those difficult-to-let-go items.

“Take a picture to remember it by, or write a short paragraph about why you love the item,” said Roberts. “Sometimes those actions will be enough to allow you to let it go. Or think of someone — a friend or family member — that might appreciate the item. Some people feel better knowing that the item is going to someone they know, instead of a stranger.”

An external rack is a great alternative for small closets.

Store and arrange

A good way to get more out of your closet space would be to pack away off-season clothing, such as bulky winter coats and heavy sweaters. Hold onto classic pieces that can be worn in the transition from winter to spring, like blazers or simple black skirts. Some of you may be tempted to hang onto items from previous trends in anticipation that they’ll be popular again, but I say only keep the ones which fit into your sense of style. Just because the boho look was all the rage a few years back doesn’t mean you’ll want to don that peasant skirt again if the trend re-emerges.

There are a few ways to go about arranging your wardrobe, largely depending on your closet capacity. For those more visually-inclined, like me, you can sort the clothes by colour. Most of my jackets, dresses, skirts, and tops which can’t be folded, hang on the rack according the colour spectrum, from red through to purple and the neutrals. A more efficient system, though, would be to sort your clothes by work and casual apparel. By separating office and play clothes, you’ll be spending less time coming up with outfits to wear in the morning.

Pictures are an efficient and visually-appealing way to store your shoes.

For accessories, try to display everything as visibly as possible. Keep belts, hats, scarves and jewelry in see-through containers or hang them on hooks and cork boards — you’re more likely to wear them if they’re in full view. Handbags, especially expensive ones, should be kept in dust bags and stuffed with cardboard, tissue paper, or even old T-shirts to help them keep their shape while they sit in your closet for a long period of time. For shoes, they’d ideally be in the box they came in, with a picture or description on the outside for easy reference once stacked. By being in a breathable container, leather shoes won’t crack or fade as easily as when kept out in the open.

The result of my closet reorganization.

After I finish reorganizing I’m left with two garbage bags full of clothes to donate and ideas on what to find for my wardrobe for the upcoming season. Hopefully you’ll realize you have some great items hidden away in your closet and become inspired to put together amazing new outfits for the warmer months ahead.

[Article first appeared in the March 14 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.]

Take your style to the next level: Fashion resolutions for 2012

24 Jan

As the end of January approaches and I’m in the midst of celebrating the lunar new year, it’s somewhat fitting that shops have also begun to get their spring collections in. The beginning of the year has always been an ideal time to start fresh and set new goals to improve your life. And there’s just something about the spring season that reminds us to blossom and reinvent our look. In keeping with the theme of resolutions, I’ve come up with a few suggestions for fashion and beauty goals to ensure you’ll be looking your best for 2012.

When to splurge and when to save

If you’re going to spend, splurge on classic pieces and save on the trendier items. Apparel such as peacoats, beige trench coats, black pants and white button-ups are basics and never go out of style. Invest in high quality, timeless pieces that can handle frequent wear and is cut in a simple style that will flatter your figure for years to come. Also, this time of year is great for coat shopping, as most stores will be having sales in order to get rid of their winter stock to make room for spring arrivals. For trendier items you’ll only wear for one season, shop at less pricey stores. It’ll save more and help reduce buyer’s remorse — it’s never pleasant to realize you paid too much for that tribal print maxi dress only worn twice.

Leather jackets from Mackage are always a fun splurge.

Pile on the layers

Perfect the art of layering. Not only is it a good way to make your look unique, but layering is completely practical for our climate. You don’t want to overdo it and end up bulky or looking like you’re including multiples styles into one outfit. The trick is to take into consideration colour, texture and proportions. Pair silks and satins with thicker fabrics like cottons or wools. Think about lengths: long, simpler tops underneath shorter, more elaborate pieces. One of my favourite go-to office looks is wearing a button-up underneath a cardigan so the shirttail and cuffs peek out, and then layering with a variety of necklaces. Explore what’s already in your wardrobe. If there’s a shirt you never wear because it’s too low-cut, layering solves that problem. And with the abundance of lace and sheer pieces available in stores now, your layering techniques will become effortless in no time.

Layering at play on the runway of Milly's spring/summer 2012 show.

Play with colours

Experiment more with colour this year. Pastels are going to be hot next season — they’ve been spotted on most of the spring collection runways from Milan to New York — so now’s a good time to play around with different shades to see which complements you best. If muted colours aren’t your thing, then incorporate some red-orange pieces into your closet. Pantone revealed that the colour of the year for 2012 is Tangerine Tango, a vibrant shade that works for clothing and cosmetics. The colour-blocking trend that was all the rage last year is continuing strong into this year too, so expect to see bold contrasts of colour in one ensemble.

Corset dress from ASOS featuring an adorable pastel skirt.

A combination of layering and Tangerine Tango presented at Jean Paul Gaultier.

Experiment with new styles

Go outside your comfort zone. It’s easier to rely on old standbys, but make it a goal to frequently change up your usual outfits or makeup look. If the majority of your wardrobe is solid colours, add some prints. You’re usually a jeans and a t-shirt gal? Then switch out your denim for a skirt or dress. If you don’t think you can pull off a particular trend, test it out for a day — you just might be surprised when the compliments start rolling in. Add more accessories into your daily look. I know I’ve fallen victim to applying the same makeup every day, so my main resolution this year is to experiment with different eyeshadows. One reason for fashion is for us to express ourselves, so we should have fun with it this year and try new looks!

I need to find a pair of comfy pastel pants to emulate this 3.1 Phillip Lim look.

[Article first appeared in the Jan. 18 style column of the 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.]