Tag Archives: what to wear

Sun, sand and swimwear

12 Jul

Summer at English Bay, Vancouver

Summer feels like it has finally arrived in Metro Vancouver. Before you go flocking to the beach to take advantage of that well-deserved sunshine, consider giving your beach look an update. For most, swimsuits get worn only a few times a year so it’s no wonder swimwear becomes more of an afterthought than a priority on the shopping list. But take into account that swimsuits start to lose their shape after frequent wear — chlorine and UV rays take a toll on the fabric — so it may be time for a new piece. To make the task of swimsuit shopping a little easier, keep in mind these tips to find one that will flatter your body shape.

Mixing and matching

A main concern when looking for a swimsuit is fit. The ideal piece will make you look proportional, while also flaunt your best assets and conceal any flaws. Most stores offer mix and match separates, which is essential for finding a suit since we’re most likely not the same size on top as we are on the bottom. If you’re small chested, look for embellished details on top: ruffles, bows, front ties, ruching, or fringe. It’ll create the illusion of a fuller bust. The same embellishments also work on boyish, ruler-shaped bodies — a bikini in a bold floral or animal print would add femininity while breaking up the straight lines. Horizontal stripes also work for small busts and you can get away with the tinier triangle bikini tops. Look for tops with padding too, especially if it’s a bandeau style. Bandeaus are great for minimizing tan lines but they tend to flatten the bust, no matter what size it is. So if you’re in the market for a bandeau, make sure it comes with padding to give your top some shape. For bustier women, try tops with v-necks, such as halter styles with thick straps. Swimsuits with built-in underwire also provide extra support, as do tops with a wider band on the bottom.

The ruffle and ruching details on this Simons bandeau bikini enhance smaller busts.

For long torsos, consider cut outs, fun prints or stripes to break up a long line. Those with shorter torsos look fantastic in suits with fun, colourful details on top, such as beading or a one-shoulder strap. If you’re uncomfortable revealing your stomach or want to conceal a tummy, opt for a tankini style. Tankinis with ruching or panels on the sides offer additional help in hiding a slight bulge. Or look for bottoms with adjustable waistbands that can be folded higher, or a retro high-waist cut. Also, a belted one-piece helps create an hourglass shape and swimsuits with a higher Lycra content are better able to keep stomachs in.

Emblazoned with palm trees and sunsets, this swimsuit from We Are Handsome just screams “summer.” The high-waisted bottom is also ideal for more coverage.

As for the lower half of your swimsuit, bottoms with rings and ties at the sides are more flattering and allow you to adjust the piece as tight or loose as desired. Avoid boy shorts if you have larger hips, they usually cut at the widest part of your thighs and draw attention to the bottom half. Colour block your swimsuit so a darker colour covers the part you want to slim down while a lighter shade plays up the part you want to flaunt. If your figure is pear-shaped, consider high-cut bottoms since they elongate the legs. For curvier women, high-waist bikinis and retro styles were made for your body type. Chic solid colour one-pieces complement hourglass figures and will leave your silhouette looking sleek.

The classic two-toned halter style of this Pour Moi suit helps slim down the lower half while drawing attention towards the face and bust.

Beach necessities and accessories

Don’t forget the beach cover-ups. Maxi dresses, linen tunics and crochet tops are just a few examples of items to easily pull over swimsuits. Add a pair of shades, perhaps a hat, definitely some sunscreen, and you’ll be ready to go enjoy the beach. And remember, the best accessory is confidence!

Protect your peepers with sunglasses in a classic cat-eye style, like this pair from BCBG.

[Article first appeared in the July 11 issue of Richmond Review.]

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.]