Sunday, January 31, 2010

fashion off track

It’s hard to believe what a perfect day it was yesterday when there’s wind pummelling rain against the window and I’m wearing jeans that haven’t been out of the cupboard for over a month. But I must say, Wellington (well, ok Upper Hutt) pulled out a corker for the Wellington Cup and fashion was out in force.

How glad I am to tell you I was wrong in my preceding post, and while a couple of maxis were brought to the field, the new LBD reigned supreme. That being the Little Bold Dress, of course. I was so pleased that mine was perfectly on form, yet despite being from Wild Pair I didn’t see a single other girl wearing it. Lippy was the shop of choice for most of the younger punters – instantly recognisable when you frequently peruse the websites.

There were many wins, and I’m glad to say I watched the fashion parade and saw what actually wins in the field. However, predictably there were some horrors of note, which I will of course share with you.

1. Ill-fitting shoes. This girl’s shoes were so wrong for her it looked like she’d borrowed them from a much smaller friend at the last minute and jammed her hideous feets into them without thinking about the consequences to her look or the health of her hoofs. A peep toe shoe is supposed to show the ends of some toes, allude to the toes if you will, but this girl’s toes were all jamming out the end – over the edge of the sole no less – giving the effect of some heinous playdoh spaghetti being squished out of the fisher-price machine. It was not pretty, it affected me greatly, and this is why she gets the number-one fashion crime spot.

2. Wearing the exact same outfit as your friend, even if it’s in a different colour. I know it’s hard when you young ladies can only afford so much and you don’t want to stray too far from the herd, but if you’re going out with someone, possibly do each other the courtesy of calling up the night before and checking on what you plan to wear.

3. Fake tan applied too soon before the event. In the heat, people sweat - this we can predict. I don’t know if this woman would ever know of her crime because the worst affected area was behind her knees. She’d obviously been sitting down, probably on the train, and her orange legs had a patch of deathly white in a large area behind her knees. I’m guessing she sweated it off after a hasty application. Unpleasant.

4. The double boob. If your breasts are large, think hard about the style and size of your dress. A bit of spillage is ok, but when it becomes double boob, the boob in your dress and then the free ones that come out over the bodice, it’s not ok.

5. This one’s for the guys. I know that for some people the races is not about fashion or horses, but getting on the piss and making an ass of yourself. I can only wish that everyone could be as styley as to know an occasion when you’re attending one and keep your shirts on. Or even wear a shirt! Wifebeater does not equal fashion. Gah! I know it was hot, but fashion is often hard work and we struggle through. I kept my heels on all day – even though there was some pain – so please, keep your shirts on. It’s just good manners.

So, those are my main complaints.

After the event I had the pleasure of meeting Sopheak Seng, who designed and created outfits for both men and women in the Fashion in the Field competition. His designs were not only fabulous, I could image people wearing them and looking fabulous, and I secretly wished for an event where I could have the pleasure of wearing one of his creations.

(When the Snapstar pictures arrive, I will link you up for demonstration. I'm somewhat disappointed that my shoes aren't in the shot at the top, but hopefully Snapstar's wide lense caught them.) Unfortunately not. But I can tell you they are indeed fabulous. Left and right above are Sopheak's entries - thanks again to Snapstar for keeping track of our best-dressed momnet.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fashion in the field

I think the maxi is going to be a big look at the races this year, but with my general dislike for wearing them myself I’m opting for none other than something mini. I have two dresses to choose from this year, mostly because I wore my favourite glam-but-not-too-glam garden-party-type dress last year. It was black and white and a beautiful dress, but I feel that there needs to be some colour this year.

One of the dresses I’m considering is no label per se, but made by this asian woman at a fabulous small Wellington store. It’s gorgeous and she only makes one-offs in one size, so there’s no chance of seeing someone else in it. It would look fabulous with the shoes, its only downfall is that it’s satin and floaty and also rather short. I don’t want to spend all day doing a Marilyn.

The other dress is short also. It has the benefits of being tighter fitting so you lose the updraft issues, but not so tight fitting that you can’t sit down. The downside to tighter is that there’s no leeway when you do sit down – especially on the ground. It’s legs together or to the side, or flashing. I suspect we’ll be general public this year, which means sitting on the grass if you want to be close to the action or in the sun (which is at the front of my mind due to my waning holiday tan, but probably least desirable to the guys donning suits – of which I’m so proud of their sense of style and occasion, but will not compromise my tan time for).

Another must-have-right is the shoes, which my bf so brilliantly bought for me for Christmas – without a peep from me on style or colour choices – and they are to die for. Perfectly on trend for this season and classic enough to continue wearing and a great heel for the races – stilettos and grass are a no-go people! Is it that hard to figure out? He even advised me to wear them around the house for a few hours before wearing them out. What a gem!

So despite the fact that I know I’m going to try on both outfits with combinations of different jewellery and make up, I think I’ve made up my mind. Yet to be purchased is a fascinator, which, if I can find someone to drag around the shops at lunch tomorrow, will become a part of the trying on fiasco that I love so much.

The key to a great fashion outing is taking photos before anything gets messed up – a lipstick kiss, a muggy train ride, the inevitable nose itch – whatever happens after that bothers me very little. Because while the fashion experience may quickly fade, photographic evidence lasts forever!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

fitting fashion

Possibly for the first time ever, I walked out of a shop without buying something that I tried on and wanted. To be honest, I had just left another store with a $90 goody bag. And to be even more honest, I’ll probably go back there tomorrow with a “consultant” to help me decide and then make the purchase. I thought about asking the shop girl, but I’m sure they don’t actually care as long as you buy one of them.

I think I have this problem alot. I buy something that doesn’t quite fit right because a size up and a size down don’t fit properly. The smaller size is the one I’ll go for because it looks better – even if that means sacrificing comfort, but lately I’ve been determined to actually buy things that fit.

Perhaps it’s the particular stores I’m going to, generically cut clothing made one-size-fits-all within that size range.

The biggest issue I have is with sleeves. Particularly jackets. I tried on this great cropped tuxedo jacket today and it looked fabulous and slimming. But as soon as I raised my arms it got all pinchy and crinkled and I imagined drinking only from a long straw while wearing it out so I wouldn’t have to lift glass to face.

So I tried on the next size up. This one felt more comfortable in the arms, but it didn’t define my waistline like the smaller one had.

I tried them both on like three times. I’m sure the shop girl thought I was busy stuffing things into my bag or something. Imean, how long can it take to try on two jackets? It’s not like I had to remove any clothing to put do it!

I’m generally not frugal and this jacket only cost $60, but I had just spent $90 on two dresses at another store (that was justifiable because I went out to buy a new cell phone and ended up getting one for free, saving myself the couple of hundred dollars I had already spent in my mind). So you can imagine my sense of pride when I walked out of the store without either ill-fitting garment.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Keeping up appearances

A day without make up is one of the scariest things I can think of. If caught in such a situation it would mean one of two things - not leaving the house or retreating to my room in the case of visitors.
I don’t usually like wearing my glasses, but I felt blessed to have them today when I realised I had not taken my make up in my overnight bag to my boyfriend’s. At least I was able to hide behind my frames, because the only make up I could scrape together was some old mascara. That is a very bare minimum. Not only did I have to walk around with undefined eyes, I had no eyebrows to be seen. That didn’t used to be such a problem, but now that I have dark hair a lack of eyebrows is very noticeable. I’ve never been so thankful for myopia.

Even at home, after the gym when all I’m going to do is make dinner, maybe watch some TV and go to bed, I feel the need to do myself up somewhat. I’m not talking about full-on coverage. I never wear foundation (unless there’s some occasion where meaningful photos might be taken), just the eyes get done on an every-day basis. I feel like if a visitor arrived, even if I’ve never met them before, I’m at a disadvantage to be seen un-done. It’s like letting people see me at my weakest. I like to keep up the illusion that I’m somewhat good looking and confident – even to complete strangers. Make up gives me that power.

The extent of this need goes as far as camping. This year my family and I went up to our usual river-side camp. It’s not a public camping ground so there’s no one there but us. My immediate family. It’s hard to do your makeup in a tent when all you have is a palm-sized mirror in one hand and each element of the ritual in the other. There’s not much light and I had to balance the mirror on my knee for the two-hand jobs. It was difficult to say the least. But there was no way I was crawling out of that tent into the light of day with nothing on my face. I don’t care if it was only four of the closest people who were going to see me. Just because you’re sleeping next to a river doesn’t mean you have to go around looking like a taniwha.

A blank face is like my Achilles heel. If some vengeful soul ever wanted to strike me down, take me out of the picture temporarily, or send me screaming to my room, all they would need is a cloth heavily laden with make-up remover – and maybe some kind of brilliantly evil tactic to make me go anywhere near it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

recycled fashion

The fashion world keeps on turning and I have little doubt about where we’re headed.

Many years ago I suggested that it works on a 20 year cycle. Twenty years ago I was wearing ra-ra skirts and leggings and trying desperately to wriggle out my denim jacket (I still can’t stand the things). I had plastic aviators (with Alf on the side of them, no less) and we wore bangles galore.

Ok, so maybe it’s a bit shorter than 20 years. But about 5 years ago I predicted the revival of grunge and it is happening before my eyes. So much more than the 80s I had love for the 90s grunge style. I wore petticoats over bootleg tights with Doctor Martin boots, I wore old-man pants and cardys like they’d been delivered from grunge god Kurt Cobain himself. I listened to Hole like the words were meant for me and my generation – dark, moody, sarcastic and real. Those were the days.

So. Early in the new millennium we saw the 80s revival. Tights were a must, the skinny jean overtook bootlegs or flares and hyper-colours reflected the bubblegum 80s. Remember Full House? This was the returning era. Slightly refined, mind you, as it should always be, and minus the big hair.

Then the mid-2000s gave us the revolution that was emo. Only a revolution of course to those who hadn’t already seen it before in the new romantics/nu wave scene. Those of us who grew up listening to The Cure saw a significant similarity in the look of emo bands like My Chemical Romance. But the youngsters thought they had started something entirely new. Young people *sigh* How wrong you were.

There’s basically nothing new in fashion these days. Unless we head towards the predicted shiny silver jumpsuits as seen in poorly-made “visions of the future movies” (Logan’s Run is a great example here), we’re going to see old fashions reworked over and over again. Of course they are modified to cater to the new year, but the formulas remain the same.

We’re now heading back towards the greatness that was grunge. The fashion cycle already churned out flannel shirts for girls and guys – reworked to incorporate the long-staying tights. Now we’re seeing “rock chic” – glammed-up versions of the dark fashions seen in the 90s. Think Taylor Momsen and you know what I’m talking about.

I can only hope that the cycle tears itself off the track about here. The later 90s brought us the Spice Girls and their platform sneakers, Britney Spears (pre- contamination) and tummy tops and Clueless, along with long sock short skirt and pastel golf sweaters. But how do you stop the world from turning?

Fashionistas once thought the 80s were a questionable blip on the style radar, but now they’re all over that shit. Maybe the cringe that is the late 90s will soon become the latest fad to be reworked. One can only hope that Victoria Beckham now uses her influence on the fashion world for good and never lets us go back to her darkest platform-sneakered days.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

mini me!

Continuing on from why I can’t pull off the maxi, let me tell you about my love for the mini.

Just to get off on the right foot, I’m not talking about (what someone so eloquently phrased as) greyhound skirts – just a whisker away from the [hare] – you see on girls of late walking the weekend-night streets. (Another person less eloquently described the phenomenon as a ‘vagina dress’ – Great for its shock value and obviousness, though I find the greyhound allusion to be much more witty and amusing.

So, onward with the mini. As I pointed out in the last post, I was blessed with good legs, I want to show them and the mini skirt is the perfect solution. But their greatness doesn’t end there! There’s so much more to wearing less!

Like shorty-shorts, also much loved, the mini is versatile for most/all weather conditions and social situations with the simple addition of accessories and footwear styling. You probably won’t see me out wearing a mini with giant heels, even more so if it’s a denim number, because you can quickly delve into the skankier side of dressing. (Please note, dressing skanky doesn’t make you a skank, it just makes you look like one – Avoid if possible.)

Your mini doesn’t have to be tight. A mini can be floaty and pretty, but not fru-fru, unless it’s the ra-ra kind of fru-fru that the eighties has dragged back in. You won’t catch me in one of those either. (I’m talking tiered ruffles people, some things deserve to be left in fashion history, on 10 year olds, not 20-somethings dressing like 10 year olds. But I digress...) If you’re wearing a tight mini, pair it with something loose on top. I generally stick to that rule with all my clothes. Skinny on bottom loose on top, or loose on bottom tight on top – whether it be jeans, a skirt or shorts.

A mini can definitely be used to your advantage. A mini dress that shows off the legs but covers your cleavage tones down the attention a short dress can wager. Wearing a mini out at night doesn’t necessarily mean fitting in with the 18 year olds fishing for feels at the pub. A sophisticated mini dress can make you feel sexy or cute without a hint of trashiness, as long as you’re doing it right.

Accessories are the key to the perfect mini look. Accessorise your mini dress with matching items. Like Miss Hudgens above, a chunky leather belt with matching sandals tones down the femininity of the dress. Use tights and boots to take your mini through the cooler months (no uggs please!) and wear long cardys to lengthen the look.

The best accessory however is confidence! Wear short clothing comfortably, or trade it in for something longer. Spending the whole day pulling down your skirt or worrying whether the greyhound is too close to the bait gets old pretty fast!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

maxi-mise your assets

Ahh the maxi. So hot right now, in the fashion stakes. So not if you don’t have the shape.

A maxi dress is great if you’re tall and skinny. Even just tall. Or if you’re pregnant, for that matter. But for the regular girl the maxi does nothing for your figure except highlight the bits you’re usually trying to hide. The maxi hangs from the boobs, and if you’re anything like me where your boobs are proportionally bigger than your waist (a feature that’s usually desirable, because it makes your waist look even smaller) the dress hangs over the waistline without showing off any of the work you do to keep it small. (I'm sure the ladies in these first two photos have model waists - but where are they??)

It then goes on to touch the hips (again, if you are a regular girl where the hips are the widest part – I’m sure Kate Moss doesn’t have this problem), highlighting an area you generally want to disguise. So unless you’re JLo and your ass is your asset, the maxi isn’t doing you any favours.

You get the same problem with the maxi skirt. This time you at least get to highlight your waist, and it will look small compared to what the maxi does to your hips and ass. But hey, at least everyone will notice your child-bearing potential – right?

Generally worn with sandals, unless you’re taking it to a night event – in which case you should team with some wedge or gladiator-style heels – the combination does nothing to give you the illusion of height. With my (what I thought was regular but apparently is short) frame covered in one garment, I look like I’m about 10 years old wearing one of mum’s dresses. And with your feet chopped off at the ankles (with sandals that should have stayed in the desert with Jesus or the Romans) your legs are suddenly stumped. As with jeans, they make these things for the statuesque woman – you’re left with something that’s dragging on the ground and catching in your flip flops.

I hail my legs as the feature part of my body. If anything, I want people to see my legs. They have been complimented a great many times and I spent three quarters of my life plié-ing and jetté-ing to get them this way. (Who knows, they may have been destined for greatness anyway, but 12 year of dance training can’t have hurt.) Why would I hide my pins under great volumes of material when they’re the best thing I’ve got? That’s just craziness!

And what kind of bra can you wear with these things? We already know how I feel about exposed straps, so you can forget regular. Most maxis have the triangle bikini shape, halter, or strapless. Wear your bikini underneath if you’ve actually been at the beach, but I have concerns about wearing swimwear out at night. Invest in something appropriate.

So. This is why I can’t wear the maxi. Love the boho look, I’ve seen people pull it off. But like most fashion, it’s not for everyone. Forget the trend, look in the mirror, and wear what suits.

There are some solutions to the problems I’ve mentioned. Look for material which is floaty and light rather than stretchy and clingy to save it from hugging in the wrong areas. Find something with a definite colour block to define the waistline (see Keira's picture below). You could get a belted or cinched maxi or add a belt for definition (pictures above). Please only do this if you have a waistline to start with – you’re causing yourself more problems if you don’t.

I wonder, is that why the maxi dress has taken off so much?? In our ever-fattening society perhaps something that hangs off your boobs is the answer? Make your maxi a mumu. Hide the problem rather than fix it. Me? I’d rather wear something fitting and keep up the hard work.