Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fast fashion: over-the-knee socks

There’s a lot to be said for stockings in winter. They keep us warm, add a colour block to a drab outfit, and protect the outside world from razor-neglected legs. What’s not to love? But there’s a bit of competition in the fashion stakes this winter and I think more and more people are going to give this one a shot. We’ve seen it on the legs of celebs, on runways and in catalogues, but over-the-knee (or otk) socks have now been rolled out in your favourite stores, finally bringing this fad to the people.

There’s a lot that could go wrong with this style, but when you can grab a pair from Glassons for $10 a pop, why not give it a try at home before unleashing it on the world. Especially if you discover it looks god-awful on you. As always, go with what suits, not what the fashion higher-ups tell you to do.

If you’re like me and continue to wear trans-seasonal short dresses in winter applied with stockings, you’ll love the otk sock option. This look is totally cute and a real head-turner. It’s an easy way to bring star style to your regular wardrobe.

Paired with shorts (something a bit longer and looser – winter appropriate please, no demin cut offs after May), or a cute dress or skirt (again, generally something loose, you know how we feel about tight on tight – think of otks as upside-down leggings) make for a fresh (and warm) winter outfit.

Image by Mary Wagner
There are a few perils to avoid.

First of all, if you’re wearing otks with a skirt, avoid anything pleated or plaid. Otks give an outfit a preppy styling, an element of what some might call school-girl fashion. However, a full-on school-inspired outfit looks costumey and cheap. Let Harajuku girls have their fun. But if I see a Kiwi wearing otks with pigtails and pleats, and it’s not at a fancy dress, I’ll go bananas.    B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Secondly, if you try them on at home and you end up with muffin-top on your legs, try a shorter length, or avoid the trend altogether. A pair of black stockings are perfectly good – and flattering. Stick with what works. No one wants to see legs like exploded sausage casings poking out of your socks.

Last, but not least in this trap-laden trend, the look calls for an actual sock. Please, please, please, don’t let me see you out there in knee-high stockings or stay ups. The look is preppy, not prostitute. Stay ups fall into the category of lingerie and should not be seen on the streets. You Have Been Warned.

This look is probably going to work best with a heel, more specifically an oxford-type heel, to take your legs to new heights. In the same way that ¾ tights stumpify some people, otks can break up the silhouette of even the longest leg and make you appear shorter. Heels are basically the answer to everything, but I would certainly advise against anything open toed, or pointy pumps. Oxford heels are bang on trend and make almost any outfit ooze fashionability. Similarly, a brogue will look nice, but I feel could verge on the side of a school shoe to the ignorant. If you’re going brogue, I can only suggest a darker sock, or something patterned or crocheted to veer away from uniform-like white socks.

I'm trying it out tonight. And if you're lucky, I might even share the results! xx

Friday, April 22, 2011

Natural beauty

I was given a dumb-struck look and re-questioned today when I told the girl at the Revlon counter that I did not wear foundation. It humoured me somewhat that her next question was whether I used a powder base. I can see how she got there, it’s obviously a part of her full facial routine that comes with the territory, but I couldn’t help but snigger at the obviousness of the fact that if I don’t wear foundation every day I probably do not bother to use a powder. I thought that was only for stage make up? We used a lot of it during dance concerts to stop the sweat from ruining our performance faces, but I have never felt the urge to cake any more on to my face than I need to since.

At first I thought her puzzlement was a compliment – that my skin looked so good it appeared as though I was wearing more than just eye make up – but I soon realised that the concept of a fresh face had been abandoned by this one some time ago.

It’s not that I’m against full-face make up. It just seems like a lot of effort to go to for everyday life. Also, I play sports during the day and I’ve seen girls running around with foundation dripping down their face and it’s not a pretty sight. My skin is quite sensitive, and basically, I can’t be bothered unless it’s a special occasion. I feel that once you’ve got the foundation on you have to go even further, applying blusher and lipstick in order to stop your regular facial features from disappearing into the beige.

There is however, a case for make up. There’s this one girl who hangs out with people I hang out with. I saw her first in a photo on my friend’s facebook and commented on how stunning she was. He replied that she was indeed stunning, but also deceptively larger than she appeared – mostly due to her well-executed application of full make up.

If I’m going to something that I know will have cameras around, I suddenly can be bothered. Unpainted (and especially after a few drinks) my usually pale and clear skin shows up blotchy and flawed on camera. Flash is not my friend. In person, quite a few people have commented on how nice my skin looks, but put it on film (these days on screen, which is even worse) and I look like, well, I look bad. It is not how I want to be portrayed. I spend a lot of time thinking about my appearance and for it to be ruined by my face, of all things – because I tend to think that needs the least “work” – is gutting. Plus it makes me look bad in comparison to someone who is possibly not such a “natural beauty” (humour me) as I am.

So now it has me thinking, should I take this theory into the every day? Is it not just the camera flash highlighting my flaws – do the harsh office lights have the same effect? Should I care? I’m never going to take it as far as my Farmers friend, it’s her job to cake that shit on, but am I letting myself down in the one area where I thought “keeping it natural” was enhancing my appearance.

Is a natural 8 worth more than a made-up 9? What do you think?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

movie review: Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch: Surprisingly un-shit

I’m not much of an action movie or anime fan, so I was slightly dubious about going to see Sucker Punch. Especially when I’ve heard so many bad things about it in reviews and on gossip sites slating Vanessa Hudgen’s first removal from the Disney world. I did not hold high expectations. For any of it. It’s surprising I would even pay to go and see it, considering my tendency to download everything, but something about it tempted me. It looked shit but fun. I can handle that.

The first thing is, a few comments on the Stuff review likened the premise to Inception. Let’s get one thing clear, likening this movie to Inception is like comparing Requiem for a Dream with [insert name of generic stoner movie here. Let’s say, High Times. That sounds like one.] Yes, they both use different levels of cognition to portray an idea, but that is where the similarity ends. Sucker Punch is more, Inception for Dummies. The ideas cross paths, but the hot chicks in sailor moon outfits, dragons, giant ninjas, and excessive make up tears the remaining threads of a comparison.

Despite this, it wasn’t half bad. If you don’t go in with high expectations, you will find yourself pleasantly surprised. And despite a few reviewers statements of “incoherence”, “lack of storyline”, and “plot holes galore”, I found the story to be quite simply this:

Baby Doll finds herself in an insane asylum for troubled (and of course, ridiculously attractive) young women. She wants to escape before she gets lobotomised. Pretty sound reasoning so far. Director Zack Snyder uses a series of levels of metaphors as her “coping mechanism”. So she imagines herself in a similarly bad situation, hostage to a guy-liner clad dance parlour owner. She dances like no other apparently, but you never see it, because performance anxiety (or perhaps, lack of actual dancing talent) removes her from the club scene and into a series of fantastic battle scenes, where her accomplices help her complete each part of her escape plan.

The critics who point out “plot holes” of how the plan is actually executed are missing the point. If we wanted to watch a bunch of dirty girls misbehaving in a mental hospital we’d rent Girl, Interrupted and be done with it. It’s the battle scenes that take this film into the world of high-action anime. And it’s fun. I found myself laughing at a few of the set-piece fight scenes, but I suspect that’s what Snyder wants you to do.

The plot holds together well enough to create a story and the fantasy creates an atmosphere where you don’t have to take it too seriously. Easy watching.

My only gripe was the soundtrack, which although very fitting, was a series of covers of great songs remade to appeal to today’s youth; ie, shit. And a little too obvious. The only enjoyable song was a brilliantly underused Bjork track. The rest was a bit cringy for my higher taste.

All in all, I liked it. It’s easy to follow, visually opulent, and fun. This is one you can judge by the cover.

Monday, April 4, 2011

fur real

One item that can’t transcend the seasonal differences between the hemispheres has returned for another Autumn/Winter season down under. I’m talking about fur.
I first spotted fur’s revival while in Melbourne in April last year. I tried on this cute fur vest and have since decided that this is one trend I am staying away from. On the shelf it looked so cool, I could imagine the outfits I would pair it with, and how fashion-forward I would look. In the changing room it was another story.

The vest added about 10kg onto my frame, which clearly could do without that addition. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m busty (but not that busty) or short (but not that short) or a tad overweight (I don’t think I was at the time – damn you fluctuations!) but the fur just didn’t do it for me.

Which makes me wonder… how is it such a staple in Kim K’s closet? She’s voluptuous and curvy (moreso than I) and she does it in front of the camera (there’s half your 10kg addition already) and she looks fine. I pondered this seeming oxymoron at lunch today and came up with an answer.

We’ve all seen Kim with nothing on (or at least close to it). Bear with me now. At first I thought maybe it is one of those trends only for the very skinny. Where it wouldn’t hurt to add a few pounds or where an item of bulky clothing only emphasises the skinniness. (You know, when you see a girl wearing a massive loose boyfriend shirt and there’s two toothpicks coming out from the bottom a mile apart from eachother. There’s no thigh chaff going on in there.)

How does this relate to our KK, you ask? Well, here’s the clincher. I am ok with my size; slim enough to be considered skinny, but healthy enough to have curves. But certain clothing does nothing for me. If I put on a loose boyfriend shirt it looks like I’m hiding a whole lot of extra weight under there. Figure-hugging items show off the lovely bust-waist-hip ratio. The hourglass. So adding 10cm of fur all around isn’t going to do me any favours if you don’t know what’s going on under there. I’ve always said that people would think I was skinnier if they actually saw me sans clothes. But that ain’t going to happen. But our Kim, everyone’s seen her in next to nothing and knows he has an amazing body, so she can add all the fur she likes and we still know what’s going on under there.

Notice how she loves her super tight bandage dresses. Show off the curves like Blam! Over a silhouette like that, no amount of fur is going to make you think anything but wow.

So, can you do it? Do you dare fluff out your figure with fur? Personally, I think the look is super cool, possibly a bit over zealous, because we know those of you rocking it on the streets of Wellington aren’t all superstars and those fibres are more synthetic than Ke$ha’s vocals, but hey we do what we can to look super cool.