Monday, June 25, 2012

Fast fashion: neon yellow

Back in April when I was lucky enough to attend Wellington Fashion Week I noticed two designers that showed us a sneak peak of what has now become a full-blown trend.

Both Moochi and Mardle had bright shots of yellow highlighted throughout their range. Moochi more so, and it was definitely the defining feature of their Winter 2012 collection.

Neon colours have now infiltrated high street stores, and although you will currently find Dotti’s whole window display dedicated to neon yellow (they’re calling it lime), I would suggest you take the Moochi approach and work it in with accents and accessories.

When you take on a trend, I always think a gently-gently approach is best. While a whole shop full of neon pieces might be available to you, do you really want to walk the streets looking like an overgrown high-visibility vest? I would suggest not. Take small pieces that fit the style and add it to your usual wardrobe.

There’s no need to be a fashion sheep in order to embrace a trend. This will also provide you with some wardrobe future-proofing, because you know damn well it’s not going to be around for more than one season.

The Cambridge Satchel Company has gone fluro this season, and this is a nice little brightener for any winter outfit. If you’ve got the money, Marc Jacobs has this lovely neon belt. The perfect pop to a LBD. Fear not if Marc Jacobs is out of your price range, I’m sure you’ll find them popping up in fast fashion stores on a daily basis.

If you’re really unsure, but want to follow the masses in the subtlest way (although subtlety isn’t key to this trend), work it in to the little things with some neon nails. I love colour trends, and nail polish is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to keep up to date.

Go forth and light up the night with neon!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Customer dissatisfaction: my Cue online shopping experience

The long and tedious experience of buying something from Cue begins. I’ve been walking past the store for a couple of weeks and they have a huge picture of a model wearing their products. A pair of shorts catches my eye.
I go in-store and point to the product displayed, but apparently this particular store isn’t stocking that product. Great. So you show me pictures of things I can’t actually buy here. Fantastic.

So I figure I’ll try buying them online. Affronted by the AU$14 shipping charge from Australia (I’m pretty sure you can send a pair of shorts to Australia for about NZ$5) I found that they had the product in an Auckland store, so went back in to the shop and asked if they could have it sent down for me.

“Yes, they have some pairs up in Auckland,” I am told. Pleased with this, I ask if they can have them sent down for me. And that’s where Cue’s shopping experience begins to sour for me. Cue won’t have an item transferred for you. They were going to charge me $15 to have the item sent down to Wellington. Not only is that the same price as they charge for international shipping, it’s complete rubbish to charge to have a product sent to another store. I was in Ultra Shoes the other day and the girl ran to the other store in town to get a pair of shoes for me, just to make sure I could try on one size up and one size down. And I was just perusing. Take a note, Cue: that’s customer service!

Not only is it (comparatively) expensive to have the item sent from Auckland, I’m told they can’t do a money transfer from the store I’m standing in to the one in Auckland. Because it’s a sale item. Because it’s a sale item, I’m expected to call up the Auckland store (myself, no offer to help me sort it out) and give them my credit card details over the phone. There’s a good Tui billboard for you. Anyone could be on the end of that line. How about secure payment Cue? Customers really like that shit for some reason.

So now I’m back to online shopping. While I’m in the store though I asked the girl to help me with sizing. Cue is one of those vanity sizing places which allows me to sometimes go for an 8, rather than a 10. “Definitely an 8,” I am told. That’s fine. It’s not an exact science. I know they have size charts online, but who keeps a measuring tape at work? So I take the girl’s word for it.

I am pleased to find the parcel turns up within a few working days. It’s in a fancy box that makes me smile. But it turns out the in-store sizing was a bit off, and after a few tries on to make sure I can’t pull off the 8 (because I really hate the hassle of exchanging stuff), I decide I need to exchange for the 10.

My shopping mood is darkened once again. There is no option to exchange an item online. I’m going to have to send the item back (out of my pocket), wait for a refund, and then repurchase the larger item. For all I know they could be out of stock by then, and I’ll be damned if I’m paying for two pairs of shorts when all I want is one pair that fits me. So I send an email, asking if I can exchange rather than return the item. Two days later and this is what I get. “Unfortunately at this stage we are unable to provide exchanges for online purchases. This is a system we are currently looking to improve. If you would like the size 10 you will need to purchase it in a separate transaction.” Great. At least my suspicions are confirmed: Your system is SHIT.

God knows why, but I decide to take my problem back to the Wellington store, to see if they’ll be any more helpful.

No. Because they don’t have the item, I’ll have to call the Auckland store. Precisely what I was trying to avoid in the first place. I’m pissed off by this time. It seems like I’m never going to get the product I want. I start to think about writing cranky blogs and telling everyone about how shit their service is. I know it’s not the shop assistants’ fault, but even the managers I speak to show me no sympathy. I try to tell them that their system is rubbish, in a polite “I-know-it’s-not-your-fault” kind of way, but it falls on deaf ears. “It’s just the way the system works,” I am told. Yes, I realise that. But your system is convoluted and rubbish.

I’d like to say at this point I won’t be shopping with them again, but I really want those goddam shorts.

Three hours later…

So now here I am, $25 out of pocket for tracked shipping, doubly paid for my “half price” $77.50 shorts, doubly paid for ridiculous postage, and I’m not much happier. On the phone to the Auckland store (after discovering that, as I feared, the item was sold out online) I am told by the store manager, “We have to charge you to have them sent to Wellington. They’re on sale, so if we didn’t charge you postage the company would be out of pocket.” Fantastic. A customer service gem right there. If you can’t afford to sell items at a reduced price – and keep your customers happy – maybe don’t do it!

When my precious arrive and I can actually wear them the retail rage will abate. But until I get my refund and a reply to my ‘dissatisfied customer’ email (in which I can’t wait to see what kind of fob-off I receive this time) I heed you this warning:

Do not shop at Cue online. If the shop nearest you doesn’t have what you want in stock, you’re shit out of luck (or $50 out of pocket).

Caveat Emptor.

Trend alert: printed denim

We’re on a bit of a trend roll here with coloured denim taking centre stage in men’s and women’s fashion over winter, born of the bold spring colours across the great Pacific. Now we’re struck again with daring duds, this time with prints taking centre stage.

Printed pants can be taken to the extreme, as seen on Kristen Stuart recently while promoting her latest venture in scowling. (Inconveniently for me, the only pic that made the pants look great featured her smiling and looking generally pleasant.)

This is a look that could go so wrong, but her youth and confidence make this a big win for me. I’m not sure that I’d go there myself – but if you can pull of grand gestures in pant-form, why the hell not?!

Always pulling rank in the fashion stakes, leopard print is a front runner for statement pants, as well as new-comers such as geo and tribal patterns.

As many of you may know, polka dots is a fashion fave of mine, and you’ll find it on my dresses, tops, jackets, right down to the socks on my tippy toes. (Not all at once of course!) So you can imagine my delight when I spotted (ha!) a pair of black jeans with lovely pink dots on the hangers in store. It was a bit of a fail because I managed to pick a size too small, not realising that these were super skinnies, but even with the zip undone and my legs trying to hulk out of the denim, I could tell that the polka dot was not going to be my friend in this capacity. With regular-sized legs and hips a-bumpin, the pattern just made me look shorter and squatter than I need to appear. Perhaps for shorties like me, a plain dark colour is the only way my legs can roll. We can’t win them all.

But if you dare to try, and you can pull them off, get out there in some bright and funky prints this winter.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Clinique beauty workshops: Simply Stunning

Clinique are offering free workshops around the country. Read my step-by-step article on creating the perfect smoky eye on at,thread-article

Photos by Oren Oaariki

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hello sluggy

If I was in Antarctica, I would probably wear a puffa jacket. It looks like you’re wearing a sleeping bag, and as a warm-blooded individual, wearing a sleeping bag in freezing temperatures sounds like a good idea.

But we’re not in Antarctica. We’re in New Zealand. And still I see people slugging around in puffa jackets, when they just look so terrible.

There are so many stylish coats out there. They keep you warm. They cut the wind. They make you look like a regular stylish person, rather than the Michelin man.

I used to enjoy a good old slug around in my sleeping bag. When you have the zip at the bottom you can poke your feet out and hop from cosy possie to kitchen and grab yourself a snack. You can pretend you are a worm and wiggle around on the ground. Sleeping bags are great. For indoors. Whoever decided, ‘hey, we should make this into clothing, so people can be sluggy outside too’ was an idiot.

What value does the puffa jacket have that a regular (and attractive) coat doesn’t have? What does it offer you, other than 20kgs to your frame?

Perhaps I could live with puffa jackets if they were relegated to the world of hip hop artists and Antarctic explorers. But not in my town! Not without an oversized clock on a chain, mouth bling, and sunglasses at night. Oh no you don’t.

What cracks me up the most is the ‘full slug’. A full-length puffa jacket that is essentially a sleeping bag with sleeves and a hood. When I see people going full slug, I have the overwhelming urge to dash across the street and push them over. This would allow me to watch them thrash around on the ground in a futile attempt to upright themselves and reminisce about playing sleeping bag sumo, or some other such casually violent game.

So what. Do you puff? What’s your defence for this fashion crime? Full sluggin explanation is required.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Say no to bad shoes

Tell me this isn't happening. Awful 70s heels belong in costume boxes, not on the shop floor.