SS08: The "IT" Shoes

    The other day when I was at the hair salon flicking through Vogue, I came across what they claimed to be the new "it" shoe this season- these Etro sandals below.
    The term "it" shoes is apt. Cousin IT shoes that is. First Prada had these fringe things all over the place SS07, and now these shoes. Gladiator sandals with fringe piled on, I really don't see the attraction. They kind of look like sandals pretending to be boots or the other way around. Just not quite right.
    No matter how they matched it on the Etro runway, there MUST be other better footwear out there to match these cute printed outfits. More simpler sandals perhaps? Heels? Barefoot??? Just when I thought perhaps it was just a one off random thing, I see the exact likeness on the Zara display window. For a moment I worried that this will become a prominent feature in daily fashion (it IS Zara after all). However, HG has convinced me that this is just one of those fashion items that are picked to featured to look cool (I don't know where they get these ideas from) but not really meant for mass consumption- or so I hope. Fingers crossed!

    I mean, would YOU wear this????

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The Cult of the Luxury Brand

    I love book shopping. Strolling leisurely along the aisles with rows and rows of books, you never know what treasures you might come across. Some of my best discoveries have been books that had randomly caught my eye. I like to think its fate. This is probably why I love book shopping. But anyway, my latest treasure has been, "The Cult of the Luxury Brand," by Radha Chadha and Paul Husband. I'm sure you can imagine why it might have caught my attention.... This book focuses on the cult of the luxury brand in Asia, which takes up 37% of the $80bn USD global luxury brand market, while Europe and US only take up 35% and 24% respectively. I think in this case, "cult" is definitely the right word. Living in one of the centers of this phenomenon, and admittedly to most degrees being part of it, I've always wonder why we behave the way we do. And as much as I wince at being labeled as part of the luxury glutton society, I must say, Chadha and Husband comes up with some intriguingly insightful points.

    Their main thesis is that "luxury brands are a modern set of symbols that Asians are wearing to redefine their identity and social position," which I guess for the most part is true, but that is kind of obvious. Here are a few other points which I thought were interesting:
    • The Spread of Luxury model, where they split the luxury evolution in Asia to 5 stages: Subjugation, Start of Money, Show Off, Fit In and Way of life. I think they are all pretty self explanatory and pretty accurate
    • The single parasites is the group of young women aged 20-35 in Asia who are still living at home with their parents. Since they do not have to pay for rent etc, they have a larger disposable income to spend on luxury goods- which they do in hoards!
    • One of the reasons that luxury consumption is so big in Japan is because while the Western culture celebrates individuality, the Japanese culture (and indeed most Asian cultures ) places great emphasis on conformity and fitting in. So when the majority of people wear luxury brands, the rest of the people need to wear it too. That is probably why 94% of Japanese woman in their 20s own a Louis Vuitton
    • In Tokyo (and other small cities I suppose), because the apartments are so small and expensive, it is difficult to show off wealth and success. And so people have turned to luxury brands as the best way to display their success- by literally wearing it!
    • For the Chinese, their love for brands stems from their Confucius roots, which places a lot of importance on "family face." And so, today Chinese see luxury brands as a way to show "face" and signify their success
    • In Hong Kong, luxe consumption has been adopted as the central ideology. Making money and blowing it on the luxuries of life is the one thing that the people are clear about, while on everything else, from politics, culture to patriotism, ambiguity reigns. Coming from Hong Kong, I must say, I totally agree
    • In Korea, there is a clash between their love for luxe (Burberry is apparently the Korean word for trench coat!) and their culture. Luxe consumption is seen as "sinful" since frugality and moderation is very big in their culture. Additionally, nationalism is also very big and so wearing imported goods is also frowned upon. No wonder Koreans typically dress in more subtle designer brands (those I know anyway)!
    These are just some of the more interesting points that I remember off hand. At this point, I'd usually expend on how awesome this book is and how much I love it. But I find that this time, I cannot quite do that because I am still unsure about my feelings towards this book. On one hand, I thought it made some very clever, valid and insightful points about this phenomena. But on the other, I felt that it made the consumers caught in the heat of this phenomena sound like a bunch of fools continuously chasing after greater materialism trying to fit in and outdo each other at the same time. Maybe they were just writing it as it is and I just took it too personally because I admit that despite being fully aware of this materialistic path I am taking, I am still part of this phenomenon. Maybe the truth is just hard for me to accept, when put down so matter-of-factly. But I still cannot help but feel defensive. Now you can see why I feel so unsure about this book.

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How Not To Wear Colour Leggings

    First off I must confess I haven't worn colour leggings myself before. I am simply not creative or bothered enough to actually buy them and do the whole mixing and matching thing with the rest of the outfit. Hypothetically, if I were to wear colour leggings, I would probably just do it the boring and simple way: colour leggings with a casual black dress like in the picture above. And yes, I know it's spring now and leggings is more of a F/W thing, but I thought I would share some of my observations here.

    As the title suggests, these are my observations of how not to wear colour leggings/tights. A few weeks ago, I saw someone on the streets wearing something like this:

    A bright yellow tee (way brighter than the tee in this image,) a green, half-length trenchcoat, a flowery skirt (very popular in UK highstreet stores this season) and bright, solid red leggings. OK, so obviously I am not a colourful dresser, but I'm usually pretty open minded about style. Now I'm not criticising this girl's outfit exactly (-I'm all for personal style), but I do think that she went overboard with the colours. Wearing solid green on the top (the coat) and solid red at the bottom (the leggings) just does not look cool, arguably except for Christmas day. If you wear colour leggings, please refrain from wearing ten million other colours. Really, colour leggings are colourful themselves already.

    And just yesterday, I saw a women who looked at least 45 yrs old wearing shorts and bright red leggings. I'm not actually sure of her age, but she certainly didn't look that young from afar. Sure, colour leggings are fun, but isn't it something that is more for younger women? Is it wrong for me to think the maximum age that anyone should wear these colour leggings is 30? And I don't mean to discriminate against age, but I just really believe in dressing suitably for one's age.

    There you go: just a bit of how not to on colour leggings. What are your thoughts on my two points?

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Man Fashion: Men's Casual Sandals

    As summer is just at the corner, if you don't have a nice casual sandals by now, you should start to look for one now. As with the trend for women, sandals for men are once again in the spotlight. The biggest trend in sandals for men is the extension of casual styles that cater to the generally active lifestyle of men. Whether it is sports, outdoor activities, or informal gatherings, there are sandals that are appropriate for the occasion. Adidas sandals for golf, for example, are designed to withstand extended walking while providing maximum comfort to the foot.
    Cudas Captiva (Men's)

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    Sperry Top-Sider Santa Cruz Thong (Men's) - Tan

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    The beach and sandals are traditional companions. The designs of sandals for the beach must feature water-friendly materials that absorb moisture and keep the feet cool and dry. The trend in casual beach sandals is color and style. Beach sandals are designed with vibrant and bold colors, such as Helly Hansen's electric blue sandals. Of course, flip flops continue to be favorites with beach goers. However, the trend has ascended the basic thick rubber-soled sandals of the past. Many sandals for the beach are now made of leather and are perfect for non-water activities at the beach.
    Clarks Biofix (Men's) - Brown Oily Nubuck

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    Style Indulgent

    Technology may have increased the amount of convenience at our fingertips, but there's a good chance that your lifestyle hasn't made the adjustment. When you're on the go and need to slip on a pair of shoes, sandals with easy access are a must, but you undoubtedly want to remain stylish. The trend is a style of sandals in which the feet easily slide in the shoe. DKNY sandals called Boardwalks are a great example of this style of shoe. These black slide sandals are functional yet stylish.

    Sandals are comfort shoes. The styles of sandals for men have also gone beyond the material used to make the shoe. Another trend in men's sandals is style that seeks pleasure in itself. There are many examples of sandals that prove that comfort and style can work together to produce a great pair of sandals. Dockers sandals feature some of the most recent developments in comfort, but offer the style conscious a shoe that is suitable for work.

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    Now I'm not one for watches really. In fact, I haven't worn one since I grew out of Swatch and cannot quite afford a Cartier yet. Also I secretly think that I might have been so spoilt by the digital clock on my mobile that I now find it hard to read analogs. But I'm not quite ready to admit that to myself yet. But anyway, despite all that, my interest was peaked the other day when my cousin mentioned that he wanted to get a Toywatch- especially when I found out that it can be found within the stylish walls of Lane Crawford. So I decided to take a look.
    For those unfamiliar, Toywatch are known for their lightweight, over sized plastic watches. I was pleasantly surprised by the designs. They are simple and elegant, with just the right amount of fun in the colors and the clear plastic material. I love the colors and designs of the two above. Priced at around $200USD each, they are great a great accessory to match your outfits with. If I was the watch wearing type and had resources to spare (one can always dream), I'd totally get a few!
    Besides those fun ones, they also have ones that kind of resemble more classic designs. Like this white plastic one (left) from the Plasteramic collection, which is designed to look like those oh-so-sought-after ceramic watches but is not. And the one on the right looks remarkably like all those watches that I would describe as "elegant, feminine and delicate" from various luxury watch brands.
    Naturally, in this day of super luxing everything, even a brand called Toywatch has a super luxe line. They have it in the form of this black ceramic collection (left). Now this is actually ceramic and not plastic pretending to be ceramic. The design is very elegant and sleek looking. Priced at $1500, its not bad for a ceramic watch- if only it didn't so resemble the J12 Chanel watches (right), which are priced at 5 times that price. Now it just looks like a ceramic watch pretending to be a J12. Not that there is anything wrong with that, Zara does it all the time, but this one is not even cheap! Personally, if I was going to fork out $1500 for a ceramic watch, I'd rather save up longer and get the original one.

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Checking Out H&M Spring 2008

    I've been seeing this H&M print ad everywhere I go, mainly on billboards and in magazines, in London and Hong Kong. I feel like I'm being chased after by this pretty yellow image of Raquel and a wall of flowers telling me that: a) it's Spring! b) Wear yellow! c) Go shop at H&M now! After stalking H&M's website for awhile, they've finally updated their website last week with some of their Spring's offering.

    The instant I saw this colour-block, T-shirt dress in the campaign image (worn by Raquel -not this image but the same dress,) I thought, wow, I really want this! It's such an easy, summer casual dress. I love the colour blocks of black, pink and orange together. It's just the splash of colour that I've been wanting in my wardrobe, and since I'm not bothered or creative enough to actually buy seperate colourful pieces and match them together, it's so nice to have the crazy colours put together in one dress in a stylish, easy-to-wear way.
    So the next day (last Thur,) I rushed to an H&M store to check out the dress and they only had one size left, and of course it wasn't my size. It is so hard for me to actually find something I want from H&M (or from any store) and it was sold out -I was SO disappointed! It was even sadder when I found out that the dress is seriously affordable -it costs only about 199HKD (=26USD.) I am a bit annoyed that the H&M store was displaying this dress at the display windows when they hardly had any sizes or stock left. I always thought H&M was all about the volume business so I just assumed they'd always have sizes available. Obviously I was wrong. Lesson of the day: Check out these stores more frequently!
    The other thing I liked on the website was this bright pink, silk-material-looking dress. It looks perfect for a night out, and since it's not expensive, I wouldn't feel bad if someone spilled drinks on it or if the place was smoky. Alas, they were also out of my size.
    As for this red and white flowery top, it's not that I particularly like or dislike it. I thought I would post it up here because I swear I keep seeing people on the streets wearing it! And when I was browsing through a few online stores, I saw something very similar by Marc by Marc Jacobs. So expect to see a lot of red and white flowery tops near you this summer!
    Have you checked out H&M's Spring's clothes yet? What do you think of the clothes?
    Image source: (Note that the prices are in Pounds.)
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Michael Bastian Spring 2008 Collection

    I think if you are Michael Bastian's fan, you should not missed his recent released of Spring 2008 collection. Michael Bastian's 300-piece collection was so densely laden with personal references that you felt a twinge of regret. Bastian claimed that his new gig as menswear designer for Bill Blass has liberated him to get more personal with his own line. So do you agree with his views?
    Grey color is one of his main theme, which matched perfectly with red and white.
    Just two casual wear of his 300 pieces collection, focus on red, gray and black color
    Some of Michael Bastian's Bermuda collection
    Two of his smart casual wear, one of striking stripe (black and white) and simple light gray suits.
    Two formal business Spring wear from Michael Bastian

    Last but not least, if you like to know what are his top 10 essential, that he shared with back in last year then, She Know Best has a very interesting write up.

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Celebrity Fashion: Keanu Reeves

    Are you even reading this article? Or are you hooked up to a giant computer simulation known as The Matrix that is making you think you are, all the while using your body as the equivalent of a human Duracell? Heady, complicated stuff from the Wachowski brothers, packed with ace CGI-enhanced action. That's right, Keanu Reeves stars as Neo, a hacker who learns the machines have enslaved humanity in The Matrix.

    today, we are not talking about The Matrix here, but rather Keanu Reeves's fashion style in real world.

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Yet Another Black Blazer

    Two years ago when I bought my fitted Juicy black blazer with velvet lapels, I thought I was done with this staple. One good quality one is all I thought I'd need. But then this other black blazer popped up on the rack and it had gorgeous silk mini ruffles on the neck collar and black subtle pinstripes AND it was 70% off. I couldn't resist. Then this summer, there was this super fitted dark gray (with a hint of sparkle), 3/4 sleeved blazer with this to die for fancy double layered collar thing also on sale- I had to have it. So really, one can reasonably conclude that I've reached my quota for black blazers. For the record, I have had great mileages for all of them- so they were all completely worth it. Unfortunately recently, I find my eyes wandering again in the black blazer arena.......
    While I have enough sharply fitted blazers that stops flatteringly at the waist, I don't have any more loosely shaped blazers that stops at the lower waist. And thus I cannot achieve the totally casual chic look shown above by the Stella McCartney blazer (left) and the Paul & Joe blazer (right) with the sleeves scrunched up. Loosely fitted yet tailored they are the perfect compliment to the more loosely fitted styles that is the trend of late.
    I saw Heidi Klum wear such a blazer over a cute dress on Project Runway this season (or I thought I did, since I looked back and could not find it!), and thought, wow I need one of those! I was just facing such a dilemma the other day when I was wearing a dress and couldn't find an appropriate jacket to wear over it. All my other black blazers are simply too fitted and short that it makes the whole look too proper and put together, which totally defeats the current style of casual chic dresses. This more casually fitted blazer cutting neatly solves the problem. The above styles from Tucker (left) and Theory (right) demonstrates my point perfectly. Also note the yellow and gray color theme going on here with the Tucker blazer and the Paul & Joe blazer look.
    This blazer also works for a more casual office chic look as seen above from the Zara catalog. They even have a sleeveless version for the summer! Sigh.... I think I've almost convinced myself that I need yet another black blazer with this post. It seems like such an investment staple! Or do I?

    Image Source: Zara, Shopbop, Net a Porter and Elle
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Street Fashion: Soul Korea

Man Fashion Tips: Silver Wedding Bands

    Whether you are not at the age of marriage, or you are in the midst of preparation of your marriage, you ought to know about wedding rings. I personally like silver and against gold (maybe because of the recent shape increase in price.. ha ha).

    Silver wedding bands come in several designs and patterns and are reasonably priced. High quality silver wedding bands are usually made of sterling silver, which can range from 80% to 92.5% of pure silver combined with remaining of copper.

    Silver wedding bands also cater to refined tastes and assure a comfortable fit. Different types of silver wedding bands include classic, round inside bands and brushed silver bands. Round wedding bands have rounded inner edges making the band more comfortable. Brushed silver bands are unique in the sense that they are handcrafted and have a brushed finish giving a soft, satiny appearance to the band. Many vendors provide customers with the option of getting their personalized messages engraved on wedding bands.

    Some of them are made exclusively for males or females, while either men or women can wear other designs of wedding bands. Some other designs and styles such as curb, cable and Figaro, rope, snake and herringbone is also available in silver rings.

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Fancy Hair Accessories

    I used to wonder why accessories stores would sell these fancy hair accessories as if they were popular hair accessories because I had imagined that they were only suitable for fancy daytime events, like for a wedding in a garden or an old-fashioned Sunday brunch, which I supposed not many people attended these days (esp young people.)

    But ever since Gossip Girl, I have started seeing hairbands and other similar hair accessories in a different light. (OK, so the huge red bow with Blair's school uniform is a bit over the top, but the others are usually cute.)
    So when I went into Accessorize (the UK version of a much better Claire's) last week, as soon as I saw those fancy hair stuff, I rushed over. The first one I held this red rolled sinemay one against my hair. I LOVED it! It was unexpectedly pretty and just so different from what I usually see on myself. Believe me, I've always thought these things were fussy and old-fashioned but I just loved the way the material formed pretty loops on my head.

    So I went back to check the hair accessories on Gossip Girl and apparently my preconception that these hair accessories were for brunches weren't completely off -Blair wore one to the grand brunch hosted by Chuck's dad in Episode 102. The one Blair is wearing is so pretty! It's a simple, classic design without being boring.

    Here's a similar one to the one Blair is wearing. It's the black version of the red one I tried on. I didn't think the black one looked that great on me because my hair is black -the red one totally stood out more.

    Maybe it's the pokka dots, but this one definitely gives off a more dressed-up vibe. It really looks like the ones one would wear to a garden wedding, (where older ladies would wear those fancy hats! Wait, or is it at funerals?)

    I couldn't resist including this pink feathers with beads accessory -it's so girly in a non-cutsy way.

    This silver sequin and feather accessory looks young and trendy. Perhaps one can even wear it on a fun night out (complete with a 20's styled outfit)?

    So yes, maybe I have been brainwashed by Gossip Girl, but if I had a themed party to go to, I would totally try one of these out! Happy Easter holidays people!

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