Reinterpreting the Shirt Dress

    Shirt dresses are the best. They are smart, sophisticated but still very feminine and daytime perfect. Tailored, clean cut, prim and pretty, they are the sisters to classic DVF wrap dresses (and can even be worn by girls less well endowed in the chest area!). These kind of shirt dresses, like the ones shown from Ralph Lauren, will never go out of style. But in a more casual atmosphere, as I almost always find myself in, sometimes these shirt dresses make me feel slightly too dressed up, even if they are designed to be perfect for the daytime- like a sore thumb who somehow landed on the streets from the country club.
    Luckily for me, the newly updated shirt dress this season neatly solves my dilemma. They are less structured, more casual, with fun, youthful details. And yet they still manage to maintain the very proper and put together effect of a classic shirt dress! These two are from DVF (left) and Sass & Bide (right). I especially love how they made it into a high collar instead on the Sass & Bide dress.
    Over at Paul and Joe Sister (left) and Derek Lam 3.1 (right), they turned in the buttons and switched it for laces . Usually I'm not a fan of this type of lacing up (too Pocahontas!), but I think it works here. It gives it a more casual, outdoor-sy feeling to the whole look.
    Here are two of my favourite reinterpretations of the shirt dress from Top Shop (left) and Corey Lynn Calter from Nordstrom (right). The Top Shop dress barely looks like a shirt dress with its wide round collar, bubbly sleeves and scrunching. But all the crucial elements are still there. With the right accessories i.e. big colorful necklace, this dress would look so cool and now. Going in the opposite direction, the dress from Nordstrom is loose but still structured in a futuristic kind of way. The addition of the bright yellow belt is absolutely genius. It completes the look. I DEFINITELY wouldn't mind owning this dress!

    Image Source: Ralph Lauren, Paul and Joe Sister, Top Shop, Nordstrom and Net a Porter
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Urban Renewal

    I usually walk past the Urban Renewal section of Urban Outfitters, thinking it is vintage stuff, which is not really my thing (not unless they come from a member of my family anyway). At the back of my head, I'd always wondered exactly how they got so many vintage items of the same style in different sizes together in one place. I mean, aren't vintage items supposed to be unique? But I'd never really been interested enough to read the fine print on their website and find out how. It wasn't until my friend mentioned it the other day that I realized what it was. Apparently what they do is collect vintage clothes/fabric and put them together to form new, more updated clothes. That is how they come up with so many pieces of the same style in different sizes. You can buy it at the store or online, where they claim you can even choose colors and they'd make you a completely unique piece using different materials in the same cutting as shown. The whole idea is to re-use materials and it has been around for over 20 years (before the whole go green craze!)- I didn't even know that Urban Outfitters have been around for over 20 years, let alone this division.
    One of the reasons I don't like vintage clothes is that whenever I see them they almost always look very dated, hippie and bohemian like, which is so over - thank god! And indeed they do have such stereotypical vintage clothing in this collection here (above: ugh). In fact, most of the collection is like this and I was not impressed. However, there were a few pieces that are intriguing- like this denim vest (right). The extra trimming is quite sharp and refreshing! I'm not really sure how this black blazer (left) is vintage, but I like the cutting.
    The ruffled tunic shirt (left) is feminine and romantic looking. Perfect paired with that crisp cropped blazer above! And the floral skirt is cute, reminds me of the floral skirts in the Prada ads this season. Though one should be careful when wearing that in case you look like you're wearing your curtains. Paired with something smart, tailored and modern, it would look stunning.

    The thing is though, I'm still not really sure how I feel about this concept of "Urban Renewal." Besides the fact that you still do not know who the previous (many!) owners are, I heard that the renewed material is very scratchy and not very comfortable. On the other hand, we do use recycled paper and bags......so why not clothes? Thoughts?

    Image Source: Urban Outfitters
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The UV Rays Up There

    So remember how I've been travelling a bit last month? Most of the flights I took were daytime flights and one thing that really irritates me about daytime flights is the amount of sunlight in the plane. This might sound weird to most people, and even my parents think I'm a total freak for applying sunscreen before a flight but here's the logic: up there in the sky, there are no shades or clouds or anything so the UV rays are naturally stronger and more direct. And it doesn't help that almost all passengers love keeping their window covers up and let the sunlight get through. I usually try to get a windows seat just to keep the blinds down!

    So maybe I'm a bit overly paranoid. But while going through my magazines from this year (before throwing them away,) I noticed Elle (UK) had a "Top Tips For A Healthy Flight" editorial from a few months ago. Most of these tips are pretty much what you always read about, like make sure you hydrate by drinking lots of water and applying good moisturiser *Insert product recommendations, naturally*. So most of the time I ignore these editorials since let's face it, they basically just tell you common sense and sell you a bunch of unnecessary beauty products. But there was a 'tip' that I just have to share here since not most people seem to not know or care about:

    "Wear a lotion containing sunscreens. 'Recent Studies show that UV rays can penetrate an airplane's windows. Because you're higher, the sun's rays are stronger as there's less proection from the atmosphere,' warns Dr Tom Monroe, director of research and development at Clinique."

    See! It's not just me. OK, so a doctor from a major beauty company saying this obviously has commercial reasons, but it sounds logical doesn't it? I'm no dermatologist so I have no idea which sunscreen is the best, but BG and I do love Bioderma's SPF products.

    Anyhow, I actually wanted to write this post to rant about people who keep their window blinds up during the flight -just because you like the sun and don't mind the UV rays damaging your skin cells doesn't mean the passenger next to you wants that! OK, rant over.

    Image Credit: www.bioderma.com
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Man Fashion: Rolex's Submariner

    There are many luxury watch brands on the market today, take a look at the likes of Blancpain, F.P Journe and Franck Muller for some of the highest quality timepieces available.

    One of the most famous names on the planet that most people recognize is Rolex. Many would question, however, that these would be the best watches to buy for your money.

    But I am more interested to the Rolex's unique timepiece, Rolex Oyster Perpertual Submariner.

    Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date Watch. 40mm stainless steel case, 18K yellow gold black time lapse bezel, black dial, and stainless steel and 18K yellow gold Oyster Fliplock Bracelet. Water resistant to 1000 feet.


    * Genuine Italian 31 Jewel Automatic Movement
    * Smooth sweeping second hand, like the real thing
    * Genuine scratch resistant, sapphire crystal
    * Certified waterproof
    * Large stainless steel threaded screws on band

    * Solid end links on the band, not hollow
    * Perfectly fitted, hand made polished solid links
    * Genuine Luminox -glow in the dark markers
    * Genuine laser etched dials and fonts
    * Genuine 2.5x magnification on date wheel
    * One piece screw down crown
    * True 440 grade stainless steel
    * Green Hologram on sticker on back
    * Only opened with Rolex tool
    * Serial number at lug at 6 o'clock
    * Fully detailed back clasp markings and band

    So what is your opinion on this design?


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White Flip Flops

    For the longest time, my summer staple have been simple white flip flops. Not the rubber beach kind, but the more sophisticated and dressy type, with actual soles, made of non-rubber material. They are just awesome, because they are summery, comfortable and matches with absolutely everything- perfect for a casual summer day. Ever since my pair of Nine West white flip flops with chunky heels (just the right height!) expired a few years back however, I haven't been able to find a pair to properly replace them.
    That is until I laid eyes on my friend's pair of Tory Burch white flip flops (over at their website, they call it thongs.... I have no idea what the difference is). They are just EXACTLY what I've been looking for. While the design is simple and casual, the little gold emblem and the wooden sole gives it just the right amount of sophistication that makes it elegant and classy. I LOVE it. Unfortunately, I've walked through the shop and all the usual department stores, and couldn't find them. They're also sold out online of my size! But while I was browsing, I noticed that they had this design in many different sharp colors, like this yellow one, which I think works great to match/clash with this season's bold color theme.
    Another white flip flop I've looked at are these ones from Banana Republic. The patent leather strip and sole transforms this simple, classic design from the beach to the streets. This design also comes in a rainbow of sharp colors and are relatively cheaper than the Tory Burch's (more available too!). The only question now is which color? Other simple flip flops I'that also fits the bill are these ones from Nordstrom. They're basically the same as the ones from Banana Republic, except the straps are a bit wider and have a bit more elevation in the heels. These little details actually help to make these more sophisticated. But the gold shiny stuff on the soles kind of put me off even though I know it won't show when I'm wearing it.... should definitely go check them out!

    Image Source: Tory Burch, Banana Republic and Nordstrom
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Chasing Harry Winston

    Even without the fabulous pair of Louboutins and the three gorgeously fantabulous diamond rings on the cover, the name Lauren Weisberger is enough to make me pick up the book. Not that I think she's a particularly great writer, but because I know that it will be light and fun summer read- just what I am looking for. The whole fabulous, gorgeous people living extravagant and successful, perfect lives looking for love is a bit overdone these days, but I've always felt a connection with Weisberger's books. Even though it wasn't very memorable to some (HG barely remembers it), I felt a strong connection with the character in Everyone Worth Knowing. Bette's story might as well have been the fictionalized version of my future (she went from finance to the fabulous life of party planning to realizing that her true calling was writing)!
    Back to the book at hand (at this point, you should realize that there are potential spoilers here). This one is about three best friends making a pact to change their way of lives. One tries monogamy after a life of polygamy. The other goes in the opposite direction and goes on a tour de whore. And the last attempts to convince herself that her perfect life really is perfect. Over all, I thought it was pretty badly written and that Weisberger is now just publishing by reputation rather than by content (this situation sounds oddly similar to the dilemma of yet another bestseller author mentioned in the book!). A lot of times the writing was long-winded and unnecessary. She spent the majority of the first chapter, where the author is supposed to captivate the readers, talking about Leigh's need for personal space and control freak quirks with a detailed description of her apartment. It just made me want to pick up a pen and edit everything out! Only her name on the cover kept me going.

    The plot was predictable and mellow. I felt like I was just cruising along the story. Nothing exciting ever happens, because she tries this technique where she just ends the chapter when something does happen and then picks up again after the event. Leigh breaks up with her fiance and we get to read about how nervous she was before the event and her reflections after the event. Adriana meets her "future husband" and we hear about them dating from talks by the other two girls. It was like a whole book of reflection, where the readers were put in the peripheral of the story instead of INSIDE the story. And the other thing is that nothing bad ever happens to the characters. They all lead a charmed, perfect life and everything just magically comes to them, with no obstacles to overcome or anything. One decides she wants to travel the world and a fabulous job miraculously appears. One wasn't even trying and simply finds her true calling in writing. And the other just decides to leave everything she's worked for behind and everything works out. I know that being realistic is not exactly the primary goal of chick lits, but this is just a bit overboard. To give her credit, the characters do each experience life changing revelations (there really wouldn't BE a story otherwise), but everything just came together a little too perfectly.

    The relationship between this story and Harry Winston is not a giant rock on a ring as I'd first imagined (and the cover alluded to). The only reference to Harry Winston is a pair of diamond earrings that Salma Hayek wore to the Oscars from there, that a suitor gave to one of them. I guess they were just looking for a catchy title.

    One thing
    Weisberger does do well however, are her characters. She paints them all in a very distinctive but relatable light. My favourite character is Leigh, who has the perfect job and the perfect boyfriend. The thing I love about her most is her control freak tendencies and need to be alone. I can totally relate to that. I LOVED it when she applied sunscreen on her body, then sprayed herself with more sunscreen in case she missed any spot and THEN applied a more expensive sunscreen on her face- rationing that the rest of them will regret it later when they need botox and laser treatment to get rid of their wrinkles and dark spots. That is MY rational as well (although I don't apply quite so thoroughly as she does). Next is Emmy, who just got dumped by her ex of five years, and her dearest dream is to get married and have lots of kids. Having never "played around," she is still very shy around guys and we get to see her get out of her shell in that respect. I feel for every step she took. Then there is Adriana, the fabulously gorgeous and wealthy Brazilian girl who leads the perfectly charmed life. However, even she feels a bit empty, lost and worried about her future. Sounds familiar?

    Honestly, not a very original, engaging nor well-written book. But if you are looking for something light and brainless to past time on the beach (or just time in general).........then by all means. It's good and cheery enough to bring a smile to my lips in the end (happy endings always warms me up!).

    Image Source: Amazon
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Bras with Different Straps at the Back

    At the end of last summer I evaluated my wardrobe (-something everyone should do at the end of a season or the beginning of a season,) and decided that I really didn't have enough young, casual clothes. Most things I owned seemed so stuffy and old -imagine really boring, plain clothes with boring, unhip cutting. So when I onlined shopped a few months ago, I made sure to reject clothes that were too plain and looked for some colour.

    I really liked this tank top (by Kate Moss Top Shop) because it had a hint of colour and interesting pattern on it but it was still my style. But when I bought it, I didn't realise how low the hole at the back was and I liked the top so much I didn't return it. So then I started to look for a bra that was backless or had a ok-to-be-seen-strap.

    Why not just show the back of a normal bra? Because I've seen a few people wearing tops and dresses with showy backs like these Top Shop tea dresses with their normal bras showing and believe me, they were not attractive!

    Since the UK doesn't have Victoria's Secret, the first place I looked was Marks & Spencer. This bra was kind of what I was looking for. The straps at the back were thin and interesting enough to not remind me of the traditional thick back strap. Unfortunately, it only comes in black, and since the material of the tank top was pretty thin, I didn't want a black bra to be seen obviously underneath.

    Then there was this bra. I admit that I've always thought transparent straps as sort of tacky-looking in most situations. (Is it just me?) But I love the idea that the back strap was transparent -an alternative style for the thick strap at the back. Alas, I forgot to buy one before leaving the UK. Now I have to figure out how to wear the tank top! (I prefer not layering with another camisole because it just doesn't look as nice and defeats the purpose of keeping cool.) Any ideas?

    Btw, I didn't even consider a strapess, backless bra because I imagine they would feel very uncomfortable and insecure. If any of you have used one, what did you think of them?

    Image Credits: http://www.topshop.com/, http://www.marksandspencer.com/ Source URL: http://icip2idayusof.blogspot.com/2008_07_01_archive.html
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Chanel Paris-London 2008 Ad Campaign

    OK, I know this post comes very late since this ad campaign is for Chanel's Pre-Fall collection -the images have already been out since last December and have been published in June 2008's magazines, (which we know means that they've out for years in fashion years,) but I just noticed the campaign seriously when I was in a Chanel boutique last week and saw the campaign booklet lying around. I saw the costume jewelry and I flipped through the booklet and fell in love with the campaign. It's been a long time since I've been able to honestly say I love an ad campaign but this one is absolutely stunning.

    First off, I admit I simply do not know how to appreciate Amy Winehouse's music and I dislike her beehive hairstyle even more. You know how a few designers have been using that beehive hairstyle on their runway shows? Well I hated most of them. But the way the Amy Winehouse inspiration has been used in this campaign has totally changed that messy look into something very elegant and sophisticated. Coco Rocha manages to pull off an elegant, young, sophisticated girly look with a hint of dark edginess. Just look at the images above!

    Usually I hate it when the models are randomly holding many bags or wearing way too many accessories in ad images, but this campaign pulls it off seamlessly. It's got a perfect balance of being gorgeously artistic and being commercial. I mean, after looking at it, I don't only think it's seriously captivating, I also really want a bunch of those accessories! This is definitely one of my favourite Karl Lagerfeld-photographed campaign!

    I LOVE all the golden silver accessories -like this feather hair accessory and huge neckalce -it's so glamorous in an uncomplicated way.

    Bravo to Coco and Karl for pulling off this ad perfectly!

    Image Credit: http://www.chanel.com/ Source URL: http://icip2idayusof.blogspot.com/2008_07_01_archive.html
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Man Fashion: Unique Slipper for Summer

    It has launched last year, and that's right, this beach footwear comes without any cover. No straps, no heels, no laces. Your naked feet is fully visible (and susceptible) to the elements.

    In fact, it will feel like walking barefooted, only in this case, the floor sticks to your feet. This uncovered and unconventional slipper is made of a soft molded rubber that promises to cling to your feet even while you are chasing after a bus.


    The secret is the rounded slot that fits snugly into your toe cleavage. And that's it. It's the only connection that stops you and your beach footwear from flying off your feet.


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Perfectly Natural Lips

    I've never been much for lipgloss' or lipsticks, even though I'm constantly being told that I need "just a bit of color" on my lips. I simply don't see the point of reapplication every time I take a sip of water. They leave the most unflattering lipstains on the glass and it means that I'm effectively eating lipgloss/stick bit by bit. I'd also always have to worry about accidentally getting some on my clothes- they are the devil to wash. Besides, they are sticky (lipgloss in particular) and are not even particularly moisturizing even though they look juicy.
    But then I keep seeing these perfectly colored lips in magazines and make-up advertising campaigns, which makes me want to give lipsticks another try. Typically I always pick colors that are pretty and pink, because red lipsticks scare me and orange is my least favourite color. But having seen so many ads where models/celebs have perfectly colored yet natural looking lips that are not just pretty and pink (like above, esp love Leighton Meister's lip color!), I'm beginning to think that maybe a tint of orange is not so bad after all. Besides the color when applied almost never matches its color in the tube. The aim should be to find a shade that comes naturally, like the color your lip looks when it has been bitten.

    Unfortunately not everyone's lips are the same and what looks good on the model does not always look good on you. I know, because I tried buying the exact same color as the model in an ad campaign and it turned out to be waaay too red for me! So I guess it wouldn't be helpful to talk about exact lip colors here. We can however, talk about the effects to strive for and favourite lipcolor brands around.
    The effect I love is sheer with just a bit of shine, which translates to ultra conditioning lipsticks. One of my favourite brand for ultra conditioning lipsticks is Shiseido. They really ARE conditioning. Some lipsticks on the other hand, only add color and actually feel like it is drying the lips instead *cough-mac-cough*. I'm loving this natural hue this model in their ad campaign is sporting. Perfect for the everyday look or to match with crazy eye make-up!
    The younger Shiseido line, Maquillage, also make real nice moisturizing lipsticks. Besides their Neo Climax Lip, they also have it matte. I absolutely adore their advertising campaign looks. The lip shades are all different yet still very natural at the same time (well maybe the top left model's color is not quite natural...).
    Another favourite lipstick brand is Cle de Peau. My mom adores this brand, it goes on smoothly and silkily.
    And they come in the most darling elegantly shaped tubes too. Ironically this brand is also owned by Shiseido.... I guess they found the secret formula!

    These ad campaigns with those fabulously natural yet gorgeous lip colors have finally inspired me to test out and wear lipstick more regularly (more than before anyway, which was zero......). I hope it has done the same for you!

    Image Source: Lucky Mag, Allure, Shiseido, Maquillage and Cle de Peau
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The Hat For Summer 08

    Hats are all the rage this summer. More specifically, straw hats are all the rage. The aim to look chilled-out-rock chic or festival chic. The nice thing about this S/S08 trend is that on the runway, any style of straw hats will do, whether the hat is the smaller fedora style, or larger floppy style. And most importantly, hats are so useful for the summer days out. Actually on any given day, I'd prefer not to have to wear a hat (-hat hair!) but since I've been travelling a bit, I really wanted something to protect my skin from the sun. Thus my sudden interest in the hat trend.
    The most practical hat for shading my face from the sun would be one of these huge floppy hats. And I figure I would feel less idiotic wearing one this summer since it was on the runway and hey, even Blair wore it in Gossip Girl (-bad logic, I know.) But since it's not really possible for me to fit such a large, irregular shape into my suitcase, I decided against it.

    The shape I wanted was one like the one Rachel Bilson was wearing. It looks so cool on her!

    It looks a lot like this fedora from Urban Outfitters. Unfortunately, it seems to be only available in the US.

    I tried on a similar one to the one Kristen Dunst is wearing in the photo from Top Shop, butI thought it looked way too much like a cowboy hat. I wanted to look festival chic, not like I thought Halloween had come early. Plus the sides were so short it didn't seem like it would actually shade my face from the sun.

    So I ended up settling for this hat -it's part practical and part festival chic. And it fits perfectly into my suitcase. I've been really loving it on my holidays!

    I also debated between straw colour and black. I thought black was even more versatile than straw colour. But in the end, I decided to get into the spirit of travelling and the current trend and opted for a straw-coloured one. (The straw-coloured hats must have been much more popular than the black ones because the Top Shop I went to only had one straw-coloured hat left, whereas there were still many black ones.)

    Anyone else been having fun with this trend this summer?

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Man Fashion: Gucci 8 Limited Edition Beijing Olympic Designs

    As we know, the Olympics are being held in Beijing this year. Gucci Creative Director Frida Giannini created a line called 8-8-2008. Her eight (totally over-the-top) souvenir items were designed to celebrate this year's events.



    Of course, the one that caught my eye was the "China red" cruiser ($3420)! Besides that, the line includes a $3150 Mahjong set, a panda bear stuffed animal, dog tag necklace, two pieces of luggage, a red wrist banded digital watch (the brand's first digital timepiece) , and red suede sneakers for both her and him.

    Huang Xiaoming is also the first Asian model for Gucci. He's looking pretty good in the ads, too! But if I had a choice, I'd definitely choose the bike over him.

    I did some research and the number "8" means prosperity in Chinese. These items are only sold in Gucci stores in China and Hong Kong.

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Cardigans II: The Long Ones

    Beyond the classic cardigans, I am also obsessed with long cardigans. They give off that effortlessly chic look that is just so...well, chic.
    The beauty of it is that the long cardigan look really IS effortless and easy to achieve. Take a plain long cardigan, like these two from UO (left) and American Apparel (right), and pair it with a tank top (black/white or more interestingly- contrasting colored!), skinny jeans (or shorts) and flats (or heels!) and you are good to go! And because the look is so plain and simple, it is also the perfect canvas to accessorize with. Throw on a sharp colored headband, a bold colored scarf, a funky long necklace, crazy earrings, chunky bangles or a fabulous bag for a touch of fun. If you are too lazy to even do that (like me!), then you are in luck. The long cardigan trend has been around long enough to evolve with sharp, geometric prints, contrasting colors and bold details like big gold buttons that it can be worn just as it is, sans accessories, and still look fabulous and fun. I am loving these two refreshingly colored cardigans from Marc by Marc Jacobs. The bold contrasting blue colors with the geometric prints and the gold lining (left) gives the cardigan an old fashioned yet retro look that is both refreshing and stylish. And I just LOVE the dark blue sleeves with the line of gold buttons on that pale yellow cardigan. That little details gives the otherwise ordinary yellow cardigan that extra something that makes it special.
    For more washable options, there are these classic cardigans with bold contrasting colors from American Apparel. This is the perfect way to add some color to your summer wardrobe!
    For something a bit more subtle that may even last you through fall, try these cardigans with details and trimmings from Vince (left) and Urban Outfitters (right). They are far from "mumsie"- just remember not to pair them with bermuda shorts like that model above (left), it should be paired with something either really long or really short!

    Image Source: American Apparel, UO and Saks
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Man Fashion: Summer Stripes Fashion

    Just as summer finally hots up, man fashion stores are already filling up with wintry clothes - it's hardly ready-to-wear. The month of July and August is always the Bermuda Triangle of clothes shopping, when the fashion- hungry have to use their wardrobe like a store cupboard - to be stocked up with woollen goodies which aren't quite ready for wearing.

    Everyone knows that new clothes have to be worn right now, not next month, and although a few die-hard fashion followers might be prepared to sweat out the rest of the summer in Prada's cashmere cape or Balenciaga's double- breasted suit, most of us would rather keep cool in the more literal sense of the word.

    Yet, by August, there's an understandable reluctance to splash out on a summer trend that might very well look stale before the month is out. So forget CK and Gucci - only a few trends are going to make it to the end of the summer season, and right up there in the lead is stripes.

    The stripe may be the insignia of this particular summer, but there are a handful of designers who always step in line, particularly, man fashion designers such as Paul Smith and Jean Paul Gaultier as stalwart supporters who have made them a signature for their labels.


    Both Smith's English Eccentric version of multicoloured vertical stripes and Gaultier's traditional navy-and-white Breton pattern are having their time in the sun. They chose their trademarks well, because stripes, more than polka dots or houndstooth check, are a classic. That's why they don't suffer for appearing late in the season. In their simplest form, stripes can cast off any designer reference to Fifties beachwear or Sixties Op Art, and only seem clean and modern.


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