Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Prada Leeches Bag

Prada Python Pitone Pietre Shoulder Bag,$1,895 at Saks

I'm not sure why Prada decided to ruin a perfectly fine snakeskin bag with leech-like black resin stones. It's almost as if Miuccia Prada had been watching Stand By Me before she created this monstrosity. Most of her spring bags are covered with these creepy and cheap-looking gems in various tacky colors--I'm sure you've seen the garish ads in all of the fashion magazines. Of all of the new spring bags, only Marc Jacobs' uglies can compete with these.

New Spring Jewelry Accessory: The Ethnic Bangle

Above Left to Right: Marc Jacobs, Anna Sui

Above Left to Right: 3.1 Philip Lim, Aquilano.Rimondi
Each season, a particular jewelry item takes center stage. Last season, it was the statement necklace; this upcoming spring season it's the ethnic bangle, piled up on one arm as another kind of statement jewelry. In all of my life, I must admit the closest I ever came to enjoying bangles were twofold: a) jelly bracelets, a byproduct of the tacky '80s; and b) the musical band Bangles, whose hit "Manic Monday" still resonates with me. Personally, I prefer cuffs any day to bangles, which I find to be clunky and uncomfortable (due to my extra-small wrists). However, paired with the right outfit, ethnic bangles can add a flash of color to an otherwise dull outfit.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Gap Cashmere Sweaters

Gap Cashmere Sweater, on sale for $54.99 (down from $110)

After repeated frustrations with J.Crew cashmere sweaters (the quick pilling after one season of wear finally got to me), I decided to turn elsewhere for my cashmere sweater fix. A co-worker surprised me by praising Gap sweaters for their ability to withstand seasons of wear and tear. (So far, Vince sweaters have never failed me, but then again, they're double the price of J.Crew sweaters.) I purchased a gray version of the above sweater at $89, but after seeing the price reduction, I called Gap and asked for the difference, which they graciously approved (most companies have a 14 day price reduction limit). You can't beat $55 for a decently-made cashmere sweater, and the fit was perfect (being smaller on top, I purchased the "petite" version). The sweater is also available in off-white, pink, camel, gray, and black.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Frothy Floral Sandals

Christian Louboutin Petal Sandal, $995 at Bergdorf Goodman

From my most recent posts, you would hardly suspect that it's Christmas time (Happy Holidays, by the way!) and freezing in the Big Apple. That's because a certain fashionista dreams of warmer days when the weather outside is frightful. With most of Fall/Winter items sold out (or selling out), retailers are bringing in Resort wear, which usually means warm weather escapes to the Bahamas; unfortunately, this year's financial woes have put an end to that. Oddly enough, as I sit here in the City of Brotherly Love (yes, that's right--Philly is my hometown), I'm shocked to hear that it'll be 60 degrees tomorrow. 60 degrees!! Just a few days ago, the thermostat read a frigid 15 degrees.

While "Resort" wear has become more and more seasonless due to the fickleness of Mother Nature, designers still churn out standard Resort wear: sandals, tunics, skimpy dresses. These particular sandals--something the now-mythical Carrie Bradshaw would have worn--are all the rage right now with magazines. They're fun, cute, ridiculous, surprising, sexy, and feminine--all at once. I can't decide what to think of them. They've got the potential to ruin or make an outfit. If I had unlimited cash and a huge shoe museum, they'd be there--on display in a glass cage.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

If Sexy Were A Dress...

it would be this white hot Preen bandage dress ($995 at Net-a-porter)!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Not So Mellow Yellows

Christian Louboutin "Fluorescent Green" Platform Pumps, $735 at Saks

Photo Credit: The Sartorialist (The woman in the image is wearing YSL's Tribute Platforms)
Sometimes it just takes a mesmerizing photo (like the one shot by the Sartorialist) to redefine one's personal style boundaries. Once upon a time, I would never have gone near bright yellow shoes (being Asian, I shied away from yellow for years); however, these Christian Louboutin platforms arouse my curiosity. They remind me of primary school yellow (long school buses, yellow submarines, and modern Crayola crayons), but when paired with neutrals like khaki, denim (blue and gray), and blush, the color suddenly matures like precocious New York City adolescents. They'll add a spring to your step as you remember that Spring is only a few months away.

Monday, December 15, 2008

JUMPstarting One's Wardrobe?

McQ Wool Tuxedo Jumpsuit, $670 at Net-a-porter

Two jumpsuits from Proenza Schouler's Spring 2009 line
A friend of mine once declared her undying love for jumpsuits. She likened them to the adult onesies worn by Captain James T. Kirk's crew on the Starship Enterprise--a form-fitting, no-brainer uniform to be worn on every and any occasion.
For years, I shunned jumpsuits like they were the Bubonic Plague. Truthfully, I think they remind me of tacky denim overalls and one-piece swimming suits (impossible and inconvenient to take off when wet). I mean, what does one do every time one goes to the bathroom? Disrobe completely? (Another friend at a dinner party complained about the gigantic gaps on the edges of bathroom doors. Imagine a co-worker peering in on you naked as you take off your jumpsuit. The horror!) And while I certainly love Star Trek (a byproduct of growing up with geeky brothers), I don't want to look like Uhura or Spock.
After years of such icy thoughts about jumpsuits, I'm starting to finally defrost. Proenza Schouler's two rocking jumpsuits--one in crisp, clean white and the other in bold leather--have me rethinking my age-old aversion. Jumpsuits are dresses with legs--and I love dresses for their ease and freedom. Now if only those pesky gaps didn't exist in my school bathroom...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Zac Posen Pre-Fall 2009

I'm starting to think that this recession is doing wonders for designers these days. They're forced to be their most creative in order to compel the fashionista to spend her hard-earned dough on their irresistible creations. And Zac Posen's pre-fall 2009 line is certainly that. I've always been drawn to the fashions from the forties and fifties--those decades really celebrated a woman's curvy body--and these inspired looks seem like necessary additions to any woman's wardrobe.

Some of my favorite looks:

1. Oooh...look at this creamy, vixen-y number in a stunning shade--something Jean Harlow would have worn:

2. Red hot!

3. A sexy and prim suit, all at once:

4. Perfect for a Hollywood starlet like Scarlett Johannson:

Rachel Roy Pre-Fall 2009

Rachel Roy's clothes are always impeccably made, ethnically inspired, and uber-feminine, but her pre-fall 2009 line also featured some edgy looks that have me impatiently waiting for May.

Some of my favorite looks:

1.A fierce look, complete with a textured zebra-like print and sheer top with shoulder accents (I'd wear the top with a camisole, of course!):

2. I usually don't care for dresses that look like separates, but this one is fantastic. I'm a sucker for anything gray:

3. I love the contrast of the prim LBD with the subversive cage sandals.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

McQueen's New Ride

Alexander McQueen Leather Biker Jacket, $4, 995 at Net-a-porter

Speaking of leather biker jackets--feast your eyes on this McQueen beauty: perfect leather skin, glistening gold hardware, chic and tidy cinched belt. Too bad it's a not-so-cool five grand.

The Soft Biker Jacket

From Left: Marc by Marc Jacobs Wilhelmena Biker Cardigan, $350 at Net-a-porter; Splendid Fleece Motorcycle Jacket, $169 at Bergdorf Goodman

The spring runway shows made it clear that the biker jacket is not going away any time soon, and now we have the next evolutionary stage in the biker jacket craze: the soft biker jacket, which features breathable fabrics (wool, cotton, fleece) that downplay the hard edginess of the traditional leather skin. This easy-to-wear piece serves a dual purpose (sweater or jacket) and can be comfortably and casually worn underneath your heavy winter coat. If you're bold enough, pair this with those tough leather leggings we've seen on celebrities like Anne Hathaway, or soften the style with a winter floral dress.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Character, Not Caricature

Examples of caricature at work: Julie Macklowe looking like a slutty schoolgirl (far left); Dita von Teese looking like a Fifties movie star (right)

Somebody at work made an off-hand comment about how I was "born with a silver spoon in [my] mouth." That, like many other casual throw-away judgments I've heard lately, were soon described by a close friend as my "caricature, not [my] character." She knew (by virtue of her knowing me) that these untrue statements were based on some overblown misconception from my sartorial image.

Although I certainly do not dress with a particular stereotype in mind, it appears that we all sometimes fall into a caricature: some hyperbolic idea of ourselves that is propagated by either ourselves or others. Our individual style aesthetic is usually informed by some external type: rocker-chick, uptown socialite, preppy schoolgirl, emo goth, sporty girl next door, conservative professional. These sartorial types help us express what we see as our inner character, but when we adhere too rigidly to these types, we venture dangerously into caricature.

It is, however, difficult to alter any opinion that associates "style" with "money." When I hear that view, I must, to paraphrase Polonius' oft-quoted line, be true to my own self, for apparel oft proclaims the woman.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Roland Mouret Lust

RM by Roland Mouret Perec Origami Pleat Top; Dax Sleeveless Top, both $1,450 at Net-a-porter

I'll admit it: I've had a crush on Roland Mouret for quite some time now. His work is streamlined yet architectural, classic yet modern, and chic yet edgy. The celebrities who wear his clothes are often photographed for their impeccable taste (remember Victoria Beckham in that hot pink stunner on the soccer field? Jennifer Lopez in that white wonder at Fashion Week?).

Unfortunately, I tried on one of his delectable creations only to be disappointed by the fit. While I usually do not have too much trouble with fit, I do occasionally struggle with designers who either leave too much room in the bust area or leave too little room in the hip area (Narciso Rodriguez is one such designer). As a result, I tend to avoid the hassle of tailoring the garment unless I'm blinded by overwhelming love and assuaged by a lower price point, which mitigates the cost of tailoring. Roland Mouret didn't make the cut (pun intended) that day, and I resigned myself to pining from afar.

These two peplum tops, however, are proving quite difficult to resist. I recently purchased a gorgeous electric blue peplum vest from Yves Saint Laurent--an outstanding piece that I will cherish for as long as I can. These two vests/tops rival that one, and its nature as a separate ensures a likely fit. But alas--the price point is unsettling during sale season/ this dismal economy. It appears that I shall have to sadly resume my quiet pining.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bad Plaid

Photo Credit: Jak & Jil Blog
3.1 Philip Lim Plaid Shirt, $215 at Net-a-porter
When did plaid become cool? To me, plaid conjures up images of rolled-up prep-school kilts that never kept me warm in the winter; huge, burly lumberjacks mercilessly sawing through an enormous tree trunk; tacky, cheap, vinyl table cloths at the local pennysaver; and sanguine Scottish men with bagpipes. Somehow, plaid seems wrong.
And yet, everywhere I turn, there it is. At first, I reluctantly accepted them on uber-gorgeous models ("they can get away with it," I would grumble). Then it slowly began creeping up on me, until at last I see that Net-a-porter, my go-to website for all things chic, has even predominately featured it as a must-have item. Apparently, it's rocker-chic, as Little J would say and sport.
Argh. I remember a time back in college of a certain Thumbelina who was not so fashionable. A time when she wore an oversized flannel plaid shirt with jeans. And every time I remember it, I cringe.
While the rest of the world may subscribe to the temporary madness of plaid, I prefer to decidedly abstain. The only problem with this resolution is that in the humble corner of my closet, an orange and brown plaid skirt patiently waits to be worn. And although I haven't the heart to throw out something of my mother's from the 1970s, I'll at least allow it to quietly exist.