Happy Halloween!


Your Resident Soda Pop Girl and Her Flight Attendant Friend

My Favourite Seven Goodies

Two days ago I wrote about Seven's branding dilemma. Right after I posted that entry, I went to their website--and promptly fell in love with their line. If their stuff is half as nice as it looks online, I don't think they have anything to worry about!

Here are some of my favourite pieces.

Maggie dress, $339

Monica dress, $209

Cadet jacket, $257

Double split straps clutch, $195


Wool Coats

As fall settles in and winter approaches, nothing says classic and chic like a wool coat. Wool coats usually have tailored details that slim your figure, and the material is dense and warm yet less bulky than other types of winter coats like parkas.

Consider wool coat shopping as a sort of investment. With some TLC and a bit of savvy shopping around, the coat you buy this season will last years. Look for classic silhouettes; a 3/4 length coat with long, lean seams, a belted look, or a peacoat are all enduring styles that will look fresh for many seasons to come. I have a bright pink double-breasted peacoat that I love donning every winter.

To keep your wool coat in tip-top shape, take it to the drycleaners in the middle and at the end of the winter season. When you're done with it for the season, store your coat with a sturdy hanger and a garment bag in the closet so that it doesn't get dusty and the shoulders don't sag. Periodically give it a good brushing with a lint brush to get rid of dust and lint and let the fabric breathe. If you've been in a place with heavy odours, hang your coat in a well-ventilated area and don't put it in a closet until the odours leave the fabric. For white or extremely light-coloured coats, consider using stain repellants like Scotch-gard.

Here are some of my favourites from the Victoria's Secret website. With the awesome Canadian-US exchange rate right now, I might be tempted into buying one.

Belted car coat, $129

Belted 3/4 length coat, $99

Buckle-front plaid coat, $138

GUESS belted red coat, $138


Seven's Branding Dilemma

I came across an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal via one of my favourite blogs, Faking Good Breeding, about Seven For All Mankind's efforts to diversify its clothing line and expand into shoes, handbags, and casual clothing. The article pointed out that many one-hit wonder apparel companies that hit the stratosphere with one product are trying to diversify. It's not just Seven who's getting in on the game: the makers of Ugg boots are trying to launch other boot designs, the company that makes Crocs is introducing a clothing line, and so on.

The article stressed a lot of branding anxiety. Would expanding the product line be equated to going mainstream, thus diminishing the Seven brand's cool factor and exclusivity? Would that end up hurting the jeans company's bottom line in the long run? Would Seven be able to replicate its success with jeans in its other product lines? After all, companies like Von Dutch Originals experienced lacklustre sales when they branched out into other accessories and away from their famous trucker hats.

These concerns are valid, but I think that when it comes down to it, the product speaks for itself, and these executives should stop focusing so much on branding and start thinking more about design. The entire reason Seven For All Mankind became such a well-known and sought-after brand was because it represented quality denim and a flattering fit. The founders of Seven spent a lot of time and energy perfecting the look of their women's jeans, and the entire company was founded because of that driving purpose. Often what happens with branding expansion is that the initial creative drive gets diluted, and in some cases, it's diluted to the point where the "new line" doesn't represent much effort other than slapping the brand or logo on products of dubious quality and bland design.

If Seven concentrates on making good-quality, well-designed clothing and accessories, I don't think they have anything to worry about with their brand expansion. If, however, this is just a ploy to get fans of their jeans to blindly buy crappy merchandise with the Seven brand on it, the customers will know and their bottom line will suffer.

Do You See the Resemblance?

I did a bit of Googling after the results of yesterday's celebrity lookalike collages for Song Hye-Kyo, the Korean soap actress whom I supposedly bear a 97% resemblance to. After looking at various photos, I've concluded that we don't look as alike as 97%. There is some resemblance in terms of the face shape and the fact that we're both Asian, but I think that's about it.

What do you think?

This is me:

And this is the actress:


I Look Just Like...

...um, nobody and everybody apparently. Oh, and very very Asian.

I logged into Facebook last night to check my messages and found that one of my friends had posted something called My Celebrity Lookalikes from the My Heritage website. The website claims to use state-of-the-art facial recognition technology and compares a close-up photo you upload to a database full of celebrity images. Intrigued, I tried uploading a succession of pictures. Each picture returned a bunch of celebrity images--male and female--along with a percentage rating of the closeness of the match.

This so-called facial recognition technology isn't perfect; I found that depending on the picture and the angle, I got matches that varied wildly. The first time I tried it, I ended up being matched to Alison Tisdale and Jamie Lee Curtis, possibly because of my pronounced jawline in that photo. The second time, I uploaded a picture from my grad photo session and was matched to a slew of dark-haired Asian starlets, including Zhang Ziyi and Shu Qi. Perhaps most disturbing of all is the fact that the website scans your image against celebs of both genders; according to the number of guys that popped up in my results, I have a somewhat androgynous face. Most matches hovered around 65-80%, so I'm stumped as to how my friend can bear a 96% resemblance to Angelina Jolie!

Anyway, if you're looking for something to kill time with, definitely check this website out because it's worth a giggle. Here are a couple of my attempts.


Shopping Ruined? Nah.

As I went through my near-daily routine of lunch at my desk and perusing the Globe and Mail online, I came across this article by Karen Von Hahn lambasting retailers for taking the thrill out of the hunt when it comes to shopping. Von Hahn argues that retailers have taken the fun out of shopping by making it "too easy to look cool." From pre-worn vintage-inspired looks to graphic tees meant to look like one-of-a-kind finds, to stores that hawk head-to-toe looks to customers, nothing is unique anymore. Implied in this is the assumption that shopping--as hobby and as professional pursuit--has been dumbed down to passive consumption for the masses, and consumers can look chic and trendy with minimal effort.

Personally, I think this is a rather elitist view from a woman who confesses that she has made shopping her career and passion and probably wants to keep her cachet in an era when people are relying less on "self-appointed gurus" and finding shopping for clothes more, well, consumer-friendly. I don't buy the idea that the thrill of the hunt is gone from shopping. If anything, the thrill has been amplified and diverted through fast fashion chains (Zara, H&M) and the very websites she dismisses, eBay and craigslist. The quick merchandise turnover at fast fashion chains means that a certain sweater dress that's there one week might not be there the next. Because they don't carry the same styles from season to season--and sometimes not even from month to month--there's always a certain thrill factor when you find something you like that fits you well. It's the same sort of thrill people get when they visit outlet stores or go to Winners or browse through sale racks.

The other thing I don't agree with in her article is the contention that mass-manufactured clothing and retailers' merchandising methods decrease individuality. Von Hahn imagines the average Jane reading an issue of Vogue and deciding that a boatneck sweater is the fashion statement of the season. She feels proud of herself for arriving at this decision and picks up said sweater at Banana Republic, only to be dismayed that her "original" fashion statement makes her look like everyone else who has that sweater. Another thing she argues takes away from individual style is how retailers are slyly marketing entire looks: "At street-smart retailers such as Urban Outfitters and American Eagle, they not only want to style you from head to toe, they do all the work for you, providing the perfect little lace-trimmed cami to wear under one of their preppy cardigans."

Just because a retailer markets a look doesn't mean you have to buy every piece in it. Don't most shoppers buy a piece here and a piece there and put the look together by themselves? Who would copy a mannequin head-to-toe unless they wanted to look like a walking billboard for that store?! I might take cues from a retailer's look book as to what is possible, but in the end how I wear my clothes is up to me. I don't have to pair the preppy cardigan with a cami from the same store; I can always find a cami at another store if I feel like I can find one at a better price, with different styling, or in a better quality material, or (gasp!) I could wear something of my own.

Boot Love At Last

After many weeks of mulling over whether or not to buy boots, I finally took the plunge. I ended up getting a pair with a completely flat heel, taking into consideration the fact that I walk a lot and I use public transit often, and any sort of heel that isn't a wedge would probably end in great discomfort for me. This is what they look like.

Another factor that made me somewhat reluctant about buying a pair of boots was the possible disapproval of my mother. Don't laugh, but I still live at home and my mother is the queen of All Things Practical. I dreaded spending what she would consider an obscene amount of money on something that was Not So Practical, and having to argue with her over keeping my purchase. Then, when I was talking to her and I told her what I was planning to buy, she didn't react at all like I thought she would. She said: "Make sure you get a low-heeled pair. I bought a pair years ago and they had a high heel. My feet slid forward and my toes were crowded and they weren't very comfortable at all. I don't even wear them anymore; they're in the garage." My own mother had succumbed to boot temptation, and didn't object to me buying yet another pair of shoes! Sweet.

Aldo Boots, Part 2

It's been a while since I posted about those boots from Aldo, and I still can't stop thinking about them.

Also, while browsing through the sale section of their website, I came across this super cute metallic clutch. I'm not as enthusiastic about the matching boots, though.

For Hallowe'en, I Will Be...

...none of the personas from the previous blog post! As I kept browsing last night, the Soda Pop Girl outfit caught my eye and I kept coming back to it. So Soda Pop Girl it is.

Soda Pop Girl costume, Trashy Lingerie, $32


Saucy Hallowe'en Costumes

Hallowe'en. For kids, it's a chance to dress up and eat a lot of candy after a fun night of trick-or-treating. For us older kids, it's a chance to dress up and eat a lot of candy after a fun night of hard partying.

I've never been big on Hallowe'en myself, but this year I might actually put some thought and effort into my clubbing costume. Trashy Lingerie, a California-based lingerie company that indeed lives up to its name, has a huge collection of the sorts of racy Hallowe'en costumes that party girls love when Hallowe'en rolls around. The bargain costumes under $50 are especially tempting given the good exchange rate, plus they'll ship in 1-2 weeks' time. Dare I order one from the company? If I do, it might be one of these; I have until October 22nd to place my order.

Cheerleader, $26 (A bit too much midriff.)

Navy dress, $39 (I love this one, but they're out of my size. Boo!)

Sailor outft, $32 (This is the frontrunner so far because the other sailor dress isn't available.)

Samurai, $45 (A bit too much cleavage, but with some strategic safety pinning it might work.)


VIFF Film Review: 'Lost in Beijing'

What could induce a born and bred Vancouverite to remain indoors on a rare sunny day? Why, the Vancouver International Film Festival, of course. This annual event rolls into town for approximately two weeks in late September and early October, and lets audiences in the Lower Mainland experience non-mainstream films they would otherwise never get exposure to. Yesterday a friend and I willingly gave up 2.5 hours of sunshine and saw Lost in Beijing.

This film from China tells the story of a young woman, Liu Pingguo, who works in a foot massage parlour and is married to a window washer. When her coworker is fired, Pingguo drinks and commiserates with the coworker and returns to her workplace intoxicated, where one misunderstanding leads to another and she is sexually assaulted by her boss. At that exact moment, her husband happens to be washing the windows of the parlour, glimpses the two of them, and becomes enraged. His rage later turns to greed and revenge: he has an affair with the massage parlour owner's wife and tries to extort money from the wealthy man. Things take a complicated turn when both men discover that Liu Pingguo is pregnant and must decide what to do with the baby and how to resolve the emotional fallout from their affairs and deceptions.

At the Berlin film festival, Lost in Beijing garnered a lot of controversy for its content: scenes that involve a doctor being bribed, questionable morality being portrayed, and graphic sex scenes. I think this controversy over what essentially ended up as very minor points overshadowed how good the film was.

The Chinese title of Lost in Beijing is simply Pingguo, or "Apple," the name of the protagonist; it is one of those rare cases where the alternate title is more fitting than the real one. Beijing is portrayed as an immense city that is growing rapidly. The skyline has more than a few skyscrapers and construction cranes, cars zip along on the freeways, and the characters always seem to walk past a construction site. Part of this growth comes from immigrants from both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. Pingguo, her husband, and her coworker are rural migrants who have come to the city to seek their fortune. In several scenes, the massage parlour owner and his wife speak fluent Cantonese together, revealing that they may be migrants from the south or from Hong Kong coming to the mainland to seek their fortune.

Urban sprawl, combined with migration, means that these people are indeed lost. They can lack moral direction. This is especially true of the men, and especially dangerous to the situation of women, who are revealed to have fewer alternatives. The wife of the businessman tells Pingguo this and advises her to prepare a way out when Pingguo is at her most vulnerable. The fate of Pingguo's fired coworker, whom the film suggests became a prostitute after she lost her job, serves as a somber warning of what can happen to the truly lost.

In the end, Pingguo seems to find a way out that neither compromises her future with her child or puts her at the mercy of either man. This film is so much more than the controversy, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to see it.

Sweater Coats

I've been obsessed with sweater coats lately and their multitude of pluses and minuses. Sweater coats can be tricky to pick out, however. A bad one can make you feel as though you're wearing something that's one step up from a bathrobe out in public. Unlike wool coats or trenches, they don't have a lot of built-in structure and really cling to your body. That means if you have any lumps and bumps in your outfits (say, a wide belt cinched over your ensemble or pocket flaps on your trousers), the sweater coat will cling to that and make you look as though it's your body, not what's on it, that's lumpy and bumpy. 3/4-length versions are especially tricky for this reason. Plus, sweater knits have a tendency to pill easily and might require more care to look good for a long time to come (sweater shaver anyone?).

On the other hand, the right one can give an ordinary tee-and-jeans combo or a skirt and tights a cozy look for fall. This is especially true if the sweater coat has neat details like oversized buttons and a belted waist. I also prefer a chunky texture and neat patterns in the knit like cables and popcorn-like ruching or crochet-like details. As for length, I think a car coat length that hits just below the hip is ideal: it's long enough to highlight an hourglass figure and keep you warm, but not so long that the bottom looks shapeless and the sweater coat seems as though it's just hanging on your frame.

These are some of my favourite picks from the Internet scoping I've done so far. Enjoy!

Alice & Olivia cardigan, Bluefly, $189

Autumn Cashmere cardigan, Bluefly, $239

Sweater coat, Gap, $68

Long belted cardigan, Topshop, 40 pounds


Aldo Boots

Although I have close to thirty pairs of shoes, I have yet to take the plunge and find a pair of leather boots I really like. Boots are versatile and go nicely with jeans and skirts. They also keep bare legs warm in cold weather and feet dry when it's rainy out--both essential during a Vancouver autumn. Yet the clunky look of most boots and their high prices have turned me off until now.

I saw this pair from Aldo, and the picture might be enough to change my mind and convince me to get a pair. The heel is small enough so that the boot looks streamlined and dainty when paired with a knee-length skirt, but still thick and chunky enough not to wobble when I walk down the street. The heel height isn't too high. I also love the details such as the lace-like leather trim and the two small buckles at the top. At $160, these boots are lower in price than a similar pair I was eyeing from Aldo last year. Is it possible that I've found boot love at last?!

Try Harder, Britney

I just can't seem to shake this cough/cold. It's been over a week now. I went to the doctor to renew my cough syrup prescription, and he gave me something else which was supposed to relieve my runny nose on top of that.

While I was waiting in the reception area, I picked up an old issue of Allure with Britney Spears on the cover and started skimming through the magazine, curious about the article and its promise to "tell us nothing--and everything" about the pop star. The feature, written by Judith Newman, turned out to be a major disappointment because it was basically about nothing. Zip. Zilch.

You see, Miss Britney never showed up for her interview. Newman wrote an entire feature piece on how she tried to pin down the elusive tabloid favourite. The first time they were supposed to sit down together, Newman got a call from her publicist saying Britney was in the recording studio and had to cancel; later she found out that Britney was spotted getting her nails done. The second time, the excuse was an emergency meeting with her divorce lawyer. Afterward, Newman found out that Britney went on a $30,000 shopping spree at an LA boutique instead. The third and final time Newman received word of the interview being cancelled, the call came from the Allure editor instead of the embarassed and much harangued publicist.

After reading this article, my post-MTV-debaucle sympathy for Britney has cooled off. I still think she's had a rough time of it, but at the same time, if she's serious about making a comeback, she can't blow off appointments like this. For starlets who are promoting their latest movie, TV show, or album, magazine covers and feature articles are one of the most surefire ways of garnering publicity. It's a form of free advertising really, which is why interviews and features in fashion magazines seem to always coincide with whatever a celebrity is starring in or promoting. Maybe Sarah Silverman was right in saying she'd already accomplished everything great that she set out to do by the age of 25. If she keeps throwing away opportunities at redemption that the media is so willing to give her, she'll certainly end up that way.

Let's Hear It For Pompoms!

How cute is the use of pompoms in Old Navy's Fair Isle Sweater collection? It's definitely got me cheering.

Flats, $19.50

Cardigan, $29.50

Scarf, $12.50

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