Blue Frocks from Nordstrom

I think the title of this post is pretty much self-explanatory. What can I say? I'm in love with the bright sapphire hues of this season's party dresses.

Bonus points to anyone who knows how many blue dresses I've coveted this week!

Maggy London sleeveless silk dress, $148

Jones New York beaded silk dress, $188

Maggy London cutaway silk charmeuse dress, $178 (probably my favourite of the bunch!)

Maggy London chiffon halter dress, $128

Donna Ricco sheath dress, $158

Adrianna Papell beaded chemise dress, $138


Online Window Shopping at Guess

Lately I've been coveting a gorgeous blue dress on the Guess website which I actually picked up in-person at a store yesterday. Before I took the plunge and purchased it, though, I spent a couple of days visiting and revisiting the website, looking at the picture and trying to decide. The first time I checked out the dress, the price was around $89. The next day, the price changed to $91. Surprised, I read the disclaimer attached to the listed prices for Guess merchandise and discovered that they re-adjust their Canadian prices on a daily basis to reflect the exchange rate. It's pretty cool of them to give Canadians the best price for their dollar. What's even better is, as a sales clerk at the brick-and-mortar store explained, Guess adjusts their online prices so that they're slightly lower than what you would see in stores to make up for what you would pay in shipping. Kudos to them for being so forward-thinking and considerate of Canadian customers.

Ambri deep V dress, Guess, $90.54 (for today anyway)

My Favourite Hoodies

I'm pretty much addicted to hoodies once the weather cools despite the fact that I rarely use the hood part. (I usually have an umbrella or a toque.) There's something about hoodies that just feels so cozy and comfortable. I spent many a chilly autumn or winter day in campus libraries studying and writing term papers while wearing a hoodie. I wore them layered over tees and tanks before and after salsa classes. They were perfect when I was working at the toystore, and now they're perfect as deadline time approaches at work and it's all I can do to drag myself out of bed in the morning, let alone worry about what I'm going to wear. In fact, I'm wearing a hoodie even as I write this blog post.

Hoodies have crossed the line from casual slob-wear to ubiquitous wardrobe item. Karen Von Hahn recently wrote an article for the Globe and Mail arguing that hoodies are the perfect aesthetic metaphor for the 21st century because they embody layered complexity. Nowadays you're just as likely to find luxe cashmere hoodies as you are screened, plain, or embellished versions. They've come a long way from varsity sweatshirts.

So, in honour of one of my favourite clothing items ever, here are some of my favourite hoodies.

Metallic skyline hoodie, Forever 21, $19.80

2 B Free blue orchid hoodie, Bluefly, $90

Tokidoki cactus girl hoodie, Emoda, $99

Pink butterfly hoodie, Forever 21, $19.80

Patch pocket sweater hoodie, Old Navy, $29.50


Luxe Or Less: Phillip Lim Minidress

As far as sweet-looking cocktail dresses go, it's hard to beat this gray silk number by Phillip Lim. The length, trapeze neckline, light gray colour, and bead embellishments render it mod, trendy, and classic all at the same time. What's more, seen from the back, the trapeze neckline actually ties into an oversized white bow. If this dress is a bit on the steep side at $700 from Net a Porter, you can try a similar version from Forever 21 (below) that retails for $24.80--sans bow, unfortunately.


Non-Black Cocktail Dresses

The LBD is a standard in most women's wardrobes and I love mine to death. But because the LBD is so safe, it's always my last resort no-fail option provided I can't find a fun, fabulous frock of a different colour. There's something so appealing and fresh about a dress in a standout colour or pattern. Also, deep down, most women would rather be in distinctive dresses and stand out in the crowd than blend into a sea of basic black.

Dresses tend to be relatively expensive, so I consider any dress I buy to be an investment piece that will last me a long time. For this reason, I usually like classic silhouettes that flatter my figure and a hemline that hovers around the knee to maximize the dress's versatility. I won't consider any dress that pinches or doesn't fit just right, or any dress that I feel uncomfortable in; if I don't love myself in the dress, why would I want to wear it more than once? I'll also spend a bit more on lined dresses because I don't want to have to hunt for the perfect slip to wear underneath (unless it's a dress I really love and a total bargain, like the cream and black boatneck H&M silky shift dress I found for $40).

With the holiday season coming up, I've been contemplating the dress options in my wardrobe to see if I can wear something a bit more colourful or unique to potential parties. So far I have two, perhaps three, options, but I've been looking at some of the fabulous dresses on Bluefly for further inspiration and I think it might be time to shop around before I settle.

ABS gold sheath, $162. This dress is classic and simple; the high hemline would tempt me into wearing it with knee-high black leather boots for an edgier evening look.

Alexia Admor copper lace dress, $147. Although it looks demure in the front, the back has a very deep V. This dress definitely requires a specialty bra to pull it off, but it would look great with a long string of knotted pearls, a black envelope clutch, and round-toed black pumps.

BCBG red jersey dress, $120. I don't consider jersey to be as evening appropriate as silk, satin, or chiffon, but the elaborate pintucks in this dress make it a bit fancier than run-of-the-mill jersey numbers.

Betsey Johnson sequined dress, $150. Girly but not at all frilly is the best way to sum up this dress. A cute cardigan, bolero sweater, or faux fur capelet can keep those bare shoulders from getting chilled at the office Christmas party.

Design History embroidered jersey dress, $60. What else can I say except this dress is really cute and a total bargain?

Tadashi lace cummerbund halter dress, $170. This shade of fuschia would look great against darker skin tones. Out of all the dresses in this post, I think this one and the Wendy Katlen bubble dress are my favourites.

Wendy Katlen electric blue satin bubble dress, $168. I know, I know...bubble skirts seem kind of ridiculously trendy and like a flash in the pan, but there's something so appealing about this dress. Can it be the crisp clean silhouette and pintucks in just the right places? The satiny electric blue material? The girly black bow sash? Whatever it is, this dress has me hypnotized. Besides, when you think about it, a bubble skirt is just an alterna-A-line skirt.

Y Yigal dress, $128. Again, the bright colour will look great against darker skin tones.


Contemplating High-School Hang-Ups

Josie Gellar in Never Been Kissed

It's been five years since I graduated from high school and I've changed a lot from the person I used to be. In high school, I was a geek girl--an overachieving student who loved creative writing and hated PE. I had a close circle of friends but I wasn't the most popular or social girl. On top of that, I had bad glasses and hair, braces, and I dressed terribly. I'm happy to say that my appearance has improved since those days; I'm a better dresser and I no longer have braces, thank goodness. I'm also more outgoing and comfortable with myself.

Yet a part of me still carries around the geek girl persona and thinks that other people see me as the awkward, odd-looking girl I was in high school. Whenever I meet people who think I'm cool, interesting, fun, or--God forbid--cute, I expect them to eventually discover that I'm in fact a fraud. Pathetic, I know.

I don't think I'm alone in feeling this way, however. Pop culture is rife with examples of people who have high school hang-ups. Never Been Kissed is all about a geek girl who finds redemption by going back to high school and experiencing life as a popular girl. Last week's episode of Grey's Anatomy focused on high school stereotypes and how they haunt and define us well into our adult lives: Witness Dr. Bailey, a tough no-nonsense chief resident, turn into a flustered schoolgirl when she runs into her crush from her high school days. The more trashy daytime talk shows occasionally have episodes where former geeks who turn into successful, attractive people confront old bullies. You can call me neurotic, but maybe I'm symptomatic of a larger trend in mainstream society.

High school hang-ups become most problematic when you let them rule your life too much. This is the lesson I learned recently when I finally met someone whom I'd thought was (and this is very embarassing to admit) too cool for me. Namely, I thought this person would be condescending and cold and not even give me the time of day. I'm glad to say that I was totally wrong and all of this neurotic behaviour was in my head; this person turned out to be warm, genuine, and respectful, and I was totally wrong about the type of reception I would have received. If I'd let myself stop me from meeting this person, I would've missed out.

How many other people out there feel haunted by high school memories of the people they used to be? If you have a story you'd like to share, leave a comment.

Ethically Derived Diamonds

A couple nights ago, I came across the first installment of what looks like a riveting documentary miniseries on the Knowledge Network called Diamond Road. The series goes around the globe and penetrates various social strata to look at all sides of the diamond trade, from De Beers to the advertising agency behind its successful multimillion dollar campaigns, elite consumers, impoverished diamond miners in Sierra Leone, the Diavik Mine on aboriginal land in the Northwest Territories, to an industry insider fighting to promote "fair trade diamonds."

Thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio's film Blood Diamond, a considerable number of people know about diamonds from mines in conflict zones that are used to fund bloody civil wars. That part of the documentary came as no surprise to me. What did astonish me, however, was how the top tier of diamond traders gain so much and the diamond miners so little. One of the subjects in Diamond Road lives in Sierra Leone and sifts through clay beds daily for diamonds for a wage of about $1 a day. He talks about the hard economic choices he has to make, and prays to God daily for a big diamond that will relieve his financial woes and help him take better care of his family. This is a free man who is a diamond miner of his own accord, unlike Djimon Hounsou's character in Blood Diamond, but his life doesn't seem much better. What's more surprising is his father was a diamond miner before him, and neither know the "true" value of a diamond; they know that it's worth more than what they earn, but exactly how much is a mystery.

The documentary is also very critical of the advertising and marketing hype behind De Beers's "A diamond is forever" campaigns and raises some points I hadn't even considered, such as the contention that every film, image, and song (e.g. Marilyn Monroe singing "Diamonds are a girl's best friend") that depicts a woman receiving diamond jewelry and equates diamonds with eternal love is in essence a savvy product placement strategy on the part of De Beers's advertisers. Behind the scenes at a convention, industry insiders congratulate themselves on being so successful at selling a product that nobody actually needs. When faced with competition in the form of manmade diamonds, De Beers molds the rhetoric around diamonds to roughly equal "He doesn't love you as much if he buys you a 'fake' diamond."

That last part was interesting. I later asked a friend if she cared where a diamond came from--whether it was natural or manmade, from an "ethical" source--if a boy gave her diamonds as a present. Her immediate answer: "I don't care as long as it's gorgeous and expensive." She later reversed her answer as I told her about the documentary. It seems as though there is no way of knowing your diamond jewelry uses ethically derived diamonds unless you make sure you buy Canadian or manmade. (I refuse to call them "artificial" or "fake" as De Beers employees call them, because technically they are real diamonds...same chemical composition and everything. It's misleading and part of the marketing hoopla to denounce them as fake.) I'd be interested to see if the industry insider is successful in implementing fair trade diamonds.

Anyway, it's all very interesting food for thought, and if you have a bit of time on your hands on Tuesday evenings, Diamond Road airs at 10 pm on the Knowledge Network.

Quoted: Pablo Neruda (Again)

I'm pretty swamped work-wise for the next two weeks, so I'll leave you with one of my favourite poems until I can come up with blog posts that are a bit more scintillating.

Love Sonnet XVII

I do not love you as if you were a salt rose, a topaz
or an arrow of carnations that spread fire:
I love you like certain dark things are loved,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you like the plant that does not bloom
and carries in itself, hidden, the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love,
the tight aroma that arose from the earth lives darkly in my body.

I love without knowing how, nor when, nor from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you this way because I know no other way to love,

only in this way in which I am not and you are not,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my sleep.

Luxe Or Less: Chilli Pepper Jacket

I don't quite know how I feel about this jacket. At first glance, despite the clean crispness of winter white, it seems way too busy with its extra pockets, buttons, and button-up belt right under the chest. It's pretty casual because of the military styling as well. As far as jackets go, the price of this one is a little steep but not unreasonable. If you want a coat with similar styling, Sirens has a similar black-and-white or brown-and-white flecked version with piping for $59.50. However, with the Canadian dollar being so strong, it might be worth it to just pay the extra for the Chilli Pepper version.

Chilli Pepper jacket from, $125

Living Down Less Attractive Friend Envy

My friend J is by all accounts extremely pretty, and whenever we go out she gets tons of attention from guys. I used to have a running joke with my friend M that it wasn't a night out unless J got hit on. Lately I've had more and more nights out where it's just J and me and one of J's guy friends, who happily runs interference for us and keeps unwanted male attention at bay. Most of the time, I don't mind all the attention J gets, but sometimes a part of me--a petty, unreasoning part of me--doesn't enjoy being relegated to the role of Less Attractive Friend all the time.

Envy is an unpleasant feeling and not one I imagine many friends openly admit to. What's worse is that J is one of the sweetest and most genuine people I know; she's a true friend and a kindred spirit, and it's not her fault that guys are drawn to her like UVic bunnies to human food. When your friend is as loyal as J is to me, are you a bad person for feeling envious of her sometimes? It sure feels like it, which leads to a downward spiral of self-loathing if you're not careful.

All of this hit home with a recent experience, where a guy I was interested in met J for the first time. Although I thought it was inevitable that this guy would try to hit on J somehow, when it happened, the experience still hurt. To J's credit, she behaved impeccably: she refused him and told me about it as soon as it happened, even though she was afraid I would be mad at her.

Afterward, J and I talked about what happened, and I admitted to my Less Attractive Friend Envy and being disheartened sometimes by how often guys zoned in on her and paid no attention to me. She in turn was very surprised as she had no idea this was how I felt, and then--this is the most amazing part--confessed that she felt Less Attractive Friend Envy in relation to one of her friends. So, perhaps Less Attractive Friend Envy is more common than I had thought, and more human than I thought.

So what do you do with Less Attractive Friend Envy to keep it from poisoning your friendship? Well, if you're like J, you learn to accept it, and you learn that beauty is subjective and in the eye of the beholder. She has since met guys who weren't attracted to her friend for some reason or another: a girl may be gorgeous, but that doesn't mean she is always adored. If you're like me, you use your friend as some sort of litmus test for potential relationship material. I still remember when my second boyfriend met J for the first time; this was before we began dating. He was friendly and warm because J was my friend and it was her birthday, but in terms of romantic attention it was all eyes on me that night. As strange as this sounds, that was how I knew he was a keeper. I'm sure other girls have found other ways of dealing with Less Attractive Friend Envy, and as time goes on I'll probably find more for myself as well.

Eye Candy: Diego Luna's Zegna Ads

In case you haven't figured it out from my profile, I love Diego Luna. He's gorgeous, talented, intelligent, charming, and a good dresser to boot. His ventures range from Mexican indie films and stage plays to ads, restaurants (he has a coffee bar and sushi restaurant in Mexico City), a production company with longtime friend Gael Garcia Bernal, and a foray into directing with the debut of his critically acclaimed documentary about a champion Mexican boxer. Although he's probably most famous to North Americans as one of the teens in Y Tu Mama Tambien, or as Patrick Swayze's successor in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, I've found that most people I talk to don't know who he is until they get to know me and are inundated by my obsession. As dorky as this sounds, the fact that few people I know can recognize his name makes him seem all the cooler as a celebrity crush.

His status as a style icon made him a natural choice for Zegna's sportswear campaign a while ago. Whenever I see candid photos of him or shots from a film festival red carpet, I'm struck by how he manages to epitomize tailored elegance and the sort of groomed Latin masculinity I see in clubs that Mexicans frequent--you know, the type of dark-haired, dark-eyed guy who puts a bit of gel in his hair, leaves the top buttons of his dress shirt unbuttoned, wears a bit of cologne, and has a pack of cigarettes and a lighter hidden in an inside coat pocket.

If any of my friends are reading this, I know, I know...for me his appeal boils down to two things: puppy-dog eyes and that cute Mexican accent.


Quoted: G. B. Stearn

"Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society. The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute."

5 Words For You, Jordana...

Hello Kitty Christmas tree ornaments!!!

$6 each at

Yes, Christmas definitely came early this year.

Night Owls Unite!

I've had dysfunctional sleeping patterns for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I was always one of the last ones to fall asleep in my family and would be wide awake as late as 10 or 11 at night. In high school, I took 2-hour naps after school and did homework until 2 or 3 in the morning. Then in university I developed a nasty habit of konking out in a near-comatose sleep for 3-4 hours, waking up around 3 in the morning and staying fully awake for a good hour or so, and then going back to sleep but dozing lightly. I've always been a night owl, and any prolonged efforts to change that have resulted in spaced out mornings or prolonged sickness. During high school, I had to get up for extra credit classes that started at 7:30 in the morning, something I've never had to do since. Is it a coincidence, then, that that was the same year I experienced the worst health of my life, including chronic colds that resulted in a burst blood vessel in my nose and the most horrible nosebleeds for about an hour a day for a month straight?

It was thus with great interest that I read a recent Globe and Mail article that claims night owl behaviour is genetic. Variations in a particular gene that regulates circadian rhythms cause some people to have internal clocks with wake-up times as much as two hours behind those of early birds. (Or in my case, the internal clock seems all over the place.) The article also pointed out a recent workplace trend to accomodate night owls and eliminate some of the office environment prejudice exhibited towards night owls with more flexible hours, etc. Some of this prejudice includes commonly held stereotypes about night owls being lazier or not as productive.

To this I say, "Hurrah! It's about damn time." I've never been able to adjust to the 9 to 5 schedule (which with the crazy Vancouver commutes would require that I get up at 7 for work), and I thank the powers that be every day for my current job and its flexible schedule, which lets me come in as late as 10 am. Nonetheless, I definitely agree with the article in that I still feel as though it's an early bird's world in the workplace and old stereotypes die hard. Regardless of how much work you get done at the end of the day, people are still impressed quite easily by the fact that a person gets up at 5 and is at their desk by 7 in the morning. It lends an image of productivity and keenness that people are reluctant to extend to night owls.

I have met people who even consider being an early bird a bragging right in and of itself. I personally couldn't care less if a person is a morning person or not as long as that person is competent and gets their work done. I'm not an early riser by nature, so I choose to stay in bed a little later, come in a little later (and avoid rush hour traffic--yay!), and just stay later; because I'm not a zombie by 3 in the afternoon I feel I can get more done. If someone else feels that 7 in the morning is their most productive time of the day, kudos to them. However, I do not appreciate proud declarations of what time a person gets to work by, nor do I appreciate the subtle smugness of comments like "You're here early today--for you" when I do make it in at 8 or 9 on those days that I have early meetings I just can't miss.

All in all, I give credit to employers for recognizing that employees are individuals with different schedules, but there's a long way to go before night owl prejudice disappears completely.

Quoted: Pablo Neruda

I've got too much on my mind after what happened this long weekend, beginning with Friday at work, so I'm not in the mood to do a nice fashion blog post. Instead, I humbly offer you this most perfect of quotations from one of love poetry's greats, Pablo Neruda, just as he humbly offered his 100 sonnet cycle to his wife:

"My most beloved wife, I suffered greatly in writing these misnamed 'sonnets,' which pained and cost me dearly; but the joy of offering them to you is vaster than a prairie. When I set myself this task I well knew that along the side of each sonnet, through their elective inclination and elegance, the poets of all times laid out rhymes sounding like silver, crystal or cannonfire. With much modesty, I made these sonnets out of wood; I gave them the sound of this pure and opaque substance, and they must reach your ears thus. As you and I walked through forests and beaches, lost lakes, ashen latitudes, we picked up fragments of wood, of timber exposed to water and the weather. From such soft relics then, with an ax, a blade, a pocketknife, I built these woodworks of love and I raised small houses of 14 boards each, so that your eyes which I adore and sing to, may live in them. With my reasons for love established, I give you this century: sonnets of wood that were only able to arise because you gave them life."

Meet Joe Fresh

Lately I've been inundated with ads for Joe Fresh, a clothing and accessories line available at Superstore and designed by Joseph Mimran. Don't let the discount masstige collection and its availability at a supermarket chain fool you; Mimran has serious designer cred. He cut his teeth as a driving creative force behind Club Monaco, Alfred Sung, and the lifestyle/home furnishings store Caban. Now he's turned his attention to creating an apparel line of affordable basics that have a chic minimalism reminiscent of Club Monaco's clothes.

I wasn't as impressed with their spring/summer line when Joe Fresh was first launched. That collection featured cotton tees and tanks, polo shirts, yoga pants, and plain basics in a variety of colours. This season, however, Mimran has hit the right notes and incorporated some major trends into his designs, including the use of gray, boxy or belted jacket silhouettes, and minimalist turtlenecks and sweater dresses. The textures and details make Joe Fresh seem more luxe than what you'd expect from a discount collection.

The next time you go grocery shopping at Superstore, keep an eye out for these standout pieces.

Active tee, $8

City satchel, $24

Belted swing jacket, $59

Dainty gloves, $8

Fringe pumps, $29

Houndstooth tailored coat, $89

Military cargo coat, $89

Swing top, $59

Tone up tank, $12

Tuck stitch sweater dress, $24

Vogue flats, $19


Luxe Or Less: Buckle Flats

I have a weakness for oversized details on shoes. They lend an air of whimsy to the most basic of shoe silhouettes and add another dimension of interest to what can otherwise be a boring shoe. Fendi apparently has the same sort of weakness, because their recent flats all have some sort of hardware or interesting detail on the toes. Their black patent leather flat with a large buckle at the toe is lovely: it's classic enough to last through many years, versatile enough to wear with almost anything, and just plain polished. The Fendi version retails for $368 on Bluefly (I spend far too much time on that website).

But if that's a bit out of your price range, Payless has its own version (below) for $19.99.

Hmm now that I look at the photos side-by-side, the resemblance is uncanny.

The Perfect Outfit For...Dinner and Drinks

Dressing for dinner and drinks can mean many things wardrobe-wise depending on who you're with, where you're going, what you're eating, and when you leave. For dinner and drinks, there's really no such thing as the perfect outfit because the occasion contains so many variables. For example, if to you "dinner and drinks" is synonymous with "hot wings and beer," what you wore during the day will probably be fine, and you might even be a little overdressed if you're coming straight from a corporate workplace. For the sake of simplicity, let's assume that dinner and drinks is a get-together with friends rather than a more intimate date-like situation, and that it's taking place at a sit-down restaurant or lounge.

I find that, for me, dinner and drinks usually fall on a Friday evening right after work somewhere near my workplace. Sometimes a couple of my coworkers want to unwind and start the weekend fun a bit early, or sometimes I'll meet up with friends. Because I work downtown and the restaurant is usually downtown or very near it, I don't always want to leave work, commute home to get ready, and then return downtown to meet up with others.

If you are leaving for dinner and drinks straight from work, consider adapting your work clothes to an evening out. When I know that I'm going to be meeting friends after work, I pack a fancy top to change into, a clutch, dangly earrings, and perhaps a pair of kitten heels or fancy flats if the shoes I wore to work that day are very casual. This stuff can be packed into one shopping bag that I can stash under my desk or in my filing cabinet until I need it. My favourite top to wear for a night out right now is a grey microfibre blouse with draping and pintucks, and slightly puffed sleeves. The microfibre material means that any wrinkles come right out when I let the top air out a bit. My blouse looks a bit like this Noblita blouse ($51 from Bluefly), minus the wide waistband, ruffles, and buttons.

Dresses are another option that can take you from day to night. A simple V-neck or wrap dress, can strike the perfect note for a restaurant. If the fabric is a matte material like jersey or a fine knit, add some glitter or shine via accessories can make the dress evening-appropriate. Picture this black knit 525 America dress ($50 from Bluefly) with patent leather shoes and purse, a gray pashmina, and a long knotted rope of white pearls.

A final note: Whatever outfit you decide on, keep in mind that there's a difference between dressing for dinner and drinks and dressing for a club. Clubbing attire tends to be racier, more revealing, and more extreme, whereas the dinner and drinks outfit tends to be a bit more low-key and conservative while still maintaining an elegant vibe. If you plan to show skin, only show a bit at a time (arms or cleavage or legs, but not all three at once). Think face-framing necklines rather than plunging ones.

Some other essentials to consider:

  • Mascara, lip gloss, concealer, and a rosy blush. Even if you don't wear makeup regularly (I don't wear makeup to work), a little can go a long way in making you look polished and your skin look flawless. These items are easy to pack and take about five minutes to apply in the office bathroom.

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste. Actually, this is more of an essential before you go out rather than after. If you're going to be in a social setting with other people, making sure your breath is fresh and your teeth are clean is a good idea.
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