Gap Inc.'s Hidden Accessory Gems

On Sunday, I had a couple hours to kill before I headed to salsa class, and what better way to kill time than to shop? I tried to restrain myself and not buy too much, but I did go to the mall with a specific goal in mind: the coloured enamel bangles at Old Navy which were on sale and reduced to $5.70. I ended up picking up a set of three red skinny bangles, a navy bangle, and a turquoise bangle:

I really like this colour combination and think it'd look great with this spring's preppy nautical-inspired clothes. I'm planning to wear my bangles with an all-white ensemble, or with a red and white striped tee and bermuda shorts.

As I was leaving Old Navy, I spotted these shoes but in a metallic gold leather - from Gap Kids, of all places:

Apparently Gap Kids can be a great source of cheap shoes for gals with small feet; I'd already learned to browse the kids' aisles in Payless if I found an adult style I liked in a too-large size, so it was very possible I could find a pair of metallic gold leather cork wedges in my size. Foregoing my initial skepticism about kids' shoes, I discovered to my delight and surprise that the shoes fit and were ridiculously in, "I could walk around all day in these and be fine" comfortable, which is rare for a heeled shoe. The wedge is 2" high but the raised platform around the toe makes the shoe feel a lot lower and therefore more comfortable. I guess this is because it's supposed to be a kid's shoe and kids' shoes aren't supposed to screw up growing feet. Anyway, they were comfy, cute, and only $34.50...what more could I ask for?

Today's Outfit: Vegging Around the House

Today was another one of those great do-nothing weekend days where I got up late, did some blogging, had chicken noodle soup for lunch, and took a long nap in the afternoon. Days like these make me realize that the past few months have seriously lacked honest-to-goodness downtime, and I'm starting to feel it in my daily energy level.

Anyway, I wanted to share a picture of my lounge-around outfit today because I thought it was pretty cute.
  • White sweater hoodie (Old Navy...I bought it three years ago and it's still going strong.)

  • Red lace-trimmed cami (RW & Co...they probably have the best quality camis I've seen anywhere, and if you buy them in multiples they usually work out to be under $20 each.)

  • Pink and green plaid pajama pants (Old Navy again...these were marked down to $10 at the Boxing Day sale.)

I love how the colour combination looks girly and sweet; it reminds me of cupcakes lined up in a bakery window.

Luxe Or Less: Chanel-Inspired Purses

I have a teensy confession to make: Ever since NYC and acquiring my beloved sunglasses, I can't stop thinking about Chanel. I've been obsessing over the beautiful clothes, eyewear, and jewelry on their official website. I looked up Chanel on Wikipedia and read about Coco's life and the history of the company.

In particular, I salivated over the handbags posted on The Purse Blog. Stylistic elements from vintage Chanel bags have survived to this day and become so iconic that other brands and designers have picked up on them and incorporated them into their own designs. These elements include:
  • Metal chain straps

  • Highly polished hardware

  • Quilted texture

  • Defined bag shape

At upwards of $1300 for a new one, an authentic Chanel purse is something that few fashionistas can aspire to or afford. Personally I don't know if I could ever bring myself to spend that much on a purse when it could probably buy a plane ticket to my next faraway getaway! There's no substitute for bona fide Chanel, but if you want a purse that has some of the same timeless stylistic elements, the versions below come pretty close for a more reasonable price.

Note: I'm aware that some of the options I chose are still pretty pricey. Nonetheless, the most expensive options below are still only a fraction of the price of a typical Chanel handbag.

Kooba slate lambskin 'Nina' small shoulder bag, $387 from

Steve Madden quilted shoulder bag, $48 from

Quilt flap wallet, $8.80 from

Juicy Couture 'City Girl - Jessica' bucket bag, $375 from

Juliana Jabour Bosla drawstring bag, $352 from

Rock and Republic 'Cathy' clutch, $499 from


Sample Sale Heaven...for Guys

A while ago, a friend told me about the website which lists sample sales happening in several major North American cities. I checked the Vancouver events calendar on the website two days ago and discovered a wicked sounding sample sale happening a block away from my workplace. The sale is for Bigtime and features brands like J Brand jeans, Matinique, Mon Petit Oiseau, etc.

Well, I checked out the sale yesterday and it was somewhat disappointing for the girls. There were only 2 racks of stuff for girls and it was mostly sheer cotton tees and tanks, sheer tunic dresses, one or two pairs of jeans. One really cute pleated Mon Petit Oiseau skirt caught my eye, but at $90 after the price reduction it was still a bit more than I wanted to pay for a skirt I don't really need.

However, guys who complain about never having any luck at clearance and sample sales, take heart! The entire space is packed with shirts, sweaters, jackets, suits, and accessories for guys. My friend Lucas found a stylish black wool peacoat marked down 60%.

The sale is happening on the 3rd floor of 1028 Hamilton Street in Yaletown from Thursday March 27 to Saturday March 29. Further hours and details are available here.

Product Review: Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Anti-Frizz Styling Cream

According to my hairdresser and based on my own experience, my hair is somewhere between wavy and straight. It's straight and thick and heavy enough to not hold any sort of curl, and it's just wavy enough to frizz. On my most desperate days, I stick my hair in a ponytail or bun and wear a narrow headband to tame the flyaways. Oh, and did I mention I'm really lazy and low-maintenance when it comes to doing my hair?

A couple months ago, I figured I needed a smoothing agent for my hair after I got out of the shower, something to moisturize and add shine while weighing down the hair shaft so that it lies straight and flat when I blow-dry it. I picked up a tube of Garnier Fructis Style Sleek & Shine Anti-Frizz Styling Cream (usually somewhere between $5-10) at my local drugstore after much deliberation. (Side note: Good lord that's a long product name! It takes less time to work it through your hair than to say the full name of the product.)

The styling cream has a nice consistency and that trademark yummy fruity scent typical of Garnier products, but it took me a while to get the hang of using it. These were the instructions it came with:
  1. Apply styling cream to towel-dried hair.

  2. Blow-dry hair in sections using a brush.

  3. Comb hair for a sleek finish.

Um, okay. After some trial and error, I adapted those steps to fit my own lazy nature. My own routine with the styling cream goes something like this:
  1. Towel-dry hair.

  2. Squeeze a dollop of product out of the tube, but not too much because it tends to make your hair sticky, and rub it between your palms.

  3. Lightly run your hands through your hair and concentrate the product on the ends of your hair.

  4. Thoroughly comb your hair with a wide-tooth comb to evenly distribute product. This also ensures your hair is lying straight before any sort of blowdryer goes near it.

  5. Finger-comb your hair as you blow-dry. (Bonus: your arms don't get tired with all that brush-and-dry action.)

  6. Comb hair for a sleek finish.

Ultimately, the styling cream didn't give me the ultra-sleek stick-straight locks I was looking for, but that's probably due to my refusal to spend an hour with a straightening iron more than the product itself. It did make a noticeable difference in the texture of my hair: It's smoother, shinier, and I have fewer flyaways. Not bad at all for the price and the minimal effort required.

Bad Girls Giving Us a Bad Rap?

Yesterday while browsing the Globe and Mail online, I came across this article about a researcher in Indiana who plans to use GPS-enabled cell phones to track teenage girls for a year. The study intends to discover whether there's a correlation between geography (i.e. certain places where teens hang out) and bad behaviour (i.e. teenage sex). Once the correlation is established, if the girls wander too close to an off-limits location, the GPS system alerts the parents and pings the girls with a message of disapproval or an inquiry about what they're doing. The subjects are all girls between the ages of 14 and 16, and all of them were required to sign the appropriate release forms.

This article intrigued and annoyed me. On one hand, it's an interesting application of human geography in an age when parental units have less control and knowledge of their child's every movement. On the other hand, the inherent gender bias in this study kind of irritates me. Is nobody else disturbed that all the subjects in this study are female, as if it's only girls who engage in risky behaviour? I have no clue what the scientific rationale is behind that. Teenage boys can just as easily engage in delinquency, bullying, and other forms of bad behaviour...and hey, FYI, it takes two for teenage sex to happen, so why not track members of the opposite sex as well? Using a sample size that's evenly split between boys and girls could also provide a fuller picture of the locations linked to risky behaviour for both sexes and raise questions about gender differences: Will a location that leads to risky behaviour for girls also lead to risky behaviour for boys?

There is one scary possibility for why the researcher decided to just track teenage girls, and it is that we have been so bombarded by stories of female celebrities behaving badly that people take it as a given that girls do all sorts of wild things. Perhaps society has internalized the sentiment that young girls rarely act like young ladies. The Parises, Lindsays, Britneys, and Nicoles of the world have given the rest of a bad rap because nowadays it's the It girls who dominate the tabloids.

If there's anyone out there with a background in experiment design or psychology, I'd be interested to know why the researcher decided to use all girls in the sample. (I only took one course on scientific methodology in second year before I decided psych was not for me, so the details are a little fuzzy for me.) Leave your explanation in the comments section please!

...And Another Lovely Link

Caryn Lerner from Holt Renfrew discusses the contemporary luxury brand market and its demographic in Canada. Her interview somewhat echoes the observations made by Dana Thomas in Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster.

Beware the Cell Phone Bandits!

I've spent the last week or so watching Sex and the City on DVD and marvelling how even years after the series ended, the show is still relevant and the writing crisp. In one memorable episode, the metaphor of the circus freak show is applied to the men that the women date: they seem normal on the outside and then ka-boom! The men's true personalities reveal themselves in an ugly way.

This episode hit very close to home considering what happened to me Saturday night at Plush. I was supposed to meet my friends L and T to celebrate T getting permanent residency in Canada. L and T were running late, but while I was standing outside a guy stepped out of the line and introduced himself as K. He told me he was T's friend and he used to work at the same company as T and me before moving to Seattle to work for He seemed like a nice friendly person as we stood there killing time by figuring out how many people at my company we both know. L and T eventually showed up and we went inside.

In retrospect, K seemed like he was definitely into me. We danced together a lot and I bought him a drink and he bought me one as well. In my defense, I'll say this much: Whenever I go out with friends, we take turns buying each other drinks, and I dance pretty closely with complete strangers in bachata and salsa so I'm comfortable with being on the dance floor. Oh, and I'm completely clueless when it comes to reading guy's signals unless they're very obvious. I didn't think much of it and didn't consider myself to be "sending signals" or anything, and I definitely didn't think he was either. Boy was I naive.

The night wound down and we stood in line for coat check waiting to exit the club. K asked if he could borrow my cell phone to make a call and I lent it to him, thinking he wanted to make a local call and avoid a roaming charge on his own phone. To my surprise, I glimpsed a non-local area code in the phone number on the call display. I reached for my phone but he wouldn't give it back. Then he pulled out his own phone and showed me my phone number in the missed calls log. I realized he'd just called himself using my phone to get my number.

I'm still angry thinking about it. What a sneaky deceitful loser thing to do! It's lame and tacky for these reasons:
  • He basically stole my number! He didn't ask for it like any nice, respectful upfront guy would. He may have gotten my phone number, but would I ever want to talk to him when I see that area code on my call display?

  • It reflects poorly on his personality; he comes across as underhanded and lacking in integrity, and as a result I respect him a lot less.

  • He was the friend of a friend and a former colleague to boot. Treating someone like this when you know there might be a chance you'll run into each other again just makes for bad karma.

I hope I never see him again, and I hope for his sake that if I do, he has the good sense to run in the opposite direction.

Lovely Links

Bored at work on Easter Monday and looking for a bit of distraction? Here are some links that'll keep you entertained. Enjoy!

Local fashion blog/website The Style Spy provides interesting coverage of the latest spring trends from the urban safari look to the prim and proper prep-school girl ensembles that dominate this season.

If fashion isn't your thing (in which case why are you reading this blog?!), these videos from a Cincinnati newscast team will have you dancing. Literally. Even if fashion is your thing, watch the videos anyway and laugh your head off.

Leah McLaren is one of my favourite Globe and Mail columnists. Her column this week about the fine line between frugality and indulgence is hilarious and reminds me of that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie figures out she can't afford the down payment on her apartment but has bought $40,000 worth of shoes. It also provides shopaholics a bit of food for thought regarding what's worth spending a bit more on.

Happy Easter!

This Easter egg charm from Juicy Couture is sweeter than any chocolate eggs you'll receive this season.

Limited edition Easter egg charm, $58

PS: I'm taking a posting break over Easter weekend to just unwind and maybe work my way through another season of SATC on DVD.

Juicy Couture, All Grown Up

I've associated negative feelings with Juicy Couture since the days when bubblegum pink velour sweatpants with "Juicy" written across the butt reigned supreme on my university campus. Since then, I haven't been too impressed with the Juicy Couture jewelry I saw in Blue Ruby (kind of cheap-looking and juvenile for a twentysomething) or with their handbags (too busy).

However, a quick browse around the Juicy Couture page on the Nordstrom website last night did a lot to dispel my negative associations. Granted, I still saw things like green terry cloth capris and velour tracksuits galore, but there were also plenty of more sophisticated, ladylike pieces. I guess Juicy is growing up along with its original demographic of teenage girls. Or maybe I've been a Juicy girl all along but I kept it a secret even from myself!

Here are some of my favourite pieces. Enjoy!

Stud earrings, $48. I love the nature-inspired stud earrings Juicy has come out with this spring (although I'm kind of indifferent to the peace sign earrings shown in the picture). They're small and versatile enough to go with most day-to-day outfits.

"Summer of love" butterfly bracelet, $98. I can't stop picturing this bracelet with my pink-and-white eyelet dress and black strappy flat sandals.

Perfume atomizer charm, $48. There are way too many cute and whimsical charms in the Juicy jewelry line to post here. Just take a look at the Nordstrom website and see for yourself.

"Icons by the Yard" necklace, $118. I think I'm in love with this necklace just because it's an unapologetic knockoff of Elsa Peretti's "Diamonds by the Yard" necklace for Tiffany's.

Charm bracelet, $42. This is another unapologetic knockoff of a signature Tiffany design: the oversized chain links, the heart charm, the toggle clasp...

Contrast trim canvas jacket, $328. I love the playful green buttons and trim and Peter Pan collar on this jacket! It'd look so good paired with my new Coach bag.

Smocked linen babydoll camisole, $128. Sweet and girly but sophisticated at the same time, this is the perfect top to wear with denim capris and espadrilles or cork wedges for summer.

Empire waist hooded fleece coat, $298. This is the coat that convinced me I was subconsciously a Juicy girl. It's like the overpriced hooded gray fleece version of the white wool coat I bought last season.


My Fabulous Weekend

Last weekend was one of the best and most restful weekends I've had in a long time.

I know that sounds weird considering I just came back to Vancouver from a vacation in one of the most exciting cities in the world, but last weekend was the first weekend in a long time where I didn't feel burned out, exhausted, or harrassed because I had to catch a flight and was being held up.


My fabulous weekend began with a fashion show, Living the Fabulous Life, put on jointly by The Bay downtown and, a local blog/fashion website. Tempted by the promise of free swag for the first 200 RSVP invitees to show up, Nancy and I left work for The Bay an hour early dressed in our best. We meandered around the main floor looking at accessories and then made our way up to the third floor where the fashion show was happening--only to be greeted by the longest line of well-dressed girls impatiently waiting for goody bags and the show to begin. The next hour passed by in a blur of sore feet (we both regretted wearing heels even though they were only 2" heels), standing in a line that barely moved, and idle girl talk. (Kudos to Nancy for the pictures!)

Finally we were let in. Imagine dozens of fashionistas swarming toward cheese and appie platters and the drinks table, then being herded toward the limited number of chairs available. Nancy and I weren't one of the lucky sitting ones after we had our fill of cheese cubes, so out of desperation we kicked off our heels partway through the fashion show and stood in our stocking feet. The show itself was pretty cool and made me look forward to the cute new spring clothes: several sundresses and a black-and-white plaid trench reminiscent of the one Chuck wore on Pushing Daisies caught my eye. I especially liked it when they played Kanye's "Flashing Lights" and styled all the models with sunglasses.

Afterward, Nancy and I milled around and provided a sound byte for As we filled out the release form, the founder and editor-in-chief of the website, Erica Lam, walked by and introduced herself. I can't remember how we got onto the topic, but she mentioned that the website began as a blog and I mentioned that I also wrote a fashion blog. She disappeared for a couple minutes and came back with a business card, saying I should email her the link! So did I make a brilliant networking coup for Solo Lisa y Nada Mas?! Will my readership increase exponentially? Will this chance meeting lead to external opportunities? Only time will tell, I guess.

I went home after grabbing a quick dinner of souvlaki and salad and checked out The Style Spy. It was cool and inspirational to see how a blogger had turned her pet project into a successful website and in the process made a name for herself in the local fashion scene. The Style Spy also tipped me off about a couple of intriguing sales: a sample sale for local clothing company Chulo Pony and a clearance sale at Gravity Pope. I made a mental note to get up a bit earlier than usual (i.e. before 3 in the afternoon) before I hit the sheets.


After a quick shower, I finally made it out the door around 1:30 and reached the Chulo Pony sample sale around 2pm. It was in the exact same location as the first sample sale I went to for Narcissist. None of the tank tops and breezy tunics in the boxes and boxes of $15/20/30 items on the floor seemed to fit right, and the only thing that I scooped up was a black corduroy dress I impulsively decided to try on. At $159 it wasn't exactly a bargain, but the corduroy was the softest and most luxurious-feeling corduroy I'd ever seen and it had this sheen to it, and the dress had ruffles and pleats and little cloisonne buttons down the front. I imagined it buttoned to the top as a prim and proper Blair Waldorf look or unbuttoned and worn over a lace-trimmed cami. It was worth it - or at least that's what I keep telling myself to justify the price tag.

I meandered up to Gravity Pope and popped into some of the little shoe and clothing shops along the way, telling myself that I was trying to save money and I shouldn't succumb to any more temptation except maybe a pair of shoes from Gravity Pope and a purse from Coach. I didn't find anything at Gravity Pope (although that may be because of all the people there).

Onto downtown! One short bus ride (and a run-in with a coworker) later, I was in Future Shop and on a quest for new anti-virus software - only to bump into another coworker, who recommended I save my money and download the free version of AVG anti-virus. (I took his advice and I'm soooo glad I did. I used to have Norton Internet Security, which slowed down my computer so much it felt like a dinosaur PC.) I instead spent my Future Shop gift cards on the entire Sex and the City series on DVD. Yay!

As long as I was at Future Shop, I might as well pop into Winners really quickly and have a look, I decided. What I saw astonished me: Winners was having a major designer label promotion. I wasn't even browsing or digging, but in the half hour I was there I saw Guess and Baby Phat handbags, a Nougat London skirt, Alberta Ferretti dresses, Elie Tahari separates, Salvatore Ferragamo patent loafers, and beautiful silver Italian flat sandals. It took a ton of willpower and the cool logic of a friend on the phone to tear myself away from the silver sandals.

I left Winners and made my way to Coach, where I caved and bought the tote I'd been contemplating in an earlier post. Signature print canvas be damned - it's a great bag!

When I got home, I flew into a flurry of activity. I detagged my purchases and put them away. I cleaned the clutter off my desk. I went through the big stack of mail and old receipts as I watched the first season of SATC.


Cleaning, Chinese takeout, SATC, and salsa. Low-key Sunday and so perfect. Mmm.

Green and orange do go together!

For doubters out there, here's photographic proof. Consider this installment #2 of the St. Patrick's Day edition of Solo Lisa y Nada Mas.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Some green shoes to go with your shamrock-festooned party favours and green beer tonight.

Etienne Aigner "Livia" flat, $69

Luxe Or Less: Black-on-White Prints

It's been ages since I've done a Luxe For Less post, and this one is very appropriate for spring. Three years ago, I bought a black-on-white floral print skirt from Ricki's that I've loved ever since:

Spring trends come and go, but there's something so chic, classic, and timeless about the combination of black and white for spring. It screams "garden party"...not that I've ever been to a garden party, or know anyone about to throw one anytime soon. I imagine the garden party crowd is a lot like Martha Stewart's posse hanging out in their rented beach houses on the Cape, the same sort who do New England clambakes...anyway, I digress. Garden party or not, black-on-white florals are a good work look. For university students out there, it's also a nice look for an afternoon graduation ceremony. (I wore this skirt with a black jersey top and black pumps for mine.)

Evidently I'm not the only who thinks black on white is fantastic for spring. Gucci's ready-to-wear spring line features a droolworthy frock priced at $1995. This look takes you from the garden party to the red carpet to the after-party at the club in the wee hours:

If $1995 is too steep for your pocketbook, fear not! A very cute frock is to be had from Anthropologie for $182.15. (Note: Anthropologie's prices fluctuate daily based on the most current exchange rates, so to get the best deal, check the day's exchange rate before you buy.)

And if you're still not willing to spend close to $200 to get the look, I suggest getting this cute skirt from Forever 21 for $19.80 and pairing it with a black or white tee:

You can use orange or yellow to break up the black and white, both of which are very in this season. You can also do what Audrey Hepburn did in My Fair Lady with her black-on-white outfit: add a touch of red--not in the form of feathers on a giant hat, but in the form of a handbag, belt, or shoe made of red patent leather. If you do go for red, I suggest going for a bright orange-based red rather than a burgundy (which is too much like a neutral).

Cole Haan "Air Elly" Mary Jane flat, $185 from Nordstrom

Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (1964)


Eye Candy: Pull and Bear

The last time I was in Mexico City, I fell hard for a store I'd never heard of before and stumbled upon in El Centro Historico, Pull and Bear. According to Wikipedia, Pull and Bear is a Spanish chain that was founded in 1991 and first opened stores in Portugal, Greece, and Malta. Today it seems as if Pull and Bear has stores all over the world except Canada and the United States (which needless to say, makes me more than a little sad!). Their clothes combine American casualness with a postmodern aesthetic and a dash of European polish, and they're definitely aimed at young style-conscious but casual urbanites who like to party. Their latest ad campaign features young partygoers dancing in head-to-toe Pull and Bear garb to electronica beats, and pithy quotes in Spanish about the nature of celebrity and the rise of the celebutante.

But it's not their latest ad campaign that interests me: what caught my eye were the black and white photographs in their 2007/2008 catalogue, the most striking examples of black and white fashion photography I've seen since I developed a brief but acute Rodney Smith obsession in my teens. I'm posting them here for you to enjoy. You can find the full catalogue at


Sheer for Spring: Does it really work?

I left work a bit early on Tuesday afternoon because I felt a sudden case of the chills and a temperature coming on. Anticipating many hours of dull TV and bedrest as I recovered, I stopped by a drugstore for some Tylenol, canned peaches (I had a craving for something sweet but not candy), and the March issue of Elle magazine. At home, I took my meds with some tea and a bowl of canned peaches and flipped through Elle to see what was hot for spring.

According to Elle's editors, sheer was going to be hot for spring. Now, the last few seasons we've seen more and more nude/white sheer cottons and chiffons for spring, mostly in the form of blouses layered over camis, sheer dresses which are lined or worn over slips, and so on. Elle's recommendations for going sheer went beyond that. Flipping further, I also came across an ad for some fairly sheer-looking evening dresses in Rock and Republic's spring collection.

All of this had me wondering: Is going sheer a good idea, or is it all just sheer nonsense? I'm going to weigh in on the looks proposed by Elle and featured front-and-centre in the Rock and Republic spring collection, and how they might or might not work in real life.

Look #1: Sheer pants under a bold-coloured trench

The idea behind this look is to mimic the dress-and-tights combo that was so popular in the fall, but to take it to the next level by wearing sheer pants as tights under a buttoned-up bold or patterned trench.

My verdict: Based on the pictures in the magazine and the visions in my head, this doesn't seem to be the most wearable runway trend. I'm all for colourful statement trenches, but pairing them with sheer pants seems silly. If you really must do the trenchcoat-as-dress look, why not just leave your legs bare and wear pretty peep-toe sandals? That's so much more unfussy and springlike, plus you won't end up with a pair of see-through pants you regret.

Look #2: Sheer trenches

Take a classic belted trenchcoat and update it for this spring by making it in sheer fabric.

My verdict: This look might actually work! Granted it doesn't serve any of the practical purposes an ordinary trench does (protects you from chilly spring weather, the rain, etc.), but a sheer trench can be a very interesting statement piece for evening looks. Imagine layering a sheer trench over a jersey tank dress or an LBD...magic happens.

Look #3: Sheer tunic tops

The spring Rock and Republic collection featured a yellow kimono chiffon top, which the model wore with nothing underneath it.

My verdict: Well, my first reaction to this look was "Oh holy jeebus! What kind of woman would go out looking like that and not get arrested?!?" As my friend J would say, in a dress like that, I'd have no more secrets. After the initial shock died down, I started thinking about how one might wear a top like that and concluded it might very well be the most versatile piece out of all the sheer pieces I've described so far:

  • Wear it alone - just make sure you have full-coverage seamless nude panties, adhesive pasties, tons of double-sided clothing tape, a body like the model's, and loads of confidence. Also, practice bending down without bending over in case you drop something while out in public.

  • Wear it with a tight bandeau or tube top and skinny jeans.

  • Wear it layered over a short lingerie-like slip dress.

However, I'd be reluctant to buy that top anyway because at $367 US, I'd expect to be able to wear that outfit without having to purchase special underpinnings to pull it off.

My Top 10 Fall-For-'Em Fashion Weaknesses

I don't know about the rest of you, but I find that I tend to gravitate toward certain pieces and trends when I shop only to discover as I mentally run through my wardrobe that I already own something very similar. Lately I've started thinking about what catches my eye most. This list is by no means comprehensive, although it encompasses certain patterns I noticed when I surveyed my wardrobe and my accessories.

1. Buttons. I love oversized buttons on cardigans and coats or as a whimsical detail on a shoe. I also love the look of covered buttons. Even on an inexpensive blouse or sweater, having tiny buttons that are covered in the same knit or fabric as the garment itself lends it that much more luxury. The Peter Pan collar, oversized buttons, and cuff detailing on this wool coat from Forever 21 ($39.80) are reminiscent of the details of my own coats.

2. Pattern, pattern, pattern. About half of the dresses I own are patterned: floral, paisley, bold geometric prints. I usually like wearing these patterns in a flattering A-line silhouette with a defined waist, kind of like this dress from Anthropologie ($151.37). With such a bold pattern, I would keep the accessories simple such as a simple cuff bangle, a string of pearls, or stud earrings.

3. Bold saturated colours. Blues, turquoises, bright pinks, corals, greens, and purples predominate and give the neutrals in my wardrobe a much needed punch of colour. I love pairing colourful coats and jackets or tops with denim, khaki, or black. This electric blue tube top from Forever 21 ($13.80) would look perfect with a black blazer, dark denim Rock and Republic jeans, and pointy-toed pumps or black patent flats.

4. Low to mid-heel shoes. I'm a big fan of comfort and I tend to walk and take public transit around the city. When I go out clubbing, I'm one of those girls who never leaves the dance floor. A comfortable shoe is key: Out of the thirtysomething pairs of shoes I own, only five pairs have a heel that is 2.5" or above. The other ones are either flat or have a low heel somewhere between 1" and 2". Lately I've been falling for more shoes that have a slightly chunkier mid-height heel, like this pair from Anthropologie with a 1.5" cone heel ($151.34).

5. Sweaters. I am a sucker for sweater knits: scarves, chunky and fine-knit cardigans, 3/4 sleeves, much so that my sweater collection has expanded beyond its alloted sweater drawer and into plastic bins on my bookshelves and another drawer. For winter I'll wear a wool blend for the warmth, but in the spring I like 3/4 or short sleeves on a cotton-blend thin sweater. And I definitely love the idea of layering. This 3/4 sleeve scoopneck black and white striped sweater from Banana Republic ($58) is remarkably similar to the one I bought at H&M last year.

6. Dark denim. I think dark denim is so much more polished and versatile than lighter washes, and it also has a slimming effect on your legs. Six pairs of jeans, three skirts, and one jacket later, my love of dark denim hasn't faded a bit. This pair of Rock and Republic jeans ($224) will take you everywhere in style.

7. Clutches and wristlets. Clutches have been around for the last few seasons, but this season bold, bright statement clutches are the bag for spring. I myself tend to go for structured clutches and wristlets that are just big enough to hold my essentials but not the oversized ones that require two hands to grip onto. Mizzj at Being High Maintenance, not Bitchy and I both fell hard for this Kooba clutch ($295) from Kitson.

8. Pretty graphic tees. I love graphic tees with pretty nature motifs and silver foil screened details, like this metallic butterfly tee from Forever 21 ($12.80).

9. A-line skirts. I've lost count of how many I own; it's such a flattering and feminine silhouette! With a fitted tee or cami, a light structured jacket, sandals, and a cute handbag, A-line skirts are pitch-perfect for spring and summer. I found this geometric print skirt from Banana Republic ($69), which captures this spring's op-art trend perfectly.

10. Structure. For better or for worse, I will never be an artfully dishevelled and undone bohemian bourgeois girl a la Kate Moss or Sienna Miller. While I think they're very stylish, it's just not me. I crave structure in my clothes and accessories and classic styling. For this reason, I'm attracted to tailored seams and fitted silhouettes in my jackets and coats; a belt doesn't hurt either, and I love the look of belted trenches and car jackets. For handbags, I avoid slouchy hobos in favour of sleek shapes and smooth lines.

My Love-Hate Relationship with Designer Logos

Most monogrammed designer accessories like handbags, shoes, and sunglasses make me nervous for these reasons:
  1. Sometimes the prices are downright scary. They make me break into a cold sweat as I contemplate how I could put that money toward a plane ticket to wherever I want to vacation next.

  2. I just don't agree with the supply-demand principles behind ostentatious branding. The ones hawking the wares seem to think they can sell anything with a schpiel about "a tradition of excellence and quality craftsmanship" and a big honking logo or all-over monogram print on any item imaginable. The ones buying the merchandise with a really distinctive or flashy logo seem overly anxious to let everyone know that they own something designer.

  3. Based on personal experience, I don't think style is directly correlated to how much money you have or how many designer items you own. I window-shopped Fifth Avenue and received multiple compliments from sales people in posh stores on my gray flower applique toque (less than $8 at H&M!). In Coach in Vancouver, one of the sales ladies complimented my gray Old Navy sweater purse. I said thanks and moved on, thinking she was just flattering me, but five minutes later she walked up to me and asked me where I'd bought it. Incidents like these always delight me because they prove you don't always have to spend a lot to look luxe, polished, and put-together.

Because logos and all-over monograms are so distracting and attention-grabbing, I'd feel awkward, pretentious, and self-conscious wearing them.

Okay, so herein lies my ambivalence: I'm against ostentatious logos on principle, but a small petty part of me still wants to let people know that something I've spent quite a bit on is designer. I'm not completely against monogrammed items if I think the signature trademark or logo is incorporated in a stylish yet subtle way. I don't want my things to scream luxury but to purr it. I want people to notice how stylish or beautiful something looks before they notice the brand name that's attached to it. So, for example, my Chanel sunglasses have small white monogram C's on one side, a white camellia on the other side, and quilting details on the arms, and classic sleek styling. Unless you're a coinesseur of all things Chanel, you don't notice the brand until you look at them up close and from a certain angle, and I prefer it that way.

This ambivalence was what led me to visit Coach after work yesterday. In NYC, I saw a strawberry cell phone charm at Coach that I couldn't get out of my head:

I've never been one for cell phone charms, but it was so small and cute and shiny! I also love how the signature C is turned sideways and upside-down in the strawberry, which is pretty ingenious and looks like it's part of the strawberry itself. You can't even tell it's Coach until you look at it really closely.

Sadly the charm's string was too thick to pass through the tiny holes in my cell phone, but I did scoop up this wristlet while I was there:

The smooth leather and multiple shades of tan and brown make this wristlet more versatile and durable than the inexpensive brown fabric Payless wristlet I bought more than a year ago - which incidentally, is being demoted to makeup/organizational pouch after this purchase. Again, I like how the monogrammed C's are subtle so that people can't spot it as Coach from a mile off.

As I was looking around, one of the sales ladies showed me this tote, which has left me feeling conflicted and confused ever since:

I've been looking for a large purse suitable for use as a work/day bag year-round. The shade of green on this bag is perfect with every winter wool coat and light spring/summer jacket that I own. The pockets and compartments keep everything organized. It's the perfect balance of a bright pop of colour and a neutral print, which means it's eyecatching but won't make folks think I skinned Kermit the frog to make my purse. The coated canvas is low-maintenance and stain-resistant.

But argh!!!! That allover "signature C print." What stopped me from buying this tote, apart from not wanting to spend over $400 in Coach on one day, was imagining myself walking down the street with it on my shoulder or in my hands, and feeling awkward, pretentious, and self-conscious, knowing that every other girl I came across would spot it as Coach, and being painfully aware any time I spotted someone else with a Coach bag.

What do you think? Should I get over myself and just go for it? Or should I keep looking for another purse?

Post-Vacation Blues

I've been away on vacation for the last twelve days. It's a gray rainy Monday morning and my first day back at work. What's worse, it's Daylight Savings Time. No wonder I feel tired, irritable, and am missing faraway places fervently.

At least I'm not the only person bummed out today. According to an article in the Globe and Mail, the first Monday after Daylight Savings Time sucks more than any Monday in the year: "In a number of recent studies, researchers have found that workers drive worse, work less and die more on the Monday after the switch to daylight time." Isn't it comforting to know that my doldrums and drop in productivity aren't completely my fault?

Anyway, it's gray and rainy and perfectly dreary outside, so to fend off my seasonal blues, I've been looking at Coach's spring offerings in pinks and dreaming of la vie en rose.

Hamptons optic signature capacity wristlet, $78

Hamptons optic signature with motif wristlet, $68

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