Lovely Links: The SATC Edition

Everyone is going SATC-crazy these days! I myself can't wait until tonight: I've got presale tix to the late show and dinner and drink plans at Lucy Mae Brown with my girls tonight. (Background info: LMB is a hip downtown eatery with a cocktail lounge nicknamed "the opium den" downstairs. The building it's in used to be a brothel; Lucy Mae Brown is supposedly the name of the madam who ran it. It seemed like an appropriate place for a pre-SATC outing.)

So in honour of the SATC hysteria, I've compiled a list of links to all sorts of fun stuff.

If you haven't already seen it, watch the trailer, exclusive clips, and a behind-the-scenes featurette about the costumes on the official movie site.

The girls at the Style Spy are going SATC crazy too. Heidi Hofstad breaks down the characters' best looks here and here, and created a quiz for the hardcore fans. (I scored 8 out of 10.)

This lovely lass has been posting makeup how-to videos on Youtube for how to re-create the characters' makeup looks. You can see her Charlotte video here, and there are links to videos for the other characters on the page.

Tomorrow I'll have pictures and a play-by-play recap of the evening, including a snapshot of me dressed as Charlotte York Goldenblatt, I promise!

Luxe Or Less: Floral Cocktail Rings

Spring and summer have finally arrived and our gardens are blooming, so why shouldn't our baubles? I've spotted an abundance of oversized flower cocktail rings lately on Bag Borrow or Steal from the likes of Kenneth Jay Lane and Chanel (cue the drool), with enamel accents and semi-precious stones galore. These multi-petalled beauties are even more lovely than their real-life counterparts.

Chanel pink flower ring

Kenneth Jay Lane large flower ring

While Bag Borrow or Steal doesn't list purchase prices on their website, I imagine these rings cost a pretty penny. I suggest snagging this flower ring from Urban Outfitters for a mere $18 to get the look and still keep some money in the bank for a rainy day. At that price, you'll have something left over for a new floral-print sun dress to match your ring.


Quoted: Ashley McDermott

In the June issue of Vogue, McDermott captures what is in my mind the most perfect fantasy luxe getaway in 250 words or less, and with an incredibly sharp eye for the details that make her St. Barth's vacation seem so luxe. Needless to say, her St. Barth's experience is waaaay out of my reach! I will never be the girl who eats foie gras and drinks rosé while lounging in a daybed poolside, but hopefully in the near future I will once again be the girl who eats ceviche and drinks ice-cold Coronas while lying in a hammock beachside.

Every year for the past 20 years, my husband, Jeff, and I have returned to this Paris by the sea, driving a Mini Moke to David Matthew's Eden Rock Hotel, a jewel box teetering atop an enormous rock formation in the ocean. Unpacking's a breeze--I take only Eres string bikinis, Oscar de la Renta sandals, my favorite Tom Ford sunglasses, and a sarong or two. While Jeff goes for a morning run, I wake up with a swim at Lorient and croissants at La Petit Colombe. We'll meet for lunch in the gardens at Le Tamarin, where the Balinese daybeds are dreamy for lazy afternoons. Then it's the hotel bar for post-sunset cocktails before a late dinner at Le Ti--our nights typically end with dancing on the tabletops! On our last trip, Nicole Miller organized an impromptu dinner party one night. We also sat next to Jim and Elizatbeth Wiatt at La Plage, which serves the island's best foie gras, and we ate with our toes in the sand, drank rosé all afternoon, and watched windsurfers tear up the waves at St. Jean Beach. I swam the crescent bay back to the hotel, savoring each stroke and plotting my return.

How Do You Wear It: Orange Prada Clutch

Last night I was chatting with my BFF and FFB (that's "fellow fashion blogger") MizzJ; we were both perusing the website Bag Borrow Or Steal when MizzJ found this droolworthy oversized orange patent Prada clutch:

Right away, we both started discussing what sorts of outfits we would wear the clutch with, and it was interesting to see how our differing tastes produced completely different looks. Later as I was brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed, I had a brilliant idea for a new blog feature: How Do You Wear It. Basically, MizzJ and I would pick out an item we both loved, and come up with distinct looks for it. When we've both posted our looks, we update our original "How Do You Wear It?" posts with a link to the other person's look. MizzJ, if you're reading this post, how about it? Let's adopt a collaborative blog feature!

So, back to the Prada clutch! I don't know why, but the sheer sunniness and Vitamin C cheerfulness of the clutch instantly made me think of the fabulous socialite girl on vacation. I pictured an heiress (a classy one, not the Paris Hilton-type...ick!) vacationing in Greece and island-hopping on her yacht during the day, then enjoying a sunset view and club-hopping at night, most likely in chic lounges that play electronica.

With that image in mind, here's what I'd pair the clutch with:

'Afterglow' shades from Anthropologie, $24.73

'Gwen' shirt from Teenflo

Classic bermuda denim short from Banana Republic, $89

Louis Vuitton monogram S-Lock bracelet

Chan Luu diamond circle earrings

Burberry T-strap sandal from, $595

Update: In case you haven't seen it, MizzJ has posted her take on how she'd wear the orange Prada clutch here.

Lisa's Most Coveted List

Month #1 of my shopping sabbatical is coming to a close, so what better and more ironic way to celebrate than with a list of the top 5 temptations that might lead me astray?

1. Coach Tattersall trench coat, $798. The tattersall print is as much a recognizable trademark for Coach as the check print is for Burberry. I myself love the muted pink, orange, green, and blue in the tattersall against the crisp white background. The print as a whole is perkier than Burberry's.

2. Juicy Couture Chinese takeout charm, $48. So unbelievably cute! There's a gold fortune cookie inside the container! And look at that classically kitschy lettering on the container!! This would make such a cute addition to a basic handbag or a standout zipper pull on a beloved hoodie.

3. Urban Outfitters men's skinny walking short, $48. Last year, I eyed the long bermuda shorts all over stores with a skeptical eye. This year, I can't imagine not having my black twill Old Navy bermuda shorts in my summer wardrobe. I like this pair from Urban Outfitters because the fabrication, gray colouring, and menswear details give them a dressier touch. They'd look top-notch with wedges or espadrilles.

4. Anthropologie 'Underpinning' shades, $28.67. Anthropologie is notorious for pricey goods in my books, but their sunglasses this season are surprisingly affordable. Perfect for lolling on the beach or bodysurfing in the waves when you don't want to risk your designer shades.

5. Country flower tunic, $17.80. Cute tanks and tees are the perfect cheap thrill.


Eye Candy: Shanghai Chic in 'Lust, Caution'

On a whim during my "lie low, be a homebody, save some money" weekend, I rented Ang Lee's Lust, Caution from my local Rogers Video. If you haven't already seen it, I highly recommend the film. Part espionage thriller, part historical time capsule, Lust, Caution tells the tale of a young female university student, Wong Chai Chi, who flees to Hong Kong to escape the Japanese occupation of China in the late 1930s. While in Hong Kong, she falls in with the radical students of the drama club who plot the assassination of a Chinese man, Yee, collaborating with the Japanese. Their plan: Get Chai Chi to seduce Yee, lure him somewhere secluded, and kill him. Alas, the plan falls through and Chai Chi returns to Japanese-occupied Shanghai. Years later, she meets the leader of the drama club in Shanghai, and he recruits her to be part of the grimmer, more professional Shanghai resistance movement. Chai Chi poses as the well-to-do wife of a Hong Kong businessman (Mak Tai Tai) and succeeds in seducing Yee, but at what cost to herself?

There are so many fantastic things I could say about this movie. I love the "play within a play" device that the film uses to contrast the propagandist drivel of the drama club's production with what happens to Chai Chi; very Shakespearean. The drama club production places the struggle against the Japanese in the countryside and implies it's led by rural farmers, and relegates women to a supporting role. In reality, we see that Chai Chi puts herself in great danger and sacrifices herself in every way, while the men in the resistance effort can't seem to get their act together. The film as a whole is memorable for its nuanced performances, stark sensuality, masterful art direction, and compelling story.

The more serious stuff aside, how about those fabulous period costumes? Shanghai chic for the upper classes seems to consist of extravagant fine jewelry (a 6-carat diamond ring has a cameo), silky qipao dresses, and Western-style trenches, hats, mid-heel shoes, and oversize leather clutches. I love the sophistication of Mak Tai Tai's look. If I ever leave tech writing and join CSIS, I'd love to look half as good as she does while on the job!


Teenflo Temptations

As Vancouverites flock to the new H&M flagship and Apple store in Pacific Centre this weekend, girls in the know should also make a detour and check out the new Teenflo flagship that sits between Holt Renfrew and H&M.

According to the Vancouver flagship's sales manager, Marta Lewicka, and to the Teenflo website, the company began in Paris in 1975 as a venture specializing in perfect-fitting pants. Years later, Charles LePierre and Judy Richardson introduced Teenflo to Canada. Today Teenflo clothes are carried in Holt Renfrew stores across the country, but to date the Teenflo store in Pacific Centre is the first Teenflo store to open in Western Canada. The line boasts classic tailoring, Canadian manufacturing and Canadian or European textiles, as well as immaculate quality, ensuring that anything you buy can be worn for years to come.

A quick perusal around and I was definitely impressed. While the figure-flattering silhouettes and fabulous textiles ensured that these were perfect pieces for a career gal, there was also a lot in the collection that seemed on-trend with what's been happening this summer. The black-on-white scribble skirt and dress with a touch of yellow echoed the same colour palette adopted by Gucci's ready-to-wear spring line for 2008. Quality comes with a price tag, and I'm sad to say that many of the pieces seemed out of my normal price range for clothes. However, I could definitely see myself splurging on one great-fitting pair of trousers, blazer, or dress as an investment piece. Maybe I'll treat myself to the bright yellow Frances swing jacket when my birthday rolls around in September...if there are any left. :P


Today's Outfit: May 24, 2008

Today's outfit was based on a top I bought last year and then forgot about until today, when I was stumped as to what to wear. I'd originally ordered it from Victoria's Secret when my friend Jordana ordered something so that we could split the cost of shipping. I love the crochet racerback detail and the built-in bra; it's rare to find a built-in bra tank that's not just a cami or a halter top, and the crochet gives it that extra special touch.

  • Black crochet racerback tank with built-in bra (Victoria's Secret)

  • Khaki capris (American Eagle)

  • Green canvas low-cork wedges with gold buckle detail (Payless)

  • Sunglasses (Chanel)

  • Gold chain (from childhood) and amber pendant (Chinatown)

  • Wristlet (Coach)

  • Gold earrings (Claire's)

Netiquette 101 for Fashion Bloggers

Sometimes blogging feels like work done in a bubble for yourself and by yourself. It can be easy to forget that when you blog, you are to some extent reaching out to other people and they are reaching out to you in turn. You may feel as though you're a lone wolf sitting at your laptop typing, when in reality by blogging and reading others' blogs, you've become part of an online community. Online communities are no different from flesh-and-blood communities: etiquette and common decency still apply.

The epiphany that not all bloggers necessarily have the same level of netiquette came to me with a very recent experience. I'd contacted one blogger asking to swap links, and when I didn't hear anything for two weeks, sent a follow-up email joking that my first email must have gotten lost and asking her to respond. She did respond days later, apologizing and saying she didn't check her blogger email account that often, and saying I'd be added to her blogroll.

I'd say that exchange took about two weeks, and it took about another four weeks before I was added to her blog.

Last night I checked out the blog. There was a new entry detailing the dresses she'd bought recently, and my blog listed in her blogroll - under the wrong name. I left a comment on her new post complimenting her dress and her bravado in attending the H&M grand opening at Pacific Centre, and said that my blog name was wrong and asked her to correct it. Well, I checked back this morning and not only is my blog name still wrong, she'd deleted my comment!

WTF? You have time to delete a blog comment but not to correct a simple mistake?! Both of these things take a matter of seconds to do unless you're severely computer-challenged. This is a classic example of BAD BLOGGER BEHAVIOUR. I understand bloggers are people too and people have lives, but this isn't about having a life outside of blogging; it's about showing contempt and disrespect toward a reader and fellow blogger.

Lest you think I'm making a big deal out of nothing, here are the basic rules of blogger decency I adhere to, and that I admire others for when they adhere to them:
  1. Do respond to emails and messages in as timely a manner as your schedule will allow.

  2. Do check the contact email associated with your blog regularly! It's the only way through which other bloggers and readers can contact you, and not doing so shows disrespect toward those who cared enough about your blog to send you something.

  3. Do be diplomatic in your correspondence. Remember that online correspondence is trickier than just talking to someone because there are no facial/physical/verbal cues, so the tone of your replies is very important.

  4. Do take responsibility for any mistakes you may make, and take the time to fix them. I follow this credo in my life as a technical writer and in my blog. If I find typos or errors that I missed when doing a read-through of my posts, I will go back and fix them even after they've been published.

  5. Do acknowledge when you can't wear your blogging hat with as much gusto as you normally do. Life happens, and I really appreciate bloggers who tell their readers they might be too busy with exams or other things to post and respond regularly, or when they tell readers they'll be away on hiatus.
Happy blogging!

'Make Me a Supermodel' Making Waves

This week marked a pretty exciting week of trashy and terrific TV for me. Aside from the season finales for Ugly Betty, Gossip Girl, and Grey's Anatomy, as well as the return of So You Think You Can Dance, I watched the first episode of Bravo's new reality show, Make Me A Supermodel, which is hosted by Tyson Beckford and Nikki Taylor.

Talent search reality shows that promise to give hidden talent that one lucky break always intrigue me. For one thing, the winners of such shows rarely achieve as much notoriety in their subsequent careers as when they were on the reality show. Sometimes the ones who don't win outshine the ones who do because they had memorable or nasty personalities. In the particular case of model search reality shows, I find it cruelly ironic that these shows all set out to find the next Kate, Tyra, Naomi, or Giselle, the next supermodel to make waves in the industry and become fashion icons when in reality, we're living in the Age of the Celebrity. L'Oreal and Cover Girl's big endorsement deals go to pretty, personable actresses, not professional models. The high-profile ads feature Drew Barrymore, Queen Latifah, Beyonce, Penelope Cruz...the list goes on. Meanwhile, the winners of ANTM get lower profile print ads that run once or twice before they're pulled. The ANTM girls do find work, which is nice, but they disappear into the woodwork after the season ends. I don't think any reality show winners have gone on to achieve bigger things post-show and become bona fide stars in their own right except for Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson from American Idol.

For these reasons, I think the title and premise of Make Me A Supermodel are pretty inflated. Come on, if 10 seasons of ANTM have failed to produce a superstar, how will this show?! What did impress me about the show, however, was the refreshingly straightforward and professional approach of all the parties involved. The first episode showed the casting call and winnowing process. Unlike other shows, they aired mostly segments with the serious contenders and not the bad eggs who show up at the open calls and embarrass themselves terribly (ahem, SYTYCD and Idol), which revealed a classy and respectful approach toward the subjects. Tyson and Nikki, along with a team of booking agents from New York Models, put the candidates through their paces with various screening challenges and made a round of cuts after each challenge to narrow it down to 7 guys and 7 girls. At one point, they made the candidates put on swimsuits and went down the line, scrutinizing each person and making comments about any additional work they had to do (the word "toning" was thrown around a lot).

All in all, I came away from the first episode feeling like it was a breath of fresh air and a nice alternative to the increasingly campy antics of ANTM. However, only time will tell if the winner really does make it big.

Product Review: Garnier Pure Daily Cleansing Gel

As much as I hated to admit it, my old Aveeno Positively Radiant cleanser had turned on me and was ruining my complexion. While it used to deliver glowing radiant skin after a wash, lately I've found that it doesn't rinse off as cleanly as I'd like, leaving a residue film on my face. What's worse, the shimmery light-reflecting particles in the cleanser that give your face a more flawless look were actually clogging my pores and, I suspect, causing me to break out more than necessary. Not fun.

Once again I found myself stalking the aisles of London Drugs, and this time I came away with a cleanser I'd tried once or twice in the past and been pleased with but never bought for myself because I'd been so devoted to Aveeno: the Garnier Pure Daily Cleansing Gel. This cleanser boasts zinc, cucumber extract, and an antibacterial agent to purify pores and banish oily skin. The big selling point for me, however, was that this was a completely clear gel that would lather up into a cleansing foam and rinse away cleanly. All in all, it sounded like the perfect solution for my breakout-prone skin.

I've been using the Garnier Pure Daily Cleansing Gel for about two weeks now. The gel foams up so well that I usually just use a small dab, lather it up in my hands, and massage the foam into my face gently, focusing on the areas around my hairline that are breakout-prone and on my T-zone. The foam has a great smell and this nice tingly invigorating definitely helps wake me up in the morning. The only caveat that stops me from giving the Garnier Pure Daily Cleansing Gel an all-out rave review is that I've noticed about 10-15 minutes after washing, my skin feels a bit tight and dry. Some oil-free moisturizer usually solves that problem, but nevertheless I might want to look into a more gentle cleanser in the winter when my skin tends to get dry more easily.

A Letter to Bedo

Today I received a message from a reader, Michelle, in response to my "Bad Karma for Bedo" post, describing her own icky Bedo experience at the exact same downtown location that my friend Lucas and I went to. She told me she'd bought two items and been told by a sales assistant that they were refundable. When she changed her mind and brought them back, she found out that the store did exchanges only. She found something else she wanted which was lower than what she'd paid for the other two things initially and asked for a gift card for the price difference. Much to her mounting frustration, the staff told her they couldn't do that and she'd have to pick out a bracelet or accessory to make up the difference. To make matters even worse, when she pressed for a gift card, she was asked to leave the store! Michelle asked me for advice for her situation. She left feeling lied to, angry, cheated, and confused.

Michelle, the sad truth is, in the heat of the moment, we might have to suck it up and just take it as a lesson learned and adhere to Bedo's less-than-stellar policies. It won't get you your money back, which bites. However, if you feel really strongly about this issue, you can complain with the Better Business Bureau and see whether they can take any action. Another option is media outlets: Consider emailing your story as a tip to consumer news segments like Olson On Your Side for CTV news or to Elaine Yong, the consumer reporter for Global News. Also, nationwide consumer shows like The Shopping Bags and Smart Cookies on W are actually produced in Vancouver, so chances are you could email them your story and see where that goes. Local community papers like The Vancouver Courier would also be a good bet, and probably more likely to act on your news tip.

Or you could do what I did. Dismayed and fed up with the consistently dismal service at this particular location, I Googled Bedo and got the email addresses of the HR honcho, customer service contact, and regional manager for Western Canada, and looped them all in on the following email. If you want things to change, perhaps it might help to talk to someone a little higher up. I'll keep you posted on how this goes!

Hi there,

I don't know which one of you ladies to bring this complaint up with, so I've included all of you in this email. My name is Lisa and I'm a technical writer by day and a fashion blogger the rest of the time. I write a fashion blog called Solo Lisa y Nada Mas.

In February, I went shopping at the Bedo location on Granville St. in downtown Vancouver with a friend and we had a horrible customer service experience. One of my readers, Michelle, also came forward and shared her horrid shopping experience at the exact same location, the details of which surpass my friend Lucas's experience in unpleasantness. In fact, Michelle said she was asked by one sales assistant to leave the store when she was only trying to get a refund, or failing that, an exchange and a credit note or gift card for the difference.

I myself have bought things there in the past, and while I didn't have any out-and-out unpleasant experience, I felt that overall the customer service left a lot to be desired. The sales assistants were aloof and acted as though they were too good to be working at this place and helping me. After what happened to Lucas and what I've experienced, I haven't bought a single thing from Bedo and I've been advising people to stay away from Bedo because it's such a headache shopping there.

All things considered, I'm compelled to ask: Is it store policy to maintain an elitist attitude toward customers such as the attitude we've experienced? Does it promote a sense of exclusivity and sophistication for the Bedo brand? Do you look for that sort of arrogance when hiring people? I'm not being sarcastic...I would seriously like to know, because pragmatically speaking, such consistently bad behaviour on the part of sales assistants could only hurt your bottom line. I've shopped on Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue in NYC and received friendlier service from Chanel than what I've encountered in Bedo - very surprising, considering one is an elite luxury brand and the other is a homegrown Canadian clothing chain. If the stores that can afford to be aloof and arrogant don't behave that way, I'm confounded as to why the Granville location thinks it can get away with treating customers like rubbish?

I look forward to a reply from any of you detailing if any action will be taken. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Update: As of June 29 (almost a month and a half later), there has been no response. I'm not impressed by their apathy. The boycott and disuasion tactics continue.

Today's Outfit: May 18, 2008

I took my family out for dim sum today as a belated Mother's Day present for my mom; if you're not Asian and you don't know what that is, think of dim sum as the Chinese equivalent of Sunday brunch. However, instead of mimosas and eggs Benedict, you drink tea and chow down on small plates and bamboo containers of food. People push carts of these plates and containers past you and call out what they have, and when you like something, you stop them and they grab it off the cart for you. My dim sum favourites usually include ha gao (shrimp dumplings wrapped in clear rice pastry and steamed), shiu mai (pork dumplings wrapped in yellow pastry), and "phoenix claws" (chicken feet steamed in savoury sauces and flavourings). Yum!

An occasion like this called for something a bit more demure and proper, and with the hot weather we've been enjoying in Vancouver lately, it seemed like the perfect occasion for a skirt and low heels.
  • White lace-trimmed cami (RW & Co)

  • Black-on-white floral print skirt (Ricki's)

  • Red leather slides with white topstitching (A. Giannetti)

  • Pearl stud earrings (Claire's)

Today's Outfit: The "Long Weekend, Hot Weather" Bonus Edition

Thursday May 15, 2008

  • Black wrap 3/4 sleeve cardigan (Jacob)

  • Red lace-trimmed cami (RW & Co)

  • Brown and beige floral skirt with sequins (from Mexico)

  • Gold stud earrings (Claire's)

  • Amber pendant (Chinatown) on gold chain (from childhood)

  • Gold leather and cork platform sandals (Gap Kids)

  • Black hairclips (H&M)

Friday May 16, 2008

  • Brown embellished racerback tank (H&M)

  • Turquoise flowy cotton skirt (Bedo)

  • Tan skinny belt (Sirens)

  • Gold leather and cork platform sandals (Gap Kids)

  • Gold and pearl earrings (Claire's)

  • Black hairclips (H&M)

Saturday May 17, 2008

  • Hot pink tee (American Eagle)

  • Denim skirt (Chinatown)

  • Black leather sandals (Stitches)

  • Navy blue and silver bangle (Old Navy)

  • Diamond stud earrings

  • Hot pink hairclips (H&M)

Lovely Links

Karen Von Hahn of The Globe and Mail proves there can be such a thing as being too good of a mother, and how it can backfire for the offspring.

Due to my shopping sabbatical, I have to live vicariously through the shoe-shopping experiences of Leah McLaren.

Ivor Tossell's story of the Facebook friend who's not a friend hits a little too close to home for me.

Who wants to party in Tel Aviv?

Some extra interview advice from HR guru Cynthia Shapiro for all the fresh grads out there!

Finally, I'm sure many of us are thinking of the victims of the China earthquake and saddened by the survivors' losses. This article is far from lovely because of the reality it conveys, but it was very poignant for me because it examined the earthquake from another perspective: what it's like to lose your only child if you'd adhered to China's one-child policy.

Lisa's Most Coveted List

Five graphic tees that equal Total Cuteness Overload.

1. Public Library yellow Hello Kitty Malibu sunset scoopneck, $48. This is what happens when the full-on fob meets the "LA girl from The Hills" aesthetic.

2. Public Library Hello Kitty 'Always have Paris' tee, $28. Hello Kitty's friends are in the Eiffel Tower! It doesn't get any cuter than this.

3. Sex and the City 'I'm a Carrie' tee, $48. Just in time for the movie and available with the names of all four characters. I like the black because it hides Cosmo spill stains.

4. Save the Earth tee, $16.90. This is probably by far the cutest eco-friendly message graphic tee I've seen to date.

5. Masha D'yans Love Series tee, $38. I wish this much love would rain into my life!


Chanel Arm Candy Motivation

I'm two weeks into my shopping sabbatical and it's going pretty well. So far I haven't succumbed to any clothing/accessories temptations, and the only things I've bought were things from the drugstore (shampoo and face cleanser don't count) and the Chanel paper doll book I pre-ordered in April, which was actually before my shopping sabbatical began in May. (More on that paper doll book in a future blog post!)

In the meantime, I keep returning to the Chanel website again and again, drooling and deliberating over the handbags that are there. As much as I love the idea of a cute compact shoulder bag for evening wear, I know that in reality I probably wouldn't use that bag much for the following reasons:
  1. I rarely have special enough occasions that require a compact evening bag.
    Even if I were to go out at night, I much prefer the more compact clutch/wristlet that's just big enough for all the essentials and not big enough to be annoying.

  2. Given that I'd most likely go to a bar or a club, I'd be terrified of getting something spilled on a purse as expensive as Chanel. I've learned my Cambie lesson well.

  3. If I did need a cute compact shoulder bag for day or night, I'd default to my Nine West black shoulder bag, which I wouldn't feel as heartbroken about if it got ruined.

I don't want a tote because my Coach tote, Nine West tote, and Old Navy sweater purse are more than enough. However, I do want something big enough for use on weekdays or weekends, but small enough for a casual evening out (say, for dinner and movies, or after-work get-togethers that don't turn into all-out gongshows). It has to be sturdy and spacious enough to lug around my mini-umbrella, sunglasses, cell, iPod, wallet, real glasses (in case I have a problem with my contacts), a bunch of small miscellaneous items, and a pair of gloves in winter.
With these specs in mind, I present to you the top contenders so far for my post-sabbatical splurge.

Large quilted flap bag

Bowling bag


Burberry Shoes

With a company history going back to the mid-nineteenth century, Burberry embodies a very British notion of tradition and luxury as evidenced by the fairly conservative silhouettes of their pieces and the signature Burberry check print. However, the times they are a-changing, and a quick perusal of the Burberry shoe selection on the Nordstrom website yielded some surprisingly contemporary designs more in tune with Vans or Gucci than polo-playing, horse-racing, tea-drinking Brits. Here are some of my faves.

Mesh ankle strap sandal ($695). The bold, almost geometric construction is quite similar to Gucci's spring offerings, and the blatant sex appeal of this shoe is a definite departure from the conservative image Burberry is usually known for. Imagine how hot these shoes would look with an electric yellow or blue cocktail dress and a black patent clutch.

Stud plate pump ($595). I love how this shoe retains the classic and very versatile shape of the pointy-toed pump yet looks more modern with the studs. Wear these shoes with anything else you'd wear pointy-toed pumps with!

Check pointed toe flat ($450). Okay, seriously, I am so in love with this shoe it's not even funny. I admit I favour pointy-toed flats over round-toed ones; they seem dressier than dainty round-toed ballerina versions. I'm melting on the inside as I imagine how this shoe would look with opaque black tights and skirts in the fall or with wide-legged jeans. The fact that every neutral colour imaginable has been incorporated into the shoe (brown, tan, black, white, gray) means it'll go with anything and any handbag.

T-strap sandal ($595). I love how this shoe combines the very hot gladiator sandal trend of this season with a more modern vibe, making it versatile enough to transition beyond this season and be worn for years to come.

Icon check slip-on ($295). I have mixed feelings about these shoes. On one hand, I have a weakness for canvas slip-ons like my Kitsons because they're a casual, comfy wardrobe staple that looks great with jeans. On the other hand, knowing how much even the most pricey pair of Kitsons will set me back (just a little over $100), I can't help but think that I'm basically paying a premium for the Burberry print on what is otherwise a ho-hum Vans knockoff. I guess the plus side of this is that, again, that darn Burberry print has so many neutral shades in it you can wear these sneakers with anything.

Icon check lace-up sneaker, $295. Shameless Converse knockoff? Yes, but I'd be more inclined to buy these than the slip-ons if only because I already have slip-ons and I don't have any lace-up sneakers.


Kitson California Sunset Slip-Ons

If I weren't on my shopping sabbatical, I would be so tempted by these sweet Kitson 'California Sunset' slip-ons, part of the Your Kicks series. The design on the canvas shoes is handpainted according to the specs on the website, so no two pairs are exactly the same. I love how the vivid orange and yellow would look paired with dark denim, and the signature Kitson blend of whimsy and kitsch as embodied by the mismatched shoes and the Volkswagen camper van on the right shoe. Where else would you find shoes with a Volkswagen camper on them?


Lovely Links

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a talented photographer as a friend and hence a great array of Facebook profile pics. The Globe and Mail's Wency Leung discusses the rising popularity of photo retouching before those photos get posted on Facebook and other social networking sites.

Amy Verner talks about this summer's key swimsuit trends.

"It's Hard Work Looking Good"

Watching and critiquing how the contestants on ANTM do in their photoshoots is probably one of the most underrated armchair sports of all time. Everybody's a critic as we gals listen to the judges comment on the frontrunners and the disappointments. Jordana and I have had many an MSN conversation where we can't wait to chime in with our two cents.

Well, last weekend I discovered that modelling can be hard, especially for a shy quiet girl who's always believed she was average-looking at best. My friend Jalil had mentioned to me a long time ago that I had a good face for portraits, but it was so long ago and nothing was said since, so I shrugged it off. Imagine my surprise when he mentioned that, weather permitting, he wanted to shoot me in Stanley Park! He told me it was going to be a casual shoot so I didn't have to dress up, and that I had to do a bit of light makeup to even out my skin and cover blemishes. I could bring accesories like a hat or necklace if I wanted to.

I met him late Saturday afternoon not knowing what to expect, and we walked to Stanley Park together. When we got to the park, Jalil did some test shots and fretted over the sunlight: sunlight is too harsh and washes out the colour in the surroundings and the subject's complexion. As we started shooting, I found that I just felt awkward. It's surprisingly hard to fake fierceness in front of the camera and strike a pose when you feel clumsy and like you have no idea what you're doing. Give me a good salsa beat and a lead and I can move on the dance floor, but in front of the camera? Well, I felt less than imaginative.

After he'd gotten enough portrait shots (his main goal for this photoshoot), Jalil said I could go crazy and do whatever I want - "Hug the trees!" I climbed onto a low-hanging but sturdy tree limb growing at a 45 degree angle from the ground and lay on it. In the photos I look so relaxed, like lying on tree branches is something I do all the time, but in reality the bark was wet and slippery after a night of rain and covered in moss, and I was sliding down the branch so I had to brace myself by planting one foot on each of the other tree limbs. Carefree as I appeared, in reality it felt like I was doing a 40-minute continuous lunge squat, the branch was digging into me, and my back and neck were sore from holding the same position for so long. Let me just say that I have so much more respect for what those ANTM girls do after this experience.

Post-photoshoot, we had a nice walk around the seawall and a dinner of Korean food. I got the photos a couple days later and was absolutely delighted; they're now up on Facebook and piquing the curiosity of all my friends, who've been asking me things like when I started modelling and if I'm moonlighting as a sunglasses model. (The answers would be "last Saturday" and "no.")

Anyway, check out some of my fave shots from the shoot!

A big kudos to Jalil, who's an amazing photographer! When I thanked him for making me look like such a star, he said, "Hey sweetie, thanks for the comment, but all I did was point a camera at your cute face and shoot."

Also, a smaller kudos to Jordana for inadvertently coming up with this post's title.
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