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Wearing White Dresses

A shopping sabbatical means I can't buy anything (boo), which means I can't browse the Resort 2009 collections on and say to myself, "I want a dress that looks like this," or "I should look for a new top that looks like that," without the whole activity taking on a masochistic undertone. So instead, I've been looking at the outfits for styling inspiration and thinking about how I can incorporate this inspiration into my existing wardrobe. And, fashion blogger that I am, I thought I'd share the (mostly not so profound) insights I gleaned from ogling all these fabulous clothes with you guys.

The trend I'm looking at today is (duh) white dresses. It's not groundbreaking, it's very commercial, and it's a summer staple that comes back time and again. The simplicity of the white dress is like a blank canvas, just ripe for accessorizing or embellishments such as bows, ruffles, and lace accents. You can go easy breezy with the most basic of white slip dresses and some flat gladiator sandals, or you can don something so over-the-top feminine that it makes you feel like Audrey Hepburn.

(Audrey dancing with Fred Astaire in Funny Face.)

If you're shopping around for a white dress this season, consider a knee-length number with feathery or floral embellishments. Feeling crafty yet cash-poor? Instead of buying a new dress, accessorize your current dress with a storebought silk flower corsage a la Carrie Bradshaw, or make your own corsage/pin with some craft store goodies. I like the look of these embellishments pinned to the shoulder or at the hip.

Erin Fetherston 1 and 2

You can also pair a white dress with a brightly coloured layer. Try wearing a colourful cardigan, bolero jacket, or cropped short-sleeved blazer on top of the dress. Feeling more adventurous with the layering? Try a bright halter or racerback tank under a strapless dress to mimic the look of Narciso Rodriguez's white and orange dress.

Isaac Mizrahi

Narciso Rodriguez

When in doubt, pair your dress with a Panama hat, multi-strand necklace, big sunglasses, maryjanes, or a wide belt. They're such classic accessory choices that you can't go wrong as you inject a bit of attitude into that sweet white frock.

Monique Lhuillier

Rachel Roy

3.1 Phillip Lim

Marc Jacobs


Cool Contest Alert!

The ever effervescent Winona at Daddy Likey is having The. Coolest. Contest. Ever.

Write a high-fashion haiku and win a Prada wallet! For the full details and hilarious entries so far, click here.

Luxe Or Less: Burberry Prorsum Resort 2009

June is a fickle month indeed here in the Pacific northwest. Just as it seems like summer's here, a cold front sweeping down from the Arctic or weather systems coming inland can scare summer away for days at a time, leaving us shivering in cold and rain. And then even when it is nice enough outside to bust out the skirts and sandals, over-air-conditioned offices will make you regret your sartorial choice before you even finish your morning coffee. What's a Vancouver girl to do?!?

One way to look summery and ladylike while remaining warm is to wear a cardigan or lightweight coat over a shift dress, and to cinch the whole thing just a little bit above the natural waistline. Burberry Prorsum's Resort 2009 collection featured this look prominently, with cardigans and coats of different lengths and textures, and black socks worn with strappy black platform sandals. I like how they used a skinny belt rather than a chunky one to keep things a little more ladylike, a little less bohemian. For a resort collection, the clothes were surprisingly heavy and in shades of gray rather than bold jolts of colour, making this the perfect look to transition into fall.

Luckily for those of us who don't have the dough to dress in head-to-toe Burberry, this look is pretty easy to re-create with more affordable pieces. Behold, the Luxe For Less version below (thanks to the magic of Polyvore).

Gray cardigan from American Apparel, $38
White shift dress from Old Navy, $19.99
Yellow skinny belt from J Crew
Black bangle from Claire's, $6.50
Black bead multi-strand necklace from Target, $12.99
Black strappy sandal by Dolce Vita, from Bluefly
Patterned angora socks from Urban Outfitters

The Verdict Is In...

I'm returning the Nougat London skirt! This option won by an overwhelming landslide and left "Keep the skirt" in the dust.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to leave a comment and vote; I was delighted with the thoughtfulness of all the comments I received. Now, let's never talk of my slip-up again. :P

Lisa's Most Coveted List

5 things I'm loving or lusting after right now.

1. Tide to Go stain remover pen. Last Tuesday, I received a text message on my startlingly loud cell phone just as I was mid-gulp with a huge mug of coffee and engrossed in whatever was happening on my computer monitor. The noise scared me so much I jumped and coffee sloshed onto my desk, keyboard, and my pristine white cotton tank. I called the person who texted me just to vent; she felt bad about the accident even though it wasn't her fault, and at the end of the conversation suggested I run to the nearby Shoppers Drug Mart for a Tide to Go pen. Brilliant! It was so easy to use and dried much quicker than my feeble attempts at blotting the coffee out with a wet paper towel. My tank top is sparkling white once again and you would never know I'd been such a klutz.

2. Lacoste 'Orissa' flat in white, $145. I think this must be the Holy Grail of casual flats. Sleek, simple, and oh so versatile, in soft pure white leather. What's more, the elasticized heel won't slip off my small feet and the inside is lightly padded for extra comfort. I can't wait until my shopping sabbatical ends so I can scoop up a pair as this is sure to become a year-round wardrobe staple. God forbid I spill coffee on them.

3. Coach heritage stripe medium beauty case, $78. I'm a bit of an OCD neat freak when it comes to being organized and that certainly extends to the insides of my purses. One of the main reasons why I can't stand most hobo bags is that, from a practical standpoint, all the stuff you throw into one seems to disappear in some time-space vortex at the bottom of your purse, leaving you scrambling for your wallet to pay for your skinny French vanilla latte as the barista glares. One way to keep organized is by buying a wristlet or pouch and putting smaller items (compact, mints, tissues, lip gloss) inside. The next time you fish for your ringing cell phone, there'll be less stuff to circumnavigate.

4. Cashmere! I definitely have my heart set on a couple of basic investment-piece sweaters come fall.

5. The Chanel purse! Duh.

Cashmere Cravings

I know it's supposed to be summer, but the weather has been awful in Vancouver this past week. It was positively autumnal with the wind, rain, and gray skies outside. No wonder I started browsing sweaters and thinking longingly of buying a couple of good-quality investment sweaters in the fall. I have one green crew-neck wool/cashmere-blend sweater in a fine knit that I found in Winners once, and despite constant wear over the last 2.5 years it's stood up pretty well and doesn't pill as badly as artificial fibre or cotton sweaters.

It'll be a long time before I can shop again, but in the meantime I can do a lot of scoping for my perfect sweaters:
  • a long-sleeved black V-neck pullover in 100% wool or cashmere with a lightweight knit, something I can layer over a tee or tank

  • a long-sleeved scoop-neck pullover in 100% wool or cashmere in a punchy colour

  • a long-sleeved button-up layering cardigan

These pictures are half inspiration, half temptation for what I want. Note to self: scope out Bluefly for discounted cashmere when my shopping sabbatical is over.

CeCe black cashmere deep V-neck sweater, $69.99 (originally $189)

Hayden fuschia scoop-neck cashmere sweater, $100 (originally $225)

BR Monogram cashmere long-sleeve pocket cardigan, $188


Product Review: Garnier Fructis Curl & Shine Leave-in Conditioning Cream

How many Garnier products have I reviewed and raved about so far? I think that qualifies me as a Garnier product whore. There's something about the yummy fruity scent, reliability, and affordability of their product lines which is a winning combination for me every time.

Taking my hairdresser's words to heart, I stopped by the drugstore to find some sort of leave-in conditioner for curly hair in the twenty scant minutes I had before I had to catch my bus home. I was in such a hurry that I spotted the lime green bottle, skimmed the label (curls, check; shine, check; leave-in conditioning, check), checked the price (on sale for $3.49...sweet!), lined up at the cash register, paid, and hurried back to my bus stop. Once on the bus, I took the bottle out and examined the label on the back more closely. The Garnier Fructis Curl & Shine Leave-in Conditioning Cream promised to give me manageable, soft, defined curls and, well, shine by coating the hair shaft. The instructions seemed simple enough: Work a quarter-sized dollop through your hair and finger-scrunch for added definition, then let your curls air-dry.

The fruity-smelling leave-in conditioner dispenses through a squeeze bottle with a pop top, kind of like the bottles that are used for dishwashing detergent, making it easy to control exactly how much product you want. Although this bottle top is great for when the container's full, I can imagine dispensing product once it's half-empty to be a bit frustrating. Perhaps an upside-down squeeze tube like the one they have for their Sleek & Shine Styling Cream might be better?

The first time I used it, I washed my hair in the morning and planned to let it dry as the day wore on. I worked more than a quarter-dollop through my thick shoulder-length hair for the definition I wanted. The result was relaxed waves with enough definition to look good but not overdone and no frizz, and my hair was soft to the touch. I only wash my hair every three days or so, so the next day when I woke up I was disappointed to see that a night's sleep had crushed and tangled my hair so that the waviness wasn't as defined anymore. However, a bit of spontaneous experimentation fixed that: I worked just a dab of the conditioner through my hair - more like a dime-sized dollop - and voila! Defined waves once again. My hair looked so good that a guy friend at salsa that night complimented me on my "cascading" wavy locks.

The Garnier Fructis Curl & Shine Leave-in Conditioning Cream works best if you use it and don't sleep on your damp hair right afterward. I learned this firsthand. According to the kid in Jerry Maguire, the average human head weighs 10 or 11 pounds (I can't remember the exact number), so it's no surprise that my huge heavy head crushed any good work the leave-conditioner could've done for me and left my hair looking flat and uninspired. This is precisely why I'm wearing my hair clipped back today instead of, ahem, letting the pretty waves cascade over my shoulders.

I Caved.

I am so ashamed.

Yesterday, on a lunch break with a coworker, I caved and succumbed to temptation. I broke my proposed 5-month shopping sabbatical and bought a Nougat London skirt at Winners. Now I'm torn over whether or not to keep the skirt. I really love it, but it goes against the whole principle of the sabbatical! The point was to refrain from impulsively buying cheap crap I wouldn't use or wear and it was an exercise in forcing me to think about what I buy. At the end, I'd take the money I saved by not shopping and splurge on a Chanel purse.

So, I need your help. As my readers, you should tell me whether or not you think I should keep the skirt. Log in and leave a comment in the Comments section stating your opinion for/against. On Sunday June 15th, I will announce my decision to keep or return the skirt based on your input. Until then, I'm taking a bit of a posting break to let you guys vote.

Here are some pictures and arguments for and against to help you make a decision.

I should keep the skirt because:

  • Nougat London is a quality brand that's not very widely available in Vancouver, and the stuff at the boutique is definitely going to be more than $31.
    $31 is only 22% of $140. I paid 22% of what the skirt's actually worth, so I saved a bundle.

  • The workmanship and quality are fantastic. All of the black detail on the skirt is embroidery. It's not printed on.

  • I will wear it more than once, and I will wear it often.

  • Technically this isn't an impulse purchase since I saw it in Winners yesterday, thought about last night, and decided to go for it today.

  • I've already gone 5 weeks without buying any clothes, shoes, or accessories. I didn't succumb to temptation at the new H&M. For those who know me well, this is practically unheard of.

  • Five months is a long time to go without buying anything at all.

  • If I return it, I might always regret it and remember it as "the skirt that got away," and secretly resent everyone who told me I shouldn't keep it.

I should return the skirt because:

  • This goes against the shopping sabbatical!!! I'm kind of embarassed that I promised myself I'd buy nothing for 5 months and I slipped up after 5 weeks.

  • This slip-up might compromise my willpower for the next 3 months and 3 weeks.

  • It's a little bit big in the waist for me (the skirt is a size 3 and I'm a 1/2 usually), so I'll need to take it in, which increases the overall cost of the skirt by $20.

Guess Who Has A New 'Do...

All my life, I've had straight black hair and a fear of dying, perming, or otherwise chemically processing it. I'm really lazy when it comes to grooming: I love clothes, but when it comes to hair and makeup, the former is more wash-and-wear than anything else, and the latter basically consists of a daily routine of moisturizer with SPF 30, lip balm, and mascara. Anything that could potentially damage my hair or require more maintenance than I was willing to put in was not for me.

I spent yesterday combing the pictures on Rasysa looking for a longish hairstyle with sideswept bangs that would complement my face shape and hairstyle. I never bother looking through conventional Western magazines for hairstyle inspiration because my hair is so much thicker than standard Caucasian hair that I have a hard time picturing how celebs' haircuts might work on me. Rasysa is great because 1) it's free, 2) it has thousands of hairstyle pictures, and 3) all the hair models are Asian. Rasysa was a serendipitous Google search find from a couple years back, and it's been one of my favourite bookmarked sites ever since. The picture below isn't what I printed off and brought to my hairdresser, but it's very similar.

I wasn't intending to perm my hair, but after 10 minutes of Q&A about how much maintenance a look like this would require and how damaged my hair might be when he's done, I decided to go for it. This was my first time getting a perm, and I was really surprised at how long the cut and perm and took; almost three hours went by before he was done! The process involved layering some of the bulk out of my hair, applying a relaxant and setting solution, blowdrying, more cutting, and finally a bit of styling. The result was a slight all-over wave that was subtle yet striking.

As he was working his magic, my hairdresser gave me tips for how to ensure the curly ends will look their best. As it turns out, less is more when it comes to curly hair and it would be even lower maintenance than what I was used to. Sweet!

The tips:

  • Conditioner is your friend. Apply conditioner to the ends and don't worry about rinsing all of it out; whatever's left in your hair after a quick rinse will help make it soft and define the curl. Or better yet, use a leave-in conditioner.
    Instead of rubbing your hair, grab a section of it and squeeze the water out with a towel. This will keep your hair from frizzing.

  • Blowdry the roots and let the ends air-dry. Don't comb or brush it because you'll break up the curl and create frizziness.

  • For added definition, smooth a bit of gel on the ends and finger-scrunch your hair.

I'm still getting used to the 'do because this is the first time I've ever had curly hair. It definitely turned some heads as I headed home, so maybe I'll get used to it quicker than I thought.


Today's Outfit: June 7, 2008

  • Black tee (Jacob)

  • Purple camisole with ruching detail (RW & Co)

  • White skirt with purple flower detail (Narcissist Clothing sample sale)

  • Black patent bow belt (Xcetera)

  • Black sandals (Stitches)

  • Silver and purple stone stud earrings and pendant (from Mexico)


Marisa K Trisha Dress

To tell the truth, I'm not usually a fan of most of the apparel on One embellished streetwear piece here or there can do wonders with a wardrobe full of basics, but the edgy streetwear aesthetic behind most of their clothes puts me and my Audrey Hepburn-worshipping sensibility off sometimes. I have to consciously pep talk myself into browsing pages and pages of oddly cut dresses and overly embellished tops to find something I might really love.

Patience paid off this time around in the form of the Marisa K Trisha Dress. The demure details in the front first caught my eye, as well as the raspberry purple hue of the leaf motif and the belt - very flattering on medium-golden Asian skin tones. The more I looked at the dress, the more I found to my liking. The wide belt cinches just a little above the natural waistline at the smallest part of a woman's body, and the delicate draping skims over the body without creating too much volume, subtly outlining a slender silhouette. The drapes in the hemline play off the bubble hem trend without being too "bubbly." I also love how the dress looks different from every angle: from the front, it's so demure it seems like a whimsical take on a Park Avenue Princess ensemble; from the sides, you can see that the belt unexpectedly delves under the fabric of the dress; and from the back, the oval cutout and the belt closure look sexy and stunning.

At $292.12 in Canadian dollars, the only thing I don't like about it is the price tag, but then again it is 100% silk.


Today's Outfit: June 4, 2008

Hmm okay, so technically this is once again not today's outfit but yesterday's.

How about that weather today eh? I feel like composing an open letter to Mother Nature somewhere along these lines:

Dear Mother Nature,

As a concerned resident of the left coast, I am convinced you and Jack Frost seem to have mixed up memos. I should not be wearing my winter boots in June. Please take the rain elsewhere.


  • Gray cable-knit cardigan (from Army and Navy of all places :P)

  • Red Asian-inspired tee (Dynamite)

  • White V-neck tee (Smart Set)

  • Denim skirt (from Chinatown)

  • White and silver scarf (H&M)

  • Black leather boots (Aldo)

  • Green and brown tote (Coach)

  • Black knee-high socks (Ardene)

  • Handmade polymer bead pendant (a birthday gift from my old boss)

  • Pearl stud earrings (Claire's)

How Do You Wear It: Pencey Blazer

In this edition of "How Do You Wear It," MizzJ and I both create outfits around the Pencey blazer from

You can read about her romantic summer outfit - based on the black version of this blazer - here.

I, on the other hand, was more interested in the white version of this blazer. The triangular button-down flaps on the exterior shell create the illusion of a slimmer waistline, while the built-in vest adds dimension and interest. The Pencey blazer combines tailored elegance with an almost costumey flair. It was this costumey flair that intrigued me most. From the moment we decided on the Pencey blazer for our next edition of HDYWI, my thoughts jumped to Gwen Stefani's Alice in Wonderland-themed music video for "What You Waiting For." I envisioned this blazer as part of an ensemble for one of the Mad Hatter's tea party guests. It would be haute couture meets Harajuku girl: feminine, fabulous, fantastical.

First off, I'd wear the blazer as it's pictured above (the vest buttoned up with nothing underneath), and counterbalance its sharp masculine lines with the 'Flute Song' skirt from Anthropologie ($153.14), a full flowy embroidered number that has cutaway details and floating peonies all over. The picture below just doesn't do the details of this skirt justice; go to the website and play with the zoom feature on the image to see for yourself. Just be careful with spills when wearing it to a tea party as crazy as the Mad Hatter's because it's dryclean only!

Next, it's all about the accessories. I love these 'Gina' pumps from Kate Spade because they're bow-festooned but not too froufrou.

To tie together the look from head to toe, I'd echo the black bow detail on the pumps with this black feathered headband from Forever 21.

Then on to Urban Outfitters for some more affordable yet whimsical finishing touches! These etched glass drop earrings ($16.99) are simple enough to complement the outfit without being too distracting. But they're still elegant and, in my mind, very Victorian.

In keeping with "dainty, Victorian, not too distracting," I'd also add this swallow and cage brass necklace ($34) by Erica Weiner.

So, where would I wear an outfit like this if I don't find myself going down a rabbit hole and hanging out Mad Hatter-style? Why, to high tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, of course.

Plenty of Purses Under $480 (Part 2)

My finds in today's post are definitely a big jump up from the price points of yesterday's finds. They're for the girl who's looking for a quality investment piece and willing to splurge on her handbag purchase but not break the bank. So, without further ado, let's get started!

Flatiron embossed long-shoulder bag from Banana Republic, $179. This beautiful golden yellow bag features silver hardware, a unique lizard-embossed leather texture, and sleek styling. Pair it with neutral outfits and it definitely packs a punch.

Stuart Weitzman cobalt nappa 'Nite Fan' clutch from Bluefly, $239. I have a particular weakness for cobalt hues this season. The pleats in the leather and the statement handle/clasp echo the motifs of the clutches in my earlier post.

Marc by Marc Jacobs 'Airliner Jacquard - Magazine' clutch, $258. I love this clutch for its ingenious design. When fully open, it's large enough to fit a magazine inside (hence the name), but it also folds down to a compact clutch when you don't have that much stuff to carry. There's something about the patterned signature fabric and sporty stripes that makes me think of the glamorous yet politically incorrect days when flight attendants were called stewardesses and people actually dressed up before getting on a plane.

Coach Soho leather hobo, $268. This bag tortures me with its complete and utter desirability every time I go to the Coach store "just to look." My only consolation as I contemplate how buying it would go against my shopping sabbatical is that white leather is very hard to keep clean.

Coach Heritage Stripe Tattersall tote, $298. This bag doesn't leave me sleepless at nights like the Soho leather hobo because I have this exact bag in the brown signature Coach canvas with green accents. Nonetheless, I am such a sucker for the Tattersall print and the youthful girliness of the pink.

Cole Haan 'Village Soft' ruched satchel, $395. I think I have a weakness for this bag just because it resembles the RW & Co green canvas/white leather bag I gave away recently. However, the buttery-soft-looking pebbled leather makes this satchel a step above my old one.


Plenty Of Purses Under $480 (Part 1)

In yesterday's post, I said:

"The droolworthy Chanel purses cost $480 per month to rent, and in the end that money doesn't even go toward owning the bag! If you're going to pay that much to just wear a purse for a month, maybe it's time to consider buying a less expensive purse with that money instead. Trust me, if your budget is $480, there are a lot of really nice options out there."

In a narcissistic fit of curiosity, I reflected on my own statement and wondered, are there a lot of really nice options out there? Hell yeah!! A couple hours of searching yielded so many great, stylish, luxe-looking bags that I had to split my search results into a two-parter. Today's post consists of all the bags that are under $100, and tomorrow's post will feature the pricier options.

Women's leather mini cross-body bag from Old Navy, $24.50. This is the cheapest bag out of the ones I found, and it's 100% leather. I like the simplistic and casual design; it'd be great for carrying a couple of essentials for a summer stroll along the Stanley Park seawall and an ice cream pit stop.

Shadow large clutch from Guess, $49.23. Indulge in the ombre trend and oversized clutch trend with one item. The black, white, and gray tones and the subtle hardware touches make this bag an easy transition piece to be worn in future seasons. Pair the clutch with this season's bright colour-block tunics and dresses, or with a classic black-on-white ensemble to inject a bit of sassiness into a tried-and-true look.

Malegno bag from Aldo, $50. Clean lines, neutral colours, warm brown leather accents, and gold hardware make this bag an easy choice for everyday wear in every season.

Teverola clutch from Aldo, $50. I love the warmth of the wooden clasp/handle and the bone-coloured fabric on this roomy clutch. The pleats dress it up enough to make it suitable for evening margaritas on a patio somewhere.

Skinny printed clutch from Banana Republic, $59. So far I've been picking out neutral, relatively classic bags, so I guess it's high time for a really fun colourful clutch to join the ranks! This is a great alternative to the Teverola clutch for playing off summery blues and greens in your outfit, or for punching up a neutral ensemble.

Classic leather tote from Nine West, $64.99. This bag is all-leather and an incredible bargain because it's marked down from $175! If orange isn't your thing, it also comes in black, brown, and white. Terrific work tote for the office; get your hands on one while you can!

Pleated silk frame clutch from Nordstrom, $88. I love the luxe princess vibe of this clutch and how its lines are reminiscent of Alexander McQueen's 'Elvie' bag. This clutch would look right at home on the arm of a grand duchess in a Romanov dynasty family portrait.

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