Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pinky - red lippy - reader request





A lovely reader asked for a lipstick match to Camilla Belle's lippy in the following photo. Given that Camilla does not use a stylist, the chances of getting the name of the brand/colour are quite remote. The only possibility is if this photo turns up on a magazine cover and they credit the cosmetics used - again, very remote. So I set out to try and find some matches for our reader.

Mr Sabotage

Boy oh boy, did I learn a few things - I learnt that this project could be sabotaged by the following:
- real life colours vary with monitor colour differences like Amazon etc - a lippy will vary in colour depending on internal and external lighting - a lippy will vary in colour depending on skin pigment differences - the lippies I swiped on paper look different to the colour they show on skin - there are a gazillion brands out there which I have not tested.

Short list of nine lippies

I went to the local Kmart & checked out all the lipsticks in the brands Revlon, Maybelline, L'Oreal, Rimmel and Covergirl.
I came up with a short list of colours, as follows:

1. Covergirl Lipstain Outlast, Everbloom Kiss 400

2. Revlon Colourstay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick Premium Pink 010

3. Revlon Colourburst Lipgloss Lipshine Bordeaux 016

4. Maybelline Colour Sensational Gloss, Hooked on Pink 065

5. L'Oreal Colour Riche Cassis Passion 376

6. L'Oreal Colour Riche Rose Creme 453

7. Rimmel Lasting Finish Hear Breaker 016

8. Rimmel Lasting Finish Kate Rossetto 60

9. Covergirl Outlast Double Lipshine, Antique Rose, 220


Then I swiped those colours on paper, from left to right, in the same order as my short list.


Note though, Mr Sabotage has made all these more browny than they are in real life.




Here is another photo of the swiped lippies - taken at a 90 degree different angle at the same time of the afternoon. Amazing how different this looks - most of the lippies look more browny than the above photo & far more browny than real life.


Short list of four lippies

Then I eliminated a few of those colours based on a second view of the tubes and the swipes....to arrive at a final short list of:


Covergirl Outlast Double Lipshine, Antique Rose, 220 (my #9)
Covergirl Lipstain Outlast, Everbloom Kiss 400 (my #1) (love stains to lock in the colour)
Rimmel Lasting Finish Kate Rossetto 60 (my #8)
Revlon Colourburst Lipgloss Lipshine Bordeaux 016 (my #3)

My preference is, well I like all four actually, but perhaps the Covergirl is the best match. Seriously I couldnt swear that in stone - the only way to do any justice to this properly, is to try all the four lippies on the actual lips of the person who wants the lippy.

I slicked the Covergirl on my hand, raced out of Kmart and drove home, trying not to touch the back of my hand with anything (any idea how hard that is? hahaha)...at home I pounced on the camera before it went dark & came up with some outdoor photos.....

Note by this time the Covergirl had started drying up - thats why it looks a bit funny...

Photo 1: In this one it looks too corally - it isnt like that in real life....


Photo 2: This looks realistic


Photo 3: Another photo - realistic


Photo 4: Another one, also realistic


Web research

By the way, the other thing I did was look these up on the web - some of them looked very different to the real life lippy I saw today, so computer monitors can be working hand in hand with Mr Sabotage.
Another reason for the reader to do the testing in real life.


Conclusion:


I hope this post helps my dear reader, however please take my advice that the best way to really do this is by going out and trying lippies and then trying more lippies and more again. After all, there are so many brands that I havent tested, let alone the impact of Mr Sabotage on the selection process.











Monday, January 30, 2012

Teacher's Wardrobe

One of my lovely loyal readers has just returned to the workforce after having taken a few years to raise two young children.

She asked me for tips on where to go and how to build a wardrobe for work as she has had a very casual existence for the last few years, she felt "a bit daggy" and she hadnt had much time to devote to shopping.

Our reader is a teacher and she is a nicely proportioned size 10 on the top and bottom.

I am going to use this post to provide an outline of the types of workable wardrobe pieces she should aim for, together with suggested stores to find those pieces.

Obviously without spending face to face shopping time, its impossible to select an entire wardrobe for her - this is because items that work on paper, may not work on her body (& vice versa).
But my suggestions will work to get her started.

I think our reader has recognised that she cant just go out willy nilly to shop - that she needs a plan.

Yes - a plan!


Her big picture steps are:

1. Assess - what sort of life do you live and what are its needs?
2. DeJunk - edit ruthlessly even if to allow you to see what you have
3. ReNew - shop for what's missing

Typically, all three should be carried out together, but in this case, we have been asked just to focus on the third step, ReNew.

Before we do that, lets start with 5 tips:


TIP 1. Hitting the pavement

You cannot build most of this wardrobe by shopping on-line. As you have been away from the shops for a while, we need to narrow down the brands/styles that suit your shape by trying on various high street brands. If you attempt to do this on-line it will take far more time and frustration than you will ever anticipate.




I suggest you start (now) lining up a relative, hubby etc for a few baby sitting sessions on a Saturday or Sunday when you will be at the shops. Under no circumstances should you attempt hitting the pavement with the kids in tow.

Once we have narrowed down what brands and shapes work for you, for future purchases, you can use on-line facilities as you will be more confident with particular brands and their sizing.


TIP 2. Rome wasnt built in a day

Do not expect to buy all the suggested items in one session or one shopping trip. If you force yourself to do this, you may compromise fit/quality for the sake of having a complete set of the items on your list. The best way to handle this is to buy a few of the items on the list, the ones you absolutely love, then to add to them as you find more of the pieces on the list. Only buy an item when it is PERFECT for your shape/budget and has great quality/fit/colour flattery.


TIP 3. Shop your closet

Go through your closet and see if you already have items that are on the list.
This is the DeJunk step above.




You may be surprised that you already have a few things. If you do, then try them on & if you have ANY doubts about size/fit/suitability, take a photo and email it to me. I will give you an honest & constructive opinion on how the items is working for your shape and whether it looks fresh and appropriate.


TIP 4. Co-ordinated pieces


The pieces I will suggest will be interchangeable - this means that they will all work together in complementing tones so you get the maximum value for money.

Such an interchangeable wardrobe needs a base colour around which everything works. This will typically be a dark-ish colour. Black is very common, but it can also be navy, brown, bottle green, taupe, camel & grey. Ultimately the reader - you, will need of select this colour.




Some of the benefits of a darkish colour are that it doesnt get as dirty as lighter colours and they are also more slimming than lighter colours. Note also that of all the women who select black as a base, only about half of those women can wear it near their face. The other half are too fair for it. So have a look at your hair, skin & eye colour in the mirror and decide whether black will be too harsh for you. If so, select one of the other base colours.

The seasons & layering

I am sure you already know that you wont be buying a winter wardrobe now & then another whole new summer wardrobe in six months. That would be crazy, oh and a waste of money. You see, most of the pieces on this list are transseasonal - in a country like Australia, that is important. Yes, you will add the odd piece of very summery or very wintery piece, but most of the items will work year round - this will give you the greatest value for money.

The way to make this work is to layer pieces. In winter you can wear the coat with a scarf, over a jacket over a cardigan over a shirt. No one says the jacket has to be a warm nubby tweedy wool.

Get the drift? They are many ways to combine the pieces & you may need to set some time aside to play around and get the maximum combinations which work year round.


TIP 5. Maintenance


Even if we shop on the high street, clothes can be expensive. Hence we want them to last for as long as possible and to look smart during the time we wear them. In order to get the best value for money, I will show you how to look after the items as well as give you tips on what fabrics work best




Now, lets get to the good stuff:


THE TEACHER'S WARDROBE

After having a think about my teachers at school and specifically what the women wore, I have come to the conclusion that I dont want you wearing anything those women wore. Plus they were all about 20 years older than you and looked 50 years older than you!

There was one young teacher who wore a different pair of jeans every day. She was pretty and petite, drove a Ford Laser and all we were besotted by was those hundreds of jeans.

Seriously, give or take, your teaching wardrobe should consist of the following items:

Single breasted suit with matched skirt and pants
Jeans - 2 pairs
White shirt
Tee shirts - 3 white & 3 coloured/patterned
Blouses & tops - 2 patterned
Jacket with pop
Flat front trousers
A line or pencil skirt
Sweaters
Dresses - 2
Coat



A single breasted suit with a matched skirt and pants

A good suit, well taken care of, will give you more credibility than any other item in your wardrobe. In a non suit wearing profession, you only need one which you will wear for presentations, formal events etc.

However, you you will get your mileage from this by wearing the three pieces as separates with the other items in your wardrobe.

Your suit must be in your base colour.


If it is patterned (texture or pin stripe is OK), make the pattern subtle
(so it can mix with the other items in the capsule)

Make the fabric lightweight (so you can wear it year round).

Try to avoid viscose blends (they dont wear well & start to look fluffy around the seat, sleeves, hips etc)

Aim for approx 90% wool/10% elastin (wool = quality & elastin = gives you room to move)

If you hate pants (like moi!), buy two skirts

If you hate skirts, buy two pants.

Dont worry about wearing the same thing on the bottom - people notice what is on top, not what is on the bottom

Dry cleaning

The suit will need to be dry cleaned on a regular basis - but did you know that the chemicals in dry cleaning are very bad for natural fibres like wool? That means. apart from the cost, we have another incentive not to dry clean too often.

So after each wear, hang up to pieces outside the wardrobe so air flows around the garment for 24 hours - this will help the wool get back to shape. Use a lint brush to brush off dead skin cells from the collar and the inside of the cuffs & I can guarantee these simple steps will significantly reduce your need to dry clean.

Oh, sorry to be a pain, but you MUST dry clean all three pieces together. If you dont do this, the varying rates of dry cleaning on the three pieces will cause fading at different rates. Trust me, there is nothing worse than a suit that almost looks matched.

Where to buy?

Saba

The Winston Suit (black)
http://www.saba.com.au/suits/winston-suit-jacket/w1/i4915758_1001271/

The Mavrik Suit (navy)
http://www.saba.com.au/suits/mavric-suit-jacket/w1/i4757591_1001271/

Jacqui E
http://www.jacquie.com.au/suiting/viewall

Portmans
http://www.portmans.com.au/jackets/suiting
http://www.portmans.com.au/pants/work
http://www.portmans.com.au/skirts/work


Jeans - 2 pairs

One with yellow stitching (to complement tan/camel accessories)
One with white stitching or very dark stitching



Suggest dark wash (much smarter than faded jeans)



Suggest bootleg cut (gives a longer line & is more elegant than skinnies or wide leg)


Where to buy?

I wont go through places to select jeans - perhaps you already have favourites. If not, go to Jeans West & Just Jeans & get fitted. Make sure you also try the Levis Curve ID range too.

Once you know what style works for your body, I'd also go to Target & Kmart for much cheaper versions. You never know your luck.

There is also another brand to try - Not Your Daughters Jeans which guarantee to make you look a size smaller & they have a higher waist than others so they suck you in better. They are in selected boutiques. Check out their Facebook page for details.

White shirt

In a lightweight poplin with an opening all the way down the front (not tunic style).
It can be ruffled, pleated, or plain.
Remember that the plainer it is, the more versatile it is.

Try to stay away from rayon/viscose (such as Sussan's Pretty Utility Shirt) and get cotton or a strong cotton blend. It will look better in the long run.

Down the track you should aim for a long sleeve and a short sleeve version.

Where to buy?

Portmans
White Origami Shirt
http://www.portmans.com.au/tops/work/476059

Saba
Austin Shirt
http://www.saba.com.au/elements/austin-shirt/w1/i4123530_4890045/

Jacqui E
Kelly Stripe Shirt
http://www.jacquie.com.au/tops/shirts/516524
I'd suggest you dont get this one - the self stripe is distracting & will take away from impact of the other pieces

Cue also normally have great white shirts - but i couldnt find any on the web ATM - go instore.

The other stores where you can find white poplin shirts include Kmart, Target & Big W. Just make sure the blend is a cotton poplin. The prices in these stores will be alot cheaper than the links I have attached.

If you are the sort of person who really likes classic shirts, you may want to buy another in a colour such as pale blue or pink or even a brighter or deeper shade. The above stores normally carry colours depending on whats in season.

Tee shirts

You need a few of these in solid whites, solid blacks (or whatever your base colour is), solid brights or pastels (whatever you prefer).

These will work under the suit jacket, under a cardi or on their own.

Have multiples

Avoid viscose.
Go for cotton/lycra
Avoid 100% cotton - they look a bit furry & ratty after a few washes & their colour fades.

Start to notice necklines - a scoop or vee neck will allow you to show a nice necklace.
If you have plump arms, dont end the sleeve at the widest part of your arm.
Keep the length at the top of your hip, so that it can be tucked in (without too much bulk) or left out.

Sometimes stores (like Witchery) do very long line tees (for layering) - these are probably not the smartest look - better for playtime.

Where to buy?


You cant go past Giordano, Kmart, Target, all will be less than $10 each.

Stores like Witchery so alot in viscose and seem to charge too much for them.

Blouses & tops

You will need a selection of these - to start with, probably two.
The good thing about these is that they will add a bit of pop without you having to think about what jewellery goes with what. For that reason its best to use a print or a colour that pops.
If you are using a print, make sure it's predominant colour looks good on you.

In selecting prints & colours, think about what sort of person you are:

Romantic - go for a floral or a ruffle top

For floral & girly, try Review or Alannah Hill

Jacqui E
http://www.jacquie.com.au/tops/fashion/468504

Portmans
http://www.portmans.com.au/tops/work/476065

Playful - go for a bright floral or spots

Review - Minnie skirt
http://www.review-australia.com/wardrobe-2/

Jacqui E
http://www.jacquie.com.au/tops/fashion/561008

Saba
http://www.saba.com.au/tops/alessandra-t-shirt/w1/i4612239_1001264/

Dramatic - go for colour blocking

Trenery
http://shop.trenery.com.au/Collections.htm#page=/Collections/January/Trenery_Womenswear/Smart_Casual.htm&show=prod_15208

Trenery
http://shop.trenery.com.au/Collections.htm#page=/Collections/January/Trenery_Womenswear/Smart_Casual.htm&show=prod_15203

Modern - go for a digital print

Ginger & Smart - Watermark sleeveless dress
http://shop.gingerandsmart.com/Products/FASHION/DRESS/Watermark_Sleeveless_Dress__W12061.aspx

Sporty - go for a animal print or a military look

Sussan
Leopard Tuck Tee $50
http://www.sussan.com.au/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Category4_10351_10551_12653_-1_10052_10052_image_0

Classic - go for a stripe design or a solid colour

French Connection
http://www.frenchconnection.com.au/new-collection/toulouse-stripe-3-4-sleeve-tee/w2/i2744787_2407005/

Country Road
http://shop.countryroad.com.au/Collections.htm#%3Futm_source=countryroad.com.au&utm_medium=Collectionslink&utm_campaign=CollectionsLink%2B&page=/Collections/February/Womenswear/Urban_Career[1].htm&show=prod_15946

Flat front trousers

This is in addition to the suit pants.
They will be your go-to pants.
The reason the suit pants wont be the go-to will be because if you wear them alot more than the other suit pieces they will dry clean more often & fade faster as a result.

These will work with all the tops and tees.

Where to go to buy?

All the places that had suit options, have pant options.

Also I liked this one at Trenery
http://shop.trenery.com.au/Collections.htm#page=/Collections/January/Trenery_Womenswear/Smart_Casual.htm&show=prod_15205

Pencil or A line skirt

This is in addition to the suit skirt. It will be your go-to skirt.
The reason the suit skirt wont be the go-to will be because if you wear it alot more than the other suit pieces and dry clean it more often, it will fade faster as a result.

This skirt will work with all the tops and tees.

Where to go to buy?

All the places that had suit options, have skirt options.

Cardigan


A cardigan is a softer option than a suit jacket and more comfortable in the classroom.
It may be a good idea to have a couple to start with.

Select one in a similar plain colour to your base colour - so you can wear the skirt/pants with the cardi as a "suit".

Then select the other in a contrast colour, interesting texture, or a pattern or with embellishments that you can wear with the
skirt/pants as a another "suit".

Portmans
http://www.portmans.com.au/tops/knitwear/539026

Sussan snake print cardi
http://www.sussan.com.au/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product2_10351_10551_20735_-1_12652_10052_10052_ProductDisplayErrorView

Trenery
http://shop.trenery.com.au/Collections.htm#page=/Collections/January/Trenery_Womenswear/Smart_Casual.htm&product=/Product/FKN237F006/Zip-Jacket
If this wasnt white (would get insanely dirty), I'd look at it.

The other option is one of the drapey cardis that can also double for play.

Sussan
http://www.sussan.com.au/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product2_10351_10551_19059_-1_12652_10052_10052_ProductDisplayErrorView

Saba
http://www.saba.com.au/knits/regatta-cardigan/w1/i5059791_1001266/

Jacket with a bit of pop

This is addition to the suit jacket. It will be more "exciting" than the base colour jacket - an interesting colour, an interesting print or textures. Dont forget, generally, the more you pay, the better the quality and the longer it will last. You should expect this to do double duty as well - lunch with friends, dinner with hubby, mothers club.

Dont go for anything too "out there" though - I've seen some tuxedo styles and jackets with sequins, which would be too memorable to do alot of wear for you.

Sussan is showing four which give you an idea.
http://www.sussan.com.au/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Category4_10351_10551_12654_-1_10052_10052_image_0

Saba
http://www.saba.com.au/jackets-vests/angus-jacket/w1/i5059902_1001268/


Sweaters


I'd invest in say three sweaters to start with.

Firstly I'd suggest a dark one that blends well with your base colour.
I can guarantee that this will be a go-to.

You may want variety with a long one

Trenery
http://shop.trenery.com.au/Collections.htm#page=/Collections/January/Trenery_Womenswear/Smart_Casual.htm&show=prod_15202

and a shorter one

Country Road - a 3/4 sleeve knit
http://shop.countryroad.com.au/Collections.htm#%3Futm_source=countryroad.com.au&utm_medium=Collectionslink&utm_campaign=CollectionsLink%2B&page=/Collections/February/Womenswear/Casual.htm&show=prod_15880

Sussan - a cable sweater or a wide stripe sweater
http://www.sussan.com.au/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Category4_10351_10551_12652_-1_10052_10052_image_0#http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sussan.com.au%2Fwebapp%2Fwcs%2Fstores%2Fservlet%2FCategoryOnlyResultsDisplayView%3FpageView%3Dimage%26catalogId%3D10551%26top_category%3D10052%26parent_category_rn%3D10052%26categoryId%3D12652%26categoryId%3D12652%26langId%3D-1%26storeId%3D10351%26beginIndex%3D12%26identifier%3D1328445140426


Dresses


It a good idea to have a few dresses. They can be worn with a jacket (more formal), with a cardigan (softer) or alone (in summer).

For colours, I'd suggest one in your base colour, or something that compliments your base colour.

Another may be in a print - along similar lines as the prints I laid out in the "Blouses" section.

Try not to wear anything too figure revealing or skimpy.
You can usually winter-ise a summer dress by adding tights too.

The style depends on your figure shape and your preferences.
Think about whether you want a straight style with a slim skirt, or an A line skirt.
Alternatively, you may prefer a fuller skirt.
What about a wrap dress? Easy to wear and flattering
Seriously, there are truck loads of options out there.

Review have the best selection of full skirted dresses and skirts.
They are also wonderful with prints.
Have a look at the Gardenia dress.
http://www.review-australia.com/wardrobe-2/

David Lawrence
http://www.davidlawrence.com.au/DL-Product-Detail.html?styl=9220&cat=168

David Lawrence - the wrap
http://www.davidlawrence.com.au/DL-Product-Detail.html?styl=8864&cat=168

Sussan
http://www.sussan.com.au/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product2_10351_10551_23971_-1_11657_10052_10052_ProductDisplayErrorView


Coat

You will probably need a coat.
Ensure it is at least 80% wool.
Make sure you try it on with a jacket and move your arms around like crazy to ensure it fits and doesnt cut off your circulation.
Further, as much as furry vests are the "in" thing, they dont really keep you warm. Look out for a warm coat - not a fashion accessory.

I dont see alot of coats now in the Aussie market. I'll keep a look out for you.

Accessories

These babies are what will give your clothes extra mileage.

Firstly, shoes

Alternate 3 pairs of low heel shoes.

Pair A
: in the base colour
Pair B: something that complements the base colour but is still neutral

If the base colour is black, then Pair B can be tan, eggplant, grey, even red. This is important - make sure this complementary colour appears as part of the colours of your tops and dresses, otherwise it will look out of place.

If you are finding this choice difficult, then make Pair B another base colour pair of shoes, but in a different style/design to Pair A.

Pair C: something more zingy/contrasting than Pair A or Pair B

The zing can be in colour or in design.
Dont forget, the trendier the shoe (platforms, huge thick straps, cork) the less versatile it will be.
Suede is a killer to maintain in winter/rain - try to avoid this.

In summer, you will need another paid, Pair D: a sandal.

The rotation process means you must never wear a pair two days in a row - not because of what anyone else will think, but because rotating will ensure your shoes last way longer than if you didnt rotate. You see, leather needs time to relax, for the moisture to evaporate and to go back to its original form, before you wear them again.

Check for scuffs regularly and use a bootpolish to remove them.
If you wear the base colour shoe 2 times a week, rub in a neutral shoe cream every 3 weeks to keep the leather supple and soft.

Keep another pair of flats for when you can relax but are still at school (loafers, ballet flats, canvas sneakers)

Where to buy?

All the shoe stores in a typical Westfield will have all of these.


Second, belts

Belts can be worn with dresses, tops and pants. If the skirts have belt loops, then the belt can be worn with those too.

Apply a similar way of thinking to the belts as we did to the shoes.

Third, scarves

Scarves can provide no end to the variety of a fixed wardrobe.

Summer scarves in cotton, linen or silk blends easily work to pretty up plain coloured clothing.
You will also need at least one wool scarf, or if you save some more pennies, a cashmere one.


Watch this video to get 25 ways to wear a long scarf. Its priceless.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LYAEz777AU



Third, a handbag

You will need a handbag that is smart enough to appear with you at a formal meeting with the principal but that isnt too stuffy to carry around every day when you deal with your non school life.

All the stores mentioned above carry bags at every price point.
Also look at Strand Bags for cheaper options.
Myer and DJs too.

The trick is to figure out what works for you.
My suggestion is to think about the handbags you have had in your life which have been most convenient. Ask yourself, what their features have been. I have list some features to get you thinking.

height
depth
colour (light, dark)
finish (matt, patent)
pattern (plain, pattern, animal)
hardware (gold, silver, antique, none)
shoulder strap v arm handle or both
zips v flaps
compartments/pockets

My only suggestion is buy leather - it will look so much better than anything vinyl.

I am also sure you will be carrying students' work home to mark it. So you will need another larger tote for that. Please dont use those Woolies green bags. Buy something a bit classier, that will give you a professional image.


Fourth, jewellery

You dont need anything fancy here.
Unless jewellery is your thing, a watch, a simple necklace (gold or silver depending on your best metal), maybe a bracelet (Pandora style). You can add to this as you go.

Lastly, under garments

Fact: 85% of women are wearing the wrong size bra.
Please go to a bra shop or to DJs/Myer and get refitted - 85% is a huge statistic.

Make sure undergarments are invisible - no visible panty line (VPL), ever.

If you are wearing a fitted top or tee, wear a tee shirt bra that is smooth.

If the shoulder line on your top is cut narrow, get the clips that bring the straps together in the middle of your back (Lorna Jane, Bras N Things)

Bras under white tops should be skin coloured - a white bra will show up in this case.

Underwear will last heaps longer if you handwash. If time necessitates machine washing, select the gentle cycle and use a wash bag.


Conclusion

This wardrobe is obviously not static - you will add a piece or two here and there each season to complement what you have and give your look a current slant. At the same time, ensure that your core pieces are always in good condition and wearable, and you will always have something to wear.




Thursday, January 26, 2012

Book Review: Hungry





Written by Crystal Renn, and published in 2009, a biography about a model from the US who battled with anorexia and exercise bulimia for many years before embracing her curves and then becoming the most successful plus size model in the world.

Crystal was a junior in high school when a modelling scout told her that she could be a super model - as long as she lost some weight. At 165 pounds and 5 foot 8 inches, she lost 70 pounds and endured mental and physical torture in the process over the next 2 years as a NY based model.

The early days....




Eating virtually nothing and excercising 35 hours a week. Her hair was falling out in clumps, her eyes had a blank look, constant headaches, blurred vision, gray skin, heart palpitations, aching joints, ringing in her ears etc etc.
It was no surprise that her career didnt sky rocket either.

Then on day when she literally count stand up, she decided enough was enough - she changed agencies and started to eat. Over a year, her weight arrived at a US size 12 (AU 14) & that was when the modelling world opened up to her & the work started to flood in - when she embraced her natural size and her curves. Up til that point plus size girls didnt do runway/Vogue. Crystal's presence was so mesmerising that she became the most successful plus size model in history and designers were cutting samples for her specific curves.

This was REAL success and happiness & it doesnt depend on being a size 0:

Photo below:

At the top, shot by Steven Meisel, for US Vogue April 2004 - the launch of a plus size career.
At the bottom, with Jean Paul Gaultier on the SS 2006 runway.



Covers as a plus size - wow!





The book offers an honest account through Crystal's eye's of the modelling industry, as well as an account of our weight obsessed culture. Its a story of ambition and strength that goes beyond anything a camera can capture.

It was a rivetting read - I couldnt put it down.

Anyone who is weight obsessed or glamourises the modelling industry must read this.



Sunday, January 22, 2012

Core item - Sussan striped jacket







For those of you that love Sussan clothes, you may be aware there was a recent drop - recent as in beginning of last week - as in, two weeks ago.

The time frame is important & here's why...




During the time since the drop, one item in particular has virtually sold out - within days of arrival.


Its a navy & white horizontal stripe ponte jacket with 3/4 sleeves & a single front button.







What is ponte?






Its a fabric that the designers started with & is now on the high street that is a thick stretch jersey with wonderful breathability. Compositions vary slightly, but this one is 75% viscose/20% nylon/ 5% elastene.


Yikes - horizontal stripes?

Dont worry about horizontal stripes making you look bigger - these are narrow, so that isnt a problem.






Its not lined, nor does it have shoulder pads - but the fabric is forgiving & it sits beautifully.




It has openings at the sleeves so they can be turned back & a single vent at the back for more ease.









Core items rock, they really do.


This is a classic item & always will be - no matter what the trends are for this season or the next ten seasons.






If your wardrobe frustrates you (50% of women will put their hand up here), this is a classic core piece which you should own that you can wear back with pants, jeans, skirts & dresses.





Granted its not glitzy, shoulder baring nor studded, but its smart, polished and can look sophisticated or casual depending on how you style it.





Given the enormous popularity of this item - it has to have something special going for it - suggest if you are near a Sussan in the next day or so, ask for it, try it on & if it looks good, buy it. Its $110.




Its also on their web site - do peek (www.sussan.com.au)


Did I buy one?




I tried it on & it looked great. But guess what? I am the queen of core pieces. Seriously.





I already have something virtually identical which I had purchased last summer from David Jones from a German brand called Basler.





As the queen of core pieces I also have two cheapies, one in black with white stripes & the other in white with black stripes - both from Ally (great cheap & cheerful store near Wynyard station in Sydney). I wear the cheapies when I am grocery shopping or very very casual.

Skirt report - Witchery pleated drape pocket skirt



A reader who was unable to access a bricks and mortar store asked me about this skirt - she knew that I had seen it in real life and was considering buying it on line.


The subject


White pleated waist summer skirt with viscose opaque lining and viscose chiffon outer. It has small pleats at waist at front centre and back and the outer fabric overlaps at front allowing opening & creating floaty effect. It was two side pockets which drape over the outer fabric. It has a back invisible zip and is knee length.


Location


David Jones in the Sydney CBD had this skirt in every size on a very crowded reduced rack. I know the skirts had been there for a while. This makes me think that they havent been popular instead of having been replenished.




When something doesnt sell, there is usually a reason why. ..Lets see if we can figure that out - it may help us figure out whether its worth us purchasing it.



Colour



White - pale colours reflect light & make things appear larger than they are.

A white skirt will make the bottom half look bigger.

If you are pear shaped - run, fast.

If you are an inverted triangle, try this on - it may help balance you out.




Tummy bulk



The skirt is best for a thin girl - since it has the pleats at the waist band (front & back), they can add bulk. A narrow belt would look great with this skirt. Me? I have a tummy & a half - so I prefer drop waists or flat fronts.




Best top



A top for this is best worn very loose. If you choose to wear a top fitted, then wear it no longer than the waist - any longer, the top will wrinkle over the draped pockets. The fitted top will almost have a Mad Men type of look.



Snags, pulls?



Now, here is the one that surprised me.............I checked all the skirts at DJs and not one had any pulls or snags. Considering the delicate outer fabric, that was great going. My experience is that fabrics that pull will start pulling in a store and of that hasnt happened after a few weeks, then the fabric is quite durable.





Price




From $149.95 to $79.95



Conclusion?




Worth trying on.





But if you look at yourself in the mirror and dont absolutely LOVE the way it looks on you, then walk away, IMMEDIATELY.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Country Road inspired by Dries Van Noten





Designer fakes

We all know about designer fakes.
Often sold on the streets, in closeted apartments next to foreign airports or on line - always at a fraction of the real cost of the IT bag or the IT shoe or the latest look.
Prado, Hermas, Louis Vuiton, Channel...the list goes on.

Basically, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.


Inspired by.......

But lets go to something more subtle.....stores know that the laws against copying are getting tougher and tougher. Also that since times are tougher, these laws are being enforced successfully more and more often that ever before.

So the solution from the retailer's perspective is to be "inspired" by a designer look.
Its not copying. Its inspiration. Just like a recent Facebook post about being inspired by the recent 2012 Golden Globes gowns worn by the likes of Angelina, Jessica etc.


Country Road


Today I was walking past the Country Road store in Sydney's QVB - the window looked at me & this is what I saw....


Its the spliced dress and its new stock.

Also the spliced top.......


.............inspired by..............Dries Van Noten...........


It was then that some Dries Van Noten memories came back to me.......this is AW 2011





and another - similar concept.....AW 2011......




And if thats not exciting enough, here are some other pieces from the same collection......I am sure we will see more high street retailers be inspired by Dries over the coming winter.....




& again......




Interestingly, Dries did this spliced concept a few years ago too - AW 2009....see this....



& this....


also this...




Spliced with neutrals


& look at how a spliced top works well with neutrals.....




Here's the beauty of this.......



Strictly the Southern Hemisphere follows the looks from the New York, London, Milan & Paris Fashion Weeks.

But due to the internet, we can see the looks from the northern hemisphere immediately. That means the copy/inspired artists can get the copied looks into the stores within weeks. In fact, the Zaras/Topshops of this world can have it on the floor within a couple of weeks of seeing it on the runway at fashion week.



This means that in the southern hemisphere the item can be on the floor of the high street store before the actual season has started. Sounds amazing, eh?

Hence how I saw the Country Road spliced stuff in the store in January 2012 when the Dries collection from which it was inspired AW 2012 (southern hemisphere) (which was available to viewing from northern hemisphere AW 2011)....make sense? Yep!


A couple of other notes.....


Paprika

& the last photo I have included is also Dries AW 2009 - not to show splicing, but to show what looks to me to be the most popular colour on the Australian high street ATM.....the colour of the below model's pants.......that deep cinnamon, aka spice, aka paprika, aka ginger, well, you get the idea......get something in that colour NOW. If the colour doesnt suit your complexion, then get a skirt or pants or shoes etc




Enjoy, til next time.

PS: A photo of the lovely Dries Van Noten (at the end of the AW2012 show) - one of the most amazing designers ever to come out of Melbourne.....




Friday, January 20, 2012

Colour, pattern & eye movement









This blog post is all about being able to make colour & pattern work for you to produce a more flattering YOU.


Fashion mantras

In order to get value from this blog post, you need to recall the following three fashion mantras:


1. Dark colours absorb light & make things look smaller; while light colours reflect light & make things look larger
.


2. If you want to look taller & slimmer, aim for your outfit to cause the viewer's eye to move upwards or up/down.


3. If you want to look fuller & shorter, aim for your outfit to cause the viewer's eye to move horizontally.


Eye movement


The eye moves in various directions due to placement, size and colour of seams, hems, sleeves, baubles, bling, stripes, zippers, buttons, size & scale of patterns - pretty much anything.



I came across some dresses recently which said "put me on the blog about colour & pattern placement. So here we go........

From a boutique in the Sydney CBD, the recent window:




Three similar dresses - but not the same - the placement of patterns and the colours gives a very different impact for each dress & each dress will flatter 3 very different shapes.

From left to right.....


Frock A


The colour above the waist brings the eye upward - always a win.

The large area of white below the waist makes the hip area seem larger. The is good if you have small hips & not so good if you have larger hips.

If you are wearing this, make sure that those sugary pinks & yellows suit your complexion.

Also check whether the "white" is true white or off white/cream. Most people will suit one or the other better - not both equally.




Frock B


The dark area above the waist makes her bust look smaller. Not a good look if you already have a small bust. Good if you have a larger bust, although ideally, large busts benefit more if they have lower scoop necks.

The flowers below the waist, in lighter colours, serve to emhasise the hips in comparison to the top area.

If you have fair skin, navy will be a better colour than black.





Frock C


The concentrated print at the waist brings attention to the waist.
But because the waist area is a darker colour than the rest of the frock, it makes the waist look extra small compared to the bust/hips. I'd say this is a good thing for most girlies!

Since the flowers are spread evenly at both top AND bottom, this dress has the most potential to suit most shapes.

The belt colour tones in with the flowers, so provides definition, but isnt so strong that it causes the eye to move horizontally.......




OVERALL RESULT:


It really does depend on whether you are bottom heavy, top heavy or evenly proportioned as to which dress is best.

The thing that stood out for me though, was Dress C moved the eye up & down very nicely. The other two dresses tended to move the horizontally.


Stella dress in Myer

Unless you are super skinny & need fattening up, this Stella dress is a disaster as far as eye movement is concerned. The eye moves horizontally with the flowers at the bust, then it hops down and moves horizontally at the hem. Its not even a smooth movement to the hem...its a jump.......Eeeeeewwwww. Who wants a dress where the eye ends up at the hem & makes you look fat? Not me.






Web dress D - unknown designer

This one still has a horizontal seam at the waist, but its more subtle than Stella (no garden at the waist). Plus it has the vertical buttons. So the eye still vertically and downward toward the flower garden. Even if it has a horizontal neckline, its till much better than Stella.




Web dress E - unknown designer

As far as seams go, this is better still, as there are no horizontal seams.....so its more up & down than dress D and Stella.
However it makes the girl look a tad solid through the waist as the background in that area is white. If they had started the black background a tad higher, it would have slimmed her waist even more and been better.



Web dress F - unknown designer

How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways......


a) The black background has started at the waist.


b) The border isnt heavy handed in the horizontal direction & has quite a vertical lift


c) The pleat-y things at the front literally provide a vertical road map better than any GPS.


d) The deep vee neck also moved the eye up & down.






Frock G
- from Portmans in Rouse Hill

It was perfect for this blog post, so I snapped it.






a) Darker background in the middle whittling away the waist Even though a larger pattern normally makes the body look larger, the dark background corrects this perfectly

b) Toning belt to highlight waist but not but the girl in half and break our eye movement


c) Medium size pattern on top & bottom, so as not to make them look larger than life


d) Lighter background on top - great if you have small bust


e) Medium background on bottom - great to minimise large hips

Do your homework and shop around






A couple of months prior, when I realised I was obsessed with broderie anglaise, I started to look everywhere for it. Especially white. Not cream, white. White looks best even if the quality of the embroidery isnt super duper top shelf.

I made mental lists if where I saw various pieces, tops, dresses mainly & the prices.

OK, I lie - I carry a note book with me & I was writing it all down in the pages headed "Broderie Anglaise Hunt Nov 2011". Perfectly normal. Not OCD at all.

So what did I find?

I saw loads of cottons/rayons - eeeewwwww

Then there were the linen mixes - not good enough.

& then I went & bought a 100% cotton top from Witchery ($60), an 100% cotton beach cover from Zara ($50)

& for some reason I love broderie that much that I STILL kept my eyes open for me.

Then I saw the tee shirts - easy to wear over old faithful jeans...cant have enough white tees....

Sussan $79.95 - 50% cotton/ 50% modal





Knowing that this stuff doesnt move overnight & they have a gazillion stores, I could "watch" it for a while until it was reduced......& voila! Its now $49.95.


Tar-jay $29 - 100% cotton

While I was "watching", I did a double take at Tar-jay.....its almost twin sister appeared.....and its twin was in one of the catalogues too & had an identical twin in coral. It was priced at $29. It was 100% cotton.





& then.......... its price was reduced to ...wait for it.....$19. So I finally made a purchase.

What factors influenced me to buy?


Sure there are differences in shape - bear in mind the Tar-jay version is a very large size (not alot left to photograph & mine was in the wash...) while the Sussan version was from the web (where they use tiny sizes & pin & adjust at the back to made the garments look amazing)......

But in terms of stitching & pattern - any differences didnt matter to me it was just a casual tee for jeans.

(In this case, in terms of fabric quality - the Tar-jay was my preference - this was a bonus).

But I was more than happy to pay $19 for Tar-jay and leave the Sussan version alone on the basis that it was a simple item which my value system didnt feel the need to pay alot of money for.....

Now there is a moral to this story, actually, 2 morals.....

1. It pays to shop around.
2. Know thyself & know what you are looking for and how much you are prepared to pay.....let me explain.....

Which garments should you be willing to pay more for?

Sometimes the quality & look of a garment will matter greatly. In those cases it is worth paying more for that item. Things that come to mind in that category are good quality core pieces of your wardrobe that you intend to have for many years - jackets & structured suits, wool/cashmere sweaters, coats, a trench.


Which garments should you be willing to pay less for?

In contrast you can get away with lesser quality (& lesser price & lesser "labels") for things like jeans, tees, casual shirts, beach wear (unless your on a resort with Kate & William) & anything trendy & of the moment that you dont expect to wear beyond the one season.


What if you have an unhealthy obsession with something?

Then you may not be able to hold back & you will spend gobs of money. We've all been there!

& NO, I am NOT tempted to go back & also get the Sussan version, nor a back up of the Tar-jay version.....at least not yet.....