Sunday, May 30, 2010

CHI SPA

I am still in Asia and am seeing my entire family complete for the first time in many years.  At one time, we were scattered across 3 continents.  So on special occasions like these, my sisters and I sometimes get together for some girl bonding.  This time, we decided to go to the Chi Spa in the Shangri-La Hotel.

Shanri-La Chi Spa's private soaking pool
We've been to spas around the world but agreed that this was the best spa treatment we had ever had!  The private treatment rooms included our own bathroom and changing area.  We were first led to our own outdoor soaking pool with sea salts and flower petals.  We found ourselves giggling as we floated around the pool.  Then, after steaming up, we proceeded to have a Coconut and Cardamom scrub with a "secret recipe" egg yolk wrap followed by Gugo (coconut bark) Hair Treatment.  It was nice for all 3 of us to be all together in a private treatment room.

Shangri-La Chi Spa private treatment room
Even though a family emergency had brought us all together, it was wonderful to spend a few hours just being together as sisters.

What was your favorite spa experience?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

LITTLE BLACK DRESS REDUX

There is nothing more iconic in fashion history than the Little Black Dress, otherwise known as the LBD.  Every closet should have at least one.   Here's a look at the many incarnations the LBD might take and where you can don them.

L-R: Valentino, Lanvin, Bottega Veneta (style.com)





TRENDY DINNER WITH FRIENDS

If you are going out bar-hopping or trying out a trendy restaurant, an LBD with cascading ruffles down the bib lends the spirit of fun.  You can cinch it with a wide belt for a modern look, or leave it as is.


Moschino

GALLERY HOPPING OR FILM PREMIERE
 This Moschino LBD is wonderfully arty and edgy.  It begs for boots to go with them.  The height of the boots depend on the state of your legs:
  • Long, sexy legs look great with ankle boots or gladiator heels
  • Others might need the balancing effect of calf-high or even over-the-knee boots
  • Architectural jewelry in sharp silver top it off smartly

Narciso Rodriguez
OFF TO THE SYMPHONY

The cowl neck softens the classic sheath shape of this Narciso Rodriguez dress.  It is serious enough for seats to the Symphony and will look great for years.  You can modernize with platform pumps or strappy ankle shooties.

Because of its simple shape, it can do double duty at work, with a structured bag and even a leather belt.  Throw a tailored jacket on top, and you're all business.


VACATION LBD


When I need a packable, simply glamorous evening dress,  I reach for this stretchy halter dress with keyhole decolletage.  Lida Baday makes lots of dresses in stretch, black jersey which defies wrinkles in the suitcase.

This LBD works just as well on a beach vacation for a fancy dinner, yet is sophisticated enough for the big city.

Where are you taking your LBD out to?




Monday, May 24, 2010

AIRPORT STYLE

I have to go travel again - this time, at the very last minute with only a few hours to prepare and heading for a tropical climate.  I have never packed so quickly in my life.  I reduced my color palette to black, white and turquoise for simplicity.

My airport outfit was probably the easiest to put together.

Celebrity airport styles from truejeans.com

Though I am not a celebrity-style tracker, I thought it apt to show how they dress for the airport.  I tend to follow the same basics:  stretchy jeans, big scarf, light jacket, comfortable boots, and the roller case.

All aboard!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

COST OF DRESSING

Trivia:  I just saw this hilarious survey pricing up what most women wear on a daily basis.

$1,500 worth of clothes and accessories

Apparently, when we add up all our clothes, jewelry and accessories, we are decked out to the value of about $1,500.  This obviously does not apply to Carrie from "Sex in the City" whose mere shoes routinely get close to that total number.

Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie in "Sex in the City 2"

Anyway, we all know that great Style is not about the cost of the clothes but how we wear them!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

BLACK TIE EVENT

This resumes the series of blogs on Fancy Dress Occasions.

Perhaps the most confusing invitation reads "Black Tie Optional."  What does this really mean?

This generally means going beyond work attire into evening wear.  Ladies may stick to dresses but  fabrics go beyond the wools, cottons and gabardines for day wear.  A beautiful cocktail dress is expected, a long gown even better.  If it is seriously only "Black Tie", you know you are in gown territory.

Fancy dress balls might necessitate the pouffy ball gown for the sake of tradition.  For other occasions, you can opt for more sophisticated chiffons or satin bias cut gowns that evoke elegance and glamor.

Elie Saab Spring/Summer 2010
Marchesa gown
Elie Saab (left) presented many sophisticated gowns for the Spring/Summer 2010 collection in Paris.  Marchesa (below) makes beautifully intricate gowns.

Affordable labels also produce gowns catering to Prom and wedding events.  For example, J. Crew and Ann Taylor have wedding lines.

One designer duo that consistently fashions gorgeous evening wear is Badgley Mischka.  Their creations are often on the red carpet.







floral beadwork
I wore this to a "Black Tie" wedding reception at the beach in the Hamptons a few years ago.  It has several layers of silk and chiffon which brought "Sea Nymph" to mind, particularly with a shimmery organza wrap.  The floral beading in the front and back are the only ornamentation to this otherwise simple gown -- great if you have a back and arms worth displaying!

To choose a stunning gown for you:

Floral accents in back
  • Think of your best asset, and find a gown that highlights it.
  • Where is the event?  The beach locale inspired my "Sea Nymph" look.
  • If it's a wedding, you may want to avoid the color of the Bridal Party.
  • Have it tailored to fit.  You lose the elegance if you keep adjusting your gown.

Have a glass of champagne and enjoy your Black Tie event!








*Badgley Mischka gown photos courtesy of Lily Dong.








Sunday, May 16, 2010

URBAN JUNGLE

We take a quick break from Fancy Dress Occasions to revisit the real world - Office wear!

Another on-trend spring staple is "The Safari Look".

If you are itching to show the animal in you in (unlikely) corporate surroundings, consider this:

  • Keep your animal print jacket extremely classic in shape
  • Keep your skirt, dress or slacks simple in shape and pattern (solid contrast color only)
  • All other accessories are muted
  • Brown leather belt and brown leather shoes echo the earthy theme
Vivienne Westwood Yasmin bag
Creative jobs, say in Advertising or Graphic Design, can get away with more Animal prints.

For conservative offices like Banking, this can work during an internal day when you are not meeting with clients.  How about when you need to intimidate your team into working harder?

Caution:

YSL platform pumps
Attention-grabbing as it is, I would not recommend large animal prints if you are giving a presentation.  Your audience will get dizzy looking at you. In this situation, it is much better to keep your jungle print small, say on your purse or shoe trims.

Unleash yourself in the Urban Jungle!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

CLASSIC STRAPLESS DRESS

Bottega Veneta Spring 2010
This continues a series of blogs on Fancy Dress Events

Why do so many brides and debutantes wear the classic strapless gown?  Because they are so naturally flattering!

The average woman - whatever the state of her tummy or derriere - has presentable collarbones and shoulders.  The fitted bodice of the classic strapless dress, particularly if stiff with corset boning, can seem to make any tummy flab disappear.

(Also see the  Oscar de la Renta strapless dresses from the last blog entry.)
Jason Wu Spring 2010
Interestingly, I find this shape flatters those with a bit of flesh rather than the very skinny.  Ladies with very bony shoulders and collarbones can look like the Social X-Rays of "Bonfire of the Vanities"!  In the Jason Wu dress above, the skinny model is given a little bit of volume by the intricately pinched fabric in the bodice and bulbous skirt.

Spring strapless day dress
After I gave birth to my daughter, I couldn't fit into any of my wispy evening dresses.  I gained 65 pounds during pregnancy and retained about 15 pounds after!  I had to reach for the classic strapless dresses for dressy events.


  • Choose stiffer fabrics that retain their shape and "hold you in"
  • Taffeta, Silk faille, shantung silks are some examples
  • Make sure the top fits so you are not constantly tugging all evening.
  • Time to bring out your best jewelry to accessorize: chokers or bare necks with dangly earrings look good
  • A silk organza wrap or other cover is an elegant finish
Stiff pink satin accent


      


Friday, May 7, 2010

COCKTAIL DRESSING

It seems to be that time of year when people receive invitations to weddings, Spring Galas or other dressy affairs.   If the dress code allows, a cocktail dress is a good choice.
Oscar de la Renta silk faille
Oscar de la Renta silk faille

For most people in reasonable shape (and don't worry - everyone has a figure flaw!), this means lighter fabrics like silks and chiffons for spring and summer.  If you want to contain a more rotund figure, or are advanced in age, a stiffer taffeta or silk faille might be more appropriate.

Whichever material you choose, think of playing up your assets both in terms of shape and color.



Here are a few thoughts on the softer fabrics and styles.

Fuschia Dress
beading on Fuschia dress
The Fuschia Dress:
  •  has beaded straps to emphasize the shoulders.  
  • This can balance out curvy hips.
  • The skirt bottom flares out from a tulip shape and has deconstructed ribbon accents on diagonals.

The Lavender Dress:
  •  Empire waist works for short-waisted ladies.
  • A-Line shape disguises broad hips.
  • Beading in bust area keeps attention at the face.
  • The dress has a delicate, fairy-like feel.
Lavender Dress




Beading at chest area



























Halter Dress
The Halter Dress:
  • This is full of visual tricks for someone who wants to look longer and leaner
  • The deep V-neck and vertical stripes elongate the torso
  • The skirt is cut on the bias giving a swing to the skirt
  • The diagonal lines of the skirt trick viewers into thinking your silhouette is lean and dynamic






For those who can enviably wear any wispy creation they want, I just love Alberta Ferretti's inspirational spring collection:
Alberta Ferretti Spring 2010

Biggest thanks to Lily Dong, my talented photographer friend, for shooting my dresses beautifully in this blog.


Monday, May 3, 2010

BAG IT



Hermes Birkin bag

Looking around to replace an old, spring bag?  Neutrals are perfect for practical and fashion purposes.

If you can only have one bag, the Hermes Birkin bag, or similar structured style, is a great one to have.   Mine has seen me through thousands of meetings, parties, travel ...  It always instantly adds class to any outfit.
Ruffled tote

For those who want to have fun with their purses, look for unique accents - for example, this one with dressmaker details and studs for edge.  It's a huge, everyday tote that I carry everything in, even my sketch book!

Fold-over bag and silver cuff




For the rock star in you, I found a cheap fold over shoulder bag with chain straps and steel details.  This looks right on days I want to be in skinny black jeans and black leather boots.  I use it with the silver cuff shown too.  The simple shape balances out the rocker hardware.


Quick aside on choosing stylish bags:  no logos.

  • Classy chic eschews visible logos.   Great design speaks for itself. 
  • Accessory lines have little to do with the designer himself.  They were established as business decisions to capture clients who might otherwise find the designer's clothes out of reach.  
  • You can find terrific bags at many different price points.
Personally, I find it's more fun to keep people guessing instead of announcing the label!
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