Month: January 2011

The online fashionista

Today’s post is brought to you by our very first guest blogger, Cat R. Cat is a long-time reader of the blog, and a fashionista in her own right. Although she will be leaving our fair city soon, we won’t hold that against her – if she promises to keep us posted on the fashion and shopping scene on the West Coast.

Oh, Edmonton. The Whyte Ave boutiques, the upscale allure of City Centre Place and of course, that big ol’ mall. So many shops to choose from – until the temperature drops to deep-freeze and even the glamorous appeal of the Michael Kors store at Southgate isn’t enough to get this rainforest transplant out of the house. What’s a fashion-minded Vancouverite to do?
This is where the Internet comes to the aid of the fair-weather shopper like a knight in shining armour. It took a while to get me on the eBay bandwagon, but as my clothing tastes have gotten increasingly finicky and I started developing my own personal style as a way to relieve the doldrums of a hostile winter, the unique finds on sites like Etsy and Overstock.com have become little digital storks delivering brown paper packages of joy to my door with increasing regularity.
Like Winners, consignment stores and Boxing Day sales, online shopping isn’t always the best approach if you’re looking for something very specific, as a number of online stores seem to be selling off the dregs of last season’s products. Now, this isn’t always a bad thing, as it is often the reason for the amazing deals that are to be found. Also, sometimes the opposite holds true – an item that might be sold out of every store in Edmonton can often be found only online, allowing you to track down the last shoe, belt, or other object of your affection in existence. If you see an item you like in a store or magazine, simply note the brand and style name, switch on your computer and go hunting.
Here’s an online shopping success story: I had been looking for the perfect pair of simple, good-quality black pumps for months and had even shelled out big bucks for a pair of Geox heels that ultimately had to be returned because of the poor fit. Then, while killing time at home one afternoon,  I found these babies:

Originally weighing in at a whopping $280, I snagged the last pair of these gorgeous Coach heels for $65, plus shipping. It was a gamble, as you need to know your sizes pretty darned well to avoid constant returns, but they fit perfectly right out of the box. One way around the sizing dilemma is to take a rather sneaky approach. If there is a specific item you like, you can often try it on in a real store, then go home and order it on any number of discount fashion websites. This is a good way to find out what brands look good on you and how their sizing works, and you will quickly learn to identify at a glance what will suit you and what won’t. Another advantage of the online shopping world is that it can be a great way to send gifts to friends and family in far-away lands, as the click of a mouse handles the shopping, wrapping, and shipping for you in one fell swoop.

Some of my favourite sites:

eBay
Amazon
Overstock
Beyond The Rack
Etsy

If you want a specific item, most stores and fashion labels have their own websites that you can order products from. The deals aren’t quite as good as you would find on a site like eBay, and they will often have cleared out any older stock to stores like Winners or online sellers, but it’s usually the best place to find current items and ask questions about fit, especially for smaller boutiques or higher-end labels where a real person will call or e-mail you back. One caveat: make sure you check out each seller’s return policy and shipping costs before you commit to buying, or you could be stuck footing an outrageous postage cost to return an item that didn’t work out. As for security, eBay and some other sites will allow buyers to “rate” sellers, giving you a good idea of who is selling a quality product, if they ship on time, etc. A Paypal account will ensure the safety of your credit card number when buying from an unknown seller.

Spring may be months away, but I see no reason to freeze these Fluevog-clad tootsies off anytime soon on my quest for stylistic perfection. eBay, here I come!

Manicure of the week: best of the rest

I was a busy girl in the second half of 2011 – in between midnight feedings, all-hour diaper changes, and endless loads of laundry, I managed to accumulate quite the nail polish collection. Ahem. So much for my original plan to stick to Chanel. Although I plan to keep up the current “Manicure of the week” feature on the blog for the time being – and stick to Chanel, at least most of the time – I thought I would put together a quick roll of “honourable mentions” for other polishes that became favourites this year.

A brave new world

Can you believe it? The second decade of the 21st century is upon us. Rather than reminisce (which only makes me feel even older), much better to take a look at the trends for 2011, no? January’s Elle Canada had a handy guide to what’s “in” for the new decade, with tips for both “early adopters” (the hipper-than-thou) and “late bloomers” (everyone else). Here’s a peek at some of the style trends:

Colour: If you can believe it, peapod green is “it”. As a redhead, I’m never averse to a spot of green in my wardrobe, but this shade strikes me as a bit of a challenge in terms of matchability. Elle does (helpfully?) suggest that irreverent colour combos are also “in” for spring/summer 2011, so perhaps matchability is not the point. For the less adventurous, honeysuckle (a vibrant pinkish-red) is another option. 
Or you can take a look at the Pantone Fashion Colour Report for 2011, which lists a number of additional “hot” shades.

[From top left to right: PANTONE 18-2120 Honeysuckle; PANTONE 18-4039 Regatta- a cool blue; PANTONE 16-1349 Coral Rose-a sophisticated orange; PANTONE 14-0941 Beeswax- a warm, honeyed yellow; PANTONE 14-6324 Peapod; PANTONE 15-4825 Blue Curacao- a carribean turquoise; PANTONE 18-1235 Russet- a chocolate brown; PANTONE 12-1206 Silver Peony- a baby pink; PANTONE 15-3817 Lavender- a light, romantic purple; and PANTONE 15-4502 Silver Cloud- a quintessential neutral]

Fabric: I hope you like crochet, dear fashionistas. Because, apparently, that’s what all the cool people will be wearing in 2011. I can’t say that I’ll be one of them, but I can console myself with lace (which I adore) – the option for the non-adventurous.

Style revival: I guess it was only a matter of time – the ’70s are coming back. Since, for me, that conjures up only thoughts of bell-bottoms, polyester shirts and silk jumpsuits, I’ll be sticking to last year’s avant garde trend, ’40s ladylike style. It will be interesting, though, to see the ’70s re-imagined for the ’10s masses, mall-style. Is it going to be more Farrah Fawcett, all-American girl, or Bianca Jagger, Studio 54 bombshell? Time (and H&M) will tell.

Make-up: Although they tend to garner much less fanfare than the latest collections, I guess there are still people out there who give thought to make-up trends. I’m not sure their efforts this year are much to my taste: for the adventurous, bold yellow eye-shadow is the thing. Not a look that works with my pasty skin, nor my office-dwelling 9-to-5 existence. I’ll stick to sheer gold eye-shadow, thanks. The choice for the “late bloomers” is not much better: bold orange eye-shadow. Not sure whom this look might flatter, but it’s definitely not a redhead. A coppery shadow, in moderation, is a more realistic option.
Shoe: Anyone with tortured feet (like me) can rejoice this year, because the kitten heel is not only back – it’s the “it” shoe of the season. Elegant but also practical, it’s a great companion to the ’40s style aesthetic. The runner-up for 2011 is the platform – good news for gals addicted to height.

Hair: If you’re in the market for a new hairstyle, why not try the grazing bob (a shoulder-length, blunt cut). It’s this year’s pixie cut – the style on everyone’s, well, head. But if you’re already rocking the pixie, and dread the growing-out process, take heart: the pixie will still be turning heads in 2011.