Month: April 2011

Try this at home!

I love fashion magazines; I really do. I’m a sucker for the glossy eye candy and willing to overlook all sorts of flaws … like impracticality, superficiality, phoniness, and the occasional moment of sheer silliness. [Practically anything except outright meanness – I’m looking at you, Marie Claire, and I have not forgotten.]  I think I understand their basic raison d’etre and modus operandi (which are one and the same) – to sell an aspirational lifestyle that will never be anything but fantasy for a large majority of its reading public in the hopes that those same people might still be persuaded to flex their consumer muscles in some modest, but vital way. I don’t begrudge fashion mags this prerogative. In fact, I like looking at pretty things, even if (and sometimes, especially if) I can’t afford to have them; the mundane is never in short supply in my day-to-day life – a little fantasy is a welcome distraction. [Even if it leads to an unrequited passion for, oh say, a YSL bag. Ahem.] But I do have one pet peeve about fashion mags.

OK, in reality it’s probably more like two or three, but I don’t want to digress. The thing that bugs me the most is when they try to go for what I call “middle class cred”. What I mean by that is the effort to “relate” to the “average” person (i.e. not a socialite, millionaire’s wife, or famous actress/model/celebutante) by showing them how to be stylish on a “regular” budget. Now, I’m all for de-bunking the notion that style is something to which only the very wealthy can aspire. In fact, I’ve tried to make that point here more than once. What bothers me about the attempts of fashion mags to do the same is that their efforts smack of condescension to me. You want to show me that an outfit that costs $5,000 can be recreated for $500? Great … but since when is $500 chump change? You want to show me how fabulous an outfit can be put together from pieces each under $100? Great … but how about an entire outfit for under $100?

To some degree, it’s not in the magazines’ interest to show people that they don’t need to spend a ton of money to look nice (and, hint, that all those expensive things advertised in their pages are not really the key). I get that. But when it comes to trying to be relatable – and please excuse my language – s**t or get off the pot. If you’re serious about showing (truly) affordable alternatives to high fashion, great. If not, great. But don’t try to disguise the advertising of mid-tier labels or designers as something that it’s not. You’re not fooling anyone. 

With that said, there are some magazines out there that do get it right. I was impressed with the April issue of LouLou, which featured a “real life” look inspired by an outfit worn by Kim Kardashian. Debatable inspiration aside, LouLou hit it out of the ballpark with the pieces selected, which for a change were truly affordable. [Minus the necklace; you can probably find something similar in the $20 range at a variety of retailers.]  


I also have to give props to LouLou for featuring locally available brands – there’s nothing like seeing a piece you love in a magazine, only to discover it’s only carried at an overseas invitation-only boutique that doesn’t ship internationally.

So, to end my mini-rant on a positive note, I would encourage you to try this at home – pick an outfit you love from a magazine, and challenge yourself to re-create it to fit your life. I am more than happy to share tips, ideas and shopping suggestions with anyone looking to get started. So if you have something in mind, drop me a line at bluecollarredlipstick@gmail.com, and let’s get creative!


The social calendar: Over the Top Fashion Swap

For those of you intrigued by the idea of clothes swaps, who haven’t yet had an opportunity to experience the fun first-hand, here is your chance: the folks behind last year’s city-wide Over The Top Fashion Swap are doing it again.
This year, the swap runs Saturday, April 30 (10 am-6 pm) and Sunday, May 1 (11 am-5 pm) at Edmonton’s Telus Field. The one-of-a-kind,  sustainable event includes a citywide fashion swap, a marketplace, access to spa services and complimentary make-overs. Attendees can swap 6 – 12  of their best clothing and accessory items,  receiving gold, silver, or bronze swap tokens for each qualifying item brought in. Items can be dropped off ahead of time, at select Budget Car and Truck Rental locations. All clothing that remains at the end of the two-day event will be donated to the Canadian Diabetes Association and the Bissell Centre.

Tickets are available at any early drop-off location ($20) or on the day of the event ($25). A limited number of early bird tickets can be purchased for  $15 online, where you can also check out more information on the event.
So if you’re looking for a way to replenish your wardrobe, refresh yours style, and contribute to a good cause – all in an eco- and budget-friendly way – the Over The Top Fashion Swap might just be your ticket!!


 

Love, love, love

It’s been a difficult spring so far, hasn’t it? All this one-step-forward-two-steps-back drunken waltz we’re having with Mother Nature is making me (and everyone else) cranky. We haven’t had much opportunity to break out our old “warm weather” wardrobe yet, much less experiment with new spring/summer trends. But that’s not to say that exciting things aren’t happening elsewhere.
One of the accessories I’m seeing more and more in the pages of fashion mags is the obi belt.
Gucci spring/summer 2011
And I’m liking what I’m seeing. Of course, I can only look, longingly, and hope that the trend sticks around for a few more months. You, lucky ducks, don’t have to employ your patience – why not give it a try? The current take on the obi belt is very versatile, so you don’t have to worry about working a “theme” in order to pull it off. The all-leather versions out there (like the one from Mexx shown in the photo below) can work as a classic waist-cincher belt, so they’re probably your best long-term investment.
The crafty can probably make their own fabric obi belts at home … hmmm, another reason to wish I’d paid more attention when my grandma was attempting to teach me the basics of sowing.
Speaking of cool accessories, the “schoolgirl” satchel continues to gain in popularity. I’ve always been partial to the Mulberry “Alexa” bag, named after fashion-world darling and hipster icon Alexa Chung, and it seems like the rest of the world is now getting on board.
 The original
 Marni

The look is showing up on other brands’ line-ups and slowly making its way to the malls. I like the combination of slouchiness and structure – it’s a little more “hip” that last year’s popular lady-like bags, but still a classic style that will hold up over time.
MICHAEL Michael Kors

 Banana Republic

One of my biggest temptations over the last few months has been – for once – not a bag, but a haircut. Sometime last spring, caught up in the agony of the mullet stage of growing out my hair, I vowed not to cut my hair short again for at least 10 years. Turns out, I was a little hasty in my hyperbolic promises. My hair hasn’t even yet reached the length that I’d been aiming for all along (dreams of Raphaelite-like tresses may have been invoked at some point), and I’m itching to go under the scissors again. It doesn’t help that everywhere I turn, I seem to come across an impossibly cute and chic blonde pixie.
Or a sexy and chic blonde bob.

Basically, everything that is not long hair. It’s seriously testing my resolve to continue coasting on my current hormone-induced hair-growth spurt. [Hey, pregnancy doesn’t have that many perks, one has to get the most out of it.]

And speaking of the current situation, one thing about which I am definitely not ambivalent is the wrap dress. Thank goodness for my wrap dresses, they’ve been a wardrobe lifeline! This is definitely one garment that I would recommend for any woman, because it’s guaranteed to make her feel and look good. It’s comfy and, ahem, “accommodating” (shall we say) to body fluctuations, while still being flattering and stylish. I know some ladies are concerned about the potential for cleavage spillage, but that can be easily remedied either by layering a camisole or tank top underneath, or by investing in some double-stick tape. 

Behold, the miraculous powers of the wrap dress!