Friday, November 30, 2012

Outfit Idea # 8. Black and Gold.

I made this top during this summer form Butterick pattern 5753, but for a while I could not entirely figure out how to make it more versatile. It wasn't until now that I was inspired by the gold holiday trend that I know how to take this shiny number from day to night.

Golden Worker

If you fear wearing too much gold to work, fear no more. It is actually easy if you pair it with basics like black skinnie jeans and a black tailored jacket. Keep your jewelry and accessories to the minimum and your look will not be excessive yet will still speak "It's a Holiday Season!"

Shiny Showstopper

 I don't know about you but I see gold everywhere these days. So I decided to wear this top with shiny gold skinnie pants for the evening look. Daring heels with a chain detail and bold statement gold-tone earrings perfectly complete the outfit. Don't forget your gold-tone and gun metal bangles and an envelope clutch. Voila! You are ready to party!

Happy Holidays! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More Fashionable Reads

Today I wanted to share three very different yet equally awesome books with you.

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress: A Novel
I picked this book off the shelf in the library because it had the word seamstress in the title and because it had shoes on its cover. (Yes, I choose my books by their titles and covers, don't you???) I did not know what to expect but boy! was I in for a treat. The story takes place during the Cultural Revolution in China, when the children of professionals declared "the enemies of state" were sent to remote villages for "re-education." That topic alone would have been enough to enthrall me even if the book contained no characters in it who were seamstresses. In the village, the main characters get hold of the forbidden books, befriend the Little Chinese Seamstress, the most beautiful girl on the mountain, and share their lust for books with her. Written in a beautiful poetic language, this novel is full of symbolism. The most prominent symbol here is Balzac or the book - it stands for education, broadened outlook on the world and the self, it signifies the idea of many possibilities of life. Life beyond what is. Unfortunate to protagonists, their arduous reading habit educates the Seamstress out of the village where they, on the other hand, are doomed to stay to continue their "re-education" for an indefinite period of time. Given their parents' status they might never leave. I found this irony heartbreaking. Dai Sijie perfectly conveys the injustice of the regime through personal relationships and destinies of the characters. The second important symbol is, of course, the clothes. The political uniform which enslaves the boys doomed for "re-education" in the country becomes liberating attire for the Seamstress who makes the Mao jacket fit her perfectly and wears it on her journey to the city.

Yet another historic novel came my way and I could not resist the urge to read it due to the reasons stated above: the title and the cover! Written in a very Victorian style, this novel is about Veda, a tailor's daughter, who loses her hearing at age sixteen and, for the lack of any other prospects in life, takes over her fathers tailoring business. Contrary to the Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, this book is rich with descriptions of Victorian clothing and clothes-making. Since that was my main interest in reading the book let me indulge and share some of my favourite quotes:

"Ever since I can remember, I have been in thrall to elegance and style. I observed things that slipped by unnoticed to everyone except my father, like a thread hanging from a buttonhole or clumsy shoulder padding. He had an eye for perfection and we could easily be swept to rapture by the suppleness of a doe-skin glove."

"Of course my primary interest was how clothing might enhance the human form, how it might hide or correct the faults of an imperfect body that is generally quite lumpy and lopsided... It was always the way fabric could be molded to the human form that intrigued me, the way a tailor could gently stretch and shape a superfine worsted under the weight of a hissing steam iron to restore a bit of youthful dignity to a slope-shouldered old man."

"After all, any dodger could cut cloth from a pattern, but a good tailor had to develop a quick eye to seize at a glance the shape of a lapel or a particularly interesting trimming on a cuff. A tailor is a judicious thief, stealing a line here and a cut there in the time it takes a man to alight from his coach.. and then he takes this memory to the cutting bench and interprets what he has seen with his own particular mark."

Delicioulsy said!

This is an autobiography by a founder of a fashion public relations, branding and marketing firm People's Revolution. Kelly shares her own experiences of making it in the NYC fashion scene. The book contains raw details of her life: ups, downs, success stories and a lot of advice! It is definitely an inspirational and motivational read for any woman who wishes to learn how to become successful in fashion PR (or in any other field she loves!). Figuring out who and what you are and what you love to do is step number one! Oh, and by the way there is not straight road to where you want to get to!

Kelly also has her own reality show with a witty title Kell on Earth. It gives a glimse of what it is like to run and work in a fashion PR company. Recommended for anyone thinking of a career in this field. 

I will end with my personal favourite rule by Kelly Cutrone: 

Normal Gets you Nowhere!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Creative Event with a Cause

Last Friday the Toronto Public Library held a creative event with a cause - the 2nd Annual Arts and Crafts Fair for the United Way at North York Central Library. Staff from various Toronto Public Library branches surprised library employees as well as the patrons visiting Central with their marvelous creations. 
Art and crafts of all kinds were presented at the fair: lino cuts, tiny crocheted cats and life-sized cat sleeping mats, hand-made cards, lanterns, one of a kind hand crafted wrapping paper, stuffed toys, and jewelry jewelry jewelry! 

Adrineh's creations at TPL Arts and Crafts Fair
My coworker Adrineh Lavi was probably the most versatile exhibitor/vendor at the fair. Her table was abundant with hand-crafted cards, boxes, jewelry, textile art, and tapestries. As long as she can remember herself she was always interested in making things with her hands. When speculating about where this "itch" may come from she says that she comes from a family of carpenters, designers, sewers and crafters of other kinds. "There must be something in the genes!" she laughs. 

I would not be surprised if it were so. Her jewelry pieces are truly unique. She does not simply copy designs from DYI books. Her one-of-a-kind designs "come to her" and she feels compelled to go and seek out the right materials. "It takes a long time to get the exact beads or pieces that I need for each particular design I am making," she says. "I do not want to just make whatever. I want it to be what I envisioned it to be!" And they are nothing but that! 

Two of my personal favourites are this leather knot necklace the likes of which I have never seen before...

Adrineh's leather knotted necklace

...and this upcycled brooch. Adrineh took an old brooch shell which had missing pieces and filled it with beautiful sea shells, pearls and other findings. 

Adrineh's upcycled brooch

You can view more of Adrineh's creations here:

Another colleague of mine, Connie Hwang, surprised me with her funky over-the-shoulder bags! She has been crafting these cool numbers on and off for a number of years now. Connie likes to upcycle  old materials and clothes. She loves the idea of reconstructing and recombining "pre-loved" materials into new and exciting items with a new purpose. But she also makes bags out of new fabrics and clothing items. Her jean and cargo purses are lined with gorgeous Chinese silks. Connie also makes little charms to go onto the straps of the bags.

One of Connie's funky bags

This cute monkey was getting all the attention at her table during the fair. Unfortunate for curious shoppers, he was not for sale.

Monkey-the-Model showing off his over-the-shoulder bag

Like true artists, Adrineh and Connie both agree that they cannot be forced to make things. Inspiration has to come to them first. Once it does however, they find it hard to stop. The process of creation compels them to keep going. I think I know exactly what they mean. It was delightful to see my familiar coworkers in this unfamiliar artistic light!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Outfit Idea #7. Slouchy Floral Pants.

They have been long "in the thinking" but only happened to be "in the making" 2 days ago - my slouchy floral pants! I have been wanting them since summer but my busy life has only now given me a chance to make them. And they are that more dearer for that! Dear to my heart for their fashion statement (for WGSN professes them to be the new IT pant!) and dear to my hips (for I have not had a jersey pant that would be that comfy, yet look this chic!) I used McCall's pattern 5858 to make them. And, as is usually the case with ultra chic items, I have come up with multiple ways of wearing them!

Working Woman

Wear them with the crisp white shirt (mine has roll up sleeves which adds a sportier look), a cat-print scarf or a long strand of wooden beads and shoes with a comfortable heel. You are office-ready!

Urban Tourist

White tank top, jacket and fedora hat turn these pants into an easy day about town kind of an outfit. Not without an edge however! Grab your over the shoulder bag and comfy loafers and you can run for miles!
Night Diva

How do you add glam to slouchy-fitting stretch pants? Easy! Pair it with a lace (or better gold sequinned) tank top. Add some 'bling' and sky-high heels. I'm wearing my faithful nude peep-toe heels and a "half-face" necklace I acquired in NYC. I absolutely adore it for it instantly transforms an outfit from casual to glamorous! 

Have a chic and slouchy day everyone!