Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Juggling, juggling

>>Yikes, feeling massively guilty of my neglect of my poor blog. I will resurrect it, I certainly haven't lost interest, only time. Poor excuses but hopefully I will begin posting again, if only for myself.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

An uneasy combination

I've been watching plenty of Olympic action, and even though Canada hasn't come through with any medals yet, I'm hooked as usual. Sadly, my days of innocently (ie naively) believeing that the Olympics represent the height of integrity and purity (athletic or otherwise) are over, but I still watch transfixed in hopes of witnessing those little moments of magic. I'm a massive sports addict, but apart from certain appropriate exceptions (figure skating, tennis, maybe a few others), I get uneasy when the sports world and fashion world attempt to meet. I do tend to agree with the edict "look good, play good" - a well-designed uniform (or costume, as the case may be) is important, because it helps an athlete get in the right mindset, and helps with the intimidation factor. Then again, it's all well and good to be fashion-conscious if you're at the top of your sport, but if you don't have the game to back it up, you get accused of being more concerned about your appearance than your performance (Anna Kournikova anyone?), which is fair enough, I suppose.
But, I get especially irritated when there's too much attention paid to what the athletes are wearing or how they look. What gets me most is the incredibly irrelevant media commentary denigrating certain athletes' appearance or uniform, especially in sports where the nature of their sport isn't exactly conducive to looking sexy. To me it seems obvious that that's hardly the point, but I guess that's what happens when sports are treated as a part of the entertainment industry, and events like the Olympics now seem to be judged by whether or not they make "good television".

On the flip side, I also feel ambivalent about the fashion industry's forays into the sports world. I don't think there's anything wrong with a big-name fashion designer like Stella McCartney designing workout gear for Adidas. And I love when big designers do uniforms for national sports teams and such - why not combine elite athletics with elite design? But I do have to roll my eyes when people turn going to the gym into a fashion statement. That's not even getting into Vancouver's ridiculous obession with yoga/lifestyle apparel company/cult Lululemon - one girl actually wore Lululemon yoga pants to my high school convocation ceremony (true story).

I always laugh whenever the "sporty look" is in fashion, and the fash mags do "sporty" editorials with decidedly unathletic-looking models wearing all kinds of impractical getups, accompanied by earnest captions urging you to channel your inner Olympian by pairing leggings and track jackets with stilettos. I have no problems with sports-inspired fashion as a look, but the rhetoric cracks me up since I always end up reading it from an athlete's perspective and I can't take it seriously. I never like to be closed-minded, but I think high fashion and elite performance athletics are at such cross-purposes (ie extreme form vs extreme function), they can't ever really completely be harmonized.

Nastia Liukin

All that being said, one of the sports that do fall into my "acceptable for fashion dissection" list is gymnastics. Really, any sport where the athletes wear glitter makeup is ripe for the picking. This is US gymnast and individual all-around gold medallist Nastia Liukin, who caught my eye with her graceful presence. I find a lot of gymnasts, while extremely conditioned athletes, have very stiff, robotic movements. Nastia looks so elegant, more like a dancer than a gymnast. I really liked the leotards Team USA wore for the team competition, with the cool white swirls on shiny red - simple but impactful, unlike some of the other team's garish looks. I think Team Canada should consider bright red leotards next time.

As for me, I showed a flash of patriotism my with red and white sneakers (okay, that's not really why I wore them but I can pretend).

Striped shirtdress: Esprit; Linen cardi: from Tokyo; Belt: Muji; Chains belts worn as necklaces: Jacob and Muji; Mesh tights: Hue; Shoes: found on huge sale at Moulé

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

In The Mood For Love

In The Mood For Love

I just watched Wong Kar-Wai's In The Mood For Love for the first time last night, and I was completely blown away (I can't believe it took me this long to see it). I was enthralled by how each shot looked like a work of art in its own right, and how the colours and lighting and costumes and music all melded so seamlessly with the slow-burn narrative. My head is full of layered jewel tones and pops of bright colour and Maggie Cheung's endless parade of stunning cheongsams.

In The Mood For Love

Although I don't have any cheongsams in my wardrobe, there was plenty of inspiration to be gleaned from Love, not the least of which is the use of colour. Even just the placement of an unassuming object like a green teapot help create beautiful tapestries of colour onscreen.

The most In The Mood For Love-eqsue thing I could find (colour-wise, anyway) to wear was this scarf that I draped over a tight-fitting top and pencil skirt.

Scarf: vintage Nina Ricci

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Slouchy Ballerina

Sorry for the blurry image today, my camera refused to focus. Last week, Shay from The Ongoing Project had some great suggestions for channelling your inner ballerina. This is my very loose interpreation of the look. I dug out a pink 50s-style skirt I made a couple summers ago to be my tutu, and layered myself with casual neutrals. I'm loving playing around with my grey wrap top from Kyoto...I think next I'll try some Grecian-style draping with it.

T-shirt - Unqilo; Wrap top - from Kyoto; Skirt - made by me; Leggings - from Osaka; Lace x-strap sockettes - Chausettes

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bubble Wrapped

I completely forgot I owned this top, until all the SS08 sheer stuff started floating around. I like to call this my bubble top. I got it years and years ago at a random store in Metrotown. It looks like a tiny doll-shirt when it's all scrunched up unworn, but then it stretches to person-sized. I think I was just looking for an excuse to match something to my green Tabio tights though. I kind of wanted to push the outfit further into mermaid territory, but I didn't have the right shoes so I decided to tone it down with the grey pencil skirt.

Top - store in Metrotown; Cami - Gap; Pencil skirt - United Colours of Benneton; Pleated slipskirt - Tokyo; Tights - Tabio

Saturday, July 19, 2008


As I trawled through seemingly endless shops in Japan, in amongst the cheapo hyper-fast fashion, uber-niche subculture garb, prim office-lady clothes and fascinating but pricey desinger fare, I noticed a quieter trend in a number of similar-looking (and sweetly decorated) shops carrying natural-fibre clothes in relaxed silhouettes. The salespeople in these shops were all fully decked out in the look, consisting of loose, baggy shapes, muted tones, quiet plaids and florals, and linen aplenty.

Like everything in Japan, this "natural look" is not only a fashion trend, but an entire lifestyle concept. There's a line of books dedicated to it, with pretty photos illustrating how to live a serene, natural-themed life. I was pretty taken by the look, and bought a number of items at a few different shops. Not that I want to wear the look head-to-toe, or aspire to adopt the lifestyle, but I thought the pieces would incorporate nicely with my existing wardrobe. Plus, the loose shapes worked well for me since most fitted clothes in Japan were far too small for me. One shop I really liked was bulle de savon, where I bought this khaki-coloured linen cardi/cape. For anyone looking for the shop, there's a location in the fashion wonderland of LaForet in Harajuku. They have a cute blog too (in Japanese).

It's not the trendiest, most cutting-edge thing I encountered in Japan, but it was nice to find a look that appealed so well to my tastes.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Secret Garden

I work in boring stripmall/big box territory, but there is one oasis I can escape to on my lunch breaks. It's not really a secret garden, because lots of people go there, but it's a lovely spot to curl up and read a Victorian novel (currently working on Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters), and pretend that I don't hear the traffic passing by. Sometimes I even take a nap...

T-shirt - Uniqlo; Skirt, scarf - random stores in Tokyo; Leggings - tabio; Shoes - Rockport

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Muddling through

I really admire all the bloggers who post daily. It really doesn't take that much from your daily time pie, and there are so many bloggers who are so deftly econimcal with their words and can say a lot in a few well-thought out sentences. Not to mention the beautiful images they post.
I'm going to try and make more of an effort from now on to make time for blogging. There's still so much more I wanted to say about my trip to Japan, but I've been pushing my blog to the side in the face of work, volunteering, family drama, etc etc even if it's just an outfit post, I'm trying to keep the momentum going today!

I received this cool American Aparrel t-shirt as a birthday present. The colour changes to white with body heat to create a cool tie-dye effect (I'm not an AA diehard so I'm sure this is old news to most). I'm also probably the last person on Earth to join the leggings bandwagon. I LOVE tights and wear them constantly, but was never won over by leggings. Usually in the summer I wear nude mesh fishnets with my skirts, but I bought these cute leggings in Japan and I've been casualifying a lot of my outfits.

T-shirt - American Apparel; Skirt - Esprit; Peach lace scarf - gift from Japan; Leggings - a store in Osaka

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Kyoto Denim

Kyoto Denim Kyoto Denim

As I ventured from my Kyoto ryokan trying to find Kiyomizu Temple, I stumbled across a boutique and decided to take refuge from the stifling heat. I found myself in Kyoto Denim, where the super-friendly store manager Kazu was more than happy to tell me about designer Toyoaki Kuwayama's vision to bring kimono-dying techniques to jeans, the modern-day staple garment. Kimono literally translates to "thing to wear" - as in clothing, because kimonos used to be everyday garments. Kuwayama sees jeans as the today's equivalent in terms of functionality, and he wanted to keep the traditional art of dying and printing kimonos alive in a modern context. The result is a very lean and feminine jean, made with high-quality denim in pink or red washes with cherry blossom prints and buttons, and colourful stiching. I personally thought the quirky pocket details were really cute. The overall look of the jeans was maybe a bit too girlie for me personally (I guess because usually I want the jeans to be the tough "anchor" in an outfit rather than being the pretty part), but for some reason I always feel heartened to hear about designers trying to preserve and reuse ancient techniques.

Kyoto Denim Kyoto Denim

The other part of the Kyoto Denim store was their local young designer showcase. I thought this silk shirt with interchangeable collars and cuffs was really cute. What really caught my eye was a work of one designer, and unfortunately I can't exactly remember the name of her label. The top I purchased doesn't have a label, and the sign in the picture says "Lagrange" - that may be right, but I remember that not everything on that rack was by the same designer (hers are the ones I elegantly indicated in the photo). Kazu even gave me her business card and somehow I lost it! Sigh...
In any event, I really liked her shipwrecked fairytale aesthetic. The skirt that's second from the left on the rack was all hand-dyed using teas. Apparently she used different brands and types of tea on each "petal" piece to achieve different shades. The top that I bought can be worn forwards or backwards, to either look like a v-neck tank or a wrap vest, and comes with a braided belt. My top and the braided garment in the photo beside the petal skirt were both constructed with no needle and thread whatsoever - the designer tried to imagine how we would make clothes if we happened to be deprived of those things. All very interesting, and a not a bad distraction from my temple hunting!

Kyoto Denim

Monday, June 30, 2008

Seven Songs

I was tagged by Shay of The Ongoing Project for the seven songs I'm into right now. Here they are, with video or links to listen.

The Last Shadow Puppets - Standing Next To Me

I listened to this album a lot on the bullet train in Japan. I didn't really know what to expect from an Alex Turner side project but I love the retro romanticism of the record.

Vampire Weekend - Oxford Comma
This is such a fun, summery-sounding album

Sam Roberts - Taj Mahal
I haven't listened to his new album yet, but hopefully will do soon. This just reminds me of his wicked gig at Deer Lake Park a couple summers ago with Broken Social Scene. I wish he was coming here this summer, I hate how bands who are playing Pemberton seem to be skipping Vancouver.

The Jam - Pretty Green

Mark Ronson/Santogold's go is alright but you can't beat the original.

Don't Rain on my Parade, from Funny Girl

Because Barbra Streisand is awesome and I need to watch more musicals.

Blur - Country Sad Ballad Man
I have no idea why this song keeps getting stuck in my head.

Radiohead (well, Thom & Jonny) - The Rip (Portishead Cover)

I'm convulsing with excitement for their show...less than 2 months! This is a gorgeous cover of a great song.

I've been away so I haven't followed who's already been tagged, so if you come across this and you want to be tagged, here you go!
The rules are: "List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to."

And now, back to figuring out my Japan posts...

Back at long last

Shibuya Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto
in Yoyogi Idee Cafe, Jiyugaoka

I'm now back home in Vancouver after an absolutely unreal time in Japan, my first time there in 10 years. I crammed every day full of tons of exploring, shopping and eating, so I was pretty wiped out, but it was worth it. I started out in Tokyo and made my way to Kyoto, Osaka and Fukuoka. I was pretty excited that I actually managed to find a bunch of clothes that fit (though half of them were just t-shirts from Uniqlo). Shoes proved impossible, as did jackets and basically anything fitted, but I was very satisfied with my haul.

Shibuya stations kids Shibuya - rebellious school socks

I was too shy to ask people so I didn't take much in the way of street style photos other than a few random snaps of passersby which mostly turned out blurry. Of course, I saw lots of the notorious costumey looks like these kids in Shibuya, but in general Japanese style was all over the map. I was fascinated and inspired by the relentless experimentation, but also marvelled at how closely trends are followed and executed. The meticulous attention to detail in every aspect of life never ceased to astound me, from gorgeously presented desserts to face covers in changerooms to avoid getting sweat/makeup on garments, to this girl's sneaky subversion of the school uniform via Playboy bunny socks.

I tried to soak up as much as I could, and I will have lots of Japan-themed posts coming up over the next week or so, so stay tuned!

Monday, June 9, 2008


>>I'll be flying to Japan on Tuesday for a couple of weeks. I don't think I'll have a chance to blog while I'm away, but when I come back I'll have plenty to report from Harajuku to Hakata.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Saturday strolling

Jacket - RW&Co; Skirt - Old Navy; Tights - The Bay; Bag - Winners
...I need to work on the exposure setting for my outfit photos...With other stuff I tend to be more careful but with photos of myself I just want to get it done

I thought I was going to be working Saturday, but that didn't happen, so I had a free day to wander around Kits. It reminded me of how much I want to move back out to that area. When I lived at UBC I loved strolling around...often on a weekday afternoon when I decided I wasn't quite feeling up to Chaucer.

During my ambles I scooped up this top and scarf together for $5 at an SPCA thrift store on West Broadway before eating lunch on a secluded, rocky section of the beach. (Actually, the top is lingerie, but it's all in the name of layering)

Excursion to Deep Cove

Top, Chain belt - Jacob; Skirt - Zara; Tights - Tabio; Scarf - vintage, borrowed from my mum; Shoes - Nine West, from Winners

Yesterday I went to one of my favourite shops, Room 6 in Deep Cove. The owner of the store, Megan, is very sweet and she sends out lovely e-mail newsletters (her store's motto is "special things for nice people"). She carries lots of adorable accessories, clothes and gifts, often from local designers. I picked up some gifts there yesterday, including these cute coin purses from Vancouver accessory line Astrosatchel. Also, my beloved Marimekko rainboots are from there!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Feeble footwear

The black flats from the other day and these gold PF Flyers are my only presentable flats now. I kind of realized that I was having a shoe crisis and all my flats were battered and some are unwearable. Hopefully my upcoming trip to Japan will solve that! Although I'm wary of shoe sizes...I'm already not holding my breath on being able to fit clothes (5'8+not twig-like=no sizes for me in Japan). I will, however, load up on legwear at the fabulous emporium of Kutsushitaya, aka Tabio.

Trench - Zara; Shirt - American Eagle Outfitters; Skirt - United Colours of Benetton; Belt - secondhand; Tights - The Bay; Shoes - PF Flyers

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Rainy office days

It really is raincity around here these days, apparentely we're just not going to have spring or summer this year. I felt a bit buttoned up at work today, but it was just so cold in the morning that I needed my layers. I think it might be the combination of the weather and uninspiring office work but I'm definitely feeling a style rut right now. Good thing I'm jetting off on an exciting trip next week! (more on that later)

umbrellaandhare, emeraldcloche, style, office

umbrellaandhare, emeraldcloche, style, office

Cardi - Monsoon (London); Shirt - Jacob; Skirt - United Colours of Benneton; Tights - American Apparel; Glass pendant - Gift from Italy

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Raincity Bloggers

So I'm doing a terrible job at keeping up with this blog, which I started largely to prove to myself that I could start a project and follow through with! But, I'll cop out and say I've been busy getting ready for a big trip in June...And it's to a major fashion capital so hopefully when I return I'll have plenty of interesting material.

In the meantime, I've been scouring the web for some Vancouver representation in the fashion blogosphere. Although one of my favourite things about going through my Bloglines is seeing what's going on style-wise in faraway lands, it's also just as fun to see what's happening in my own backyard.

Vancouver's answer to the Face Hunter, The Commodified (above), snaps stylish Vancouverites with a definite hipster bent (not really my scene but fun to browse). It was also home to quite a controversy, the likes of which I don't think I've come across on other street style sites.

Beyond Robson has a fashion blog that is more news-oriented, useful for tracking Vancity-related fashion news. However, it doesn't seem to be updated super-frequently, which I think speaks to the fact that Vancouver is still very much a emerging fashion city.

So far my favourite of the Vancouver blogs is The Ongoing Project by Violetwired. I like her cute-but-polished thrift-store injected style and her pretty handmade accessories that she sells in her Etsy shop, Unravelled.

>> On a sad note, Vancouver Canucks defenceman Luc Bourdon died today in a motorcycle accident in New Brunswick. He was only 21. I'll never forget cheering "Luuuuuuuc" at the '06 World Junior Championships at the Pacific Coliseum. He will be missed.

Luc Bourdon

Sunday, May 18, 2008



Hopeless costume drama addict that I am, I was predictably glued to the BBC adaptation of Cranford that's been on Masterpiece Theatre the last few weeks. Aside from being a really superb miniseries, I was intrigued by the way clothing and fashion played a really big role in the characters' lives, from the unconventional choices of the newly arrived Dr. Harrison, to the way the ladies of Cranford often gather at Johnson's shop to admire textiles and share gossip, to the fate of the wedding dress muslin originally intended for Matty Jenkins. The subdued palette of the costumes had my gears grinding on how to translate the look into my wardrobe. I loved the way the country florals and muted plaids and stripes jostled together without ever looking too busy, and Lady Ludlow's decadent frocks had just the right amount of restraint. And I can never watch a period piece without simultaneously wanting the pretty frocks of the ladies and the dandy getups of the men.


But how to make this all work? Typically slow-on-the-uptake, I haven't exactly jumped on the juicy florals for SS08 bandwagon, especially since I'm always more inclined to wear neutrals rather than allover brights. And while the floral explosion look that others play with so well isn't really my cup of tea, the quieter, Liberty-print florals have been a fixation for me since a I was little kid. Luella's much-referenced SS08 collection is a starting point, but I'm thinking not so much geek chic and a bit more sharpness...something like these pretty blouses in dusky, faded tones anchored down with menswear.

And maybe a dash of decadence like this lace cuff from Time Travel Through Accessories on Etsy.

I feel like denim might be too obvious a choice to add contrast. I love what this girl on TheSartorialist does to contrast her country florals. Maybe a springier version of this look...making it all work is another story.