Sunday, November 27, 2005

This is how my wardrobe does yours?

I recently purchased an adorable Viktor&Rolf skirt from It's a satin blue skirt with polka dots. I knew that it was not an easy piece to work with, but I couldn't say no to the cute details and the attractive price, so I purchased it with the confidence that I am going to make it work.

I posted on the Fashion Spot (tFS) and I received very helpful advice on what to wear with it. The only problem is that I don't own anything that compliments the skirt yet. One girl said that I shouldn't make such impulsive purchase before I have sufficient basics to work with. It made me think. Why don't I have enough basic pieces? How did my wardrobe grow through the recent years? Should I start buying more basics?

I didn't start building up my wardrobe until I started working two and half years ago. Having been a student living on a tight budget, I was, and I am still very cheap on basics. Why does a "basic" white shirt cost $200? Why does a "basic" wool sweater cost $600? I never get it. I only buy basics whenever necessary. For example, I used to own exactly four pairs of dress pants to cover the pant needs from Monday to Thursday and one pair of jeans for Friday. (I mostly wore skirts during weekends.) At the same time, I can never resist a piece of nicely designed clothes and I would like to pay big bucks for them. I then look for the right basics to compliment my statement pieces to make sure I wear them often. This is how my wardrobe grew over the past two and half years, and that's why I don’t have enough basics: I simply work backwards when it comes to building up my wardrobe.

Should I buy more basics then? Yes I should, especially in this sales season. But how should I prioritize, for instance, what sweater should I buy? Vneck or scoop neck? Grey or camel? Navy or royal blue? Fitted or loose fitting? I find the options overwhelming and I can't prioritize. When I went to Saks to go through racks of basics, I realized that I'd rather purchase basics for complimenting my statement pieces than buy basics and let them sit in my closet waiting for the right item to work with. I'm a collector. If I am a director in a gallery, I am not going to purchase all kinds of frames and store them in the basement. Instead, I am going to gather the art works, and then looking for the frames.

Back to the Viktor&Rolf skirt. I eventually found a picture from the runway, and it seems to me that the best way to make it work is to wear a white shirt under a grey scoop neck sweater. To be specific, the shirt has to be silk or silk blend and the sweater has to be light weight, cold grey with similar shade to the skirt's blue, the waist has to be fitted, and it has to fall right on the waist of the skirt. You see, there are too many specifics. I would not know which grey sweater to buy if I didn't make my impulsive purchase of the skirt. So I guess I will keep working backwards on my wardrobe.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Are we being judged?

My experience in the past week proved again that fashion is very subjective and even judgmental. I posted my daily outfits on two different fashion forums where I participate actively. The members on the two forums have totally different cultural backgrounds: most of the members in the first forum have more conservative or classic taste; the second group of people is adventurous and lots of them are fashion insiders. (Okay, let me tell you, the second forum is (tFS).

I posted seven days of outfits on both forums and they are consists of conservative office outfits and bold looks worn on weekends. While the reactions on my office outfits were similar, tFSers were very fond of the more adventurous pieces and the other forum was exactly the opposite. For instance, I recently got this asymmetric red Ann Demeulemeester jacket. The jacket doesn't fit as a traditional jacket with the fabric snagging and draping on different parts of the body. I paired the jacket with a pair of mud color Stella McCartney drain pipes. The entire outfit was just exciting and amazing for the folks on tFS, but it was just wrong for some people on the first forum with one guy even asking me why my jacket was off-center and one girl feeling so bad for me wasting my money. Reading the opposite comments from people with different tastes, especially reading the mean words, I suddenly felt I was being judged.

I am not alone. There are lots of fashionistas on tFS such as the beautiful guys whom I can only see on Dior Homme's runway show or in the fashionable cities such as NYC or Brussels. Are they going to be judged if they live in, say, Boston? Sure they are. Maybe it is the price we have to pay to make different fashion choices.

Ms. Maureen Dowd wrote about how women were judged too much on what we wore in her book "Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide", but I found the judgment towards both sexes. Men seem to be judged less because most of them are more afraid of being judged and so they dress more conservatively. Men and women are all judged based on our appearance and our fashion preference.

Luckily, there are still people such as the tFSers who enjoy the coat from Yohji Yamamoto, the jacket from Martin Margiela, and the belt from Ann Demeulemeester despite the potential judgment. TFS is like a cult with the people who enjoy looking at each other's unique outfits and encouraging each other to be even more adventurous. When we are off the internet and face our city or simply a different fashion forum, we are judged, sometimes in a bad way. It's good to know, but it doesn't affect how we dress and express ourselves.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Skinny pants

Skinny pants have been in the fashion scene for years. From Kate Moss to Sienna Miller, from mail delivery guys to rock stars, skinny pants gained an important seat in the fashion world and are frequently featured in fashion magazines.

I just went through the process of finding my perfect skinny pants. Most of the preppy brands such as JCrew or Banana Republic don't produce skinny pants, so the best places to go are the European designer brands and designer denims. When you shop for the perfect skinny pants, don't forget to wear a pair of high heels. Most of the girls don't have models' legs to look good in skinny jeans, and so the mirrors in the shops can be very discouraging if you don’t have a pair of heels to elongate the legs.

My first pair of skinny jeans is from Martin Margiela's line 6. It is made of 100% cotton, low waist, and with grayish blue color. I never thought that Martin Margiela made skinny jeans, but apparently the basic line 6 considers it one of the must haves.

My latest purchase is a pair of Stella McCartney corduroy skinny pants. In fact, I ordered eight pairs of pants from but only that pair fit me perfectly. Among the six pairs of pants, the MiuMiu pair was the most disappointing pants. The material felt cheap and it was a shapeless Italian size 38. Balenciaga is the king of pant makers, but I didn't realize that I needed to wear French size 34 nowadays after a brutal summer in Boston. All the Balenciagas I ordered were size 36, so apparently they didn't work. It's not Nicolas Ghesquiere's fault though. Same thing happened to the Costume National pants. They are good looking but slightly loose on me. The Stella McCartney pants are stretchy, and the corduroy is as soft as a thin layer of silk. The details are amazing and the "Stella" on the pocket just makes them look delicious.

When looking for styling tips, I often refer to Stella McCartney's runway pictures for inspiration. Stella herself showed up on the runway with a chunky knit sweater and the drain pipes look gorgeous on her. When the pants are this tight, a loose top will balance out. At the same time, make sure the top is long enough to cover the middle part. Very long top will cover the entire bum and leave only the legs shown, which create an illusion of super long legs. Lots of models wear ankle length skinny jeans, but I believe that most of the people will look better with pants covering the heels. One exception is to wear a YSL look with ankle length pants and platform shoes. The ankles can be very sexy, and the platform shoes will balance the look and elongate legs.

To summarize the styling tips, let me use a couple of pictures to demonstrate:

Picture #1
Stella McCartney on runway (picture courtesy of
Chucky sweater balances the entire outfit and creates a leggy look. Long pants (with zippers open) cover the heels and it makes the proportion right.
Stella McCartney skinny pants - Jing's Fashion Reviews

Picture #2
Kate Moss candid picture (Picture courtesy of Getty Imiges)
Skinny jeans tucked in round toe boots. The boots are the Marc Jacobs round toe boots with four inches of heels. It gives her a Rock & Roll look instantly. Kate Moss in skinny jeans - Jing's Fashion Reviews
Picture #3
Imitation of Christ runway picture (picture courtesy of
High waist skinny jeans elongate the torso. To balance the look, a pair of red stiletto attracts the focus and gives the body a great proportion. Avoid too many embellishments on jeans and keep the silhouette clean.Imitation of Christ skinny pants - Jing's Fashion Reviews

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Runway to Real Way - Balenciaga Spring '06 Collection

Many of my friends were speculating on the prices and the real life looks of Nicolas Ghesquiere's semi-couture collection showed in Paris a month ago. The collection hit the stores in the past weeks for the trunk shows where consumers were able to place orders in advance. Some of my friends were able to attend the trunk shows, and I also talked to the sales associate at the Balenciaga boutique about the collection specifics.

The more managable pieces in the collection are the T-shirts and pant suits. There are tanks and turtleneck T-shirts shown on the runway, but only the tanks will be in production. The graphic consists of pearl and metal embellishments and the price is $975 each.
Balenciaga Spring '06 Collection - Jing's Fashion Reviews

The jackets are priced from $2,000 to $4,000 depending on the details. All the jackets are made of a kind of silk fabric called cashemire. Balenciaga purchased the fabric from a French mill for the coming three years so that people will not see the same fabric in any other brands. The jackets are not lined while the immaculate cut provides an extremely structured look. From the chain closure to the laser cut lace overlay, the details are breathtaking.
Balenciaga Spring '06 Collection - Jing's Fashion Reviews

The pants are sold separately and the price is from $900+ to $1,300 which is inline with the pants in other Balenciaga collections.

The dresses are the most amazing pieces in the collection as Nicolas Ghesquiere used Cristobal Balenciaga’s construction techniques and the light-faded fabrics originally produced in 1960s. The dresses are made by hand, and with almost five digit price tags, we will not see them often in real life. The good news is that Balenciaga also provides two capsule collections including the Balenciaga clothes from the archives called Edition and the less expensive Balenciaga basics such as pant suits. I am sure that Balenciaga fans like me will have plenty of choice this year.
*The new production v.s. the dresses from Balenciaga's archives. Can you tell the difference?
(Picture courtesy of

Balenciaga Spring '06 Collection - Jing's Fashion Reviews*Kate Moss in Edition (Picture Courtesy of W magazine)

Balenciaga Spring '06 Collection - Jing's Fashion Reviews