Friday, September 26, 2008

Cheap shopper

I am cheap. I prefer buying 10 pair of shoes at $10.00 each rather than 1 at $100. I prefer quantity to quality.
However what is quality? Is it a shoe made by a famous brand like Manolo's or Jimmy Choo? Or is it just the quality of the material it is made of, the time taken to make it and the craftsmanship?
People tend to believe that because it is a brand, it has to be of good quality. I had my fair share of brands that were not as reliable as they advertised.
I used to be addicted to the Spanish Brand Zara while living in Japan because it was the only store where I could buy pants my size. I liked Zara pants, skirts and dresses. I still own the clothes I bought from Zara after 5 years. They are not damaged or even have their color faded after intensive washing. However, I noticed that Zara shoes were not as well made as the other items. I never bought their shoes but two of my closest friends did. They showed me their damaged heels stressing that it was just the second or third time they were wearing the shoes.
When you live on a budget like I do, you cannot afford to blow $100, or more on a pair of shoes or bags/particularly when you have a shoe or bag addiction. Do not get me wrong, I would love to own those fish bone stilettos from Guiseppe whatever or some Christian Louboutin. But how can I justify blowing $500 on a pair of shoes I would probably never wear. And even if I do wear them, I would not want them to be scratched or peeled.
Do Payless shoes peel easier than Enzo Angiolini shoes? Well, I owned a pair of white shoes from Payless (cost: $8on sale) and pale pink stilettos by Enzo ($70) and guess what, they peeled the first day I wore them, the same way (the heel got stuck in a hole on the pavement). I was mad but I was even madder that the Payless peeled because these are a pair of shoes I wwanted to wear everyday for work. The Enzo shoes were worn just once for a special occasion (after being bought years before and stored under my bed waiting for a good occasion to be showcased)
Payless shoes
Peel at the lower part of the heel
Enzo Angiolini Shoes
Peel on both heels


This not so very peachy experience taught me that it was okay to stay cheap. My lifestyle is not fabulous or lavish therefore I do not need those Louboutin. I may want them but this is another story. I will still shop at Payless or other cheap places. And If I need something extra sparkly and fabulous, I can check Macy's or Neiman Marcus (in my dreams). And who knows, I can even be lucky and get a fabulous pair of designer shoes for an affordable price like these Calvin Klein Madelyn ballet flats bought at $19.99 (minus taxes) at Ross store two days ago.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

How my style changed over the years (part II)

My blossoming years did not stop when I moved to Japan some 6 months after I joined the local university. On the contrary, I became myself in Japan. I was no longer this tomboy who would hide her curves, or just this little vixen wannabe. I was me. I dressed the way I wanted without caring about what people may say or think. I was set free because of the way Japanese people my age dressed. If you know anything about Japanese Fashion, you will understand that it is very expressive. It is bold and not particularly attractive. It is in your face. I used to hate it because it was so different from my background. Nowadays, I like it even though I would never dress like that-I think-. Here is an idea of what is Japanese Fashion:

from: http://fs1.us.cyworld.com/data2/2006/11/06/042/1162868042915018_file.jpg
I was dressing the way I wanted and it was not that bad. I am sure I had some Fashion Police moments like when I wore this flowy white dress- I am pretty sure now that it was a nightgown-to a club one night. However, it was not so bad altogether. I even managed to score major points among my Japanese girlfriends who thought that I had a great style. I was becoming something of a fashion icon.
In Japan, I also became a clubber. Once a month, I would hit the hip-hop club scene in Osaka or Tokyo. I began to purchase clubbing clothes that are very much hoochie mama when you come to think of it. I did not know that back in the days. I was just experimenting. One night, I had this long green leather skirt and boots on at a club. Needless to say that, after less than 13 minutes on the dance floor I was sweating like a pig . Another time, I wore this oversize grey sweat pants with an open back tiny white top, men's white shirt and reptile skin wedge sandals with matching handbag (I missed those-they were so classy and comfy). I guess, I was young and for the first time in my life I was in an environment where I was considered unique, hence exotic and pretty. I loved it.
After a while-and due to my boyfriend/now husband- I began to mature. I stopped clubbing. I began to concentrate on the future. I also gained weight. So I ditched the tight tops and tight pants and opted for some flowy blouses and tops. I also wanted to become more feminine so I began purchasing dresses and skirts. This is my style now and it suits me very well because my weight has been shifting for so long(marriage, school, pregnancy,big move across the ocean, baby and all kind of things life throws at you). And it is very comfy. I like being comfy.
Everybody has a signature look: Xtina Aguillera has her pink/ red lipstick, Vera Wang has her tights. For me it is a pair of jeans with a flowy top or blouse, a pair of ballet flats and an oversize bag. I would accessorize with chunky necklaces and bracelets. No make up (I was never a fan). Sometimes, just to spice things up, I would opt for some maxi dresses or skirts with bold patterns, and some bright platform shoes.
These are a few of my favorite styles (from wetseal.com , gojane.com and target.com)
1- Flowy flannel top with wide leg jeans and sandals




2- Flowy top with black skirt and flats




3- More polished- wrapped dress plus heels




4- Bold print maxi dress with bright orange wedge(victoriassecret.com)


Nevertheless, my only wish is to have a makeover and shift this style. I want to become more polished, I want to opt for more form fitted, structured looks (GOD, I talk like Stacy and Clinton from What not to Wear). I want to have that formal look the working women/mothers have. Nothing over the top like Laura from season 3 of Project Runaway, but something nice and sophisticated. I think that I can only accomplish that look if I get a real job (not part time and working with children like I do), working in an office, doing important stuff and getting a real salary out of it. So until then, I guess this breezy style of mine will have to do.

How my style changed over the years (part I)

I love Fashion.
This is an over-statement because like some other people (Rachel Zoe is one I discovered recently) I do not breathe, live or die for fashion. I am just a little addict. Nothing over the top...or over my bank account.

I love Fashion. And I hope I do have a sense of style because like someone famous said: " You can buy fashion but you cannot buy style"

My sense of style changed considerably through the years. When I was 6-7 years old, I loved colorful, flowery, pretty dresses. I was absolutely in love with this two piece blue top and plaid wrapped skirts (Like the Scottish) that I would wear with blue Mary Jane's. I would put on that ensemble whenever I was invited to something special like a birthday party.

My plaid outfit during a party in Switzerland


At age 9-10, a friend of my father gave me this absolutely romantic, dramatic bright yellow dresses with tulle. I looked like a ballerina or a barbie wearing it. I loved it so much that I did not wait for a special occasion to put it on. I wore it at school underneath my uniform blue blouse. I even opened the blouse to show it all off to my classmates during recess and on my way back home. I was so vain, even at 10!
When I grew curves, I become conscious of my body, but also of the looks of people around me. Everybody was starting to notice my huge behind. My classmates even made fun of me. It was so intolerable that I transformed myself into an introvert dresser: I would wear baggy clothes-sweatshirts and jeans that I would steal from my father or brothers. My mother absolutely hated it. Top that with a trucker hat and I was in disguise.

One of my tomboy disguise during a Xmas celebration at home. This one is a dress up version: silk shirt from Thailand with black tights and the very fashionable (at that time)Nike Air Pump


I loved being a tomboy, because no one would notice me. It did have some drawbacks particularly when you are madly in love with the boy next door and his type of girl is the little vixen of the town (she was 13 year old and needless to say that I hated her). Although, I would have loved the attention that girl was getting from all the boys (she was very popular), I did not even try to become like her because it was not my style. I did try sometimes to be sexy: at parties I would show up dressed in a tight skirt or flattering dress. And I would feel great that boys would notice me and even try to hook up with me. However, it did not boost my confidence because the boy I liked did not pay me any attention. I became very depressed one day when my own brother told me that I was not sexy. I just let it go after a while. Nevertheless, the one thing interesting I found out about boys was that the moment I stopped trying to become sexy and just be myself (wearing clothes I like-being a short skirt,dress or even jean), they would like me more. I would wear this very old wrapped sarong with a green tank top and show up at my boyfriend's favorite hang out with his boys. All of them would fall head over heels because they thought I was stunning. My boyfriend called me crazy to walk around like this. I did not see the problem; my outfit was not special. The problem was that I was this bomb walking around with fitting clothes that did not leave a lot to a young boy's imagination. I did not even notice. How naive was that?
Something happened to my style of tomboy after a graduated from high school. All my school life (14 years) I have been in an all girls' school, and wearing dreadful uniforms. But in 1998, I moved to the local university with a huge campus filled with boys/men/potential suitors. The fact that I was surrounded by boys instinctively left a signal on my mind that I should change all this tomboy nonsense and become a girl. I started to dig out all the girly clothes my mother bought me over the years that I just hide in the back of my closet. It became a pleasure to dress up every day, particularly when you received approving nods from the boys' club. I did not care so much about what people would say about my curves (I did loose some baby fat). Au contraire, I was pleased that the pencil skirt I would wore flattered my thighs, or that the velvety short skirt would enhance my toned legs. However, I did not completely ditch the tomboy look. I still feel comfy with over sized men's shirt and jeans; the only difference was that now I was wearing tighter jeans.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fashion magazines


I recently had 5 days off from work. I had made plans to go to the movies, but it is not fun if I am by myself. So, I raided the Walmart one day in search of good scent that can add some pizazz to my house, and a new pair of jeans to add pizazz to my figure. At the cashier, I also grab the September issue of InStyle magazine.

My husband is always bugging me not to buy fashion magazines-maybe because he finds them silly-.I used to listen to him. I mean, it costs between $2.99 to $5 to get a magazine in this country. Do not call me frugal but if I was to buy Instyle magazine every month, I can add $50 to my bills yearly. $50 equals a new outfit and accessories for me, so do the math. Plus you can have access to those magazines online practically for free so why bother?

Well, I do bother from time to time, because I like the fact that I can go through from pages to pages, taking my time to absorb all the details and pictures. It is fun, particularly when you are sitting in a cozy chair, sipping on some latte (so cliche).

As much as I enjoy "browsing" magazines from cover to cover, there are plenty of things I find annoying in them.

1- tons of commercial. Have you ever open Instyle or Glamour magazines? The first 50 pages (I counted)are dedicated to advertisement. It is disgusting. If I took the time to count all the advertisement pages inside the magazine (I just counted the first 50 and got exhausted), I am sure that they account for more than half of the magazines. I understand that those magazines cost to publish and advertisement is the best way to gain money. But come on!!!! Let us check the latest style without having product placement thrown at our faces.
2- Talking about product placement, in the pages of InStyle you will find several (tons of) items that are suggested to you. In this fall issue, different wardrobe styles are featured to please everybody, everybody but me. What are the odds to find a piece that I truly like and would want to purchase? I guess not many. The editors place product that are likely to serve the interest of the designer but not the buyer. I mean, let us be real, who dresses like that? The only thing I found interesting, wearable, and affordable are these Lela rose for payless shoes

I cannot wait to go buy them. Actually since the BOGO sale is going on, I can get those puppies and another nice pair.

3- Prices: I am crazy about fashion. But let me admit that I am not crazy about the cost of everything that is fashionable. A thousand dollars for a dress? Why? Because it has a small label attached to its back that says it was design by Chanel? Truth be told, it was surely designed by Karl Lagarfeld, but probably made by some third world child, being forced to work for less than minimum wage. So, just for those reasons, I will not rush to buy the latest Prada bag (which I find ugly anyway) even if I could afford it. By the way, this is the latest Prada Nappa bag made with leather of lace and costing $1950. Are you Shitting me?

Seriously, I would like to know if half of the women who buy InStyle magazine, will purchase something that was featured in it that cost more than $200? Maybe not! Then, why feature those items? Are there not any magazines for the poor out there?

I suppose that the reason why InStyle like magazines show us all those glamorous things (that I may or may never be able to purchase-depends if my writing career takes off) is that they want us to dream. It is like the movies, they make you imagine if you were somebody else. Maybe that is the greatest reason why I purchase those magazines, for the dream that someday I will be able to afford those gowns, those shoes, those bags; for the dream that maybe someday I will be able to dress like Nina Garcia-sophisticated and lady-like.

So until that dream is fulfilled, I guess I will keep on buying fashion magazines, hoping and praying for either of these following things: that some genius comes up with a hip-trendy fashion magazine for the poor or middle class people- or that I become rich like Oprah. Between us I prefer the second dream, don't you?

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