Thursday, November 26, 2009

With the lips of an angel : why red lips are something every woman should try.

There is something about a woman who can wear red lipstick and be perfectly at ease. It’s certainly not for the timid, but truth be told- it doesn’t always have to be the banner of the “femme fatales” either. Though, I admit that Ms. Monroe, Madonna and Gwen Stefani are the tempestuous women whose names jump to mind when we think of red lips ; there have been women like Greta Garbo and Audrey Hepburn who have worn this shade of lipstick with elegance, restraint and class. Apparently, the first known lip-painting kit was found in the 5,000-year-old tomb of Queen Schub-ad at Ur. Egyptian women are known to have adorned their pouts with a mixture of henna, pulverized beetles, and ants the shimmering effect came from the scales of fish. In India the leaves of a creeper, the paan or betel leaf made lips attractively red. Elizabeth I and the ladies of her court powdered their faces a ghostly white so that their crimson mouths—stained with a coat of poisonous mercuric sulfide—appeared more dramatic. During those days lipstick was made from bees wax and plants. It was not until World War II that lipsticks really took off – the push being given by the film world. So it isn’t surprising that strong red lips are the most recognizable aspect of female self-beautification, sensuality and attractiveness. Perhaps the very reason why, a lot of women fear this color, and prefer to stick to the more “elegant” shades of browns and pinks. But this color that never really left the scene, has been making its presence felt once more, in a more modern avatar, for the past couple of years; and this fall/winter, it has been a ramp favorite. Get this- every woman has a perfect shade of red lipstick meant for her, and she should make it her business to find that shade and wear it, if not everyday, at least often enough to make her feel like the Diva she really is. Be warned, this look isn’t easy to pull off , if you are not willing to take some trouble . But, once you learn what works for you…you will be more than compensated, in terms of the sense of personal power you feel and the admiring looks you will draw. Forget being the wallflower, be the heroine. Look here for some good tips on finding and wearing your red shade of red lipstick -

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Many patterned things : how pattern mixing can refresh your style instantly

If you still think color blocking was difficult to master, you obviously haven’t tried pattern mixing yet.

The mixed pattern look has not only actually made it off the runway, but has been a fairly stable trend for the past couple of years and this fall it seems to have made a strong come-back, and perhaps because it took so long to perfect ,people don’t seem to have tired of it just yet!

Therefore, in my books, it’s moved out of the realms of “passing fad” to a pretty classic style, and is worth mastering. I have to admit, it can be a lot of fun putting the looks together and it’s the perfect opportunity to “shop your closet”.

Just be ready to experiment a lot before you come up with a truly well put together look.

Also be prepared with a big smile to counter the not-so-appreciative glances and raised eyebrows from the fashion conservatives brigade.

There are no rules, but there are a few guidelines that would minimize the chances of a disaster, and here are some of the major ones- · Don’t wear two or more bold patterns together; if one is bold the other can be subtle.

· Mix patterns that are in the same color family keeping the main colors to not more than three, but don’t go overly matchy-matchy.

· Mix similar or same patterns of different weights/sizes

· Distance: Sometimes patterns work well together if they’re not against each other; bring in a neutral to create the distance.

· When already mixing patterns try and keep the style of the items similar.

For more ideas, check out this cool link

Friday, November 13, 2009

Parisian inspiration …

It’s true, and now I completely believe it ; there is something about Paris that acts as a bracing tonic for the creative soul.No one who spends some quality time in Paris can come away un-moved by this sense of “anything is possible” and the electric tension that is always in the air. It's like being a character in a grand movie, going on all around you. 

Like a legend, layers upon layers of stories some true and some imagined have created an image and with time the image has become a reality.

Every time I look at videos like the one below and listen to a cute French accent or look at the familiar bluish green street signs and the people lazing in the cafes, I can almost feel the Parisian breeze on my face, and I get a pang of nostalgia that’s so intense, I get tears in my eyes (well, I also have itchy and dry winter-eyes these days).

The French people are a strange and amazing combination of practicality and romanticism. They have the incredible knack of being charming, stand-offish, welcoming and irritating all at once.I love their endless enthusiasm for life and love for their culture .They are quite spirited and will weather the bleakest of days, constant rain and cumbersome winter clothes with perfect √©lan, never losing their ability to enjoy the day, and a cup of hot coffee or a glass of good wine. 

Come to think of it, what else could be the secret of life, other than learning to enjoy every moment without worrying about what's around the corner?

The French women will make the best of their natural charm irrespective of economic status, by investing in good quality hairstyles, clothes and accessories that suit them rather than looking ridiculous in something expensive and trendy, that does not suit them. They also don’t believe in flaunting labels just for the label’s sake and sporting imitations is considered really “desperate”, something I’ve rarely seen the French act.

Maybe, it is this lack of desperation and the refusal to let life drive them insane, which is perceived as the infamous French superciliousness, something that used to bug me no end, when I was there. The French look down on anyone who is in a hurry or seems hassled (which, as a student, you always are). 

The other thing I like about them is, despite their keen eye for quality craftsmanship and luxury, they- more than any other people I have seen, place a higher premium on the originality, elegance and boldness of ideas over price tags, easily mixing high end brands with flea market finds, to create the easy Parisian chic that is envied the world over.

It’s not something they have to force themselves to do; it’s as natural to them as breathing.

Their sense of style is so free, innate and all-pervasive that everyday is a celebration of beautiful things, one thing at a time, no need to display everything at once like a tourist shop!

Oh, make no mistakes, the French are far from perfect and they have their peculiar set of hang-ups, but that is not the topic of my post today!

Let me just say, I now totally realize, why generations upon generations of artists and designers flock to Paris for inspiration, its reputation as the fashion capital is not undeserved.

Check this Paris street video-

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Of biker jackets and babes : why the leather jacket is climbing the "Chic Charts"

I'm not really a big fan of leather apparel, of course shoes and bags are another matter altogether. Maybe this is because i come from a (mostly) hot place like India. But the other thing is that, to me, leather has always been a symbol of "Machismo" and a little bit of "S&M",even when you look at fragrances, leather and tobacco smells are reserved for men's fragrances... But looking at stylishly dressed women over the last couple of years , i have to say the leather motorcycle jacket looks more appealing by the minute and seems to have already become a fall classic like the trench. It's been around for quite a while of course, for actual bikers and "biker chic" itself has been around since Bardot's days , but more recently women seem to have realized its versatility and amazing ability to add instant edge to the plainest of outfits. The more obvious all leather "rocker/biker" look has been replaced, thankfully, by a more elegant approach to wearing this potentially overwhelming piece of clothing. Many clever variations are now available in terms of color, style, length and detailing which allows all types of personalities to sport this garment not just the "Bardotesque" ones. So now, its being paired not just with the ubiquitous skinny jeans and tees but also with ultra- feminine lace, chiffon and printed silk dresses for both day and night , just slip on a pair of killer heels and voila, you're looking effortlessly chic already ! A classic example of the law of contrasts at work, you know - skinny with voluminous, fierce with dainty- it's all about balance. More on that another time.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chanel No5 : The forever elegant fragrance.

“What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No.5, of course” - Marilyn Monroe Chanel herself is quoted as saying, "A woman should wear fragrance wherever she expects to be kissed." Almost ninety years after it was launched, No 5 still happens to be the very epitome of luxury and still remains one of the best selling fragrances of all time, selling (it is said) one bottle every 30 seconds! What is it about this perfume that makes it such a favorite amidst the sea of fantastic perfumes available today? I would say, like all true classics, it’s time (along with a skill call ‘survival’) that has worked its magic to create an irresistible enigma. This famous fragrance was created for Coco Chanel in 1921 by a perfume creator named Ernest Beaux. And, here is what her brief to him was- "I want to give women an artificial perfume, yes, I really do mean artificial, like a dress, something that has been made. I don't want any rose or lily of the valley; I want a perfume that is a composition...”. This lead to the birth of No 5, the first abstract fragrance in the world. It is said that Ernest Beaux found the olfactory inspiration for N°5, on his return from a military campaign that had taken him inside the Arctic Circle. During the midnight sun, the northern lakes and the rivers give off a very special fresh fragrance, which the perfumer was determined to recreate. Coco introduced her new creation first to her small group of friends only, but soon the product created hype among them. Its name was given eventually because the bottle containing one of those samples of fragrance was labeled with a '5'. No. 5 was one of the formulas chosen out of a series of 10 perfumes presented by Ernest Beaux, from the range of 1-5 and 20-24. The name was kept since Coco Chanel was presenting one of her dress collections on May 5 that year, 5 was also her lucky number. In 1959 Andy Warhol, an icon himself, did a series of nine silkscreens of the Chanel No. 5 bottle, making it the fragrance to covet. The packaging secured a place for N°5 in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The composition of the fragrance is elegant and unique, as is the famous minimalist bottle, perhaps the most recognized perfume bottle in the world. • Top note – Ylang-Ylang and Neroli • Heart note – Grasse Jasmine and May Rose • Base note – Sandalwood and Vanilla Chanel No.5 is meant for any woman who is confident enough to carry herself like a celebrity, thereby maintaining the dignity it has been carrying for years. To know more check this article-