Monday, 31 October 2011

The good, the bad and the horribly cheap

Shopping for an evening dress is fun. Shopping for an evening dress on tight budget is not.

This is something I learned the hard way this weekend when attempting to find an outfit suitable for my inauguration on the Singaporean social scene at a very posh dinner.

On a ship somewhere, my perfect
outfit won't make it in time
The event in question is the launch of the Miele Restaurant Guide at Sentosa Resorts World on Wednesday, very much a black tie event.

Learning only last Friday that my gigantic wardrobe is not going to arrive for another week, I had to find an alternative to my ankle-length Alberta Ferretti halter dress and bronze Louboutin platforms which I’d already decided on. That was one hell of a mission!

So needless to say, this took up my whole weekend, shopping for a total of 16 hours until I finally found something which isn’t made of highly inflammable material and didn’t cost a fortune at the same time.

My budget was tight, because let’s face it, this was a one-event dress which with a closet like mine, I probably will not wear again for a long time. Specifically speaking I put a limit of SG$200 and if I don’t find anything I was going to go for my Karen Millen lace dress which although not dressy enough was a better option than buying something I didn’t like as much. I also had another restriction: I had to buy something which would go with my black Louboutins as they are currently my only dressy heels and I really don’ do cheap evening shoes.
Better under-dressed than badly-dressed,
this outfit was an option if all fails

So with no help or tips (from friends or online) I started my journey.

First I went to a rental shop. Although I found two passable dresses, to be honest  first they were not exactly my style, 2nd, they were not exactly cheap to rent (SG$120-190) and third, imagine the horror of finding someone else wearing the same dress especially when at the time I was there I saw two other women looking for dresses for the same event.

My second option was to try different kinds of boutiques. Again, all the ones I fell in love with were sadly way beyond my budget (starting at SG$800). They were gorgeous but I had to stop myself and I am sparing you sharing my agony by not posting any pictures of them.

But as an aside, let me say Keith Png is a genius. Anyone who doesn’t know of the Koops brand should head to his gorgeous Hide and Seek boutique in Tanjong Pagar and be educated.
Another time…sigh...

Black or red? nice but none was really my style

Loved this one but sadly it didn't fit or go with my shoes!

It’s safe to say things hadn’t gone according to plan (my approach being slightly more discerning than my husbands – where’s the nearest rental tux place; yep, that’ll do approach), and come the end of Saturday night I was desperate.

And I mean desperate. I went into any shop that seemed to have anything below the knee. High end, low end, anything end.

From high-street shops like Mango and River Island to Korean evening wear shops which sold high-shine satin dresses which you have to slip on. I wondered, haven’t they heard of fits, zips or buttons?

Shocking I know! And guess what, they were on the higher end of my budget as well. I just couldn’t rationalise the fact these badly-made dresses would have cost me the same amount I paid for a Moschino dress from my favourite outlet shop in Dubai. I just couldn’t do it.

Love the colours but not really dressy enough
for a black-tie dinner
If only the colour was brighter and
the flower smaller!!

Vintage was also an option but sadly it didn’t seem the right kind of dress for such an occasion.

Finally I hit Orchard road! I always assumed that it might not be the best place to bag a bargain but I was wrong. Walking into department stores like Robinson I finally found a List dress which was simple and elegant and luckily on 70% discount.

At this point, I didn't know what to think!

I would be lying if I said it was the nicest and most stylish I’ve seen. It was probably my third best. But given that it cost just 10% of the 2nd, I’d say it was a great deal and definitely much better than the cheap looking polyester dress that was double the price and not half as nice.

I think this whole experience cemented my belief that first you don’t have to spend a fortune to look nice even for a big event like this, and second never settle for the cheap-looking dress even if you’re on a budget.

I’m leaving you with some of the dresses I tried on (no names, no brands mentioned), but come back on Thursday to see how my ensemble went down at The Miele Guide Gala Dinner; and for the lowdown on what was hot and what was not on the night.

P.S. Please excuse my bad photography as my reliable camera is sadly still on the same ship as all my outfits and well, I think I was way too exhausted (as apparent in the pictures) to actually care!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Weekend Want: Olympic-inspired dress by Singaporean label ‘Two of Us’

I think I speak for almost everyone when I say that we have started getting excited for the upcoming London2012 Olympics.

The perfect balance: Cool and comfy Two of Us dress

It is no surprise then to see that big fashion designers have been inspired by ‘sportswear’ this season. Who would have thought that the likes of Vera Wang and Victoria Beckham, who are known for creating mostly very feminine and ultra-sophisticated frocks, would include in their New York runway shows some sports-inspired features especially athletic necklines, fabrics and cuts.

It was indeed a perfect combination for a high fashion elegant/sporty look, a relatively new concept in fashion.

Some looks from Vera Wang Summer 2012 collection featuring some
sports inspiration in neckline and fabric
At New York Fashion week even designers who favor elegant looks like Victoria
Beckham have adopted some athletic necklines for Summer 2012 collection

But while designers showing at New York Fashion Week kept the Olympic inspiration to subtle details, the local Singaporean label ‘Two of Us’ has taken the trend to another level, mainly using the dry-fit fabric common in sportswear to create ultra-light and stylish frocks.

These dresses, which I spotted at a cool boutique, called Hide and Seek , walking down Tayok Ayer street are definitely attention-grabbing and for all the right reasons.

I especially love this yellow sleeveless short dress, which clings in the right places and looks oh-so-comfy and stylish at the same time. It reminds me of the Vera Wang maxi version which turned heads at the New York Fashion Week last September.

This might just be the perfect answer to Singapore’s all-year-round humid weather. It is definitely a piece I would invest in and maybe hotpants-clad ladies should try. With this, they won’t have any more excuses to sacrifice style over comfort.

More dry-fit dresses from 'Two of Us' Olympic Goddess collection.

The mixture of bright colour (acid yellow is one of this season’s hottest shades) and an interesting yet comfortable cut make this number suitable to wear all day especially when spending time outdoors.

No more sweating in the sun eh? :-)

‘Two of Us’ is stocked at Hide andSeek boutique on 176 Telok Ayer street, tel +65 62222825.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

SingStyle: A splash of colour and vintage

Name: Aurora Kessler
Occupation: Public Relations
Dress: Anthropologie
Bag: Vintage
Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Necklace and ring: From India
Best place to shop in Singapore: Little India
How do you describe your style: I am drawn to fashion that is feminine and colourful with ethnic flair
Your style inspiration: Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Rajasthani women with their amazing colour pairings
You fashion/style tip: Play your strengths

Mixing designer, vintage and ethnic, Aurora’s look is just spot on:  Love colourful yet grown-up print of the dress which complements her skin tone and looks effortlessly elegant. The simple hair bun also goes perfectly with the outfit, leaving the attention to this eye-catching dress, and gives it her a Grace Kelly twist. As for that gorgeous black vintage bag, all I can say is I’m really jealous! It is the wow factor and key item in Aurora’s look which lifted it from being any printed dress/heels combo to interesting, dressy and elegant.
So ladies, take it from Aurora and spice up your wardrobe with colourful prints because you still can look elegant if you’re not wearing black from head to toe.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Dulcetfig on Haji Lane: Accessorize your life

Vintage, Avant-garde, quirky, kitsch, modern… you name it, despite their different styles, everything at Dulcetfig looks unique and original!

Lovie Wong (and Jack) at her colorful boutique
This small shop on Haji lane stocks local labels as well as some funky accessories from places like Australia, Greece and the U.S., as long as its owner sees that it fits the theme of her cool boutique best.

Lovie Wong who opened this boutique 5 years ago makes sure her shop doesn’t become just another outlet for mass-produced merchandise by stocking very limited number of items from each label and mostly one piece from each style.

What I love about this place is its eclectic feel and that every corner you look, something pops out and sometimes it’s hard to concentrate on one thing only! You definitely need at least an hour to look at everything properly.

The clothes at Dulcetfig are mostly vintage or local labels like Noel Caleb and the quality and tailoring is better than the average standard you see in these kinds of shops. This is reflected in the price as well where a satin blazer (Noel Caleb) retails for SG$189.

A satin blazer from local label Noel Caleb (SG$189)

As for accessories, I think this is what the shop does best. From local labels like Amado Gudek raisin-made rings and necklaces (starting from SG$29 for a ring) and L’ile Aux Ashby geometric designs, to English label Lucie Ellen’s kitschy necklaces (SG$22-25) and my favourite pairs of colourful earrings by Dancing Dangles (SG$60 average), every item looks individual and original.

L'ile Aux Ashby funky necklaces and brooches

Amado Gudek raisin-made accessories (starts at SG$29 for a ring)

Fun and kitschy: Lucie Ellen accessories

Who said both earrings should look the same? Dancing Dangles gives me a reason to disagree
(starting at SG$58 for a pair)

I especially love the traditional/modern mix in some of the labels, namely the Hong Kong-based Singaporean Cherie Wong’s buttery leather clutches with their use of the traditional jade bangles (SG$149) and US-based Tree and Kimball handmade dyed lace earrings (SG$49) and necklaces (SG$59).

Cherie Wong's clutches with traditional jade bangles (SG$149)

Beautiful lace accessories (SG$49-59)

Dolcetfig also stocks one of my favourite shoes labels, Melissa, whose rubber-made, environmentally-friendly pairs are perfectly fitted (and stylish) for a rainy place like Singapore.

It’s hard to pick what I like most in this shop but I definitely agree with Lovie that the vintage clutches and bags are probably her best treasure. Ranging from SG$50 to SG$190, these bags are sourced from Australia and the U.S. and carefully picked by the owner herself. My pick would be the gorgeous mesh evening bags which come in various colours and look absolutely stunning!

Melissa's rain-friendly shoes (SG$90-190)

I love the wooden bucket bag (SG$150)
Vintage evening mesh clutches

More stunning vintage bags: SG$149 and SG$189
My verdict: If you like everything colourful, interesting and unique (and of course vintage bags) then Dulcetfig is a must-stop for you because regardless of your budget, you’ll definitely find something that you love to take home!

Dulcetfig is located on 41 Haji Lane, Singapore. Tel: +65 63965648.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Dazzled by a gem in Tiong Bahru

OK. I think I have a new obsession now. This time it’s jewellery!
Not the ‘real’ jewellery but the ones on Natalie B Coleman’s dresses!

The moment I set my eyes on this gorgeous print while walking down the trendy Tiong Bahru, I fell in love with it. And this dress in particular.

Literally Drenched in Gems: A perfect addition to my already
over-crowded wardrobe

Why? It’s simple. Think about when you were a little girl looking in your mother’s drawers and admiring her jewellery like I always did, you literally get to wear them all at once. Hence the name of the print ‘All the Jewellery I Never Got’ (Although I recently did get mine :-) Thanks mom!)

Just looking at the picture of the dress again has my heart aflutter. The photo really does do this unique conversation-starting dress a disservice, as it doesn’t come close to catching the sense of fun contained in this special silk number.

The obvious beauty is in the print which the UK-based designer illustrates and executes herself, but the subtle slim cut with a slightly edgy sleeves and back gives the vintage style of the print a more Avant-garde appeal which creates a beautiful contrast while staying understated.

I would wear it for a semi-dressy evening out, to a cocktail party, gallery opening and even at home with my favourite heels if I feel like it :-) But for SG$650, I think I will need a big occasion (and a well-paid job!) to justify buying it.

Another creation from Natalie B Coleman's 'All the Jewels
I Never Got' collection

Where to find it: In Singapore, Natalie B Coleman is exclusively stocked at nana & bird, in Tiong Bahru (a cool boutique I’ll be featuring in a later post.)

Saturday, 22 October 2011

SingStyle: Trendsetters on the island

You've all heard about the Satorialist (if you haven't then beat yourself around the head with your Choos!), well this is my Singaporean version of it! I'm here to show everyone that when it comes to fashion, Singaporeans have style and attitude.

I'll be carrying my camera around the streets of Singapore and snapping people with standout style.

This means there won't be any jeans or hotpants-wearing people in my edition (unless it is revolutionist!), so only ladies and gents with super stylish, original and most importantly individual looks will make it to Sing Style.

Name: Andrew Tay
Age: 30
Occupation: Men’s Fashion Designer
Outfit: All from his own collection (Chota at Illuma)
Shoes: Red Wings
Your style in 3 words: Depends on mood
Favourite shopping outlet: CineLeisure in Orchard
Style tip for the guys: Be more adventurous!
Andrew’s look screams attitude and individuality. Not just that he designed the clothes, but also his cross-body bag, funky hair style (some serious mullet!) and those glasses are just so cool! The key to this look is the oversized t-shirt peeking through which adds extra depth to the ensemble. The perfect answer to the challenge of layering in Singapore’s humidity.

Name: Justin Quek
Age: 31
Occupation: Store manager, Ninos Felices
Outfit: All from Ninos Felices, Cathay Mall
Your style in 3 words: simple, neat and sharp
Favourite shopping outlet: The Cathay mall and Haji Lane
Style tip for the guys: Add more colour!
Justin Quek works the tailored shorts with shirt combo (which is not uncommon with trendy Singaporeans now) but the splashes of colour in the belt, watch and shoes give it an extra twist. He owns it! What makes the outfit work is the colour/formality clash in the shoes which complements the short/shirt combination. If you’re going to rock this look you should pay particular attention to the shoes.

If you like what Andrew and Justin are wearing, make sure you keep checking the blog. I will be featuring both local boutiques (Chota and Ninos Felices) in future posts very soon!! Watch this space!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Sing and the City

Looking as fresh and elegant as her infamous onscreen character Charlotte ever was, Kristin Davis was in town tonight where it was a case of life imitating art, stylistically at least.

Kristin’s off screen style is so similar to Charlotte’s and she seemed as sweet, down to earth and approachable like the character we all loved her for.

Wearing a stylish yet understated outfit (a cute Marc Jacobs silk top and Prada skirt), Kristin had her hair tied up in a ponytail with very little make up on her face. She definitely looked like the girl next door and refreshingly for a celebrity, has managed to chat with people and kept a smile on her face most of the time.

And just because she made an effort to colour-coordinate her outfit with my dress (think she read my first blog post), I had to take a picture with her J
So here you go SATC fans!

Feeling like Carrie Bradshaw!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Standing out for not being different

With rows of boutiques in the painfully trendy Haji Lane fighting for attention, one store stands out oddly enough for trying to blend in with the crowd.

Bellezza Couture stands out with its rather sombre choice of display

Shockingly there isn’t a pair of fitted chinos on display, but that is precisely the USP (unique selling point) of the new store Bellezza Couture.

Its owner Amanda Chiang has fulfilled her childhood dream by opening the tiny boutique just 2 months ago.

Sisters Amanda and Anjelica Chiang at their boutique

And while its staple of light separates - ideal for work, lunch or those who don’t want to plump their feathers in public – shouldn’t appeal to Haji Lane’s immaculately-coiffured crowd, it is obviously doing something right.

Because while Belleza Couture is currently what real estate agents might creatively call ‘cosy’, the store is currently working on expansion plans to take over the floor above.

While I admire the drive (and am jealous of the ambition), I don’t quite get the logic behind what must be an expensive location.

Despite the pretty pieces in the shop, the adherence to the Singapore monotone office code (except for few blazers and a Cristopher Kane-inspired galaxy print top) makes it look rather bland in comparison to other shops on the same street that made a reputation by being unique and individual.

Christopher Kane's 2011 Resort Collection, and a top with the
similar galaxy print (SG$39) at Bellezza  Couture

A rather interesting mix: chiffon and faux leather shirt (SG$49)

Finally some color!!! Bright blazers to light up any dull work wardrobe (SG$69)

The clothes and shoes in Bellezza Couture are local or Korean-sourced and the prices range from SG$29 to SG$79 which seems quite reasonable especially if you compare it with same quality but more mass-produced pieces from the likes of Forever21 and New Look. So at least it’s good value.

I did like a few items in the shop but very little stood out in terms of originality and uniqueness.
The one exception – and it is a big exception – was a pair of spiked loafers which I will go back for once I’ve figured out what to wear them with (or convinced myself that I’m not gonna hurt anyone with!)

Clearly my favorites: Spiked Loafers in grey or black (SG$59)  

Leopard-print oxfords (SG$39)

Honestly, I donno who would wear these but kudos to them if
they manage to pull them off! (SG$49)

My verdict: Bellezza Couture caters for the average everyday girl on a budget, who is looking for clothes which are understated, stylish but not a style statement; and shoes which are not made for the faint hearted. I don’t see the logic in that but well they might just make the right balance!

Belleza Couture is located on 29 Haji Lane, Singapore. Tel: +65 6299 4298 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            +65 6299 4298      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The WEARHouse

I have always been a fan of fancy dress parties (and who isn't?), so it is not surprising that my first discovery in Singapore is a fancy dress shop!

Well but this isn't your average latex/nylon/wigs type of place! They sell/hire the REAL stuff here.

The shop assistants refused to talk to me about the shop saying that it is government-owned or something but on my way out I still managed to snap these two shots and grab a mini brochure which had all the information I needed to know. On a second thought, I was wondering why I didn't just go in as a regular (undercover) customer but it turned out you need to reserve for any trials/visits as well. Seriously this is serious stuff!!

According to its brochure, apparently the shop owns 'over 5000 pieces of of costumes, headgears, accessories and props', and their services include in-house costume portrait sessions which sounds fun if you've always dreamed of being in a Geisha outfit even for few minutes.

Here's the link to the shop's website if you're interested to know more or you're planning your next (serious) fancy dress party especially that Halloween is just around the corner. 

BTW if you found out about this place from my blog, I'm expecting an invite... OK just some snaps of you in one of those gorgeous costumes then :-)


Saba7 El Kher Singapura! (Good morning Singapore!)

Bonjour Singapore!

Ok just to clarify, no I’m not French. But, I am Lebanese. So if you don’t already know, in our dialect we also use ‘Bonjour’ to greet each other in the morning (We are Frenchies at heart). And don’t ask why! But to be fair we have also added our own twist to it and owned it, so for example we say ‘Bonjourik’ or ‘Bonjourak’, which literally means ‘your Good Morning’ addresing a female in the first and a male subject in the second. Or if someone greets us with ‘Bonjour’ our answer would be ‘Bonjouren’ meaning ‘TWO Bonjours’. Talk about Lebanese generosity!

Anyways I promise you this is not going to be a blog about linguistics or anything of that sort. Bonjour Singapore is my first (and very belated) attempt to blog about things I’m passionate about like fashion and shopping, focusing mainly on Singapore and Asian-based labels, designers, boutiques and anything I discover along the way.

Having just settled in the city few weeks ago, still looking for a job, this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to start my blog for sharing tips, learning more and discovering things about my new home city Singapore.

Just as a disclaimer before we start, I am in no way trying to reinvent the wheel here so don’t expect Anna Wintour attitude from me :-) It will be more on the lighter side even cynical sometimes as I cannot help myself.

But don’t get me wrong, even though I don’t take fashion (or myself) too seriously, I can get obsessive sometimes over an irresistible pair of pumps or err… a certain Prada banana monkey print dress. Regarding the later, since seeing it on the runway last year, I literally kept googling ‘banana-monkey-Prada-dress’ almost on weekly basis until one sample came up on ebay from a trusted seller, so I snatched it right away and now I have the dress I went bananas for right here in my closet waiting for the right occasion to make its debut.

I simply enjoy fashion and all beautiful (and bold!) things regardless of the label or price tag. It is like art to me but I get to wear it as well. I also love bargain hunting and online shopping and I am quite good at it. The proof: I snatched my gorgeous vintage Valentino wedding dress for less than quarter its original price last year, and I own a closet full of designer clothes and shoes mostly bought for less than half their original price! And NO I never buy fakes!!!

I’m looking forward to this e-journey to discover the best of Singapore fashion and shopping and share my best tips and discoveries with you.  And I do hope you get to enjoy this as much as I will and share your opinions and tips with me and I get to share mine.

Singapore here I come!!!