Archive for October 2010

 

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Styling Carrie for the Oprah Winfrey Show – Part 3

29 October 2010

This post is part of a styling adventure, based around my reader (and now new friend!) Carrie. She is from the US and she has been selected to be one of the 300 lucky people flying to Australia with Oprah Winfrey in December.

I have the wonderful opportunity to style her for her trip and when she attends the Oprah Shows in Australia.

So last week, I shared a little bit about Carrie and her style.

This week I put together a few styling and outfit ideas I had. They are just ideas at this stage, and I guess you could say they are a kind of “style board” of fashion shapes, colours and forms…for a bit of inspiration!

Styling Carrie for Oprah - Part 3

I wanted to focus on her waist to flatter her hourglass figure, so most of the clothes I’ve chosen are slightly fitted at the waist and skim around the curves of her hips.

Left: Top from Asos.com, Skirt from Birdsnest Online Boutique. Jewellery from Ann Taylor. Middle: Top and skirt from Witchery. Right: Top from Witchery and Skirt from Country Road.

Styling Carrie for Oprah - Part 3

Styling Carrie for Oprah - Part 3

Carrie says she’s a foodie – after all, she does own a catering business. She tells me that she loves food colours, like mushroom, magentas, plums, reds, burnt oranges, modern browns and caramels. So I tried to put those colours into the colour palette.

Top: Dresses from My-Wardrobe.com, Miss Selfridge, Birdsnest Online Boutique, Karen Millen.
Bottom: French Connection, House of Fraser, Fashion Junkee, Browns Fashion.

Carrie also mentioned that she often shopped at places like H&M and Ann Taylor. I wanted her to feel comfortable about shopping to find a new outfit, so I found a few nice pieces from those particular shops.

Styling Carrie for Oprah - Part 3

Jacket from H&M. Skirt from Witchery. Pants from Country Road. Tops and jewellery from Ann Taylor.

Styling Carrie for Oprah - Part 3

And of course you can’t forget shoes! These are my picks for Carrie – Celine in Mushroom, Chic in Taupe, Ruby in Black, Blade in Silver. All from Betts.

Next up, I’ll be hearing what Carrie thinks of my ideas. And then I’ll put together some casual outfits.


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I Touched It…

28 October 2010

…and it is covered in little bathroom tiles!

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From Wikipedia

“The Sydney Opera House was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 28 June 2007.  It is one of the 20th century’s most distinctive buildings…”

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“…an image of great beauty that has become known throughout the world – a symbol for not only a city, but a whole country and continent.”


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Online Fashion Shopping at YOOX

27 October 2010

Shorts from Yoox

YOOX is an Italian online fashion boutique that has been around since 2000. I’ve heard of it, but I have never purchased anything from it – till a few weeks ago.

They stock designers such as Armani, Chloe, D&G, Marc Jacobs, Moschino, Prada, Roberto Cavalli, Tod’s etc. And more affordable brands like American Apparel, ZoeTees, IRO, Kookai, Stussy, Ben Sherman. Lots and lots of stuff to browse.

The best things about YOOX are… the SALES, the large amount of stock, and the search filters, which makes it easy to sift through the huge offerings. This is so cool, because you can, for example, choose only to view garments that are available in extra small, or whatever.

I was actually looking for a dress for the upcoming party season…

But… I got distracted by, yes, the sales, and bought some gorgeous Italian pants (which I need to get shortened, so I’ll show you those later) and these black shorts with a belt tie – which I actually bought for beachwear.

I’m wearing the shorts with a white silk top (borrowed from my mother,  it’s actually like 40 years old) and a boyfriend jacket from Singapore fashion label Al&Alicia.

Best Sections to Browse

There were heaps of short dresses under US$100, and I was almost tempted to buy 2 dresses, but I already blew my budget on the shorts and pants.

If you’re a bit of a Spring-scarf-wearer like me, and like to wear unique-looking, silky-cottony designs, check out the scarves here. They make nice gifts too!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


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Goodbye Mr Rake!

25 October 2010

I wonder how many long term readers remember my story about the rake?

6 years ago, I bought my first son a plastic toy garden rake for $1.30.

He was 13 months at the time, and he developed a strange obsession with it. He took it everywhere, to bed, to dinner… and even made sure it “sat” down to watch TV with him.

Well on the weekend, we were having a busy-bee in our backyard – cleaning up and throwing away old stuff. When I say “we”, I mean “me”, because while the boys were supposed to be helping me, they were actually just getting into a pointless, bickering fight over any object that one of them happened to show the slightest interest in. This is apparently quite normal for brothers to do, but it is still – challenging – for me to put up with.

To make my solo efforts at cleaning-up a bit easier, I was dragging the big rubbish bin along behind me, lid open, its big mouth ready to swallow anything. In would go weeds, sticks, old chewed tennis balls, broken bits of old toys, etc.

And look what I found! Mr Rake!

rake-old

I suppose 6 human years is a long time in rake years. While Mr Rake has been lying at the bottom of our garden, he has been aged from his once shiny splendour into a bent, weathered, faded, gnarly old man with missing and crooked teeth.

I stood there, and had a motherly moment filled with nostalgic warmth, holding Mr Rake affectionately, as you would an old doll. Awwwww.

My kids, who were now fighting over the garden hose, stopped, looked at me and went “WHAT ARE YOU DOING MUM?”

I wanted to share my warm moment with them, I really did. I wanted to show them how precious my memories of them are, and how magical childhood is. I mean, when else can you make friends with a plastic toy gardening implement, and not be considered mad?

But I also realised that if I showed that I put any value on the old rake, one of them would want it, and they would have a fight over it.

So I said “Oh nothing…”

And then I tossed the rake into the bin. I just couldn’t stand them having a fight over it. I would have just gone mad…

And they immediately went back to a tug of war over the hose. Oh well!

If figured, when they are older, if they want a bit of nostalgia…I’ll send them a SMS to the URL of the first rake story.

(I hope my sons don’t dispose of me as quickly when I am bent, weathered and toothless).


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Styling Carrie for the Oprah Winfrey Show – Part 2

22 October 2010

Last week I revealed that I was embarking on a new project.

Carrie is an American reader of this blog, who has been selected to be one of the 300 people flying to Australia with OPRAH WINFREY in December.

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Here she is looking fun and fabulous! I love that her bed is covered with a mess of clothes – that is exactly how my bed is when I’m playing dress-ups!

Carrie asked me to help style her, hoping to increase her chances of being selected to sit on the FRONT ROW of the Oprah audience. It sounded like such a cool and fun thing to be part of!

SO. Firstly, I didn’t simply want to bombard Carrie with latest styles and trends and simply say JUST WEAR THIS, THIS, AND THAT. I wanted to get to know her, and HOW and WHY she dresses the way she does.

Getting To Know Carrie
I asked Carrie to rummage through her wardrobe, put on a few of her favourite outfits, and get someone to take photos of her.

Instead she chose to rearrange her bedroom, prop up a huge mirror…and took the photos herself! In the same style as I do. I thought it was utterly hilarious!

She also wrote down a few notes about each outfit, which was great.

After I saw Carrie’s photos, I also really wanted to talk to her too.

I installed Skype on my computer, and then discovered that my old clunker of a computer didn’t have a built-in microphone. Which meant I had to go out to the shops to buy a headset.

Then, as I was working out the time zone difference between Carrie’s part of America, and my part of Australia, I discovered that Carrie lives on exactly the opposite side of the Earth to me. We are exactly 12 hours apart in time. So when it is 8am TODAY for me, it is 8pm YESTERDAY for Carrie (from my point of view). It took a few days to work out our best time to Skype, but it all worked in the end!

So I have learned this much about Carrie’s personality – she is heaps of fun and is happy to laugh about herself.

These are Carrie’s photos of how she dresses now.

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Blue Dress – Carrie says she loves this dress because of the gathering at the shoulders. The length and fabric is a bit “muumuu-ish” and it so happens that she has TWO of these dresses because “all 30-somethings need 2 modern day muumuus you know?”

A  “muumuu” is an American term for a dress that has little shape, especially, no waist.

Brown Dress – “I just LOVE this dress color and style. It’s not an everyday dress, but I wish it was.”

Black Dress – “This dress is very flattering. I wear it when I am in my event manager role at work. I have to look nice, but not outshine the host or guests.”

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Black Dress – “Simple tank dress… with really cute ruffley-material-flowers on the front. It ties in the back.”

Magenta Top – She loves ruffles! Carrie wore this top to her last Oprah Winfrey show. “I LOVE this color. It’s kind of magenta meets plum, but I feel love when I see this color, this material. I just love it.”

Tee and Jeans – She lives in her jeans! “I could wear this outfit everyday! School drop offs, pick ups, running to grocery. It doesn’t draw attention, but it’s also not a jogging outfit. :) “

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Her outfit photos were dotted with silly-fun photos like these and funny captions. I get a good feeling, that Carrie wants fashion to be a pleasure in her life…as it should be.

“I like to look great, not overdone for the occasion, but almost always would rather look overdressed than under. I’m thinking that my outfits are usually 70% complete. Accessories and cute jackets, etc. are where I start to fail slightly. I do need fashion help. Style wise, I’m game for anything, really!”

My Analysis

Carrie is a very lucky lady – she has a gorgeous body, with a desirable hourglass figure and great proportions. She has a waist, hips and boobs – exactly the kind of curves I wish I had more of.  She’ll basically look great in anything!

I’ll be focusing on how to show off her waist to flatter her hourglass figure, without shouting out loud about it.

Carrie currently has a very simple and basic style, with a clear solution for each occasion. I really like that she appreciates that there are lots of occasions when you don’t want to stand out from the crowd.

I believe I was in that very same place about 5 years ago. I remember NOT being very confident about how to style an outfit. I wasn’t confident to buy expensive items, so I always bought lots of cheaper items.

Once I found something that looked good on me, I just stuck with it, bought similar items, and put outfits together using some simple and basic rules. My life was pretty busy with new babies, and practicality took precedence over “looking stylish”. But of course, my wardrobe got a bit tired after a few years, and I wanted to make a change.

So I went on a fashion journey and education – and now I’m loving the art of fashion and styling. And I’m really excited about taking Carrie along this journey too.

The Outfit Plan

I’m going to create a few outfits for Carrie. Here’s the run down of the critical themes she’ll need for the trip.

1) Outfit for the Oprah Show

2) Backup Outfit for the Oprah show (because everyone needs a backup outfit, in case you find out at short notice what you were planning was just not right for the context.)

3) Evening Wear – Going out to a nice dinner at a posh restaurant/cocktail party/reception. This could double as the back-up outfit.

4) Evening Wear – Casual, but smart.

5) Day wear – Casual, but smart.

6) Day Wear – Very casual summer wear!

I’m also going to include some travel-wear.

I have to factor in the WEATHER too. Carrie might find herself in Queensland (hot and humid), Sydney (hot and humid days, nights might be a bit cold) and Melbourne (well, anything goes for this city with 4 seasons in one day).

And I’ve got some rules. Every item has to be something that can be part of an ongoing wardrobe. (The only dress you should ever buy for only one-use only is your wedding dress!)

All the items have to be reasonably priced, relative to how often they can be worn.

Items cannot be part of a one-season style trend, because they will look like a DATE STAMP by next year.

The next step is for me to come up with some visuals to send to Carrie, for her to consider.

I’ll keep you posted!


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Fresh Strawberry and Lemon Muffins

21 October 2010

My dad is in the habit of shopping in fresh fruit and vegetable markets, and he loves bargains. When things are cheap, he buys LOTS, like boxes of the stuff – for everyone in his whole family.

I came home to find a huge box of strawberries on the doorstep. As I was washing them, I realised they had already passed their best moment, and that they had to be eaten TODAY!

And so it was Muffin-Making Time!

muffin_strawberry01

Strawberry and Lemon Muffins Recipe

2 cups self-raising flour
1/3 cup of castor sugar
2 teaspoons of grated lemon rind
1 1/2 cup of diced strawberries
60g melted butter
1 egg lightly beaten
1 cup of milk

Makes about 8-10 muffins.

muffin_strawberry02

1. Sift flour into a large bowl.
2. Mix in lemon rind, sugar then egg, butter and milk.
3. Then stir in berries.
4. Spoon mixture into greased muffin pans.
5. Bake in 180C oven for 25 minutes until golden.
6. Drizzle with lemon icing glaze on muffins while hot.

Lemon icing glaze
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
icing sugar

muffin_strawberry03

Notes: Perhaps I went overboard with the strawberries, and maybe just 1 cup was enough. But I love my muffins packed with fresh fruit!


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Sheer Goodness from My-Wardrobe

19 October 2010

Sheer Goodness from My-Wardrobe

Without sounding too cheesey, I guess you could say that I’ve been on a kind of “fashion journey” in the last couple of years. I’m at a place in my life where I am in the process of building a wardrobe – without spending over my limit.

And as I share my journey, I am featuring whole heap of different online shops. But of course, I only share the ones which are GOOD, and where I have had a positive experience.

My-Wardrobe.com is an online retailer based in the UK, selling luxury designer brands of clothing and accessories. You can find labels such as See by Chloé, DKNY, Paul and Joe, Sonia Rykiel, Michael Kors, Vivienne Westwood’s Anglomania.

Yes, most of the stuff there is utterly gorgeous and trendy, and they are priced towards the higher-end of the scale. So for me, I’ve been looking there for “investment” pieces.

An investment piece is one that is excellent quality of fabrics (so it will last for hundreds of wears), that is a style that won’t date, suits my figure, and will always mix and match with future changes to my wardrobe. Because if it doesn’t fill all these criteria, it is hard to justify the greater financial investment.

This time around, I was on a mission to buy some casual tops, in a sheer lux material.

I figured that I was tired of buying tops from my usual favourite high-street fashion stores, and then discovering that EVERY OTHER WOMAN I MEET is wearing exactly the same top because it was on a 30% off sale.

So! I found a very nice and simple t-shirt by Forrest Bob (pictured above) for about US$60 made from super fine modal. It’s very smooth and soft, lightweight and argh, it’s just gorgeous!

Sheer Goodness from My-Wardrobe

I also bought this Wessex Sheer Tank with black crystals for US$50. It’s only slightly sheer and the length is nice.

The great thing about this sheer top is that you can pop it over a dress, wrap a belt around it, and have “a new outfit”.

Lots more yummy tops on My-Wardrobe.

Skirts are also a great item when looking for an investment piece.

Of course you should always check out the SALE section of the site!

Happy shopping! (or just enjoy browsing!)

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


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How Glamorous, Not!- Being a Fashion Blogger

18 October 2010

I’ve had a few e-mails from readers regarding my post a couple of weeks ago about my trip to Sydney to attend the Stella McCartney for Target launch. The readers comments were all along the lines of “how lucky you are” and “how glamorous!”

Well…I won’t deny, it was very cool to attend the launch party, see some fabulous clothes, and have the opportunity to meet so many people in the fashion business.

But the actual event only took 3 hours, and I was away from home for over 48 hours.

So here is a fast summary of my other, very un-glamorous 45 hours.

Taxi to airport. Checked-in my baggage. Met up with another Perth fashion blogger going to the same event – Emma of Dropstitch. We spent 2 hours gossiping about fashion and blogging while waiting for the plane.

As we boarded the budget airliner for the 5 hour flight, I realised I was quite tired, so I tried to sleep. But I was also excited and impatient. If I had been sitting near the pilot of the plane, I would have been saying “Are we nearly there yet? Are we nearly there yet?”

I also realised that I was hungry, so I bought an economy meal from the economy airline.

sydney-target-airplanefood
Glamorous!

Emma and I finally arrived in Sydney at 10pm, and we were delivered by taxi to our very, very, VERY nice 5 STAR hotel on Sydney Harbour. In fact, my room was so perfect I was scared to sit on the bed in case I ruined how well made it was. I was like – “Is this really for me?”

It was 12am and I was really hungry. Just order room service, right? After all, the hotel has a super-chef downstairs just waiting to cook us a la carte meals.

BUT.

The FIVE STAR hotel was being paid for by Target, and the deal was that we had to pay for any FIVE STAR extras ourselves. The mini-bar had a “condoms and personal lubricant” kit that cost $18. If just two condoms can cost that much, I was sure that room service would cost at least $50.

So I rang Emma, and we went out and found an all night hot dog place.

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We sat next to a service station on a busy road to eat them.

The hot dog was soooo yummy, and cost a lot less than two mini-bar condoms.

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But I admit, it was not very glamorous.

Back to the hotel room, I was so tired that I crashed into bed.

I still couldn’t sleep, because I was probably over excited. All the noises were different, the smells were different, the bed was too bouncy and big, I felt lonely, I missed my husband, and I was worried that my children could be in danger. What will the event be like? Did I pack my toothpaste? I hope I didn’t forget to take my silver earrings!  And I kept waking up from my “sleep” thinking that I missed my plane.

The next day was just a blur, especially since I hadn’t slept properly.

I decided to have a morning bath, hoping to calm myself down. But again I couldn’t relax properly, because I wanted to make the most of the day.

I took another taxi and zoomed across town to have  lunch with a friend. I had only been to Sydney twice before, very briefly, and I was keen to check out a whole range of things. But there just wasn’t enough time.

This is what Sydney’s Botanic Gardens looks like from a fast moving taxi.

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Apparently, it is simply beautiful in there (sigh). Oh well, maybe next time.

Took another taxi after lunch.  As I was standing outside my hotel, I realised that I actually had half an hour before I needed to get ready for the launch event. So I took a short walk along the harbour.

Even though I am from Perth, a city which has a massive, beautiful river running right through it, Sydney Harbour is also pretty spectacular. For a few moments, I felt calm and content, and I wanted to get a picture of myself with the harbour in the background. I set the camera up exactly like I wanted it. I asked a random person walking by, a European guy, to take the picture, and I explained that I wanted my whole body in the picture.

As he was framing me up, I noticed he reset the zoom completely. When he showed me the picture, I was just head and shoulders with some trees in the background, and I could have been anywhere on planet Earth that had trees. He offered to take the picture again, and I reset the zoom, and asked him to make sure that all of me was in the frame. So he immediately played with the zoom again, and I just knew he was going to get it wrong. And he did. So the third time, I carefully explained to him that he didn’t need to adjust the zoom, and I pointed to my shoes, and said that I wanted them in the frame as well.

He played with the zoom AGAIN, and took another picture. I thanked him, took my camera, and headed back to the hotel. Here is the picture.

sydney-target-portrait

He completely missed my shoes. Arghh! At least it looks like I’m in Sydney in this photo. My smile is completely fake. I was so irritated with the guy.

Back at the hotel – shower, make-up, get dressed.

sydney-target-bathroom

I don’t usually like to use products provided by the hotel. Not to mention, you can never tell which item are not complimentary. Thus the sinktop was totally covered with all my girlie crap. I was not looking forward to packing it all up again later.

Since the location for the event was a WATERSIDE MANSION, I thought it would be super fun to catch a water taxi to the event, not to mention, give us the opportunity to take some awesome photos of the harbour at sunset! So I organised for all the other bloggers, who were also going to the event, to meet up at the hotel so we could catch a water taxi together!

I imagined that the water taxi would pull up to a set of steps leading down to the water, and that we would all simply step onto the boat like royal princesses.

But no. Five of us, all girls, had to STEP BACKWARDS down a step ladder, like in a swimming pool, to get to the boat. So down we went, one at a time, very, very carefully. Thankfully, I was wearing full-soled platforms, but most of the other fashion bloggers were wearing high heels. Oh how glamorous!

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Notice in the background, a handbag, which we had to hand down to the driver, which he placed precariously on the very edge of the bobbing boat, ready to spill all the camera gear into the harbour!

The party was fun, and fabulous and glamorous, and the clothes were great. I met celebrities, and chatted to heaps of people. All good. The party ended.

But rather than limousines to whisk us away from the mansion, we had to queue for normal taxis that seemed to take forever to arrive on a cool Friday night. Not so glamorous! My feet were killing me!

My deal with Target was that I could say whatever I liked about the event and the clothes, but I had to agree to submit whatever I wrote by midday the next day!

Since I was flying back to Perth early the next morning, I had to write up my story immediately after the event.

So while all the models and other beautiful people were off at the inevitable fashion after-event party having wild sex and snorting cocaine with rock stars, I was headed back to my hotel room.

(NOTE: I have never actually been to a fashion after party. In fact, I’ve never met anyone who has ever claimed to be at one of these legendary parties. And I have no evidence that they even happen. But I am absolutely sure that’s what they are all doing, after every fashion event. Lifestyles of the rich and famous, right?!)

As soon as I got back to my room, I called my husband in Perth. I wanted to gush about the event, but he just wanted to know where I kept the spare nappies and how to get poo stains out of the couch covers.

It was like hitting a brick wall of reality for me, and I was suddenly very, very tired.

But I still had to write up the story.

sydney-target-shagging

So this was me, exhausted, alone, in a huge, luxury bed with four different kinds of pillows and silk sheets, trying to do my homework.

But then I realised I was not completely alone.

I head the noise of two voices coming through the wall behind me, from the room next door. After a few minutes, the noise changed, and it quickly becomes obvious that the room next door was the honeymoon suite, and a just-married couple were making good use of their $18 condom kit.

The man must have been an athlete, because he had a LOT of stamina, and the woman was probably an actress, because she was very, very expressive – with no vocal inhibitions. It went on for a LOOOOOOOONG time, and there was a lot of sounds of furniture thumping against the walls, and it ALL MADE IT VERY HARD FOR ME TO CONCENTRATE on finishing my homework.

It was totally like a scene in a comedy movie. I was sitting there, with the noise and thumping going on, and I’m rolling my eyes going, FOR GOODNESS SAKE JUST FINISH ALREADY!!!

Oh, the glamour!!

And again I hardly slept, because I was so scared of oversleeping and missing my morning flight home.

As I checkout out the next morning, the hotel handed me a bill.

sydney-target-bill

They had got me with the phone call I made to my husband. I slapped my head with my hand as I realised I had used the hotel’s landline rather than my mobile phone. ARGH!!

Taxi to the airport. Check-in. Expensive and not very nice airport breakfast.

I was so looking forward to sleep on the economy flight home.

But, I found that I was on the same flight as the Australian Youth Choir, who were doing free recitals for the whole plane. They were heavenly, their combined voices transcending the merely human – but I didn’t give a damn, I just wanted to sleep.

sydney-target-choir

This finally finished, and as they went back to their seats, I realised their seats were dotted all around me, and when these kids were not singing like angels, they were just a bunch of bratty, snotty nosed teenagers, talking, gossiping, jumping, laughing, and kicking the back of my seat.

Did I mention there were a few crying babies on the same flight? I love babies, and I always feel bad for parents when their babies cry during a flight. So I shall refrain from complaining. But it was awful!

So I couldn’t sleep, and I reluctantly decided to buy a $9 movie to watch. It was “Eclipse” from the Twilight series. I had resolved never, ever to watch any of this trashy romance rubbish, but I was emotionally vulnerable and weak willed.

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Now, I’m hooked. I want to see all the movies, read all the novels, become facebook friends with Robert Pattinson, and change all my background wallpapers to that warewolf guy.

And when I got home (in yet another taxi), I discovered that my husband and three children were still wearing exactly the same clothes as they had been when I left home two nights before!

(But I slept like a baby that night. As Dorothy said – There’s no place like home).


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The Importance of Shoes

15 October 2010

To put on a very polished fashion parade, it takes a LOT of resources, as I have learned. You can always find an audience, because fashion shows are so popular, but you need to have fabulous clothes, shoes to go with each outfit, models, people to help the models change their clothes, hairstylists, make-up, a catwalk, lighting, drinks, marketing material etc, etc.

So what do you do when you DON’T HAVE those resources? Well, you go right ahead and have a fashion show anyway.

I was invited to a little fundraising fashion show called “2/3rds”, put on by the Central Institute’s Fashion Course in my home town. The students are fundraising for their much more glamorous, better resourced graduation show in December.

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The weird! I can see the intention and concept in these outfits, which is quite exciting, but I think the designers have a bit more work to do. I notice she has no shoes.

The actual parade of models went very smoothly, winding its way through a large exhibition gallery with no catwalk, and the make-up and hair was great.

I also know for a fact that the teachers of fashion courses often like the students to have a “trial run” show before their real one, so the students can see just how wrong a fashion show can go!

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And the wonderful! Modern-Grunge-rework-of-Classic-Elegance (but still no shoes) for her, and Drapey-Streetwear for him. Cool looks.

I love these “non-catwalk” shows, because they are always a little chaotic, and you get more surprises. They are often so raw and honest.

The only real problem with having no catwalk was that there was no special position for the photographers to stand in, so although they were all very polite to one another before the show started, it all turned into a mess when the models arrived.

Hence, my husband-turned-photographer for the evening had other photographers leaning into his view, as you can see in the edge of some of the pics above. Oh well, all part of the fun! (This doesn’t happen with professional fashion photographers, since they aggressively defend their space in a strict pecking order!)

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So strange to see a picture of me, not taken by me! Stolen by my husband. Hence the disapproving look on my face.

Most notable features of the show – an encouraging amount of men’s fashion! And I admire that all of the female models were barefoot, which was a nice way to make a theme out of a limitation.

But, you know, even though I grew up running around barefoot on a tropical island, I just don’t feel a woman’s outfit is complete without shoes!


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Liam at 19 months

13 October 2010

Liam at 19 Months

OK. Liam is so cute that it makes my ovaries ovulate.

He is definitely my last baby, and I’m glad about that. But it also makes him EXTRA SPECIAL in a way that, perhaps, only a mother can know.

He’s only 19 months, and I’m already weepingly nostalgic for the smell of new baby skin. Skin with all those tiny, amazing wrinkles that give them room to grow into, and that superhero strong grip their little fingers have.

Thankfully, I don’t have any big news about Liam. He is perfectly happy and healthy, and doing all the things he should be doing when kids are one and a half years old. But, like all kids, he is doing them his own, unique way.

He is developing his language skills at a terrific rate, and has even started joining two words together, like “Daddy-Gone” of “Bye-Mama”.

He has realised that although he is small, he can have a BIG impact on the world around him. He will shout “DOWN! DOWN! DOWN! DOWN!” louder and louder until an adult realises that what he means is that he wants to be lifted UP.

(I said his language skills were developing, not perfect!)

And his coordination skills are excellent. He can now pick up a stick, and use it to WHACK his brother sharply over the head with it.

Because Liam is still so small, he is THE BABY, and the older brothers can do nothing about it but wail in protest. One day soon, Liam will discover that older brothers can shove back. But right now, he is getting away with it.

Liam is also obsessed with repetition, which I remember is also a stage my other boys went through. However, neither of the other boys were obsessed with wanting to clean up.

Liam walks around till he finds a bottle top, straw or any other bit of rubbish, picks it up, and then carries it towards the rubbish bin, shouting “Bin! Bin! BIIIIIIIIIN!” Then he shouts “DOWN! DOWN! DOOOOWN!” until someone lifts him UP so he can throw the bit of rubbish in the bin.

And then he shouts “More! MORE! MOOOORE!” as he marches off to find another bit of rubbish. He’s on a mission, and nothing can stop him.

Liam at 19 Months

And it looks like my husband’s Viking genes have won out – the coppery red hair is here to stay, at least for a while, and maybe till Liam goes grey.

I hope he doesn’t have the fiery temperament that tradition claims goes with the hair, but if he does, I’ll try and teach him to manage it, while he is still under my motherly influence – which will hopefully be forever.

*Deep, long, contented sigh of a mother totally in love.*


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Lilies of E-Field Online Shop

12 October 2010

LOEF - Blue Shirt

I was introduced to an online shop called Lilies of e Field, and I am quite excited to share it with everyone!

I think the best feature of this boutique is – their PRICES!

You can buy nice dresses and cute rompers for $28. Fashion tops for $25.

They add a new collection every week, they also have midweek additions to the range, and have lots of cool and cute styles. And the quality of the clothes is pretty good for what you pay.

Bernice Blue Cotton Shirt – Above. I’m wearing the shirt with my own pieces. I love the look of this outfit! I probably could have styled the shirt in a casual outfit, as a dress shirt, with jeans or leggings and a belt. But I wanted to try it in a more “stylish” work outfit, pairing it with a camel coloured skirt and tan shoes.

LOEF - Leather-look top and Slim Pants

I also quite like their casual range, with lots of simple items for everyday wear.

Leather-look top – Above Left. Leather tops are right on trend, and I have been itching to try one in a few outfits. Planning to wear it with a pencil skirt or slim pants.

Pencil Cropped Pants – Above Right. Slim fit cropped pants (or cigarette pants) are very popular this season. And I quite liked this denim-look casual version. So comfy and perfect for the warm weather.

Lilies of e field is based in Singapore, and they have international shopping.

My Best Tip is to get onto their mailing list, and when they announce a collection, get in fast – because items sell out quickly.

Enjoy! xxx

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


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Styling Carrie for the Oprah Winfrey Show

11 October 2010

Everyone, meet Carrie.

Carrie

She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA, and is one of about three hundred million Americans.  She is married with two young daughters, she is really into food, and part-time, she runs a catering business.

So, pretty normal stuff, right?

But Carrie is a ONE IN A MILLION LADY.

Only 300 of those 300,000,000 Americans are going to be flown to Australia in December, free of charge, to be in the audience when the Oprah Winfrey Show is held at the Sydney Opera House, as part of the last season of the show that has made Oprah Winfrey one of the most famous people of our time.

Oprah Winfrey Show

And Carrie is one of those lucky 300 people!

Anyway, Carrie emailed me last week. She told me she has been reading my blog for a couple of years.

And then she asked me if I would give her styling advice for what to wear to the Oprah Winfrey Show!

And I said YES.

I said yes for three reasons.

First, I think it is so cool that one of my readers, who is on the opposite  side of the world, has been given the chance to be part of the end of the chat show that has been so influential in English speaking popular culture. Amazing things can happen to ordinary people!

Secondly, I can really relate to Carrie’s life.  Although she is American, and I am Australian, we are similar ages, have similar aged kids, and both are fortunate to live in countries with really high standards of living.

Thirdly, I have never styled anyone other than myself. The only exception to this is when I styled my little sister. I was 11 and she was 7 (It took months for the glue to grow out of her hair).

So. If you are an fan of Oprah Winfrey, what is better than being in the audience?

Well, being FRONT ROW in the audience!

Apparently, your chances of getting into the front row are better if you are very “well presented” and “camera ready”. So Carrie wants to be styled really well.

I suspect that Carrie has reached a certain point in her life, as I have. She has had children, they are growing up fast, and Carrie is still a young woman. After years of intensive caring for babies and toddlers, the kids head off to school and make their own friends, and a mother has a little time to consider her own needs again.

Now it’s time for a freshen up, and perhaps a little style make-over? Well, that’s certainly where I have found myself in my own life.

So, over the next few weeks, I’ll be getting to know Carrie better, how she dresses now, and how I can help improve her chances of getting to the FRONT ROW WITH OPRAH!

Carrie and I will be doing this via email, Facebook, and Skype, and I’ll keep you updated as to how we go!

(I’m pretty excited about this! I hope this works out better for Carrie than it did for my little sister!)


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Shoes Glorious Shoes + A Giveaway!

7 October 2010

Karen Cheng wearing Betts Spring Summer 2010/11

The team at Betts Shoes gave me the opportunity to check out their latest Spring Summer collection, pick out a few shoes, and announce a new competition to win some great prizes.

You would think that choosing a bunch of shoes would be an easy task for me, but I spent days umming and ahhing over which were my favourite.

So here are my picks, starting from the top –

Peru – Camel and caramel colours are very on-trend this season, and I just love this tan, strappy sandal. I’m wearing it in the photo above. It’s cute and versatile.

Moody – A glam flat sandal, also in a caramel colour theme. Looks great with casual outfits (shorts), or a relaxed, summer evening dress.

Beachy – Wedges are huge this year, and this shoe is a very cool version for Aussie summer days. Try it with a jumpsuit or maxi dress.

Karen Cheng wearing Betts Spring Summer 2010/11

Podium – a gorgeous shoe with sexy cut-outs and a bit of attitude. Team it with outfits that have simple tailoring and classic shapes.

Shayla – an awesome wedge for day or night wear. I have been wearing my pair to death. It’s  comfortable and I love being so tall for a change.

Karma – I think this one is my favourite. Edgy, sexy wedge to make a big statement.

Karen Cheng wearing Betts Spring Summer 2010/11

Perception – Nude and pastels are also very popular this season. Love the cute little cut-outs and big buckle on this shoe.

Drape – I chose this feminine shoe in a pink – hoping to wear it with white outfits.

Romance – This one is very pretty! Will go with white or silver cocktail dresses and formal gowns.

Competition
Betts are giving away almost $4000 worth of prizes – including several $250 shoe vouchers, 2 Poppy Lissiman dresses (I LOOOOVE!), an accessories pack (from Generics Accessories – by designer friend of mine), and stuff for men too.

This competition has ended!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


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Wheelbarrow Fireworks

6 October 2010

sparks01

My husband was showing the boys how to make one good wheel barrow out of three old broken ones.

Since the bolts were all rusted together, he was using an angle grinder to cut and melt the bolts off.

The amount of noise and fireworks completely excited the boys, and scared the toddler!

(An angle grinder is so noisy, I had to wear ear protectors to take these photos).

So this is what tiny metal fragments-that-are-so-hot-that-they-GLOW (and are going really, really, really fast) look like up close.

sparks02

Cool, huh?


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Stella McCartney for Target – The Launch

4 October 2010

Hey everyone! I’m in Sydney right now – which is on the other side of Australia, 5 hours flying time away from my home town of Perth.

karen-big

Target Australia and Nuffnang have flown me here to be part of the noise and excitement about the announcement of their latest “Designers for Target” collaboration.

And I want to be transparent about all this. Yes, I am being sponsored to write honestly about my experience of the launch and clothes.

And yes, while being put up in a 5 star hotel overlooking Sydney Harbour is very nice, I always have a nervous uncertainty about these things. Deep down, I was praying to the high heavens that the collection would have *at least* something nice in it – that I liked – so I could write something relatively nice about it! Because, if it didn’t, I guess I’d have to say so.

Designer collaborations are certainly not a new thing. It is where a department store with a reputation for high turnover and affordable goods, produces a range of clothes created by a high profile international designer – but still at a very affordable price.

Of course, what Target gets is a boost to their profile, the designer gets introduced to a whole new audience, and the customer gets realistic-priced access to New York-London-Paris-Milan catwalk-level designer clothes. And fashion is so much more fun if you get to wear it. It’s a win-win-win situation for everyone.

In the past, the Designers for Target have included, among others, Stella McCartney, Josh Goot, Collette Dinnigan and perhaps my personal favorite, Yeo Jin Bae.

The Launch

Part of the business of marketing fashion is building suspense and glamour, and so it has been with this announcement.

I had to agree to fly to Sydney without even knowing who the designer was.

The whole thing was SO SECRET that I didn’t know if it was going to be a party, a press conference, or a fashion show. I didn’t know if it was going to be at the Sydney Opera House, or at a local Target store in the suburbs. Or even what time of day it was.

And I don’t like surprises (unless they involve chocolate). How was I supposed to plan what I was going to wear!?

But I am really interested in how fashion designers and marketers work, and how they translate the sense of exclusivity and cost that is part and parcel of the vibe of high-end fashion, into a range that can work for a much wider audience. And I have been pretty impressed with the designers who have collaborated with Target in the past.

So… I flew to Sydney, to be surprised.

And I attended a most amazingly lavish affair!

We travelled – by boat – to a gorgeous mansion perched along Point Piper, one of the the most expensive and exclusive area in Sydney.

Altona House for Tardet Designer Launch

This was the view as we approached the venue from the water.

Rumour has it that the house is the second most expensive house in Australia. I don’t know how true that is, but apparently the house is frequently hired used by celebrities like Bono and Hugh Jackman. The house has like 15 bedrooms, so I didn’t get a chance to check all of them for rock or movie stars who might have been left behind.

food

We stepped up onto the private jetty, walked along a small boardwalk, and were ushered into a pretty pool house where we were greeted by Target’s General Manager.

As the event unfolded, we chatted to various people, TV celebrities, media types and fashion industry people, while being served incredible looking food, and sipping champagne while the sun set over Sydney Harbour. It was just lovely.

cupcakes

Rather than a catwalk show, there were models frolicking around in cute little settings – sitting on deck chairs by the pool, having a tea party, playing garden chess – all wearing pieces of the new designer collection.

It was easy to be impressed. Target certainly know how to throw a party and media event. The settings were so well decorated and lit. The sound, music, ambiance, food, drinks, wait staff – everything was very well produced.

And the fashion?

Well, Target announced that their latest Designer Collection is by Stella McCartney! Yes again!

models_all_small

Three years ago Target and Stella released a winter collection. This time around we are looking at a Spring/Summer collection, with 42 items in total, including several accessories, priced from $20 – $199. Yes, new Stella McCartney for twenty bucks!

What’s exciting about Stella coming back to do another collaboration with Target is that her previous experience is probably going to make this range work even better – they have apparently taken special care with their sizing, fabrics and cuts. This will presumably translate into better fits for those of us who are not actual fashion models.

clothes

Although Target were putting a VERY glamorous spin on the clothes with the lavish setting and food, the clothes always speak for themselves.

I am glad to say there were lots of pieces that caught my eye – sheer lace tops in French blue, sexy slim blazers in white and black, a gorgeous silky shirt with tie, and slim tailored trousers. All that I would happily received into my wardrobe.

They all seemed to be stylish, easy-to-wear pieces, great for mixing-and-matching, as well as a few stand-out designs. It was all good.

In fact, it was so good that I found myself telling the the General Manager of Target how I would love to do a more in-depth feature of the collection with a more realistic and practical product review of the clothes for my readers (in which I get to wear the clothes myself). He thought it was a fabulous idea, so stay tuned for my next post about it!

If you’re keen to see the whole Stella McCartney for Target range, check it out at the Designers for Target website.

The collection will be on sale in stores 29 October.

Shopping Stella Competition

Target has also announced that they will be running a competition leading up to the actual in-store launch.

The winner of the competition will receive a $1500 Gift Card AND special shopping access to the collection before it goes on sale to the general public. There will be TWO winners per state, and winners will be able to each take a friend.

So head on over to the Shopping Stella Competition, fill in your details and good luck!

That’s all I’ve got time for right now. I’ve got to finish up, and then fly back home to my family!


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Like Mother, Like Son?

3 October 2010

It’s been a couple of months since I bought my castor board and officially reinvented myself as a hot skater chick, carving up the streets of suburbia. Well, okay, the little bit of the street at the end of my driveway, at least.

After the first few weeks of playing with my new toy, I was nagged to death by my 7.5 year old – about how I don’t share the board (which was true) and how he was never going to learn how to skate etc, etc. Naturally, I ended up having to buy him a board too. A junior sized one.

ripsticks

So we have been skating on the street almost every day and it’s been really, really fun.

And we are both pretty good at it! (However, I feel I have to tell you I’m much better at it than he is.)

Unfortunately, it also means that I have been spending all that time hanging around a 7.5 YEAR OLD BOY and A THING WITH WHEELS.

His natural, boyish attraction to the dangerous potential of the castor board is just like watching teenage boys messing around with cars. It’s like a magnetic force that draws them in, and makes them even more stupider. And I can see it in Callum already. I knew it was in him, no matter how much, as his mother, I wished it wasn’t.

I have reluctantly accepted that this is just part of “boyness”.

But what I didn’t expect was for it to rub off on me.

That’s right. I can feel myself turning into an 14 year old boy. My “inner tomboy” is cracking open the beer and jumping head first into the nearest swimming pool.

My son dares me to do stunts. And I do them.

He invents tricks, and I do them.

He invents trickier tricks, and heck, I do them and say “HA! BEAT THAT!”

So yes, I can do totally pointless, stupid, reckless stunts on a castor board – just because I can.

I can do tight figure-8 patterns around an obstacle course of garbage bins. I can ride down slopes, up onto little ramps and back on and along the kerb.

I can dribble a soccer ball with the front of my board. I can skate and bounce a basketball. I can skate and play dodge ball. And I can even bend down and pluck random things off the ground as I glide past.

I’m awesome.

And performing any one of these tricks, at any moment, could leave me with broken bones and/or muscle deep grazing and permanent scaring.

But it’s so worth it!

And hey, on the street, among boys, scars are way cool.

(The only dare I DIDN’T DO that my son gave me was to skate past my 1.5 year old toddler, and without stopping, stoop down, pick him up and carry him along the street, while on the castor board. I did think about it for a few seconds…but even I wasn’t THAT stupid! The mother in me kicked in, thank heavens.)


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The Anti-Fashion of Bowling

1 October 2010

Bowling Shoes

The other day I took my kids bowling.

The last time I went bowling was YEARS AGO! So I was quite excited to see how things had changed.

However, the moment I stepped into our local bowling alley, I was shocked to discover that IT WAS EXACTLY THE SAME.

It was STILL as if I had stepped into a freaky time warp, into 1950s America.

I couldn’t tell if the bowling company specially decorated the alley to look like the 1950s, or if they just had not refurbished the place since then.

The décor, the music, the chrome, the vinyl, the carpet. All from the 50s!

And WHAT IS WITH THE SHOES?

As the guy behind the desk plopped 3 pairs of bowling shoes on the counter, I had 4 thoughts.

Firstly the Karen who went bowling 10 years ago thought….

“Of course! How could I forget! Bowling means wearing weird, two colour bowling shoes. No point fighting it. It’s just the way it is.”

Then the stylist in me thought….

“Aww they ARE kinda cute… in a quirky vintage way. They’d be very cute with shorts, a blazer and a fedora.”

THEN the princess in me thought….

“Eww, actually, I hope they clean these things properly.”

And lastly, the fashion commentator in me thought….

“It’s amazing how bowling shoes (and bowling in general, for that matter) have managed to totally defy fashion trends. They are like a still living snapshot of post-World War Two American pop culture. These shoes are anti-fashion….”

My boys had much simpler thoughts about the shoes, which they shared with me.

“Those are so UGLY”.

And they refused to wear them.

Apparently, that is the exact effect the iconic two-conflicting colours is supposed to have. The shoes are deliberately designed to be stand-out ugly, so that people won’t ever steal them.

Well, it’s still working after sixty years! Lets hear it for anti-fashion!




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