Style Quotient

Do you have a hate list for the fashion season?
I know I do. I think it is as important as having a ‘Things-I-love list, because according to me, you should always know what’s haute and what’s not. It is the only way you will know the trends you should be wary of, what to avoid and what you could experiment with, despite the naysayers.
But first things first. Let me begin with the trends I love this year…
Polka Dots? It’s thumbs up from me – I love the way it channels Coco Chanel.
Gallery worthy sartorial creations, complete with art deco prints and abstract motifs? Gorgeous!
Clothes with floral patterns in happy bouquets? Always welcome! I’m all for bringing in the last of the summer muse even as monsoon winds are blowing through our part of the world.
Red lipstick? A big yes from me. I always think it is the perfect LBD (little black dress) for the lips!
Now, here’s my other list that should bring fashion police to the door…
Too many prints:
Okay, I know how beautiful prints are, but I find that too many prints in one ensemble can come across as weird. It is interesting that now you can wear florals with other motifs but more than 2 prints, patterned into one outfit? Maybe not.
Whitening, no! Brightening, yes!
This is a trend that makes me quite annoyed. Almost every skin care brand seems to have brought out a range of whitening products. What exactly are we trying to whiten? And why? No-one is quite sure but apparently, these products often fly off the shelf. But let me enumerate the dangers here, courtesy a well known dermatologist. The adverse effects of these creams often show up much later in life. There could be strange hyperpigmentation which develops and many other skin problems that erupt that can be traced back to whitening agents. Is the idea of looking fair for a few days, worth the big price you pay later? Of course, there are some good skin care brands out there that do not cause any skin problems, but I would still opt for radiance boosting products for a special night than weeks of using whitening cream.
The No-Makeup Look
Girls, I know it is a type of inverse snobbery to say that you don’t wear makeup, but my advice is – don’t skip the sunscreen. And if you have achieved the no makeup look with nude makeup, I would say, don’t! There is nothing as dreary as colourless lips that match your beige foundation. A little colour does go a long way.
The platforms
I am not sure why this on my hate list. Some of the summer platform wedges with their winding ropes and radiant colours are very pretty. However I think my dislike stems from the fact that trying to walk gracefully in them, never works. You might feel steadier than you do when you wear stilettos but you will eventually find yourself clomping around — and this is never a pleasant sight.
As for the rest of my Hate list, it will pop up periodically. Watch this space for more.

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For those who love footwear, here’s a quick trip down memory lane. Most of the footwear out there today is an offshoot of the styles of the past, so if you love and understand the iconic styles of yesteryear, you will be able to make informed footwear choices today.

The first style in shoes that you must have ever loved is the pump. It is one of the most popular female high heel shoes of all time and even today, it is a must-own in every woman’s shoe collection. Though history records that elevated footwear dates as far back as the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome, it is believed that the true precursors of the pumps came from the medieval fashion traditions of the wealthy class of rulers in Renaissance countries. It was soon synonymous with true wealth, but vanished for a few decades when women focused on flat soled shoes after certain political upheavals. Sure enough, fashion came full circle and the court shoes were back to live on and become a permanent fixture of shoe history.

The second iconic style you might remember is the open toe, sling back pump, which is very popular even today. In fact, I would recommend that you choose this style of shoe instead of the regular pumps because they suit our warm weather vagaries and look so utterly sexy too. These date back to 1940 when designed by Ferragamo, and later by Prada and soon afterwards they were adopted by many Hollywood stars. The peep toe satin pumps are still extremely well loved all over the world.

The next style to think about this season would be the wedges. This look dates back to the early 1920s and was very trendy at the time because they were light and attractive, as the heels were made out of cork. Cork was more popular than wood because it was lighter, sturdy and more durable. They became very popular during World War II because of the lack of leather and rubber at the time. Today, we have wedge heeled sandals that are very trendy, with the heels wrapped in rope or jute, and much of its popularity lies in the fact that is so sturdy and offers arch support to the legs all the time.

Another iconic shoe style that carries its trend forward even today is the ankle boot. Almost every woman waits for the weather to turn colder so that she can wear these fabulous shoes. In fact, the ankle boot dates back to 19th century, but it has moved up and down in length ever since. The taller boot comes back into style ever so often with fringes or exotic designs in leather or suede. Which one should you buy? It is best to go by your own height. If you are short, wear only calf or ankle length boots. This is one style that will not go out of style, so buy a pair and wait for winter.

The platform shoe is another iconic style, but one which I personally dislike. Though it was immortalized for men by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, it became a hot favourite among women too. The platform shoe fad hit its peak in 1970 and was popular because they helped to add height without all the drama and discomfort of spike heels.

And finally, who does not love the beautiful stiletto heel sandals that have never left the annals of fashion history. Named after the stiletto dagger, these heels vary in length from 1 – 10 inches and when the heels are around 2 inches high, they are often called kitten heels. The stiletto that we know today was first designed by French fashion designer Roger Vivier in 1954. It was an instant hit because it emphasized the body line and sexuality of women. Two decades later the new “needle” style came into fashion and today, women wear stilettos to work too.

There are many other iconic shoe styles out there but I have picked out the ones I love best. If you are looking for trendy footwear this year, check out the ballet flats, the block heeled shoes, the mules, the espadrilles and the loafers that are so in the stores now. Go shopping for them, buy them in the most colourful hues possible but when in doubt, let the iconic designs of the past be your guide.

 

Girls, if you’ve been shopping of late, you would have noticed that the shops are inundated with printed trousers. I finally mustered up courage to buy a pair and sure enough, it has been totally liberating.

I guess I am one of those people, who associate prints with the laid back life. Printed pyjamas to lounge in, polka dotted shorts to sleep in and colourful pants with happy motifs for a day on the beach. However, the thought of going to work, shopping in the malls and walking down the streets in trousers printed with all kinds of patterns still gives me goose bumps — but hey, here I am – now one of the many fashionistas loving prints and ditching my jeans for the summer.

The big problem with wearing prints is being unsure of the right motifs for you. I mulled over this dilemma for a long time, and did my research by watching the best dressed women in the city. The options out there are mind boggling. Should I wear pretty floral trousers? Wide legged palazzos with animal prints? Skinny pants with abstract motifs? Or should I throw caution to the winds and buy a pair of striped pants?

It is important to know your shortcomings while choosing your clothes, especially if you are going shopping for printed trousers. If you are heavy below the waist, keep the trouser prints dark and small. Remember your printed trousers will be making your fashion statement for you, so draw attention only to the features that will accentuate and enhance your look. Keep the top half of your ensemble simple, either by wearing solid colours or by wearing a black or white T-shirt. Throw on a jacket or blazer if you are off to work or if you want to look super sexy. But – please don’t use prints all over, unless you are below 12!

I must say, that once I had bought my printed trousers, buying the top to go with it was just as hard. The secret of making this look work, I discovered, lies in choosing the right colour from your printed trousers and buying a top in that shade to create a look of pleasant harmony.

Beauty tip:

Have you heard of the eye primer? I am sure you have but you may have been just as sceptical as I have about how useful it is. But girls—it is sheer magic. It smooths the eyelids, gives them a gentle glow and holds on to eye shadow all day. A must buy, I say! Get in touch with me if you want to know the brands I like best.

So, brighten up your summer days with a bunch of joyful prints and a dash of cool eye primer. It is time to bring in the season with a bit of adventure.

 

 ImageImage

When I learnt the word ‘stuffocation’ last month I knew it was my ‘mot du jour’ – word of the day. You know how it is —  as soon as the New Year rolls around, everyone is telling you to toss out this and keep that in your wardrobe, in your home, in your car and in your life. Well, this year, they had a new word to describe the process – they called it ‘Stuffocation’—and I loved it at once.

Suffocated with stuff? Yes, that describes how most of us now live and never have we been more in need of simpler routines and choices. The problem with “stuffocation” is that we tend to forget the stuff we buy because we buy so much. The other day, when I realized that I had applied ‘Neck Cream’ under my eyes and smeared a luxurious marine creation on my feet that was supposed to illuminate my face into a rainbow of light bulbs, I realized that I was in drastic need of stuffocation therapy. There is just so much unnecessary stuff lying around now that the big question really is — why haven’t we got around to doing this earlier?

So, here’s a quick look at the beauty stuff you can get rid of this year. I call them my Suffocation Therapy (ST) Rules. Take a copy and peep into this list the next time you go shopping…

Do you own neck cream?

I never did till I wondered if it was the new and neglected kid on the block. The jars were irresistible too – there were tall and serious ones that meant business and the warm golden ones that promised many minutes of pampering. Could they really preserve the delicate skin around the neck for decades? I had serious doubts about that but I bought one anyway but the way it has been gathering dust for many months now, is an indication of how effective it has been.

ST Rule 1: Ignore the inviting neck creams on the shop counters. Use your face cream on your neck instead!

Do you own a lip exfoliator?

These look just like your lipstick tubes and promise all kinds of things – smooth, buttery lips in minutes. Lips that might get Angelina Jolie a tad jealous. Reality, of course, is something else. Skip now!

ST Rule 2: Step away from lip exfoliators. Good old Vaseline, Pond’s Cold Cream or petroleum jelly will do for the lips. Dermatologists say the lips are too thin and sensitive for the harsh abrasion of a lip exfoliator.

Do you own too many face cleansers?

The problem with face cleansers is that they sound so fabulous and promise so much. According to their makers they can erase age, lift the skin and make you a million shades fairer – all in the 10 seconds that it is in contact with your face.

ST Rule 3: Walk away from that delightful array. Choose a cleanser that does its job – cleanse your skin. Period.

Do you own a lash primer or lip plumper?

If you just decided to complicate your life with an eyelash primer, see if you can return it. A double coat of mascara should do for most social occasions.

ST Rule 4: Beware of anything that promises to prime or enhance any feature of the face, unless you are dying to use it. Lash primers can weigh your lashes down though they might hold on to mascara and lip plumpers work by irritating the skin of the lips that is far too delicate already.

Do you own a tube of Foot mask?

This is one product that sounds better than it is. You imagine a heavenly cocktail of ingredients seeping into your feet and sweeping you into an exclusive, self styled foot spa. Reality of course is something else – you end up with a lot of goop on your feet that takes ages to clean up.

ST Rule 5: Steer clear of all masks. If you need one, head towards your friendly neighbourhood beauty salon.

However—remember this…

Whatever they say about toners, moisturisers and serums – if you are above 30, you might need them. So in your new found enthusiasm for stuffocation therapy don’t throw everything out and then go around buying them again.

Let your mantra be: Keep it simple!

*********

Event of the fortnight:

Love is Forever – Pre Valentine Jewellery Show

The sparkle of pure emerald, the fire of the ruby, the glitter of the diamond and the mystery of sapphire – nothing could quite match the beauty of these timeless gems that took the spotlight on the ramps last week.

Like most shows done by fashion guru, Prasad Bidapa nothing is thoughtlessly put together. Each element of the show, right from the lighting, the acoustics to the voice over was impeccable.

And so let me describe the event for you, in case you missed it…

Who was there? — Make a good guess? And you’re right. The whole town. No place to sit but who cared?

Where: At Fava, the fabulous, must-not miss restaurant in UB city.

What were the guests wearing: Many of the women were in beautiful saris and intricately embroidered salwar suits. Wise move. It proved to be a good backdrop to try the jewels on later if they needed to.

What I loved: The interplay of colour and light and music that was done so well. Like the sky blue backdrop to match the indigo coloured stones, the cool green lights to usher in the verdant gems, the stark black look for the white diamonds and finally the piece de resistance – the bridal collection.

What I learned:

Here is a list of all that you can do with jewellery now…

— You can design your own jewellery, using old stones, new motifs and fine metals.

— The necklace can take the shape of the neckline it is sitting on, so keep this in mind when you buy jewellery next.

— Try the very hot stiletto earrings.

— You can buy necklaces with two different strands and shapes on each side of the neck. So, there’s no need for perfectly shaped chains anymore.

— Certain interesting techniques are now used by jewellers to make random sized diamonds look like huge solitaires.

— Buy a ring that sits on two fingers of your hand for a change.

 

Till next time then!

 

 

I must say I was pleasantly surprised the other day at a social event when a number of friends came over to comment on the little zipper detail along the ankles of my leggings. One of my friends said, “Do you know– I could not pay attention to anything else because I was dying to know where you found something so unique. So where did you find this?” The other girls looked like they would have whipped out notepads to write down my answer, but to my chagrin, I could not remember anything nor could I find anything clever to say.

However, I have been on a roll ever since. Whether it is a hair accessory with giant stones, or a jacket with faux Swarovski or a stole that is washed in brilliant hues, I’ve managed to draw some interest in my clothes, though I must say my efforts have been rather juvenile. But I have a friend who wears one special accessory each time, like an oversized coat, a pair of cat eye shaped reading glasses or a stole that reaches her feet or a handbag big enough to fit all the files of the country – and she looks like she just stepped off the ramps of Paris.

That’s the secret really. All you need to do is to add a personal touch to an outfit, like a special piece of jewellery, an unusual set of buttons, a scarf with bright motifs or just a pair of mind blowing shoes to make a trend personal and to give it a signature touch…

 And so, here’s a style resolution for the New Year for you: Create some trends of your own in 2014 and copy only the trends you love.

But first things first. The New Year brings with it a wave of new international fashion trends and there are some looks that I love this year. I am listing out a few that I think are really hot and worth trying out.

The first trend is the ‘midi dress’ that is poised to be big news this year. This is a dress that falls down to the calf and skims your knees. Though this look was frumpy when it came out many decades ago, today it is stunning, because the new midi dresses cling to your curves and are available in slim silhouettes. So, if you’ve been putting off wearing a dress, because the mini dress did not suit you and you are not too comfortable about showing off your knees, this is your year to embrace a new trend. The midi dress has an array of necklines to choose from, like the cowl, the wrap and the collar. Just make sure you do not choose wear baggy or ill fitting midi dresses because the beauty of this trend will be lost on you.

Another hot trend this year is the return of classic whites. If you don’t own a crisp white shirt already, you now have an excuse to buy one. Make sure you buy a blouse, shirt or shirtdress that is clear white, preferably button down and with some unusual detailing like an attached necktie or a scarf or a unique collar. You could also wear a dazzling white shirt with blue jeans for that chic look that never goes out of style.

The other big trend is embroidery that is back in style now. This is where you can go local because some of the best handwork is done by our own tailors and seamstresses. Captured by Oscar de la Renta this year in a line of party dresses, and described by the fashion press as hot because it is so exquisite, this trend is making a buzz already.  The timeless beauty of fine embroidery has no parallel, so make sure to add an embroidered dress to your summer shopping list in 2014.

And of course, everyone loves to know the colours of the season and believe it or not there are many colours to choose from this year. The Pantone Colour of 2014 is Radiant Orchid (for those who might not know, Pantone is an international authority on colour and colour systems). Royal orchid is a blend of fuchsia, purple and pink. The fashion runways saw an abundance of olive, orange and lemon too. So, you can safely put away ‘green’ which was the big colour last year and try a new spectrum of colours in your wardrobe for spring and summer.

A final beauty tip:

Girls – if you love the BB cream for the face, you can now await the Body BB. This cream will wipe away the blemishes on the skin so you can show off clear arms and legs when you wear a sleeveless dress or a mini skirt. Not available in your city yet? Use foundation mixed with cream for now in all your problem areas. But remember… this could rub off on your clothes, so use it sparingly. The Body BB will however will give your skin an even tone and will not smudge your clothing too. It may take a short while for it to arrive in a store near you but grab it when it does!

 

 

They should call winter the silly season, because you end up doing all kinds of things you would think twice about otherwise. Maybe it is something about those crisp blue skies and that cool breeze that never gets too cold in Bangalore that sets you off and soon you are doing crazy stuff which you would never do otherwise. For instance, I found myself buying reams of pretty tinsel, a pair of crochet needles (a pointless buy since I don’t know how to crochet) another box of plum cake complete with plump raisins (not a good idea when you’ve set a target goal weight by December 31) and suchlike. And as if all this was not enough, I went one step further, and enrolled for a makeup class too.

I must say however that I learnt some valuable tips in this class and that’s where my story begins…

 

The classes held by this particular makeup company gives you total value for money (because you get back in products what you pay as fees) and you can opt for a one-on-one session or a regular class with many other students. Now, since this was an impulse decision, I decided on a solo class and how I enjoyed being a student taught by an efficient young teacher!

First things first and I had to ask my teacher this question. Why do women need to know how to do a bit of makeup? Shouldn’t a smidgen of kohl (or kajal) and a hint of lipstick/lip gloss do? Who needs so much makeup anyway? My teacher shrugged. It really is a matter of choice, she said, but on the other hand — she had noticed that most women use far too much kohol or kajal in their eyes and too much brown or red lipstick on the lips. Any more makeup than that is only reserved for special occasions. But today, life is all about making that great first impression at work or any social occasion. So, learn to do makeup well. Ignorance is not the answer – she concluded.

Well, here are a few tips I picked up that afternoon…

  • Do not apply any makeup without using moisturising cream first. Only well hydrated skin can hold other creams and powders.
  • Do not despise the fabulous effects of primer and sunscreen.
  • For dark blemishes that need to be camouflaged, use an orange corrector before using a concealer. Flaws disappear like magic.
  • Use feather like strokes of a brush or your fingers while applying makeup. Most of us use a very heavy hand and we end up taking off makeup, instead of adding it. Settle pigments by patting them down.
  • Your brushes should be of the best quality possible or you could tear or hurt your skin.
  • Do not use kajal or kohl in the eyes as it smudges under the eye. Use an eye pencil instead.
  • Lip pencil has to be used over the entire lip before applying lipstick.

 

For more tips, you will have to call me up or go for a class yourself, but let me tell you, it is totally worth it.

I know the big question in your mind is… did it all look good eventually? Or did I look like a walking paint box? My teacher seemed thrilled with the results of her craftsmanship, but I am not used to seeing all my flaws disappearing into thin air. For me, the biggest drawback was — I didn’t look quite like myself at all.

So I went into a dark and pensive mood once the class ended. I wondered– is beauty skin deep or does it emanate from deep within? Seeing the large basket of makeup that went into making the perfect face, I had no answer. When I think about it, some of the most beautiful women I know use no makeup at all. And yet, a little bit of makeup goes a long way for so many of my friends.

Therefore the makeup lesson I really learnt was this… whether you want a big kit or small bag of cosmetic products to do up your face every day is your choice… but remember that it is our small flaws that make us special. Don’t let too much makeup take that away!

 

ImageIt was one of those evenings when you get to enjoy yourself and also get to remember that life gets its most worth, only when you are working towards a cause. I am at Estee Lauder’s ‘A Pink Moment champagne soiree’ a fund raising initiative held in Bangalore and organised to spread the awareness of breast cancer. The guests who were supporting the cause had also decided to dress up for the occasion and how!

Well, since most of us love to know what everyone was wearing, here’s a quick update of what I noticed. Most of the guests  had either worn pink from head to toe or had decided to sport pink accents, by way of accessories or shoes. I soon realized that “backs” were the new décolletage, because while many of the women wore ensembles that looked modest and demure in the front, the necklines of these outfits plunged quite wildly at the back. Even those who wore sarees, matched them with cholis that ended in pretty bows or tiny buttons, way down their backs.

Though pink was the colour du jour, many opted for orange, and another hot favourite was white. One shoulder gowns were also very popular and I loved the way most of the dresses fell in soft drapes and were spun out of billowy fabrics.  Those who had opted for chic black ensembles wore their pink Breast Cancer support ribbons in style while others let their hair do the talking, by wearing their hair in curls that cascaded down their backs or in updos that brought into focus, their long and slender necks. Many carried glittering clutches that ranged from the smart purses to metallic boxes, all encrusted with diamantes that caught the overhead lights and flashed giddily all night.

As for makeup – here’s the new tip that seems to be the mantra in town. Keep your actual makeup subdued and concentrate on your skin. The clearer you can make your skin appear, the more fresh and gorgeous you look. And if you do want to try the deep back look, make sure you go for a back facial to cleanse, clarify and soften the back, before trying this trend out.

Back to the event. The venue was festooned with lights, in colours of lilac and softest pink. As for the dinner, whether the guests opted for the Moroccan Chermoula crusted spring chicken or the Beef Wellington or the Greek style fish, it was served to them by tuxedoed waiters who kept their plates full and the glasses brimming over. A live band, complete with guitars and drums played in the background and managed to coax some dancers onto the floor while other guests tucked into their dinners and savoured their wines. Conversation sparkled across the tables, music floated in the air and laughter punctuated the night. The hostess Manjusha and the other ladies in the Estee team remained indefatigable as they made every guest supremely comfortable. What a super night of style it was!

As for some more beauty news..

If you love the BB and the CC cream hold your breath, gals …and brace yourself for two more creams! The DD and GG creams are here. The trend of naming creams by the letters of the alphabet just seems to be getting more popular. The DD does more than the BB and CC which could give you flawless skin just by their properties of hydration, colour and built-in SPF, the DD, which is the Daily Defense cream, goes a few steps further by giving you anti-ageing benefits and pore minimisation. The GG (also called Gigi), on the other hand, has some lightening properties too.

How do you know which cream you need? The best way to do this is to go by what you need the most. Check your skin in sunlight with a magnifying mirror. Is dry skin or oil control your concern?  The BB cream will do the trick. Is an uneven skin tone your bête noir? The CC cream which is so named because of its properties of colour correction should help.

After trying out a bunch of CC and BB creams, I’ve realized that Colour Bar’s BB suits me best, mainly because of its brightening properties. If you are travelling abroad, try Smashbox’s CC cream that is available in a broad spectrum of colours and offers maximum coverage of pores and blemishes.

Almost every brand has a BB now, though some brands like Lakme have jumped to CC which is quite good too. The DD may take time to come here, so find one of the other creams to help you. But beware… with the sunlight as powerful as it is in our country, these creams might not offer all the sun protection you might need. So, don’t skimp on your sunscreen, no matter what. Also, foundation might also be necessary if you want to present flawless skin.

The bottom line: bare skin does not work anymore. If you don’t want to load on too many creams onto your face, go for BB or CC, add some more sunscreen too, and voila … beautiful skin!

Till next time then …


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