Friday, March 27, 2009

Styling Mouse

Many of you know I used to work in fashion retail. Some of you remember my silver kit which had as many as 20 different colors of lipsticks in it. Fifteen years ago I was practically fresh out of college, was a store manager and sample fitter for a now defunct ladies' wear brand. Things like makeup, hair color, nailpolish, shoes and bags (and combinations thereof) mattered. Well, it was a business. I hadn't had chicken pox yet, had perfect skin and was the average Filipina size for our target market. I felt like I could run a marathon in high heels. Well, years later my career path diverged sharply into a direction where one could survive an entire trip to the mountains with just petroleum jelly and spf50 sunblock.

I miss it, and I don't miss it. If it wasn't for work I wouldn't be that much into fashion. Except I'm a girl, and there are things that eternally fascinate me (like beautifully made, stylish shoes) but I can live cheerfully without. I love shopping and can't resist bargains, though.

The last dress I wore to a major occasion (Jun and Jangky's beach wedding) looked like this:

and I only paid PhP1.8k versus something like PhP3.5k ready made and PhP 7k if custom-made. I found it by accident hanging behind another dress I thought I liked in the Greenhills tiangge, and rejoiced at the fact that I didn't have to iron it. I rolled it into a ball, threw it in my knapsack, and got on the plane. And I already had the zebra thongs and dangling earrings and the similarly colored agate bead bracelet and the false eyelashes to go with it. It was FUN.

Over the past year, I've been wearing more dresses and skirts. The silhouettes range from jersey wrap dresses (think Diane von Furstenberg) to Jackie Kennedy '60s sheath dresses to very feminine and very forgiving swingy A-line skirts. Great with high heels. Both TDM and my dad love seeing me look girly. It's an age-appropriate look that's classic, comfortable and easy to put together. And as times require some belt-tightening, I haven't bought anything new since then (that statement does not include books and fountain pens, which are essential to my happiness). Well, ok, I bought some purple suede strappy stack-heeled Nine West sandals at a Baguio City wagwagan for waaay less than what some would think. One needs a few quirky items to cheer oneself up with now and then.

Earlier I was chatting with my friend Raffy and while discussing watches and other accessories, he had me look at several style blogs. While some were interesting, I thoroughly enjoyed Sea of Shoes. It's by a 17-year-old Texan schoolgirl, who I find is artistic and has good taste for someone her age, not to mention the fashion budget of Gossip Girl's Blair Waldorf or Serena van der Woodsen. And she has a cool mom, too. The blog has a sort of European sensibility. Kathy, on the other hand, pointed me towards Song of Style for fashion with a more Asian sensibility. The blogger is an Asian-American interior design student who can - and does - make her own evening wear. While long shirts worn as dresses don't really appeal to me, she manages to put together other edgy looks dictated by her own personality. I admire that. 'Ika nga nila, kering-keri.

Of course our real lives don't necessarily have to slavishly follow the lifestyles perpetuated in the style blogs we enjoy. It's vicarious, but it helps you define things you like (or, to make it easier, what you DON'T like). One thing Raffy and Kathy (they don't know each other) and I do agree on is that vintage, if it suits you, can be very good. In Raffy's case, vintage or retro-styled watches and accent pieces, and in Kathy's case, jewelry, dresses and retro-styled shoes. I happen to think vintage dress shapes suit my current figure. One site,, has a number of things I rather like and would actually wear: the Torch Song dress, the Mason Dixon, the Fashion Dictionary, American Bandstand, Wishing on a Star, The Australia, the Neo-Hippie (see dress pictured above), the Rock and Roll Dream dress, and the Everlasting Love. Ok, I actually found the site via, and that doesn't necessarily I mean I want to look like Dita von Teese.

On a parting note, check out this character's outfit from that excellent tv series Mad Men. I can imagine myself in the red dress (I have something similar), except, of course for the uh, conical underwear that make one's ta-tas look like nuclear warheads.