Monday, 31 January 2011

Reader giveaway (Chanel, anyone?)

Having topped 100 followers not so long ago, I’ve recently been filled with lovely emotions of warmth and bliss (much like a post-chocolate endorphin hit, minus the guilt). Far better than the feeling of Lindt, though, is the feeling of loyalty. You 104 lovelies make my day, and constantly inspire me to share the things that fascinate me, and I always look forward to engaging with you through comments and visiting your blogs. I really enjoy sharing opinions with you guys, and meeting all you fascinating fashionistas. You are all so beautiful and talented, and I’m so grateful for every visit to my blog, and every comment that inspires discussion, which I believe to be the heartbeat of fashion today. So, thank you!

And what better way to express my gratitude than hosting a giveaway? Up for grabs this time: a package consisting of Chanel nail lacquer in Particulière, MAC Lipglass in Almondine, and your choice of either of the two necklaces pictured (a sterling silver spiral necklace from David Auker jewellery or a bronze-cast gingko pendant by Michael Michaud for Silver Seasons). The giveaway will run for one month and will close on February 28th at midnight PST, and the winner will be announced on March 1st.

Now, this ain’t your average giveaway: as a gesture of gratitude to my wonderful 104 readers via Google (and 49 via bloglovin), the giveaway will be open ONLY to my current followers. I’m not looking to pull in more followers with the lure of the awesome prizes, but to say thank you to all my current readers who have been incredibly supportive and lovely. So, no newbies, sorry! However, if you’re new to Obsessive Coolness, do stay tuned: I have a very exciting giveaway coming up soon that you can participate in.

So, down to the nitty-gritty. Here’s what you have to do to participate in the giveaway:

1.) First, please vote for me in the Bloglovin Awards. Click here. This will take you to the Bloglovin Awards page for fashion bloggers. Fill in (takes approximately 1.5 minutes!) and, most importantly, when you get to the bottom of the page and find the type-in box called ‘Blogger of the Year’, type in ‘’. Then click ‘Submit’!

2.) Next, vote for me in the Refinery29 Next Big Style Blogger competition! To do this, click here, then scroll down until you find the ‘The Contenders’ section. Find the words ‘Page 1 of 11 NEXT’ (directly opposite the ‘The Contenders’ & ‘Show Your Love’ slogans). Click on ‘NEXT’ until you reach page 7. Scroll down until you find my photo, which looks like this:

Then, click on the little pink heart directly under my photo. Follow the instructions and voila! You’ve voted!

3.) Leave me a comment on this post letting me know you’ve done steps 1 & 2. Remember to leave your blog address or email so I can contact you if you win!

And that’s it! Thank you guys, and good luck in the giveaway!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Day at the Boat Race

This look includes three of the new pieces in my wardrobe that I’m really loving right now: the suede elbow patch tweed jacket from ASOS, harem-style knit pants from Forever 21 and a Topshop vintage-themed necklace which consists of a working pocket watch. The pants are so insanely comfortable, and much more flattering than they appear to be in the photos. I’ve all but thrown out my trusty skinny jeans! I can’t wait for the Boat Race so I can sip Pimm’s & lemonade and cheer on Oxford. True blue!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

How to pin down the elusive fashion education

So, you want to work in the fashion industry, but you don’t know where to start. You want to get a great education, through college and beyond, that’ll appeal to fashion professionals and allow you to get a great head-start in the business. You don’t just want to get your foot in the door after college, you want to have someone invite you through that door personally. But it’s all just a little…elusive. You don’t know what to major in while at college, you don’t know where to go afterwards (if anywhere), and it doesn’t seem like anyone else really does, either.

Preparing for a career in fashion, especially if you’re not just focused on the obvious (design), can be a little confusing, mostly because there are many careers in fashion available, and many paths to your dream job. There’s also surprisingly little information out there about how to get started, or how to close the gap between graduating college and landing your dream job.

Firstly, I would highly recommend Teen Vogue’s ‘The Teen Vogue Handbook’. Although not a straight forward ‘major in this, intern here’ guide, it does offer a lot of good tips for breaking into the business (getting our aforementioned Louboutin-clad foot in the door, essentially) in multiple arenas, from fashion design to modeling to editing.

As far as majoring in college goes, my advice is to think outside the box. If you want to be a fashion designer, your path is a little bit clearer, perhaps: everyone knows Parsons, for example, is a great place to go, and from there you can only go up. Any class you take will prepare you well for a solid career in fashion. If, however, you want to work as a fashion journalist, magazine editor or fashion editor, for example, there are different considerations. For anything written work-based, an English or Journalism major would work perfectly. For an aspiring fashion editor, consider other courses in the fashion department. If in doubt, go for a degree in Liberal Arts. Someone who is considering working in a fashion house (but without the design-based focus) or something similar might benefit from a degree in Business. And of course, try to intern as much as you can while at college. Nothing measures up to hands-on experience.

When it comes to graduate work, why not? Perhaps you can go full steam ahead into your career after college, especially if you’re pursuing fashion design and have graduated from somewhere like Parsons. However, if you have the abovementioned degree in Business, you might need some specialization to prepare you for your dream career. Consider courses such as the MFA in Fashion Design and Society from Parsons or the Merchandising Masters from Kansas State University.

Of course, many graduate schools require the GRE test as an admissions requirement, especially if you're studying business (which would be useful for those looking to manage a fashion house or their own business/line/label etc.). This can pose a bit of a problem, as unlike the SATs (which high school at least attempts to adequately prepare you for), the GRE is a test that you must prepare for on your own. A great website that you can use to prepare for the GRE is at GRE Prep Book. While it has a pretty bare-bones design and layout, which seems a little unsophisticated, it is very simple to use and provides you with good resources. The site offers thousands of free GRE practice questions on the topics of analogy, sentence completion, synonym, antonym, reading comprehension, analytical writing and vocabulary practice, as well as a free GRE practice test. It also directs you to a GRE practice test for purchase, and their store of GRE prep books, should you need further guidance. The website claims that its students average 1520 on the GRE test given at least 2 months to prepare, which is pretty good considering that the maximum score is 1600! A little studying goes a long way.

Good luck!

Photo credit:

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The magnificence of "Black Swan" – or not: Oscars snub

The relevance of Black Swan has been hotly debated, perhaps more because of its rarely-plumbed central universe and lynchpin, the world of ballet, than its actual content. While some dancers shiver to think of the fine, albeit far off in the distance, line between their own fate and that of Nina’s, others criticize it as an extreme and clichéd dramatization of the pursuit of technical and artistic perfection simply necessary in the art of ballet, claiming that it is perfectly possible to strive as hard as Nina without falling into her twisted mental chasm of delusion. This is, of course, entirely true; it might even be the case that every professional dancer works just as hard as Nina, sacrifices just as much as her, and wants it just as much as she does. However, we should not forget that Black Swan is a film, and a horror film at that, not a documentary. The drama of Black Swan is not necessarily supposed to be taken literally: the suspense is in the possibility of its existence.

While the relevance of Black Swan’s drama has been called into question, its magnificent visual aspects, including the incredible costume design, have not. Until now, that is.

While Black Swan received well-deserved Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress (Natalie Portman), Cinematography (Matthew Libatique), Directing (Darren Aronofsky) and Film Editing (Andrew Weisblum), it was snubbed for Costume Design. This will come as a massive shock to those in the fashion world, as it is a well-known fact that the stunning costumes were commissioned from the super-duo behind Rodarte, a major and well-respected fashion label. For most, the nomination (if not victory) in the Costume Design area was just as expected for Black Swan as the nomination celebrating Aronofsky’s excellent high-low blend of art and sleaze, complex psychology and blunt sexuality.

No movie has created such a stir in the fashion world as Black Swan, and for those who hear of the remarkable Oscar snub it may serve as a telling sign that the realms of art (or at least the celebration of that art) and fashion are drifting apart in a way that may herald completely unprecedented territory.

Photo credit:

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The future of fashion blogging = the future of fashion?

A new year, naturally enough, is heralded by beginnings. We have already suffered the last days of December, during which we reflected on the mistakes and failings of the year gone by (carefully ignoring the fact that the past 14 days may have heavily contributed to the majority of our sins, especially the ones against our waistlines). The New Year offers a sort of promise, the hope that life may present us with a clean slate upon which we can remake ourselves, erasing the mistakes of the past and sketching a brighter and better future.

For many folks, this kind of beginning equals the usual ill-advised resolutions. We draw a skinnier version of ourselves on that slate of ours, or a fitter one, or a more homely one, or a more driven, workplace-based one… But by the end of the first month of the year, many of our so strongly-asserted resolutions have been broken (although let’s be honest, assertions made under the influence of way too much wine and New Year revelry don’t really have much of a chance of survival). However, there are some beginnings that survive the New Year trap, and actually take advantage of the fresh platform provided. In fashion terms, we’re talking about trends.

As we embrace a new year and, with any luck, a new version of ourselves, many of us are also prompted to accept shiny newness in many other arenas. In the fashion world, this means new trends, whether in the specific areas of new styles of clothing, new designers, or any of the other diverse facets of the fashion world. This is, in my opinion, an entirely positive thing: it means new faces are given the chance to be recognized for their hard work, and the fact is that change of any kind usually inspires creativity.

New faces, recognition, hard work and creativity are what 2011’s major trend is all about: blogging. For many years the fashion industry was inspiring but closeted: glamorous but exclusive. Such exclusivity contributed to an air of mystique, but also restricted the world of fashion in a way that no industry really benefits from. But blogging changed all that.

Fashion/style blogging exploded in 2010, as bloggers became the new bona fide fashion insiders, and a new breed was born: the fashion editor cum model cum photographer cum celebrity cum designer. Now, fashion bloggers are prized as much by commercial companies as by ordinary people for their genuine insight and direct connection with their audience, and what was once the fashion industry’s most intriguing feature (the somewhat cloying cloud of surrounding mystery and exclusivity) has been utterly replaced by a new openness that has benefitted the industry multifold.

Blogging has benefitted more than just the current, already informed industry insiders, however. The openness nurtured and given birth to by the matrimonial figures of fashion blogging such as Rumi Neely of fashiontoast, for example, has encouraged others to be inspired and become involved. Fashion blogging has given the fashion industry a new lease on life by offering up more creativity, more independence, more knowledge and more expertise in the characters of those at the helm of their own blogs, and thus has given the fashion industry a very arousing kiss of life.

Fashion and style bloggers are celebrated for the unbiased and uncensored nature of their opinions, qualities not otherwise often found in the world of fashion, and for this reason they are experiencing an ever-increasing surge of popularity and interest. As fashion blogging continues to grow and mature, as I believe it will, in 2011, we shall see more beginnings, more new faces, more hard work, and more creativity. And this is exactly what fashion is all about.

Photo credit:

Monday, 24 January 2011

Vote for me! (Insert begging smiley face here.)

This past weekend I entered the Next Big Style Blogger competition, which is currently being run by Refinery29(.com). If you guys have a couple of free seconds and feel like making my day, please vote for me! You can do so by clicking here. This will take you to the Refinery29 Next Big Style Blogger site. Scroll down the page until you find, either above or below the photos of the entrants, the words 'Page 1 of 7 NEXT'. Click on next and scroll down (I'm currently on the 2nd page of photos, but that may change day by day as more wonderful bloggers enter, so tomorrow I'll be on the 3rd page, etc.) Find my photo (it's a cropped version of this photo):

and then click the little pink heart next to my name. That's it! That's how you show me your love! Thanks in advance guys, and no sweat if you don't have time. I know what it's like to be busy!

Photo credit (banner):

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Expensive tastes

I believe that it's the little things in life that make us happy. Especially the little luxuries.
But darling, it's not expensive. It's an investment.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Blog award No. 2 (way better than Chanel No. 5)

I have been awarded the Stylish Blogger Award for the second time by the beautiful Stephanie at The Loudmouth!!!! Thank you so much Stephanie, it means so much! While we're on the topic of gratitude, I just want to say a huge, massive, metaphorical-hug-like thank you to my readers. There would simply be no point without you.

So, the rules of the Stylish Blogger Award: I have to thank and link back to the person who gave me the award, share 7 things about myself, pass on the award to 15 deserving bloggers, and contact said bloggers to inform them about the award. Without further ado, my chosen 15 bloggers (although this was ridiculously hard as there are so many truly amazing folks out there):

between margins
Fashion Cappuccino
Elena Vasilieva
state of sunday
pancake Stacker
Unconfined Aspirations
Make Some Damage
Blithely Unaware
eclectic raccoon
cappuccino with fashion
a bit of fashion
little fashion bird
Fashion Fade

And my 7 little tidbits:
1.) All of my favourite authors are kind of obscure (Murakami, Coelho, Krudy, Winterson...).
2.) My outlook on food is paradoxically equal parts junk food cravings, gourmet desires and clean eating obsession.
3.) I didn't have my first kiss until I was 18...
4.) ...but the experience made up for the tardiness (totally mind-blowing, courtesy of a hot Spanish boy).
5.) I'm quite liberal in my attitudes towards many things, including sex and religion.
6.) I'm actually titled (a Scottish Lady).
7.) If I could have chosen something to be good at, it would have been ballet.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Hotel review: Magnolia, Dallas TX

Let's face it, places with lifesize red Pegasus statues in their lobbies are always cooler.

Simultaneously cozy and chic, the Club on the second floor provides an intimate, somewhat exclusive atmosphere, as well as a free cookie buffet from 8-10PM.

I find the day always goes better when it starts with breakfast in bed.

Last week, my travels took me to Dallas, TX. An extremely early start, a first-class flight and multiple breakfasts later (when you wake up at 3.30AM, when is breakfast anyway?), I arrived at my Expedia-booked hotel. Instead of choosing a chain, like the Crowne Plaza or Hyatt, I stayed at a boutique hotel, the Magnolia, and boy, was that a good decision!

There were many aspects to the hotel which impressed me, not least the customer service. The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful, going beyond the call of duty to help out in any way (sending up the above breakfast via room service at 11.45PM for the next morning gratis because the complimentary breakfast in the restaurant wasn't open early enough for me, ferrying me to and from a friend's hotel at 1AM in a free daytime shuttle service, and oh, when was the last time your bellboy smiled at you genuinely and promptly walked off before you could tip him? Multiple times?).

The hotel itself possessed all the desired amenities, including some that were just insanely cool: for example, from 8-10PM you could find a free cookie buffet on the second floor, including four different types of cookie, plain and chocolate milk, and coffee, for your pre-bedtime pleasure and childish delight.

The food, served in the cozy second floor-located 'Club' (read: trendy, relaxed lounge and bar), was just as delightful as the cookie spread, and just as uncomplicated: the menu includes unfussy, universally appealing fare such as my dish, a chipotle chicken hot sandwich served with Cajun fries.

The whole thing was kind of an experience, and one that I enjoyed immensely. I have no idea how many 'official' stars the Magnolia has, if any, but I do know one thing: it gets five from me.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Class up the joint

So if you guys couldn't tell, I've been kind of obsessed with this skirt and these shoes for a little while now. Before I take the skirt out of rotation and give it a much-deserved rest (I don't see the shoes being relinquished anytime soon!), I decided to remix it again for a smart event I attended recently. This post is all about the shirt! I got this ruffle-front Polo Ralph Lauren shirt as a Christmas gift, and it's so beautiful and flattering, and actually much longer than it appears (I tucked it in). Paired it with my trusty maxi skirt and beloved Jeffrey Campbells. The necklace is a 14kt gold-plated pendant (super cheap though! We're talking 15 bucks people! Daylight robbery), and my wonderfully strokeable rucksack is from Topshop. Loving it!

Lace maxi skirt: Forever 21
Ruffle-front shirt: Polo Ralph Lauren
Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell JENNs
Faux fur rucksack: Topshop

P.S. Scored a $700 Ralph Lauren blazer for $100 at the Woodburn Company Store - post soon to come!!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Current obsession: interior design

I don't know what's gotten into me recently, but I've been having a bit of a thing with interior design. Like, a full-on passionate love affair. I tell ya, it's long glances and sighing and lusting all round. If I made one New Year's Resolution that will actually stand (honestly, don't know why I even tried that no-red-velvet-cupcake lark. That worked. Ha, ha.) it's this: I swear, one day, I will live in a place that looks like any of the above. Time to start bribing the Furniture Fairy or whatever. Suck it, Toothsome.

Photo credits:
Top image: Kelly Framel @ The Glamourai
Bottom image: Jane Aldridge @ Sea of Shoes
Others: various sources, photos of Coco Rocha's apartment

Friday, 7 January 2011

Restaurant review: Cactus Club Cafe, Vancouver BC

The Cactus Club Cafe restaurant in Vancouver, BC, is an impressive place. It's one of those places that attracts young, beautiful, discerning individuals, and makes you want to hang out there just to be part of the crowd. Pretty much everything about this restaurant bears a mention: the uncommonly attractive staff whose uniforms seem to consist of tight black dresses and long, straight hair (making them almost indistinguishable from the markedly good-looking customers), the intimate padded-leather booths, the walls adorned with excellently-curated modern art, the ceiling-high clear glass wine rack. And then there's the food.

The restaurant is headed by chef Rob Feenie, Canada's only Iron Chef Champion, and it shows. After tormenting myself over what to order (it was soy-dijon ocean wise salmon vs. butternut squash + prawn ravioli), which is actually a rather delightful enterprise when undertaken with a good Malibu & Coke in hand, I eventually bit the bullet, but trust me, choosing a meal from that enticing menu is not an easy task!

The butternut squash + prawn ravioli with truffle beurre blanc, amaretti, pine nuts and crispy sage with white win sauteed jumbo prawns won out. The ravioli is both a perfect and a pesky dish in that the flavours mingle and blend so seamlessly as can only be achieved by a master chef; this makes for an incredible gustatory experience, but a terrible critique! Nonetheless, here goes. The dish is one of contrast oxymoron: the prawns, which I expect to take center stage, are actually quite subtle, and meaty like chicken. The butternut squash is loud yet mellow and the truffle tempers the squash with its creaminess, while the white wine adds subtle spunk. The mustard throws a whole new element into the mix, and actually enriches the creaminess of the truffle, while keeping the dish from venturing into sickly-sweet territory. And as for the crispy sage leaves: they are not so much decorative as a subtlely crucial part of the meal, and are probably the only garnish I've ever not left on my plate before.

P.S. If you prefer sweet over savory, this place has plenty of delights to tickle your tastebuds: pumpkin cheesecake with toasted walnuts and caramel sauce and chocolate lava cake with tahitian vanilla ice cream are just a few of the delicacies on offer. They also serve jackson-triggs and taylor fladgate dessert wines and clarifying teas (african amber and my personal favourite, green tea passion, are just a few of the selection) to complete your experience. Because it would just be rude not to cleanse your palate.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Lust, love, and all those other tricky L-words

OK, so the whole ‘week of silence’ idea didn’t really pan out, but just pretend it’s still the same week when I wrote about dieting and body issues. My second slightly controversial topic is basically this: sex. Or, as I so eloquently put it in the title, “Lust, love, and all those other tricky L-words”. Not that I can think of any other tricky L-words right now, but it seemed like a good construct at the time!

Anyway, onto the topic at hand: lust and love. It’s something that I’ve been turning over in my mind for quite a while now, and clearly it’s one of those things that isn’t easily spoken about. This is also the first time I’ve really articulated my views, so bear with me. As I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to develop, to put it bluntly, a healthy interest in my sex life, as one presumably does. However, perhaps more rarely, I’ve begun to turn over a particular question in my mind: is it acceptable to make love with someone – for the first time, even, or just generally, at a relatively young age – for the pure pleasure of it, rather than as a reserved expression of love for someone you have waited for?

Obviously it seems to be the general consensus that you wait to have sex for the first time: you wait for someone you love. Or you wait for someone you love after the first time, or for every time. Sometimes, often for religious reasons, you commit to wait until marriage until you make love for the first time, and every time after that. This is, of course, a completely legitimate and admirable decision, and not one to be questioned or criticized, but what I’m talking about is non-religious: religious celibacy aside, is it acceptable to make love purely for the joy of it?

I have been thinking about making a short film about the topic (oh, how poetic I am!), but until that day (and trust me, you’ll be the first to know about it as I’ll post it up here), I prefer to talk it out. At first, I felt like a bit of a freak for having a ‘healthy’ sexual appetite, especially at such a young age. Despite the increasing standard of equality for women, it is still generally thought, or at least assumed in societal standards and attitudes at large, that it is not genteel for women to have an appetite for sex. Generally, women that have such an appetite are considered sexually loose and are often slandered. Men, of course, are never questioned for their desire for sex: such desire is considered ‘natural’, an ingrained and acceptable part of their nature.

The more I pondered my ‘predicament’, the more I realized that I was asking the wrong question. Rather than “Is it acceptable?” I should have been asking, “Why is it not considered acceptable?” The desire to procreate is, at its most stripped-down core, a natural instinct programmed into humankind to ensure survival. At a more psychologically complex level, it is perhaps more about feeling less alone in the world and staving off loneliness. Is it then any more natural to men than to women? Of course not! As a society, we just like to think it is. And, at risk of sounding like a feminist, it is harder to claim our power in this area as women as we are almost fighting for pejoration: if we fight for our red-blooded sexuality, we are fighting to become more animalistic, more like the men we like to condemn as sexually driven; more like animals than sentient beings. This is in direct opposition to fighting other gender disadvantages, like those in the workplace, where we fight to become more like the virtuous men who work and produce things (physical things, ideas etc.) previously thought too difficult or complex for women to achieve.

However, it is important to right wrongs – not just those done to us directly in actions but also those brought upon us in attitudes – in all areas, including the areas of work and sex. As human beings, whether we are male or female, we deserve the right to earn our own living and contribute to society just as much as we all equally deserve to couple as we will, and share our often-lonely existence with another. We also deserve to have fun! Sex doesn’t have to be a matter of pure procreation, or of love, or of psychological complexity. It can just be about pleasure, and we all have an equal right to that.

The fact is that many women do feel strong sexual desire, and it is actually quite apparent, if you know where to look. For example, I stumbled across a couple of interesting comments on, on an article entitled “Women Confess Their 2011 Dating-o-lutions”, including the following: “I’m going to stop settling for less than I deserve just because he’s there and it’s fun and makes me feel less lonely,” and “My New Year’s resolution is to go on actual dates instead of going home with guys just to hook up.” So clearly, women do feel sexual impulses and desires just as strongly as men do - it just isn’t as widely realized or detailed in societal attitudes.

Now, you might be wondering where I’m going with all of this. I am absolutely not advocating that you just go out and have random sex with someone, just because you can, and power to the women, dammit! What I am advocating is that you embrace your emotions and desires and not criticize or condemn yourself for having them in the first place. I am advocating that you accept yourself, and figure out what is right and powerful for you, whether that means celibacy, or waiting until you find someone you feel really strongly about, or making love with someone for the pleasure of it in the spirit of fun and good feelings and mutual understanding, from a place of health and self-understanding. I am advocating that you be safe, and above all, be true to yourself, because above all that is the most important standard to hold to throughout all of your life, rather than any standard imposed upon you by society. All in all, be safe, be happy, be healthy, and have fun. As long as you cause no harm to yourself or others, and make decisions from a balanced place of self-understanding, you should be free to make your own decision – the right one for you. That is certainly what I will be doing.

Now, about that film…

Monday, 3 January 2011

Saturday, 1 January 2011

I'll make sure you remember me in the morning

Happy 2011!

Happy New Year everybody! I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year's Eve and that your not-so-wonderful hangover isn't too bad! I myself had an excellent time, outfitted as above, dancing the night away with a rather charming bartender. I mean really, do you know anyone under 25 who bows, offers his hand and asks, "May I have this dance?" in introduction?

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading and for the support - it means everything to me and I am so grateful. I wish you all a beautiful and prosperous 2011; may it bring you everything that you wish for.

Maxi dress: Rare for Topshop
Jacket: Jane Norman faux fur leather aviator
Necklace: ASOS filigree long ball pendant
Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell blue suede Lita 2
Lipstick: Topshop lipstick in Beguiled
Eyeshadow: Topshop Limited Edition Heavy Duty collection eyeshadow duo in Greyscale