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Fashion & Beauty

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I have heard people say, “these are my work clothes”, and I wonder when I look at the outfit; as a professional, shouldn’t you look your best all the time?

When you have a non-uniform regular job, (most uniform jobs do not allow room for accessories) chances are, you appear in your “work clothes” for the better part of the day, when you meet new people and go about your daily business. I ask myself; what are your best clothes doing in the closet; waiting for the right time?

My girlfriend Nasa, has an attitude to clothes that reflects that of many ladies I have come across. She worked as a banker and had a lot of beautiful fashion pieces in her wardrobe, most of which she considered unsuitable for her “work dress code”. When she shopped for work outfits, she spent a fortune buying the same colour suits all grey in different designs.

It makes me wonder, if you have a job that already confines you to a daily routine, why imprison yourself in drab clothes too? Didn’t the famous British fashion designer and couturier, Alexander McQueen once say, “Fashion should be a form of escapism and not a form of imprisonment.”?

I think he’s right, fashion is one place, where you can always find your freedom.

The first question I ask my friends or colleagues when I find them performing this over-dramatic dress code policy thing is, what do you understand as a dress code?

I often find that many have no Idea what it truly means, so let me help you out. In this context, A dress code is a set of standards that companies develop to help provide their employees with guidance about what is appropriate to wear to work.

Now, there is no clause that says, look like a granny or get yourself a uniform, but that’s what many ladies do, and that is probably because they’ve never really seen or read a dress code policy, they just go with the existing trend in their workplace. So, I’m going to help out again, with the standard elements you can find in a professional dress code policy:

  • All employees must be clean and well-groomed. Grooming styles dictated by religion and ethnicity aren’t restricted.
  • All clothes must be work-appropriate. Clothes that are typical in workouts and outdoor activities aren’t allowed.
  • All clothes must project professionalism. Clothes that are too revealing or inappropriate aren’t allowed.
  • All clothes must be clean and in good shape. Discernible rips, tears or holes aren’t allowed.
  • Employees must avoid clothes with stamps that are offensive or inappropriate.

I had to show Nasa a policy sample for her to seek out that of her bank, and guess what? It never said wear grey suits all week round. They were just following the trend. Getting comfortable looking grey.

You could look smashing all week round and still stick to your work dress code. No one asks you to go shopping for uniforms just because it’s called a dress code. It says look professional, not drab.

Here are a few things you can do to spruce up your work clothes and stay on the fashion radar. Accessorize! Accessorize!! and Accessorize!!!

  1. Accessories: As long as it is not a uniform, you are allowed to accessorize, you do not have to go overboard with coral beads and pearls, a little accessory here and there can very well change the entire look of a grey suit.
  2. Apply the classics: The classics are those fashion items that every lady is expected to have, some of which include a scarf, a blazer, a white tee shirt, a pair of dark colour denim, white button-down shirt, and of course a little black dress. You can read the rest up. These items, most of which I guess you already have in your wardrobe, may not be work friendly when used on their own, but can definitely keep you on the fashion radar, when combined with your work clothes.

3. Experiment: So, you were asked to stick to a particular set of colours, like some banks do, why look for the most comfortable? Be the odd one out. Chances are that when you are asked to wear dark colours, you are given specifics like grey, black and navy blue etc.; Well, as long as the policy does not say DO NOT EMBELLISH! you are allowed to accessorize with that multicolor scarf you have hanging in your closet. And don’t forget, no one said anything about your shoes. Be daring sometimes and throw on the bright color cardigan… it gets cold sometimes right? And no one ever said the grey has to be the dominant colour, you could have the orange as the dress and accessorize with grey. Yes! orange can be work friendly too.

4. Be your own girlfriend: I love handbags, who doesn’t? It’s an accessory you have on every day, if you can invest in grey suits then chances are you do not have to wear the same bag every day. I know what you may be thinking; bags are expensive, right? Girl; you are a working girl, NOT Victoria Beckham. So, except you work in the fashion industry (In which case you won’t need this lecture), knock off items and fashion label handbags are allowed. Do not break the bank.

5. Finally; Create a niche: Find something others are not wearing, wear it and make it yours. My friend Nasa joined the bandwagon with the grey suits, while she could have set the trend with a different colour (and it did not have to be suits). Their company policy allowed 5 colours by the way,  and this includes burgundy. No one would touch that colour with a bargepole.
In everyday fashion, we find that people go for the comfortable colours, who says you cannot be different? Trust me, you do not have to join the trend, trends are set by people and you can create yours. Choose those colours that no one would touch and make it yours. I would have gone for the burgundy and looked chic in it every day.

Armed with these tips, you can be sure to beat the work dress code drama; work smart and feel smart on the go. We spend most of our useful hours at work after all, why not look and feel smart while you are at it? There is no need to overdramatize the dress code, just make it work for you.

Don’t forget; You are a professional and not a zombie. Own your style even at work.

By: Boma Benjy – Iwuoha

The kimono is a traditional Japanese garment that comes in form of full-length robes, usually worn by the Japanese for important festivals and formal occasions. A formal clothing style of Japanese culture that is usually associated with politeness, much like the English black tie code to formal events.

The word Kimono means – a thing to wear. This fashion piece has, in the last couple of decades found its way into the global space of classic fashion, and just like many other classic pieces, it has been designed and remodeled by designers such as Alexander Wang, Herve Leger, and Isabel Marant, to name a few, creating a fora of designs, inspired by the former. The kimono has become a constant fashion piece in the wardrobe of many women, and almost every woman can lay claim to a kind of kimono or kimono inspired clothing, from the couture dresses with exorbitant kimono sleeves, to the kimono wrap dress, or the famous trendy kimono inspired jackets, and those classy kimono inspired blazers. Yes! You definitely own something inspired by a kimono.

During my final year at the university, I noticed a trend among the girls on campus that was funny and tricky, yet quite beautiful.

The kimono jackets and gowns were trendy amongst many female students, as it allowed them to wear whatever they want underneath while using the kimono jacket as a cover. Tricky as it seemed, it served the dual purpose of style and safety. You could not go wrong with that look, never odd or out of fashion and for this reason; it became a popular piece of fashion among female the students.

The kimono has since the early 2000’s joined the list of the popular fashion pieces that have been modified to inspire different fashion trends. Your first thought at the mention of the word kimono may usually be a colourful robe accompanied by a belted sash, but this fashion piece has long evolved beyond that trend on the global fashion stage.

When we talk about the modern day kimono, we do not refer to the traditional Japanese occasional garment (Kimono) that consists of a bogus upper and lower combination of fabrics that is long, loose, wide, and often tied with a sash. The modern-day kimono is a new trend of clothing jackets and gowns inspired by the traditional Japanese kimono that have been modeled to suit your need through the summer, spring, fall or winter. Yes! Designs that will make your eyes spark up, season after season.

The kimono has inspired so many designs that much like its origin, seems have a design for almost every occasion.

Now you might be thinking, “well… a kimono is not for my age”; I am about to shock you on this one.

It may surprise you to know that kimono jackets and its inspired clothing’s are perfect for all women irrespective of the age or size; and you should do a check on your wardrobe too; if you’ve bought something trendy in the last five years, chances are you already have a kimono and a kimono-inspired outfit, because much like that one style fits all jacket that we ladies love so much, they come in different styles, shapes, and sizes, and are perfect for you.

Whatever size you represent, tall, slim, and petite or full figured,you can still rock in a kimono outfit.

I’m guessing the popular American journalist Laura Jacobs did know what she meant after all, when she described a Kimono as – More Than Just a ‘Thing to Wear’– the meaning is indeed as irreducible as the garment.

One of my favorite dramedy series of the late 2000s was Lipstick Jungle – I wept when it was canceled. The series revolved around three Alpha female characters, (Fashion Editor – Nico, Movie Executive – Wendy and Fashion Designer – Victory) based in Manhattan, who forged a friendship bond that went beyond their professional lives.

The series was so fresh, I memorized every episode. You could literarily ask me “who said this” out of the blues, and I would give you a run-down of the scene. My main attraction to the series was the wardrobe; the fashion was out of this world, and that’s the reason I wasn’t quite surprised to see a story break out few weeks after the series was canceled, about a stage manager who was being charged for stealing almost $30,000 worth of designer fashion items from the show.

Victory Ford (Played by Lindsay Price), a fashion designer and the youngest of the three main characters was my favorite character in the series. In one episode when she felt she was losing her value and relevance as a renowned fashion designer, Victory went down the streets of Brooklyn, chasing down an old head warmer, that she had created as one of her debut designs, which had somehow ended up in the hands of a homeless person. She offered as much as $500 to the new owner when she eventually found it, in order to have it back but; of course, the homeless person who needed the head warmer to keep warm had declined the offer.

Why did I recall this episode? Many who saw that scene may have wondered why she was so attached to an old faded head warmer which probably had no much value in the fashion world, but we should all ask ourselves the same question. What is that item in your wardrobe, which you know you’ll probably never get to wear, but you find yourself keeping it anyway? And don’t give me that look, because I know you’ve got a few.

Today we are looking at those sentimental items, (which is what we prefer to call them, seeing that some of them have lost their value) that you have in your wardrobe and how long you intend to keep them. Let me start by saying, our attachments to these items could stem from a whole lot of things; it could be a pair of shoes handed down to you by a dear friend, or a brooch from your grandmother, a ring from your late husband, the first present from your daughter, or it could be a valuable family heirloom which is so long out of fashion, and would be more valuable if remodeled, but you just would not hear of touching at stitch on it.

You probably have friends coming in and asking; why do you still have this item, or why do you keep this ratty purse? Go check out their wardrobe sometime, you are sure to find the same. Let’s find five good reasons we all hang on to these items.

Every woman’s wardrobe is part active and part inactive. We have clothing items that we wear, and those that we barely or have never worn. These unworn items usually lie dormant in our wardrobe, hoping that someday, they will come into use; alas this rarely and most often never happens.

We usually tell ourselves that we are sentimentally attached to these items, I do not think this is correct, and YES, there’s another name for it; “hoarder”. Here are some of the reasons we keep hanging onto these items:

  • You got them at a crazily expensive price and you just cannot let it go – so you find yourself trying to convince everyone that you are attached to it. – I say let it go.
  • You loved it so much on the mannequin and even though you tried it on and it didn’t quite fit, you bought it anyway, after carefully thinking out our new weight loss regimen. 30 months on and you’ve added a few more pounds but would not let go of the item even though it will probably never fit. – I say don’t be a hoarder, if you love it so much, get one in your right size.
  • You suddenly realized that the obscure corset, hanging in your great grandmother’s closet was gifted to her by the 1st queen of Estonia, and it’s suddenly got a sentimental value, you keep it in the hopes that it may sell at a good price someday – Girl; I say lend it to a museum and ask them to hang it up for you. At least others would get to hear about it right?
  • You just got home from an island vacation and suddenly realized that you were ripped off on a supposedly good deal you thought you got on the purchase of the latest a Hermes bag, and you have it hanging in the wardrobe for the next four years because “no one will understand”. Let it go Girl; I understand the concept of thinking that these fashion items are an investment, but even in business, we do make wrong investments choices sometimes. Let it go.
  • You snatched an amazing Christian Sirano Fur Jacket of the runway at the London Fashion week, and 4 years on, you are yet to find the right occasion for it… Girl you just got served – Let it go.
  • Well, I’m not always all cynical; there are some actual sentimental reasons for holding on. However, try to keep it on the low; one or two items are enough, when you have an entire arm of your closet dedicated to “sentimental” items, you’ve got to face it girl, you are hoarding. Let them go. Fashion revolves, and you will get another one.

Some of these items are a burden – wasting valuable wardrobe space – or on rare occasions could even be hazardous to our health. In 2009, spinster Joan Cunnane, who obsessively hoarded clothes died in her home after a mountain of suitcases fell on her, burying her alive. Now I’m not saying this is you, or me of course (I hoard some too), but keep it simple. Sometimes hoarding is a complex issue, you are not comfortable with your body size, so you hang on to the small size dresses from your past to keep reminding yourself of the days when you were the same size as Naomi Campbell… Deal with it girl, you are now a mother of 3 and you are gloriously beautiful. The validation of your beauty is not in those dress sizes. So get over it.

I realize it may be a bit hard to discard stuff like this, so if you really want to clear out the wardrobe and discard that beautiful jacket that is just a little too tight, you have to “remove the meaning from the garment”, by this I mean, see it for what it is, a jacket that does not fit anymore, and not a $1350 Mui Mui jacket, only then might we learn to live without the reassurance of its presence.

Now, Now, I’m not all bad, please, do – hold on to one or two items that you hold most close to your heart, I’m not asking you to donate your family heirloom to charity yet.

And as usual, I will leave you with a quote to reflect upon. Basil the Great, also known as Basil of Caesarea. The Greek bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, once said; “When someone steals another’s clothes, we call them a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.”
You say it’s sentimental, I say you are a hoarder. Get into that closet and get rid of the junk.

By Boma Benjy Iwuoha

As a lady, you’ve probably been asked at some point in your life, why you always have your handbag on. Some say ladies just cannot do without their handbags, and other would give just about anything to find out the contents of a lady’s handbag. Strange as it may seem, ladies fuel the curiosity by the protective stance and the “don’t’ touch” attitude they adopt when faced with revealing the contents of their handbags. Have you ever watched a lady at a security check, fidgeting over emptying the contents of her handbag? One could easily assume she had an illegal item therein. I can assure you, 99% of the time, this assumption would be incorrect. Some ladies almost get mugged while clinging to their purses when they literarily had no money in it.  People often want to know what are these bags contain, that make them such an important accessory.

Strange as it may seem, alady’s handbag can be more than a mere attachment of fashion. Even though there’s no disputing the fact that women love buying (and showing off) these expensive fashion accessories- handbags and purses, (if you’re always going to have it on, why not get it right?), it can’t be all fun and no work. A woman’s handbag is a dear companion and like a life jacket for emergency periods. Every woman needs a few essentials in her handbag or purse which helps her save the day when things go wrong, and as we know, things can go wrong when we least expect them to. It may seem like unnecessary luggage, but a lady needs her handbag to confidently move about with the assurance that she can tackle minor and unexpected mishaps with a quick scan of the contents.

Today, we are offering our readers, a sneak peek into a lady’s bag, so quit guessing, as we reveal seven items you’re most likely to find in every lady’s bag, it’s most likely not what you think.

  1. Sanitary: – In order to maintain a healthy life, keep up with a good appearance, and reduce the shocking surprise of an emergencies; some vital sanitary items are always found in a woman’s handbag. These items include: -An extra tampon, a pocket tissue, hand sanitizer, and wet wipes (this is a must for both moms and women without children.) etc.

 Make-up:- Yes, you guessed right! You’ll definitely find some beauty products. Every woman wants to walk into a place with a sense of freshness no matter the time of the day. Heat and stress arenot allowed to reduce the confidence of any woman hence; the need to have a make-up purse in their handbag cannot be overemphasized. These items include perfumes, blotting papers, compact mirror, powder, lip product (lip gloss, lip balm, lipstick) and other essential make-up items.

 Breath Mints/ Breath freshener: – This is very essential, bad breath is a turnoff in any situation. Ladies always keep mints or gum in their purse. Feel free to ask your colleague next time you’re about to make a mint run.

 Notebook and Pen: -As a saying goes, “the faintest ink is more powerful than the sharpest memory”. A small notebook (even a ‘Post-it’ pad works) to write down ideas or thoughts or phone numbers at a moment’s notice and a pen that makes her want to write all of these things down. Little wonder they say women have very good memory. Don’t be fooled, they jot things down.

 USB Flash Drive: – This can serve as a backup device. You find it most time on their keychain to back up important documents when traveling or giving a presentation out of the office.

 Safety Pins/Mini Tailoring Kit: -You never know when disaster will strike and you need safety pins to keep a split skirt intact until you get back or a sewing kit to fix a loose shirt button. Safety Pins are a lifesaver if you pop a button or a seam. Also, a small one can pinch-hit for a necklace clasp if yours suddenly breaks. To keep their outfit intact, these items are often found in a lady’s bag.

 Business Cards: –As a lady would always have her business cards. It is one of the most valuable itemsusually found in ladies handbags. You never know who you’ll meet and when.

Finally, when a lady picks up this piece of accessory, she’s content in the knowledge that no matter what the outside of the bag looks like, how much she paid for it, or the label on the tag, the contents of her handbag equips her for eventualities of the day.

Little wonder famous Nigerian Professor, Ngozi Okonjo – Iweala once said:“When it comes to doing my job, I keep my ego in my handbag”. I bet she knew this fashion accessory could house even our large egos.

 

A little black dress is very classic and timeless staple outfit to have in your wardrobe both during the holiday season and all year round.  No matter how many fashion trends come and go, the little black dress continues to stand the test of time and prove to the world that it is indeed a classic piece! Fashion experts agree that this is the one single item of clothing that every woman should have at hand to get her out of a dressing rut. Helping you master the “art” of buying a little black dress that can be adapted for multi occasions weather is required.

We’ve gone out to help you with seven things to consider, when buying the little black dress:-

  1. Recognize that you are a unique personality and stick to it: Do not let trends dictate your taste. Even though, trends should be used as an inspiration to enhance your wardrobe; it should not be your centre for attraction. Learn to incorporate the trends that work for you.
  2. Is there any part of your figure you want to show off or hide? Then examine body. Consider how you feel about your body and choose a dress that makes you comfortable. Comfort should be placed above fashion. This also means choosing a fabric that moulds to your body properly, does not itch or pinch and does not make you feel self-conscious. Make sure you can sit and walk on it comfortably.
  3. Simplicity is the new sophistication, so keep it simple knowing that, being simple is exceptional. In purchasing a black dress, you have to pay a good attention to lace, sequins flowery application whether the dress is short or long. Avoid low cut dresses or to risqué side splits, unless of Course you have other black dress that can suit in more formal affairs. Adding jewellery or an impressive bag and matching pair of shoes can make even the simplest dress stunning.
  4. A little black dress is meant to be that go-to-item that you can wear anywhere and anytime, especially when all fails, so look for a dress that’s practical and versatile. Don’t buy a dress that’s too fussy; the key is to make sure the shape flatters you.
  5. Choose a comfortable dress. This means choosing a fabric that moulds to your body properly, does not make you self-conscious. Always consider cotton as a good choice since it adapts to almost every occasion and your comfort should be your priority.
  6. Don’t diet to fit into your dress. Many women will buy a “goal” dress to fit into when they lose that 10 pounds, but this can backfire. A one- time diet to fit into a one-time dress is neither smart nor healthy. Look for a dress that fits you and not the other way around.
  7. Inject fun into your black dress. A pop of colour can instantly perk up any dull outfit, whether it’s in the form of heels, a belt, a clutch or even a bright printed scarf that represents your personality.

Not only do actions speak louder than words, even appearance screams louder than your words: this also implies that the importance of making the right choices of clothes cannot be overemphasized.  So don’t just pick a little black dress but the best that describes you as an exceptional personality.

Every holiday season, my family gets together at my Mum’s and relive fond memories; oftentimes, we pull out her box of old pictures and go through the albums, laughing and giggling at past fashion trends.

During our last holiday, while browsing through old albums and reliving fond memories, we came across images of my mum with her friends in a 70s album, they looked all dressed up for a 70’s party, “feeling trendy of course” in peep-toes, baggy pants, funny skirt lines and the awful hairstyles. Boy… Did we rumble with laughter?

Amidst the cluster of block-heeled peep toes, big hair and baggy pants, however, someone stood out. She looked like she had just walked into the picture from the future, in her knee-length print skirt, chiffon shirt, stiletto heels and bonnie shades.

I had to ask mum, who she is and where she is right now. Why? You may ask; the woman in the picture looked so gorgeous and contemporary, and she would look stunning in any decade.
How did she do it? If you ask me, I’d say she looked Classy. And the others in the picture? That lot looked downright funny in clothes that must have been trendy at the time.
Fashion is a ‘lifetime statement’ Yes! That’s right it is; so you have to state it hard. That way twenty years on, you look right in time.
Here’s what I mean, in the context of fashion, classy is defined as stylish and sophisticated, while trendy is defined as very fashionable and up-to-date basically “en-vogue”.
“Classy” is timeless, and it makes you stand-out in any decade. It’s engraved in your attitude and like fine wine, it gets better with age; while “Trendy” is always seasonal, given to time and loses its beauty to the future.

What did the famous supermodel and style Icon Heidi Klum say about fashion trends? “In the world of fashion, one day you’re in and the next you’re out”, that’s trendy.
Now I’m not saying don’t do trends, far from it, I’m saying keep it classy and timeless. Before you throw something on, think about this, if someone got a picture of you in that outfit, how would it look ten years on? Yes! I use that as a guide too, I don’t want to be like the lovely storey building with bold balustrades which looks so trendy today, and like an ancient museum in a decade.
Also, going with fashion trends have you spending more money on time-bound items, and often puts you under pressure to keep up with new trends. Let’s face it, who wants to be seen wearing last season’s crop tops or last year’s suede knolls?
However, with Classy outfits; it’s usually your comfort zone, you own your style, keep it sophisticated and timeless; then you can be you and still look good. I bet that’s what the Famous Coco Chanel meant, when he said, “I don’t do fashion, I am Fashion”.
And before I leave, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s an illustration.

These are definitely dresses I can wear today, and ten years from now, you’ll still look stunning in them; I’d say keep it classy and live in the future.

By: Chidi Benjy Iwuoha