The Broke Girl’s Guide To Handbags

Designer handbags are the one accessory that as you get older, you start to appreciate more and more. I remember when I was a young, struggling University student and all I ever wanted was a Herschel bag pack that could carry my laptop and the thousands of readings that I had to lug from class to class. I would see some girls carrying their Louis Vuitton Neverfull to tutorials and scoff at their vain impracticality.

 

As I get older, I realise that handbags aren’t just a practical accessory to hold all the crap I need day to day. There are nuances to these fashion objects.

As Karl Lagerfeld would say, ” Luxury bags make your life more pleasant, make you dream, give you confidence, and show your neighbours you are doing well.”

That last bit hit the nail on the head. It’s not so much a parade as a subtle indicator to the public that you are doing well. At first I was turned off by this, thinking that it was justifying showing-off and shoving your wealth in people’s faces. Though I think some (tacky) people do that, what Lagerfeld meant wasn’t a parade of wealth or even a status thing. Taken in moderation, it just means that you have worked hard and reaped the benefits. To me, it represents how you have taken adulthood by the horns and won.

With this new outlook, I too decided that a good quality, designer bag is something I would want to look into. Not just for their gorgeous aesthetics, but also for the designer’s promise of high quality and getting what you paid for. But if you are like me, a semi-broke freelancer, it might be tough deciding exactly what to save for and what is worth the hard-earned money.

I thought I would share my insights on the handbag world, with its overwhelming amount of choices.  But go into this post knowing that designer handbags are NOT AT ALL an essential. I have known that all my life. To me, designer bags are milestones in your career. It’s all dependent on the amount of disposable income you have in that moment. Sometimes you have more, sometimes you have less. However, “disposable” is the operative word here. Designer bags aren’t worth debt or starving yourself for.

Here are my tips:

Get The Best Of What You Can Afford

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Photo: LeHappy.com

There are different tiers to designer and not all are created equal. We look to Chanel, Hermes and Louis Vuitton as the holy trinity in the designer handbag world. However, not everyone can or want to spend 7000 to 20,000 dollars on a handbag. There are other brands for you to consider that are equally great in quality and design, though less “prestigious” in the eyes of others.

Instead of getting the lowest “entry” bag to a maison that you like, get the bag of your dreams. If that bag is way beyond your means, then get the best of what you can afford. That was advice that I found extremely helpful for me. No point getting the cheapest bag that might not be the best quality just because it’s from Chanel, Dior or whatever. What’s the point? It’s no different from any other bag. Get the best of a mid-range or mid-tier designer brand instead. Don’t discount and disregard mid-tier brands like Coach, Tory Burch or Longchamp Even though these bags aren’t extravagantly expensive or have prestige attached to their name, their bags and leather goods are well-made and stand the test of time. For the price, their bags are well-worth it, made of quality leather. I recently invested in a Coach Swagger bag and I’m beyond happy with the wear I’ve got from it.

 

Stick To The Basics

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If you are, like me, more adventurous when it comes to accessories and more understated when it comes to clothing pieces, it’s tough to not fall for an amazing graphic print, a unique bag shape or bright saturated colours. Anything cobalt blue or forest green, I instantly fall for. As boring as it may seem, your first investment should be the most versatile colours, so that they compliment every outfit you choose to wear it with. Hence, it’s probably safe to stick to monochromes.

 

Don’t Fall Into The Hype

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This is something I need to practise myself. I am awful at not falling for the hype and trends. The most important thing to consider when you are planing to purchase a solid handbag staple is, especially if it is your first, is to keep it classic. Just because the trend is to own a flashy bag with crazy appliqué designs, know that these trends will come and go. The crazier the design, the more likely it is that you’ll grow tired of it.

However, if that particularly design is totally in your aesthetic, then by all means! The point is to listen to your heart and stay true to your own aesthetics, despite whatever that’s trending at that time. If you know that gold hardware is not your cup of tea, then stick to silver, even if the white-and-gold combo is so in these days. If you prefer a more clean-cut design, then stay away from elaborate floral prints, even if all the fashion bloggers are hyping the latter. When you do that, you are more likely to use the bag for longer as your core style won’t change as frequently as trends do. Furthermore, the bag will most likely compliment the rest of your wardrobe well, if you consider your own style and nothing else.

 

Bags Are Just Bags

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At the end of the day, they are meant to be functional. Consider this when you are looking at sizes and pricing. Some expensive bags are so damn tiny they can barely fit an iPhone 6 Plus, let alone all your other crap! I mean, if it cam only carry your lipstick *ehem*Valentino*ehem*, that’s what pockets are for! For me, personally, I prefer a medium sized bag for every day and one smaller “special occasion” bag. So if I can only afford the smallest version of a certain bag, and it’s something I’d prefer to use everyday, then I probably won’t get said bag even if I think it’s so darn gorgeous. Design aside, ultimately the functionality and practicality of the bag matters more. It’s what separates a good purchase from a regretful one.

Material plays into this category. Do I want leather or PVC? What kind of leather? If the bag is made of suede or lambskin, you would have to baby the bag as it’ll be more prone to scratches and stain. Is a white bag practical? Will future stains be easy to wash off? My suggestion is to pick a sturdier leather (probably cow hide) that has been treated such that it won’t be too damaged by water and is relatively scratch proof. You want your bag to age gracefully, just as you would yourself.

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There you have it!! The biggest tip for a broke girl who wants to have her first foray into designer bags is… Don’t spend beyond your means. I know this is a super naggy and obvious thing but I find it very hard to stick to this primary tip. Sometimes I think that having that gorgeous shoe or bag can make me feel like a million bucks and give me a major confidence boost. It makes me think, “I MUST HAVE IT” because I am addicted to that feeling of confidence. However, that feeling is temporary. It’ll evaporate once you wear that item more and more. And then we set our eyes on a new thing to get our fix.

So awful! It’s something I am working on. To invest my money in a piece that I KNOW I will love for a long time and get the wear it deserves. Ultimately you don’t HAVE to get a fancy bag, but I hope this helps if you are looking into making a bag investment.

 

Slayin’ the 90s like Buffy

The 90s trend has been going strong since last year and the popularity of brown lipsticks, thanks to Kylie Jenner. I have been using brown lipsticks for ages, because I can never let the 90s go. Clinging on to youth for dear life. Personally, I thought that the trend would die. But it is now at its climax with not just 90s makeup trends making a comeback, but also 90s style clothing and fashion.

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I’m all for that. I know that trends come and go but this one is one that refuses to go away. As with everyone else, I love the 90s makeup look. There are several that were popular within the decade. From super model bombshell looks like Cindy Crawford to grungy, undone looks by Winona Ryder, there are many routes you can take with this trend. Personally, I prefer the grungy look; A monochromatic brown smokey eye withbrown lips. Trust me, it looks a lot better than it sounds.

 

Let me walk you through it!

All the products I feature here are super affordable. Even though the trend is going strong in Sephora, you don’t have to break the bank to jump on this one.

 

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Step 1 : Let’s start with the base. Matte skin is what it’s all about. The modern take on the 90s look incorporates extremely luminous skin. But I want to pay homage to the original. To prevent yourself from looking overdone or cakey, pair your favourite matte foundation with a moisturising primer. The L’oreal 24hr Infallible foundation (£8) is great for a high coverage, flawless finish. Underneath, I’ve used the Nivea Men After Shave Balm (S$9.95) in the ‘sensitive‘ version. Made famous by YouTube as the perfect drugstore primer thanks to glycerin as a main ingredient, which helps foundation stick to it and last all day.

Step 2 : Conceal any imperfections you want to conceal and prime the lids. I don’t focus too much on have an absolutely perfect canvas. I used the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind concealer (S$18.90) in ‘Light‘. I don’t bother concealing my dark circles too much or my pigmentation because this makeup embraces imperfection.

Step 3 : Do your brows as per usual! Brows in the 90s are either big and unkempt or thin and over plucked. I suggest defining your natural brow slightly and combing it through with a brow gel to great bushiness and that textured appearance. I used the Missha Perfect Brow Styler (S$8.90) in ‘Dark Brown’ and Milani Brow Gel (S$10).

 

 

Step 4 : Let’s start with the colour! Red eyeshadow would be ideal, but it’s perfectly fine if you don’t have any. I’ve opted for a blush instead. This bright red blush is the CATRICE Defining Blush (S$6.90) in ‘I’m a Survivor‘ from a limited edition collection. But any bright red blush will do. Pack it on the mobile lid and all the way to the crease. Start with a light hand and build the colour slowly. Bring the colour with the same brush underneath the waterline, messily.

 

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Step 5 : Grab a rusty brown shade. I chose a satin reddish brown colour from Moonshot in ‘Russet‘ (S$16) and a fluffy crease brush. Blend the edges of the red with the brown into the crease, putting the most product on the outer V of the eye. Blend the same colour under the eye with the same brush. Don’t be afraid to bring the colour lower than you are used to. If you are starting to look like a red-eyed panda, you are doing it right!

Step 6 : Line your upper lash line with a dark brown or a purplish kohl liner. Here, I used the KIKO eyeliner (£5.90) in ‘Dark Tide‘. Before it sets, use a pencil brush and dip it in a deep burgundy eyeshadow. This is from the Wet n WildComfort Zone‘ eye palette in ‘Definer‘. Smudge the line out with this colour and go on the waterline as well to smoke it out. The darker the better!

 

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Step 7 : Mascara. LOAD IT UP!! Go crazy. Top and bottom lashes. Use a jet black formula that is very volumizing like this Sephora Lash Plumper (S$22) in ‘Ultra Black‘.

 

 

Step 8 : Finish up the face by adding definition with bronzer and colour with blush. I used the CATRICE Sun Glow Matt Bronzer (S$6.90) in ‘Deep Bronze‘ at the hollows of my cheeks to enhance the bonze structure. This, I feel is crucial to the look as it really adds dimension. Then I topped the cheeks off with KIKO Soft Touch Blush (US$3.90) in ‘Mauve‘, a perfect muted colour that matches the eyes perfectly. Make sure to do a light dusting as cheek products were not a big focus in 90s makeup. You can even skip this step, if you’re in a pinch.

 

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Step 9 : Last but certainly not least, complete the look with the perfect brown lipstick. Pick a shade that goes well with your skin colour. I picked shades that have reddish undertones within the brown so that it keeps my face from being washed out. For a creamier formula that is moisturising and perfect for everyday, I have Maybelline Color Sensational lipstick (S$21.90) in ‘Crazy for Coffee‘. For that super 90s feel, opt for a matte formula with the NYX Liquid Suede Lip Cream (S$15) in ‘Soft-spoken‘. A stunning mauve shade that is slightly cool toned, but incredibly flattering. This is supposedly the cheaper dupe of Kat Von D’s ‘Lolita‘.

Throw on a choker and BOOM! It’s as if you time travelled.

 

 

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I’ve been using this look on almost a daily basis, even with regular clothing, that might not be in the 90s style. The grunge look is very versatile, bold and feminine at the time. It’s incredibly easy to execute too.

Try it for yourself and let me know how it turned out for you. Hop on the bandwagon, y’all!

Bad(ass) is the new Black

Before you read this post, you might want to put on some rap music so that you can truly get into the spirit of things. Might I suggest some A$AP Rocky or Kendrick Lamar, who are both incredible rappers and have the ability to make me feel like I have “swag” even though I depressingly lack it.

I have mentioned once before that I love observing trends as they play out around the world. With YouTube and Instagram, it’s increasingly easy for us to catch on to trends because we will undoubtedly see them everywhere. *cough*adidas superstars*cough*

The ones we have been noticing lately, more so in the wide world of social media than in the actual streets of Singapore, are funky hairstyles. Your hair can be considered a fashion accessory as it is up to you how you would want it to be styled and it’s amazing what different hairstyles can bring to one’s own distinct look. Right now, the Royal Family (a famous New Zealand Dance group) are the epitome of the current trendy hairstyles girls are adorning. The essence of these hair looks is complete and utter disregard for subtlety and embrace your bad self.

Essentially achieving a “badass” look.

 

 

The first would be BRAIDS.

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Braids are a popular hairstyle since the dawn of time. But in terms of trends, the type of braiding and the type of makeup and styling that goes around these braids are equally important. Kylie Jenner has made this trend extremely popular, naturally. The world is absolutely obsessed with Kylie and are scrambling to emulate her style. The braids we are talking about are not childish pigtail braids but tight French or Dutch braids that start from the scalp all way down, creating two or more neat braids. The tighter the braid, the better. We are not going for the messy look here.

This look is edgy, clean and mean. Popular Instagram girls tend to pair this hairstyle with tight, sporty outfits and rather “full-on” makeup. In particular, over drawn lips coated in a 90s brown lipstick and thick, crisp brows. To be honest, it gives me major “chola” vibes and no one is going to want to mess with you.

 

The second look I have noticed is the DOUBLE BUNS.

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Think Chun Li from Street Fighters and you have an accurate depiction of what your hair needs to look like. You want to separate your hair into two pigtails and then tie each them into a bun. The messier the better. This look is such a throwback to the 90s when pop stars like Gwen Stefani and TLC would don this hairstyle with bindis on their foreheads. It’s interesting how this style has been resurrected and updated. Once again, the makeup needs to make a statement with this look to avoid looking too “cute”. The aim is ‘quirky and dangerous‘. Pair this with bold outfits in loud prints and thick, black winged eyeliner. Throw on a bold lipstick and you are good to go.

These looks are fun to try if you ever feel like experimenting with something new. It is certainly more popular in the US and more western countries but with Kylie Jenner paving the way, many more are jumping on this bandwagon.

An honorable mention needs to be made to the GREY HAIR trend that is still going strong in 2016 and is much more noticeable in Singapore. The pastel hair craze has given way to a grey haired one. Even if it isn’t specifically grey, ashy hair colours are becoming the more popular choice. We have certainly noticed a lot more silver-haired boys and girls in town, usually mistaking them for an elderly person from behind and then being proven otherwise when they turn around.

I suggest watching CL’s music video for her song “Hello B*tches” because it embodies this trend and is a good example literally all the trends I spoke off and more!

With all these looks, the key is to look like a BADASS BITCH. And I have to say, I’m diggin’ it.

 

 

 

Model : Diyanah Mustapha (@diyanahm)

Makeup : Hanan Alhaddad (@thebroadwalk)

Viral Beasts.

Daaaaaaamn, Hanan. Back at it again with the sneaker posts!

That was a reference to the viral white vans meme that’s going around social media. A guy named Daniel got his friend to film his outfits for the week, and his friend commented, “Daaaamn, Daniel! Back at it again with the white vans”. I don’t understand how this video got so viral, but it’s blowing up. I am foreseeing that I will be writing about White Vans being a new trend very very soon.

Meanwhile…

Let’s talk about this ‘hypebeast’ trend that’s slowly but surely gaining popularity. I’m talking about the ASICS Gel Lyte Series.

 

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ASICS Gel Lyte Speed ‘Stealth Camo’ (SGD$229)

Aren’t these just stunning?! I first saw a pair in Perth and was intrigued by its unique shape and design. After a month or so, I began to see ASICS Gel Lytes popping up in stores like Leftfoot and Seek. More and more people started wearing them out and it was amazing to me because I have never really looked into ASICS as a brand before this series of sneakers came out.

ASICS are well known in the sports industry, particularly among runners for their impressive support and structure. Their trainers offer lightness without sacrificing durability whilst offering support for the feet. The main reason why I have never purchased one, or even glanced at their trainers was due to their classic “sporty” design. I would argue that their previous designs were rather dated. They would not catch your eye, looks-wise when they are stacked in a shelf with other competitor brands. Which is a real shame considering how coveted they are in the sports industry.

The main problem was that their sports shoes TRULY looked like sport shoes and they could not transcend that specific look. It was tough to integrate their previous designs into outfits. On the contrary, the ASICS Gel Lyte III and its variations (ie. Speed, etc) are versatile and much more up-to-date in terms of design. Once given the nod of approval from the Hypebeast team, you know these babies are gonna blow up.

 

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A unique quality to this series is the tongue, or rather the lack there of. It’s called the ‘split tongue’ design, unique to this brand. It’s not only a cool design feature, but also very practical as it’s easy to slip your feet in and out. They have quite a substantial midsole, meaning it will give you added boost in height. Whether you need it or not, that extra inch in height feels nice. They are also rather weighted, compared to other sneakers. You can definitely feel these on your feet, but that means it is also very durable.

With its sleek minimalistic design, it is the details that make these stand out. I love the understated leather ASICS logo on the side and the cool reflective accents on the laces. This particular pair was limited edition. It has a speckled design on the midsoles and a barely there camo gloss on suede and grey mesh. Its a great unisex sneaker that makes any outfit cool.

ASICS Gel Lytes tend to be more readily available for males and I had a difficult time finding a pair in female sizes. Fortunately, as they are gaining popularity, female sizes are becoming much easier to find. Its cool, edgy and sporty at the same time. Pair them with any outfit and make people go,

“Daaaaaaamn”

Aren’t we all Superstars?

I love people watching. And I don’t mean that in a creepy, “stalker-ish” manner. I mean it in a very laid-back, observant context. Perhaps sipping on a cup of coffee whilst gazing out a large glass window in a highly “Instagrammable” cafe.

Now that I have painted the setting, let’s move along.

Trends are one of those things that are constantly evolving. It’s what I both love and hate about being in a society. I love being a part of something and seeing the trends evolve and change with the times, but I also hate the generic mass-consumerism and bland public opinion that all of us tend to be influenced by. However, I also love seeing the trends that are different in different parts of the world, even though we can all agree that trends are translating internationally quicker than ever before.

Shoe trends are the Thing. It is an easy trend to pick up on and its something that you can add to your wardrobe easily, without changing your entire look or style. Remember the time when Supergas blew up the young adult scene and everyone started wearing them? Similar things have happened with Nike Roshe Runs a few years back. Currently, the “in” thing are these babies.

 

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The Adidas Superstars!

 

Another popular one, in a similar design would be the Stan Smith editions, also by Adidas. Take a stroll around Orchard Road and you will see these everywhere nowadays. I could count at least 30 sightings of this pair or similar in a single trip to town.

These were very popular when I was in secondary school, eons ago and they are making a comeback. The Adidas Original range has been increasing in popularity again with their eye-catching designs on classic silhouettes. These Superstars are classic, sporty and chic. I’ve had this pair since I was young and it’s still going strong. The stiffer shoe material does make it a lot more durable. It’s also VERY basic. But that’s precisely why it is so popular.

An easy staple in anyone’s closet.

My favourite way to style this pair is with dark denim and a plain white T-shirt. It’s such a clean look; Presentable, even though I did not try very hard at all.

Throw on those Raybans I was talking about before in this post. And Boom!

You look like a superstar.