Monday, January 31, 2011

Website in the Making (Part 3)

What a busy Sunday afternoon for the Balsam crew! Everybody pitched in to help make this photoshoot happen. Thank you so much for all your effort guys!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Website in the Making (Part 2)

Here's a little sneak preview of what I've been working on last night. It's possibly what the photoshoot may look like. I plan things a lot of the times but then when it comes time to shoot, I always end up going in a another direction, often resulting in something completely different.

My brain is so fried. It's an utter tangled mess. I thought I'd take a break to declutter my mind. I'm spitting out maybe 5 words per minute here.

For the last 2 months, I've been cranking the wheels in my head hard to create what will be Balsam's website. I will be honest and tell you that it's actually quite a difficult thing to do. I thought it would be somewhat of a piece of cake but it's not.

I wanted to personally take on the tasks of writing the little blurbs that would appear on the website, edit the blurbs, design and order the sample clothes, press all the clothes, hire and style the models, photograph the models and samples myself, decide where each image goes. I'm not saying this isn't super duper awesome but all this is starting to give me a colossal headache.

One obstacle after another. One disappointment after another. I won't go into the details because it's the outcome that matters. I really hope the website turns out amazing. Not just "alright" or "great" because no business should just settle for an "alright" website. And no designer/artist should ever produce "alright" work for a client--even if I am my own client.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dress Shirt 101: Pleat Types

In my last post, I introduced to you some collar types found on dress shirts. Today, we'll be going over the types of pleats you may choose to include on your custom-made shirt.

But before I get into that, you may want to know what pleats do if you don't already know. They can be for aesthetics but most importantly, they provide the room that you need to move your arms freely.

There are basically two types of pleats. The first is called the "box pleat". It's around 1.5 inches of fabric folded into itself on both sides and stitched down at the upper back.
Box Pleat

The second type is the "side pleats". Side pleats are about 3/4 inch of fabric folded into itself on both sides of the back and stitched down.
Side Pleats

Finally, there is something called "darts". They're not pleats because they don't open up when you pull on the fabric. They are folds of the fabric sewn shut. Darts are typically found in shirts that are really form-fitting. Their function is to make the shirt more fitted and therefor creating a more slender silhouette. It is more common to find darts in ladies' shirts than on guys'.

I personally prefer "box pleats" in my shirts. I like the way they look but they are trickier to iron properly.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dress Shirt 101: Collar Types

Collar Types: 1) Cut-away Collar 2)Wide Spread Collar 3) Kelly Collar 4) Straight Collar 5) Button Down Collar 6) Rounded Collar 7) Medium Spread Collar 8) Tab Front Collar. Shirt images borrowed from here.

I touched on the topic of cotton t-shirts in the previous post and that gave me an idea to do a subsequent post on it's big brother, the cotton dress shirt. Metaphorically speaking, a dress shirt in the realm of business/smart casual wear is the equivalent of flour used in baking-- it is an absolute essential. Anyone will look professional and presentable in a clean, crisp, white dress shirt.

One of my favourite tasks when I'm at work is being a stylist. Our customers want to know what makes them look good and my job is to help put together shirt and suit components that flatters their figures. Here's where having an "eye" for style comes in handy.

A shirt is made of these components:

1. Collar
2. Pleats/No Pleats
3. Pocket(s)
4. Cuffs
5. Plain Front/Placket Front

One thing you might want to consider when picking out a collar type is the shape of your face. It may benefit you to pick one out that compliments your face but I will be honest and tell you from experience that most people would much rather choose something that is the trend and easy to wear. Or they let the occasion dictate what they should wear--which makes sense.

There are dozens of collar styles out there (fashion is not written in stone so designers are free to change things up a bit) but there are certain types that have remained popular over many decades. Collar 3 and 7 (refer to above picture) are the most commonly worn styles because the spread of the collars allow room for Windsor knots on ties.

Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting a collar type:

Narrow Faces > Pick a wider spread with shorter points to shorten your face. Please refer to Mr.Egg Head in the diagram below. In diagram "A", Mr.Egg Head looks shorter.

Round Faces > Pick a closer spread with longer points to elongate your face. In diagram "B", Mr.Egg Head looks longer.

There really is no rule when it comes to picking a collar. Generally, I tell customers to wear what makes them feel comfortable or is appropriate for the occasion.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cotton T-shirt: A Luxury Item?

Me holding onto a precious roll of cotton. I accidentally caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and remembered how much I love this hand-me-down fair isle sweater and old destroyed jeans from my big sister. Fifty percent of my closet is comprised of her old clothes and I'm proud of that.

You may be in for a shocker the next time you purchase a new package of those cotton tighty whities for you or your loved one: The cost of cotton has risen over 80% by July in 2010 and will continue to rise. Major cotton exporters like China are marking up the prices of cotton due to the increased demand and the shortage in supply. India, another big player in the cotton-producing industry, have been regulating their exports to protect their local economy. Recent natural disasters like floods have huge negative impacts on cotton growers like Pakistan and Australia.

Gradually, consumers will see rises in the price of jeans and t-shirts. It is predicted by leading figures in the apparel industry that more clothing producers will go for synthetic alternatives such as polyester and rayon.

Fast-food fashion chain stores like Forever 21 and H&M will definitely look to the cheaper alternatives in order to maintain their affordable prices, in my opinion.

What do you think? Will you be more choosy when it comes to buying clothes the next you're out shopping? Would you sacrifice the comfort of cotton for more affordable options like blended fabric?

I'm a little bit of a trend follower--but I'm also big on comfort. I splurge on staple items like jeans and t-shirts. When I'm in the mood, I'll buy trendy items to spice up my closet a little. I'm also a second-hand clothing fanatic for three reasons: One, it saves money. Two, you get unique stuff a lot of the times. Three (most importantly), it's environmentally friendly.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Great 100% No-Fail Way To Look Cool

Outside tags...please PLEASE remove!!

Yes, designer clothing wearing folks: The outside tag with the name of your favourite designer should and is meant to be removed before you put on your beautiful, incredibly expensive, crisp, new suit or coat. I can't stress that enough!

If you want people to know you paid big bucks for your jacket, leaving the tag on for the world to see is not the way to go. Quality fabric, excellent craftsmanship and a good fit will speak volumes on how fantastic your piece of garment is and will lead people to think you paid an arm and a leg for it. Subtlety is key.

100% of the time, designer pieces will have plenty of indications that they are designer. For example, you'll find that the brand name is engraved into the buttons or the logo is embroidered somewhere on the article of clothing. And very often, designer pieces have their signature style.

I'm even making this topic a post because I'm so appalled by the number of times I see people walking around with tags like the one pictured above still stitched on. I've even had confused young males ask me if these tags are supposed to stay on.

Also, basting stitches found on jacket back vents are also meant to be taken off! Most jacket pockets are stitched closed to minimize sagging and bulk... THAT is okay to leave on because nobody sees those.

And that's how you'll look cool.

For those of you who were wondering, I hope this helped!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Crap Holiday Makes Me Look Forward to the New Year

I apologize for the extended absence. I didn't forget to blog because I was immensely overwhelmed by joyous holiday plans. Instead, I had been defeated by the menacing army of big bad cold germs once and a second time immediately after by their merciless and very relentless ally, the Influenza brigade.

I finally managed to dig myself out of the pits of viral hell. I'm back and ready for some exciting Balsam blogging action!

For the Vancouverites who are forever loyal to the Canucks, you might want to practice some patience and summon your forgiving nature as you gaze confusedly at the following pictures:

These jerseys were made for two pairs of English-speaking Siamese twins who were each born with a French-speaking half.

Not really.

Some dedicated sports fans would call this "sports bigamy". I personally have turned a blind eye to this. Actually, I'm going to confess: I don't really give a rat's ass about hockey. I'm probably one of the biggest outcasts among the Vancouver hockey culture. I even got my Vancouverite brother (upon his request) a Chicago Blackhawks hat from Michigan City for Christmas.

I stand on neutral ground.

Canucks fans, don't despise me for helping this loving father execute his two little boys' dream of wearing these unique hybrid jerseys to the Canadiens VS Canucks (oh wait, just to be fair, Canucks VS Canadiens) game next month. Instead, practice some altruism and excellent sportsmanship.