Category Archives: Fashion

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White Henna

I love henna, from the traditional, intricate, Indian patterns to the more modern and dramatic Arabian designs, even the fun, brightly coloured versions which have appeared in the last couple of years.

White henna is apparently the latest thing, and is a star attraction at the Ramadan market in Singapore, so I was very keen to try it out.

But whatever it is, it really isn’t henna, although it is packaged and applied in the same way.

Seriously, it looked and felt like I was being painted with a particularly sticky sort of Tippex, which resolutely refused to dry.

“Come back in 20 minutes and I will put powder on it”, said the lady in charge of the stall where I had this done. But by the time I returned, the design was already the worse for wear. Admittedly, I had been shopping and snacking my way round the market, but even taking care, I found the henna was a nightmare to deal with.

The pattern became blobby and any contact resulted in strings of sticky rubbery material stretching between the design and whatever had touched it. Having what looked like ordinary talc dabbed onto it did somehow ‘set’ what remained, but in retrospect I think it would have been more sensible to sit around the stall for those 20 minutes until the design was ready to be powdered.

As it was, the whole thing looked very messy.

With normal henna, of course, you scrape it off once it is dry and the colour first darkens then fades from your skin over the next 10 days or so. The white henna stays on, but not for very long – 3 to 4 days is supposed to be the limit – although how you keep it intact whilst working, washing and generally getting on with your life, I have no idea.

I found bits peeling away annoyingly before the day was over, and scrubbed the whole thing off before bedtime. It is unlikely I will try this again.

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Black Milk

Not something to drink, but an online Australian fashion house that specialises in clothes made from stretchy nylon material with amazing designs.

If you want mermaid leggings printed with shimmering green scales, a Batman swim suit (complete with cape) or a full length dress that looks like Monet’s waterlilies, this is the place to try. Fans of some of the more popular fantasy franchises, including Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, can also find plenty of interest here.

Daughter #2 is hooked on the brand, and days when one of their their trademark black shiny envelopes drop into the mailbox are red letter days indeed.

What I like most of all is their inside out dresses, made from fabric which is somehow printed with a contrasting design on the other side. They are a miracle of construction, and a positive showstopper if you decide to return from the Ladies in what looks like a completely different outfit halfway through the night.

Not to mention, obviously, that you get 2 for the space of 1 when packing light for a trip.

Pictured above – Tartan v Koi and Amethyst v Aurora…

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Skyline Lashes

There’s a bit of a fashion in Asia right now for things that look British. I have no idea why and hardly like to ask, but there it is…

So, it is common to see people sporting T shirts, bags and even shoes decorated with Union Jacks or famous London landmarks.

These false eyelashes really stopped me in my tracks, however, in a fashionable Hong Kong mall.

Huge, papery, and looking like you’d have a job keeping your eyes open once you had them on, these ‘So London’ skyline lashes enable you to decorate your lids with the London Eye, Big Ben, the Gherkin and even Tower Bridge with a boat passing underneath.

As I’ve never seen anyone actually wearing these, I’m not clear whether you are supposed to use the whole lot at once or snip off one landmark at a time to use as an accent on big nights out.

Other versions, with flowers and swirls, were also available, looking equally large and daunting. But although I found them startlingly artistic, I’ve never had any luck making false eyelashes stay in place, and was not going to shell out HK$135 to try again with these.

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3 in 1 Ring

I do love a piece of jewellery that can be ‘tweaked’ to do double duty – a ring that has two different sides, earrings that can be transformed to add a dangling extra to a simple stud, a necklace that twists into a bracelet. It’s not just fun, but can give you endless options from a very small selection of components. I know jewellery doesn’t take up much room, but when you are travelling light sometimes every item counts.

This ring from Danish jewellers Dyrberg/Kern is really striking. The stainless steel band comes with inserts to adjust the size, and an ingenious screw fitting means you can interchange the 3 toppings that make up the set.

There’s silvery heart shape, a ‘diamond’ set in gilt and a pink disc which looks to be brushed metal, also in a gilt setting. It’s an airline exclusive, spotted in the Tiger Air magazine for S$150, and if the metal parts had all been the same colour I might have been seriously tempted.

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Character Contacts

‘Characters’ are huge in Japan – cute creatures promote everything from TV stations to tourist hotspots, and if you love any of the famous faces from the likes of Sanrio or Studio Ghibli you will be spoilt for choice on clothes, toys, stationery and accessories.

And this is not just for youngsters. You would be surprised at how many adults are proud to sport their Hello Kitty lace socks or their Totoro shoulder bags.

If you are less of the sort who spends the weekend in full costume as your favourite character, but prefer to keep your allegiance more low key, there are also many options. Rather than hitting the streets in Sailor Moon’s distinctive schoolgirl uniform, for example, you could simply wear the lingerie version instead.

The latest fascinating trend along these lines is for character contact lenses. Those Sailor Moon fans can also transform their eyes into the sparkling shades of the 5 main characters with ‘moon prism’ lenses for only ¥2,300.

Anyone who prefers the cuter, cuddly animal characters can find something even better. Lenses are available in varying soft shades of pink and brown, which incorporate tiny pictures of the characters printed round the coloured part of the lens.

You can choose Hello Kitty, My Melody or Little Twin Stars, although the designs are so small and intricate I suspect someone would have to get very close indeed to make them out.

All these are non-prescription, obviously, and they come in 2 different sets – 5 pairs of one day only lenses for ¥1,800, and a single set you can wear for a whole month, for ¥2,000.

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Cuticle Tattoos

Here’s something for everyone who does not have nails long enough for a fancy manicure or those foils which give you instant and elaborate designs. A combination of nail wraps and cuticle transfers, it focusses the attention on your fingers rather than your nails.

The tropical theme turns your fingertips into pineapples and colourful birds – the tattoos are the heads and leaves – and, although I would also recommend cutting each piece out carefully before attempting to apply it, the instructions are clear and easy to follow.

Daughter #1 tried these out for me and this is what she had to say:

“As a long time nail-biter, this was something I felt I could work with. They were easy to apply although I had to resist the temptation to pair the bird’s heads with the wrong bodies. The whole process took less than five minutes and I was surprised how easy the cuticle transfers were compared to fake tattoos I’ve tried to apply in the past.

Overall I was pleased as they made my nails appear longer and the design was quite eye catching. I received many surprised comments and jokes from friends and co-workers (to whom I may have ‘flipped the bird’…)

Unfortunately, the heads of the birds did not survive as long as their bodies did, which made my fingernails a bit confusing afterwards. But I give them 7 out of 10 and would wear them again.”

Having also tried these myself, I would add that it took me considerably longer than 5 minutes to get the wraps in place, then the cuticle tattoos stayed pristine for about as long as it took to get my phone from my bag. I should probably have let them ‘set’ for a bit longer before I tried doing anything useful with the rest of my day, but they were very striking whilst they lasted.

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Scented Nail Stickers

I find this idea bemusing. ‘Scratch and Sniff’ stickers had a moment many years ago, and I don’t recall anyone who seriously thought they smelled anything like the fruits they were supposed to be channelling.

Fast forward to these chocolate scented nail decorations, all in cute cupcake and cake slice pictures. They have to be aimed at pre-teens, but daughter #1 gamely gave them a go (I expect the wine helped…), only to declare them “not terribly chocolatey”.

To be honest, this is probably a good thing, as being enveloped in the aroma of chocolate is highly dangerous. I will never forget the set of cocoa butter body products a friend once bought for my birthday – they were wonderfully rich but smelled so strongly of cocoa that I could not stop myself from feasting on the nearest available chocolate bar every time I used them. I am afraid they had to go…

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Heel Decals

How to give your shoes that designer look without spending hundreds of dollars? Well, if you are after the full ‘Louboutin’ then you could always try red enamel paint or even nail polish, otherwise there are heel decals like these.

Another fun product from Heels Diva, there are patterns ranging from hearts and houndstooth to wavy stripes and flowers, all for under S$13. According to the packaging, they ‘add a flash of personality to the arch of a pair of heels, instantly making personal statement shoes!’

The blurb also claims these are ‘easily applied’, although I would take that with a pinch of salt. The decals are peel and stick, but the shiny plastic is so thin that it tears very easily so has to be handled really carefully.

Having tried to stick them onto an old pair of heels, I would suggest you start with a brand new pair undamaged by wear and tear and completely free from the dirt and grit you pick up in the great outdoors (because however well you think you have cleaned them up, those soles will never be completely smooth again).

I would also make a template of the area you want to cover, then trace it out extremely carefully on the decals before you cut them to size. Even then, the slightest miscalculation as you start to stick them down will mean a serious overlap further along the shoe.

The major problem we found was that trimming the decals to size after application was extremely difficult. Small tears and ragged edges were impossible to avoid, although the worst of the damage was fairly easily fixed with judicious use of a black Sharpie round the edges. How long the decals will stay on remains to be seen, especially in British weather, and I await reports from ‘club night’ with interest.



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nipnon-2 nipnon-1

These have been around for a while now, but they still surprise me with how useful they can be.

Everyone has those moments when a wardrobe malfunction or an unexpected need to be culturally sensitive brings sudden embarrassment. You can pre-empt the possibility of one and carry these around in your bag in case of the other.

Alternatively, they can spare some blushes if you are wearing anything slightly see-through.

Essentially, they are large circular fabric stickers, in a tasteful shade of nude, which cover up your nipples. They go on and peel off quite easily, without leaving an annoying residue – in fact the adhesive is only round the edge of the circle so there is no chance of irritating your delicate areas.

They are cheaper, easier to carry ‘just in case’ and less liable to slip than the reusable silicone alternative. These are the Japanese version, and at less than S$1 a set, they are a steal!

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Security Garter

garter-2 garter-3

This little gem was tucked away towards the back of the Silk Air in-flight shopping magazine. Retail opportunities at 38,000ft always provide me with great entertainment – there’s stuff in there you really have to raise your eyebrows at, especially the prices.

But this actually looked like it might be an interesting buy. I mean, there are nights out when a handbag is a positive annoyance, and (as daughter #2 would tell you) even having your valuables safely zipped away inside one is no guarantee you will not have them pinched in a night club crush.

So, a lacy garter with multiple pockets for all your essentials, including phone and keys, seemed like a neat solution, and something a lot less likely to be accessed without you noticing. Obviously, you’d have to be wearing a skirt long enough to cover it, but it still strikes me as a promising idea. A snip at S$55.