A first for 2017: online fashion shopping

I am not sure about everyone else but I am not a big fan of online shopping.

 

Advocates will disagree: yes I know it’s convenient, yes I know it’s open 24 hours (quite a bonus for someone like me who is living in Perth), and yes I know it’s fast. But from my perspective most of the good points about online shopping is really skewed in favour of the retailer: they stand to make more money with lower costs.

 

For me the very reasons why I’ve never been a big fan of online shopping is, well, the fact that it is online. I can’t touch and feel the fabric. I can’t inspect the clothing for finish and quality. I can’t try it on and see if it fits. And all these things are quite important to me, especially the last point: fit. Everyone who has shopped will know sizing varies, even within the same brand. Take for example my favourite label CUE: I have a white shirt in size 6 that fits me perfectly, and in fact my other white shirt in size 8 is tighter than that first size 6 shirt – and they are both fitted and both from the same label CUE! My collection of dresses from CUE range from size 6, 8, and 10. So it goes without saying that clothing sizing charts are pretty useless.

 

And then there’s the delivery. The wait can be painful, especially it’s something I have been eyeing and wanting for ages. What if it doesn’t arrive? What if it sends to the wrong address? We all know Australia Post is pretty useless these days… and oh did I mention online retailers charge for postage? And if it doesn’t fit I will have to mail it back, and yes you guessed it, pay for postage again. So all in all you start to see why I am never a big fan of online shopping… even if the retailer accepts returns you’d be worse off by $20 (assuming $10 postage both ways), without the product!

 

So why have I suddenly taken the plunge in 2017? Honestly, I don’t know. The only thing I know is that despite being hopeful, I think I am going to regret when the clothing arrives.

 

So here’s what happened: I keep noticing a particular shirtdress from the Rhodes & Beckett retail shopfront. In fact I think I must have spotted it already sometime last year, but the typical high prices of that label kept putting me off. I keep seeing it pop up whenever I go past the shop. So sometime in late January, when the post-Christmas Sales descended to the point whereby sharp discounting can be found to get rid of unwanted and left-over stock, I found myself accidentally browsing at Rhodes & Beckett’s online store. I wasn’t intending to buy online: just like CUE’s online store which I look at regularly, I was only wanting to know what they had available. And usually when I found something I liked I’d go into the shop and try to locate it and try it on (like how I shop Cue).

 

I found the shirtdress that I was eyeing online, and it looked really good on the online pictures. And it was discounted to $149. I walked into a Rhodes & Beckett retail shopfront the next day, but they didn’t have my size (they only had 2 size 12s!). When I was at the shop I could actually feel and see the fabric, and I am sad to report that the dress in the real shop didn’t quite look as well made and as polished as the online pictures. With doubts now in my mind, I did a bit of googling and found that Rhodes & Beckett doesn’t really have that good reviews – in fact most of the reviews seem to fault their quality and online customer service. More doubts in my head now as to whether I should part with $149 for a discounted Rhodes & Beckett dress, because I know for the same money I could pick up a discounted made-in-Australia CUE dress.

 

And so I sat on making a decision for an entire week. At times my mood swung towards buying it online because it seems only the online store had my size, but at other times the doubts really sank in. In the end, I decided that from the same dress I felt and touch in the retail store, the actual dress will look nothing as polished as the online pictures. Which meant I won’t look as good in it as I think I would. And just when I thought I would walk away from it, I browsed Rhodes & Beckett shirts and blouses and came across their white shirts.

 

Those who know me will know fitted white shirts and blouses are indispensable as part of my office wardrobe. For a really polished and classic look, I usually stick to the clothing label CUE: CUE shirts not only fit me really well, but also for a slim and tall woman like me the sleeve lengths are actually correct and not too short. I just looked in my wardrobe and I can report I have in fact 4 almost identical white long sleeved fitted shirts from CUE, and that doesn’t include the short-sleeved and coloured shirts! (I also suddenly realised CUE has rally made a lot of money off my over the years, damn you!)

 

The problem though with CUE is their designers seem to have an incessant need for innovation. Which isn’t a bad thing sometimes, but for something like a classic white shirt IT’S A BAD THING! So all I want is a classic white long sleeved buttoned down shirt from CUE to wear with my pencil skirts and skirt suits, but what I get every time I am inside a CUE retail shop is white shirts with strange straps and flaps (looking like straight-jackets from a mental hospital) or white shirts with cut-outs front, back, side, or in every imaginable place (seriously uncool to wear with a skirt suit). So now that my 4 almost identical white long sleeved fitted shirts from CUE are starting to turn grey with age, I am forced to look elsewhere…

 

And now back to Rhodes & Beckett: unlike CUE their shirts and blouses are classic – like the way I like them to wear with my pencil skirts and skirt suits. And they were on discount with Rhodes & Beckett online store. I did have my doubts, because the same dress I felt and touch in the retail store looked nothing as polished as the online pictures, but in the end I gave in and decided to give it a try.

 

Fingers crossed!

 

So here it is: my long-winded way of how online shopping for fashion became a first for me in 2017. What about everyone else? Are you a fan of online shopping or are you, like me, still prefer to go into a physical retail shop? Leave a reply, send me a message, or email me what you think!

 

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OOTD – The mood is floral on Melbourne Cup day 2016

cue-floral-cotton-party-dress-1

I am so jealous of our fellow Melbournians. While they get to revel in the public holiday, and enjoy an excuse to dress up for the races, the rest of us have to go to work as usual. So what is it about the Melbourne Cup that is such a big deal? For me it is not winning (I’ve never won anything in my life, in fact not even those instant scratch-and-win cereal boxes contests, so I am not even going to try…), nor it is the betting (I don’t bet, and unlike my colleagues I don’t even own shares in the stock market), nor it is the access to exclusive race marquees (I am not rich or well-connected enough), but it is about finding an excuse to dress up and having a good time with friends.

cue-floral-cotton-party-dress-2

But of course, the races are held smack in the middle of my work day. While some are fortunate enough to head off to the pub for races celebration immediately after the races (what sort of work do they do again?), for me it has to wait until after work in the afternoon. It’s then a quick dash back home to change into my after-work post-races celebration outfit before heading out to meet some friends for a few drinks and gossip.

 

Last year I wore a checked Wayne Cooper dress in the classic colours of black and white. This year, however, my mood is floral. Continuing from the floral theme I wore in winter (which was a darker, more sombre, more subdued palate), I decided with the change of seasons the floral theme should evolve into a lighter and more vibrant palate. So tonight I chose to wear a pretty printed dress from CUE: there is nothing like those little colourful bunches of flowers printed on a cool white background and a pleated hem that sways in the breeze that encompass the mood of spring more. While cotton dresses can look fussy and frumpy, this little CUE dress doesn’t: I can imagine the cool cotton will make it a daily favourite for me for the warmer months ahead, while the dress’ flattering and fitted cut will still keep me looking classy. Its contrasting copper-coloured front zip which zips all the way up to the neck means it is also one of those dresses I zip up all the way to the neck and throw on a blazer jacket if the notoriously fickle spring weather becomes chilly, or unzip the front to show a little more if it gets too warm.

cue-floral-cotton-party-dress-4

Xoxoxo

Natalie

 

Occasion: Post Melbourne Cup races celebration/ night out

 

Wearing:

CUE floral party dress with contrast black piping and copper-coloured front zip

Nine West heels

OOTD – THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

INTERSTATE BUSINESS TRIP (FRIDAY)

CUE satin sleeveless fitted black peplum dress worn with white shirt (1)

After feeling like I was constantly showing too much flesh and overly exposing myself to business clients all day yesterday in the short tight sleeveless dress (the CUE Front Zip Jacquard Dress I wore was probably a size too small and too short – the dress ended a couple of inches above my knees), I decided to cover up for this morning’s meeting with the same set of clients. Yesterday evening was pleasure, according to the words of my boss, and this morning we’d be talking proper business.

 

So my day started with a dilemma in the morning: should I wear a classic white shirt/ black skirt outfit by pairing my favourite CUE long sleeved button-up fitted white shirt with a pencil skirt, or should I wear my versatile black dress from CUE and pair it with a blazer jacket as the alternative to wearing a skirt suit?

 

I threw on both outfits in front of the mirror but I couldn’t make up my mind. The white shirt/ pencil skirt combination is classic and conservative (and thus probably more appropriate business meetings), but I actually like the silhouette of the black dress more. Besides, it’s the end of the week and I am feeling ‘dressy’. However, I realised I have been wearing dresses already for the past 3 out of 4 days for work so I am thinking maybe I should give some variety to my outfit.

 

And then a thought came into my head – what if I combined the two? It’s winter, so I could pull off wearing a white shirt under the black dress without overheating. It will not only keep me warm, but the long sleeves will also provide enough coverage to fit the conservative business look.  So I threw on this outfit instead: a CUE button-up long sleeved fitted white shirt worn under a CUE satin sleeveless fitted black peplum dress, accessorised with a CUE belt (which came with the jumpsuit – see previous post) with silver buckle, and my NineWest heels.

 

The best of both worlds!

CUE satin sleeveless fitted black peplum dress worn with white shirt (2)

CUE satin sleeveless fitted black peplum dress worn with white shirt (3).JPG

CUE satin sleeveless fitted black peplum dress worn with white shirt (4).JPG

Occasion: Office/ work – Business trip meetings

 

Wearing:

CUE button-up long sleeved fitted white shirt

CUE satin sleeveless fitted black peplum dress

CUE belt (which came with the jumpsuit – see previous post)

 

OOTD – FRONT ZIP DRESS

INTERSTATE BUSINESS TRIP (THURSDAY)

CUE Front Zip Sleeveless Jacquard Dress (1)

I am still in Melbourne and this is the fourth day of the business trip accompanying my boss. Other than having to be physically next to my boss the whole time to take notes, fill him in with his diary schedule and pass documents around meetings, I don’t think I do very much. He does most of the talking, the negotiations, and sales pitches. But despite feeling that I am not doing much I am already starting to feel exhausted. Having to wake up at 4am the first day to catch the first morning flight doesn’t help. I can’t really sleep well in an unfamiliar bed, and the working hours are long despite thinking that I don’t do very much. We usually start at 7.30am and we haven’t been finishing until about 9 or 9.30pm the last two days. So if you can see dark shadows under my eyes, it’s not smeared mascara. It’s lack of sleep.

 

Today we are scheduled for another long day. But instead of office meetings all day, I noticed in the diary that from about mid-afternoon our meetings take place in more casual settings: we are entertaining clients in bars and restaurants at the Crown Casino complex from mid-afternoon onwards. To dress appropriately for the afternoon and the evening, I need to be in a nice dress instead of business attire.

 

Because front zip dresses are so on trend right now, I am starting to collect more than a few pieces in my wardrobe. Which worries me, because unlike dresses with a back zip, my fashion crystal ball is telling me front zip dresses are just a passing fashion fad and pretty soon I will have wasted thousands of dollars on dresses I can’t wear beyond next season… yikes!!

 

So I thought I’d better take the opportunity to wear them as often as I can before their time comes. So today, with this afternoon/evening’s schedule in mind, I am wearing a lovely satin Front Zip Sleeveless Jacquard Dress. And yes, you guessed it, it’s a CUE dress again.

 

When I first bought the dress I wasn’t sure if I would like it. It was the only one left on the rack in that design and I thought it was one size too small: when I tried it on it fitted snugly and I thought the dress was a little too short. And there was also the front zip dilemma like I explained previously. But I fell in love with the cut and the blue floral motifs, so I bought it anyway.

CUE Front Zip Sleeveless Jacquard Dress (2)

Buying it initially with wearing it to the office in mind, it ended becoming one of my favourite go-to dresses, not for the office (I still think the hemline is a little too short for the office), but for going out on dates, a night out, or the weekends.  I can’t explain why and how it ended becoming one of my favourite go-to dresses, but for all its flaws there was something quite lovely about it. Maybe it’s in the details: the blue floral motifs, little collar details, tiny little word ‘CUE’ embossed on the zipper tab. Maybe it is the breezy flared hem. Maybe it’s the flattering cut. Maybe it’s the flirty front zip (which usually starts fully zipped up at the start of the night and become progressively more and more unzipped as the situation requires and as night progresses…). Who knows. But whatever it is about this dress, I fell in love.

CUE Front Zip Sleeveless Jacquard Dress (3)

The last business trip last year ended well with me helping to persuade a client seal the deal, so there are high expectations this time around. Now that I am getting dressed and thinking about it I thought maybe I should have brought along and worn my ‘lucky dress’, one of my favourite dresses but incidentally the same dress I wore during the last business trip which ended well (well I didn’t bring the dress this time because of space and weight issues – blame it on the cheapskate boss who insists I travel on carry-on hand luggage only as he wouldn’t pay for checked luggage).

CUE Front Zip Sleeveless Jacquard Dress (4)

Finger’s crossed I can turn on the charm and help seal the deal again this time. Wish me luck!!

CUE Front Zip Sleeveless Jacquard Dress-detail (1)

CUE Front Zip Sleeveless Jacquard Dress-detail (2)

Occasion: Dinner/ Going out/ Bar (Entertaining business clients)

 

Wearing:

CUE Front Zip Sleeveless Jacquard Dress

OASIS black fitted blazer jacket

NINEWEST heels

 

Xoxo

Natalie

OOTD – A DRESS FOR BOARDROOM TO BAR

INTERSTATE BUSINESS TRIP (WEDNESDAY)

CUE black floral pencil copper zipfront dress 1

I must admit, wearing a sheer white sleeveless top in mid-winter in Melbourne yesterday was probably a mistake. Melbourne feels so much colder compared to Perth. I was feeling the cold all day yesterday even though I had blazer jacket on the whole time.

 

Determined to stay warm today, I am wearing a High Neck Dress made from a heavy satin material instead. From CUE, the dress is made from a heavy satin material, heavier and warmer than the soft satin material of the pencil skirt I wore yesterday. The dress is adorned with red, white and gold floral motifs, is closed by a trendy contrasting copper coloured zip in the front.

CUE black floral pencil copper zipfront dress-detail

It’s a truly versatile boardroom to bar dress: its knee length hem-line means it is never too inappropriately short for the office, and the front zip which zips all the way up to the neck means it is one of those dresses I zip up all the way to the neck and throw on a blazer jacket for a professional look in the office, but for after-work drinks in the bar I can throw off the blazer and unzip the front to show a little more if I wanted to. Like most clothing pieces I have from CUE, I love the dress’ flattering cut and it fits my body shape very well.

CUE black floral pencil copper zipfront dress 3.JPG

I have ALWAYS wanted to wear this dress since I bought it some months ago but have never worn it because it is usually too warm to wear in the Perth weather, so I am mighty pleased I threw it into my luggage at the last moment and I am finally wearing it today.

CUE black floral pencil copper zipfront dress 2

Occasion: Office/ work – Business trip meetings

 

Wearing:

CUE Floral Satin Spliced High Neck Dress with Contrasting Copper Coloured Front Zip

CUE belt (which came with the jumpsuit – see previous post)

OASIS black fitted blazer jacket

NINEWEST heels

 

P.S. I am really sorry for the poor lighting in the photographs – Melbourne appears to be a city of high rise and each skyscraper seem to tower over each other like a forest of sprouting bamboos. The hotel room look (too close for comfort actually) into a neighbouring apartment building and has little sunlight coming through its windows, and the room’s dark mood lighting doesn’t help!

 

Xoxo

Natalie

OOTD – MY TWIST TO THE CLASSIC SKIRT SUIT

INTERSTATE BUSINESS TRIP (TUESDAY)

BASQUE sheer sleeveless top, CUE floral pencil skirt (with contrast piping)2

Travelling on hand carry-on luggage only for a week long business trip, I am starting to learn to get creative with mixing and matching,. For my second day in Melbourne I’ve decided to throw on this outfit, my twist to the classic skirt suit. As you may already know I am a fan of skirt suits. I think well fitted skirt suits are professional, polished, and unmistakeably feminine. Today, instead of wearing a crisp white shirt (like what I usually like to wear) under the blazer jacket, I’ve decided to wear a sheer sleeveless top instead. Substituting the classic black skirt for the bottom, I’ve decided to wear a floral satin pencil skirt instead to add a dash of colour to the winter gloom.

BASQUE sheer sleeveless top, CUE floral pencil skirt (with contrast piping)1

Some of you might notice that the pencil skirt looked similar to that in a previous post. Well I must admit it is the same skirt I bought during the recent post-Christmas sales. The skirt was bought from CUE, and I am growing more and more fond of it with time. It is comfy, classy, fits well and casts a lovely silhouette: it flatters my body shape, but is never too tight or too short to be inappropriate for the office. In fact its below-knee length makes it ideal not only as a modest but classy skirt for the office, but also fitting for cold Melbourne winter days. Adorned with lovely floral motifs and the contrasting black zip and piping that runs around the waist, I find it both uplifting and flattering. This is easily my favourite skirt this season! J

BASQUE sheer sleeveless top, CUE floral pencil skirt (with contrast piping)3

BASQUE sheer sleeveless top, CUE floral pencil skirt (with contrast piping)4

contrast piping detail-CUE floral pencil skirt

Occasion: Office/ work – business trip meetings

 

Wearing:

BASQUE sheer sleeveless top (in white)

CUE satin floral print pencil skirt (with contrast black zip and piping)

OASIS black fitted blazer jacket

NINEWEST heels

 

Xoxo

Natalie

OOTD – FITTED BLACK SLEEVELESS PEPLUM DRESS

INTERSTATE BUSINESS TRIP (MONDAY)

in CUE sleeveless peplum black dress, sans make-up

The first day any business trip is often the most hectic. The day typically starts with early morning wake-up and lots of time spent on the road with flights and travelling. Even though I am usually already tired, thirsty and hungry by the time I arrived at the destination, I usually have to hit the ground running with tight schedules of meetings and clients and still remain cheerful and professional despite it all. There is little time to do anything else other than running around like a mad chicken. I don’t have time to check in to the hotel when I arrive (this is done only at the end of the long day) so packing all my items in a small hand carry luggage case makes it easier to lug the thing around town. There isn’t time to change, so whatever I wear when I leave home have to stay on for the entire day until I get back to the hotel. I put on my make-up on the go (its too hard to have to put on make-up at 4 am in the morning when I am blurry-eyed and rushing to get to the airport in time…), either on the plane just before it lands or in the back of the cab. Breakfast and lunch is also usually eaten on the go.

early morning flight to Melbourne

The choice of outfit for the first day of any interstate business trip is therefore one of the most important considerations for me when I travel on business. Not only must I be comfortable in it for the hours spent sitting in the air and on the road, it must also look professional when I finally arrive at the destination for the meetings and clients.

 

So for the first day of my business trip I decided to wear this versatile black dress from CUE. One of my favourite dresses, I have worn this understated dress both to the office as a work dress, and also out on dates and to restaurants and bars as a little black dress for after-work and the weekends.

 

When I wear this dress to the office I usually pair it with a blazer jacket as the alternative to wearing a skirt suit, and today was no different. Not only is it comfortable enough to endure hours of travelling, as a work dress for the office I like the professional, polished, and unmistakeably feminine look. My only two gripes about the dress:

(1) it did not come with a belt, so I had to accessorise it with my own. I usually wear it with the skinny black belt with a contrasting gold buckle (the gold is to break up the monotony of black) I bought from H&M.

(2) the satin material creases really easily so by the end of the dress usually looks wrinkled. I still haven’t perfected the craft of keeping it wrinkle free so if anyone knows of a way to do so, please leave a comment or email me.

CUE sleeveless peplum black dress (1)

CUE sleeveless peplum black dress (2)

And one thing you won’t see very often here: the first photo (without the blazer jacket) is me sans make-up, taken just before leaving home this morning. I know its probably criminal that I should be leaving home without any make-up on, but at 4.30am in the morning – it’s just too hard! (The other photos were taken in my hotel room in Melbourne after I finally checked in at the end of the day).

 

Occasion: Office/ work – business trip meetings

 

Wearing:

CUE satin sleeveless fitted peplum black dress

H&M belt (in black) with contrasting gold buckle

OASIS black fitted blazer jacket

NINEWEST heels

 

Xoxo

Natalie