Thursday, July 10, 2008

In the Interest of Fashion and Sisterhood

*Note: This is a double-length post to make up for my absence tomorrow, because I will be away on a weekend getaway in Quebec!

I think prom is a very interesting North American concept. It's an event that people make a huge fuss about (so much so that it's a multimillion dollar industry), that's a rite of passage, that girls dream of and plan for years, the one night where any kind of economic rationality goes right out the window because girls are allowed to wear the most over-the-top outfit they could find and spend an insane amount of money for only one night's worth of fun. Significance of the actual event (graduating after nearly a decade and a half of education) is secondary - it's all about appearances.

Kind of like weddings.

And the funny thing is, inevitably people will take a ton of pictures to commemorate the event only to hide them in the most secluded spot possible years later, because they become really embarrassing to look at!

Don't lie. Almost everyone has prom horror pictures. I have prom horror pictures. And in the interest of fashion and sisterhood (because I don't want anyone else to make the same mistakes!), I will share them today:As you can see, the outfit was not the problem. I love my dress. It fit well, was flattering, well cut and well made with the lushest material - fully-lined black chiffon that had this gorgeous floral pattern of emerald green and glossy black velvet. I daresay it'll be beautiful and stylish 50 years down the road - I'd pass it down to my cousin or a daughter if I ever have one, except I wouldn't want to take away their fun of choosing a prom dress.

I'd wanted a dress that would either be royal blue, emerald green, peacock blue or peacock green, because they're unique, vibrant colours that I look good in, and I knew most people would be wearing black. I also wanted a simple design that would fit me like glove, that would look good years later so that I could avoid the prom horror pictures situation.

One day, I went to Unionville Main Street with my mom, and we decided to look inside a tiny boutique that was closing down and had all its dresses on sale. I wasn't expecting much and wasn't even looking very hard because I secretly was harbouring the fantasy of being able to afford a Pam Chorley original - Fashion Crimes has been one of my favourite stores in Toronto since like, grade six.

My mom pulled out a few dresses and insisted I try them on. I stepped out of the changeroom, looked at myself in the mirror and thought - this is it! Was it supposed to be that easy? It was clearly meant to be and I knew I wouldn't be able to find anything to top it. It was also on sale for $60, which was fantastic - my budget was about $200. I was going to go all out - but I was able to score an even more timelessly beautiful dress than I'd planned for (I'm huge on timeless) that wouldn't run the risk of looking garish later, at less than half my budget.

My lace shawl and beautiful necklace were on loan from Alice Chik, a family friend and Toronto-based costume jewellery designer. She has some of the most exquisite and dramatic pieces I've ever seen - she's also a One of A Kind artisan. The "pendant" of the necklace was actually a vintage (circa 1920s) brooch suspended by a chiffon ribbon - it has since been re-incarnated into a different style.

For those of you who will be choosing outfits for significant events, I can't advise strongly enough to go with something that'll still be considered gorgeous years later. These days pictures can actually last forever, you know?

As for the horror factor - here was the real problem:
I was really last-minute in booking an appointment for hair/makeup (so stupid!) and ended up going to Rêver, this bridal spa/salon place in First Markham Place (Woodbine + Hwy 7), which is one of the Chinese meccas in uptown Toronto. Big mistake. HUGE.

Not only were they really overpriced, but they did the worst makeup job ever, kept trying to upsell me and revealed all kinds of hidden fees at the end for services I didn't ask for or want. Speaking of service, it was awful. The place is owned and run by these two incredibly rude middle-aged sisters who kept insulting my skin in order to try to get me to purchase spa packages from them. Well, my skin is only the way it is because I was born with a condition called eczema, those morons.

Besides that, the major problem I overlooked is the fact that many Chinese women, especially the middle-aged ones, tend to use shades of foundation that are way too light both on themselves and on others, because a pale complexion is very coveted in our culture. Plus the women who did my makeup tried to cover as much of my awful skin as they could by stippling foundation/powder down my neck all the way to my collar bones - I ended up looking like a gypsum bust placed on a body.

In all fairness, it looked passable in person, but because flashlights were used in every picture (since proms generally take place at night!), all of my pictures turned out horribly. Naturally, I was incredibly upset.
So the lesson of the day is to always bring your own foundation when getting your makeup done professionally! And don't scrimp on it either, because trust me, a good foundation is worth its weight in gold. I use Prescriptives Custom-Blend Foundation, which is blended to match the exact shade of my face - the lamboughini of makeup, in my opinion. Will introduce that product here when I come back.
In the meantime, have a good weekend, okay? :)

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