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The Evolution of African Fashion Through Fashion Weeks

According to legend, mankind’s first attempt at fashion was the fig leaf. Fashion has come a long way since. Throughout the years, nearly every culture has been able to update their traditional couture and create a brand new fashion statement. African fashion has certainly followed suit.

Typically, African fashion design artists create fashions that have centered on the weather patterns in the country. In hot and arid conditions, comfort is vital. Traditional materials used to create African clothing were not previously used in popular design. Retaining these traditional materials in fashion design has been a signature trademark for many African fashion designers.

Fashion Africa

African fashion design artists create fashions centered on weather patterns

Originally, these designers focused on animal hides and fur. This is a common element to cultural background and attire. These expressions eventually morphed into internationally respected and coveted designs. Today, the response to the African fashion weeks has been tremendous, and the choice of materials for designs has expanded. Now, silk, jute, flax, and raffia palm are used by African fashion designers, to generate traditional designs with modern looks. Natural dyes from minerals and vegetables are also widely used to create an abundance of unique colors.

In the past few years since the introduction of African and African inspired designs through traditional European venues, it is clear that African fashion weeks were the next logical step to increase exposure for African fashions and African fashion designers. The market and clear obsession for African fashions in the Western world have reached a pinnacle of global interest.

Fashion Week Africa is a relatively new event. The event is held by African Fashion International, a key player in today’s fashion industry. This organization has had a massive role in ensuring designers from the African continent make it to the forefront of the fashion world. Mercedes-Benz recently joined the ranks of event benefactors, sponsoring the event in 2013. The car company already has a reputation for sponsoring fashion weeks globally. It’s only natural for the company to continue these efforts with the increasingly popular Fashion Week Africa.

African fashion is taking the world by storm

African fashion is taking the world by storm

Numerous designers will showcase their fashion creations inside the illustrious and pristine tents that have been staples of these types of shows. The main difference between the show hosted in Johannesburg and those around the world is that the general public can buy tickets to the shows. Fashion fans and curious individuals can get a glimpse of what’s going on for about the equivalent of $15 in US currency.
This effectively eliminates the boundaries that segregate the fashion moguls and artists from fashion consumers. It’s a refreshing site to see how the general population reacts to the sights and sounds of the events as opposed to those individuals who are all too familiar with the fanfare. This visibility and public accolade will most likely be the deciding factor in elevating African designers to prominence. It could inject a much needed dose of diversity into the stagnancy that the fashion industry periodically experiences.

Evolution Of African Fashion

African Bright Prints

Of course, Africa isn’t the only venue where this invasion is waged. More recently, Black Fashion Week Paris was launched. Franca Sozzani, the dynamic woman behind Vogue Italia’s Black Issue has been active in discovering and mentoring African designers. Additionally, the initiatives engaged in by Harlem’s Fashion Row of New York City have also been proving effective.

There is no doubt that the world must give credit where credit is due. African fashion is taking the world by storm, and African designers are beginning to enjoy the appreciation and resources of consumers and the industry as their talents receive well-deserved recognition.

Bree Normandin

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6 Ways to Wear Radiant Orchid, 2014’s Color of the Year

Pantone has announced that the color of the year for 2014 is Radiant Orchid. Overall reaction so far seems to be that for fashion, it is better than 2013’s Emerald Green, and it is easy to find already. Even if you are not a fan of the lavender/orchid/lilac color family, there are many possibilities to work Radiant Orchid into your 2014 wardrobe. Orchid feels more versatile. Colors like turquoise and emerald bring very distinct shades to mind. In working with orchid, however, you can slide up and down the purple scale. Go for jewel tones or pastels; look for gray undertones or pink; or even head toward the neon end of the spectrum in items like nail polish!

Here are a few ideas to get you started with Radiant Orchid:

1. Add a spring note to your winter wardrobe.

As the holidays pass and the bleak prospect of January and February loom on the horizon, the winter blahs can set in, in your wardrobe as well as your mood. The enjoyment of darker colors has faded with the fall. It is time to brighten your wardrobe again! Orchid is a wonderful combination with all shades of gray and will complement winter whites as well. Another possibility is choosing a purple shade for outerwear like a winter coat or jacket, livening up a very workaday part of your wardrobe.

2. Consider the feminine power suit.

Orchid and other purple colors work wonderfully as solids and separates for business looks. If you regularly wear suits but like more feminine colors, radiant orchid in a jewel tone shade makes you feel like a lady, but without the cloying feel of Barbie-like pinks. If an entire suit feels a little over the top, an orchid-colored blouse can add a pop of color to a darker, neutral suit.

feminine power suit

feminine power suit

3. Look through your cosmetics.

Chances are you have some orchid shades among your makeup colors already, and if nothing else, you should give Radiant Orchid a try as a nail polish color. In the depths of winter, a bright glimpse of purple on fingers and toes can give your spirit a lift, and the color will transition into sunnier days of spring and summer as a playful look.

4. Flash forward to spring and summer.

Radiant Orchid promises great things for spring and summer wardrobes. It is a fabulous color for chic dresses for weddings and outdoor parties. The floral color is perfect for tropical prints in summer sundresses and swimwear as well.

l'ete et le printemps

l’ete et le printemps

5. Prints, prints, prints.

Radiant Orchid is one of a range of purples that can combine together for fantastic prints in scarves, bags, and other accessories. Florals are a natural, but the color will work wonderfully in abstract or watercolor style prints as well as sharp stripes and geometrics.

6. Go a little wild.

Purples in general, and Radiant Orchid among them, evoke feelings of energy, creativity, and fun. An unexpected splash of purple livens up everything from shoes to winter hats and gloves, to hair accessories. If you don’t like it on the outside, try some gorgeous orchid colored lingerie. Only you have to know that you have sexy purple on under your polished conservative exterior.

However you decide to embrace the color of the year, you will have plenty of options for adding Radiant Orchid to your looks.

Woman in radiant orchid sari Woman in radiant orchid sari

Indian woman in radiant orchid sari

Colleen McMahon

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6 Tips for the Best-Fitting Bra

One of the most prominent and alluring parts of a woman’s body is the breasts, and a properly-fitting bra makes all the difference in how the breasts look. It also affects whether the woman is comfortable as she goes about her day. With the majority of women end up picking the wrong bra size, ladies need some basic tips on how a bra should fit.

Tip #1: Your breasts should sit between your shoulders and elbows.

In a good bra, your “girls” should have enough support that the nipple is right around the midpoint of your upper arms. If the apex of your breasts is higher than this, the bra either has too much lower cup padding, is sitting too high around your chest, or has straps that are too short. If the apex of your breasts is lower than the midpoint, you likely have a bra that is too big or which has stretched out.

Tip #2: Pay attention to the hooks or clasps.

In general, the more hooks a bra has or the longer the clasp is, the more support the bra can provide, simply because more hooks or vertical length on a clasp requires a wider bra band. Wider bra bands distribute the weight of the breasts over more of the back. Front-closure bras can be more supportive than ones that have the hooks or clasps in the back, because there is no break in the back of the band where stress is high. Another trick is to pick your bra based on the hook closest to the end of the band. This way, you can shift to inner hooks as the bra stretches from wear and still have a good fit over time.

Tip #3: Try a shoulder tease.

Mistakenly, women believe that much of a bra’s support comes from the straps. In reality, the majority of the support comes from the band and cups. Slide the straps of the bra off your shoulders when you’re trying the bra on. If the bra slips at all, it’s too big. If your straps slip off regularly, they’re either too loose or too close to the edge of the shoulders. Tightening the straps, using wider straps, and switching to a different back design that brings in the straps toward the neck all help.

Tip #4: Use the finger test.

With much of the support for a bra coming from the band, it’s imperative for the band to be neither too tight (this causes chafing) nor too loose (this causing shifting). You should be able to put at least one finger between the band and your skin.

Tip #5: Be aware of where the bra sits on your back.

When fit properly, a bra band should sit horizontally across your back. It shouldn’t rise up toward the space between your shoulder blades. If it does, you’ve either adjusted your straps so tightly they’re pulling up the band or have a too-big or stretched-out band.

Tip #6: Watch for poppage.

Poppage refers to the overflow of breast tissue from the cup of the bra. It is not the same thing as the cleavage that happens when a good bra gives good lift and presses the breasts toward each other. It happens when the cup size is too small or when the bra has excess or wrongly-placed padding. Look not only at the top of the cup, but also at the sides. If you’re spilling out, go up a cup size. If this is too much of a change for you, look for a manufacturer that makes half sizes or try a cup insert to get the breasts to sit properly. If you go for a demi bra that does not cover the entire breast, try to find one that offers ¾ coverage instead of ½.

Wanda Marie Thibodeaux

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Top Three Shopping Cities in the World

For connoisseurs of high-end fashion and culture, the efficiency of modern flight opens up an overwhelming number of options to consider when planning a holiday. If you are looking to escape the mundane and be the envy of your social circle, you simply cannot go wrong with these three cities.

Paris, France

The undisputed crowned jewel of shopping, Paris promises to leave behind priceless memories that will be treasured for the rest of your life. If up to the minute fashion is what you crave, be sure to visit the Saint Honore district. Here you will find all the big name designers mixed with a wide variety of cutting edge concept shops. Aside from clothing stores, you will find a nice selection of places to purchase top of the line cosmetics and home furnishings that will make you feel like royalty. If rare jewelry, antiques and fine art are your desire, look no further than the Marais Quarter.

Paris Runways

Ma Coeur Ouvert à l’inconnu

Of course no trip to Paris would be complete without experiencing its world famous department stores located on Boulevard Haussman. No matter what your interests are, you can find your bliss in Paris.

Milan, Italy

The birthplace for many of the designer brands you know and love. Milan is the only real contender for the throne when it comes to the title of fashion capital. While ideal for shoppers with deep pockets, you will also find an amazing array of affordable options for new and second-hand clothes that still retain all the style and class that is expected from Milan. Quadrilatero d’Oro houses all the name brand designer studios and is worthy of a visit, even if just for the sake of taking in the suave atmosphere.

Milan Fashion

Milan Fashion Capitol

If you are looking for something a little less pricey, be sure to take a stroll through Navigli and Corso Buenos Aires. Here you will find unbelievable bargains at the many charming second hand and thrift shops. For a shopping experience that will feel like a dream, visit Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. This original 19th century shopping mall is a hallmark of the city and is almost certain to seduce you with its unique charm. Milan is a great alternative to Paris when it comes to shopping in Europe.

Los Angeles, California

If you want to feel like a true celebrity, a shopping spree in Los Angeles is just what the doctor ordered. The cultural epicenter of the world and home to the most elite amongst the rich and famous, it’s no surprise that Los Angeles offers a shopping experience unmatched anywhere else on the planet. If you want to shop with the stars, head over to Rodeo Drive. Be warned though, you need a hefty spending limit if you plan to do any kind of serious buying here.

Best Places to Shop in the World

Top Three Shopping Cities in the World

If you want to find more reasonable prices without sacrificing class, head over to Venice. Here you will find everything you need at prices that aren’t outrageous enough to ruin your shopping experience. No matter what your budget, Los Angeles is worth it merely for the chance of bumping into your favorite celebrity. It’s more common than you think.

The above three cities all stand apart from the rest by offering the shopper a proper blend of sophistication, culture and atmosphere. If you consider yourself a serious shopper, make sure to visit all three at least once in your life.

Lucien Vitori

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How to Look Rich on a Poor Girl's Budget

How to Look Chic on a Poor Girl’s Budget

Are you envious of women who have an unlimited clothing budget? Don’t be. You can dress like the wealthy even if you don’t have their bank account. Here’s how.

You may not have a ten-million dollar bank account or the clothing budget of a princess, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress like you do. People often form a first impression of a person based on their sense of style and how they dress. So what if you have the bank account of a pauper? With a little wardrobe planning and ingenuity, you can dress like the wealthy even if you have a poor girl’s budget. Here’s how to look rich – and still stay within your clothing allowance.

Be Understated

Have you ever noticed how wealthy people who can afford any clothing they want, dress in an elegant, understated manner? When it comes to fashion, think quality not quantity. Instead of filling your closet with “impulse” clothing you’ll never wear, invest in a few, high-quality pieces. Choose clothing in dark and neutral shades with simple lines – and stay away from “frou-frou” and fussy or loud pieces.

You can’t go wrong with simple, high-quality pieces in solid colors you can mix and match – and they never go out of style. Add interest with a few well-chosen accessories. Stay away from bright colors except as an accessory. Black, navy blue, dark brown and charcoal gray always look elegant and refined, no matter the occasion – and they’re the best investment on a limited budget.

How to Look Rich: Invest in Designer Shoes and Handbag

Even if you can’t afford high-end designer clothing, if at all possible, splurge on a pair of designer shoes and a designer purse. When you wear expensive-looking shoes and carry a designer purse, people assume the rest of your outfit is designer too. You don’t have to tell them otherwise.

When you buy less clothing, you can channel some of the money you save into designer footwear and a big-name handbag. To look rich, another piece to spend a little more on is an elegant coat in a dark color. When you’re out and about in cold weather, it’s the first and only piece many people will see.

Be a Smart Shopper

You can get incredible bargains on high-end designer clothing on sites such as Ebay. Stick to buying accessories, shoes, tops and coats since it’s difficult to judge how pants, skirts and dresses will fit without trying them on.

Haunt local consignment clothing stores in your area, especially those close to wealthy neighborhoods, for designer bargains – and don’t forget about thrift stores. Some thrift stores get high-end clothing donations that are still in great shape. Check the newspaper for yard sale notices that list designer clothing as one of their offerings. You could hit pay dirt, and get designer pieces for almost nothing.

Be the Accessory Queen

Have a small wardrobe of simple, elegant pieces, but dress them up with knock-out accessories. To save money, learn how to make your own earrings and necklaces. Visit a bead store and discover how easy it is to put together a necklace and a simple pair of dangle earrings. Using semiprecious stone or faceted glass beads, you can create a necklace for $10.00 that would cost ten-times more in a high-end boutique. Build an impressive jewelry wardrobe that even the wealthy will be envious of. Plus, it’ll be uniquely yours.

Look Belle.On a Budget.

La Belle dame sans l'argent | Belle! On a Budget.

How to Look Rich and Dress Wealthy: The Bottom Line?

Think simple and elegant when it comes to clothing, shop smart – and quality over quantity. You may not have the bank account of the ultra-rich, but those women who have everything will have nothing on you when it comes to style and elegance.

 Dr. Kristie

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