cait +tiff


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T / happy monday / time for denim

Photo Credit: Kat Irlin for JeanStories

Photo Credit: Kat Irlin for JeanStories

So I woke up this morning and it felt like winter had arrived.  I know you’re thinking – “Tiff, you’re Canadian.  There is no way in hell +30° C feels like -2°C (which is what the temperatures actually are in Phnom Penh and Toronto right now, respectively).”  But it is.  When the temperature drops by a couple of points, you notice it.  This means: I get to wear pants (or trousers to all whom take offense to pants).

But then I went through my closet and was appalled by what I found.  Pretty much everything was low-rise.  Clearly these decisions had been made before 2012, or the years I refer to as “oh remember when I could eat like the Gilmore Girls?”.  I also have made a profound effort not to wear anything that required a struggle to pull on over sweaty legs.

Basically, my body has changed.  Which means I get to replace a big piece of my wardrobe!  These days I’m the hugest fan of Ashley Graham.  She’s helped me to embrace my shape and has a few tips on how to buy jeans.  I’m currently looking these guys (or should I say ladies?), which Cait turned me onto. These tips are magical.  So is Ashley Graham. I mean, how could you not?

PS – Embrace the booty.


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C / bodies are cool

A few months ago, I was doing a fitting for a dress I had made for myself. It’s a cool two-piece number, and sort of a bright red/orange version of this one. I was excited to have it done because I don’t often make things for myself.

I went to the tailor who made the original dress, so I wouldn’t have to labor over the details of the design all over again. She’s a lovely woman, who drives me bonkers at times, and always has something to say about my body. These comments would bother me in any other country (still does here sometimes) but people talk about bodies like the weather in Cambodia. “Hey, good morning! Your belly looks fat today! Did you eat a lot this weekend? Hooray!” Or, my personal favorite “You lost weight! Nice in the body, but old in the face.”

I, “lady-old-in-the-face”, took off my shoes as I walked into the tailor’s shop, down a little alley on Mao Tse Tung. The tailor greeted me with a hug, complained about being too busy, as usual, and we got to work on measurements.

Tailor: Chest? Ok, ok , ok. Waist? Yes, ok, ok. Hips? OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH SO BIG! SO BIG BIG BIG BIG BIGGIE BIG!

Cait: Umm, yeah..haha, that’s my butt. It’s big. huh…ha.

Tailor: I like it! So big biggie big big!

Cait: Thanks, I made it myself. Um…ha…um.

Tailor, to girls working in the shop and overcome with excitement: Look! Look! So big big butt! I like it so much!

Girls: Giggle and nod.

The tailor, now kneeling behind me, grabs both butt cheeks and shakes them, up and down, left and right, with gusto.

Note: You know when you see a super giant fluffy dog, and you just want to grab it and fluff it all around? This felt like that. 

Cait: No words. Only the nervous emoji face.

She laughed and said “big” about 40 times before she got up and finished doing the measurements, smiling. She was visibly delighted by the fact that my ass was so big she could literally shake it like a Polariod picture

I am sharing this ridiculous story for a few reasons, for one, it’s really funny. The visual of this still makes me laugh, and want to run away. Two, this bizarre scenario made me think about how I see my own body and how the thing that I have spent a decade trying to reduce, made someone completely lose it with happiness. During the six seconds this was happening (six seconds I won’t soon forget) I was stunned and uncomfortable, but now it’s sort of cool to think that my butt made someone else so happy.

There have been a few pieces recently about body image and how women, no matter their size, tend to have a happy little pile of issues. I have heard the same self-helpy stuff about how all bodies are beautiful, and real women have curves and all that over the years, and it never really resonated. That probably had something to do with the fact that I wouldn’t listen to ANYONE in my 20’s, but whatever. This lovely write up by Garance Dore, and this beautifully candid podcast by Leandra Medine hit me at the right time, and I like how they both talk about acceptance and love for your body.

It’s Friday, I hope you feel awesome in the body you are in today, and go shake your booty around tonight. If you don’t want to do it yourself, I know someone who can do it for you.

caitsig

 

 


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C / pretty, not evil

pretty-not-evil

One of the cool things about job hunting in the fashion world is finding out about companies that are doing great things in the space. Happily, I am not the first person in the world to think sustainable fashion is important, and there are a lot of people working to bring good design and good practices together.

When I talk about wanting to work in sustainable fashion, I have received mostly positive feedback, but every once in a while, someone will respond with a slightly different tune. “Fine, you think fast fashion is evil? All fashion is evil. Where should I shop then?” Well, to the snarky British man, 6 beers in on a Tuesday and wearing a Trump tie, here you go.

I am pulling from one of the companies that I have spent so much time drooling over today to show five things that you can buy that are not only great design, but have the added bonus of being not evil. I have an aversion to buying things that look like I feel sorry for someone. I want to fill my closet with things that are made ethically, don’t destroy the planet, and look great. Today, I’m looking at Zady. The company provides clothing for all, accessories, and even some really cool stuff for your home and they only work with companies that keep the same high standards as they do. I love that the site is full of things that are simple and well designed, and will take you through seasons and years without falling apart or going out of style.

stripes

here

Bag-Mattandnat

here

sunnies

here

man-sweater

here

SNEAKS

 

 

here

All product photos via Zady, header is the product of this cool tie dye kit.

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C / alissa, in two pieces

alissa-header

Ok, Alissa is not is physically two pieces. That would not be cool, and I certainly would never put that on a blog, no matter how much art school I go to. Focus. Alissa, our dear friend who has been seen all over the blog (here, here, here) brought back a bunch of sweet fabric from Tanzania a few months ago. I was so excited about it that I did a whole post on inspirations for it here. We have had a ton of fun going over different style, fits, shapes and designs. The whole process took a long time, because we changed things along the way. (Cap sleeves? No sleeves? Shorter? Longer? Ball gown? Duffel bag?) I am really happy with the two piece that we decided on.

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She wears it like a boss, and I love the little peak of midriff that says “I’m sassy, but I am a damn grown up.”

laughing

AlissaGIF

So glad this turned out as it did. I love how relaxed she is in it, and the changes were certainly worth it. It’s really fun seeing friends so happy.

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.

caitsig


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c / lin’s grey dress

lin's-grey-dress

You remember Lin, from her fantastic piece on Hong Kong a few months ago? Well she’s back on the blog today, in a slightly different context. I have wanted to make something for her for a while, and though she never actually asked me to do so, I took the liberty and did anyway. Lin has the up-for-anything kind of energy that I wish could bottle and take with me in case I stumble upon a dance party. Angelina and Billy Bob style. (No blood though. Ick.)

Lin-GIF1 (1)

In any case, I wanted to make something that would work with her life in Phnom Penh. It needed to be sweat-friendly, but also sexy. It’s really easy to just give up on fashion when it’s a thousand degrees outside, and I wanted this dress to push back on that.

bod

lin-tuk-2

It’s made out of Korean silk, which is thick enough to use only one layer, but not so thick it’s stiff. It’s still breathable and light with a lot of movement, especially when Lin dances around alleys.

Lin-GIF2

I am happy with how the dress finally turned out, after three fittings, and I think she is too.

 

caitsigAll photos by Tiffany Tsang, please request permission for use.


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c / sarah’s green dress

sarah-intro

Oh, I love this dress. For one, it was for my beautiful friend, Sarah, who cares about fashion as much as I do.  It’s always fun to put a piece together for someone who will appreciate it. She found out she is pregnant mid-design process, which made things more interesting, and it was fun to learn how to adapt the design to make it work. We switched around the back, to give it a little more room, and made sure there was some space to grow before she wore it to a friend’s wedding.

I tried a few new things in the process of putting the dress together, which led to a lot of second guessing a spirals of self-doubt. Should I put a slit? Is the length weird? Can you even see the silk painting that I spent two days on? (The answers are respectively Yes, Maybe, and No.) It’s a new feeling, to really care about what I am making, and to be the harshest critic. I picked this thing APART, but thankfully, Sarah liked it and looked gorgeous in it. As I have said before, it’s nice to have stunning friends to dress, because they make me look like I know what I am doing. Here it is.

le-green-paint

The painted silk that you cannot see in the final product.

backs

I’m really happy with the back, and the tailor did a lovely job with the buttons and details.

sarah-frontProof of flowyness: check.

sarah-back

Love this shot, love this lady.

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C / Melissa McCarthy for president

melissa

I love Melissa McCarthy. She won my heart in Bridesmaids, made me snort-laugh in The Heat, and sealed the deal with Tammy, when she straight up made me SOB during that scene with Susan Sarandon on the lawn chair. She is well spoken, hilarious, and fantastic in pretty much all ways that matter to me. In case that wasn’t enough, she is now starting a clothing line, for women of all sizes. There is not much information about it yet, but it will include plus-size clothing and is bound for awesomeness.

She nails it on the red carpet, pretty much every time, and has given a very strong, very appropriate, middle finger to critics and designers that refused to work with her because of her size. There are some stupid people out there. As evidence here and here, she knows what she is doing and I can’t wait.

I’m thrilled this is happening. When I think about what I want to do with fashion, I think about making clothes for all bodies. In the work I have done so far, I have worked with ladies from petite to boobalicious. Making clothes that make everyone feel awesome is important to me, so basically this post is an ask for Melissa McCarthy to hire me.

When I find out more about the line, I will be sure to share. Probably over-share, because I get excited.

In other news, her new movie, Spy, is killing, because of course it is. Suck it, Entourage.

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C / Studio 189

189-3

I get excited when I see people doing interesting, beautiful things that are good for the world. Studio 189 is a relatively young fashion company that is doing just that. They make unique and modern pieces by using sustainable and ethical practices and I am eager to crowd my closet with them. Studio 189 is demonstrating how to make high fashion in a smart way. It helps that they have Rosario Dawson, a quick and talented actress with a strong eye for fashion, and Abrima Erwiah, Dawson’s childhood friend who comes to the game with an already-strong career in fashion at Bottega Venetta. These two women and their team seem to really understand the value of the work that they can do.

189

In a 15 second clip, Dawson sums up the exact way I feel about fashion. In case you don’t have 15 seconds, or your internet can’t stream video (I feel you, Laura in Myanmar) this is what she says:

“The pieces that we are selling are not super expensive, but neither are they really cheap, you because the idea is that this will actually support the person that made this. You should know that this beautiful thing that you are buying recognizes the value of the person that makes it.

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I see so much value in bringing ethical fashion into the mainstream market. After learning about how companies like Tonlé and Dsenyo operate, I am convinced that it is entirely unnecessary to be evil in order to make beautiful things. I do believe that it is important to have a platform and access to a wide market to get anything done, and I think Studio 189 has that. They have figured out how to be high-fashion and relevant, while still keeping ethical practices and using sustainable resources.

“To use Fashion as an agent for Social Change, turning challenges on the ground into opportunities.”                   Studio 189 Misson Statement 

They are able to create well-paying jobs for women and are starting to provide micro loans for their workers as well. By partnering with UN Women, OAfrica, and UN International Trade Centre, they are measuring impact and making sure working conditions are safe and supportive. They also play well with others and are collaborating with a number of African designers, including Lulu, a Ugandan who studied in Tokyo, who makes these insanely beautiful kimonos with local textiles. I want all of them.

189-5

People are noticing, too. Studio 189 has a ton of press, and a number of famous pretty friends are also pumping up the company. I like that starting an ethical fashion line is now very…fashionable. It’s so much better than the old celebrity trend of falling down outside of LA nightclubs.

So kudos to you awesome women at Studio 189, you are making something special and beautiful and kind, and I can’t wait to see what else you do.

All photos via Studio 189

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C / to the land of “someday”

dreams

Via HGTV

Tiff asked me a great question the other day, regarding my custom design work.

“What celebrity do you want to see wearing your clothes?”

She wasn’t talking about me waking up in the morning to randomly find all the Hemsworth brothers and Salma Hayek wearing my actual clothes, because that has obviously already happened. (Swish!) She wanted to know who I would want to see in my designs someday.

Questions like these take me down a rabbit hole and I can spend hours a day dreaming about who I would love to see wearing something that I actually made.  What is great about 2105, is that I am impressed, genuinely impressed, by a lot of famous women. I felt like there weren’t as many interesting famous ladies when I was younger, and maybe that’s just because I didn’t use the internet, the media respected privacy, and I went outside a lot more, but there are SO MANY great women in the media these days. Going through the laundry list of women I would want to design for has been fun.

Meryl Streep (duh)

I love her as an actress and I love that she has always had her own style, without apology. There is something about Meryl that makes me want to go to Mexico and drink margaritas. Margs with Meryl, I would watch that show.

Emma Stone

Silly, smart, and won the best Lip Sync Battle of all time.

Uzo Aduba

This lady is strong and interesting and unique. Her work on Orange is the New Black is astounding and it’s impossible to look away from her when she is on screen.

Anna Kendrick

She’s funny and awkward and crazy talented. In response to the Apple watch, she tweeted “We should be thanking Apple for launching the $10,000 “apple watch” as the new gold standard in douchebag detection.” Based on this alone, I will make her clothes for free.

Demi Lovato

This sassy pop start probably wouldn’t be on my radar if it weren’t for the fact that she is coming to Cambodia for a concert in a few weeks, and I am glad she is now. I like her songs and think she has solid pipes, but after learning more about her, I am really sold. She has been through a lot and focuses on health, positive body image, kindness, and equality.

Michelle Obama 

I don’t need to explain this.

michelle

Via Vouge

That’s the top six for today, and maybe next time I will share all the people I never want to see in my clothes.

Spoiler alert, it’s Dick Cheney.

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C / back in the game

ec3305347354f6065214a1fdfb994026

I haven’t worked out in a long time. Tiff is great at it, and can always report back on her WOD from Crossfit every morning and how many pull-ups she can do. I tend to reply with “oh neat, that sounds hard” and continue to count drinking green juice as exercise.

Since moving to Cambodia, a combination of anxiety, serious tummy issues and laziness has kept me roughly the same size without being healthy in any way whatsoever. I used to be really into working out, and probably spent too much time at the gym. I loved it, and it made me feel great. When I got here, I was too sick or too hot to do it, so I just let it taper off. I have started doing yoga and running walking pretty regularly, but I’m not sure it counts if I don’t sweat.

Yesterday, I decided that the skinny-lazy thing isn’t going to work for me anymore. I had my first training session with a friend and she basically destroyed me. I asked her to, but holy mackerel. We did some high-intensity interval training for about 30min, with 2 minute breaks, and I haven’t been that red in the face since I fell like a tree in the middle of a crowded market three years ago. Walking down the stairs post-workout was nearly impossible for me and I actually asked if there was an elevator, in the gym. Low point.

I will be doing this three times a week, and complaining about it at least four times that much. If you don’t hear from me, it’s because I am on the floor trying to catch my breath and mustering the strength to bathe.

Being healthy is so glamorous.

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