1.26.2016

How Safe Is It To Shop From China Websites?

What's the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions the prospect of shopping from a China website? Cheap knockoffs, counterfeits and replicas?


Well, I don't blame you because majority of us online shoppers feel that way. China often gets a bad reputation for mass producing look-alike branded items from gadgets, phones, clothes, handbags, and the list goes on... In fact, if you can think it, they can do it.

But is everyone in China like that? I have no intention of stereotyping China folks, but I would say majority of them but NOT all. There's always bound to be a few bad apples, but not all of them are as bad as you might think. There are actually many little hidden gems in China, IF you know where to look.

Now why does my opinion matter, or why rather, should you listen to me? Well, firstly, no one likes getting ripped off or cheated off of their money. I've had my fair share of experiences, and let me tell you, it's a disgusting feeling that makes me sick to my gut. I started my first online business back in 2006, selling women's clothing and accessories as well. I sold my business in 2013 when I found myself pregnant with my daughter. I wanted to dedicate my time to raise my firstborn. Now that she's a little older, I find myself back in business again. So all in all, I have about close to 10 years of experience selling online.

Knockoffs, Counterfeits, Reproductions - Which One's Legal?

Now, before we dive deeper into this, it helps to understand these different terminologies and their nuances. I see these terms being thrown around interchangeably that it becomes rather confusing, especially for rookie online shoppers.

What's the difference between knockoffs, counterfeits and reproductions? Which one's legal and which one's not? This article here from Intellectual Properties Firm did a good job of summing it up. See their definitions below for "knockoff" and "counterfeit".

Knockoff

"Knockoff is a broader term used colloquially to describe those products that copy or imitate other products, but which may or may not be illegal under trademark laws. These can include products that have a confusingly similar overall appearance to a well-known product, but which do not contain any identical logos or federally registered brand names. Those who sell such products may still be sued by the trademark owner because these products can still cause consumer confusion, even if they do not contain counterfeit logos or brand names. However, these type of “knockoffs” cannot be criminally prosecuted."

Left: Authentic iPad, Right: China's ePad (looks very similar to the iPad, doesn't it?) Image Credit: The Gadgeteer

Counterfeit

"The term counterfeit is strictly defined by federal law.  The key difference is whether or not the product contains a brand name or logo that is identical to a registered trademark. A counterfeiter is one who intentionally and identically (or nearly identically) copies a federally registered trademark and places the fake logo or name on goods that are not authentic. These products are considered illegal because they clearly are intended to confuse consumers at the point of sale, and are a fraud on the public. Someone can be a counterfeiter even if he doesn’t make the products, but sells them to others."

The LV Stephen Sprouse Graffiti Neverfull (left: authentic, right: counterfeit)

Reproduction

If you love shopping for vintage style or retro clothing, then you would probably have come across the term "vintage reproduction". Now the term "reproduction" means "the action or process of copying something". In terms of vintage reproduction clothing, it may mean creating a piece of garment based on a vintage sewing pattern or style (e.g. hem, seams, belt loops, etc.) or, it can be a designer re-creating garments based on pictures of dresses worn in past eras (e.g. from the 1920's to the 1970's).

Now, this just begs the question - is reproduction legal then since you are also essentially copying someone else's design or dress making patterns?

Here's what the Arts Law Center of Australia has to say:-

"One off designs or a work of a character that is of the nature of couture or high fashion maybe considered a work of artistic craftsmanship and the garment itself protected by copyright. However, in the cases of designs of a more utilitarian character, such as a T-shirt or generally items such as mass produced pants and shirts where these garments have been mass produced and sold, copyright protection in most instances would be lost... With regard to vintage garments the same rules apply and copyright may also have expired."

I don't know about you, but this still feels like a gray area to me. You'll be surprised to find that even A-list celebrity designers get caught red handed trying to pass someone else's designs as their own. Don't believe me? Have a read here.

Common Problems With Buying from China Websites

Buying from China may be heartbreaking at times when problems arise with your order, and in most cases, they usually do if you're dealing with a dodgy company. These are the common scenarios:-

1. I did not receive my order... and it's been more than 3 months!

When you shop from China, most retailers will offer you free shipping on your order to entice you to make a purchase. It is very tempting, I know. Who doesn't like free shipping, anyway?

But here's the catch. In China, free shipping is possible with their China Post air mail service but it usually takes at least 15-45 days to arrive. What they don't tell you is the parcel loss rate is high. If it takes more than 45 days, chances are your parcel has already gone missing somewhere along the line.

But hey - I have a tracking number. I'll just check where the parcel is at now. 

Well, I'm sorry to break the news to you, but the tracking number may not be traceable. For instance, if you live in Australia, you will be able to track the parcel only to a certain extent - while the parcel is still in China using China's tracking system. Once it leaves China however, you're pretty much on your own. AusPost will not have any tracking details whatsoever of your parcel.

So be very wary when you're offered free shipping. Take the time to ensure that your parcel is shipped via reliable shipping carriers.

2. I received my order but it's significantly different from the photos!

Loose threads, funky smelling garments, see through (almost transparent) materials and faulty zippers? I'm not surprised.

This is another common nightmare while shopping via China websites and it's no wonder why. Majority of online retailers use original photos from other retailers but are selling copies of the actual product. The telltale sign is the price.

If the price is ridiculously cheap, then chances are you might be purchasing a copy and not the genuine product as advertised. In China, copies of an actual product can be mass produced easily, therefore keeping the costs competitively low. This is how they can afford to sell an item to you at a cheaper price.

The quality? Well, I hate to say this, but you get what you pay for. If something is too good to be true, then it usually is. So trust your judgment and shop wisely.

3. Poor customer service

We've all heard the horror stories of poor customer service, lack of attention to details (shipping an entirely different product, color or size) and retailers who go MIA when you need them the most.

When dealing with China retailers, you have to bear in mind that customer service may not be their strongest point. Ask anyone who has ever been to China's street markets and done some haggling. They'll tell you. Okay, so I may have quoted an extreme example, but in my years of dealing with different China retailers and suppliers, the result is the same. Majority of them don't like you asking too many questions or bargaining too much without making an actual purchase.

So if you shop from a China website, you will need to lower your expectations. Don't expect to receive top notch, excellent customer service as you would expect from an international brand or retailer.

How to Shop Safe from China Websites


So if China is notorious for all these problems, then why still shop from them? Well, as I've said before right at the start of this article, NOT ALL China retailers are bad news. There are those who really care about their brand and reputation and who want to make it big in the industry as well - just like any other retailer from all over the world. The only thing holding them back is the language barrier and their lack of knowledge with dealing with overseas customers.

Here are some tips you can follow if you are unsure whether to commit to a purchase from a China website:-

1. Check Company Reviews

The easiest thing you can do is to first check the company's review and ratings. Go to Google or whichever search engine you prefer and type in "<company name> review". But be very careful; some reviews may be paid reviews or they are written by people who are affiliated to the company and are just looking to make a quick buck out of you without having actually tried out the product themselves.

Your best bet is to check from review sites such as TrustPilot or SiteJabber where it is harder to manipulate the ratings. If you can find a reputable blogger (a clear indication would be if they have a large number of following on social media), see if they have written a review about the company before. Occasionally, you may also find reviews or rather answers from Yahoo! communities. I would take YouTube video reviews with a pinch of salt, unless you are familiar with the video blogger.

It only takes a little practice and once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to smell any fishy business a mile away.

2. Test the Company's Customer Service

Before you decide to place an order, have a chat with the company's customer service team or drop them an email (or ticket) asking about a product. It is your right as a customer to request for information before purchasing, so use that to your advantage.

You will be surprised though, but there are some who will give you very unenthusiastic or half-hearted replies about their product or company. If the company demonstrates that they could not care less about their service, what makes you think they would about their brand and products?

And if this is their pre-sales service, can you imagine what their after sales service would be like?

So test before you buy.

3. Always Ask For An End-to End Tracking Number

I don't care if you're getting free shipping or not, but always insist on a reliable end-to-end tracking number. And by that, I mean one where you can track from when the parcel leaves the source, travels to you and to when the parcel arrives at the destination.

If you don't get that with your free shipping, then you might want to consider upgrading to a more reliable delivery option or requesting the retailer to add shipping insurance. Shipping insurance may help to protect you in cases where your parcel gets lost or damaged during transit.


I hope this helps. Shop smart and shop safe!

Image credit: stockimages

1.21.2016

Top 7 Vintage Style Jewelry & Accessories

The difference between an outfit being good and great is simple.

Accessories. 

Well at least that's my 2 cents. It's evident on celebrities all the time - regardless whether they are vintage or modern day Hollywood celebrities. They always find a way to spice and spruce up their looks with complementary accessories. 

In terms of vintage accessories, you are spoiled for choice. However, more often that not, the question becomes what type of accessories constitutes vintage accessories? Well, whenever in doubt, I say we learn from the best - and that is - fashion and style icons from the 1940s and 1950s - my favorite eras. :)

1. Vintage Hair Accessories

Hair accessories, such as rockabilly headbands or floral hair clips are a must if you love the pin up girl or rockabilly look. Vintage headbands are also a perfect accompaniment to the 1920s style flapper dresses or vintage style wedding dresses.

Take Bettie Page for example, she's the Queen of Pin Ups and you'll usually spot her wearing a flower or a rockabilly headband as a hair accessory.

Today's hair accessories are a little more modernized in that they come attached with hair clips or wire support. For instance, hair clips are now commonly adorned with large flowers and pearls, and rockabilly headbands have a built in wire frame to help keep it in shape if you can't be bothered with tying knots (yes, knots usually gives me a headache for some peculiar reason).

Bettie Page wearing a vintage flower hair accessory
Bettie Page in a headband
Ava Gardner in a cute headband

Ava Gardner wearing a flower hair accessory

2. Vintage Jewelry 

It goes without saying that vintage style jewelry is a must to perfect your ensemble. Traditionally, pearls are your best bet, but there are always other alternatives if you don't fancy pearls that much.

The thing about vintage style jewelry is that they are bold and elegant. Modern day accessories inspired by vintage fashion now also feature ornaments such as fruits (cherries, strawberries, etc.), flowers (roses, etc.) and tattoos (skulls, guns, etc.).

It's also very common to find statement necklaces, such as the bib necklace worn by Grace Kelly below in the movie, To Catch A Thief.

Grace Kelly wearing a statement bib necklace (Image Credit: Ruth Bright Carroll)
As for earrings, we can learn a thing or two from Marilyn Monroe. From lavish floral drop earrings, dangle earrings, multi hoop earrings to stud earrings, this sex kitten knows how to rock her look.
Marilyn Monroe looking gorgeous as always in her statement earrings

3. Belts and Sashes

Belts not only help add definition to your waistline but they are just so chic and stylish! I especially love Lauren Bacall's casual, relaxed look in her white button downs and classic square buckle belt.

Lauren Bacall in the 1948 film, Key Largo (Image Credit: In Style)

And if it's the classic, feminine look you so desire, then skip the belt and go for a satin sash (or whichever fabric you like) instead. Here's Audrey Hepburn wearing a sash belt in the film, War and Peace.

Audrey Hepburn wearing a sash belt in the movie War and Peace

4. Scarves and Kerchiefs

Lauren Bacall is the epitome of classic, feminine beauty (to me at least), and I adore this picture of her in a scarf which contrasts so well against her all black outfit.

Lauren Bacall wearing a scarf (Image Credit: Vogue)
And then there's Ava Gardner looking casual but cheeky in a sweater and neckerchief.
Ava Gardner wearing a neckerchief

5. Sunglasses

Sunglasses, shades or sunnies (whichever you call it) can be classy, seductive or cheeky, depending on how you wear it. Cat eye sunglasses (the ones Marilyn Monroe and Lauren Bacall are wearing below) is definitely worth considering if you love the classic, vintage look.   

Marilyn Monroe and Lauren Bacall looking cute in their cat eye sunglasses

6. Clothing Accessories 

Yes, you read that right. Did you know that you could accessorize your clothing as well? Anything from brooches to pins, sweater or collar clips or collar bows can give your outfit a boost of vintage flair.

In fact, Grace Kelly owns a few iconic brooches but her signature pin is the Cartier poodle pin, as depicted below. Well of course, not all of us can afford a diamond encrusted Cartier pin, but you can get by with just about any brooch.

Grace Kelly wearing her signature poodle pin

7. Hats

And when it comes to vintage hats or fascinators, no one does it better than Audrey Hepburn. That's my take, anyway. For an elegant look, go for large bold hats that complement your outfit.

Audrey Hepburn looking elegant in her hat
Summer or sun hats not only shade your eyes, they are both fun and cute to wear. So the next time you're wearing a sun dress or day dress, try putting on a hat as well.

Audrey Hepburn wearing a summer hat

What's your favorite vintage style accessory or jewelry? Do share!

1.11.2016

How To Get Your Rockabilly Look

When it comes to rockabilly fashion and clothing, in my opinion there is no right or wrong answer. There are so many styles and prints to choose from that the possibilities are endless.

What is Rockabilly?

Just what is rockabilly, anyway? Well simply put, rockabilly is a marriage of two terms - rock and roll and hillbilly. The idea was to create music that people could dance or tap their foots to. So, naturally, when you've got lots of dancing to do, you've got to have the right attire for it, right? Something you can swing and twirl around in on the dance floor. I like to think that's how rockabilly fashion came about. Well, at least - that's just my take on it. You probably have a different opinion - so feel free to share!

Rockabilly Clothing

Having that many varieties to choose from can be overwhelming at times. But if you look closely, the quintessential feature of rockabilly clothing is it fits snugly at the waist, which is what the 1950s clothing was all about. Putting emphasis on a small waistline.

When it comes to selecting the right clothes, you can play it safe by going either one of these 2 ways - fit and flare or fit all the the way.

If it's a fit and flare you prefer, then the bodice needs to be form-fitting in that it hugs your torso and waistline. The skirt is usually a full circle skirt and flares from the waist down, most of the time in an exaggerated manner. If you find it hard to secure such an item of clothing, fret not because that's where petticoats (or crinolines) come in. Petticoats add a natural flare and bounce to your skirt and the best part is, it adds an element of surprise when the wind catches it. ;)

Or if you prefer to go fit all the way, then choose a figure flattering wiggle dress. Wiggle dresses are also sometimes called pencil dresses (the terms I noticed are used interchangeably nowadays). These dresses hug the body's curves and the hem of the skirt usually falls a little below or above the knee. I prefer the term "wiggle dresses" because I think it stays true to the style. Why? Well they are called wiggle dresses for the simple reason that when worn, women more often than not have to wiggle when they walk due to way the skirt clings to their figure.

Now that we've got the dress silhouettes sorted out, it's time to look at necklines and prints. In general, you could never go wrong with halter necklines. Rockabilly girls have a way of exuding some sex appeal while looking sweet and feminine. In terms of prints, these styles are safe choices:-
  • Florals - roses, usually big floral prints
  • Fruits - cherries, strawberries, lemons, etc.
  • Tattoo motives - skulls, swallows
  • Pin up girl motives
  • Polka dots
  • Geometric (abstract) prints
  • Leopard prints
  • Checks - houndstooth, gingham, etc.
Rockabilly dresses from Dressific.com
In terms of colors, rockabilly clothing are usually bright, bold colored - traditional choices being red, black and white. However, trends have evolved and it's not uncommon to find other colors from sweet pastels such as pink and yellow to deep, rich shades of purple and green.

Rockabilly Accessories

To complete your rockabilly look, you might want to consider adding some vintage style accessories. Common rockabilly accessories include headbands, flowers and sunglasses.

As for your shoes, choose conventional pumps or flats. Shiny red or black shoes, loafers, leather Oxfords or saddle shoes should do the trick. If you want to take it one step further, might as well put on a pair of bobby socks too! :)

Image Credit: What I Found Blog

Rockabilly Hair

For hair style ideas, you can never go wrong by taking a cue (or two) from none other than the 1950s Queen of Pinups, Bettie Page. Ms. Page was well known for her jet black hair, blue eyes, and nonetheless, her trademark bangs. In fact, her bangs have gained so much popularity that they are now commonly referred to as "Bettie Bangs".

Image Credit: MessyNessyChic

The general rule of thumb is to style your hair with some form of wave or curls. Victory rolls and buns can also be very sexy and feminine if you do it right (just like the image below). So if you've got a curling iron handy, now's the time to put it to good use.

Image Credit: The Xerxes
Other options include the pompadour hairstyle where the hair is swept upwards and worn high over the forehead. Think Pink (see below).

Image Credit: Huffington Post

Rockabilly Makeup

You're kidding right, even the makeup? Well, to perfect the rockabilly look, I insist that you pay some attention to your makeup. :)

The key to acing your rockabilly look is the cat eyes. That simply means drawing a winged eyeliner. Here's a pictorial.

Image Credit: Beautylish

In addition, you'll need a red lipstick. And matte, if possible. :)

Rockabilly Style Icons

Still not quite sure where to start? Here are some rockabilly style celebrities to get the ball rolling. You'll be a rockabilly superstar in no time. :)

1. Dita Von Teese in a Seductive Little Black Wiggle Dress

Image credit: About.com Style

2. Gwen Stefani's Rockabilly Hair Style with Victory Rolls

Image Credit: Huffington Post

3. Amy Winehouse in a Rockabilly Style Dress

See those cat eyes? Gorgeous! :)

Ready to embrace the rockabilly fashion style and culture? Share your thoughts!

1.05.2016

How To Wear Pearls The Right Way

I like to think that pearls are a girl's best friend. Yes, diamonds too, but when worn the right way, pearls can actually add a touch of class and sophistication to your getup. In fact, I believe pearls are so versatile that they can be worn almost everyday. So don't save your pearls for the special occasions only, they can be worn to the office, a day (or night) out with the girls or just because!

For me, when it comes to accessorizing with pearls - be it necklaces, earrings and what not, it's all about the contrast. Here's why.

Statement Pearls

Remember what I said about contrast? What contrasts best against a little black dress? Why, a white pearl necklace hands down!

Lauren Bacall nailed it when she donned this elegant LBD and completed her look with a pair of large white pearl studs and a statement pearl necklace. Women should really start dressing like her - just saying! :)

Lauren Bacall in a LBD with a matching pearl necklace - Credit: HarpersBazaar

Statement pearl necklaces, such as those adorned with pendants also work well in adding more detail to an otherwise plain black dress. A classic example would be the one Audrey Hepburn wore in the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany's - an iconic ensemble that remains popular even to date.

Audrey Hepburn wearing a statement pearl necklace - Credit: Blog

Layered Pearls

To complete your day dress, try layering pearls. Marilyn Monroe wore this beige dress at the Hotel del Coronado during the filming of Some Like It Hot, 1958. The luxurious, ornate pearl necklace adds depth to an otherwise plain dress. All I can say is that the lady has impeccable taste.

Marilyn Monroe completed her beige dress with layers of pearls - Credit: Blog
At this point, you must be thinking. Are pearls really still fashionable today, though? The short answer - yes! In my opinion, pearls are classic, timeless pieces that every woman should own at least one. Read on and see how celebrities today fashion themselves with stunning pearl accessories.

Minimalist Pearls

Choose simple, short pearl necklaces if you're already wearing something elaborate - for instance, a ball gown or a prom dress. See Zooey Deschanel's ensemble below. The simplicity of her ivory white pearl necklaces and studs contrast against her full length red ball gown. Just goes to show that a little bit goes a long way!

Zooey Deschanel wearing a pearl necklace and studs - Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty

Professional Pearls

When dressing for the office, you'll want to keep accessories to a bare minimal. Nothing too showy or tacky because you still want to be taken seriously at work. My rule of thumb is to never wear pearl necklaces that hang past your bust line because it is very distracting when you have to move around. Picture this: you're conducting a presentation and you're moving back and forth between the drawing board, your laptop and your notes and your pearls are swaying back and forth with you.

Annoying, isn't it?

So stick to something appropriate for the office - take for example, Zooey Deschanel's office wear get up below. I think it's smart and stylish!

Zooey Deschanel's office wear look with a pearl necklace

Party Pearls

If it's a casual night out of fun with the girls, why not put on long pearls instead? Here's Kim Kardashian wearing a double strand Chanel pearl necklace at the Sundance Film Festival back in 2009. I think it's a clever use of pearls to contrast against her all black outfit.

Kim K wearing a long pearl necklace to complete her all black outfit - Credit: Blog

Are you going to give pearls a try? Let us know in the comments section below!

1.01.2016

2016 New Year Resolutions!

When asked about new year resolutions, I'm usually dismissive and shrug it off. I mean, why bother making resolutions if you can't stick to them? Half the time I don't even remember what my resolutions were! :)

But this year... this 2016, it will be different.

You see, I was channel surfing the other day and I happened to watch an excerpt of a doctor speaking about the dangers of belly fat. Apparently people who have visceral fat are more prone to diabetes, heart diseases and even cancer.

An article on USA Today states that, "A study released Monday shows that normal weight men (healthy BMI of under 25) with a lot of belly fat have mortality rates that are twice as high as people who are obese (BMI over 30)."

A scary thought, isn't it?

I admit that after being a mum, I have slacked off in terms of exercising, keeping fit and staying active. Honestly I just love being myself, staying happy and enjoying life as it is.

But at the end of the day, it isn't just all about me, is it?

If I wasn't well (knock on wood), who would I count on to take care of my family?
Who would tend to my daughter?

Or worse yet, am I going to be a burden to others?

The thought of that alone makes me shudder.

Then it hit me. If you have trouble doing things for yourself, then do it for someone else - that is, your loved ones. People who matter to you. People who need you to be there for them. Every time you feel like regressing and giving up, look to people who inspire you and support you unconditionally. In fact, un-friend naysayers who demotivate you.

If you have trouble doing things for yourself, then do it for someone else - that is, your loved ones.

So here are my 2016 New Year resolutions. I'm setting realistic and attainable goals this time and keeping it lean with just 4 items on my list.

And this time, I'll revisit it on a quarterly basis and see where I'm at. Because, well, not to be melancholic, there's always a tomorrow but what if tomorrow never comes?


    What are your new year resolutions? Do you have any tips to help stick to them?

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