Couture dress by Angela Kim

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November 1, 2017

Getting Ready for Holiday Parties

From office bashes, family potlucks to more elegant affairs, our calendars are filling up fast with holiday and pre-holiday parties. While we’re looking forward to the festive fun, we’re facing the inevitable question: What to wear?

We all love getting dressed up for a party or special occasion, and buying a new party dress is all part of the fun. However when it comes to shopping for the perfect holiday look, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and grab the nearest dress that’s either the trendiest, the most affordable, or the most basic.

Here are helpful tips and advice to follow so that you can find the perfect party dress in the right material, color and style, that makes you feel fabulous and ready to party.

1. Choose a dress to suit your figure

PETITE - Under 5'3" and small-boned

• Try a body-conscious style with peplum detail. The emphasis on your hips will give the illusion of more voluptuous curves, while still highlighting your legs and arms.

• Match your petite frame with a mini. The length of this frock will elongate your legs, with or without the assist of heels.

HOURGLASS - Your shoulders and hips are about the same size, and your waistline is defined

• Fit 'n' flare dresses are your best choice. Accentuate that waistline with styles that cinch in above your belly button and have fluttery feminine skirts.

PEAR - Narrow on top, wider at the waist and through the legs

• Empire-waist styles will emphasize your petite top half, while cleverly hiding anything you don't want seen from the stomach down.

• Tea length skirt is a staple for most pear-shaped women.

RULER- Super-slim, straight up and down

• Draped, gathered and rushed styles with Grecian influences give a curvier impression at the waist and the bust. This figure looks incredible in a daring, deep-V dress. Plunging cut creates instant curves along your linear frame.

TRIANGLE - Slim through the hips and legs and broader on the top

• Long-sleeves are very flattering to your shape. Classic wrap-dresses draw the eye downward while the sleeves balance out your shoulders and chest area.

• A high-neck dress will flatter your broader top. However, be sure to choose a hem that's full and has movement. This will add width to your slimmer bottom, and create symmetry all around.

APPLE- Rounded shoulders with fullness in the tummy area

• Keep the silhouette simple but play with textures, colors, and patterns. A clean-lined, column shape dress will flatter the frame.

• Short hem lets you show off your legs and V-neck top draws attention upward.

2. Think about the occasion

A party dress needs to be well suited to the event or occasion as well as making you look and feel good. To avoid looking overdressed or underdressed, it is vital that you think about the occasion and what is suitable, before picking a dress.

Think about length. Depending on the event, some lengths may not be considered appropriate. If you’re going to a formal event, you will generally be expected to wear a longer dress.

• Christmas Party Dress: This time of year is one of the only times when dresses in holiday colors isn't cheesy. Go for Christmas party dresses that play off the traditional Christmas colors of green and red. Take into consideration the weather and make sure you have something to cover any bare areas in case you're spending some time outdoors in the cold. It's likely that you'll be mingling and moving around a lot, so choose a dress that is comfortable and that you can wear again.

• New Year's Eve Dresses: It's the night when you celebrate days past and look forward to days in the future, so pick a New Year party dress that is celebratory and fun. Don't be afraid of sparkles or adorning yourself with funky jewelry. It's the perfect time to be glamorous and super flirty so don't shy away from New Year party dresses that accentuate your figure, or is in a color you wouldn't normally wear!

• Office Holiday Party Dresses: Depending on the type of company you work for, pick an office party dress that doesn't go against the general dress code policies. Keep it simple and understated as well as comfortable, so you can walk around and talk to people. Conservative colors and keeping skin exposure to a minimum is smart too.

3. Choose the perfect color

• Determine your undertone. To find out your undertone, no matter what shade your skin is, turn your hand palm up and look at your wrist. If your veins look green or yellow, you are warm toned. If they look purple or blue, you are cool toned. Fro cool undertones, cool colors like blue, gray, and silver work best. For warm undertones, earthy, warm colors like brown, gold, and dark work well.

• Consider your eye color. Nothing is more dramatic in style than wearing a dress that brings out your eyes. Green, blue, and hazel eyes look great when paired with lighter colored dresses. Dark, earthy shades tend to make brown and very dark eyes look nice. You can also match your dress to your eye color.

• Remember that some colors look good on most people. There’s a shade of red for every skin tone, for example. Black or darker shades of gray are another failsafe. And there’s a shade of white or off-white that flatters just about everyone.

• Wear darker colors in places you want to look smaller. If you’re self-conscious about your hips, for example, wearing a dark skirt will make them look slimmer.

• Wear bright or light colors in places you want to look bigger or places you want to make stand out. If you want to draw attention to your chest, for instance, choose a dress that has bright colors around the bust line.

• Place the most flattering colors nearest to your face. When accessorizing, always place the colors that work best with your undertone (and eyes) nearest to your face.

4. Style it with carefully chosen accessories

• Jewelry should be balanced for the best effect. Instead of wearing a necklace, earrings, a bracelet, and ring, opt for just one or two quality or statement pieces. Overdoing it tends to make the wearer look overdressed or simply overwhelms the outfit. Where the neckline of a party dress is not suited to a necklace, wear earrings and a bracelet instead.

• Find the right bag. A handbag in a contrasting color maintains the color theme established by shoes and accessories. Smaller clutch bags are more elegant than oversized designs, and an interesting clasp can add to the outfit. Be careful to balance the bag with the jewelry chosen. • Choose shoes that complement or contrast with the party dress. For example, when wearing a little black dress, choose shoes that stand out and set the color theme for the outfit. They should be flattering as they will be the focal point of the ensemble, and other accessories can be matched to the color chosen. If the party dress is patterned or sparkly, choose shoes that complement it by opting for a similar color and style. Delicate shoes, like strappy sandals, add elegance to an outfit, while chunkier shoes create a more casual look.

September 1, 2017

Everything You Need To Know About Custom Wedding Dresses

When it comes to getting married, newly engaged couples are peppered with questions the minute that shiny ring o’ bling slides down the bride’s ring finger. No sooner has the most important question of all — “Will you marry me?” — been asked and answered before family and friends are clamoring for details: “Where are you getting married?” “What are your colors?” “How big of a wedding do you want to have?”

We admit, these are all good questions, important ones even. Perhaps a tad overwhelming but that’s all part of the fun! But is there really any question a bride looks forward to more than this one: “Do you know what type of wedding dress you want?”

Many brides have carried a vision of what they want their dream wedding dress to look like for some length of time. Maybe it’s changed over time, evolving in style as the bride herself moves through the various seasons of life. A wedding gown is a very personal item, one that embodies our individuality and speaks from our hearts. After all, it’s what we choose to wear at a moment in our lives when we feel the happiest, the most radiant, the most captivating. A wedding dress connects with our spirit in a way no other garment ever could. It’s not just something we wear…it’s part of us…the sartorial manifestation of our inner sparkle. Having a clear picture of the kind of wedding dress you want is a wonderful thing! Yet, it can lead to disappoint if you’re married (pun intended) to the idea of finding your dream dress off the rack.

If the idea of customizing your own wedding dress feels overwhelming, I’m here to walk you through it and tell you how much fun it can be! Understanding some important factors upfront will go a long way in making the process run smoothly and feel like the luxury it truly is.

First, let’s address the most important topic of all when it comes to just about anything associated with planning your wedding: time management.

Start Early & Do Your Research

How Long Does It Take?: A custom wedding gown takes about six to twelve months from start to finish. The designer must leave ample room to accommodate both the bride’s timeline and the complexity of her dress’s design. With these things to consider, it is wise to start the process as early as you can.

How Do I Find The Right Designer

Allow yourself time and space to find the right custom wedding dress designer for you and your needs. Meet with them in person to ascertain whether or not your personalities mesh, and if you can communicate well together. This implies you will want to find a designer local to your area so that you can meet with them as often as necessary for fittings. It will give you great peace of mind to know where your dress is and more about who is making it, and to be able to source recommendations from other locals. Also, look at photos or samples of actual gowns they’ve created to determine if their skills and style matches your preferences.

How Does The Process Work?

Once you’ve found the right designer for you, you’ll kick off the design process with an in-depth appointment to allow the designer to get to know you on a deeper level. They’ll want to know you as a bride to familiarize themselves with you and your partner’s story, your wedding details, and so forth. They’ll also want to get to know you as an individual so they can understand your personality and preferences. Together, the two of you will brainstorm ideas, review images and inspirations, and start discerning the basic design of your dress.

How Do I Prepare For My Appointment?

Start gathering information and visual imagery of your personal bridal style. If you have a vision of what you want your dress to look like, pull images of similar styles and be sure to include specifics on the design you want, such as fabric, silhouette, embellishments, etc. If you’re going to see where the process leads you, begin by asking yourself a few questions such as: “which trends am I drawn to, if any?” “Which fabrics do I love?” “What silhouette makes me feel beautiful?” Next, compile your research into a collection of images from Pinterest or the pages of bridal magazines that you can share with your designer. It can also be helpful to visit a bridal gown boutique to try on various dresses to fill in answers to these questions if you’re not familiar with the subject matter.

Get Personal

Express yourself: Have you ever wished you could design a piece of clothing with your exact specifications in mind? This is your chance! Your wedding dress is arguably the most significant garment you’ll ever wear. From fit to style, a custom wedding dress allows brides to express their individual style at the most memorable, enjoyable event of their lives.

Eschew tradition: Don’t get hung up on tradition and convince yourself to wear a certain style of wedding dress purely because tradition says so. On your wedding day, you should feel the most confident and captivating you ever have in your entire life! You want a dress that’s “you”, one meant for you and you alone. When customizing your wedding gown, focus on your personal vision and unique taste instead of getting mired down in conventions or customs. No one is exactly alike as no two brides should be, either. Your wedding dress is the ultimate expression of self, and a wonderful way to make your wedding distinctively yours.

Tread carefully with trends: It’s almost impossible to ignore bridal fashion trends when it comes time to select your wedding gown. Looks that are “new” and “now” can feel fresh and tantalizing, especially when they attempt to persuade us that part of their value is that no one has worn them before. While trends are tempting for the bride that wants to stand out, a custom wedding gown will not only fulfill that desire but exceed anything a trendy wedding gown could do. After all, a custom wedding dress is an extension of your personal style! Your walk down the aisle is like a walk down the runway. You should feel completely comfortable in both how the gown fits and how it is styled.

Find what flatters

As with just about everything you wear, dressing for your body shape results in the most flattering looks. A wedding gown is no different, so start thinking about what you have in your closet that fits you to a “T” and bring those aspects into your dress design. Think about the characteristics of your regular clothes that make you feel pretty and self-confident. Four elements to focus on include:

• Silhouette
• Necklines
• Sleeves
• Fabrics

When you communicate with your designer which styles work best for you in each of those categories, they’ll be able to weave those crucial structural components together with a strong design concept to create a beautiful custom wedding gown that is both flattering and fashion forward.

A Perfect Fit Is The Priority

Tailor-made is tops: Having a dress made to fit your body “like a glove” is one of the biggest assets of having your wedding gown custom made. A good designer will celebrate your specific shape and construct a wedding dress to fit you accordingly. Not only will your dress be carefully tailored to your figure, it will be more comfortable because of how well it fits you. Don’t underestimate how important the comfort factor is when designing and tailoring your dress. This is what you’ll wear on the biggest day of your life! From the moment you put on the dress to the last dance of the night, your dress should have a proper, comfortable fit throughout the entire day.

Take it for a test run: Other than their graceful walk down the aisle, brides move and groove all throughout their wedding day and night, so it stands to reason that the dress must be up to the task! During your fittings, test your dress to see if you can walk, sit, and dance comfortably in it. Many brides don’t take these various movements into account and find themselves uncomfortably perched on a chair during dinner, or constantly pulling up their dress while boogeying down the dance floor. If you’re not 100% sure the fit is right, ask for further adjustments to be made. It will be worth it many times over in the end.

Immerse Yourself In The Experience.

Time flies: No matter how long your engagement may last, one day you’re guaranteed to look back and reflect on how quickly it went. Take the time to soak up every second of every experience! Enjoy the process of designing your own gown, reminding yourself of how long you dreamed of this moment and celebrating that it’s finally arrived! You want your wedding day to be unforgettable, and the experience of creating your custom wedding dress should be, too. Have fun at every step along the way!

Together forever: As a bride, everyone is excited for the love story and the forever after between you and your soul mate. But what makes planning a wedding even more wonderful is sharing in the special times with family and friends you’ve loved throughout your life. Celebrating with those that have walked beside you in life as you prepare to walk down the aisle is an incredible thing. Feel free to involve your loved ones in the wedding gown design process if you so choose. Many are eager to help, or purely want to witness the small moments during this major time in your life!

A custom wedding gown is a unique experience, as unique as the bride herself. Many brides consider creating a custom wedding dress to be a major highlight of their entire wedding journey for how special and intimate an experience it is.

By working with a local custom dress designer, you will have the peace of mind of knowing exactly where your gown was made and by whom. You can be assured that that your gown was not made for the masses. It was created just for you. Unique, one-of-a-kind, extraordinary — like you.

July 1, 2017

The Wedding Planning Adventure

Millennial couples are spending an average of $31,000 on their wedding ceremony and reception. With costs in Metropolitan areas like New York and San Francisco averaging $15K more than other areas, weddings in Asheville can seem like a relative bargain. And Asheville certainly has no shortage of wedding professionals—wedding planners, photographers, caterers, etc. Which is a good thing, since most couples are hiring an average of 12 to 13 vendors to create and coordinate their ceremony.

It’s not surprising that most brides feel an enormous amount of pressure to impress their guests, compete with their friends’ weddings, create “picture perfect” events and please their parents (who are often footing the bill). Even the most organized bride-to-be is often overwhelmed by the seemingly millions of decisions to be made and the management of all the moving parts.

A few suggestions for the bride-to-be

As a wedding dress designer, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many brides as they plan their special day. Here are a few suggestions for making your wedding planning process a less stressful, more fun, and memorable experience.

1. Remember what matters most

Remember why you're throwing this party in the first place, especially when you feel like things are going wrong or stresses are taking over. Trust that it will all come together and be a wonderful occasion, even if everything doesn’t go exactly as planned.

2. Keep your priorities straight

Set priorities for the tasks on your to-do list. Rank everything by order of importance and urgency. Take care of your top priorities first.

3. Don't make any hasty decisions

After your engagement, you'll feel urged to book everything as soon as possible. But remember, there's no rush. Spend quality time getting to know vendors before finalizing your decisions.

4. Narrow down your options

You may feel like the decisions and options are endless when it comes to wedding planning. Limit your choices by staying focused on the kind of wedding you want to have. Whether it's big or small, destination or local, choose that early on so that you know what you're in for when you start making plans.

5. Be honest with yourself

Create an event that reflects who you are. It should match your style and vibe. Once you have a theme, color palette, or your inspiration nailed down, go with those ideas.

* One of my clients came to have a consultation with a very clear idea that their wedding color will be purple. I designed Mother of the bride dress first as she knew exactly what she wanted. Then it was time to design the bridal gown. The bride was torn between a traditional white gown and this very unique pastel lilac colored gown that she loved so much. I draped the fabrics on the bride to show how those two colors complemented her beautiful blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair. The bride and her mother spent a good amount of time considering the options and chose the lilac silk gown. After all, they knew what they really wanted. They stuck to their original vision and everything worked out perfectly.

6. Get personal

People will tell you what you should have or do at your wedding. However if you're not sure why you're doing a certain “wedding tradition,” feel free to take it out of your wedding plans. Give your wedding a personal touch with any family traditions or something you want to start for future generations.

7. Be true to your look

It is almost impossible to ignore fashion trends when you are shopping for your wedding dress. Whether you planned to or not, you’ve already become familiar with popular wedding trends through sites like Pinterest and Wedding Wire. However, your wedding attire should represent your personal style. Think of the aisle as your personal runway.

* One common request I get from my clients is that they want to look their best, not like some model from bridal magazines. Most women already know what neckline, sleeves, and shape of dresses look and feel good on them. One of my clients said she was not keen on laces or embellishes. Even though lace is a major 2017 wedding trend, we went for a draped silk gown with very clean lines and minimal details. She was extremely happy with the result, and said she would wear that dress again after the wedding. One of my other clients had really amazing legs and she wanted to show them off. I explained to her that a short dress will look somewhat informal compared to a full-length gown but she decided to have the skirt cut above the knees. She was very comfortable in that dress and looked amazingly beautiful.

8. Select a theme

Pick a theme for the atmosphere and overall look of your wedding. Narrow down the choices of colors, flowers, deco, food, etc. Select at least 2 colors that complement each other and work well together.

9. Create the right team of vendors

It is essential to find a planner, vendors, and designers who will help create and manage your vision as if it were their own. It's not just about budgets and what you have heard about the people you work with, but also who understands you, respects your vision, and who will offer you the support you need, in addition to outstanding service.

10. Review every detail with your vendors

Schedule a couple of in-person sessions and conference calls with your vendors before the wedding. Be sure to go over what you expect of them thoroughly.

* My business is to have the bride’s dress and the wedding party’s wardrobe ready for the big day. Most of the time, all the dresses are finished, pressed and hung nicely days before the wedding day. But sometimes there are some situations that need my attention on the wedding day, like figuring out how to tie bows, bustle the gown, urgent repairs, or even just the emotional support of ensuring them that they look impeccable for the biggest event of their lives. I extend my service to the dressing room on the wedding day to help and support my clients.

11. Your friends and family members are there to help

Your family members and friends are so happy for you and eager to help. Involve them by having them take a look at your to-do list and pick any items that they feel they can handle for you.

12. Surround yourself with people who support you

Exclude people who increase your stress level. The quality of the people who are there will determine the success of your wedding. Easy-to-get-along-with personalities create opportunities for your guests to get to know new people and have a great time, whether they know half of the attendees or just the bride and groom. Keep the people who know how to love and support you to create most memorable and enjoyable event of your life.

13. Don't wait until it's too late

Try not to save big decisions or plans for the last minute. You'll end up spending more money than you should and also be stuck making compromises on things you shouldn't have to compromise on.

14. Forget about perfection

Focus on planning a wedding that's meaningful to you instead of planning a “perfect wedding.” Help yourself feel more at ease during the wedding planning process by accepting that things may take a different turn than you expect along the way.

15. Enjoy every moment of the wedding adventure

Enjoy the time you're spending planning your wedding and make it fun along the way. Your wedding is a celebration of love and family. So when you plan your special day, don’t forget to express joy and gratitude to your family members and the special people in your life. Make them a part of the process and share the adventure!

* Due to the nature of my business, I often witness most the beautiful and emotional moments between mothers and daughters. Fitting sessions are filled with tears, laughter, stories, memories, hugs and kisses. Mothers are so proud and the “little” girls are forever grateful. One of my clients ordered a dress for her future mother-in-law to express how she feels about her. She told me, “My mother-in-law is always giving to others. She takes care of special needs adults as a day job then she takes care of grandchildren at home all the time. She never does anything for herself. She could really use a flattering dress.” So they went shopping for a new set of under garments and came to the fitting session together. Sharing that fun afternoon together is a precious memory they will never forget.

May 11, 2017

Finding the Perfect Fit

A recent study of women’s shopping and spending habits conducted by ING Direct and Capital One banks showed that the average American woman spends between $2000 and $5000 per year on clothing. Those spending habits were closely related to aspects of their personal lives, and the top reasons women go shopping included:

“I want to cheer myself up.”

“I want to impress others.”

“I feel depressed.”

“I feel unattractive.”

“I am anxious or worried.”

Almost 40% of the women surveyed claimed they changed outfits at least twice per day, and 60% claimed on a daily basis that they could not find anything suitable to wear in their wardrobe. With so many options for different styles, brands, designers and stores, why do women still typically feel so unsatisfied when it comes to their wardrobes? And what can we do to make the most of our clothing budgets and satisfy those desires that drive us to shop for new clothes in the first place?

Why Is The Fit Important?

Many women who buy designer brands are focused on the reputation associated with the label. Some are looking for fine fabrics or quality construction. And who doesn’t want to impress their friends and coworkers by looking great in the latest styles for the season?

But if the clothes don’t fit you well, none of this is going to matter. And yet so many of us are willing to compromise when it comes to how a garments fits. Sure, fabrics, cuts and styles are important. But nothing is more important than how a garment fits your body—regardless of the body type you have.

The right tailoring can make almost any garment work for any body type. In fact, no matter what the style, a proper fit is going to enhance your body type. When a garment is sufficiently slim and well measured, it will not only look better on your body, but it will also provide you with a higher level of comfort. And the first step to being confident in your wardrobe is to be comfortable in your clothes.

The fit of your clothing is important in emphasizing your body’s natural features, like the length of your legs, your waist, and so on. You may not realize it, but the fit of your clothing can not only be used to emphasize a particular part of your body, but it can also be used to draw the eye upwards toward your face.

Whatever your body type, a good fit is always of supreme importance. For example, if you have a larger frame, unnecessarily large or baggy clothing will almost always be unflattering. If you are thin, fit layering and draping can be used to achieve particular styles. If you have an average build, you can use clothing to appear slimmer, larger, taller or shorter, depending on the look you are trying to achieve. And if you are short, you can use pants with a long rise and cropped jackets to appear taller.

What Is Good Fit?

In general, the desired fit and look is “slim,” whatever your actual body type may be. Slim doesn’t mean tight or skinny. It actually refers to how closely the clothing lays on your body. You want your garments to fit closely to your natural shape. Even with slim fitting clothing, you should have enough room to allow for normal, easy movement, and a good range of motion. Your clothing should be comfortable and functional for everyday wear. A tight fit is usually not desirable because it restricts movement, and areas of misfit are more visible. With loose fitting clothes, the fit is obviously not as noticeable.

A number of factors affect the fit of garments, including the grain (or drape) of the fabric, the placement and size of darts, the placement of seams, lining, and the interfacing of closure features (like zippers and buttons). Where the garment lies on your body is also important (sleeve length, for example).

How To Shop For Well-Fitted Clothing

Ignore your size! Sizes vary widely between countries, brands and styles of clothing. Try on several sizes and see which one fits the best. Don’t get hung up on being a particular size. No one can tell what size you are from looking at your outfit, but they can definitely tell if a garment fits well or not. And you will look your best when your clothes fit properly.

Shop forr biggest part you. For example, if you’re pear-shaped, shop for garments to fit your hips, and then alter them to fit the rest of your body. Don’t buy items that are too snug on your hips but fit everywhere else.

Use resources from online shops. For example, take advantage of free returns to purchase an additional size when ordering online.

Make necessary alterations. Almost everything you buy off the rack could fit you better with a little tweaking here and there.

Get your clothing custom made. There is nothing like wearing clothing that is specifically tailored to your body. Especially when shopping for a special occasion (like a holiday party or black tie event) and frequently worn items (like business attire), custom designed clothing will help you stand taller, smile bigger and exude confidence. It’s not just an investment in your wardrobe, its an investment in yourself.

It’s no secret—how you look affects how you feel about yourself. And when you look your best, you’ll naturally feel more confident, attractive and powerful! A perfectly fitted outfit is the most important part of creating the right look for you.