Scenes from the Mall

I'm a Profashional, Dammit!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Pop! Goes the New Year!

As we hit month number two of 2009, Polly’s still finding it just a tad difficult to let go of 2008. And why the Hermes not? The old year was a scintillating year of scandals, sensations and soap operatic drama and if it has any bearing on the new year, we’re in for a stupendous 2009! Consider the month of February the funnel through which the juiciest stories of 2008 enter and affect this spanking new year we’re currently trying on for size. So grab your lockpicks, my little Mallrats, as we throw open the pop cultural vaults of 2008 to see how 2009 pans out.

First, a little recap:
  • Madonna divorced Guy and Amy Winehouse divorced her grip on reality.
  • Sadly, amongst the dearly departed, we lost Heath Ledger, Golden Girl Estelle Getty, Paul Newman and (sob-sob) legendary designer Yves Saint-Laurent.
  • Britney went from circus clown to rebounding ringleader.
  • China glowed from the incredible Beijing Olympics opening ceremony and its 50-odd Gold medals, then totally lost face with the little-girl-lip-synching debacle and worse still, the melamine-tainted milk scandal.
  • From sub-prime scandals to mini-bonds, big financial brands went bust, as did many businesses and bank accounts.
  • Twilight 2008 mania swept teenage girls in a tidal wave of hormonal frenzy and with more installments of the novel-turned-movie franchise planned, Polly predicts Twilight insanity to continue well into 2009. Need some vampirical, uh, I mean empirical evidence? Look out for chalky-faced, unwashed, gravity-defying-haired Edward the Vampire clones. Even if you can’t see, you’ll hear the ear-shattering screams. You see, my darling Mallrats, never underestimate the power of teenagers and their immortal beloveds!
All these headline hoggers aside, 2008 truly was the year when politics and pop culture stopped flirting with each other and went steady. In fact, not only did politics and pop culture go steady, but if we were talking in S & M terms, then pop culture was definitely the one holding the paddle and the whip! No one can deny the profound and far reaching effects of celebrity on the winning road to the White House.
  • As the US presidential campaign heated up, so did the number of hot celebrities campaigning for their choice of prez. When John McCain snarkily compared Barack Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, alleging that he was using cheap celebrity tactics to grab headlines, the pop culture icon named after a French hotel snarked right back in a much-viewed viral video. Miss Parisite running for fake presidency and discussing foreign policy? Fun!
  • But The Late Show host David Letterman having enough clout to force McCain to reschedule an appearance after canceling? Priceless!
  • And who could forget the star-studded, Will.i.am-helmed “Yes, We Can!” music video based on an Obama speech?
  • Also, she may deny it, but talk show queen Oprah Winfrey’s heavy endorsement of Obama’s books and later the man himself surely had something to do with his eventual win, don’t you think?
  • Why, even a frivolous, fashion-centric chick flick like Sex in the City managed to take a flippant swipe at the Bush administration and possibly a chunk out of Republican votes.
  • And thanks to Bush Jr, politics will always have a hallowed place in the annals of pop cultural history, particularly in the arena of fashion and footwear. Not since Cinderella or the Elves and the Shoemaker has the humble shoe caused such widespread furor! Polly has to admire the outgoing US president for his lightning-fast kungfu ducking abilities and stylish sense of humour in the face of said far-flung footwear. When asked for a comment post shoe-tossing incident, he announced to the world that it was a size 10! As for the footwear flinger, he may have been punished, but remains a cult hero in the streets of Iraq. Thanks again to youtube and other viral video vehicles, we can rest assured of a steady stream of instant replays, thus proving the power of pop culture over politics.
  • Still on the Republicans (and their haters), the brilliantly comic stylings of one Tina Fey will probably continue to reign supreme in 2009, after her impeccable imitation of Vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin on TV’s Saturday Night Live.
  • Alaska’s short-sighted governor hogged her own fair-share of headlines for her trendsetting ways - from her US$375 Kazuo Kawasaki glasses to her form-fitting suits, the world had their wardrobes and wallets fixed on Ms Palin’s alleged US$150,000 clothing allowance.
  • Not to be fashionably outdone, First-Lady-to-be Michelle Obama’s affordable US$148 off-the-rack black-and-white print dress sparked an overnight buying frenzy after a TV appearance on The View. In fact, the entire incumbent First Family’s wardrobe (or lack thereof, as shown by Obama’s topless Hawaiin beach romps) will certainly continue to be a hot topic this year.
2009 may just well reflect a new world order where politics is synonymous with pop culture. The two have become one and you can’t talk politics without the other. Here on our little red dot, can we perhaps one day soon see a Jeanette-Aw-as-Little-Nonya-running-for-Prime-Minister viral video at our next election? Yes, we can! Will there ever be a buying frenzy of blousy zip-up jackets to wear over all-white outfits? Ok, maybe not so much. But the Olympic-hopeful Singapore Sports Council may want to look into wooing that footwear-tossing dude as a foreign talent for shotput or discus events. And remember, my little Mallrats, if all else fails, adopt this new slogan for 2009 - if the shoe fits, throw it!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Future is Whatever You Want It To Be, Bay-beh!

Greetings and Salutations, my little Mallrats! Tis’ still the season for comfort and joy, fireworks, feasting and FASHION! New Year, New Clothes, right? Well, maybe… At the risk of sounding terribly indecisive, Polly has drawn up a little game plan for your 2009 so EVERYONE can stay stylish and comfortable in their own skin. Which means I’ve got you covered, no matter what’s your size, shape or bank statement!

Your Year 2009 can roughly be summed up in the following three categories:
  • The Future is Now
  • The Future is the Past
  • The Future is the Other Way
Find which of the above suits you best, or as they like to say Pret-a-Porter stylie, mix and match!

The Future is Now
Whatever you’re wearing currently should be able to carry you through the next few months. The idea is not to be an utter slave to fashion or designer dummy who grabs everything hot off the runway, but to work with what ever you’ve got. And you’ve definitely got it, baby, as long as you remember to stay confident. And clean! Now even if you’re still wearing your mom’s hand-me-downs or stuff from your secondary school days, here's the not-so-secret-secret: Fashion is a boomerang, not an arrow. Simply put, trends are cyclical – nothing is 100% new and original. Every season makes reference to styles from days gone by. Which brings us, my attentive Mallrats, to your next option…

The Future is the Past
So far, we’ve seen it all - a mash-up of 1920s’ flapper styles, 1950s’ pouffy-skirted, cinched-waist frocks, 1960’s Mary Quant minis, 1970’s high-waisted flares and most recently, 1980’s leggings and day-glo. The style-stealing continues in 2009 with a big, rock-out tribute to the 90s. In other words, designers want you to channel your inner Kurt Cobain. So go ahead and dust off your grungey jeans, the more faded the better, or flash some cash for artfully ripped designer duds (but Polly advises, in the true spirit of grunge, that it’s better to DIY your denims!). However, with the boomerang nature of fashion, chances are you’ll look hot no matter what decade you’re wearing!

The Future is the Other Way
Allow me to illustrate this point with a story. Polly was on the way to work one day when people stopped to stare, whisper and even point (discreetly). Uh-oh, Polly thought to herself. Spinach between the teeth? Skirt tucked into panties? Toilet paper stuck to shoe? After a frantic frisking of her fashionable self, Polly came to the obvious conclusion. Nothing was wrong. Until the resident office meddler said sarcastically, “Wah, wear until like that. You think this is a cabaret, ah?” Now, rest assured Polly doesn’t dress like a lady-of-the-night, nor does she make a habit of bringing her feathers and fishnets to the office, so what was the matter?

Sequins. SEQUINS?!!!

Apparently, my indignant Mallrats, sequins are a fashion faux-pas in Madam Meddle’s puny professional mindset and she is not alone. But I, Polly Esther, am NOT a professional. I’m a PROFASHIONAL, dammit! So please, if only to confound the mean little minds of corporate cyborgs like our Miss Meddle, do practice this piece of Polly’s preaching: “THE FUTURE IS THE OTHER WAY.” You know, as in the opposite way. The way that is not the way people expect of you. Try adding some unexpected oomph to your outfits! Which means yes, sequins in the daytime. I’m not saying full-length ball gowns in the office, just a sprinkling of glitter or something sparkly under your jacket, so you shine under those ugly fluorescent lights. It could also mean purple sneakers with your business suit or a cute furry coat in the tropics. Why not? Faux fur is fab and practical, especially in our ice-box offices! For the fashionably fearless and the Mallrat who marches to a different runway beat, screw those scroogey naysayers, cos’ 2009 screams viva la Bjork-at-the-Oscars!

So, my little Mallrats, I’ve shown you that the future embraces everybody. Fashion forecasts are fun, but really, it’s all about who YOU are. It’s a personal thing, so wear what you want, wherever and whenever you want, just as long as you’re true to yourself. Because, the late great Yves Saint Laurent said it best, “Fashions fade, style is eternal”. I wave my sequined ripped jeans in salute to that!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Catalog Christmas Carol

Season’s Greetings and Salutations, my little Mallrats! As we approach the end of 2008, we’ve been hit by the reality of price hikes and worldwide economic meltdown. How then can we keep up the Christmas cheer in the face of money woes and fears for our future? At the risk of sounding irresponsible and frivolous, might Polly suggest keeping up with commerce? Continue buying and selling! So here, in tongue-in-cheek fashion, is Polly’s annual Christmas carol sing-a-long:
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make your wallets light
It’s now time to boldly face financial plight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Tis’ the time to pay
From now on, the creditors are here to stay

What happened to the olden days
Happy spending days of yore
Raise a toast - here’s to better days
Days of purchasing once more.

Through the fears
Let’s all go shop together,
If the banks allow
So spend your cash from Wall Street to stores in Macau
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

From the bottom of Polly’s Furla wallet to yours, here’s wishing all Mallrats a happy, healthy, hearty festive season. Buy something nice for yourself, or even better, share a little of that love with someone else. And yes, have yourself a merry little Christmas!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Play on, Players!

Sweeties, Darlings, Muah-muah!

Greetings and Salutations the thespian way, my little Mallrats! As the year draws to a close, the theatre season starts to open up again with luscious board-treading pickings galore. But with so many performances to see and be seen at, what’s a Culture-Vulture to do? This month, Polly takes it upon her dramatic self to see you through the heavenly, yet hazy affair that is the theatre world.

Act One – Much Ado About Some Things
To play or not to play? That is the question. According to dictionaries across the world wide web, “Play” is:
a) A verb, meaning “to perform (a theatrical work) on or as if on the stage”.
b) A noun, referring to “literary work written for performance on the stage; a drama”.
Now that we’re all on the same page, the answer is, to play, of course! Going to the theatre is a great form of entertainment and I’m not just talking about the performances. After all, at these great theatrical events, one is not merely a spectator, but one must expect to be watched by fellow members of the audience too. As such, one must dress the part. But more on that a little later. For now, to ensure a rip-roaring play-time, here are a few ground rules:
Dos
  • Go dressed appropriately – the theatre is an event, not your neighbourhood kopitiam!
  • Bring something chic to keep warm in (air-conditioning can get chilly), unless the performance is outdoors or in an alternative space.
  • Support local theatre and buy a programme!
  • Keep an open mind and catch as many shows by as many different companies as possible – remember, make like a tub of yogurt and be a cultured individual!
Don’ts
  • Be tardy. Here’s one instance where being fashionably late does not pay – unless you like listening to the show from the foyer.
  • Leave your mobile phone on – silence is golden. This goes for mid-play chatter too.
  • Refrain from channeling your inner paparazzi – no photos or video-recording please! Can Polly say intellectual property rights?
  • Be swayed by reviews – watch the show, then form your own opinion.

Intermission
Some will tell you this is for those with full bladders or parched throats. Polly will tell you this is when all the off-stage action happens. Play spot-the-director (usually the fey-looking man in the flamboyant shirt exclaiming, “Darling! So glad you could come!), or lurk near the stage door to catch a bit of the frenetic backstage energy. Use this time to eavesdrop (delicately, of course) on other people’s conversations – what are they saying about the first half of the show? Even better, what are they saying about each other? For an inside scoop on the production, look out for other players from the industry who’re there to watch the show. They’ll be the wildly gesticulating ones drinking copious amounts of wine at the bar and speaking in low, conspiratorial tones. Keep your sharp little ears peeled!

Act Two – To Wear is Human, To Dress Divine
Legendary choreographer and co-founder of the New York City Ballet George Balanchine once said to a student, "… people don't actually go to the theatre to see you. They go to the theatre to see themselves.” As such, allow Polly to hold up a mirror for you – see if you recognize yourself anywhere along the list:

  • Designer Doyennes
    Top of the social heap, dripping with diamonds and gossip. Mostly seen dressed to the designer nines, champagne flute in exquisitely manicured hand, at Gala Premieres of the hottest shows in town. And just wait till you see the women! The theatre glitterati can be seen at internationally renowned shows with successful runs on Broadway and the West End.
  • Arty-farty Avant-garde
    Weird but wonderful shapes, colours and styles abound within this group, largely made up of geek-freaks and art students either in their own flamboyant designs or flaunting their penchant for mixing and matching (or is that clashing?). Soak in this spectacle at the most cutting-edge of productions, which often involve actors walking VERY slowly and silently across the room, or performers cutting off their pubes while reciting poems backwards. At least you can make up for what you don’t understand on stage by staring at people in the audience!
  • Chic but Cheap
    Found mostly in the top-tier seats, armed with hankies to stave off those high altitude nosebleeds, these baby stylistas are hip to the latest trends and super-savvy when it comes to bargains – for both fashion and show tickets. Join them at indie music gigs and homegrown plays.
  • Heartland Hooligans
    Probably won tickets from a radio contest or got them from a relative who couldn’t make it. Sloppy shorts, T-shirts and flip flops, plus annoyingly un-silenced mobile phones make this group easy to spot and hear – mostly saying, “this show is about what one, hah?
Bottom line is, my little sweetie-darlings, going to a play requires an element of fun. Why should the performers be the only ones in the spotlight? So channel your inner drama-mama and grab some attention for yourself! It’s amazing what fishnets, a feather boa and false eyelashes can do.

The End
Et voila! You can now rest assured that from curtains up to curtains down, Polly’s got you covered - sartorically or otherwise. However, the greatest thespian and playwright of them all, cheeky old Bill Shakespeare, nailed it in As You Like It when he wrote:
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts…”

So play on, players! Applause, please, but no encore necessary!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

That’s Entertainment!

More than just the words of a song or the title of an old Judy Garland movie, this month, Polly is on a serious mission to discover what exactly IS “entertainment”. And also, how exactly you, my little mallrats, can get some. Any dictionary can tell you that entertainment is “something that provides amusement, pleasure, recreation or diversion.” What Polly can tell you is how to cram maximum entertainment into one short, fabulous, work-free day. Game? Then study Polly’s personal blueprint to having a blast. Mix, match or add-on however you please, but be sure to include activities that stir all your senses!

Morning
  • Get out of bed only when you want to. Feel free to hit the snooze button as many times as you like. Polly usually emerges from shock-free slumber at mid-morning – the perfect time for primping before a lovely, long, lazy brunch!
  • Botanical Gardens + Brunch = Bliss. Why not double the pleasure and enhance the entertainment by feasting in the great outdoors? Pack up a picnic brunch (or have a deli do it for you), pick a choice spot on the grass, lay down a blanket and enjoy!
  • For fun, yet challenging picnic activities, take the comics and sudoku sections of the papers with you. Crytic crosswords, if you’re an extra-brainy bruncher!
  • A bottle of champagne is a decadent indulgence, but will definitely up the feel-good factor. Just don’t harass the swans or fall into the pond!
  • Wandering round the Botanics, inhaling the earthy fragrances and soaking in the aesthetics sure beats hitting the gym – but you still get a little post-brunch exercise.
  • Nocturnal Mallrats should probably skip this and head straight to the next section. That’s perfectly fine too. Remember, this is YOUR day of entertainment!

Afternoon
  • Frolicking with the flora and fauna done. It’s now time to do a little frolicking of the urban kind. Hit the mall – what else? Shop a little. Latte a little. Get a mani-pedi. Throw in a soothing facial, foot-rub or massage.
  • Then get all artsy-fartsy! Whilst in the city, SLOW DOWN… Stay and watch a busker (don’t forget to make a generous donation), or check the papers for museum recommendations (art and history lift the soul!). If you’re lucky and on time, you may even be able to catch a free lunchtime concert at the Esplanade.
  • Get lost in the library. Floor to ceiling books on any stimulating subject you could imagine! Browsing and borrowing are both free!
  • Take your books to tea. Pick a café, order up a selection of sips and nibbles, then escape into the world of words.
  • If neither books nor tea float your boat, how bout grabbing a friend and heading for happy hour around four? Don’t get too happy, though, there’s so much more entertainment to be had. Meantime, girlfriends, gossip and gin – what’s not to love?
Night
  • Since you’ve spent most of your day entertaining yourself, how ‘bout giving as good as you get? Time to entertain others for a change! Invite friends over to your place and cook them dinner. Nothing too fancy or fussy, just something simple and flavourful. Trust Polly, they’ll appreciate it. Unless you’re a terrible cook. In which case, order in or pot luck the party! And don’t forget to include wine and chocolate – both excellent for healthy hearts and hearty appetites. Remember, a well-fed belly is a well-entertained belly.
  • Time to kick things up a notch with games! Pictionary, anyone? With this dynamic diversion, it’s like visiting an art gallery and doing aerobics, all at the same! You’ll be creating and viewing works of art whilst moving your body wildly as you egg each other on. So go on, work-off your dinner! Thereafter, a game of Twister may provide extra entertainment and similar colourful effects.
  • You could also rent a DVD and hunker down for some serious screen time, or gather everyone in front of the TV to participate in some interactive reality show viewing.
  • Coming full circle, Judy Garland sang, “The world is a stage, the stage is a world of entertainment!” Words forever immortalized in legendary film company MGM’s anniversary tribute. You could skip games, DVD or TV, take Judy’s advice and go to the theatre! Whether it’s a play, musical, dance recital or poetry-reading, diversity drives away the ho-hums and that’s the point of entertainment, no? You’ll even have time after for a sinful supper and a midnight movie!
  • Still raring to go? Catch the last few hours of fun at a dance club or drop some dough at everyone’s favourite late-night shopping paradise, Mustafa Centre.
  • OK, you’ve had a full day; you deserve to sleep off the excitement. Nobody ever said sleep couldn’t be entertaining too – that’s why we have dreams!

Polly promises that everything described has been tried and tested within the space of twenty-four hours and it really was blast! But if all that sounds like an excessive sensory overload, you could simply pick up a copy of a certain tres chic magazine and check out a certain tres chic column by a tres chic certain you-know-who… Now, THAT’S entertainment!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

‘Tis the Season to FALL…

… in love! Greetings and salutations, my little Mallrats! Polly fervently writes to you from the very bowels of middle-America, where cows roam, rivers flow, hills roll and corn fields outnumber human beings ten to one. Yours truly is in Wisconsin, a mystical land of beer and cheese and at least for one intrepid Catalog magazine columnist and erstwhile city girl, the hottest place to tie the knot. Don’t congratulate me yet, I’m not the one getting hitched, darlings - my best friend is!

But what’s a maid-of-honour/ impromptu wedding planner to do when the bride’s an uber-urbanite whose idea of extreme sports is fighting for a cab whilst hauling ten shopping bags on each arm, and the groom is an all-out bungee-jumping, cross-country-biking, underwater-caving, rock-climbing, scuba-diving outdoors junkie? Polly has always loved a challenge – can city be joined with country in holy matrimony and still live happily ever after? Why, yes, actually. So in the romantic spirit of changing seasons and exchanging rings, here are some things Polly learned whilst planning an Autumn Wisconsin Wedding:

1. Video Saved the Wedding Star
  • For inspiration, gorge on thematic DVDs like My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Wedding Planner & Father of the Bride. Entertainment AND education, talk about killing two birds with one stone!
2. Compromise & Colour
  • As the autumnal leaves start turning into stunning shades of yellow, gold, orange, red and brown, you know you’ve got a ready-made colour theme and glorious backdrop for an outdoor wedding! The city-country compromise? Have the wedding in a park to take full advantage of the cool weather (Hey! Natural air-conditioning!), but make sure there’re shelter, furniture that’s not plastic and plumbing facilities nearby.
  • With such vivid outdoor shades, you want to showcase, not outshine them. Keep wedding colours simple and complementary. The bride settled for light brown, olive green and shades of her favourite beverage, champagne!
3. Food, Flowers and Flames
  • When it comes to a country wedding, when in doubt, make like Colonal Sanders and Deep Fry! Anything crispy and flavourful with draw the oohs and aahs. Plus, if you have a roaring grill out back and an army of friends and relatives willing to pitch in, it’s all good, tasty fun.
  • When it comes to decorating, make like Martha Stewart and DIY! The wedding party had a blast festooning the park with ribbons, seasonal flowers and hand-making little wedding kits for guests. And just like the glue we used, we bonded.
  • When it comes to confetti, paper and rice just won’t cut it in the great outdoors. The most park-friendly way to celebrate is with birdseed. We twisted handfuls into paper cones, kachang-puteh style to add a little bit of Singapore to Wisconsin. Fun for the guests, fun for our fine-feathered friends. But the bride and groom, maybe not so much!
  • When it comes to lighting, hundreds of votive candles and tealights come in super handy. They’re cheap, you can easily buy in enormous bulk (this is America, baby!) and create instant romance and drama as the sun goes down. To keep the breeze at bay, we used cute jam jars tied with ribbon and twine.
4. Tent, Trellis and Tiki Torches
  • All tents are not created equal, so choose one that fits everyone comfortably and allows for good circulation of air and guests.
  • A trellis is a wonderful frame for the couple when they say their vows and an excellent place to snap those post-ceremony photos. Just make sure it’s decorated simply with seasonal flowers. Oh, and use a professional for this one. Polly attempted to go rustic and gathered wild flowers and greens from the forest, and her only reward was a nasty case of poison ivy. Not bridesmaid pretty at all.
  • If tealights aren’t enough, dial the drama up a notch with flaming tiki torches – especially effective in creating a pathway to the buffet table AND keeping the bugs away!
5. Bug Spray is your friend, and so is Walmart
  • Early autumn is a time when the hardier of bugs still remain to irrtate, annoy and engage in extra blood suckage before the coming winter. As such, having cans of insect repellent ready for guests is the thoughtful thing to do. Just be sure to keep bug spray and buffet separate!
  • Everything, and I mean, EVERYTHING can be found at Walmart, an awe-inspiring twenty-four hour hypermarket and shining beacon of corporate, capitalist America. For supplies last minute or otherwise, help is but a fifteen-minute drive away. This event’s tagline could very well end up “Walmart saved my wedding!” Seriously.
6. ATV is an acronym to remember
  • This is the countryside after all and we are having a wedding in a park. For the uninitiated, All-Terrain Vehicles are like four-wheeled motorcycles on crack - super-useful for navigating the uneven landscape and transporting wedding supplies.

When all is said and done, my little love bugs, remember that all you really need is love… and wet wipes… and a full service bar! All these cover a multitude of sins and make for a successful wedding! And If Polly has learned anything whilst helping to marry city and country, it’s that compromise is the key that unlocks hearts and bank accounts! Happy FALL-ing!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Get Fresh!

Greetings and salutations Mallrats, this month, in honour of all things fresh, yours truly has decided play cupid to help you find the Mr/ Miss Right or Mr/ Miss Right-Now of your dreams. Look no further than our favourite hangout – The Mall! It’s chock-a-block with cuties you could be canoodling with. You just gotta know where to look and how to hook! And so, Polly presents the extremely cheeky, not very sleazy “Pickup & Checkout – The Mallrat’s Guide to Getting Fresh with New Flesh”:

1. Hook – Techniques to Titillate
The Mall is the one place everyone can go and feel at ease. With tons of things to see and do, most people can relax and let their guard down. That’s where you, my little lonely and lovelorn ones, come in! With your targets already more approachable, no harm in taking a deep breath and the plunge, right? Remember – confidence, confidence, confidence!
  • Shopping Strategy – Same rules apply whether you’re looking for a fabulous new pair of shoes or a gorgeous new guy/ girl. While guys shop like they’re at target practice, homing in on specifics, girls tend to wander around till something catches their eye - yes, I'm still talking about shoes! But you get what I mean. When making a choice, know what you want, don’t settle for second-best and most importantly, cheap does not equal to cheerful. Settling for less than the best and you end up with inferior goods that fall apart in your hands – now I’m talking about dates!
  • Divide and conquer – Bring a friend! A second opinion is always welcome and you’ll look less creepy than hanging around and giving someone the eye by yourself.
  • Lay down a Line – Express your loveliness, not lasciviousness through the language of love! Make sure what you say isn’t of the “I may not be Fred Flintstone, but I can make your bed rock” variety. Sincerity and honesty work best. Read on for details!

  • 2. Look - Important Places to Meet New Faces
    Love is waiting to happen in the following locations… And all can be found at a mall near you!
  • Tried & Tested - the Changing Rooms! For example, if you’re trying on something, ask the hottie who’s passing by what they think of it, or invite him/ her to help you pick something out for your brother/ friend/ mom’s sister’s niece’s goddaughter. Ta-dah! Change clothes, exchange numbers!
  • Meat market = Meet Market – a gourmet butcher shop means bulls-eye for both sexes – Guys like to hunt for meat, Girls like to cook the meat. And if no hook-ups happen, at least you’ll have a quality hamburger in your hands!
  • DIY Heartware – Hardware Stores are a veritable toolbox full of uh, tools. Let Polly rephrase that - Big, strong boys who are handy with their tools! Better yet, men love the ladies who can fix things and take some of the responsibility off them, no?
  • Lalalalove! – Music Stores. Nothing bonds two strangers more than the same taste in tunes. Shakespeare called music the food of love, so play on, players!
  • Sweat is Sexy – The Gym. Scantily-clad buff bods. ‘Nuff said! Or you could try saying this, “Excuse me, could you show me how to use this machine? Ooh, you must work out a lot!”
  • Coffee, Croissant, Caresses? – Cafes. Pick a crowded one and ask to share a table. Conversation started, the rest is up to your charming self.
  • Lean, Green, Lovin’ Machine – The Supermarket. Remember, dear Mallrats, you are what you eat. To get that extra alluring glow, get fresh with your greens too. Ingesting lots of fruits and vegs will do it for you. Polly recommends procuring said fresh produce where you can scope out both the salads and suitors. Or grab a super-healthy fruit-veg blend at the smoothie stand and practice your smooth movies on a special someone you’re little eye has spied.
  • Love is a Drugstore - First impressions last, so before you even get fresh with someone, you gotta look and smell fresh! Do brush your teeth, floss, deodorize, tweeze and squeeze to please any prospective dates! Come to think of it, your arsenal of freshening weapons can be found at the mall in any toiletries store. And whilst you’re loading up on ammo to make you more amorous, you may even meet a potential sweetheart in the drugstore aisles!

  • Some final words of wisdom, Mallrats - Polly’s guide to getting fresh shouldn’t get you slapped or arrested, so lay off the corny lines and octopus hands. Follow through with the steps above and you’ll up your chances of making a love connection at the mall!

    Sunday, July 20, 2008

    SUPER TROOPER

    It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a pair of $800 Marc Jacobs silver superhero booties! Greetings and salutations, my little Mallrats! Have you noticed that whilst once found only in cult comic books and geeky fan clubs, superheroes are now rearing their carefully coiffed heads everywhere, from the runway to the mall and everything else in between? Taking their cue from the grand opening ball for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum in New York’s Super-heroes: Fashion and Fantasy exhibit, designers seem deadly determined, in true Mutant-X fashion, to splice Supermodel with Superhero to create one super-fashionable superhuman. To varying degrees of success, I might add.

    Caution is imperative when cultivating the look of super couture. Can we mere mortals really carry off a look that was designed with the divine in mind? The wardrobe arsenal of a superhero consists of masks, capes, skintight bodysuits, girdles, and stiletto boots - hardly the stuff a girl can wear to the office or to the, uh, supermarket. So how can the trend-conscious take the larger-than-life elements of the superhero uniform from the runway to real life and still look like a fantastical female?

    That’s where Polly comes to the rescue! Take it from a girl whose nome de plume is the very essence of ‘super’ in the fabric world! In polyester you’ll find a virtually indestructible blend of man-made fibres, impervious to heat, brute strength and sweat from hours of disco dancing. So if you want fashion with punch, it’s a WHAM! POW! And UP, UP & AWAY! with Polly Esther’s guide to doing the Superhero trend right.

    1. Meek to Mighty Pep Talk
    Embracing the superhero look is all about channelling your inner fearless female and bringing that tempting tigress, world-saving wunderkind inside, out. Think of all the costumed crime-fighters who were plain, ordinary women pre-super-transformation… From Wonder Woman to Catwoman, it was all about the glorious getups. This is your chance to play dress-up and rub shoulders with the divine!

    2. Caped Crusaders
    Capes are cute only if they aren’t over-poweringly huge, otherwise you might end up looking like a stick of otah begging to be unwrapped! Sure, big, ankle-length capes look impressive and are fun to swish around in, but please understand how ridiculous something designed for colder climes and aero-dynamism would look in our tropical landscape! Stick to shoulder-skimming capelets (i.e. capes, only smaller!), tied in a jaunty bow round your neck and yours will be a look that’s chic and not sheet! Just make sure you’re also wearing other clothes under that capelet – Polly suggests jeans and a shimmery tank.

    3. Baddie-busting Bustiers
    Superheroes do love the underwear as outerwear look, so go with it! And just like bad guys are a superchick’s enemies, her bosoms are her obvious best buddies, so use yours to the best advantage in a bustier ala Wonder Woman. Except minus the knee-high boots and, star-spangled panties. Overkill, much? Pair the bustier with a modesty-preserving cardigan and remember it doesn’t belong in the office. Your boss and co-workers won’t appreciate it (ok, may the male ones might!), but your hot date tonight will!

    4. Give ‘Em the Boot!
    Superhero stiletto boots can be sexy. Note, CAN BE. When not worn thigh-high or made of shiny patent leather, that is. Keep things at knee-level or below and your superhero status will be perfectly elevated, not dragged down to the realms of female-impersonators or S & M dominatrix. And remember, boots with stiletto heels can trickily walk you into slutty territory, so err on the right side of caution and settle for a stacked heel.

    5. Skin-tight is Super Right…
    … only if you’ re a supermodel or super thick-skinned, or born with superior genes. Full-on spandex bodysuits should be avoided like Superman does Kryptonite, unless you have the body of Mystique or an Olympic swimmer. The same goes for silicon-molded body armour, especially if it comes with built-in nipples. Even George Clooney as the Dark Knight become a Dark Nightmare in 1997’s flop flick, Batman and Robin. Speaking of Robin, if you must go the way of the spandex, stick to monotones, not colours Ronald MacDonald would go crazy for. A happy compromise is pulling on a pair of tights under a flippy skirt for the skin-tight effect with none of the chubby Cirque du Soleil contortionist consequences.

    6. Off the Cuff
    Any Amazonian super woman worth her salt knows that accessories are a girl’s best armour, so what to wear? Toss the cheesy Batman-inspired utility belts, unless you want to add inches to your mid-section or end up looking like a boy scout. Forget whip, chains and lassos, unless you’re a kinky fetishist. Consider the simple, but far-from-common cuff. Wonder Woman wore hers to deflect bullets, you can wear yours to reflect your superhero style! Best of all, the wrist cuff is the easiest way to appropriate a trend that could be too costumey because anyone, any size, any age can wear one. And Polly really does mean just one. Cuffs on both wrists will make you look like Conan the Barbarian rather than an awesome Amazonian princess!

    Follow these cardinal rules for super couture, and you’re well on your fashionable way to world domination! Remember, my mighty mighty mallrats, the trick to trouncing this trend is to NEVER wear more than one element on your bodacious body at any one time. Also, keep in mind that the superhero look is Cosmopolitan, not Cosplay; Powerful, not Powerpuff Girl; Hip, not Halloween! And finally, in the words of one famous partial arachnid, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Use the superhero look wisely and you’ll be able to leap this trend in a single, stylish bound!

    Sunday, June 22, 2008

    GSS Crossword Puzzle

    Greetings and salutations, my little Mallrats! We all know that Shopping during the Great Singapore Sale is not only an exercise in your physical strength and stamina, but also one of strategy and cunning mental maneuvering. Studies by neuro-scientists have shown that engaging in any intellectually-stimulating activity can potentially increase one’s mental agility. As such, why not tone up your flabby cerebral cells with Polly’s patented, dazzling, fool-proof mental workout, guaranteed to make your grey matter limber and your wits more supple? In fact grab a pencil (or pen, if you’re super-confident!) and start flexing your intellectual muscles with Polly Esther’s all-new, all-original, all-fun Great Singapore Sale crossword puzzle!

    • If you managed to finish Polly’s puzzle without referring to the answers, congratulations! Polly pities the other weaker-minded shoppers who fall prey to your sharp shopping strategizing!
    • If you managed to finish Polly’s puzzle whilst taking a peek (or two) at the answers, congratulations! At least your cheating, conniving little heart will compensate for what ever is lacking cerebrally – happy bargain-hunting!
    • If you didn’t manage to finish Polly’s puzzle even though you checked the answers, condolences! Stay home and have someone else do your shopping for you. May Polly suggest whilst staying home, you start building up your battered brain cells slowly with colouring books and Primary One mathematics?

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Are You GSS Ready?

    Greetings, my little Mallrats! It’s that time of the year again! Time to start gearing up for the main event… the ultimate in retail therapy… the Mother of all Shopping Sprees… the one annual extravaganza that has shopaholics salivating and bank accounts quivering in anticipation… THE GREAT SINGAPORE SALE! So as temperatures soar and the streets sizzle with discount fever, we must start making preparations to battle with bargain basements and be fighting-fit for fashion freebies. The question is, are you super enough to be a sale season shopper? Take Polly’s quick quiz to find out if you’re ready for said impending GSS:

    1. I think shopping and sales are…
    a) Better than sex, chocolate and, uh, even oxygen!
    b) Good fun if I have the time and moola.
    c) Equal to getting my toenails ripped from my feet with rusty pliers.

    2. If I were to shop during a sale, I’m at the store…
    a) Pressed up against its doors five hours before opening hours – I don’t want some other penny-pinching, grubby-grabber bagging my bargain!
    b) The day before the sale to scope out what I want. Doing your homework pays off, darling!
    c) Only because curious, retail-obsessed aliens have possessed my body and I no longer have control over my mind or my four limbs.

    3. And when I walk into the store…
    a) I have my elbows and umbrella at the ready to beat down geriatrics and small children who get in my way, plus a huge shopping bag to empty trays of merch into.
    b) The salespeople greet me by name and subtly point me to where they’ve hidden the best stock.
    c) It’s because abovementioned aliens are cunningly preventing my legs from going backwards and out the door.

    4. For sale season, I’m dressed in…
    a) The 5-inch heels I snatched from the claws of a desperate harpy in the last store. So what if they’re 3 sizes too big? They were 80% off and designer!!!
    b) Something I can slip on and off easily in a fitting room. Oh, and sensible shoes. Perfect for saving time and tired tootsies!
    c) Shades of doom and gloom until it all goes away.

    5. The time I’ve taken off work to shop during sale season amounts to…
    a) 1392 hours = 58 days = the entire duration of the GSS (adding up vacation time, sick leave and emergency days, I should be able to make it!).
    b) A day. Two, max.
    c) Nada. Zilch. Zero.

    6. If asked how much I spend on my sale purchases, I…
    a) Totally lie. Who needs a guilt trip from friends and family? Or worse, from my own conscience?
    b) May have to stretch the truth a teensy bit from time to time.
    c) Proudly declare, “Nothing at all!” Or, “None of your @£$% business!” if I’m in a bad mood.

    7. In my closet, I have…
    a) Not enough space to fit all the unworn stuff with tags still attached, that same dress in five different colours and shopping bags of shoes in the wrong sizes.
    b) Always a little extra room for cute new acquisitions!
    c) Skeletons. And no, don’t ask.

    8. When I go on holiday, I like to…
    a) Sniff out local sales, visit at as many malls as possible, drop dough at every souvenir store along the way and hit-up duty free for bargain booze and cheap cosmetics.
    b) Discover where the locals shop and hopefully take advantage of the differences in taxes and currency rates.
    c) Explore the sights and sounds. Not the shops or the souvenirs.

    9. My favorite TV shows are…
    a) A three-way-tie between Supermarket Sweep, Fear Factor and The Amazing Race.
    b) Friends and Sex in the City.
    c) The news and documentaries about lemurs.

    10. My dream house would include…
    a) Unlimited space for my new clothes, shoes, accessories, bags, knick-knacks, appliances… You know, all the stuff I’m buying, have bought and will buy!
    b) A gym, four-car garage, ample closet space and a pool complete with Cabana boy!
    c) A panic room for me to hide out in during sale season.

    Mostly a’s, you’re ready for therapy – and sorry, not of the retail sort.
    Put your hands up and step away from the shopping mall. Forget about being a shopaholic, you’re a shopapsychomaniac! Time to go cold turkey for a while - cut up those credit cards and make friends with the Salvation Army. And while you’re at it, get some professional help before the damage becomes permanent – your obsession is risking old people and little kids, not to mention your own mental health!

    Mostly b’s, you’re ready to rock the Great Singapore Sale!
    You’ve got a cool head and cold cash to splash out on some pretty new purchases. You know what you want and when to draw the line. Armed with your credit card and expert eye for bargain essentials, you’re gonna make a gleeful killing this GSS! Happy dealing and stealing (uh, figuratively speaking, of course)!

    Mostly c’s, you’re ready for a spartan life of simplicity and sale-free solitude.
    You sure know how to curb the spending. And the joy. Are you always this grumpy when it comes to sales and shopping? How bout letting loose once in a while? Haven’t you heard that buying stuff releases endorphins and adrenaline into your system? That means a narcotic-free high! Whoo-hoo!

    Thursday, April 17, 2008

    SFF stands for So Freakin’ Frugal

    Greetings and salutations, my little Mallrats! If fashion is your fetish and you’re a slave to style, then break out the bubbly and lay out your fanciest frocks, cos’ the event that puts the hip in hip-hip-hurray is back! Only this year, Polly would like to dedicate this space to the frugionable. As in, you know, the frugally fashionable? Or is it the fashionably frugal? Semantics aside, we all know that chasing after chic is not always cheap (despite what Moschino says), so how can you partake of Singapore Fashion Festival without breaking a sweat or the bank? Polly will show you how with easily less than fifty bucks!

    1. History-making Clothing
    The National Museum and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts students will marry venue with vintage by recreating 1930s style through carefully coordinated illustrations and outfits on display. Add a catwalk show and a little healthy competition between twenty fashion design students and we have ourselves a mini Project Runway in the heart of the city! With just a tenner and a keen eye for a bygone era, a fabulous time can be had by the frugal fashionista wandering down the gilded, glamorous hallways of sartorical history. As a bonus, check out the Fashion Gallery in the Singapore Living Galleries, which takes you through the shape-shifting looks of Singapore women from the 1950s to the 1970s. Double bonus –museum entry is free between six and eight pm!

    2. Small Budget, Big Heart
    Just because the frugal fashionista has a small budget doesn’t mean she has to be small-hearted, so pour on the charm, tap into your altruistic spirit and glide into the New Majestic Hotel for a glimpse at fashionable furniture designed to raise funds for charity. Under the roof of one of Singapore’s hippest hotels, you’ll be able to soak in its lush design elements and the six customised Verner Panton Heart Cone Chairs. Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve, now your entire frame can wear a heart - a large designer heart-shaped chair, that is! While these chairs are displayed to pamper your peepers gratis, they’ll be put up for auction with proceeds to benefit the Singapore Heart Foundation. Even if you can’t afford to put in a bid, perhaps you could persuade someone with the means to do so!

    3. Flea, Fie, Fo, Frugal
    Second-hand doesn’t have to mean shoddy or shabby, given the immense popularity of Zouk’s flea market, where delightful treasures can be discovered for a fraction of what you’d pay in a regular store. With that in mind, the frugal yet fashion-savvy will be in hand-me-down heaven at a special edition of Zouk’s Flea & Easy, which promises to up its chic cred a notch. Flea & Easy Fashion Elite Edition features the wares of stylists, fashion designers, magazine editors, writers, models and celebrities, all the better for us in need of thrifty retail therapy. It’ll be like having your own personal shopper and stylist albeit at a bargain price. Just remember your fifty-buck budget!

    4. Models Invade Malls
    No slight on the big ticket SFF events, which I’m sure will be divine, darlings, but if you’re working with a more limited budget, then treat yourself to catwalk couture the frugionable way. Polly calls this runway for realists – see sashaying sylphs in the latest collections at shopping malls like Marina Square, Vivocity, Centrepoint and Paragon. Make sure you bag a view front and centre at any of these free events - you’ll get all of the atmosphere but hopefully none of the divaesque attitudes you might encounter elsewhere.

    Now my little Mallrats, keep in mind this is a less than exhaustive list of the many and myriad things you could be experiencing at SFF 2008, but with a little research and a lot of resourcefulness, even high fashion can be brought down to earth for those with less lofty budgets (including yours truly). Maybe this SFF, we’ll meet in a mall or a museum, but more likely you’ll find Polly plotting ways to accidentally-on-purpose bump into designer darling and SFF opener Matthew Williamson. He’s haute stuff! OK, OK, so he’s openly gay, but window shopping is free, as long as you don’t buy what’s on display. After all, fashion is great for shirts and girdles!

    Friday, March 14, 2008

    Land of the Rising Fun

    Konnichiwa Mallrat-sans! Lately, Polly’s been feeling a lot like a tightly-rolled futomaki, all because she’s bursting to tell you about the fabulous trip she took across Japan last October. And now, finally, after five looong months, the wait is over - this month’s issue of Catalog has pranced off the presses, and Polly can spill her insides about her adventures in the birthplace of Sake, Sudoku & Samurai! Deeply inspired by this weird yet wonderful country of culture, couture and contradictions, Polly will express herself in the ancient Japanese art form known as the Haiku. This seventeen-syllabled poem follows a five-seven-five syllable rhythm, which Polly has painstakingly adhered to. For extra kakkoii effects, be sure to read each haiku aloud to the stirring soundscape of the songs listed. Bearing in mind that Polly’s no professional poet and means no disrespect to ancient Japanese tradition, it’s ichi, ni, san and away we go!

    Five Odes to Food

    I. Eating in Japan
    Beyond the conveyor belt
    Tastebud explosion.

    II. Forget Kobe beef
    Matzusaka tops the list
    In fact, Wagyu who?

    III. Kaiseki-Ryoki
    Little tastes of Kyoto
    Feast of emperors.

    IV. Old Ise restaurant
    Shark and soy-sauced udon served
    Biting tradition!

    V. Teahouse perched up high
    River running far below
    Impossible feat.

    Music: Anything by Shonen Knife – more likely than not, it’ll be about food! Standout tracks include Sushi Bar, Gyoza and Flying Jelly Attack. Rock & handroll on!

    Seven Odes to Fashion

    I. Tokyo
    The city heartbeat
    A million needles in synch
    Seeds of style are sewn.

    II. A Unique Glow
    I heart Uniqlo
    Japan’s answer to The Gap
    Basic, not boring.

    III. Harajuku
    Clothes and crafts collide
    Crowds clash trigger-happy as
    Costumed creatures play.

    IV. Shibuya Part 1
    Like battery farms
    Style is stacked high side-by-side
    Trends breed like rabbits.

    V. Shibuya Part 2
    Blonde boys look like girls
    Clothes not the only thing shared
    When girls look right back.

    VI. Marriage is Sweet
    Old and new get hitched
    Modern brides wear kimonos
    Layered cake ladies.

    VII. Kawaii 5-0
    Human beings roam
    Embodiment of cartoons
    Big eyes and knee socks.

    Music: Rich Girl by Gwen Stefani, Domo Arigato Mr Robato by Styx

    Five Odes to Fun
    I. A Japanese jaunt
    Incomplete without song
    Karaoke rocks!

    II. Love hotel meeting
    Who needs an interpreter
    Use your body language

    III. Daiso one-stop shop
    Everything at one price
    Joy costs just two bucks

    IV. Drinks at Park Hyatt
    Pretending to be Scarlett
    Lost in translation

    V. Onsen means hot springs
    Nakedness is encouraged
    Double-boiled tourists

    Music: Turning Japanese by The Vapors, Big in Japan by Alphaville

    Wasn’t that a blast? Polly’s travelogue done Japanese haiku stylie! And whilst we all can agree that less is more when it comes to words, it doesn’t take a Sudoku expert to know tell you that simply doesn’t apply to shopping! Especially when one is shopping in the Land of the Rising Fun. So until next time, it’s sayonara Mallrats and ohayo air ticket to Tokyo!

    Friday, February 29, 2008

    Mad Style

    Hey, y’all! This month, Polly’s channelling a little Britney to bring you a public service announcement. You know Britney? Miss Spears of incessant tabloid fodder fame? Miss Spears of ex Mrs Federline, loss of child custody fame? Miss Spears of red-light-running, speeding ticket fame? Miss Spears of increasingly erratic behaviour fame? Yup, THAT Britney. Yes, everybody’s fave poptart-turned-papslut has had a very busy year of felonies (fashion and otherwise), fines and feuds that warrants the crazy label. In fact, Brit-Brit has taken it to such outrageous new heights of madness that Polly reckons this year’s new catchphrase should be “Britney is the new Crazy”. Since we’re still barely into the start of the new year, it’s not too late to provide you, dear Mallrats, with a guide to cruising through 2008 crazy-free. To stay firmly on the right side of style sanity, follow these next simple steps and make “Britney is the new Crazy” your new mantra – it’ll act as a deterrent to manic moments!

    Socialising
     People who use you for their own gain are not your friends. See also Paparazzi, Adnan Ghalib, Britney’s Dodgy New Squeeze. A reminder here to choose your arm candy (human or otherwise) wisely.
     People who use you for their own gain are not your friends, but physically assaulting them goes beyond being simply unfriendly. See also below under Accessories.
     British accents are for the British, not American girls from Louisana, although Britney’s been known in recent months to address strangers in one. Please Britney, we know you kissed her once on TV, but we don’t need another accent-shifting Madonna!

    Accessories
    The above-mentioned infamous event where Britney attacked a photographer yields a goldmine of useful style tips:
     Umbrellas are for keeping you dry in the rain, not for causing grevious bodily harm to others and their vehicles.
     Pearls are a timeless classic. Just not so much when paired with an explosive temper tantrum and tatty gym shorts.

    Footwear (or lack thereof)
     Cowboy boots do not go with everything, unless you’re a cowboy.
     Going barefoot in public toilets… ‘Nuff said.

    Hair (or lack thereof)
     Bald is not always beautiful. Before you pick up a razor, consider the aesthetic consequences of a shaved head.
     Post head-shaving, beware the bad hair weave or heinous hair extension! Nobody wants to see where your short locks end and crusty hair glue begins.
     Pink synthetic bobs look best on clowns or during Halloween, not for an everyday stroll down the street in broad daylight.

    Clothing (or lack thereof)
     Underwear is always in fashion. Proper panties under a short dress will never go out of style. Nobody wants to see your bare bottom, or worse, your bare front bottom, if you catch Polly’s drift.
     Designer clothes should not be used as paper towels. Unless you have paid for said very expensive paper towels yourself. Britney’s disastrous OK! Magazine photoshoot had fashionistas worldwide suffering mini heart attacks when she let her puppy poo on a US$6,700 Zac Posen gown, wiped her greasy fried chicken hands on a silk Alisha Levine dress and ran off with more than US$14,000 of OK!'s borrowed clothing.
     Stripper bikinis are for strippers only, not for a huge event that could make or break your career. See also Comeback, Gimme More, MTV Video Music Awards.
     Wedding wear is not everyday wear, no matter how cute your dress is. Britney’s been spotted out and about wearing the white lacy number she wore at her wedding to ex-husband Kevin Federline. Whilst she was out with her new paparazzi boyfriend Adnan Ghalib. So wrong on so many levels.
     Covering your nakedness is generally recommended when meeting people you don’t know for the first time, especially people who may testify about you in court. See also Britney Hospitalised in Holding Son Hostage Drama.

    Music
     “You Drive Me Crazy” is a fun pop song, not a lifestyle choice.
     Britney once said, “I always listen to 'NSYNC's Tearin' Up My Heart. It reminds me to wear a bra.” Those, by Britney’s standards, are words to live by.

    Now if ever things get hectic and you feel a little meltdown coming on, remember, “Britney is the New Crazy”. Not only will life seem less manic, but it’ll remind you of what not to do and keep you from crossing the boundaries of style and decorum. Here’s to a year of mental and sartorial health, my darling Mallrats!

    Tuesday, January 01, 2008

    Great Crystal Balls of Desire!

    Greetings and Salutations, my little Mallrats! I hope we are all suitably sated from the surfeit of salacious indulgence over the holiday season? Oh yes, it was divine… the food, the wine, the people, the parties… Simply divine! But allow Polly this one little teensy complaint – fashion-wise, the festivities were one big kaka of a let-down. I mean there are only so many parties you can show up at with at least three other Wannabes wearing the same a) accessories b) clothes c) shoes d) all of the above. Ugh! Repeat after me, Mallrats: Crime of Fashion! No Profashional worth her, uh, Pradas, would ever be caught dead wearing the same outfit as someone else!

    Now before you go blaming the great commercialization/ globalisation of chain stores (as in the usual suspects that turn up at most malls down the Orchard Road stretch), I believe this heinous fashion felony extends itself even into the (gasp!) luxury market. Yes, even top-end designers have not been spared. For example, how many ladies have you seen walking down the street carrying a certain familiar monogrammed designer tote? They can’t all be dishing out the dough for the real stuff! But designer knock-offs aside, you have to admit, those with the real McCoys still form a pretty big number. You only have to flick through the tabloids to see Hollywood starlets in the same designer frock at the same event. You see? No way to avoid the shock-horror humiliation of looking like someone else’s evil twin. I mean, come on! What happened to being uncommon and unique?

    What Polly is trying to say is, in her quest for self-expression and individualism, luxury perhaps has lost a little lustre. That’s not to say a thousand-dollar pair of exquisitely crafted four-inch heels from Christian Louboutin doesn’t set Polly’s heart all apatter, but seeing someone else in the same pair you’ve got on kinda takes the thrill away. And it seems I’m not the only one who feels this way. This collective case of designer fatigue has been dubbed by consumer industry insiders as “the next small thing”. Who wants to wear what Paris Hilton had on last week in LA when we could have something she doesn’t have? Something that NO ONE but YOU has? That something can only be found in hole-in-the-wall, out-of-this-world, unusual and yes, SMALL stores. As chasing for status symbols becomes boring, more and more shoppers are getting their fix and kicks from hard-to-find places. The perfect prescription to the cloying consumption of luxury goods would seem to be simply this: Procure the Obscure!

    Thus, looking into my Great Crystal Ball of Desire, here’s what Polly would like to see more of, by way of the obscure, this shopping year:

    1. More “cyberpreneurs” and small business owners who sell only artisanal, non-mass-produced brands in limited quantities. Buyers will know the whole history of their purchase – where & it was made, etc. Part of the pleasure of procuring the obscure is having a relationship, an emotional involvement, if you will, with your purchase!

    2. More creative consumers-turned-entrepreneurs handcrafting their own clothing and accessories for sale online. Quantities made are limited, thus protecting quality and also obscurity. Buyers are assured of the extraordinariness they crave.

    3. We’ve seen quite a number of flea markets/ craft fairs/ swop parties emerge in 2007 as a means of buying and selling one-of-a-kind gems. Hopefully this vibrant and alternative shopping experience will continue to expand with more home-grown fashionistas taking the plunge to design, create and sell.

    4. Extreme personalization – consumers taking a product they’ve bought and making it their own by embellishing or deconstructing or silk-screening their own designs.

    5. Even mass brands jumping in on the demand for different, the urge for personalization. For examples, bag and jeans companies are already taking a cue from the underground and offering “personalization” services to make what you buy unique. Polly says if you go mass, at least add some personal touches, please!

    6. More distinctive, less “baa-baa-I’m-a-sartorical-sheep” styles emerging as a result of all or some of the above!

    In other words, my little Mallrats, forget trends, forget what’s hot and what’s not, why not go for what nobody else has? Procure the Obscure, embrace the unconventional! But ah, this in itself is perhaps Polly’s attempt at starting an anti-trend trend, which (sigh) still makes it a trend! A bit of a Catch 22 situation, no? But surely you understand where Polly’s coming from. With a little creativity, a lot of passion and stringent quality and quantity control, 2008 could be one exhilaratingly obscure shopping experience – no more couture clones! One question though: what on earth am I gonna do with my Christian Louboutins?

    Friday, November 30, 2007

    Walking in a Shopping Wonderland

    (Polly’s annual Christmas Shopping Singalong, sung to the tune of Walking in a Winter Wonderland)

    Cash-tills ring, are you listening?
    In the stores, wares are beckoning,
    A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight
    Walking in a shopping wonderland.

    For bargain hags, it’s never enough,
    In those bags is more new stuff,
    To me they belong, your arms must be strong
    (When we’re) Walking in a shopping wonderland.

    In the mall is where I’ll buy your present,
    Then pretend forgot to get you one,
    You’ll say: “Are you serious?” I’ll say: “Didn’t!”
    And wait to see your priceless expression!

    Later on, we'll conspire,
    How much more we can acquire,
    We’ll face unafraid the bills left unpaid,
    Walking in a shopping wonderland.

    In the sale is where you’ll buy my present,
    And pretend that it cost quite a lot,
    I’ll have lots of fun with my new present,
    Until it falls apart and you get caught!

    When we shop, ain't it thrilling,
    As our wallets make a killing,
    We'll haggle and pay, the Singapore way,
    Walking in a shopping wonderland.


    Merry Christmas, my little mallrats! May this season bring you rings and things, comfort, joy and most of all, glad tidings!

    Monday, September 17, 2007

    The World (of Art) According to Polly

    Ever since men were drawing stick figures in mud on cave walls whilst their women were draping animal skins into form-covering garments, art and fashion have happily co-existed, so what a delightful privilege it is this month for Polly to introduce her little fashionistas to the wonderful world of art. This, of course, is not an attempt to simplify said wide and wonderful medium, just a few of Polly’s favourite mo(ve)ments in art history, served up with a twist of fashion inspiration on the side.

    Not discounting the tremendous contributions of artists like Micheangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Rapahel (and I’m certainly not talking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles here!), let’s slide off our stilettos and take one giant leap over them and the rest of the glorious past to arrive at art in late 19th century, shall we? Pay close attention and before long, you’ll be rattling off the names of the great masters as easily as you do Gucci, Balenciaga and Hermes.

    1. Impressionism. Pretty, pastel paintings done in a distinct “dabbing” style. See Edgar Degas, Pierre Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet. Best described in the deliciously OTT movie and guilty pleasure of all young taitai wanabes, Clueless:
    “Tai: Do you think she's pretty?
    Cher: No, she's a full-on Monet.
    Tai: What's a monet?
    Cher: It's like a painting, see? From far away, it's OK, but up close, it's a big old mess.”

    2. Expressionism. It’s all about the emotions, baby! Artists went on a personal, spontaneous ego trip of self-expression. This means images were distorted and exaggerated, with vivid colours and dynamic brush strokes. See Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse and Edvard Munch. In the fashion world, look to Bjork or Paris Hilton when her stylist is on vacation!

    3. Art Nouveau. The Golden Age of Gorgeous - everything done with beauty and detail in mind. Lots of pretty ladies in diaphanous gowns of gossamer and a distinct style in lettering and curling flora and fauna designs. See also Gustav Klimt (Polly’s fave!) for passionate clinches, vibrant colours and lots of gilding and Antoni Gaudi for mind-blowing, fantastical architecture like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (the perfect place to combine art education and fabulous shopping!).

    4. Art Deco. Very glamorous, very luxe, very roaring twenties, darling! Lots of experimentation going on, as Colonial and Oriental styles entwined – kinda like SPGs and Ang Mor Men meeting for the first time, but classier! The look was about being thoroughly modern, yet traditional. Think crisp, symmetrical geometric designs, dark lips and chic women who smoked cigarettes from gilded cigarette holders!

    5. Cubism. Pablo Picasso is best known as the father of this art movement (radical, innovative paintings of bulbous women with their features all on one side of their face – classic views of beauty be damned!) and daddy-o to designer Paloma Picasso, who cut a stylish figure in the eighties with her dark, pulled-back hair, slash of red lipstick and TV ads caressing her large earrings or bottles of perfume.

    6. Surrealism. Speaks for itself - Melting clocks, men in bowler hats with apples for faces, monkeys everywhere… Style icons Madonna and Salma Hayek were obsessed with Mexican artist Frieda Kahlo, snapping up her paintings and even making a movie about her life. Anyone who can rock the Neanderthal monobrow look has got be a surrealist! See also Salvador Dali. With his wacky moustache and irrepressible sense of humour, he dabbled in paintings, sculpture, film, furniture (remember the Mae West Lips sofa?) and even fashion design, all with a sexy, surreal vibe.

    7. Abstract. The best example of art meets fashion is Piet Mondrian, with his graphic line paintings that were immortalized by Yves Saint Laurent on his special “Mondrian” Day Dress in 1965. Jet over to New York and drool over it yourself at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute!

    8. Pop Art. Campbell’s Soup Cans. Marilyn Monroe. Need I say more? Eccentric style maven and Studio 54 regular Andy Warhol crossed genres as an artist and stylist, with his famous silk screens and mass-produced art. See also his super-chic muse Edie Sedgwick, who lives on in tabloid darling and Factory Girl, Sienna Miller.

    9. Graffitti. Celebration of anarchic youth, bane of law enforcers worldwide, it lives on till today. See also painters Jean-Michel Basquiat (another movie and Madonna connection here!) and Keith Haring, of black-and-white “Radiant Baby” fame, who also rubbed shoulders with the fashion forward Andy Warhol, Duran Duran and Grace Jones.

    10. Post-Modern. Polly could go on and on, but she’s currently VERY distracted by British artist Damien Hirst. Love him or hate him and his penchant for death, the grotesque and encasing sharks in formaldehyde, he is arguably the world’s wealthiest artist, considering his last piece of work sold for a whopping £50,000,000! For The Love of God, is a remodeled 18th century human skull recreated in platinum and adorned with 8,601 diamonds (worth £15,000,000) weighing a total of 1,106.18 carats. And I guess that sums up the post-modern in a nutshell - or should I say, human skull? It may not have much meaning to some, but to others it means a lot of money!

    Wednesday, August 29, 2007

    How to be an IWoM

    Calling all citizens of the world - lovely lasses not content to settle for just what our sunny isle can offer… Ladies don’t just want coffee and milk in their latte, but also sugar from brazil, cinnamon from Sri Lanka and dark chocolate shavings from Belgium too… Those who dream big and look beyond these shores at the bigger picture (and bigger shopping bags!)… As we here at Catalog celebrate all things international this month, why not hop aboard with us for the rip-roarin’ rollercoaster ride? Whether you’re a jet-setting fashionista, casual holiday chiclet or armchair traveler, Polly has your passport to being an International Woman of Mystery. So if you’re packed and ready, step through this column’s customs and away we go! Presenting Polly’s guide to living large, rolling rich and galloping the globe, IWoM stylie:

     Start with what you’ve got. Singapore being the little melting pot of exotic and international flavours, is a veritable treasure trove of stylin’ tidbids! Scour her four corners and ethnic enclaves for treasures to dress up your otherwise vanilla wardrobe. Adorned in glittering sari material from Little India, scented oils from Geyland Serai, embroidered silk slippers from Chinatown or vintage togs from Arab Street, you’ll be a globo-boho chick in a snap!

     Or declare a different travel theme everyday, whether it’s an Aspen ski-bunny, golden-hued hula girl or delicate Asian flower, you’ll gain frequent fashion-flyer miles for your creativity and flair. Remember though, a little goes a long way. Don’t dress in full Eskimo regalia, or suffer the consequences of your stupidity. It’s all about the accents, darling, little accents to jazz up your look.

     For instant glammed-up, I-just-got-back-from-a-beach-holiday effects, spray-tan for that bronzy, Saint Tropez glow. Just don’t go overboard and end up an unappealing shade of kumquat. We don’t want people calling us tanorexics, do we?

     For quick getaways and last minute escapes, have a (Birkin bag optional) carry-on at the ready by the front door. Stock with mini bottles of toiletries (moisturiser and sunscreen are must-haves), cosmetics, flip flops, bikini, passport, book, magazines, oversized sunnies, cashmere scarf to fend off frosty inflight cabin temperatures and most importantly, platinum credit card (you can buy whatever else you may need with this baby!). When the wanderlust hits, just grab and go!

     If funds, work or other tiresome commitments keep you stuck in one place, travel by proxy. Send a cheeky ceramic garden gnome, ala French flick Amelie of Montmarte, round the world on your behalf. Document with pictures and you’ll have a quirky travel album to show off! P.S. It really helps to have trolley dolly friends for this little IWoM exercise.

     Casually flavour your conversations with universal phrases like “je nais se quois”, “hola” and “domo arigato”. But please know what they mean and make sure you use them in the right situations. And remember, there’s a very fine line between sounding pretentious and well-read/ well-traveled/ well-spoken.

     Better yet, learn a new language and find people to practice with! Then high thee to ye foreign land from whence said language cameth. Let the immersion exploits begin!

     And while we’re on a learning streak, check out cooking classes that will open up aromatic gateways to far-off climes. Sushi-making? Turkish Ice-cream churning? Chocolate truffle master-classes? The World is your oyster. Literally. Culinary capers will make your conversations that much more interesting and besides, who doesn’t love a woman who cooks?

     Adopt an attitude that’s less Austin Powers, more Mona Lisa by smiling enigmatically when approached by good-looking strangers. Never at any point utter the words, “Do I make you horny, baby? Do I?” And never mistake enigmatic for vacant & vapid.

     Face + Book = Opportunity for creating your own cosmopolitan community online. They don’t call it the worldwide web for nothin’, honey! It’s good to have friends from all over the world. Just don’t be a social networking whore by adding friends you hardly know so you can show off how “popular you are”. And don’t go displaying every known picture of yourself, or airing all your dirty laundry. TMI, my little Mallrats! Maintain abovementioned enigmatic air with arty pictures and interesting morsels that hint at the woman of substance behind the webpage. Never reveal too much or your mysterious, intriguing façade will crumble.

     Subscribe to Discovery Travel and Living on cable TV, the ultimate indulgence for those thirsting for a taste of the jet-setting lifestyle, without breaking the bank or leaving the couch!

     Have cross-cultural, cross-genre mood music as inspirational soundtrack for your grand escapades. Polly recommends Pink Martini’s Sympathetique or Hang on Little Tomato, anything by the Buena Vista Social Club and St Germain’s Tourist. For the really adventurous, scope record stores for Mongolian throat singing. Or Swiss yodelling. Or anything by Icelandic chantreuse Bjork.

    Voila, dear Mallrats, these are but just a few pointers to move you in the right direction toward world domination! Feel free to mix and match and even add to this far-from-exhaustive list. And before you know it, you’ll be rocking the International Woman of Mystery vibe faster than you can say Louis Vuitton Tribute Patchwork bag. Ciao bambinos, catch you on the next flight out!

    Tuesday, July 03, 2007

    Polly’s Not-so-Grownup Guide to a Fun-filled, Playful Weekend

    You’ll have to forgive Polly for going retro on you this month, dear Mallrats, but admittedly, the ‘80s is the era I most identify with when it comes to revisiting all things fun & playful. They say nostalgia is an indulgence of the aged and if so, hand me a zimmer frame and call me grandma! Call it sentimental drivel, call it the Mambo Jambo syndrome, but allow Polly to slip on some leg warmers, hairspray her cockatoo-style bangs into place and lead you on a magical day-glo-coloured trip down retro boulevard (time-travelling Back to the Future Delorean optional).

    Let me ask - When was the last time you threw a house party, or what any child of the eighties worth their salt would refer to as a Function”, or “func” for short? And I don’t even care if your answer is yesterday. This is one themed party you should definitely have at least once in your lifetime, because it’ll warm the cockles of your reminiscing heart, because it’ll be oodles of cheesetastic fun and because you’ll laugh yourselves silly and bond over shared remembrances. But really, do we need a reason to come and play? So follow, if you will, my flock-of-seagulls, Polly’s step-by-step party planner for a weekend that will produce the abovementioned results.

    1. Psyche! Party Practice
     Gather group of like-minded friends.
     Visit Zouk on a Wednesday night.
     If you’re really brave, give your ‘80s outfits an airing. Think spandex, headbands, lace gloves, side ponytails, leggings, plastic bangles, neon rubber bracelets or T-shirts emblazoned with the word “RELAX”. Polly has tried this. Polly scored free drinks and all-round admiration from fellow clubbers.
     Load up on retro party tunes at Mambo Jambo. Be sure to sing along (especially when DJ fades down music at opportune times) and hand gesture heartily on the dance floor.
     Bonus points if you get on a podium and execute your well-rehearsed synchronized dance moves ala teenagers at a tea dance.
     Double bonus points if you challenge each other to an all-out dance-off, limited only to bad eighties dance moves.
     Get tanked on fruity alcopops or shandy for authentic reconstruction of youthful clubbing days.
     Slap selves on backs and bellow at each other, “See you on Friday night!”
     Go home. Pass Out.
     Wake up, go to work, counting down to the weekend you have planned.

    2. Friday Night – Part One
     How ‘bout an eighties-style slumber party? The keys to success are hot gossip, pin-up magazines featuring your teenage idols, games, old movies, lots of salty and sugary snacks and more hot gossip.
     By now, your iPod should be also be crammed full of golden gems from the likes of Madonna, Cindy Lauper, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, The Police, The Pet Shop Boys, Kajagoogoo, Simple Minds, etc. Press play to set the mood.
     Put on your PJs, tie your hair up in a scrunchie and lay out large bowls of snacks like Chickadees, Kaka, Jack ‘n Jill potato chips, Mamee Monster Noodle Snack and those tiny biscuits topped with swirls of coloured icing. Set out bottles of Sinalco, Kickapoo, Green Spot and Lemon Barley to wash your snacks down. Also have at the ready, in your freezer, tongue-tingling tasty “sng baos” – you know, those colourful connected tubes of frozen ices from days of yore?
     When guests arrive in all their pajama’d finery, get the party started. Stuff your faces, sing along to your eighties mix, gossip, cringe over your dorky secondary school photos, squeal over your first crushes, do make-overs on each other - only makeup ala the divas from Dynasty and Falcon Crest allowed, crimp or hot-roller your hair, give yourselves manis and pedis. These activities are even more fun if you’ve invited unsuspecting boys to the slumber party!

    3. Friday Night – Part Two
     Movie Marathon time! Remember, it’s all about giving it a theme. If it’s a scare fest you want, turn off the lights, snuggle under duvets, bolster selves with mountains of pillows and watch stuff like Gremlins, Ghostbusters and Nightmare on Elm Street. If you want to relive the blushes of a new romance, catch any of John Hughes’ seminal teen flicks like Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful. If it’s straight-out-of-High-School hormones and comedy you want, then Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Fast Times at Ridgemont High will do the trick.
     Add a grown-up twist to the event. Polly calls it The “Prison Rules” Movie Marathon:
    a) Prepare your soft drinks with shots of vodka or gin.
    b) Pop a shot each time you, for example, see someone in the movie with leggings layered under a mini, or each time you hear a scream in a horror film.
    c) No loo breaks till designated half-time. Till then, bladders will bulge, livers will swell as you all get drunker and more desperate!
     Half-time drunken munchies will strike. Relieve bladders and pause video for a classic supper of instant noodles. Everyone has their own Maggie Mee (“Fast to Cook, Good to Eat!”) method. Egg or no egg? Separate soup from noodles? Chilli sauce, ketchup or none at all? Compare notes and enjoy hot food and even hotter gossip.
     Continue movie marathon until everyone falls asleep, half-chewed kaka in mouths, half-empty shot glasses in hands.

    4. Saturday – Part Three (The Aftermath)
     Nurse hangovers and carpet mouth with wholesome, but hard-to-find Daisy Milk in pyramid packs, or whip up some cure-all Milo (because “It’s marvelous what Milo can do for you!”).
     Keep things free and easy. Let your house guests recover any way they like by leave entertaining eighties paraphernalia lying around for their pleasure. Maybe stacks of Choose Your Own Adventure books or Archie comics? Your old Game and Watch machines or a Hungry Hippos game perhaps? How about the odd Rubiks Cube to befuddle alcohol-hazed minds?
     Leave the TV on with old cartoons like Mask, Transformers, Masters of the Universe and Justice League running.
     For the more energetic and alcohol-resistant, make rubber band chains and play a game of Zero Point. Don’t forget to “Oh-ah-bey-ah-som” to split yourselves into teams!
     Be sure to include Ribena (“Can I have some? Yes, but not too much”) and Marie biscuits for your afternoon refreshments.
     When completely knackered, send everyone home with surprise party favours - friendship bands lovingly and painstakingly hand-knotted by you.
     As your exhausted but happy guests fall on their knees to worship your party-throwing genius, shut door, clean up whilst doing a little underpants-clad-Tom-Cruise-in-Risky-Business dance, then finally snuggle up in bed with your Cabbage Patch Kid doll and Care Bears for some well deserved zzzzzzzzzzs. You go, Eighties Party Princess!

    Friday, June 08, 2007

    Pop Culture – That’s Hot!

    She’s the equivalent of picking at your pimples, laying on a beach baking yourself in the sun and snarfing deep fried foods smothered in mayonnaise. She’s Paris Hilton - so addictive, but so so SO bad for you.

    Since her 2000 teenage debut in Vanity Fair, the world has come to know and love loathe the jet-setting, table-dancing, Chihuahua-toting, blue contact lens-wearing, simple-lifing, carl’s-jr-car-washing, hair-extensioned, false-eyelashed, fake-tanned, blinged-out, scantily-clad celebutante. Intimately. Thanks to her a) aforementioned shenanigans, or b) her brilliant manipulation of the media.

    In fact, dear Mallrats, wouldn’t you agree that one would be hard pressed to find a day in this current life that has been Paris-free? Or make that Free Paris, especially since the last few months of media space have largely been dominated by her court case, incarceration (better make that incarcerations, thanks to bungling Sheriff Leroy Baca of LA County) and subsequent release.

    US Weekly magazine’s medical experts claim this constant bombardment has led to an ailment known as “Paris Fatigue”, and as a result have prescribed boycotting any further reports on Paris Hilton. However, Dr Polly Esther would like to take that diagnosis a little further and call this particularly heinous blight on our senses PARISITISM.

    A Parisite, by Dr Polly’s definition, lives in a close relationship with its host, and causes it harm. The Parisite will rarely kill its hosts, although a particularly virulent strain known as the Parisitoid will. Ever seen Alien? Then you know what I’m talking about. And just as dengue fever is carried and spread by that pesky agent the aedes mosquito, Parisitism has largely been carried and spread to blog-savvy victims via that pesky, monogram-stealing Perez Hilton, whose snarky celeblog has reached celebretard cult status itself. I know because I confess to being a frequent and willing partaker of his infectious website.

    Track with me, if you will, the vicious acceleration of the Parisitism epidemic and you’ll understand the grave danger facing all of humanity. Be warned – the current Threat Level is RED – SEVERE! Save yourselves while you can!

    But wait! Do not be too alarmed - this insidious epidemic can be stopped! The cure is simple, you see - the attention-loving, media-whoring Parisite is dependent on its host for its life functions. Therefore If you ignore it, it will cease to function without the attention it feeds off of!

    Therefore I stand before you dear Mallrats, ready to be cleansed, eager to purge myself of the sickness we now know as Parisitism. If you too are prepared, let us join hands (watch the manicure!), bow our heads in silence and solemnly vow to avoid all contact with the Parisite. So go on, turn off your TVs, log off your computers, dial down your radios, close your eyes when you walk past your neighbourhood newsstand and enjoy the peace and quiet. This will require tremendous willpower and discipline, but with any luck, and with our united efforts, the Parisite will eventually be fully expunged…

    Until her best friend and skeletwin Nicole Richie’s trial date comes through, that is. Then, we just may have another pandemic in our hands! After all, it’s hot heiresses (or is it airesses?!) who put the culture – as in bacterial growth – in pop culture!

    Monday, May 14, 2007

    Shopping on the Rocks

    Hello my little Mall-muffins! As temperatures soar and shopping tempers snap, Polly feels the need to sit you down and serve you up an icy fruit smoothie along with a side order of cool. Cool as in reference to temperature, temperament and fashionable state-of-being, that is. It’s also not entirely coincidental that this month’s Catalog has undergone a little makeover – the proverbial nip-tuck of publishing, if you will. Not since mother’s milk, newly-laid eggs and er, toothpaste has anything quite this fresh come along to tingle and tangle with your taste buds, so in celebration of our spankin’ newness, please hold your breath and wait for Polly’s groundbreaking new shopping philosophy - three little words that will help you stay on the very cutting edge of fashion-freshness…

    FASHION IS FISH.

    Ok, stay with me… Reserve first reactions and rest assured that Polly’s got a sure thing going here… You see, everyone knows that freshness is essential to fish, unless you don’t mind a bout of food poisoning. Likewise with fashion, keeping things fresh is imperative, unless you don’t mind a bout of style suicide. Hence the fish-fashion parallel and that’s why you should apply the same guidelines when buying fish (or any other perishable food for that matter!) to snagging the freshest produce from the supermarket of style.

    1. See, Scratch ‘n’ Sniff
     Look out for stores with lots of traffic - this usually means a high turnover, which usually means the freshest, fastest replacement of stock. Crowds, especially discriminating ones, can also be a good sign of good buys.*
     Take the eyes-on-hands-on approach – Presentation is key. Is everything beautifully displayed for maximum ocular pleasure? If so then reach out and touch it! Take as much time as you need to feel up what’s on selection, taking note of texture, colour, and defects. Toss it back if product doesn’t satisfy your inner quality controller/ style nazi.
     Inhale – if something smells bad, buy at your own peril.

    * Disclaimer for Style Snobs:
    Crowds = commercial = common = mass = everyone will have what you bought. But hey, you can still keep things fresh by mixing pieces and adding unique accessories!

    2. It Takes One to Know One
    Fish-lovers can spot a fellow fish-lover anywhere. And just as it pays to be friendly with your fishmonger, being getting to know the sales staff/ owners of your favourite stores will score you the very bestest, freshest of merchandise! They’ll feed you juicy insider tidbits like advance warnings of sales, or whether that shoe you want will get marked down, or when new stocks get shipped in. They’d be more willing to bend over backwards for you - save you that last piece in the stockroom? Locate stock in other stores? Cheaper alterations? No problem! What more could you ask for? Oh yes… Staff discounts and freebies! This is what Polly likes to call being fashion-friends-with-benefits.

    3. It’s a Wrap
    Another key to maintaining fashion freshness is preventing your fabulous finds from wilting in the horrendous humidity or getting crushed by crowds as you move from shop to shop. Are your beloved purchases being handled with kid gloves? Lovingly coddled in layers of tissue, ribbon and a glossy boutique bag? See that they are, my minty-fresh, fashion-forward retail rebels! And in the same way fish are kept on ice, keep your fashionable self fresh by staying indoors where the air-conditioning is.

    4. Apply Some DIY
    Artisanal foods like cheese, olive oil, and yes, even fish, are becoming all the rage in gourmet circles. Mostly because artisanal almost always guarantees great quality in small quantities and a certain applied TLC in the making of the product. Likewise, if you want to keep your fashion looking the freshest and most original it can be, why not buy one-of-a-kind pieces online from little-known designers or make your own accessories and clothes (see craftster.org or sewing.org)? This way, you’ll always stay one step ahead of stale fashion followers!

    There you have it – the scintillating shopping synergy between fashion and fish, served up on a convenient platter by Polly! So do remember, dear Mallrats, to think of your scaly, beady-eyed water friends next time you hit the malls. And here’s one final whizzbanger of a tip for this sizzling season - when the going gets hot, the hot keep their undies in the freezer! Seriously. Try it. You’ll be fresher than a Fisherman’s Friend in the Antarctic!

    Sunday, April 29, 2007

    The Great Singapore (Sale) Work Out

    Greetings and Salutations, Mallrats! Did you miss me as much as I missed you? Polly has spent the last five months buried up to her biceps in super-important, top-secret research. Until now, that is. This month, Polly returns buffed, bronzed and brimming with body-conditioning tips, the better to prep you with for the Great Singapore Sale! So if you want to last through the entire eight weeks of planned shopping mayhem, take my advice and stick to the following stamina-building regime. Call it the love child of two beloved local institutions, if you will, and enjoy Polly’s Great Singapore Sale Workout!
    • Warm up
      If you want to outwit, outlast and outbuy during the GSS, lube up those rusty, old grey cells with some cunning mental calisthenics. Try Suduko and crossword puzzles to improve your free-spending focus. As En Vogue once said, free your mind and the rest will follow…
    • Upper Body
      These exercises will make you strong enough to hold fight back crowds and tote around any number of bargain-laden shopping bags.
      1) Overhead Stretch (repeat eight times on each side)
      The better to get at those hard-to-reach upper shelf items.
      2) Shoulder Shrug (repeat eight times)
      Best for those times when your nemesis asks if there are any of those darling wedges left in stock. Can also be used with raised eyebrows and an innocent look, when a salesgirl asks, “Who knocked my display over?”
      3) Side Arm Reach (repeat twelve times on each side)
      This fluid maneuver is helpful for sneakily nabbing that half-price handbag two persons away from you.
      For more effective results, try all exercises with an LV wallet stuffed with 2 kg of loose change in each hand.
    • Lower Body
      Whether you’re avoiding sales touts, excess stock stacks and shoppers’ elbows, or dashing for a cab in high heels and pouring rain, strong leg muscles are necessary for a successful shopping spree. Try these exercises for lengthy, limber limbs!
      1) Toe Tap (Repeat eight times, four on each side)
      Releases tension in long queues or huge crowds. Especially useful for slow sales staff, or pesky small children who get in your way.
      2) Long Jump (as often as possible, increasing distance each time)
      When 1) ceases to work for you, this exercise may help. Gets you from the very end of queues to the very beginning without waiting. Requires thick skin. Does not require scruples.
      3) Heel Press (Repeat eight times, four on each side)
      Hands on hips, stretch your right leg forward and touch the ground lightly with your heel. Will keep those foot joints loose, so you can continue to shop in killer heels.
      4) Side Lunges
      Stand with your feet apart. Put your hands on the front of your thighs and bend your knees from side to side 8 times. Keep your knees directly over your toes.
      Lethal when combined with abovementioned side arm reach.
    • Total Body
      Combine all of the above for at least sixty consecutive minutes, at a shopping mall of your choice. For an extra incredible challenge, try this blindfolded.
    • Cool Down
      You did it! Well done! Athletes know the importance of refueling and preventing heat exhaustion. So should you, super shopper. Bring down your heart rate and calm the adrenalin (otherwise known as retail rush) by treating yourself to an frosty frappucino from the nearest café. Sit down, arrange shopping bags around and gently stretch tired neck muscles by surveying your new purchases. Smile (facial muscles are important too!). Inhale. Exhale. Rotate ankles. Sip. Survey. Repeat till frappucino is completely comsumed.

      (For Advanced Shoppers)
    • Endurance training
      To build up your perseverance and patience (failing which, see Lower Body Workout – Long Jump), get in the donut line at the Raffles City Basement. If you make it to the counter and manage to walk away still smiling, with a box of the sugary snacks, you’re ready! You are a lean, mean, shopping machine, therefore go forth and retail therapize!

    Saturday, October 28, 2006

    POLLYESTHER’S PLAYLIST

    It was an era of girly afternoons spent getting into the groove, belly-button bared under cropped layers of lace and crucifixes, singing into a hairbrush before my bedroom mirror… I’m recalling, with rosy-hued fondness, blasting Madonna’s Dress You Up from my mini-compo during playtime, when I was a pudgy little pre-teen pop-starlet-wannabe. Actually, rewind that scene far back and far away from the eighties, you’d have to agree that ever since hairy men in animal skins were banging rocks together in caves, music and fashion have always been pretty playmates.

    That’s why this month, I’m enrolling you in my “Polly”technic, to learn the finer points of said music-fashion marriage. These days, one can find Polly bravely risking cerebral explosion, burrowing through her lengthy catalog of CDs, cassettes and Mp3s, in order to furnish your curriculum with the very best resources. Did you know that music can teach you how to put together a whole outfit, dear Mallrats? Your eminent education will commence shortly, so if you’re ready class, try to keep up and do download notes on your iPod playlists, please…

    Subject #1: MATHEMATICS
    Music + Fashion = Musicashion
    Fashion + Music = Fashusic
    (QED)

    Subject #2: HISTORY OF TEXTILES, TEXTURES & PATTERNS
    In the beginning, there was a Brit alt-rock band called Felt, helmed by the single monikered Lawrence, who went on to fabricate (no pun intended) yet another band called Denim. Brit-pop darlings Blur and Pulp were later influenced by this Felt-Denim tapestry of sound.
    Listening Homework:
     Felt – My Face is on Fire
     Denim – Middle of the Road
    Extra Credits:
     Suede – She’s in Fashion
     Corduroy – Skirt Alert
     Moody Blues - Nights in White Satin
     Alannah Myles - Black Velvet
     Run DMC - Tougher Than Leather
     The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
     Frank Sinatra - Polka Dots and Moonbeams

    Subject #3: UNDERGARMENTS
    Please choose one of the following foundational items:
     Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini – Brian Hyland
     Let Me be Your Underwear - Club 69 (AKA Peter Rauhofer)
     The Power of Orange Knickers - Tori Amos featuring Damien Rice

    Subject #4: MIX & MATCH
     Try a T-Shirt by They Might Be Giants and pull on a Jumper by Third Eye Blind over it. Or perhaps The Cardigans are a better fit?
     Shimmy into a pair of Blue Jeans by Nelly and strike a pose in front of the mirror with a Hand in My Pocket by Alanis Morissette.
     Next, a Yellow Coat by Screamin' Jay Hawkins to complete the layered look.

    Subject #5: HEADGEAR & FOOTWEAR
    To ensure that you’re completely decked out from head to toe at the “Polly”technic Musicashion graduation, please review the following points:
     A Mushroom Hair Cut, expertly styled by the cutting edge Shonen Knife, is greatly appreciated.
     However, we strictly adhere to Tom Jones’ advice that You can Leave Your Hat On, so please keep that Raspberry Beret by Prince on over it.
    Also, a pair of shoes for every occasion is of utmost importance:
     For the colour-conscious, Red Shoes by Elvis Costello or for the more delicate of foot, Little Red Shoes by Loretta Lynn.
     For the man-eater, Amy Winehouse suggests her F*** Me Pumps.
     For casual chicas, the Sneaker Pimps have you comfortably covered in Spin Spin Sugar.

    Subject #6: ACCESSORIES & OTHER ESSENTIAL EMBELLISHMENTS
    Putting the final touches to the whole outfit is key. Succeed, and you’re well on the way to graduation!
    Suggested Reading List:
     Sunglasses at Night – Cory Hart
     Little Green Bag - George Baker
     Ribbons And Leaves - Graham Coxon
     Buttons and Bows – Dinah Shore
     Diamonds on the Inside - Ben Harper

    Optional: HONOURS COURSE TOPICS
     The Coasters’ Shopping for Clothes and Pet Shop Boys’ S.H.O.P.P.I.N.G. – which method is better?
     David Bowie’s Fashion and Electric 6’s Vengeance And Fashion – can clothing be vindictive? Discuss.
     Gwen Stefani’s Luxurious, Carly Simon’s You’re so Vain and Mocean Worker’s Tres Tres Chic – are there superior fashion adjectives to throw around at a party?
     RuPaul’s Supermodel (You Better Work), New Kids On The Block’s Cover Girl and Ursula 1000’s Very Leggy - Body Mass Indices above 16 need not apply?

    Now that you know how to put an entire look together with the power of a “play” button, go forth and multiply your playlists AND wardrobes. Class dismissed!