Friday, October 21, 2016

Style Minute: Dressing up? No occasion necessary!

I am a firm believer that dressing up needs no special occasion. You can look fancy, just because. Like, you know, it's Thursday and I felt like wearing this chiffon ballerina skirt and a massive Dylanex inspired rhinestone necklace from Mirina Collections.

And, do you know what I did in this outfit? I went to work. At a school. And then I ran errands, like take my little girl to her after school art class. Yup, I did. Did I feel overdressed? Not at all.

Here's the thing -- to avoid feeling overdressed when I'm wearing an article of clothing that many would consider evening attire, I just switch out my shoes. I wore my ankle boots for a less dressy feel. I've worn this same skirt with my denim or leather jacket, and I'd wear it with runners, too.

My girls used to call this skirt my princess skirt because they thought it was like a fancy ball gown skirt, but I hardly dress like a princess even though the floatiness of the chiffon is dreamy. The necklace is sparkly, but I was thinking of a more rocker vibe to go with my my hair.  The graffiti on this Stanley wall makes the whole look pop, don't you think?

And of course, an all black and white ensemble is a perfect companion for my Louella Odie Lattice Print handbag.  It goes without saying that their bags can be dressed up or down, too.

If you'd like to get your hands on any Louella Odie (trust me, you do) then please use my discount code NORBYAH20 at checkout. They've just released their Weekender bags, their largest bags yet, which are perfect for a sneaky weekend away.

What do you do to dress down your fancy clothes?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Roaring 90s

It's a humbling discovery when you realize that the decade in which you came of age is now considered retro. But so be it. Age is just a number, anyhow.

Seriously, though, the 90s are back in a big way. It cracks me up that my older daughter (and kids and teens in general) are all wearing chokers like I used to in high school. It's actually made me wonder what I did with them all. And, why didn't I just keep them?

The part that amuses me the most (and also reminds me of my age) is the way that trends just keep coming around and yet people who wear these latest trends somehow remain completely unaware of the fact that said trend was not just invented.

Fashion is so cyclical.

Anyhow, my choker is from my girlfriend's brand Raven + Rose, a Hong Kong based lingerie brand that is hot, hot, hot! Seriously, her designs will spice up your relationship, check them out. Her collection of leather chokers will be on your list as soon as you see them.

And speaking of 90s, the weather is still hot as the blazes. I'm trying my very best to incorporate Fall pieces into my outfits and to layer, but I'm being defeated by sweat everyday. This cashmere short sleeved sweater top is a nice style to try because it's a little cropped and I found it right in Stanley Market. Regardless, I was still sweating bullets.

The real steal was my skirt.  I had long been coveting metallic pleated skirts that I'd seen on street style blogs so I made it a mission to find this piece on my thrifting adventures this summer. I rarely go with a specific idea because if I keep an open mind, I feel like I find more treasures. Everyone's different, though.

Imagine my joy when I found this vintage Talbot's silk skirt, hardly worn and only two sizes too big. I took the skirt to my trusted seamstress Jilly for her to make it fit me. Some might think that the metallic silk pleats are too dressy for school, but I always insist that dressing up doesn't need to be reserved for special occasions.

Photos by Ann, my fellow Southside blogger.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Stanley Market Local

If I ever have doubts about where my home is, all I need to remind me is the threat of change. I've been a Hong Kong local for ten years now, first living in Stanley and then moving closer to work. Stanley Market, Stanley Village, the Southside beaches and the businesses here, they're all my hood. And I'm fiercely loyal to them.

I wasn't able to use The Boathouse as a backdrop for some time because of how upset I was when landlords made them change the iconic blue exterior to this brash yellow. It's all part of a sketchy scheme to build a boutique hotel along the waterfront which will change the feel of this place for the worse. The landlord figured painting over the blue walls would prevent it from being declared a heritage site and people would be glad to have the yellow changed into a hotel. They refused to renew the lease for the restaurant unless they agreed to paint, though they gave the excuse that it was good luck for the Chinese New Year. Shady, right?

Recently I had a think about it, and I came to the conclusion that it's not the fault of this business, but rather the greed of their landlord. They really had no choice in the matter, hence these pictures being taken in front of the yellow walls (don't ask me to go inside, though).

Now Stanley Market is under threat again, with the proposal of a second hotel right in the market itself! I don't even want to talk about the H&M that is housed in the historic Murray House or the little old lady who has sold snacks in a little stairway shop past the post office for sixty over years being ordered by her landlord to shut for good. Sigh.

So yeah, when things like this happen, I'm reminded just how much I love Stanley the way it is. How much this place has really become our home. I wish that our community had a bit more loyalty to local businesses and the qualities that makes it unique. It's stories. It's past. It's that aspect of life in Madison each summer that makes that place home, too.

Anyway, speaking of stories and the past, I was going to tell you all about this Original Box Bag by Enid Collins and my vintage wool floral dress, both gems found on my vintage road trip this summer. The deadline for the petition to oppose the building of the hotel in the market was a more pressing issue and I spent the time I would have used writing about the vintage gems sharing the hotel issue and gathering signatures from as many people as I could.

My Stanley home - it's past, the people who make it what it is and the stories that reside within are all worth that for me.

Thanks for the photos, Ann!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

My Vintage Road Trip: Hermosa Beach

 The downside of having so much good vintage in LA is that I couldn't possibly see all of it. Much of the vintage to be found there is situated in the amazing markets LA hosts. The only thing is, they're mostly on weekends (every third weekend, every other weekend, etc). Timing wise, our trip coincided with the Long Beach Antique Market and the Smorgasburg LA (brand new this year).

Sometimes the markets take place on the same weekends. For example, the Melrose Trading Post Market was happening at the same time as Smorgasburg. We opted to check out Smorgasburg because it was new and we were familiar with the one in Brooklyn. And, to be honest, I really was craving a ramen burger.

One other downside of having all these markets is that usually they're located closer into DTLA, and my sister-in-law lives in the 'burbs' so to speak. Los Angeles is quite sprawling and traffic can be a nightmare. I'm always amazed at how the locals manage it; everyone just seems to know how many extra minutes to add to their commute at any given time of day.

As far as vintage boutiques and stores go, those are also generally located in town. I didn't really have a chance to explore those much. I also didn't have time to explore the secondhand/thrift shop scene either. I've been a fan of B. Jones Style YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram stories (@bjonesstyle) on these topics for some time, so I really need to check these places out on my next trip to LA. She finds such amazing stuff, so I'll have to ask her to send me some recommendations. Beth Jones is really the best and I'd love to go along on her trips to Savers or Crossroads. She has such a good eye.

So, Hermosa Beach was my last vintage road trip pit stop this summer. The vintage scene there is a unique one, actually. Down by the beach there were three vintage/secondhand stores in a row which reminded of the thrift stores I used to browse through in college. To be honest, the vintage in their stores was not my cup of tea really, but fun to poke through anyhow. There was good beach type vintage and secondhand clothing (think 60s & 70s hippie, surfer attire). Granny Takes a Trip had some cool vintage and secondhand bikinis and swimwear and denim, Southwest style jewellery and a killer collection of vinyl from the 60s, 70s and 80s, too. The owner of the store recommended her niece's shop, two doors down as well. The third, LopaLopa, was in between those two and caters mostly to men. It was also the priciest of the three, so I didn't spend long in there.

I thought this might be the extent of the vintage offerings in Hermosa Beach and the South Bay area until I found Stars Antique Market located up and away from the beach on Pier Avenue. I knew this was a place I'd like because it felt more like browsing through estate sales.

Basically, it's a huge warehouse "barn" for individual vintage and antique dealers to have their own 'shop' for selling their collections. It felt almost like walking through a museum of memorabilia from different eras. I got lost in a nostalgic journey back in time through old Surfer magazines, vinyl records, typewriters and sewing machines. Beautiful vintage tea towels and other knick knacks, too. The building is surprisingly expansive, so there was lots of vintage to see, just for memory's sake. It's definitely a place to visit when the other weekend markets aren't in session.

***The good news is we just booked our Christmas to LA! I'll be back to get to some of those other markets and stores that I didn't get to before. If you're in the LA area, here's a cool website to consider consulting as you make plans to hit up some good vintage shopping while you're there:

Monday, September 19, 2016

Links a la Mode, September 15th

Holy crap, did one week really fly by since the last time I published a post? Case in point, I guess. I promise you, there are like nine posts that are in drafts, but you know...blah, blah, working mum, busy life, etc. Sorry, I'll try not to sound like a broken record.

So, Independent Fashion Bloggers picked my post Working Mumma Blues for their Links a la Mode blogger round up. And, I'm really loving the image they picked for their headliner because it relates to my article! Go have a read of some of the other blog posts.

"This week, we’ve got momma bloggers talking the back-to-school frenzy and fashionistas bringing in fall fashion with cozy cardigans, stilettos, ankle boots, baseball caps, and chokers."

Thanks, IFB. 

Links à la Mode, September 15th
SPONSOR: Shopbop, KENDALL + KYLIE, Loeffler Randal Booties, Elizabeth and James Jewelry, The Laundress, Hilfiger Collection, Quartz Co., Black Jumpsuits, Winter Boots, Gold Earrings, Men's Velva Sheen

Monday, September 12, 2016


All this talk of busyness and I have to confess. Much of it is self created, too. I have a tendency to create more work for myself. Why do I do that? Probably procrastination, I guess and an inability to really say no when I've reached my limit. But I just wanted to put it out here and be honest. After having a week that was filled with events, concluding with my own as co-host of our rooftop concert series, I need to keep it real.

Can you spot my furry photobomber?

So yeah, I'm getting back into the swing of outfit shoots and posts and all that good stuff. And there is so much good stuff. I haven't even begun to reach the limits of the amazing vintage haul from summer. Just wait.

This felt hat was a real steal at Saver's in Madison. One of our favorite things to do as a family is poke through that shop. There's so much for everyone - board games, second hand kids clothes and toys, kitchen items and home furnishings, etc. This summer we even found some great vintage chairs for our kitchen table.

The polkadot dress is an 80s gem which I found at the Long Beach Antique Market (read more about this market and my vintage road trip here). In addition to being my favorite print, it's also cotton and has pockets, so it was a must have from the start. Not to mention the bow at the waist which just put this dress over the top cute for me, but in a good way.

The black and tan purse is vintage Liz Claiborne, another charity/thrift shop find. And with all this black and white, I couldn't wait to try out a new background in Stanley Market, this red and green tiled doorway. It's amazing how you can live in a place for 10 years and still find new nooks and crannies, isn't it?

In any case, the chaos continued after this shoot (which took place while my big girl was at art and I was running my son into look for new shoes). No sooner had we wrapped things up and walked back to the car only to notice that I'd gotten a parking ticket.

Oh the joys of real life. By the way, I promise I did not read anyone's mail.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Working Mumma Blues

 Last week reminded me of the importance of balance. And, of how difficult achieving that balance is in the first weeks of a new school year, or heck...anytime! Between struggling to get back into work mode myself and setting up routines at home, I feel exhausted and grumpy and without much energy for anything creative. 

Which is not to say I don't have any ideas, because in fact it's quite the opposite. I'm bursting with them, but I just don't have the time or patience to see those ideas through at the moment. The worst thing is, lack of balance means I'm impatient with the kiddos and with life at home right now. In fact, my lowest moment was this Saturday in the middle of the lunch time scramble when I found myself nitpicking over the smallest details -- what the kids were going to eat. The hubby called me on it and asked if I was happy with life as it was going at that moment, and all I could do was admit that I wasn't. Not at all. I don't like being that unhappy, crabby, naggy person.

It wasn't pretty, but I needed a reminder to choose my battles. Motherhood can feel so isolating at times when day in and day out, time is spent trying to make sure everyone is happy, or being responsible, or eating enough or getting homework done. And mothers seem to get all the questions or problems. Mumma, I need another notebook for language arts, can you buy me one? Mummy, when can you take me to get a haircut? Mummy, I can't undo this button!  The list goes on. And there's no break, not even in the bathroom!

Sometimes it can feel like I'm the only one dealing with it all, which is of course not true. I'm just the one getting asked first, and when they don't do what their supposed to, I'm the only one nagging. And I realized it was getting me down; inevitably I was focusing on the things that weren't done right and trying to fix them rather than taking time to celebrate what was going smoothly.

A good friend of mine from high school who has a super cute baking business must have had a similar moment of frustration last week. She made an honest post on her Instagram about the pressure she was feeling to be everything to everyone, but ultimately making her claim that she's a mum first.  I could totally relate and it reminded me of this post I wrote two years ago where I felt much the same way I am feeling now. Trying to find balance, but struggling because the trying gets hard.

I wanted to write a new post for working mummas because I think we all feel this daily struggle for balance, especially as a new school year starts and routines are new. I felt comforted that my friend had reached out to her followers and made herself vulnerable, but ultimately found support.

It is timely then, that I stumbled onto Hillary Clinton's open letter to working mums. I promise I'm not getting all political, but I really appreciate what Hillary said about working mums because she's absolutely right. 

"Raising a family shouldn’t prevent anyone from furthering their own education, starting a business, or following their dreams."

How amazing would it be to see the first woman president of the United States, a champion for working mums because she is one herself.

Her statements remind me of some fabulous ladies, who I'm blessed to call friends. (See more about my lovely working mumma friends here). Women like Jasmine Smith, creator and designer of her own lingerie line Raven + Rose who gets out there and just does it and follows her dreams, but who also struggles daily with finding balance between work and motherhood. Don't you just love this picture of her working with her little bubba alongside?

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that working mummas, we need to cut ourselves some slack sometimes because it is hard. Remember we're not alone, so let's lean on each other.

***And, the irony of it taking nearly a full week to post this isn't lost on me. I started this post on the weekend when the first line read "this week."

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