Saturday, May 28, 2016

Style minute: Culottes

With summer holiday quickly approaching, I've got summer style on my mind. Just before last summer, I acquired some fun vintage culottes which I brought with me on my travels. I'm thrilled that culottes continue to be a trend for this summer.

 I've seen a few different variations -- some slightly shorter versions (almost like a long Bermuda short) and then a more billowy and full version, great for dressing up.

Culottes are great for travel because they're so versatile. You can dress them down casually for an afternoon stroll along the boardwalk or dress them up for a summer wedding, both very likely events for summer vacation.

 There are a few tips I'd suggest for how to style culottes for summer: 

First and foremost, think carefully about footwear. To look chic in culottes, I'd suggest wearing some cute heels or some block heeled sandals.  They provide a lovely feminine silhouette and are a good balance for the fullness of the culotte. Of course if you're going for a more casual look (with denim), then keep those ankles bare and wear some cute white lace up Vans or Keds (or something similar).

Second, if you're keen to get your hands on some vintage or vintage style culottes with a high waist, then I'd definitely suggest wearing a cropped top (or something that has a nice drape to it).  Your other alternative would be to wear a lovely silk top and tuck it in. Again, to create a balanced look, you want a nice strong waistline to off set the fullness of the culotte.

Finally, I'd suggest going bold with pattern and finding a wiled pair of culottes in a flowy fabric like rayon. If you go this route, then keep the rest of the outfit neutral or plain and let those awesome culottes make a statement.

All these pairs of culottes seen in this post come from Rue Madame.
They're an online boutique with a few store locations which aims to give ladies a Parisian shopping experience here in Hong Kong. Think elegant, classic and understated charm and you'll find it here. Seriously, have a look at their selection of culottes and consider packing yourself some for your summer travels.

***This post was written in collaboration with Rue Madame.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

And the Rest is Rust and Stardust

It's funny to me how our preferences change over time. I wrote about embracing a new color for me, brown, on the blog a few years ago.

And for a while there, I thought that perhaps that Vic and Lily dress was a one-off. It happened to have a beautiful print, and the vintage buttons just sealed it for me. So maybe I'd declared a love for the color brown prematurely.

Something has happened over the course of the last several months, though. My sartorial preferences have moved toward more neutral earth tones. In particular, this shade of brown, which is more like a rust color.

This dress is the third dress I have in this tone. The first two are vintage from RetroRhapsody, one of my favorite vintage shops on Etsy. The lovely owner Kenia basically fuels my love of all things earth toned. This sundress came from Sri Lanka where we spent our Christmas holidays. There are so many gorgeous textiles in a variety of colors to be found in that country. I'm itching to go back.

I love this rust tone because it works especially well with shades of blue, which is my favorite color. I loved that this dress had two different shades of blue on the border. And, since I have an abundance of blue in my wardrobe, this rust color blends nicely into the color scheme of my outfits.

Sometimes May feels like the longest month. Summer is in sight and I can't wait to get away with the family and be less busy.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Links a la Mode: May 19th

For your weekend reading, here is this week's round up of blog picks for Independent Fashion Bloggers' Links a la Mode. I'm thrilled that my post about local Hong Kong based brands was selected. Here's hoping that more readers worldwide will enjoy some inspiration from our local shops and brands.

"IFB Bloggers seemed focused on one main theme this week. Where one may garner inspiration. Art, photography, history, fashion icons, books, subculture, street style, peers–just to name a few. There were also glimpses into the end results of inspiration with Malta’s Fashion Week Awards, creative hair, alternatives to fast fashion, and what engaged French youth can do on limited time."

I know what I'll be doing this weekend. Hope you enjoy reading these posts, too.

Links à la Mode, May 19
SPONSOR: Shopbop RAILS, WAYF Dresses, 3.1 Phillip Lim Bags, Elina Linardaki, Rebecca Minkoff Cross Body Bags, Indego Africa, Denim Jumpsuits, Calvin Klein Modern Cotton Underwear, Cocktail Dresses, Men's Harmony

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Style minute: Making vintage modern

I'm a vintage girl. But at the same time, I don't want to only be the vintage girl. Don't get me wrong, I love the classic look of vintage. Two of my favorite Instagram accounts are @norafinds and @iddavanmunster, who both look like they've glamorously stepped out of a time machine and into our modern day.  There is many a day that I try to channel this inspiration into my own outfit, especially with my hair.

Still, this classic vintage look may not be everyone's thing.  And, I'll be honest, it's not always so practical for me from day to day as a working mum (even though I did do housework in a vintage dress one day). There are ways to incorporate some vintage pieces into your look without totally altering your style.  

I thought I would take a minute to share a few of my tips:

First, ignore the fact that what you're wearing is actually vintage.  In other words, don't feel like you're trapped wearing only 80s clothes if you decide to style an item from that decade.  For example, just because a blazer has that power blazer 80s vibe, doesn't mean I need to style it with big chunky 80s accessories, secretary skirts, big hair, etc. Or take this pink vintage dress, just because it's got that sweet 50s cut, wearing the leather moto jacket and chunky wedges changes it. Think more along the lines of how you style clothes normally (by color, by cut, by occasion, etc).  

Second, pay attention to trends. If you look at what's hot on the runway each season, I guarantee you that those looks will have been inspired by a previous decade's fashion.  There is, for example, a whole style of 80s dresses (now vintage) inspired by 50s day dresses (also vintage), which proves that what goes around comes around.  Since fashion is cyclical, it's totally doable to incorporate vintage pieces with modern trends.  I decided to wear my blazer (in the first picture) with distressed skinny black jeans that I'd been noticing all over my feed.  I decided to DIY distress an old high rise pair I had from years ago (not long enough to be vintage, however).

Finally (and this is a good style tip to consider always), do something unexpected. Make your look uniquely you.  Wear converse with a dress. Or a beanie with a blazer. Knee high socks with high heels, you get it.

The thing is, just don't over think it. I try not to. In fact, sometimes the outfits I like best are the ones I've thrown together in a scramble to get out the door.

***Adapted from a previous post I wrote for Sisters in Vintage on Style by Asia.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Alternatives to Fast Fashion

A little while back, I read this article over at Refinery 29. It provided details about eighteen brands that were good alternatives to Fast Fashion brands like Zara or Forever 21. Of course, I immediately read through the entire post and noted names of brands I'd consider checking out.

But then I started thinking, what about sharing some locally based Hong Kong brands which would be good alternatives to Fast Fashion brands? I can easily do that, and what better way to support local? I'm all about that!

So here are some of my recommendations for locally based brands to check out (good news, you can find them all online, too):

What: An online boutique of smaller independent brands carefully selected because sustainable practice is at the core of their business practice/production, etc. The website features brands like Svilu (who recycle plastic bottles into fabric), The Sway (who use reclaimed leather to make their jackets) or Groceries Apparel (who make comfy cotton basics from organic cotton).

Who: The Mauve Hour
What: Designer Paige Sinclair uses vintage pieces (brooches, shoe clips, belt buckles, etc) and upcycles them into these ruggedly elegant leather cuffs. They're super edgy and all of them are one of a kind. 

Who: Louella Odie
What: A mother-daughter design team, Karen and Lauren Mead have created stylish lifestyle products and accessories which incorporate artwork inspired by their island living and sailing adventures. More than that their designs reflect a local Hong Kong vibe that both local and and international customers alike will find refreshing and unique.

Who: What the Frock
What: Fun and flirty dresses and accessories for every occasion. These dresses flatter every body type and come in high quality fabrics (mainly silk), fun colors and prints. Because What the Frock makes limited numbers of each frock (they're not mass produced), you can be guaranteed that you'll look fresh and your dress will be unique. More importantly, you'll be ready for fun wherever you should encounter it.

Who: Polkadot Boutique
What: A stylish women's boutique located in Soho, Hong Kong which aims at giving shoppers a unique experience by featuring emerging and independent designers from Hong Kong and international markets. You'll be guaranteed to find the hottest trends made well and at affordable prices.

Who: Grana
What: Wardrobe essentials made from the world's best fabrics and priced affordably. There need not be a compromise on quality because an item is inexpensive. Grana's business model aims to change the fashion industry from the bottom up. They have carefully chosen quality fabrics and by making their pieces in small batches (no mass production here), they can keep their prices competitive. Pop into The Fitting Room (locations in Hong Kong and Sydney for now) to touch each of the pieces and try them on and then order them online. 

Who: A Day with Fe 
What: Stylish activewear with flattering feminine cuts made for the woman on the move who is in touch with her inner strength. You'll want to live in these pieces and they're made in subtle colors which allow you to do just that.

Who: Raven and Rose
What: Designer Jasmine Smith has created lingerie for women who are daring and independent and far from predictable, who prefer chunky boots over high heels and silver studs over diamonds. The lingerie is super sexy and more importantly, very wearable. You'll want to show it off under sheer tops or peekaboo outfits or heck, just lounge around at home looking hot in your knickers all day.

How lucky am I to live in Hong Kong where all these businesses and brands have made their start? So much creative goodness happening in my town.

Now, don't feel bad if you're not in Hong Kong, people. You can still enjoy getting to know these brands online and even better, reading some reviews of these shops on ShopVenture where I have submitted some reviews. ShopVenture is a great user-generated rating and review community whose mission is to help shoppers make purchases thoughtfully. It's kind of like a social media/shopping review kind of community where your friends give you feedback. If you need a little nudging to hit 'purchase now' this review site will do it.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Links a la Mode, May 12th

So pleased that my "Ode to Working Mums" made it to this weeks Links a la Mode round up on Independent Fashion Bloggers. I really hope that some of the things I said resonated with mums and others. It's so important to create community and make sure we're not isolated.

Make sure to read some of these great posts this weekend.

Links à la Mode, May 12
SPONSOR: Amazon's Shopbop Schutz, Little White Lies Dresses, Rachel Comey Jeans, Theia Jewelry, Urania Gazelli, Josefinas, Overalls, Army Jackets, Luggage, Men's Suicoke

Monday, May 9, 2016

Ode to Working Mums

Oh working mums, this post is for you. It's time we band together to celebrate and support each other. It's not that we're different from other mums. It's not that we're more special. Motherhood is a badge of pride we all wear together.

The badge comes with perks and benefits. We get to be the center of our babies' admiration. Sometimes it's only us who can comfort them in their frustration or sorrow. We're who can turn a bad day around, just by being there. How awesome is that? Talk about having super powers!

And all those little drawings of hearts, handmade necklaces and bracelets, or notes of love, and those little keepsakes. You have to keep those close because those are the things that will warm your heart or bring tears to your eyes as they grow older and suddenly mumma isn't always the coolest. Or you get the eye rolls. Or the exasperated ugh, you don't understand and you need reminders to convince yourself that you do know stuff, whether they believe it or not.

This is the mother's lot. And, its really a good one regardless of the ups and downs, right? The sleep deprivation isn't so bad when you share a bed with a bub. My mother's day yesterday was a treat with my kid-made brekky, sweet smiles and special hugs all day.

June in March

 But working mums, our experience is different, and I don't mean better or worse than other mothers' experiences. Just different. Oh working mums, we wear our badge with something a little extra on our sleeves. It's called motherhood guilt. Actually, we all have it, but working mums get the added guilt of missing parent mornings at school, resorting to outsourcing the birthday treats or not having time to schedule as many playdates as everyone else (ugh, this is a topic for another post).

It's the looks from other mums for always being the one mum who doesn't come to the park and instead sends your loves off with a babysitter, helper or nanny. Or the looks that say oh, it must be nice to be able to get dressed up during the day while other women are schlepping about in their activewear. 

My mum

And here's the kicker...there's an assumption from others, that if you could financially or otherwise, you'd obviously be home with your kids. But that's where they're wrong. Oh working mums, it's feeling guilt at having to explain that working is your choice. You actually love your job or why would you get up and leave your kids? Your job completes who you are as a person and makes you a better mother. The hardest part of it is actually finding a balance. Some weeks are better than others, but hey.

Mother's Day, 2016

Am I resonating with any of you? I remember once before my big girl was born, I toyed with the idea of staying home part time. I had a super hard time going back to work after my first baby and I was convinced that working part time would make things better. In the end it didn't work out, but I am glad it didn't. I'm happy with how things turned out for me. And for them. I think we're doing just fine.

If you've got any working mum thoughts, please do leave me a comment. Like I said, we need to stick together.

Photos in this post (property of their own websites, etc) depict some of the working mums I am proud to share company with -- Anael Darmon - Ana Makeup HK, Sabrina Sikora - The First Wife, Jasmine Smith - Raven & Rose and Dress Me Blog Me, Jaime Smith - Smudge Make Up Artistry, Emily Baylis - June in March.

I can't forget my own mum, who taught me everything about being a working mum and how to be myself fully at work and as a mum. There are of course many more wonderful women friends whose lives are less visible online and so I have respected their privacy. But I've written this post for them, too.

***Photo credits: Michelle Proctor Photography for the pictures of Jasmine and Jaime.

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