Sunday, August 2, 2015


 There are plenty of articles out there on the internet written by so called 'experts' who seem to have figured out what goes when it comes to appropriate attire for (fill in the blank here). Take this one called 24 Things Women Should Stop Wearing After Age 30 by a Ms Kallie Provencher. Read it if you want to get annoyed like I did a few weeks ago when I stumbled onto it in my Facebook newsfeed via Not Dressed as a Lamb, but I can save you some time by summing up parts of it here.

 There are also just as many articles on the internet providing tips and self help techniques for how to feel more confident, or happy, or sexy, etc. Does anyone see a connection here? Why is it we allow others to tell us how we should dress, or what we shouldn't wear, etc and then wonder why we don't feel good about ourselves.

Here's the thing, though. I don't bother with these kinds of lists anymore. If I read them, it's only for amusement. Otherwise they just frustrate me because they usually say the most preposterous things. Take for example, Ms Provencher's list.  In it she claims that women over the age of 30 are expected to be more mature and to dress that way, too. Like with crop tops, apparently even if we have a "bangin' body' we're meant "to leave these shirts to the young folks." My ass. Whatever. If I have abs after giving birth to three kids then you better bet I'm showing them.

Or another one, American Eagle Outfitters..."sure their jeans fit perfectly, but that doesn't make it trendy for women over 30 to be wearing them." Really? I mean, to be honest, I haven't shopped at AEO since college, but if the jeans fit perfectly, why shouldn't I be able to wear them if I want to?

I say I can. Rules or lists are just suggestions.  I found Ms Provencher's one more offensive than most because of her tone. I mean, mini skirts? She says "by this age, women should know better to leave something to the imagination." Well that just tells us that younger women don't know better.  Nice. A sneaky insult.

And glitter eye shadow. Save it "for things that should actually sparkle" Wow. Thanks. Another insult. We women should stick together, so I'm always disappointed when we don't.  Enough judgement comes at the hands of others; we should have solidarity amongst ourselves.

I'm thinking (hopefully) that she isn't 30 yet, because if she was, she would know that your thirties are the best decade, ever.  For me, living through my thirties helped me really feel comfortable with who I was because finally I really understood who I was. In my thirties, I was less afraid to take risks. I feel like I stopped having goals to change myself because I was happy and settled with where I was then and where I am now. There are probably things on that list of 24 that none of us should be wearing any longer, but who am I to say?  If a woman feels good, they should go for it.

 I'm not the only woman with these thoughts. Fellow blogger Catherine (@notlamb) and I chatted about responses and she created a fun way for us to prove naysayers wrong.  In addition to other bloggers who are writing their responses, Catherine has dedicated the hashtag #iwillwearwhatilike and a fun list of items of her own for us to wear in the month of August.

I know I'll be taking part in the fun.  I hope you will, too.  Check out my Instagram feed (@imanorbyah) and follow the hashtag to see what we all come up with.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Stanley Market side streets

The longer this summer holiday goes, the more I find myself thinking of what's happening back at home in Hong Kong. Not in a I can't wait to get home way but more of I hope it hasn't changed too much.

It's the nature of where I live, but it never gets easier. Being in America reminds me of how quickly things change back in HK. No matter how long we stay away from our home in Madison or the small town where the hubby's parents live, it's comforting to know that for the most part it stays the same between visits.

It's not that change is bad. Change is good, but the change in this market is often at the expense of all the character and local charm that I love about it or the people whose families and livelihood has been there for years.

Lately though, the changes taking place are exciting and creative. We have street art. We have public art installations. We have pop up markets (and not just our Stanley Night Market). Dare I say there's a scene? Or at least a vibe? My friends at Print House HK and I are hoping so.

For as many years as I've been using the market and it's little alleys as a backdrop for outfit pictures, it never ceases to amaze me when I find a new spot. Not that this is a new spot; I've just never used it for pictures on the blog. It's the steep alley I call the hardware store lane (where the hardware store is, of course) that can be taken for a side entry into the market.

Our hardware lane was teeming with people for our inaugural Stanley Night Market at the end of May. Seeing the alley now in these not-yet-posted outfit photos reminds me of how much fun that night was and makes me excited to start planning the next one.

But first, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the rest of this summer holiday, in the backyard where there's more grass than concrete and cruising the sleepy streets of this tiny town on my bicycle. I know when we leave America, I'll be having opposite thoughts and longing to be back here.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

LO Summer Voyage: At the beach

Growing up in the tropical climate of Malaysia with the super warm water of the South China Sea means that for me, the idea of getting into the Atlantic Ocean is virtually impossible, even on a scorching hot day.  

This was not even a remotely hot day (in fact the breeze was rather cold), so I stayed in my Alex Black Collection Tasha shirt dress and huddled for warmth with my Louella Odie lattice print beach scarf.

One would think that by July, the summer would be well and truly in full swing up here, but given the unseasonably cool June weather, it was not.  In fact, even with a normal weather pattern, the warmest month is actually August.  My sister who owns a summer home here assured me that by then, the water will have warmed up enough so all the New York City dwellers will crowd the beach to make the most of it.

July 4th weekend up in the Hamptons was as busy as you would expect and definitely not short on crowds.  Every little town has it's own fireworks display and vacation rentals are at capacity.  A three day weekend is not a common occurance for Americans. We Hong Kongers are truly spoiled in this regard. (Hello, Dragonboat Race day anyone? Buddha's Birthday?)

Amagansett, which is located between Montauk (Surf Lodge is the it spot for people in the know - bloggers, celebrities, etc) and East Hampton (the Beverly Hills of the Hamptons), has a nice mix of homes that are along the beach, in the woods, and along farmland.  It is the location of the original Coast Guard barracks and has a past that includes whaling.  Many of the homes near Indian Wells Beach (where we were) and Atlantic Beach were actually residences of those in the whaling industry and were designed with windows for whale sightings.

There are also celebrity sightings (though we saw none in our brief stay).  It is rumored that this past weekend, none other than Bono was seen staying at one of the mansions on the waterfront.  We missed him by only a week!

Ah, New York.  I'm always a little giddy at the possibility of seeing a famous person.  Now that we're back in suburban Madison, the only sighting that creates any kind of excitement is the UPS man.  He came today, but had nothing for us.

Outfit details:
Louella Odie embroidered fish slouchy pouch
Louella Odie lattice print beach scarf
Alex Black Collection Tasha shirt dress
Mer Culture Swimwear bikini (I did actually wear a swimsuit even if I didn't swim!)
Beach hat from Stanley Plaza  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Blogger thoughts

I'm having one of those introspective moments.  You know, the kind that probably only bloggers have.  I've just come back to the Midwest from a lovely stay in NYC with my sisters.  I looked at my last post from the Fourth of July and realized that I posted only once while I was there.  That's good.  It means I'm really in holiday mode.  I enjoyed time with my family, watching all the cousins play, eating good food and relaxing (drinking wine with my mum and sisters).  I caught up with some friends and heard what's new in their lives.  Yet, time was so short that there were other friends that we didn't have time to see, which always leaves me wishing we had more time or that we had spent it differently.

My old blog header.

But there's more than that.  I'm going through a bit of a blah time, I think.  Being in NYC always  makes me feel self conscious and insecure.  It throws me into a funk.  All of a sudden I'm in a place where "blogger" has kind of become a bad word.  Last summer was fun when I had a more defined purpose to take pictures of my Louella Odie bags for our travelogue collaboration, but this summer I'm feeling like taking outfit pics is a bit silly.  I mean, here in the Midwest it's quiet and peaceful and we don't really get up to much (which is why I love it).  The photo ops are really more of us just enjoying summer.  In the city, I just feel like who am I to take my silly outfit picture when all these other fashionable peeps are just walking around being themselves?  It makes me miss my own Hong Kong Fashion blogging community.

Last summer, picking grapes off the vine next door to my in-laws' house.

While I was in NYC, I caught up with my good blogger buddy Gabrielle Pedriani of Look Sharp, Sconnie who shared this same sentiment with me.  She's long been questioning that idea of blogging and what it's becoming, and we both noted that blog reading has changed along the way, too. With Instagram being so popular, and images being so prevalent, who takes the time to actually read blogs? No one leaves comments much anymore either, which can tend to make you feel like no one is reading and ultimately wondering if anyone even cares what you have to say anyhow? My other blogger friend Nora of Nora Finds and I have had this chat as well.  It's hard not to find it all disheartening when I've invested so much into my blog.

Reflective moments like these remind me that it's important to step back from time to time so I can remember why I blog.  It's easy to get caught up in readership, comments and followers (I'm such a sucker for the stats page, especially where my pageviews come from) and while those are obviously important to consider, they're not my sole reason for blogging. In my conversation with Gabi, we chatted about how there are so many blogs out there, and many of them doing the same thing.  It's not that I need to be completely unique, but more that I want to be true to myself.  To have my voice be distinct because it's my voice.  Funny how my English teacher side and my blogger side are aligned.  With that in mind, I feel like blogging shouldn't be forced; if content doesn't come to me naturally then I think it's okay to step away for a bit.  I've got posts lined up, but the writing part isn't coming as easily as it should so I'm going to wait till it does.

Hope you don't mind.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Laid back

I don't even remember when these outfit pictures were taken.  It was still cool enough for socks.  The littlest girl was still wearing a cardi.  It's a good chance it was probably April?  But it's even possible it was the end of March, though my Fiji tan had faded.

In any case, those details aren't important, or even relevant.  I'm rambling.  And what I need to tell you is that I have a backlog of outfit pictures to post.  Only, it's summer vacation.  And the pictures were taken in the spring.  And it's now summer.  July to be exact.

So what do I do?  The season has changed, the summer weather is inspiring me to dress differently and these photos are dated. Is there a rule about posting dated outfit pictures on my blog?  Does this even matter?

I suppose it doesn't, but whatever.  I'm using this summer to catch up.  For one, I don't have much else going on since I'm not working and my Louella Odie collaboration is much smaller scale this year.  And secondly, I'm not really taking too many outfit pictures while I'm on holiday.  And seeing that I have these pictures, there is no pressure to do so either.

Now, back to my thrifting adventures in charity shops, estate sales and vintage boutiques.  We're currently in NYC (up in Amagansett for the holiday weekend) and I'll be hitting up some of my favorites (including MAHPS Vintage in Brooklyn where I bought this dress).  

Also high on the list are 10 Ft Single by Stella Dallas (where I found my scarf) and the Brooklyn Flea.  Can't wait. 

And, don't worry.  I will post some new things here and there, but I'm kind of liking taking a laid back approach this summer.

Outfit details: Vintage dress - MAHPS Vintage, Louella Odie Skyline bag, Shoemint booties, vintage scarf from 10 Ft Single

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Favorite things

As many of you regular readers know (hi Dad!), I'm an Etsy addict.  See my description to the left? Remember my Etsy Confessions series?  Yeah.  I've got it bad.

Well, if I'm an addict, then Vic and Lily is my vintage dealer.  Most of what I covet (and also own) comes from her shop.  I can't help it.  I have no impulse control with her selections.

An I'm a Norbyah handpicked for Vic and Lily novelty print skirt.  

She and I have even collaborated to create a vintage rescue of sorts.  She sells some handpicked items which used to belong to me.  I mean, I needed to make space in my wardrobe for more of her stuff!  I mean, come on.  Would you look at this gingham dress?  It's kind of a Jackie O meets Gilligan's Island number, don't you think?

And this turban?  Actually, I don't know why I'm sharing this picture here.  I actually want that turban. Sigh.

Anyway, why am I rambling on about what sometimes keeps me up at night?  Oh, it's so exciting!  Just for you, oh devoted readers and followers, Vicki has created a special Etsy discount code so you can get stocked up on some vintage goodness.

By entering VICXNOR20 at checkout, you will receive 20% off your order. 

This exclusive offer is good until July 10th, so hop over to her shop now to browse these items and more.  Quickly, beat me to it because I'm serious.  Several of these items are going in my cart.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

LO Summer Voyage: Rained in

Well, so far on this holiday we've escaped what was a rainy spring in Hong Kong to be met with a rainy summer in Illinois and Wisconsin.  We managed two afternoons at the hubby's cousin's pool between rainstorms (complete with flash flood and tornado warnings).

Oglesby is near the Illinois Valley with many nearby towns located relatively low (in a valley) and as a result there has been persistent flooding complete with road closures.  In fact, the first day we went to the pool, we took the back river road to Spring Valley.  When I drove that same way the next afternoon it was all closed off.

Part of one tiny town called Utica was evacuated while another small town Marseilles (not said like they do in France, here it's pronounced Mar-sell-es) was on alert.  Kind of crazy for the start of summer.  The rain has brought through some cool weather, too.  


I love to be able to open the windows to sleep, but I will admit that there have been some chilly mornings for us thin blooded Hong Kongers!  Thankfully, the waters appear to be receding and everyone is safe. The waters threatened, though.  You could really see it right at the edge of the roads.

Naturally, on one of the first sunny days, I decided I could at least take the Louella Odie beach wraps/sarongs and scarves out to be aired on the clothesline in the backyard.  Air drying is one of my favorite things about summer.  The smell of clean fresh air in your clothes brings back so many memories.

We're up in Madison now, still wet and also cold, but I'm hopeful that I'll get to the pool this week.  In July we'll head out east and I'll get to lay on the beach up in Amagansett.  Soon my wraps and scarves will have their day in the sun.

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