Monday, March 12, 2018

Yellow is Not for the Faint of Heart

While you see me here in one of my back alleys of Stanley Market, I have to confess that I'm strolling in different alleys this week. I'm really in Morocco. Actually, I'm writing this before I leave, but I'll publish while I'm there. I have to pinch myself, though, Morocco is a dream destination for me. You can follow along on Instagram (@imanorbyah) to see my wanderings.

But, onto the topic of this post. Yellow. It's a color that can be so right, but at the same time so wrong.  More than any other color, this one must be the right shade. I love bright yellow, but it can't be like a highlighter yellow.

I also love mustard yellow or maize. It's a little more muted and can easily be styled with just about anything. I'm fortunate that my skin tone lets me do any of these shades of yellow. On the runways this spring, there is a lot of buttery yellow making it's appearance. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for that and then hope that I can carry it off as well.

So what are my tips for trying this color? Well, I have to be honest, if you're even a little uncertain then it may not be the color to try. There's just no subtle way to introduce it into your wardrobe. But, if you're willing to take a risk and be compared to a banana, then I say go for it. It's yellow, after all. It doesn't matter how little the piece is, it makes a statement. 

Case in point, my latest yellow acquisition is this coat. I mean, outerwear is a serious commitment.  I'm going to bring this coat with me to Morocco, so you can see it on my adventures as well. Yellow just goes so nicely with blue and I'm headed to Chefchaouen, the blue city of Morocco.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

I am Woman, Hear me Roar

The only thing positive that I can say about the last American election cycle and the eventual outcome of said election cycle is that it has awoken a Women's Movement.

And it's no flash in the pan, trending movement, either. It's a legit rise up, we're here to be seen and heard, and our time is now movement.  It's an exciting time to be a woman.  It's an exciting time to be a mother raising my girls (but also my boy).

I realise more than ever that my messages to my kids are messages to empower them to be strong and to be resilient.  They're messages about character and of hope for change. When my girls come back from school or from playing with neighbourhood kids and share stories of typical childhood conflicts, more and more I find myself telling them that their inaction doesn't teach the other kids how they want to be treated. It's not good enough to hope and wait for them to be better, instead they must demand better.

I find myself telling friends and colleagues the same as well, especially my women friends and colleagues.  If we notice that something isn't right, rather than to just accept things quietly I'm encouraging them to speak up. Only then will people listen.

Too long have women been silent. Too long have we been talked over. Not any more. Even the slightest infraction needs to be addressed, and it doesn't have to be confrontational. It just has to be acknowledged. Only then can we recognize how to be better.

 Our school is recognizing International Women's Day, for the first time that I can remember since I started work here. Normally we're on a week of school trips, but due to a change in calendar we happen to be here. After spending Women's Day in Mongolia last year, I realized that it was a larger day than a protest organized by the Women's March. It is actually a day that many celebrate around the globe, only I had never been in a place where that had happened. I feel proud this year to be a part of the celebration recognizing the accomplishments of women. I hope that it will become something regular so that my girls will grow up knowing that their voices will be heard, too.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Ooh La La: Styling a Beret

When we had our cold snap a month ago, I fell completely into a sartorial funk. It was so cold, I couldn't think about what to wear. I know, I know. I sound like a broken record, so I'll stop.

The reason I bring up the weather, though, is that in the cooler months my style incorporates a lot of hats. I love hats as you may have noticed both on here and on my Instagram profile.

Hats, like scarves, have a way of completing an outfit for me. When I'm getting dressed and something feels a bit off, it's usually a hat that I reach for first. They give any outfit that extra oomph to make them pop.

It took me a while to embrace the beret look, though. In truth, this one was bought for my daughter who needed it for her poetry cafe in fourth grade, two years ago now. She needed something that made her look like an artist. When she wore it, she said she felt French. Ha!

I'm not sure why I hesitated.  Maybe I felt a bit like I was trying too hard? I don't know. Whatever the reason, I really love the beret look now. A while back, I discovered a blogger new to me who styles a beret like nobody's business. Amy of A Fashion Nerd is worth clicking over to say hi. Then I started seeing them more and more on other blogger friends and I was hooked. The best thing is, you can find plenty of thrifted or vintage versions. 

So there you have it. While the weather remains cool enough to wear hats, I'll be throwing berets in the rotation. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Is Getting Dressed an Artistic Expression? & Links a la Mode, March 1st

We were headed out as a family for dim sum on a Saturday. Nothing special requiring a certain dress code, but still heading out and a reason to dress up nonetheless. So, I got dressed. Purple spandex dress, vintage denim jacket and scarf, gold socks and Vans.

In walks the hubby who stops in his tracks...

Hubby: What's that?
Me: This is my iceskating dress!
Hubby: I'll say. You never cease to amaze me!
Me: (puzzled look)
Hubby: Who would think to pair a purple dress with a jean jacket, gold socks and Vans? Only you! And it works. I guess that's your art.

I guess you could say getting dressed is my art. It's a way I express myself, that's for sure. And I always have fun doing it. I know some may think it's a shallow and vain expression, but I don't. If you aren't having fun, then what the hell are you doing?

This dress really is fun, too. I feel like I could bust out a triple lutz or pop an ollie. So, yeah.

What do you think? Can getting dressed be an artistic expression? Cause if it is, then I'm a creative after all. Ha!

***This post was featured in Independent Fashion Bloggers round up. Have a browse of some of the other posts that made it this week.

Links à la Mode, March 1st, 2018
SPONSOR: Amazon's Shopbop, Yumi Kim, Self Portrait Dresses, Tory Burch Totes, AO.LA, PH5, EDIT, Circle Bags, Slip On Sneakers, Hoop Earrings, Men's Fred Perry

Friday, February 23, 2018

Thrifted Sisters: Floral Trend for Winter

Hong Kong winter had me in a funk for a little while. I just couldn't get dressed because my basic need was to find a way to be warm inside. Luckily, that cold, cold inside weather has passed and we're experiencing the typical flip-floppy Chinese New Year weather instead. The week off started with blue skies and sun, whereas now we're onto grey skies and misty rain.

I won't complain, though. I know that hot sticky humid weather is around the corner, so I'm going to enjoy the opportunity to layer as long as I can.

Speaking of which, while the weather is still coldish, I dug out the floral jumpsuit I got from Thrifted Sisters vintage to style it up for cooler weather. Remember, our collaboration intended to show how one trend, in this case florals, can be styled through the seasons. You may recall how I styled it for the end of summer, here. Now granted if Hong Kong experienced a real winter, this jumpsuit would be seriously off limits due to it's lightweight rayon like fabric, but lucky for me Hong Kong doesn't get a real winter.

This floral jumpsuit is ideal for styling through the seasons because the floral print has winter-like color tones with its black background color and dark green, blue-purple and dark pink.

I gave my jumpsuit the winter style treatment by wearing it with my secondhand Monki jacket, ankle boots and my burgundy hat. For make up, I also made sure to wear some darker shades. Rather than wear my signature red lipstick, I chose a deeper wine color.

Finally, I finished it off with my secondhand Alexander Wang handbag, which I've been wearing cross body style pretty much since I got it.

Florals are such a perfect all year trend, I think. I'm already thinking about how I'll change this item up for spring.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Upcycling Clothing: Make Your Clothes Work For You & Links a la Mode, February 8th

Upcycling.  Repurposing.  Altering.

What is the difference?  The words are used interchangeably, admittedly by me, too. They are unique from each other, but at the core they get at the same thing.  Reducing textile waste.  Redress HK has done extensive work educating the public and driving change in the fashion industry globally. You can read more about their campaigns here.

For me, reducing textile waste and making second hand or vintage clothing choices comes in large part due that same hope of minimising my impact on the environment. I love thrift shopping because of the possibility of giving new life to a garment that has reached the end of its use by date for someone else, but still has loads of life left in it. (Read more about where this belief came from here). Sometimes breathing new life into a garment means having a vision for how to change it slightly and then seeing it through.

Back when I had a seamstress I trusted to help me carry these ideas through, I used to do this a lot and with a bit more of an adventurous spirit. She retired and closed her alterations shop and I haven't been able to find someone who can help me fix up my clothes since. I have a lead and I'm eager to test this new seamstress out, but so far I'm stuck with a growing fix/alter pile. The extent of my DIYs lately have literally been to cut off hems myself, but I'm getting bored with this. I did once try someone else, but I ended up with pant legs of different lengths (see those pants below). I fixed them myself by the way.

While I'm between seamstresses, I thought I could share some of my tips for how to make your clothes work for you. I'll list them at the end of this post, but the most important thing to consider is keeping your clothes in good condition. Sew up the little holes and be sure to launder things properly (I've made those mistakes).
Alterations and upcycling clothes doesn't have to be complicated. Sometimes it's just taking the sleeves off or bringing up the hem of a skirt. It can be simple like cutting the neck off or removing a collar. These kinds of alterations can be done even without sewing.

More complicated changes can be creating something entirely different (like one time when I made a skirt from pants or a dress out of a men's shirt). This is my definition of upcycling or repurposing or altering. It may not be what sustainable fashion suggests, but it is somewhere in the middle, I think. Making little tweaks to make an item of clothing can make it perfect for you so you'll want to keep it around longer.

I don't go thrift shopping with the mindset that I'm looking for something to change. In fact, I find that lately because I don't have a seamstress, I've become very strict about what I buy. If it's not going to work for me off the hanger, then these days I opt to leave it in the shop.  On the rare occassion, if there is something I really love about a garment (say the print or the fabric, for example) and my first thought is a simple fix, I may still see what I can do. 

There are other times, however, that I find something that I like as is and later on, even months or years later, I'll decide that I want to change it. It might be because I haven't worn the garment in such a long time; or it could be that after a few wears, I find some aspect of the garment that doesn't work for me anymore and can be fixed easily.

Because this is a part of how I wear clothes, I've discovered I end up wearing things longer. Vintage clothing or thrifted clothing is perfect for wearing in this way because it doesn't necessarily cost a lot and it is probably better made than any fast fashion items manufactured recently. If an alteration goes wrong, you're not out loads of cash. The flip side of that, however, is that vintage items really are one of a kind, and changing them can change the integrity of the whole piece. Ruining a vintage piece hurts more, trust me.

So, here are my tips for making your clothes work for you:

1. Buy proper fabric scissors and get comfortable using them to cut off jeans, pants, collars, etc.

2. If you can't sew yourself, find a good seamstress and start with safe alterations like a simple hemming before doing anything more complicated. I find hemming pants, etc, completely changes them enough that I'll keep them. Alternately, don't be afraid to make them shorts.

3. Don't forget that a good seamstress can also help your clothes fit better (I think this is different from changing the garment as suggested above). If your body changes shape and you still love a garment, have it altered so it can still work. 

4. Keep your clothes in good repair. A little hole is nothing to fret over. Just fix it or find someone who can. I feel like I'm constantly darning socks or stitching little holes in knees, for example. 

*Adapted and edited from an earlier post I wrote for Style by Asia.

Links à la Mode, February 8th, 2018
SPONSOR: Shopbop, Rachel Comey, Tibi Tops, Alexander Wang Bags, Flora Nikrooz, LGR, F.R.S For Restless Sleepers, Fanny Packs, Sequin Dresses, Mixed Metal Jewelry, Men's Salvatore Ferragamo

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Redress Design Award: New Cycle, New Name. Same Mission & Links a la Mode, February 1st

It's the start of a new cycle of the Redress Design Award and this year it's going to be the biggest one yet. On Redress's ten year anniversary, they've decided to rebrand what was once the Eco Chic Design Award and rename it so it can be aligned more closely to its organizers, the NGO Redress.

With the launch of this new cycle comes other exciting news as well. The competition, now in it's eighth cycle, is open globally to emerging designers with under three years professional experience to take part in creating a collection using sustainable design techniques. 

A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend the launch event at Eaton House in Central where I was able to sit in on a panel discussion about business and retail trends in sustainable fashion. I was happy to see that Redress is still promoting a circular economy and a vision for the future of sustainable fashion along with their aim to reduce textile waste. Did you know that in Hong Kong alone, we send approximately 125,195 tonnes of textiles to landfills (2016)? That figure along with the fact that between 2016 and 2018, sales across all fashion categories is set to triple? It's mind boggling.

While at the launch, I was also able to browse through their newly rebranded sustainable fashion brand now called The R Collective (formerly BYT). They launched at last year's Grand Final with a line of blazers and coats designed by Redress alumni Kevin Germanier and Victor Chu and now have some lovely knitwear courtesy of designer Kate Morris who won the most recent cycle.

With the competition now being open globally, sustainable fashion and Redress's impact on the fashion industry has a bright future. I'm thrilled to support their efforts and champion their message here on the blog, with others in my blogging world and with the students where I work who know my passion for the environment and sustainability. 

With the rebranding of Redress's upcycled fashion brand, I am excited to have been given an opportunity to style up their houndstooth blazer. You may have already seen me give it the print smashing treatment over on my Instagram, but stay tuned for more styling here. 

Links à la Mode, February 1st, 2018
SPONSOR: Amazon's Shopbop, R13 Denim, THURLEY Dresses, Solid & Striped, LGR, Flora Nikrooz, Vilshenko, Floral Jumpsuits, Workwear, Rainbow Dresses, Men's Ralph Lauren

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