Tuesday, July 19, 2016

My Vintage Road Trip: Fair Oaks Diner

For the last three summers, we've driven by this diner around the corner from our house always saying we should go have brekky there. Finally, with my sister and her fiancee visiting us in Madison last week, we introduced the kiddos to the American diner.

Walking into the restaurant felt a little like stepping back in time to the 50s.

From the black and white checked linoleum floors and the red vinyl stools, to the collections of match books and vintage photos of downtown Madison, it was clear to see that the owner has a passion for collecting memorabilia from the past.

Matt, our friendly server, was happy to give us the history of the diner as well as recommendations of other fun things happening in our neighbourhood. The building has always been a diner. Fair Oaks Diner has been there for 20+ years and before that it was Bev's Diner before they moved their location to East Wash.

The kiddos couldn't get over the size of their pancakes, and I enjoyed the diner coffee and my hearty egg brekky. I was impressed that anything on their menu was available all day long and that there were lots of vegetarian options, too, yet it wasn't a fussy hipster kind of place. Matt explained that they cater to the locals, some of whom work the night shift and come in early in the morning for their dinner.

 It is easy to see that the diner is a neighbourhood favorite, and I got the sense that Matt probably knew most of the customers by name. He was quickly learning all he could about us and I'm sure will recall those details when we stop in again. I appreciate these kinds of stores and restaurants because they make me feel nostalgic for a time past, and remind me why I love the friendliness of the Midwest.

Probably my favorite thing about this diner is the neon sign outside. It's simple and iconic. It glows red from dawn to dusk. 

And, now it means something more because each summer, we're locals here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

My Vintage Road Trip: Long Beach Antique Market

The first destination on my vintage road trip was Los Angeles and it was both exciting and daunting to think about exploring the vintage scene in this place. I'll admit to feeling a little intimidated. 

After some online research, it was very clear that the LA area has a healthy flea market scene for vintage and antiques. The downside to this for me was only being able to pick one or two markets to go to since there are specific weekends where these markets are held. In the end, the hubby and I decided to check out the Long Beach Antique Market as it seemed to have a good selection of items we were interested in seeing.

The Long Beach Antique Market takes place on the third weekend of each month all year round. The market runs from 6:30 am to 2:00 pm and for eager shoppers it offers an early bird admission from 5:30 to 6:30 for twice the admission fee. It's easy to get to as it's pretty much right off the 405 and there's ample parking at Veteran's Stadium where it is located.

We arrived quite early, which I would recommend, because the line to get in was starting to get long and the sun was beating down all morning. While the hubby came prepared with a few big duffle bags, I looked around and felt a little out of place when people rocked up with big wagons and wheely shopping carts.  There were some serious bargain and antique hunters we were up against!

This market has something for everyone: antique furniture and household items (still thinking about the dreamiest midcentury modern Danish furniture), vintage appliances, home decor, repurposed items, vinyl, and more.

There were plenty of stands selling vintage and secondhand clothing and jewellery. I learned right away not to call any of it 'vintage' when asking the vendor the cost of the item as it immediately raised the price. Also, its perfectly acceptable to bargain at this market provided you're not being rude and completely lowballing a vendor. 

I decided that I preferred the stands with vendors who had a carefully curated collection of vintage arranged by color or style. I found the larger stalls simply too overwhelming. It turns out that these types of stalls most often belonged to people who ran a boutique online (Etsy, etc) or who also had brick and mortar shops or studios. Prices range based on the items sellers stock. Brand name vintage always costs more as does vintage from faraway places. I met two lovely ladies who explained their experience selling at markets and one who even invited me to her studio in LA!

I love that the hubby and I can poke around these markets together. There were plenty of things to keep his interest as well. Vinyl records, vintage tees and glasses, old cameras, appliances, and more.

What I love most about shopping in antique markets, estate sales and vintage boutiques are the reminders of the past. I stumbled across a gorgeous antique sewing machine stand that reminded me of my grandmother's one and the hubby found some mixing bowls like the ones he remembers his mother inheriting from his grandmother. So much nostalgia, it's like a walk down memory lane.

Speaking of nostalgia, I've got a special collaboration happening this summer with Hong Kong based online boutique The House of Folklore who have given me two lovely silk scarves from their newly launched collection of four silk scarves designed by Hong Kong based artist Mayura Yadav. I'll be styling them throughout my summer as I take my vintage road trip. I'm wearing their Free Spirit design in this post, inspired by those lovely blue and white Chinese porcelain bowls I grew up eating my breakfast cereal in. Stay tuned for more about these scarves and my collaboration in a post coming soon.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Summer style wishlist

Early in May, I stumbled onto these images which I saved for a post for summer. They are images from Refinery 29 of the exact silhouette of dress that I decided I wanted to live in all summer.

And the exact type of sandal I think would be a summer essential.  

This dress is perfect for a number of reasons: it's blue, it appears to be a linen-cotton blend, and it's a casual loose fit. I can imagine myself lounging in it by the beach, by the lake, by the pool. I can see myself wearing this as I wander through flea markets and browse racks at thrift shops. I can see multiple ways to wear it: belted, with a light summer blazer, with a turban headscarf or even a panama hat.

I'll be looking for a vintage version of this dress.

And these sandals are good for day and can easily transition to night. I need a vintage pair (actually any pair) in my life.

I'll let you know if my vintage road trip proves successful for these two items...

Friday, July 1, 2016

Printed pajama pantsuit & other random thoughts.

Oops, I've gone into vacation mode! I guess I'm just really loving this California sunshine and the blue skies. I keep getting phone notifications of severe thunderstorm warnings back in Hong Kong and I feel lucky to be here.

Another reason I feel lucky to be here is this cool dry weather. There's absolutely no humidity here (compared to Hong Kong). I'm remembering how hot and humid it was on the day we took these outfit pictures in Stanley, and how ridiculously sweaty I was just standing still. Thank goodness for my friend Ann and her amazing editing skills; not a drip of sweat to be found on my face (aaannd, the truth comes out)!

This printed pajama pantsuit (how do you like that alliteration?) was a steal in Stanley Market. I loved that it was a light weight silk-like fabric. I thought it might allow me to wear it in the warmer months, but that thought proved futile. As soon as we finished taking these pictures, we retreated to the nearest air conditioned coffee shop to cool off.

Since being in the States, I've enjoyed needing to grab an extra layer as the sun goes down and sleeping with the windows open. It's total bliss. 

I crack up when I hear locals here complain about heat or humidity and tell them about what it looks like when Hong Kong humidity makes the walls sweat or when it leaves puddles on the ground. It's all relative. Our bodies acclimatize, though I think I will always be a tropical girl.

Showing my love for local brands: Niin, Ona Chan Jewellery and The Mauve Hour

But it's not back to the tropics for me just yet. Our California summer days are just about over and we're headed east to our home in the Midwest. I cannot wait to be in our own home in Madison tomorrow. Stay tuned, vintage road trip updates are coming soon! Keep your eyes on my Instagram feed for more regular pit stops along the way.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Meanwhile, back in Hong Kong

Here's a reason I wish I was in Hong Kong right now...

Starting this past Friday the 24th, eleven independent designers launched Urban Couture, a multi-brand pop up store located in Central for two weeks. These eleven designers, most based in Hong Kong, but a few from Canada and one from Columbia, have collaborated to put together an amazing collection of items for your shopping delight.

There is a little something for everyone, even you fellows! Have a look (and click on the brand names to get more info about their products):

Flirty womanswear from What the Frock

Some Hong Kong inspired accessories and bags from Louella Odie 

Upscale lingerie from Columbian designer Suki Cohen
 Luxury swim wear from Mer Culture Swimwear

Some classy men's timepieces from Nordic

Organic babywear from Cicogne Bebe

Contemporary womenswear by TwS

And, even some vintage from Granny Puckett Vintage

Also at the pop up are accessories for men and women by Protest A and Flawless Beaux and high end handbags and belts by Awad.

After an exciting opening night, they will stay open from 11am to 9pm each day until July 7th. If you're in the neighborhood, you really must hurry over to see some of the lovely items these designers have curated for you at this pop up. 

I've got some of my Hong Kong designer favorites with me this summer. It's not quite the same as being able to browse through the selection at the Urban Couture pop up, but I'll pretend I did and live vicariously through those of you who are lucky enough to pop in.

Friday, June 24, 2016

My Vintage Road Trip: Summer 2016

Summer vacation in the United States. Think road trip. You need snacks. You need a good playlist. And, you need a destination.

There hasn't been a summer that hasn't had some kind of road trip for our family. Whether it be from NYC out to the Hamptons, from Denver Airport up to Estes Park, or the usual shuttle between Oglesby, IL to Madison, WI, it's a quintessential part of our summer holidays.

A few weeks ago, the hubby found an awesome website called The Vintage Map, which has listings for some excellent thrift shops, flea markets and vintage boutiques in major cities around the world. Seeing this website gave me an idea for a different kind of road trip this year. 

A vintage road trip.

So, that's what I'll be doing this summer. I've plotted out some of my favorite spots and planned to visit some new ones, too. We're going to explore a bit of the scene here in LA and then head to the Midwest, where hidden treasures abound. I'll be sharing my vintage road trip here, with posts that detail my experiences, tips and the treasures I find. I'll be visiting antique markets, vintage boutiques, estate sales and thrift/charity shops and I'll share my observations about each experience.

So, fasten your seat belts and come along with me. You're in charge of keeping the music going and letting me know about any stops you'd like me to make along the way.

*** All pictures from previous summer travels and vintage treasure hunting.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fashion with purpose: Les Sublimes

 When people ask me what I'm passionate about, what always jumps into my head is sustainable fashion. It's the reason I wear vintage and secondhand clothing. And it's one way that I like to minimize my impact on the environment, given that the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in our world. 

I'm always excited when I see fashion brands embracing sustainable techniques and making the environment a part of their ethos. It's encouraging.

So, here's good news then...there's a brand new fashion brand on the scene, launching today. They're a French brand based in Paris and they're challenging the traditional sustainable fashion model with their no compromise consumption. They want you to have it all.


Les Sublimes has a small collection of wardrobe essentials that definitely channel that classic Parisian chic style. I'm confident they're the pieces you'll be reaching for most in your wardrobe to mix and match and make your own.


This start up collection is made up of six pieces: two tanks, two tees and two dresses. They use two different sustainable fabrics and all manufacturing is in France, by Confection Perard, a second generation family-run atelier in Renaison, outside of Lyon.


And have a look at their designs; how can you pick a favorite? I think this black dress is high on my list. I really love how each piece is so simple and classic that you know that it will get many wears and look different with each styling.

As I mentioned, they're launching today June 21st and the entire collection is available for pre-sale over on their Indiegogo crowdfunding page. Here is the link


If I haven't given you enough good reasons to check them out, then let me give you one last incentive: for piece they sell, the company will work with their non-profit partners to provide education for one underprivileged girl for one month. It's feel good fashion at it's best.

For more information about this new brand, visit their website here.

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