Sunday, August 20, 2017

My Thrifted Sisters Summer Vacation

Perhaps the hardest thing about the end of summer is letting go of summer style. I love the ease of summer dressing. Braless, shoeless, simple accessories, floaty fabrics. Oh, it's perfect. . . and so not work appropriate.

Don't get me wrong, I love fall dressing. I'll wear a Diane Keaton inspired blazer outfit any day. The problem is that Hong Kong weather is not fall dressing friendly. Not yet. It's hotter here right now than it was on any of the days of our summer holiday in the States. So, while I'm still in summer weather mode, I thought it was the perfect time to share a fun collaboration I've been working on.

Back in May, the lovely Sharon of Thrifted Sisters Vintage and I decided to collaborate on a fun summer vacation project. She gifted me some lovely pieces from her shop to wear around on my holiday while I share my adventures here on the blog.

She sent along three wonderful pieces: the white crocheted summer sweater, a gorgeous black and white 80s does 40s inspired dress and this oversized floral Christian Dior blouse. 

What better way to hang onto summer a little bit longer than share my Thrifted Sisters Summer with you. Stay tuned over the next three weeks to see how these pieces worked into my holiday. And, if you see anything you like over on the Thrifted Sisters Vintage Instagram, go ahead and mention my blog post for 20% off!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Third Culture Nomad

Summer's over and I'm happy to be back home in Hong Kong. It's a complicated feeling because home is also Madison. Home is being with my family, all of them. Growing up internationally, it's hard to explain to people who haven't moved around a lot just what the idea of home means. For me, it's a bit like being a nomad, moving between cultures while at the same time settling in easily anywhere.

Back in June, I was introduced to Anja Kotar, a young 19 year old singer from Slovenia whose new full length album Nomad echoes sentiments of a young person's experience moving away and searching to belong. The concept of her album is to be a mixtape for a road trip, which is such a quintessential part of growing up in America. The release of her album coincides with the launch of her online store Too Cool featuring clothing and accessories which connect with each song and bring her two passions, music and fashion, together. 

Taking a road trip is a something I didn't really understand as a child growing up in Asia. The idea that your purpose of getting into a car for any other reason than to get somewhere was somewhat strange. Traffic in Kuala Lumpur was hell, so one never really liked to think of extended time in cars. I realize that my kiddos are growing up here in Hong Kong in much the same way as I did. We don't spend extended time in cars so they don't really appreciate road trips. Yet.

What I love about summers in the States is that we get to expose our kiddos to the little things that make American life charming.  Each summer we play the license plate game where we see if we can spot all 50 states' license plates when we're travelling. This summer we got pretty close, only Hawaii eluded us. What this game has taught us about America is that it's a country of road trippers. People love to just get in the car and go.

And why not? There's so much of the country to see and such good music to accompany you on your travels. I love that Anja Kotar based her album around this concept because it makes it all so relatable.  I also love that she asked me to create a look inspired by her album (and album cover) because it was such a fresh new idea! It was the perfect opportunity for our own little road trip, so we cruised in our 1967 Ford Country Sedan along some country roads with our kids to show them that home isn't always a destination. Oftentimes, its just the journey you take and the people who ride with you.

Check out Anja Kotar's music, her online store and enjoy her new music video, too.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Gorgeous Ladies of Instagram: A NYC Blogger Meet Up

With social media being so prevalent these days, it's become really easy to meet interesting people. I find myself a part of so many different communities, and I love it. Of course, some may argue that online connections cannot possibly be as meaningful, but from my own experience I have to say that those naysayers are wrong.

One such community that I found myself a part of was a small engagement group on Instagram started by Leigh of Pink Vintage Heart blog. She began a small pod on Instagram as a way for us to look at each other's posts and comment while also driving up engagement on our profiles. Some of us wear vintage and secondhand, some of us sell vintage, and others of us are just into fashion in general. Some of us are new to blogging, while others of us are well established. While the pod was short lived, the friendships that formed as a result were not.

When I mentioned that I was coming to NYC this summer, the ladies thought about how fun it would be to meet up in real life. Leigh took the lead in getting us organized as she did when she created the pod and soon we had the date picked and a restaurant booked.

Leigh from @pinkvintagehrt

The most amazing thing happened that evening. It didn't really feel like I was meeting people for the first time, rather it felt like meeting long lost friends. I can't even begin to explain how that feels, but I needless to say I had a blast.

Nicole from @nyinthecity
We caught up with each other's news while at the same time getting to know each other (I wasn't the only one making introductions with the others that evening). They shared their experiences blogging in NYC while also asking about the scene in Hong Kong. The sweetest thing was how we greeted each other, with huge hugs and giddy smiles. We could hardly believe that we were meeting. What fun I would have with these ladies if I lived in the same city.

Before the dinner, Leigh, Nicole and I even had time for a little photoshoot. Leigh has the most amazing and patient Instagram hubby, for sure. He was so sweet.

It was the first time I'd had my #ootd picture taken in NYC without feeling super self conscious (NYC does that to me for some reason). Yay!

My NYC ladies: Abby, Nicole, Monique and Alison
I was so glad my travels to NYC allowed me a little time to meet up with a new girl gang. Check these glorious ladies out on Instagram: Abby @clothesandpizza, Nicole @nyinthecity, Monique @thebargaindistrict (who also runs a vintage boutique in Williamsburg), and Alison @thevintagevoyageur (watch episodes of her show on Amazon TV)!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Sunglasses: The Right Fit

I don't know about you, but finding a good pair of sunglasses, for me, can often feel like the exhaustive search for flattering jeans or a bikini that makes you feel confident. Everyone's face shape is uniquely different. What looks good on one person may not suit another person's face, and so on.

My nose, for example, has a very high bridge so some sunglasses sit unusually high off my face. I love oversized sunglasses, but the space between a person's eyes and cheeks can create a challenge for those styles depending on how oversized they are.

In any case, there really is nothing quite like finding the perfect pair of sunglasses for summer. I basically live in sunglasses on sunny days, so they really become my go-to accessory for any outfit. 

Recently, I collaborated with SmartBuyGlasses to share with you some interesting features of shopping online with them for the perfect sunglasses. Of course, I love that you can search their site by brands and price, but you can also search by style (oversized, round, aviator, etc). It makes finding a pair that suits you just that much easier. 

My favorite feature of shopping online at SmartBuyGlasses is the fact that they have a virtual try-on feature for their glasses. It works a little bit like a Snapchat filter in that you look into the camera and the glasses fit to your face. Once they're sized, you can turn your head and get a good look at how the style looks on your face. It's brilliant!

I chose a few of my favorite picks from their site to share. Click on each brand to take a peek at what inspired me. Each pair I picked was oversized since I really love the vintage feel of that style. I loved these ones from Max Mara, these from Ray Bans and these super round ones from Chloe

What do you think? What sunglasses style do you like?

***Pictures taken on holiday in Amagansett, NY.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Style Minute: Summer Layers to Stay Cool

When I think about layers, I think transitional dressing for the change of seasons. I was inspired by Bonobos to share some tips and tricks for staying cool during the summer. I don't often think about layers in summer, but living in Hong Kong has taught me that wearing layers in summer is a necessity. Though the weather is hot and humid, when you step into any building you'll be freezing!

Layering in summer is tricky because you really don't want to be caught with bulky layers to carry around in hot humid weather. I like the idea of a lightweight scarf to accessorize any summer outfit because at any point, you can wrap it around your shoulders if you get cold in the air conditioning. Not only that, but summer scarves are an easy thing to tuck into your purse as well, no carrying around a cardigan or a jean jacket.

I love the way these outfits are accessorized with scarves. They're so much more creative than just draping one around your neck or shoulders, but really they make the outfit. 

Another go to summer layer for me is a vintage kimono. I've been scouring vintage and thrift shops for them every chance I get. I like that they are loose and blouse-y but lightweight. They can be worn over jeans, skirts or dresses to add a summer festival feel to any outfit.

Or they can be worn belted as seen here with a neck scarf. I can see this being a good way to transition into fall dressing. I love a neck scarf for summer because it gives a little bit of warmth around your neck with any top, but can easily be converted into a head scarf or wrap when the humidity outside gets unbearable.

For successful summer layering for both men and women, I have two tips:

1. Consider fabric. Your layering piece (scarf or kimono) should be a lightweight material like cotton, silk or linen. You want the layer to keep you warm in the cool breezes of summer nights or the air conditioning inside, nothing more.

2. Make sure your base layer is also lightweight. I like to wear tank tops or camisoles, light breezy skirts or summer dresses, or even cotton pants (these chinos from Bonobos would be perfect). You don't want your layers to be bulky, but rather light and flowy (think boho chic).

Mostly when I think about summer style, I think sexy, so definitely keep those layers sheer and gauzy so you can still show some skin, which is part of the sexiness of summer. 

I hope these tips are helpful!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Feel Good Fashion: Repelle

Back in May, I had an opportunity to interview a lovely eco-fashion designer, Naomi Maaravi, from Israel. She and I discovered each other on Instagram and I had been keen to learn more about her designs as well as the sustainable fashion scene in Israel. I'm always excited to discover fashion designers who have sustainability at the core of what they create.

Naomi's eco-fashion brand is called Repelle whose no-waste philosophy is to use only upcycled, recycled and existing materials to drive their collection and become fashion trends. Their collections are defined by their equal parts design, art and ideology. Naomi's father instilled in her an understanding that no matter how old or broken an object may be, each object has it's own little story. Her father upcycled everything well before it was a trendy thing to do and as a result, she grew up in a world that was full of creativity and a care for our surroundings.

How did you become interested in fashion?
Honestly, I was not. I did not like the ‘plastic’ version of fashion.
I like personality and believe in personal beauty. I respect and am thankful for what we have.
I do like playing with materials and designing from existing materials.
I do like to make the body as beautiful.
I do like the fact when the beauty of an item is lost, I can fix it and refind its beauty.
I do like to see a customer made happy by putting on my garments and feeling good and comfortable in them, but the word fashion gives me always goose bumps.

What are some of your fashion influences? Who inspires you? What inspires your designs?
I can be inspired by the smell of perfume or it can be the material or garment by itself as start point. It can also be a person that passes by or it can be a dancer in his movement. It can be a poem or a word someone says … can be the silence or any other sense in my surrounding [it can also disturb].
Vivianne Westwood tickles me. Li Edelkoort can spot it. Dancer performer Shamel Pitts gives me the gift to get into myself. My brother is the best brainstormer. My kids inspire me for the little details I can forget and my partner looks me straight in the eye and demands that I go for THE !! Nothing less.
My team dialogue may not be forgotten because they can get into detail and twist and shape ideas.
My partner Ayelet will get me down from all clouds I visit to develop a commercial line also and not only art pieces.

When did you learn about the sustainable fashion movement? What techniques do you use in your designs?

My father was far ahead of this sustainable lifestyle of today back in the sixties. He never threw anything away and he upcycled everything. He made me dolls, he made the rugs in my bedroom and the lamps by the entrance from milk bottles and my mother took care so it all looked aesthetic. We had separate garbage at home, which was in that time unusual, but it was kind of our home language. I learned to think out of the box and to respect what we have and to respect our world.

Sustainability is part of me. I feel guilty if I don’t care. I follow as much as I can to get information to read about it, but everyday there is more to follow and it's already impossible to follow all of it. It is difficult to succeed in both sustainable and economic ways, but we try our best even though it is a challenge.

At Repelle, our philosophy is first of all to be transparent. We produce locally and by law it should be follow the rules of human rights. We have a no-waste policy which means we produce from stock fabrics, yarns and garments. We use left over leather and upcycle leather coats for our accessories.
We pack with recycled materials and what is not sold will be upcycled or given to Goodwill organisations. We inform the client on how we made the items with our hang tag. We try to send all our collection items with as little packaging as possible.

As far as design goes, we make all our collections in classic colors and shapes so clients can merge past and future items with the items of today. Our goal is for the customer to wear the item as much as possible because of the shape and comfort. This is slow fashion.

Can you describe the sustainable fashion scene in Israel? How do you see yourself contributing to this scene?
In Israel, the sustainable fashion scene is so small and is picking up slowly. Most of the customers and most of the fashion industry in Israel is not aware. They are more price conscious in general, but I do see bit by bit events and promotions around this theme of sustainability. Our role with Repelle is to try to provide a good example as much we can. We have hang tags to educate consumers with information. We communicate via our Facebook and Instagram and our website. We participate in as many events and give presentations as much we can.

What vision do you have for the future of your brand?
When I started, I made only upcycled items, but since Ayelet ben Shahar joined the company we've been trying to reach a bigger audience nationally and internationally with our ‘commercial ‘line produced locally from stock fabrics, stock yarns and stock garments and left over leathers. We want to be able to balance between our commercial line and our unique pieces and to have a successful business which is both sustainable and profitable. We hope to continue to work with joy and to share our philosophy with the world.

Thank you Naomi for giving my readers and I insight into your brand and sharing your inspiration and vision for the future of sustainable fashion in Israel and around the world.

Monday, June 26, 2017

All Day I Dream About...

. . . SUMMER! 

And wouldn't you know it, now it's here. I started to write this post while we were still finishing up the school year, counting down the days till our summer break. I had to delete the few sentences I'd written and start over. It goes without saying that that week got so busy that time got away from me.  

Now, we're just over a week into our summer holiday and the summer feels like it's just flying along. We've packed up after a short stay in our summer home in Madison and we're already gearing up for the next step of our journey, my sister's wedding in Brooklyn.

While we're out east, we'll be making a few stops: Vermont to visit one of my girl squad, the Hamptons for some sun and surf, and of course plenty of time in NYC itself. I'll be meeting some Instagram girlfriends in real life (can't wait!)

I have to remember to pack light since there will be vintage and thrifting galore while I'm out there. It's been two years since we've seen the city and I cannot wait to reacquaint ourselves with some of our favorite spots. Stay tuned to my Instagram stories to see what we get up to.

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