Friday, April 29, 2016

Links a la Mode, April 28th

I love this blogging community. Have a look at the round up of posts from this week's Links a la Mode from Independent Fashion Bloggers, including my Fashion Revolution x Redress post about my fashion #haulternative.

Don't forget to click over and read some of these great posts!

"IFB Bloggers were very generous with their advice, tips, and lessons this week. There were posts on the business of blogging. Examples of interviews and photography. Advice on developing your fashion empire from the beginning and on to sustaining it, with a special tip on friendzoning a photographer. Tips on clearing clutter, letting go, and reasons to wear vintage. All topped off with a lesson on shirt tucking; To tuck or not to tuck! Trends this week seemed to stem from the 1990’s even if that wasn’t their direct intention–ripped white jeans, iron on patches, young designer inspiration. And when in doubt, buy nude."
Links à la Mode, April 28
SPONSOR: Amazon's Shopbop ONE by Boutique, The Principle Collection Jeans, Black HaloDresses, Ettika, Alameda Turquesa, Temptation Positano, Evening Dresses, White Jeans, Lace UpGladiator Sandals, Men's Y-3 SPORT

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Vintage rescue: Bleach splattered denim DIY

Oops! I did it again. I really don't intend on making this a new series on my blog because that would be a bit sad, don't you think? Norbyah never learns from her mistakes and ruins beautiful vintage clothing. No, I don't want that to be my message because it couldn't be farther from the truth. I do all I can to save it!

But...washing mishaps happen.  Maybe that's my lesson. Don't wash any vintage. At all. But then I would have an outrageous dry cleaning bill. Not so environmentally sustainable and against one of the reasons I wear vintage. I actually don't know how this mishap happened. I just took my black vintage jeans out one day and noticed the rinse looked all weird, almost like they had been tie dyed.

So, they sat in a pile for a very long time while I contemplated what to do with them. I do this with many of my clothes as a way to think about how I can rescue them or change them so they'll get more wear. They're worth it I think. And that way, I'm not adding to the textile waste that fast fashion creates, so it's all good.

Then one day, the answer came to me. I can't recall now how I decided to bleach them, but that's what I decided. I consulted some DIY blogs and got advice from my good friend Vicki (Vic & Lily Vintage) who has done some vintage DIY herself. In fact, she and I had a little vintage rescue going on in her shop until she moved to Scotland, which I'm totally over (hmmpf).

 The nice thing about this project was that I actually could do-it-by-myself. Some of those other ones I've shared, like the most recent vintage dress rescue (see here), I only did with the assistance of my seamstress Jilly in Stanley.

So, I only have two bits of advice which were handed onto me. First, make sure to work in a well ventilated area (taking precautions to protect your eyes). Second, don't over bleach. In addition to lifting color, bleach also corrodes the fabric. If you're going for a totally distressed look, then never mind, but if not then start lightly. You can always go back a second time if you think you want more splattering and distressing.

I'm quite happy with how these pants turned out. Not too busy for me, so I know the jeans will get more wear. And that was the whole goal anyhow. In a surprise turn of events and having no knowledge of jean rinses, I learned that my jeans (or the dye) have a yellowy brown undertone. When the bleach lifted the color, the spots didn't turn white but tan which gave them a bit of an antiquey feel.

Oh, the vintage lessons I'm learning...

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Haulternative (or why I wear vintage)

This week has been Fashion Revolution week.  What's that, you say? Fashion Revolution is a movement aimed at educating people to become more mindful consumers and to demand ethical and sustainable practice in the fashion industry. It asks us all, who made your clothes?

Following the building collapse at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh three years ago, which exposed dangerous working conditions for underpaid workers and resulted in a tragic loss of human life, the Fashion Revolution was born. This organization believes that fashion does not have to come with such a high cost - to our environment or to the people who work in the industry.

Vintage seersucker dress

Did you know, for example, that it takes 2720 liters of water to make a t-shirt? That's how much water a person drinks over the span of three years. Mind boggling. Or how about this -- 95% of clothes discarded can easily be recycled or upcycled? And the average person wears only 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time. When we consider that, why on earth are people buying more now than ever before?

So, this week people have again worn their clothes inside out to show their labels (I did this three years ago) and Fashion Revolution has been encouraging people to take part in other campaigns, too. This year, I've discovered the #haulternative. You can read up about it here, but basically Fashion Revolution (and our locally based Redress HK) are encouraging people to take a different approach to refreshing their wardrobes which doesn't mean buying a bazillion new clothes.

Moheda shoot

So, here is my fashion #haulternative.  It involves wearing secondhand, going to clothing swaps (or organizing them), and buying vintage.  I thought it would be a good time to reaffirm how much I love vintage clothing.

So, here goes...

Oh vintage, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways...

One of the main reasons I love vintage is knowing that the garment I wear is likely one of a kind.  I never have to worry about running into someone on the street and having that awkward moment when we realize we're wearing the exact same blouse (or something like that).  The novelty prints of vintage skirts, blouses and dresses are unlike any I've seen. I mean, blue bunnies? Carousel horses? Hot air balloons? You name it, I've seen it...and bought it.

Another reason is the quality of vintage garments is unlike much of what we see in fashion these days.  The whole concept of fast fashion is named for the speed at which clothes are produced and how quickly these fashion brands are spinning off new collections. Aside from the human cost of fast fashion, there is also a loss of quality.  Garments these days cannot be worn as long before they break down. Vintage garments are made well otherwise, how have they lasted all these decades? 

Finally, I have to say one of the best reasons I love vintage is because I know I'm not impacting the already burdened environment we live in.  Wearing vintage breathes new life into garments that are still fashionable and stylish.  And there's a story about each and every vintage garment.  Who owned it previously, where they wore it, why they decided to pass it along, and so on. I love those stories.  

You know, if you look at many of today's trends, you're bound to have the same sentiment I often have: Oh, those such and such (insert item of clothing here) are coming back into fashion again.  So, rather than buy said item of clothing new, why not look at buying the original?  Maxi and midi skirts? Mine are vintage.  Crop tops?  Yep. Vintage. Color blocked prints?  You get the idea.

Alright, alright, you got me. This #haulternative hasn't really pushed me to change my ways, but I have good habits. Or at least I try. My real goal this year is to pare down my children's wardrobes and buy them less. I lived in hand-me-downs as a child, so I'm trying to do the same with them.

Which one of these #haulternatives would you try?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Evolution of the shirtdress

I love shirtdresses for their combination of utility and style. They're proof that one does not have to compromise style for practicality. This is good news for a working mumma like me.

As a lover of vintage clothing, I have several shirtdresses that I've bought over the years. It's while collecting these dresses that I've noticed how this style has evolved. And yet, at the same time, the style really hasn't changed much at all.

At the style's core are two essential qualities; it has a collar and it buttons down the front.  Other than that, the style is pretty versatile -- different fabrics and prints, different lengths and cuts, different collars, etc. The style takes inspiration from the men's tailored shirt and was first offered in silks and cotton. The shirtdress was popular from the start because it offered a more affordable and flattering design for women of all body types. 

In the forties and fifties the shirtdress had a cinched in waist and a full skirt.  Later versions more closely mimicked the men's shirt fit, while the eighties saw a resurgence of the earlier cut. Here's a vintage tip for you: the fifties style and the eighties style day dress or shirtdress are practically identical with the exception of the fabric. Polyester wasn't used for this style until the eighties (yay!).

Buttons down the front also marked a significant change, noting that women could no longer rely on servants or available husbands to do up their dresses for them. To me that says two things; more people had to work and couldn't afford the luxury of a servant and perhaps many women's husbands died at war, which makes me sad.

I think it's really interesting how the style also kept pace with the women's liberation movement as they were becoming more independent and fighting to be seen as equals in society. Fashion really is a commentary of our times. 

Oh, the stories. I love the stories that vintage clothing tells.

The shirtdress is just as relevant today as ever. These dresses (including the one I am wearing) are part of British designer Alex Black's first collection.  She launched the Alex Black Collection right here in Hong Kong about a year and a half ago. She has since released new shirtdress designs which have a fun flirty skirt and are also sleeveless.

While you see that I've styled my shirtdress for winter, it is easily adaptable to other seasons, too.  I took my Tasha dress from the Alex Black Collection with me last summer and will bring it along again this year (have a look here to see how I wore it on the beach in Amagansett).

 The shirtdress really is a classic and timeless piece. Even as times change, it's good to know that this piece will likely stay in fashion.

***Outfit pictures by Ann

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mindfully present: Breaking the addiction to my iPhone

I've been reflecting a lot lately on technology, in particular my iPhone. We're living in an age where people often think about how nice it is to feel so connected. If you get lost, you can Google directions. If you're running late, you can send a text or call the person you're meeting. If you forget the address of a restaurant, just look it up. Bored? Play Crossy Road or Candy Crush. And hey, while you're there, update your Facebook status letting people know the traffic sucks, check what your friends have posted on Instagram in the time you're waiting to meet them and add that snap with the sad face filter and the message "always running late" to your Snapchat story.

 I mean, what did we ever DO before smartphones?

Only, that's the thing...

Before smartphones helped us be virtually connected all the time, we were more connected with the world around us. If you got lost, you'd have to consult a map or ask a real person for directions, not Siri. If you were stuck in traffic on public transportation, you might make small talk with your neighbour. Do people know how to do that anymore? Or heck, you could even read a newspaper or a book! Who reads books on the MTR anymore?

Sometimes, though, you might just pause and look out the window to watch the clouds breeze by or the raindrops trickle down the windowpane. I have always loved to people watch and public transport is the best place for it, but the people are mostly doing the same things these days -- just staring blankly down at their phones while the light illuminates an expressionless face.

And if you were running late back then? Well, when you made a promise to meet someone, they'd know - by your word - that you'd be there. They'd be patient, and they'd wait. We had college friends who were notoriously late everywhere. Sometimes by an hour, but we always waited patiently because that's what friends do.

I fear that the convenience and immediacy of technology has made us impatient. But more than that, I fear we've become withdrawn and disconnected. Think about how many people you walk by whose eyes are cast down looking at their phones. And for me as a parent, I think about how many people capture moments with their children from behind a screen, rather than watching it in real life. Or how many times my kiddos ask for my attention, when I'm trying to 'finish something' on my phone.

Anyhow, after reading a number of articles and thinking I should do something, I finally read this blog post from A Pair and a Spare in which my friend Geneva proposed a 30-day challenge to be phone free between 8pm to 8am. I'd already decided a while back to make a personal commitment to stay off my phone on MTR rides and instead bring a book, but I wanted to add onto this.

So, since the beginning of this month, I've joined Geneva by keeping my phone away from my bed. It gets charged each night (and plugged in as soon as I'm home from work). I'm using my watch as an alarm and I don't check my phone till I'm on my walk to work. I'd say my phone ban is more like 10pm to 8am.

A girlfriend also invited me to join a Facebook community called Watchful Wednesday (check it out here). I'm really hopeful that I'm establishing better habits, both for me and for my children. Because let's face it -- I can argue with them about screen time, but I have to practice what I preach, right?

Who wants to join me as I work towards being more mindfully present? I'd love to hear your thoughts, so leave me a comment or drop me a line. Or just join me.

And maybe, watch this video. It really stayed with me.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Look Book Story : A Day at Wong Tai Sin Temple

Hong Kongers love to spend time outside, probably because so much of their lives revolve around being in the city, indoors. Any chance there is to visit the country park, go on a hike, relax at a sitting-out area in town, or a tour temple complex, you can guarantee that most of Hong Kong will take it. It's the way of life here in this bustling city.

Wong Tai Sin Temple Complex is no different. Despite the fact that it was teeming with people, it was the perfect location for a girls day out. The pair of friends were looking for some local Hong Kong culture, and to see a part of the city unknown to them.

They packed their Lattice Collection bags from Louella Odie, wore their lovely Spring dresses from What the Frock and were ready for a stylish adventure.

And what adventures in style they had! At the temple complex, they were fanned by cool breezes which made their outfits come alive. They basked in the sun, unusual for Hong Kong's normally foggy February, while they took in some of the beautiful local sights.

Temple goers were buying joss sticks and bringing offerings while tourists embraced Hong Kong's Chinese culture and the spring flowers. All around, reds, blues and greens adorned the temples where the girls explored the gardens. 

Having toured the gardens of Wong Tai Sin and explored its temples, the girls decided it was time to call it a day. They had discovered a part of Hong Kong which was new to them and were inspired to plan more style adventures in this lovely city.

For more about our day and the brands involved, make sure to visit Emily's blog for her post on our Look Book collaboration (City Rags).

Monday, March 28, 2016

Links a la Mode, March 24th and giveaway winner!

Thanks to all you lovelies who entered my vintage dress rescue giveaway, and for leaving me comments.  I've picked a winner and I'm thrilled to be sending my rescued vintage dress onto

Emily Popek!!!

In the meantime, I was thrilled to be included in last week's Links a la Mode over at Independent Fashion Bloggers, where talented bloggers shared their tips and trends. Have a read!


Links à la Mode, March 24
SPONSOR: Amazon's Shopbop Joie, alice + olivia Dresses, Soludos Flats, Taylor and Tessier, Kitsch Hair Accessories, Intropia, Off the Shoulder Crop Tops, High Waisted Flare Jeans, Collar Necklaces, Men's Stussy

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