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.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Taking Flight for the Summer (because I dressed like a flight attendant)

I'm sitting in the living room of our house in Madison, Wisconsin. The blur of the first few days of jet lag has mostly passed and I'm enjoying a quiet, but drizzly afternoon in our summer house.

These pictures show me sweating in the stinking humidity of Hong Kong just a couple of weeks before leaving, yet here I am enjoying cooler June days in the United States. The windows are open, the humidity is nearly undetectable (at least by local Hong Kong standards), and life is good.

The last few weeks of school are always frenzied and fast paced. Between goodbyes, graduation and classroom end of year parties, there's hardly enough time to think! Nevertheless, we manage to always get packed up and on a plane without too many hang ups, errands run and ready to go.

This blue dress was a lovely vintage find from the beginning of last summer when we were in LA. It was a summer of discovering vintage and flea markets, estate sales and plenty of thrifting. 

I found the dress at one of my favorite sellers Blossom Vintage who I had been following for some time on Instagram. She has the cutest Jet stream trailer and a lovely selection of clothes. 

I'm hoping she'll make a trek out to the Brooklyn Flea this summer since we aren't going to the west coast this year. I've already been to Savers once and I've got loads of other spots I'm eager to get to for a summer of thrifting. Stay tuned over on my Instagram stories to check out some of my thrifting hauls. This year in New York City, I'm really eager to check out how the Goodwill/Salvation Army/etc scene compares to what I've seen in LA and in the midwest.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Origins of a Fur Coat

Two summers ago, I found an amazing treasure in the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Peru, Illinois. It was the tail end of summer and I had a few days left before we were to return to Hong Kong. Making the most of those days meant getting to as many thrift stores and Mexican restaurants as I could.

On one trip to the Salvo, I noticed a whole collection of fur coats in the back room waiting to be put out on the floor. Of course, with it being the beginning of August, I knew that they wouldn't be going out anytime soon. I was persistent though and before I knew it, I found myself in that backroom chatting with the store manager about two of the coats I'd fancied.

The next thing I knew, I'd bought them for a song and proceeded to hand one as a gift to a good friend  who moved and who wears it now in London. We organised a very sweaty photo shoot with said coats in August before she left and I wrote up this story of the coats.

I love when vintage pieces have a story, and I had only begun to imagine the one behind this piece. I'd picked it because my coat had Salzer Furs, La Salle on the label which is near where my hubby grew up. To my surprise, my mother-in-law not only knew about the store, but she even knew of the woman whose name was embroidered inside my coat. I made sure to include those details in that earlier blog post.

Even more surprising was what happened next. About a month or so after I published the post, I got an email from a Stephen Salzer, the grandson of the gentleman who made my fur coat, the original furrier! Shortly after that, I received an email from the furrier's son, Jerry who gave me many more details about his father. I was thrilled to learn more about the family and their business in La Salle, Illinois (I will have a follow up post on that, too). 

Inspired by their story, I decided to do a little searching that next summer to see if I could find where their store used to be. By searching for old photos online and asking my mother-in-law, I knew that Salzer Furs used to be on the ground floor of the Hotel Kaskaskia. The whole hotel is abandoned now, but there is an effort to restore it, thank goodness. There are so many historical buildings in small towns just like La Salle, waiting to be revived. I love to think about how places like these looked in their glory days.

My mother-in-law said she remembered the store was just past The Side Bar, so that's where we started looking. At first I thought the store must have been upgraded after they closed down and was turned into the Uniforms and Shoes store we came upon. The closer we looked, the more it seemed like a possibility. But then I remembered this photograph which I found on the family's genealogy page. It is a picture of the interior of the Salzer Fur shop, with that very distinct fur storage vault and Irving Salzer, the maker of my coat standing in front of it with a customer. I was most surprised to find that while all the other details had faded with time, the vault was still very much intact. There was no mistake.

We weren't able to get a clear picture, but inside this door, I could clearly see the remains of that vault door where my coat and many more like it were stored carefully, waiting to begin their journey. In a quick Google search, I found fur coats from Salzer's fur shop being sold in Madison, WI and even East Peoria, IL. It's amusing to thing about where my fur coat began. I don't think in a million years, Salzer would have dreamt of his coat ending up in a far off place like Hong Kong!

I can't wait to find more vintage treasures like this, over summer. We're off next week!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Introducing BYT

As a huge supporter of Redress HK, I was thrilled to discover that they're working on launching their own sister fashion brand called BYT. Their brand will be developed exclusively by utilising sustainable design techniques to create luxe and affordable designs. They will be launching in September to coincide with the Eco Chic Design Award Grand Final (click here to see who the semi finalists are). 


In order to get their start, BYT is competing in a Chivas Venture funding for social impact businesses competition. BYT was selected as the sole representative of Hong Kong and this is the final week of crowd voting. Simply connect with Facebook and confirm your vote to support BYT in getting the necessary funding to get off the ground.

Vote NOW to support this new brand in their push to change the future of fashion. Voting closes on June 12th. Don't forget to hit CONFIRM so your vote counts.

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