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.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Style Minute: Print Mixing for Beginners

I love to mix prints. I guess I do it so often, that I don't even really think about it anymore.

Even so, I thought I'd take a moment to share with you some tips about how you can incorporate some print mixing into your outfits.

First, I would suggest introducing print mixing with a simple color scheme. Keep the patterns to just a few colors to get comfortable mixing them with some other patterns. I followed this tip with my outfit by limiting the colors of the prints to black and white.

Second, make sure to consider the size of the prints you're mixing. You want to avoid mixing the prints if they're all about the same, meaning avoid putting two or more big prints or two or more small prints together. You'll notice in my outfit that my blouse has a large spaced out floral print, while my pants have a small polkadot print. 

My third tip is remember the accessories. With my outfit, I layered a third print with my Louella Odie Lattice Print Weekender bag. The black and white pattern worked well with the print mixing effect I was aiming for and the print was also different from the other two, adding a bit of dimension.

I love Louella Odie bags, especially because of all their beautiful bold prints, but some people are intimidated by how to style them. I say, don't overthink it. Treat that bag almost as a neutral or one toned item and you'll find it much less intimidating (for example, I recently styled my new blue rattan Louella Odie tote with a blue blazer layered over an orange printed dress from What the Frock). I decided not to worry about mixing those prints because I acted as though the bag was just blue. The effect turned out better than I expected.

I hope those tips are helpful and that you will give print mixing a try. Be sure to click over to both these brands and check out what other designs they have. Summer is nearly here and it's the perfect opportunity to add some color to your wardrobe. 

Feel free to use the discount code NORBYAH20 when you shop at Louella Odie. You'll love all their new totes for summer.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Find Your Style: Boost Your Body Image through Fashion Confidence (A Guest Post)

I'm all about empowering women to be strong and confident here on my blog. I recently had an opportunity to connect with Emma Lawson, an Aussie lifestyle blogger who offered to write an article just for my readers on the topic of body image and fashion confidence. I normally keep the voice on this blog to my own, but when Emma and I communicated about this, it was clear that she and I share some of the same values, as reflected in her article. She likes to stand out in the sea of ordinary things with her unique approach to well known topics. Have a read!

Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way you live. – Gianni Versace

Fashion is often described as keeping up with the trends, but how is that possible when most of the highly-appreciated names in this branch are speaking of trends as temporary, as opposed to style which is eternal? The truth is that when you find your unique style, you can have confidence both to wear new trends and rock the oldies without even giving it a thought. Since it is never too late to discover yourself, here are some tips that should help you become fashion-confident and be satisfied with your body.

Get to know your body

“Dress for the body you have” is probably the best tip you can get when it comes to fashion. Knowing what goes well with your figure will make it much easier for you not only to choose clothes, but also to feel great when you look yourself in the mirror. This means embracing your best features. Do you have long legs? Show them off. Think you have sexy shoulders? Feel free to wear an off-the-shoulder shirt, and a pair of jeans.

Match the colors with your complexion

Another thing that will have a large impact on how a certain clothing item looks on you is the color of that clothing piece. For example, while jewel tones are perfect for contrasting a pale skin tone, light shades of grey would blend with it too much and make the whole outfit look awkward. Neon shades, on the other hand, would be overwhelming for light complexion.

Love your body

We are not trying to be life coaches, but you will look better if you ooze confidence. Learning to accept yourself the way you are is not easy, but once you accomplish it, you will be much happier. If that requires a change of some sort, such as cutting your hair or opting for high school tattoo removal, why not?

Try out different things

The famous Irish author James Joyce once wrote that “mistakes are the portals of the discovery” and this sentence can be applied to fashion, as well. How can you discover your style if you haven’t look in the wrong places, too? Try out various styles until you finally click with one.

Identify your signature look

If you’ve found a style you can relate to, you can also try to identify your go-to look. This will help you personalize each outfit and to be aware of the things mentioned in the previous paragraphs (colors and cuts that suit you best).

Go for the extraordinary

First of all, forget about the trends! Wear what makes you feel good, comfortable, and why not, sexy. In most cases, the extraordinary clothes isn’t hiding in the window of a downtown boutique. No, you’ll find it somewhere where every piece is different and unique. That can be at your seamstress and local designers, or in vintage shops and second-hand boutiques. This way your style won’t be a copy of something you saw in the latest issue of Vogue, but a reflection of who you truly are.

Be respectful

Fashion affects the environment and humanity in a certain way. So, before you buy a piece of clothing, think about who is making it and at what cost? If the company is known for polluting the environment with chemicals or exploiting workers (sometimes even children), is it really worth buying clothes from them? Following the tips from the previous paragraph will help you be more fashion-conscious, and you should always keep in mind that there is no greater satisfaction than the one derived from doing good.

As Gianni Versace said, you use the way you dress to express who you are, so try to find your style in a good place, and you will definitely feel better about yourself.

Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Emma. For more articles like this, you can follow Emma on Twitter @EmmahLawson.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Are You Going My Way?

I hope not. I'm all over the place lately. I woke up this morning and realized that while I'm excited for the school year to be done, it means that we have to pack up for summer and get out of here quick. I just want one quiet week here before we fly out. I know I always say this, but I'm usually glad when we get away quickly, too.

It's an odd thing being a teacher at this time of year. We're overwhelmed with end of year duties, emotional goodbyes and change, yet our friends who don't operate on a school calendar are just going about business as usual. 

Where I find that I'm exhausted and ready for change, my friends are digging in for their mid year push. Things are not wrapping up at work for them. They may be starting new projects, getting new colleagues, etc where I'm closing a chapter at work. One more school year done and dusted, one more class of students off to university.

This summer will be an exciting one, to say the least. My youngest sister is getting married and we'll have extended family and friends around, so we've got many reasons to celebrate! We are excited to spend three weeks in NYC and reacquaint ourselves with that amazing city, too.

Summer for a working mum and part time blogger is a time for rejuvenation. I get to switch gears and be a hands on full time mum, while also diving into fun blog projects. I'm not sure how it will all shape up, but I do have one summer collab I'll be working on with Thrifted Sisters, styling a few pieces in multiple ways.

I'm actually thinking about making my summer focus be about thrifting. I know I'll be in some good places to find vintage, but I'm really eager to explore NYC's thrifting scene. 

***Pictures from a few weeks ago after I'd written about socks having their moment. I decided to pull out my old but fun pair of Frida Kahlo socks.

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