Monday, November 26, 2018

Leopard: Learning to Love a Print

I should really learn to be flexible in my sartorial opinions. I've pretty much eaten my words on numerous occasions, especially when talking about trends (remember my post about the dad sneaker trend?) Yeah, well, I'm going to do it again.



Although, to be fair, this time it's not my opinion that's changed. I've always appreciated leopard print (animal prints, of all kinds, let's say). I'm a print lover. Print mixing, print smashing, call it whatever. I love to do it. I just always thought that for whatever reason, leopard was a bit too bold for me. Okay, okay. Maybe some of you who know what I wear are giggling. Perhaps bold is the wrong word. Maybe it's wild. Whatever it is, it's irrelevant now. I've fully embraced the print in every sense.




Where did it start? Well, about two years ago, I found a Cambridge Satchel with a faux leopard fur pocket secondhand for a steal on a Facebook group. It was the perfect mix of color which meant I could style the handbag with black or brown. And, I loved the pop of leopard to add something unique to the look (a little less preppy school girl). 



Shortly after that, a friend handed me some leopard print kitten heels to try. I wore those as much as I could before realising that they were way too small and gave them to another friend. After those two pieces entered my wardrobe, I was hooked. See?


I branched out, too. Thrifted a snake print skirt and found a leopard print belt two summers ago. I've found myself with little animal print or animal inspired embellishments sneaking in. This summer I thrifted a cool sweatshirt with a tiger on it.


Safe to say that by the time I found this gorgeous leopard print maxi online from South of the River Boutique in the UK, I knew it had to be mine. I love that it came from a small business and with that, some of the sweetest customer service as I tried to figure out the right size and return the dress I mistakenly ordered first. 

There are so many fun ways to style this dress, too. I've already worn it twice in a matter of two weeks. I combined two trends, leopard and dad sneakers for the first go (you can see it on Instagram). And here I am pairing it with a blazer vest for the second look. I'm already thinking of other ways as well. Definitely packing it for our Christmas holiday to Australia!


Here's a sneaky pic of my big girl who helps with photos these days. She's developing her eye and skill with photography and she's certainly got an opinion. This weekend she told me she wasn't a fan of my oversized blazer look. Funny girl. Love her to bits. Glad she feels comfortable sharing all kinds of things with me. Makes for a happy mumma, most days.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

To Be an Influencer & Links a la Mode November 22nd

Social media and online presence is ever changing. Undoubtedly, it never goes away. Everything you do is archived. Somewhere.


But how we engage, who we follow, or like, where and how we comment and what that means and how we do it all, is always changing. Its dizzying, really. And always frustrating. Anyone who's trying to use these platforms to engage with other bloggers, brands, etc has a story about how algorithms have made things challenging. It's part of having an online presence or being a blogger. And it can suck the life and fun out of what we're doing.


Okay, not using this post to rant, I promise. What I also wanted to chat about was how labels are always changing, too. I wrote about this before when I noticed that the term fashion blogger was reserved for those professional bloggers with a far greater reach than I had. At this time, the term style blogger emerged and it seemed far more accurate a term for me.


At that time, the term influencer was starting to be used, too. I hardly gave it any thought really because I didn't see how what I was doing was going to influence anyone. I write because it's a  hobby, essentially. I love playing dress up and expressing myself through my clothes. I have a lot of fun with it.


A few weeks back, I was invited to attend The Runway Hong Kong's annual fashion show highlighting local labels at The Hive in Kennedy Town. I'd also recently taken part in a little shoot with Redress HK as part of their promo for their upcoming pop up shop. I was invited to take part as an ambassador. It was in these weeks that I realised that the term influencer was being used to describe me. And, as I reflect on it, I guess my experiences do sound similar to those of other influencers. Catherine of Not Dressed as Lamb wrote about it here and I found her post really relatable to my own work, especially as she described the experiences of 'hobby bloggers'.


So, the real question that I began to ponder (always having these bouts of introspection) was this; if I'm an influencer, how am I influencing people? What do people who follow me understand about what I value? What do I want to encourage people to do? To be honest, it felt suddenly very daunting.


I don't know that I have the answer fully, but I will share this. At the core of what I do and who I am is a teacher. It's my nature. It's how I nurture my children. So I use this platform here (and my classroom and being a mother) to help people learn to be confident in their beliefs and in who they are. To find ways to express themselves and not to be afraid of mistakes or failure as they learn to do this. I want them to understand that the choices we make impact our future generations, especially those related to our environment. So we need to do better. 

It's a little known fact here on my blog that what I spend most time doing these days is digging in the rubbish and recycling in order to teach kids about recycling. Or talking to them about the value of a secondhand wardrobe and upcycling along with the consequences of fast fashion and over consumption, etc. Of all the things I do lately, this one feels most important. 

I hope that I'll be able to use my influence for this most of all.


Links à la Mode, November 22nd, 2018

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Working Mumma Talk: Social Media, to Friend or Not to Friend

Nothing makes you feel quite so old as when you catch yourself saying when I was your age... to your children. You vow never to be that kind of parent. Who wants their children to roll their eyes at you? Or worse, think you're out of touch. I thought that being a high school teacher I'd definitely be able to stay current.


Inevitably, though, it happens. You find yourself sitting around the dinner table hearing your children talk about some YouTuber or musician, realising you don't know what the hell they're referring to and succumbing to the idea that you are, in fact, out of touch. Believe me, this was last week for me.


The question remains how do you stay in touch with what your kids are up to? How can you possibly understand their world, complete with its challenges? The way kids socialize these days is entirely different from how we did. I have vivid memories of my mother standing at the bottom of the stairs and waving her hand in a wind up signal to let me know it was time to get off the phone. She usually had to do it more than once, so I remember her exasperated mum look, too. I'm sure I've got the same one now.


I also remember how well I'd developed my note folding skills so that I could be on the cutting edge of communication with my girlfriends. Forget that I'd actually be talking to them in class or in the hallways of school, writing notes opened up new very important topics we could discuss, in private. Like boys. And crushes.


Fast forward to today and it's maybe not as different as we'd think. Kids are still social. They talk about things they don't want others to know about and parents are still embarrassing. Only, it's the way they do these things that provides the challenge. Facebook? That's irrelevant for today's kids. As a mum of a teen, an almost teen, and a tween, I see kids are much more into communicating via Snapchat and Instagram. Heck, I'd venture to suggest that even Instagram is not for the younger demographic, either.


Several years back, I had my niece who is now 20 show me the finer points of Snapchat. It was complicated and frustrating, yet she navigated it all quite easily. She was so patient while she answered what probably seemed like really stupid questions. I don't really use it except for the filters, but I know enough to know what my kids are talking about.


And that's the part that's important. I'm not trying to get into all their business. They need to keep certain things private from their parents and know that we trust them. Of course, this means we have to spend the time to build that trust with them. When it comes to 'friending' or 'following' them on social media, it's important to keep that distinction clear. You aren't their friend. You're not trying to spy on them. You merely want to know enough to understand their world and keep them safe. I'm not one of those parents that scoffs at social media and stays away from it because I know for a fact that if I want to communicate with and understand my kids, I can't do that.

So yes, I'm 'friends' with my kids on social media. I 'follow' them. But I'm not friends with them nor do I follow them. They need me to be their parent.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Make a Statement & Links a la Mode, November 1st

When it comes to dressing, are you a play it safe kind of person or are you a make a statement person? The answer to this makes me think of something my big girl asked me a few weeks back and that was mumma, why do people always want to fit in? (she's in middle school and this is a huge deal to her at the moment). I remember it well myself. Trying so hard to blend in so that you wouldn't get attention for the wrong reasons.


It was stifling at times. Wanting desperately to not be embarrassed by my non-brand name clothes. The hand-me-downs that the popular girl in my class had outgrown. The clothes that had tags cut out because they came from our "Reject Shop" which sold retail surplus or the ones I bought in a local street market. By the time I survived middle school, I was fine with it. I embraced the fact that getting dressed didn't mean I had to follow all the trends or wear things that were deemed cool by some other person. I could wear what I wanted and look the way I wanted and be fine, even if I didn't always feel fine at the time.


So my answer to my big girl was this, not everyone has the confidence to stand out. It takes a lot of courage to be yourself, especially in those middle school years. And I applauded her for having more strength than I ever did to be herself. To sing in front of her peers. To be a good friend when she sees someone who needs one. To dress in a way that allows her to express who she is and the values of our family, and not what others think is cool.


I didn't admit to her that even now I have my moments. I know I say I don't give a shit, and mostly I don't, but on occasion those insecurities do find their way in. Funnily enough, the last time I felt them was when I was walking up to work through the middle school, when I noticed a few middle school aged girls doing a sideways giggle I was sure at the outfit I was wearing (not this one, but a similarly outrageous one).


Luckily, I was able to quickly shrug off their giggles and feel my usual nonchalant self about what other people think of what I wear (or who I am).


But it reminded me of that earlier conversation with the big girl and how I want to be as a parent. I want to always empower my children to be themselves, even when it feels too hard to be. So they don't have to wait until they're adults to feel confident enough to make a statement and they never have to play it safe to fit in.

If you have time, check out my girl Natasha Moor who, among other things, is the creator of my favorite lipsticks. She's leading an anti-bullying campaign at the moment. Click over to her Instagram @natasha.moor to learn more about her #MoorPower project and get involved in spreading her message about #NoMoorBullies.



Links à la Mode, Nov 1, 2018
SPONSOR: Shopbop Vince, KORAL ACTIVEWEAR, Etre Cecile, Alpha Industries, Maggie Marilyn, NUDE, Patent Pumps, Plaid Pants, Cocktail Dresses, Men's Club Monaco

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Working Girl x Pretty in Pink x Dad Shoes: Embracing a Trend

You know, I really wavered with this whole dad shoe trend. I'm never one to follow a trend simply because it's trendy (I've written about this numerous times), but that doesn't mean I ignore them. Who could possibly not notice how Balenciaga has put their name all over oversized clunky sneakers? I have to admit, I was shocked at first. Had people gone mad? What had they started?


Then I started to notice how some of my favorite ladies starting to embrace the dad shoe look, mixing it in with their vintage and thrifted finds and this intrigued me. First I noticed my girl Beth Jones of @bjonesstyle rocking this pair of Steve Madden dad sneakers.


Next, I saw my babe Abby of @clothesandpizza rocking the look. She even wrote about how to embrace it on her blog, here. I was confused. What was I missing? How did these fabulous ladies find this look attractive? What did they know that I didn't?

So I did some research. I found this blog post on Man Repeller and agreed, especially as she discussed why we actually partake in trends anyhow. Why do some attract us while others repel us? And, how do we acknowledge them without sounding judgemental? So I kept looking. I poured over the images that came up on my Google search and as I looked, I noticed that the looks were reminiscent of that 80s classic movie Working Girl.  And that was when I started to turn.


So I did what most girls do; I asked my girlfriends what they thought. I love my girl gang for this...there's never judgement, just honest responses. And hilarity, always hilarity. And despite their at times brutal honesty, there are never hurt feelings. We should all be so lucky to have such supportive women around us. 


Of the responses I got, two stood out. First was my girl Sabrina's which was something along the lines of they're ugly like 90s Sketchers and they'll always be ugly like 90s Sketchers. She and I send each other sequin outfits and vintage inspo, so I needed to hear this from her. The other response came from lovely Jasmine, whose style is also on point. Edgy, sleek and sexy as hell and she wears some killer heels, too. Her response was something like I looooove the dad shoe trend. I have two pairs in black and white (coincidentally, most of her things are black or white).

Basically, the feedback was do what you like cause we love you anyway (gotta love a girl gang for that kind of support). So I did. Who doesn't want more comfortable shoes anyway? When I wore them the first time, I'd just acquired this Pretty in Pink inspired vintage dress which I thought complimented the dad shoe quite well.


So there you have it, the story of how I succumbed to this trend and found it creeping in and influencing my style. If you follow me on Instagram @imanorbyah, you'll have noticed these white Nike M2K Tekno trainers making quite frequent appearances. Thanks Abby for the advice to buy them in white!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Packing 15/30 Challenge: Final Thoughts

OH MY WORD. 


I'm such a bad blogger. I had this whole series detailing my 15/30 packing challenge planned on my Instagram feed and a few blog posts lined up.  Then life got in the way and I forgot. Summer feels like months ago and I still haven't written my follow up to that 15/30 packing challenge.























You poor souls have probably been waiting on baited breath to hear what I thought. To know how you too can take on your own 15/30 challenge as a way to pack or pare down your wardrobe and live minimally and I've let you down.


I'm joking, of course. You know I'm joking, right? I'm taking the absolute piss out of myself. Thank you to those random few who are still reading blogs and are taking your time to read mine. I appreciate you.


Okay, big takeaways...

First, I don't like this blue floral dress on me. Enough said. I tried quite a few times to wear it and the neckline is too open, making it hard for me to wear. It got put on the giveaway/sell pile. Also, the dresses were the least worn garments. I packed two. I'd definitely pack separates only next time or maybe just one dress.


Actually,  what surprised me was how easy it was to get dressed when I had only 15 (okay 16) pieces to choose from. Waking up knowing I only had a handful of options meant I could think about an outfit more quickly. Granted, it was summer holiday, so I didn't have any elaborate occasions to dress for. That made it easy, too.


Another thing I learned was I had to be more creative with how I styled certain garments. A blouse could easily double as a light jacket/kimono and so on. I also found myself finding that it doesn't take much to make a garment feel different. Here are two ways I wore the kimono (a piece I picked up along the way) and the black and white blouse (scroll up).






















Finally, I discovered in a very real and practical sense that accessories shouldn't be afterthoughts. I often throw jewellery, scarves and sunglasses on right at the end when walking out the door, while not really considering how they can really pull an outfit together. They can also be the focal point of an outfit. I have to remember that.

So there you have it, my ramblings about having a capsule wardrobe. I kept it going despite coming home ahead of schedule because it made life easy, especially when hosting my parents for a month and not having easy access to the rest of my wardrobe. I was glad to get it back...but I've been paring down what I own in a major way.

I'm hosting the Hand Me Down Collective this weekend. Details here. Hong Kongers come along!


Links à la Mode, October 18th, 2018

Friday, September 28, 2018

An Easy Weekend Uniform

Hong Kong is still stinking hot. Actually, I lie. In the evenings, just in this last week and a half, the weather has been lovely. Perfect for a rooftop wine session, which is just great news given that Fall break starts TODAY!


I'll be revisiting this outfit en masse over the next week. An easy week off look that can be mixed and matched with the various kimonos, crop top/swim tops and denim cutoffs I have in my closet. The kimono helps me feel a bit more stylish than just a t-shirt and shorts, and there's of course the fun of adding the sunglasses, too.


And with the beginnings of our Hong Kong fall breezes, the kimono actually feels functional, too.


These accessories are also go to pieces for me. Lately, I've been really digging these long bohemian necklaces, especially the ones I have from Zoko Jewelery. If you haven't already, make sure to click over and shop their Instagram profile here



The designs are beautifully bohemian and beachy and perfect for embracing your free spirited self. I love that the stones are carefully picked and have special healing meanings and the pieces can dress up or dress down whatever you're wearing. In the heat of Hong Kong, they've been just the thing when I don't feel like wearing my vintage costume jewelery.

I'll be reaching for a combination of these key pieces all week.

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