Picnic Chic

There’s only one thing that can stand between me and grass stains. Think picnic.

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Red gingham print conjures up images of the quintessential picnic, complete with a wicker basket, a spread of delectable snacks and refreshments, and of course, a row of ants stealing crumbs of food in a perfect assembly line, just like in cartoons. And because nobody likes grass stains, all of this couldn’t take place without lying atop a cheery red and white gingham printed picnic blanket.

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Gingham was having a moment in the spring, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t continue into the summer. I looked past all the 80’s elements of this dress with a few snips, stitches, and simple modifications. With a thinner, more elegantly striped gingham pattern, who knew such sweetness could belie in a frilly, puffy sleeved, and shoulder padded number? I pinned open the otherwise buttoned up prude collar with a pretty little 60’s enamel daisy brooch. No wicker basket here, but a jute bucket bag will do just fine.

In the process of putting together this outfit, I remembered the flowers, but forgot my sandwich. I guess you can say I’m one sandwich short of a picnic.

shoes / hat / bucket bag / skirt / belt / blouse

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A Sixties Summer

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I’ve had many summers I loved, but none more than the one I’m presently in.

This is my summer of love around the world. For the past few months I have been roaming away from home. Whether it is climbing a mountain, exploring a village, or eating local specialties in another country, I am fulfilling my heart’s desire of wanderlusting.

Although my surroundings are always changing, one thing remains constant: while summer has barely began, I’ve been feeling the heat for some time now. I don’t particularly like sweltering and turning brown in the sun, but I do look forward to saying aloha to my collection of summer dresses when I return home.

pashmina turned headwrap (similar) / vintage maxi (similar) / mixed bangles (similar) / Urban Outfitters sunglasses (similar) / Ecote heels (similar)

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From the archives is one of my faves. This 1960s maxi begs for a fun time at a tiki bar where I can cool down over a flaming scorpion bowl. The stinger in this outfit? A head wrap in the same punchy bright fuchsia that matches the bold watercolor haze of the dress. I had a little too much fun over accessorizing the outfit, stacking on more bangles than I would normally wear. But when one channels the 1960s, one must go with a bang, or several.

This dress is definitely made for a summer of love.

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Miss Dior

IMG_0156The nifty fifties remain to be my favorite vintage era, with the granddaddy of them all, Christian Dior, spearheading the decade. Rising to fame with his post WWII designs, such as the revolutionary “New Look,” Dior is one of the greatest fashion designers of all time.

Laced with florals and embracement of the female form, Dior’s designs exude a ladylike timeless elegance. His design aesthetic is everything I want to embody, as evidenced by my attempts to channel his essence here and here. If I can’t visit the Dior flagship store at 30, Avenue Montaigne, then a visit to the Miss Dior exhibit is the next best thing.

IMG_0126 IMG_0200I was lucky enough to check out this amazing exhibit in Beijing for free after waiting two hours in line in the heat. But once inside the air conditioned and crowd controlled exhibition hall, the legendary greatness of Dior unfolded before my eyes.
IMG_0193 IMG_0188Some of Dior’s famous dresses were on display, as well as a few of his treasured belongings and artful sketches. It was a treat to see the beautifully inked designs right next to the dresses, as if by looking at them one could gain insight into his creative genius from inception on pen and paper to final product. The second half of the exhibit featured over a dozen installations by artists paying homage to his work. Through inspiration of Dior’s legacy, these artists encapsulated the essence of what it means to be a Miss Dior. By their own interpretation, each artist took elements of his design philosophy and created their own art though it.

It was interesting to see what Dior elements these artists chose to use. Some were direct representations, while others were more abstract and required use of the imagination. Nonetheless, each interpretation gave me greater insight on the spirit and essence of Christian Dior, whose legacy continues to live on.
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Burlap Gingham Girl

MK3B5749 To care for Mother Earth, one must learn from thy mother.

My mom is the most resourceful person I know, maybe to the point of being extreme. She will find use for things I didn’t know could be repurposed, and growing up, I did the same. As a kid, I collected pretty juice bottles to store my knick knacks instead of buying fancy ones at the craft store. I remember using my mom’s leftover fabric scraps and hand sewed tiny quilts that were too small to be used for anything. In 5th grade, I made Valentines cards for everyone in my class using the blank sides of old flyers collected from school – everyone loved them. Part crafty and part growing up with limited resources, I guess it just helped fuel my imagination.

And so, when I received a quaint bouquet a while back, I not only saw artistry in the blooming arrangement, but also in the way the flowers were wrapped together. There is a beauty in burlap, and this wasn’t just my imagination.

repurposed burlap headband (similar) / thrifted blouse (similar) / thrifted skirt (similar) / thrifted purse (similar) / Urban Outfitters heels (similar) / vintage cuff (similar) / Urban Outfitters sunglasses (similar)
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Together, with my gingham blouse and white midi skirt, I’ve created the perfect springtime outfit. Although I’ve had this shirt for years, gingham is having a moment right now. Characterized by a two toned pattern in even stripes (white + another color), it is reminiscent of picnic blankets. The only difference is, you should be eating in it instead of on it. The burlap is just the rustic touch this girly preppy outfit needed. If I had more time, I would’ve fashioned it into a rosette or big bow, but repurposing it into a quick headband will do. Sans the fab shoes, and some accessories, my head to ankle outfit is thrifted and cost just under $20, flowers included.
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MK3B5762I’d like to think of my thrifty habits as my contribution for not just Earth Day, but for every day of the year. So whether you’re picking up waste at the local park, or reusing waste in new ways, I am sure that Mother Earth, like most mothers, will love you no matter what.

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Tokyo Street Style

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Konnichi wa!

As soon as I stepped foot on the streets of Tokyo, I was met with an overwhelming amount of stimuli. Whether it was the bright neon signs at Shibuya crossing, the sounds of the Japanese language, the sheer amount of people everywhere all the time, or the endless alleyways full of culinary delights – Tokyo did not disappoint me. And of course, how can I not mention the fashion?

I was already less than half the chic woman I used to be, dressed in my drab “I’m a tourist” uniform, but walking amongst crowds of impeccably dressed Tokyoites made me drool with jealousy. I studiously examined each person’s outfit and constantly made mental notes everywhere I went. Some reoccurring style elements I noticed:

  • tulle skirts with combat boots and slouchy beanies
  • feminine and glam mixed with oversized boyish elements
  • show-off ankle socks worn with everything
  • perfect hair, makeup, heels no matter the weather conditions
  • skirts and dresses even when it’s cold
  • elements of a minimalist aesthetic
  • mix of volume, scale, and proportion
  • oversized jackets and pants
  • combination of street and sweet
  • hats, headbands, and other hair accessories

In my second attempt at street style photography, I learned that the language barrier is both a blessing and a curse. Armed with a friendly smile, there were only three words that would be useful for this occasion: sumimasen (excuse me), kawaii (cute), and arigato (thank you). Some willingly obliged, flattered that a foreigner wanted to take a photo of their cute outfit. Others were creeped out that a foreigner wanted to take a photo of their cute outfit.

So there I was, standing at the entrance of the Harajuku District, camera in hand, ready to snap photos. Fifteen minutes had passed and the sun would set soon, yet I had not one single street snap. Trying to take candid shots only resulted in blurry photos. I would need to go balls to the wall if I wanted some great pictures.

Even though I would never see these people again, it was still hard to muster up the courage to approach random strangers and ask if I could photograph them. And by ask I mean a series of charades that consisted of me pointing to their outfits, giving a thumbs up, and pointing to my camera, accompanied by the word “kawaii.”

If you ever want to attempt some street stye photography in Tokyo, here are some things I learned:

  • Women who are by themselves will most likely agree to be photographed.
  • The young ones will be too shy to have their photos taken.
  • Big groups of girls will chatter amongst each other and maybe laugh at you, then walk away giggling, leaving you high and dry.

These pictures can’t even begin to encapsulate the gamut of women’s fashion in Tokyo – there were so many cool outfits I wasn’t able to capture! Inspired by the aesthetic here, I can’t wait to return home to apply some of these learnings to my own style.

I’m a big fan of the fellas, whose fashions rival that of the women’s. Unfortunately, I was too shy to approach any of them and I ran out of time. I might just have to return to Tokyo again for street style part ni: men’s edition. Until then, sayonara!

Boho FOMO

IMG_8511 copy Rarely do I ever suffer feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out), yet when I found out a couple of my good friends were planning to lose their Coachella virginity this month, I admit I felt just a tinge of jealousy. I still remember vividly my experience from last year: the flower crowns, flowy dresses, fringe, and colorful prints. Yes my friends, I have festival fashion FOMO and the only cure for it is more boho.

thrifted scarf (similar) / vintage dress  (similar) / thrifted bangles (similar here & here)
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Luckily I found my fix right under my nose, hanging in my closet. This handmade vintage dress makes me feel groovy but elegant, youthful yet mature. With a stylized paisley floral print bursting in a melange of vivid colors, it only seemed right to accessorize accordingly, else do the dress injustice. An urban turban and an arm chockfull of bangles fit the boho bill quite nicely.
IMG_8524 Sometimes I wonder about who made and wore this dress, and to where did she wear this psychedelic beauty? Perhaps to a music festival in the 60s or 70s? Whoever she was, she is my body twin and style soulmate.

Wearing this dress takes me back into time and that’s better than any overpriced Coachella weekend. Peace out FOMO!

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Pop Your Easter Collar

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Hardboiled, scrambled, or sunny side up? I personally like ’em easy – and for eggs, make that over easy.

Although I don’t participate in any egg hunts or other Easter festivities, I still like to dress the part in a floral spring dress. By the transformative power of my sewing machine, I turned this drab, superfluous fabric of a 1980s dress complete with shoulder pads, puffy sleeves, and prude ankle length into a flirty feminine sleeveless sundress. The oversized collar is so wide, it takes popping your collar to new heights.

I hate to dangle a carrot before you, but that’s all this bunny rabbit’s got for you today. Hoppy Easter!

Express cardigan (similar) / vintage dress (similar here & here) / Crown Vintage sandals (similar)

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Late Bloomer

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“After women, flowers are the most divine creations.” – Christian Dior

There is something remarkable about flowers’ unmistakable beauty, fragrance, and natural wonder that helps lift spirits and brings smiles to those who receive them. Now that it is officially spring, many beautiful flowers are in full bloom as well as increased usage of antihistamines much to the dismay of allergy sufferers everywhere. To them I say, have you tried some local honey lately? I’m available in the Bay Area.

vintage scarf (similar here & here) / thrifted Tracy Reese blouse (similar here & here) / Cooperative denim pant (similar) / GH Bass & Co. shoes (similar here & here) / vintage earrings (similar) / H&M flower bracelet (similar) / vintage flower cuff (similar)

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I can’t remember the last time I was sprung in the spring, but I experienced those same feelings of enjoyment, happiness, and obsession when I thrifted this lovely silk floral blouse. It’s been patiently waiting in my closet for the darkness of winter to pass so that it may bloom in the spring sunshine.

A green thumb I do not have, so on the contrary, how does my garden grow? With a silk blouse, a matching headscarf, and a pair of goody two shoes, all in a row. There’s no beating around the bush: I sowed the seeds for this floral spring outfit to sprout one thrift shop at a time. Flowers for moi? You shouldn’t have!

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While there’s no doubt that my style is in full bloom, I often question whether I have fully blossomed, or whether I am a late bloomer. The permeation of social media and status updates about professional accomplishments and milestones achieved leads me to believe that my friends and acquaintances have it all figured out. I am left to wonder: am I there yet? Comparison is the thief of joy so I should nip this in the bud right now. You can’t force a flower to bloom, and in the end, everything will come up roses. Preferably a dozen please.

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Kiss Me I’m Stylish

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Before the whole blue and black vs. white and gold dress debate, there was the green sweatshirt incident.

I was minding my own business on the playground during morning recess when he cornered me.

“That’s more like an aqua color,” he taunted, pointing to my outfit of choice for St. Patty’s Day. I was wearing my favorite mint green Care Bears sweatshirt that had each bear hanging out on a fluffy cloud. I insisted it was green, but to no avail. I was no match for this class clown who was very gifted in the skill of debate. He had me seeing red as he proceeded to torment me with his book of jokes and pranks and wouldn’t leave me alone until the end of recess, when he disappeared into a hawthorne tree.

What the silly boy failed to understand is that there are different values of color. Value refers to the darkness or lightness of a color. My dear Care Bears sweatshirt happened to be of a very high value mint green versus the medium value kelly green that is usually associated with four leaf clovers and leprechauns.

Banana Republic blouse (similar) / Urban Outfitters skirt (similar) / H&M necklace (similar) / Urban Outfitters belt (similar) / vintage purse (similar) / Nine West pumps (similar)
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Green symbolizes harmony, balance, and calm – but perhaps this head to toe monochromatic outfit will inspire some envy too. The monochromatic look is great for helping elongate the figure because of the long uninterrupted silhouette. You may remember this skirt from a past St. Patty’s Day post, but it just so happens to be the luck of the Irish that I thrifted a blouse that matches it exactly. For accessories, nothing beats a beetle necklace – I love how the iridescent hues from the rhinestones complements my head to toe green. Considering my lucky streak, maybe it will continue if I stay up all night.

Whether you recycle, compost, carpool, or smoke it, I’m sure you can agree that nowadays, green is the new black. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
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Short Dress, Long Jacket

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I’ve got a mind like a diamond – except when it comes to my vintage materialism.

A dramatic coat of this grand length and volume commands attention. I love the way it swings and swishes as I dash outside. I race through the city streets for no reason, sprint across busy intersections and in between taxis as if I’m running terribly late to an important rendezvous. With a coat so long and prude, who cares what I wear underneath, if anything at all? You know what they say about a lady in the streets: she’s a closet freak. I love closets!

H&M beret (similar) / vintage coat (similar) / vintage dress (similar) / Urban Outfitters knee-highs (similar) / G.H. Bass & Co shoes (similar)
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Thanks to daylight savings, I’m waking up to colder and darker mornings that turn into warm afternoons, all the while suffering from sleep depravity due to a lost hour. With the mild winter winding down, and spring on the horizon, teetering between temperature swings in one day can prove challenging when I look into my closet.

I like to play on the juxtaposition of long and short, prude and liberal with this outfit du jour. My vintage wool shift dress is just the answer to this type of nippy weather, along with a pair of knee-highs for a true 1960s vibe. The pleated 1970s coat is just as warm as it is stylish. How warm, you ask? Let’s just say this breezy isn’t worried about a cold breeze.

Who says I can’t have my cake and eat it too?
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