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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Birthday Shorts

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J.Crew blazer (similar) / vintage blouse (similar) / Express silk shorts (similar) / Vince Camuto pumps (similar) / fishnets tights (similar) / feather fascinator (similar)
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It ain’t a birthday without the birthday suit.

It might seem crazy what I’m about to say, but if Mr. Happy wears short suits, maybe I can unlock a bit of happiness by following suit. That’s right, the short suit is having it’s moment right now. Although this trend surfaced last year in retailers like J. Crew and Topman, only recently has it gained attention when the ever popular Pharrell Williams sported a reflective suit to the Grammy’s earlier this month. Think of the short suit as the mullet hairstyle of suits: business from the waist up, and party from the waist down. Oh what a double entendre indeed.

While I could never compete with Pharrell’s reflective 3M suit, I can boast a pair of sexy fishnets with mine.

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I’ve had this tuxedo blazer and this silk short in my closet forever, but never thought of wearing the two together. And we all know when 2 become 1, everyone’s happy. To add some textural contrast to the suit’s silky sheen, I chose to wear a vintage beaded blouse underneath and floral fishnet tights. The look wouldn’t be complete without a fascinating feather fascinator.

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Although I’ve been an adult for quite some time now, I still have to come to terms with each birthday that my big girl panties are on for good – and they ain’t coming off. Sorry fellas! That is, until I’m a senior citizen and then it’ll be Depends.

I’m stronger and healthier than my 21 year old self, and that’s something that I’m proud of. And while aging another year means becoming wiser, I still have my reservations. With age comes resistance to change, and I don’t want to get stuck in my habits and routine ways of thinking if I have room for improvement. So on this day, I reflect on what I’ve learned this past year, and how I hope to grow going forward. No matter how big or small, I will do something new to either challenge myself emotionally, mentally, or physically.

Now if you’ll excuse me it’s my birthday, and I’ll wear a short suit if I want to.IMG_8151

Red Carpet at the Oscars

So I heard there was this thing called the Oscars that I missed out on.

Awkward presenters, teary eyed speeches, musical numbers, red carpet fashion – oh my! I rarely make time to turn on the tube, veg out and be a couch potato. I guess I’m just a desk yam, glued to my chair and table surfing the web.

Award ceremonies beckon Hollywood’s finest suits, gowns, jewels, and perfectly coiffed hairdos. It’s pretty hard for a man to make it to the worst dressed list – they usually cannot go wrong in a clean pressed suit. The women, on the other hand, need a bit more peacocking, if you will, to really steal the spotlight. While there were many actresses that looked just fine on the red carpet, the following ladies won best dressed in my book.

Who are your favorites?

The Fashion Fast

The Minimalist
Just when I thought I was done with New Year’s resolutions for 2015, I’ve got to think of some for the Lunar New Year of 4713.

When I told my younger sister I was doing a style resolution where I would only wear a very limited amount of items from my closet for 30 days, she replied “Why would you torture yourself!?” I was a few days in and I found myself justifying my foray into this fashion fast. I explained that I wanted to challenge myself to live simply, to do more with less, and to be a minimalist in the style sense. I wanted to own my clothes and not be owned by them.

I haven’t done anything like this since my LBD days, so I knew this would be a challenge. Prior to day one, I tried to build my capsule ahead of time. These select items would become my best friends for the next 30 days with a few exceptions: weekends were excluded from this challenge, and I still allowed myself full access to all my accessories. My compilation was based on the French woman’s suggested pieces of basic items in neutral colors (black pants, blue jeans, flats, white blouse, cardigan, etc.). But what I found after the first three days was that I continued to edit my assortment. I thought I needed the grey zip up jacket, but instead replaced it with my chunky knit cardigan sweater. I quickly decided which pieces I could live without, and which pieces were the most versatile and indispensable. After the first week, I did not allow any further editing, unless the polar vortex should suddenly pay a visit to sunny California.

My experience went something like this:

Day 1: Excited to do this! Feeling a little plain, but still confident and pulled together, like I did this effortlessly.

Day 6: Tee shirt and jeans, or tee shirt and jeans? Decisions, decisions.

Day 11: If I cut this challenge down to 21 days, then I’m halfway there….

Alas, the original 30 day challenge became a 21 day challenge. After all, doesn’t it only take 21 days to start a habit?

I made a lot of discoveries during this experience. Some were expected, and others surprising. I rediscovered the long tan coat I had neglected over the years. I used to avoid mixing black and brown, but now I completely accept it. I felt more at ease at work since there was no need for outfit upkeep. I drew less attention to myself because I fit in with everyone else’s casual style. On the other hand, I didn’t necessarily get ready faster each morning, which was a big surprise to me. The time I saved choosing my outfit was replaced by dilly dallying over my accessories and jewelry; I just didn’t know what to do with my extra time and I was desperate for any way to add variety to my outfit.

This fashion fast is by no means perfect. Should I have stuck to the original 30 days? Maybe I limited myself with too few pieces or maybe I chose the wrong ones. Perhaps I was searching for perfection that simply doesn’t exist. How many ways can one style a white tee? There’s a finite amount of outfit combinations but I was striving for infinity and innovation to the point that it left me drained, uninspired, and lackluster. Towards the end of the challenge, I couldn’t see anything past a white tee shirt and jeans. I lost day 5’s photo somewhere along the way, so you’ll just have to take my word that I really did do this for the full duration.

Clothes do not make the woman, and in short I cannot say this was a bad experience. But for me I felt creatively suppressed. Without my colorful clothes and whimsical prints I lost all essence of what Chic Vic set out to be. If it takes 21 days to start a habit, then it only takes 7 seconds to make a first impression. Fashion is both frivolous as it is meaningful. Your outward appearance is the reflection of the inner you, so choose wisely.

I am still striving to find ways to lead a minimalistic life – just not at the expense of my style and closet. Instead of going extreme for weeks at a time, perhaps I’ll incorporate what I’ve learned from this experience into Minimalist Mondays or Fashion Fast Fridays.

You can take girl out of fashion but you can’t take the fashion out of the girl.