A is for Ascot

What do silk scarves and horses have in common? Today’s accessory inspiration is borrowed from the boys, as we travel to their neck of the woods to a royal Europe from centuries past.
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Before the ascot tie was called the ascot, it had its origins in the 1800s, where it was donned by royalty and upper class on the daily, and for formal occasions of the middle class in Europe. In this fancy setting, the tie was often made of a heavy linen material, and worn over the collar and pinned.
Sargent John Singer 1880
But fashion is never static, and the ascot became susceptible to change. Adapting to the needs of the growing middle class, I’m sure all it took was one fine gentleman who began to incorporate the ascot into everyday casual wear. Worn tucked inside of an open collar instead of over it, he made it look so cool that other men followed suit.

It was popularly worn at the horse races at the Ascot Racecourse in England – just imagine spectators and steeds alike, wearing matching silk ascots! Okay, I’ll stop horsing around; this is how the ascot tie came to be called the ascot.

Generally ascot ties look like the bow tie’s much bigger cousin, with a narrow neckband and wide ends. If you’ve ever wanted to experiment with an ascot tie, head to your local thrift shop. While you may not be able to find an actual ascot tie, silk and synthetic scarves are bountiful at Goodwill for as little as a dollar a piece. I prefer the versatility of a long rectangular scarf for a turban or bow atop my head, but now it’s time to borrow from the boys an ascot tie.

Here’s how you can achieve the ascot look in a few easy steps:

  1. Drape scarf around your neck, with 1/3 of the scarf on your left (short side SS), and the other 2/3 on your right (long side LS)
  2. Take the LS and cross it over the SS
  3. Bring the LS under the SS, returning it to the right side.
  4. Now bring the LS over the SS, so it is on the left side again.
  5. Bring LS towards your neck, and up under the loop you made.
  6. Adjust by holding onto the SS and sliding the “knot” of the ascot.
  7. Stuff it into your shirt.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the races to take a gamble on a stallion.

Leopard Faux Fur & Preppy Stripes

Before you pack that faux fur coat back in storage where it will hibernate until next NYE, think again. Just because a leopard can’t change its spots doesn’t mean you can’t either.

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I always associate a faux fur coat – and a leopard printed one at that – with a night out on the town or some other fancy occasion. Leopard print by itself already oozes a type of allure as enticing as the giant cat itself. But unless you’re Kate Moss, us regular gals just don’t need to look that good getting out of our limo. Or boarding our private jet. You get the picture.

Bagatelle coat (similar) | Banana Republic top (similar) | Collection 59 blazer (similar) | Urban Outfitters boots (similar) | vintage beaded necklace (similar) | vintage Dooney & Bourke (similar)

To downplay the luxe quality of this coat and to make it daytime casual friendly, I decided to pair it with a minimalist look: preppy stripes, blazer, blue jeans, and black boots. The neutral color palette makes the seemingly opposite nature of the two prints work together in a balanced harmony. The resulting outfit is a classic look with a wild twist, perfect for a casual Friday at the office or an informal lunch date. Even Kate Moss would approve.

Now If you’ll excuse my leopard coat and I, we’ve got a private jet to catch!
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Bagatelle coat (similar) | Banana Republic top (similar) | Collection 59 blazer (similar) | Urban Outfitters boots (similar) | vintage beaded necklace (similar) | vintage Dooney & Bourke (similar)

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Out with the Old, in with the New

Happy New Year! Time for out with the old, in with the new – unless you’re talking about vintage.

I enjoyed the last two weeks of 2015, delighting in the crisp wet winter weather, spending quality time with family, and reuniting with friends all in the name of gluttony over a table of scrumptious food. Even the scroogiest of people are somehow friendlier come holiday time. I can’t help but turn my frown upside-down when I stroll down the streets of houses and store fronts decorated in pine garlands and strings of lights as Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire replays in my head to no end.


Alas, the holiday festivities have come and gone, the ball has dropped, and January has reared its head into our lives. A new year beckons fresh beginnings, a chance to make new resolutions, or perhaps work on ones you failed to complete last year. It’s all about self improvement and doing something different, right?

I sometimes get into a slump during this time. There’s a lot of pressure to make new year’s resolutions I will stick by. I’ve been through this before; I gain momentum in the beginning of the year, only to slow down by first quarter, leading to disappointment and feelings of failure.

What I’ve realized is that writing down your goals is key to ensuring you will follow through with them. Once those goals are documented and declared to the world, you will be accountable for them. Goal setting and achieving should be year round. It doesn’t matter if it’s January or December, every day is a chance to get your ass moving if you were lazy yesterday. So hear ye hear ye, here are a few of my ongoing resolutions for this year:

  1. Free your mind: I’ve been practicing meditation on and off again for the past three years…well, to be honest, it’s mostly been off, and I’m going to change that. It will be a priority as soon as I wake up in the morning and the last thing I do before I fall asleep. In the past I’ve used Headspace’s guided meditation sessions to get started on how to clear the mind. Now I’m attempting to meditate on my own with nothing but the harmonious sound of my singing bowl.
  2. Closet freak: After living out of my backpack for several months, I returned to all my pretties in my closet and suddenly felt burdened by the amount of stuff I have. Who needs 50 pairs of blue denim skinny jeans? Needless to say, I’ve been quite a closet freak these days, organizing and thoroughly purging: coats, dresses, skirts, accessories – even as far as my overstuffed sock and underwear drawer. Keep for future outfits, donate to Goodwill, or sell in my Poshmark closet (sign up with code HLVSP to get $10!)? I’m embarrassed I kept some items as long as I did, but hey, we all have some out-of-style skeletons in our closet, don’t we? Anyway, fashion trends always come back, and I never hid the fact I was a hoarder – I rest my case. Although I barely made a dent when all was said and done, at least my dresser drawers close properly now.
  3. Mother tongue: Did you know that a family’s native language is usually lost by the third generation? My bilingualism is slowly slipping away, and I can feel it every time I visit my parents. This language maintenance goal is always on the back of my mind everyday of my life, and I want my future kids and grandkids to be able to speak the language of their forefathers. I’ve been relying on Pleco’s free offline dictionary for the longest time, but I’m eager to try out some different apps like FluentU and Chinese Skill.
  4. Get physical: I’ve been pretty good about staying fit and hitting the gym at least three or four times a week in the past. But now that I am gym-less, it’s time to lay my yoga mat down and work out awkwardly behind the dining table while my housemates eat dinner. Thank you Blogilates, for keeping me in shape!
  5. Chic Vic: I’ve been using WordPress.com ever since Chic Vic’s inception, but have considered migrating it to self hosing for a very long time now. I haven’t done it because I’m terrified and am unsure if it’s even necessary at all. Are there any bloggers out there who started with WordPress.com and are now using WordPress.org? Please share your tips or story!

Now that I’ve declared these goals to the blogosphere, there’s no turning back! Dear readers, what are your new year’s resolutions, and what tips do you have on goal setting and achievement?

As for the rest of 2016, Chic Vic will now return you to your regularly scheduled stylish programming.

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Brrr for Fur

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Everyone is all about sequins and glitter every New Year’s Eve. To these gals I ask, isn’t it a bit nippy for that skimpy number?

In search of an alternative way to be stylish while not sacrificing frozen nips, I looked no further than to our furry friends. Brrr for fur!
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It’s hard to wear this faux fur leopard coat without feeling just slightly posh, even it is synthetic. There’s something about a fur coat that makes it too fancy for the everyday. But NYE is the perfect time for this type of fancy. Heck, if you don’t wear anything else, at least wear a fur coat. And if you don’t own one, check out my picks for under $100:

1 / 2/ 3/ 4/ 5/ 6/ 7 / 8/ 9

fur

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To get it ready for a night out on the town, I fancied it up with a statement feather brooch I salvaged from my Mardi Gras mask in a post from a while back. If it’s large enough to merit having its own float at the Carnival parade, then it’s perfect for NYE – even if I might have to ruffle a few feathers.

I won’t be taking this fur coat-dress off tonight, because baby, it’s cold outside, and I have nothing on underneath.

See you in 2016!

White Christmas

IMG_9611I’m dreaming of a chic Christmas.

Chic Vic is officially back, just in time to usher in a change in seasons. Winter has arrived, bringing with it cold days and even chillier nights. The drop in temperature alone gives me goosebumps and all the more reason to be a homebody. But for all you social butterflies out there, it’s also time for family get togethers, friendship gifts exchanges, and all around excuses to have holiday parties with a mug of hot spiced cider to warm the soul and keep your fingers toasty.

No matter what the occasion, there’s only one color palette that will do you right. From lush creams to winter whites as pure as the driven snow, here are a couple of cozy items under $100 to pick up for yourself or a loved one as you finish last minute gift shopping. You’ll look like an angel on Santa’s nice list in no time.

And may all your Christmases be white.

1. STOLE / 2. EARMUFFS / 3. CABLE TIGHTS / 4. SWEATER / 5. DRESS / 6. GLOVES / 7. SCARF / 8. BEANIE / 9. COAT

White Christmas

Girl in the Hood

Although I was born and raised in the inner city that rhymes with smokin’, there’s nothing hood about me even if I tried – save for this hooded leather jacket.

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After successfully selling some of my unwanteds at Buffalo Exchange one day, I did my usual post selling song and dance on the sales floor. Not wanting to spend more than what I had earned in trade-in credit, I had to make an important, yet impulsive decision. Would you believe I chose this jacket over an equally amazing vintage 1940s beaded cardigan? Sometimes, even this vintage lady needs to let her hair down and embrace the modern.

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The hooded bomber-esque style is more youthful than most things I have in my closet, which is a refreshing change from my usual feminine, dressy, and sometimes “old-lady” style preferences. I like that it adds a hint of laid back casual cool to my wardrobe.

With an equally fall appropriate plaid shirt and mahogany brown wedge sandals to match, I am ready for warm sunny days and brisk evenings – typical of autumn weather in the Bay Area. The leather hood doesn’t give me much street credibility, especially when it feels like I’m channeling the flying nun.

You can take a girl out of the hood, but you can’t take the hood out of a girl. Or off her.

vintage leather jacket (similar) / vintage plaid blouse (similar) / vintage Natural Comfort wedges (similar) / Gap skinny jeans (similar) / Urban Outfitters sunglasses (similar) / compass pendant necklace (similar)

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Set Sail

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My mom has a wealth of experience and is a self taught pattern maker. She scours over vintage sewing books passed onto her from older friends. The books, nearly falling apart, are riddled with her notes written in pencil, pages are doggy eared, and in between some chapters I find her quarter scale sample patterns cut from newspapers – all techniques she uses to master her craft and know it by heart.

I can never decipher her cryptic notes and sometimes her verbal explanations get lost in translation. I wanted to learn the fundamentals and principles of sewing so that I could gain a closer bond with my mom through this shared love of the sewing machine and the craftiness that can be created with it.

So it was several fall semesters ago that I finally discovered and enrolled in my first sewing class at a community college. I had an advantage over some of my classmates who had never touched a sewing machine before (forget personal sewing machines – my mom has the real deal industrial Brother), yet there were still many gaps in my sewing knowledge that I needed to fill.

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Daiso hat (similar) / sail shirt (similar) / Silence & Noise sailor pants (similar) / Urban Outfitters sunglasses (similar) / pendant necklace (similar) / vintage wooden cuff (similar) / vintage purse (similar) / J. Crew cardigan (similar) / J. Crew pumps (similar)

Over the years, I learned that the act of sewing itself is only a small part of the equation – and maybe not even the most important one. Operating a sewing machine in and of itself isn’t difficult per se, but the manipulation of different fabrics can be challenging. Unusual seam lines that require contorting the fabric in an unnatural way under the needle is enough to want to call it quits on a project. Order of construction and pressing the garment prove to be equally important, and drafting a pattern can be time consuming for the novice. But with enough practice and patience, I’ll be able to whip up a couture gown in no time.

This shirt is a reminder of how I set sail on my sewing education many semesters ago, using left over scrap fabric from a previous project I made with my mom. Drafted in the beginners class from a general block, I proudly wear this shirt even though it’s a bit ill fitting. It’s a reminder of how far I’ve come (which isn’t that far at all), but even more so, it’s the French seams I put all over the place that deters me from altering it to fit me better.

The sailboats, bright pops of yellow and orange against a backdrop of sky blue always puts a smile to my face whenever I wear it, as if the shirt’s sunny disposition has the power to cast away any cloudy days or shadow of doubt I have over my sewing capabilities. The outfit wouldn’t be complete without extra splashes of yellow, and I found a spot for a little dandelion flower in the little pocket on my sleeve, sewn by yours truly.

Now that I am wiser and more experienced with garment construction, perhaps it’s time to set sail on a better fitting project.

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One, Two, Three

Chic Vic turns three today, and all I’ve got to wear is my literal NSFW birthday suit.

It’s hard to believe how quickly time has passed since I started this humble old blog. I remember the days when I would be brimming with ideas, but never had enough hours in the day to post more than once a week. Yet for every burst of inspiration, I’ve also experienced long periods of writer’s block, where there is a stagnation of creativity. As much as I may have infinite style, the outfits I post to the blog aren’t meaningful to me unless they are accompanied by the perfect prose. It’s something I always strive for, but sometimes perfection can be a killjoy.

While I have never before properly identified myself as a “writer” as I do a stylist, maybe it’s time to reinvent the wheel. I like to think that I inspire readers with not only my pictures, but also with my words – be it something that makes you laugh, entertains you, inspires you, or have you rethink what it means to harness your own sense of style.

To fellow bloggers, I ask, how do you maintain your blogging momentum?

To the readers I say, thank you for following me, whether from day one or just now.

With the help of some of my favorite past outfits, here’s cheers to three years!

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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