Cherry Blossom Girl

Konnichiwa sakura, when can I see you again?

OOTD Style Haori
It’s sakura season, and I can still remember the magic of being in Tokyo this time last year. The petaled pink pretties powder the treetops as crowds of tourists and locals gather for picnics beneath them. Even the most gentle breeze will send the petals flying, creating a delicate pink snowfall that envelopes admirers in their own little cherry blossom snow globe.

Japan is a place of contrasts, where modern meets traditional at the intersection of future and past. Ancient tranquil temples exist amongst contemporary bustling sky scrapers. Trendy restaurants serve up age old recipes, while high speed rail systems transport you in a flash from a sprawling metropolis to a snail paced village. Geishas in kimonos coexist with innovative street style fashionistas, while minimalist aesthetics ooze from every corner of Japanese design.

Japan left a great impression on me, and I couldn’t say sayanora without a keepsake to remind me of my wonderful time there. An authentic kimono seemed impractical, but how about a haori? A haori is a mid length coat that is worn over a kimono, open and unbelted. Originally, samurais wore haoris over their armor to keep warm, but it eventually became incorporated into every day wear.

OOTD Style Haori

It can be a challenge for a petite frame to wear something so voluminous. With full sleeves, a roomy fit, and hemline long enough to constitute a dress, a haori can be overwhelming. But if there was anything I learned from the street fashion in Tokyo, conventional style rules can go out the window of a bullet train to make room for experimentation.

It’s all about playing with size and proportion, and I decided to turn up the volume with a pair of wide leg trousers that rival the fullness of the haori’s sleeves. While the haori’s long length can make me look even shorter than I already am, the high rise of my trousers help lengthen the legs for days. The result is a simple, harmonious juxtaposition.

Haori (similar) | Urban Outfitters camisole (similar) | vintage trousers (similar) | vintage envelope clutch (similar) | vintage fan earrings (similar) | vintage leaf cuff (similar) | vintage heels (similar)

OOTD Style Haori

Incorporating Japan’s minimalistic aesthetic, I kept the accessories to a minimum, save for a few gilded accents. The haori’s delicate fan print and graceful flutter of the sleeves in the wind is a showpiece all on its own. Along with the clean lines of my pressed trousers, the unadorned look embodies the simple beauty that is a hallmark of Japanese design.

Although there isn’t a cherry blossom garden nearby, a eucalyptus grove I did find. At least they’re both trees, right? While the latter doesn’t provide any budding pink blossoms for me to admire, at least I can still marvel at their majestic heights and shedding bark all day long.

I am the last samurai of style.

Springtime Hawaiian Florals

Spring has sprung, and I’m sprung over spring.

OOTD

D&Y hat (similar) | vintage Hawaiian blouse (similar) | vintage shorts (similar) | Bottega Veneta bag (similar) | Crown Vintage sandals (similar) | vintage wooden cuff (similar)

OOTD

It doesn’t quite feel like spring yet in the Bay Area, because our version of it means a healthy dose of cloudy grey skies with a chance of rain. Never mind it, I’ll just bask in the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind – that is, back to memories of my recent Hawaii trip.

I last wore this shirt when I had a serious case of the wanderlust. Luckily, this time around I actually got to play tourist while looking like a tourist. I lived out my fantasy of being mistaken for a Hawaiian waitress while brunching on a plate of guava chiffon pancakes. Yes, I was practically wearing their uniform, but what fools they are, those tourists! How could they not see that no self respecting local would be caught in a big floppy hat??

That’s all folks, quicker than you can say spring fling.

FOOD

palm trees

hawaii

D&Y hat (similar) | vintage Hawaiian blouse (similar) | vintage shorts (similar) | Bottega Veneta bag (similar) | Crown Vintage sandals (similar) | vintage wooden cuff (similar)

hawaiian florals ootd

Tokyo Street Style

IMG_3407

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!

Portlandia

Fred and Carrie, where you at?

Portland is known for many things: beers, bikes, hiking, hipsters, no sales tax, food trucks, and strip clubs. Luckily for me, there wasn’t a drop of rain in the forecast on my recent trip to the Pacific Northwest. With unseasonably warm temperatures, I couldn’t think of a better summer getaway as I ate, drank, and shopped my way around PDX.

Shop till you drop.
Ranked as one of the most hipster friendly cities in U.S., it is no wonder that Portland has the highest vintage shops per capita – how else would hipsters find such cool hipster threads? I spent a delightful afternoon shopping at the many vintage boutiques in the Hawthorne district. Boutique Goodwills with vintage Coach bags? You bet. I put a slight dent in my pocketbook, but it was well worth every pretty penny to buy a vintage pocketbook.

Nom nom nom.
Food trucks exist in every big city, but Portland wins in quantity, boasting several hundred in the city. Although I didn’t eat anything particularly memorable, their food truck scene is still impressive due to its omnipresence. No matter what neighborhood I drove through, I encountered a cluster of food trucks every couple of blocks. For the Portlanders, this is just a regular part of their everyday life. They don’t need a street festival or designated day of the week (as they do in the Bay Area) to round up the trucks. Brick and mortar places are worth mentioning too. Every restaurant, cafe, or bakery I passed offered a drool worthy menu. Bacon doughnuts, savory waffles, bloody Marys, or bone marrow ice cream? Take your pick. Or try them all, as I did.

Everything is coming up roses.
I got the chance to escape the heat of the concrete jungle just minutes outside the city at Washington Park. The cool canopy of trees shrouded me from the summer sun. Although it was no replacement for a real hike in the woods, it was just enough greenery for this city girl. There’s a reason Portland is called the City of Roses, for it is home to one of the largest rose gardens in the United States. Many cities boast a rose garden of some sort – but this one is quite spectacular. With beautiful hues of red, pink, orange, yellow, lilac, and in fragrances unimaginable, this is simply the most beautiful rose garden I have ever seen.

Hippity Hops.
A trip to Portland wouldn’t be complete without visiting a couple of breweries and downing a pint or two. Again, Portland sets another record, this time for having the most breweries than any city in the U.S. (or is it the world?). While I’m more of a cocktail girl, I hopped on the hops bandwagon because when in Portland, one has to drink beer. Whether it was stopping traffic while pedaling on an 8 person brewcycle from brewery to brewery, to snacking on a pretzel necklace at an all day international beer festival, I have never downed so many beers in my life, and I probably never will again.

Dolla dolla bill y’all.
Don’t quote me, but I read that Portland also holds the record for the most strip clubs per capita. I was a strip club virgin prior to this trip, and without a benchmark, I can’t say my experience was anything special. I will say I was very intrigued with the female form. How the heck do they walk around in those heels? Even as the naked ladies lured me to join my friends in the front row, I assured them I could see everything just fine from where I was seated. Needless to say, no photos were allowed inside.

These are just a few highlights from my trip, but there is still so much more to explore. Who knew Portland held such a track record for having the most of anything? I wasn’t able to get a grasp of Portland street style since I was too preoccupied with all of the above to even notice. I guess I’ll have to save it for my next visit.

If this fashion thing doesn’t work out, then travel writer for hire!

Viva la Chic Vic

I recently headed south of the border in favor of a Feliz Navidad with warmer temperatures. Hablas inglés?

My first stop: Mexico City. Speaking not a lick of Spanish besides “hola” and “gracias” can only get you so far. Despite what people assured me, “I’m sure they speak English there” – I can tell you they did not!

I filled my tummy with corn tortillas, carnitas, bistek, queso, and I couldn’t get enough of tamarindo anything (whether it was a beverage, candy, or even in popsicle form). I had all the time in the world to explore the far corners of the city but what I underestimated was my stamina to do so each day. I walked for miles and miles through streets, passing though the different colorful neighborhoods that make Mexico City so interesting. Whether it was getting sandwiched on the subway with the locals, exploring the tons of museums the city had to offer (they boast the most in the world!) or climbing up the ancient steps of the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán on Christmas Day, Mexico City is a place I won’t soon forget. Just as I was getting accustomed to my surroundings, it was time to vamos onto my final destination: Puerto Vallarta.

Quite the contrary to exploring the concrete jungle of metropolitan Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta was a beachy paradise teeming with tourists mainly from the US, Canada, and Mexico. People spoke English, things were pricier, and the availability of “real” Mexican food became scarce. Since I’m not much of a beach bum, I got off my bum and got active. By land, sea, and air, I experienced being a tourist by ambling about the cobblestoned city streets, snorkeling in the ocean with raindrops falling on my head, and soaring above the canopy of trees like an eagle on the longest and fastest zip line in Mexico. I cannot say which activity was my most favorite; they were all exhilarating experiences I would do again in a heartbeat.

Never one to stop shopping for all things fashionable, I picked up a few wearable souvenirs along the way. I cannot wait to share them with you; stay tuned for them in future posts.

As for what I wore in Mexico? De colores, de colores!


Jones NY cardigan (similar) / Zara tee (similar) / Urban Outfitters shorts (similar) / Franco Sarto sandals (similar) / Anne Klein purse (similar) / fedora (similar) / beaded necklaces (similar)