C is for Cloche

I wear more than one hat, two to be exact.

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Contrary to what many people believe, the cloche hat was actually invented in 1908, almost two decades before the flapper era of the 1920s. Leave it to the Parisians to create something so chic and timeless, the word cloche means “bell” in French. Years later, as the Roaring Twenties kicked in full steam, it became the iconic hat of the Jazz Age.

How to spot a cloche hat? It’s all in the bell shape. Cloche hats are traditionally made from felt, though ones made from straw or cloth were not uncommon. Decorations were minimal in order to maintain the slim and trim profile of the hat.

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Cloche Hats

The fitted silhouette makes it hard to see because it covers the eyes, and for this reason it even altered the way women carried themselves. They literally had to tilt their chins up in order to see. The snug shape also playfully accented the short hairstyles that were so in vogue at the time, and was the ideal way to wear such a trendy accessory.

It’s been years since I sported a bob, but I might just chop off my long locks and embrace my inner flapper at the drop of a cloche hat.

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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

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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

Tonal Denim and Ornate Paisley

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I’ve found a masterpiece in you, a work of art it’s true. And I treasure you, my OOTD.

Although the paintbrush and I have never been close pals, I guess I could still call myself an artist. A painter may mix paints on his palette to create masterpieces, but I also mix styles, patterns, and accessories to create the perfect OOTD in my chain reaction fashion series that even Bob Ross would be proud of. And in this case, an ornate splash of 1970s paisley over a denim color palette.

Chain Reaction Fashion: March | February | January | December

ootd chambray paisley

vintage paisley blouse (similar) | Old Navy chambray blouse (similar) | Levi’s jeans (similar) | vintage Dooney & Bourke (similar) | White Mountain booties (similar) | Calvin Klein beanie (similar) | Urban Outfitters necklace (similar)

OOTD chambray denim paisley

I picked up this blouse from an artist’s studio of sorts. It was a small neighborhood cornerstone that always appeared perpetually closed for business, the window displays dusty from neglect. One sunny spring day it was actually open, with boxes of goods placed outside as if for a sidewalk sale. The owner sold knick knacks from the ghost of decades past – old vinyls, collectible toys, faded posters, and my favorite of all – vintage clothes.

“You’re welcome to go into the back, there’s more through that door,” the friendly owner said to me.

vintage paisley blouse (similar) | Old Navy chambray blouse (similar) | Levi’s jeans (similar) | vintage Dooney & Bourke (similar) | White Mountain booties (similar) | Calvin Klein beanie (similar) | Urban Outfitters necklace (similar)

OOTD chambray paisley

I tepidly wandered towards the rear of the small store, through an open doorway. It led to a surprisingly larger room that was sparsely furnished and in need of a clean up. Probably used as a storage space for the store front, it also resembled an artists studio for building Burning Man sculptures. I thought I saw remnants of what looked like the cross section of a rocketship, complete with three fins and a circled window. It seemed like the kind of space where dreams are realized and art comes to life, and also where I might find a rat or two.

Along with cans of old paint brushes, on a table hidden under a pile of fabric and clothes, I saw the sleeve of this blouse dangling out.

A little bit oversized, with a slight trapeze silhouette, it is big enough to throw over my outfit as an artists smock shirt, complete with side pockets. Perhaps it had a hand in painting masterpieces in its former life, and fate had spared it from being accidentally marred by paint.

With an ornate paisley-esque print in a color palette that is so 1970s, I couldn’t think of anything more complementary to wear underneath it than a tonal denim look, featuring my chambray shirt from last month. The resulting outfit reads off duty artist who turned in her wooden color palette in exchange for a vintage Dooney purse in hand.

I recently passed by the corner where the studio once stood and it appears vacant now. A faded “for lease” sign by the window is patiently waiting for another business to see potential in its space. I suppose the previous owner has launched himself into another artistic venture. Or maybe, to outer space.

B is for Brooch

Buttons, zippers, buckles, hook & eye, and velcro. Before the advent of these modern fasteners, there was the brooch.

brooch fashion jewelry

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Although brooches are merely just decorative jewelry pieces nowadays, they once had a utilitarian purpose. The earliest form was called a fibula brooch. Resembling a safety pin, it was used to hold garments together on the body. From the draped peplos tunics of Roman yore to the heavy cloaks in early medieval dress, brooches were used throughout history and in many cultures. Sometimes, even the design of the brooch served to reveal something about the wearer, like their rank or affiliation in society.

fibula / peplos / cloak

Eventually as innovation ensued, the functional necessity of the brooch was no longer needed. Yet the brooch still remains one of my favorite go to accessories to adorn the shoulder of my cardigan or the lapel of my coat. Vintage brooches can be found at thrift shops, but even department stores like Macy’s have great options for inexpensive costume jewelry.

With buttons fastening the front of my blouse, I can focus taking my brooching to a whole new decorative level.

1. All tied up: A feminine take on a masculine necktie, excessive accessorizing is key.
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2. Belt it out: A fabric belt or a wide ribbon tied around the waist will also do. The result is a burnished belt worthy of the wrestling ring.

fashion jewelry brooch

3. Beret, oh hey: A classic Chic Vic move, even the rookiest of broochers can pull this off.

fashion jewelry brooch

4. Off the chain: All you need is a chain with links large enough for the pin of the brooch to needle through. Voilà, that brooch has become a pendant necklace.

fashion jewelry brooch

And there you have it, the fascinating history of fasteners! How do you like to wear your brooch?

Preppy Stripes & Casaual Chambray

Chain reaction fashion /CHān rēˈakSH(ə)n ˈfaSHən/ noun: a series of outfits, each created by an item from the previous one.

“I’ve never seen you wear anything more than once!” is a phrase I’ve become quite familiar with. If you’re doing a double take on some of the outfits in my recent posts, I can assure you that you are in fact seeing double. In a new series I shall call, “chain reaction fashion,” each month I will feature an item from the previous month, styled differently into a new outfit. Finally, I am going to prove that I DO wear things twice, just like how I put my pants on one leg at a time.

Old Navy chambray (similar) | Banana Republic striped tee (similar) | Zara jeans (similar) | vintage flower brooch (similar) | vintage belt (similar) | vintage handkerchiefs (similar here & here) | vintage purse (similar) | vintage Ferragamo slingbacks (similar)

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This outfit challenge proves that dressing up a simple striped top isn’t so black and white. While the high contrast graphic print makes for a striking fashion statement, there’s room to add a soft touch of casual chambray in there too.

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Jazzing up the basic stripes required a few small accessories: a skinny belt and a brooch. I rolled up the sleeves of my chambray top, and got right to work on fashioning a neck scarf, which is just two small handkerchiefs tied at the ends. Not only does this create a longer scarf to drape in the front, but it also incorporates two times the pattern play. My tiny red purse adds a pop of color to the outfit and brings out the specks of red in my neck scarf as well.

And the finisher to this outfit? None other than a classy pair of toe cap slingbacks. The only thing that could beat these vintage toe caps is a night cap.

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Old Navy chambray (similar) | Banana Republic striped tee (similar) | Zara jeans (similar) | vintage flower brooch (similar) | vintage belt (similar) | vintage handkerchiefs (similar here & here) | vintage purse (similar) | vintage Ferragamo slingbacks (similar)

stripes

I Want You Back

This Valentine’s Day, I want you back. Oh, and I brought sexy back too.

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My first infatuation with a boy crush was brief. He was in a band, and I fell in love with him upon watching his debut video on MTV. I’ll never forget his frosted permed hair and the way he moved was so in synch. Like all teenage love, I was only hooked for the first album, then broke up after the summer. That is, until he brought sexy back.

Whether you have been on the receiving end of a break up, or were the one doing the heartbreaking, I’m sure we can all agree that relationships are complicated. Break ups can mean good riddance to a coupling that was doomed from the start. But sometimes all you need is a little bit of time away to make you say I want you back, even if it might be as fleeting as a fashion trend. Like star crossed lovers, some trends you part with are gone forever, while others return years later, manifested in a different form. That’s what the backwards trend is all about.

This trend emerged from street style fashionistas last autumn, raising a few eyebrows while being hailed as the latest fashion must try. Is this fashion forward thinking backward?

Luckily, this is a no-strings-attached one-night-stand type of trend that’s easy to try because it doesn’t require investing in a new must have item. Ladies, just look in your closet. I’m sure you have a button down lurking in there behind all your shoes and emotional baggage.

And just like how I’ve heard single girlfriends describe the guys from the dating scene, I’m not sure how I feel about this fashion trend. It’s a little uncomfortable and impractical but the unconventionality of it makes it so exciting and unlike any outfit I’ve ever worn before. It doesn’t quite fit well, but I’m having fun with it, so why not see where it goes?

mini hat (similar) | vintage blouse (similar) | vintage belt (similar) | Express silk shorts (similar) | fishnets (similar) | Enzo Angiolni pumps (similar)  vintage clutch (similar) | Victoria’s Secret balconette (similar)

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Save for the rouge painted upon my puckered lips, I ditched the cliché red and pink color palette and opted for my favorite vintage sheer blouse in an outfit of classic black that proves to be just as cunning. When one dons a backwards blouse, one has to accessorize accordingly – wearing a necklace backwards or adding a vintage sweater clip as I did draws attention to the sultry open back. The sheer fabric hints at a lacy brassier underneath for eyes to see, while the palpable silk shorts and fishnets create a sensual stimulation to roaming fingertips. If that doesn’t tickle his fancy, well, I’ve got a feather on my mini hat that’ll do the job.

Whether it’s to get your ex back, to entice the person you’ve been admiring, or simply to spice up a longstanding relationship, it’s time to leave the cleave and bring sexy back.

Happy Valentine’s Day loves!

mini hat (similar) | vintage blouse (similar) | vintage belt (similar) | Express silk shorts (similar) | fishnets (similar) | Enzo Angiolni pumps (similar)  vintage clutch (similar) | Victoria’s Secret balconette (similar)

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backwards outfit

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)

leopard stripes

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:

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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!