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

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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)

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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)

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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.
fashion jewelry brooch

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.

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

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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.

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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)

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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

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!

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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