San Francisco Getaway // CAAMFest

While the first day of my Napa getaway consisted of wine country relaxing, the second day was all about big city living.

After a well rested night fit for a queen in our respective plush queen beds at Bardessono, my girlfriend and I woke up early, ready to take full advantage of day two of our two-day getaway. The hotel has free bike rentals, and luckily they had just two sunny yellow cruisers that were calling our names. A morning bike ride sounded like a great way to begin the day. With the open road in front of me and vineyards to my left and right, I freely coasted down the road. I never knew I had “ride a bike in wine country” on my bucket list, but I do now, and I’ve got photos to prove it.

Driving back to San Francisco in our Buicks, the group reconvened at The Slanted Door inside the Ferry Building. Just like in Napa, I’ve been to the Ferry Building dozens of times but never once have I ever stepped through the [slanted] door. A fresh, lighter take on traditional dishes, it’s a great place to try Vietnamese cuisine for the first time if you’ve never had it. Although I found myself wishing there was more fish sauce flavor, I can see why this place remains to be a favorite amongst locals and visitors alike.

With the mini road trip now behind us, we wrapped up the getaway in style. After a glam session at Blowology Dry Bar, we were whisked away to the Castro Theater (my first time there!) to view the opening night film, The Tiger Hunter, for CAAMFest. If you didn’t already know, CAAMFest is the largest Asian American and Asian Film festival in the nation, having just celebrated its’ 35th year. The Tiger Hunter hit all the feels – I laughed, I cried, and laughed until I cried, all the while snacking on buttery popcorn. The film was really good, and what made it even better was the Q&A session with some of the cast and crew. You can’t quite make out the actors’ faces from where we were sitting, but I was still starstruck. I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see him with my own eyes, but Napoleon Dynamite is all growns-up.

All in all, it was a fun trip and I’m glad I got to experience this mini-getaway. Despite everything being so local, there were a lot of firsts for me on this trip. It just goes to show that you don’t have to travel halfway across the states (or even around the world, although I certainly encourage that), just to explore new places and try new restaurants – and if you’re lucky, you’ll rub elbows with a celebrity.

Napa Getaway

Though Napa Valley is just a little over an hour’s drive from where I live, I’ve only been there a handful of occasions. My visits are usually spent in a crowded wine cellar, elbow to elbow with other wine lovers and tourists from near and far for an unforgettable glass-swirling educational wine tasting experience. How’s the body, length, and finish? And what about those legs? Yes, I’m still talking wine here.

Recently, I had the opportunity to experience Napa in a more relaxed way. Buick invited a group of us on a getaway to wine country. I grabbed a girlfriend and packed my bags for the mini road trip! The day was gorgeously sunny for a leisurely drive in our Buick LaCrosse, and we took full advantage of the moonroof to relish in a piece of the cloudless blue sky.

Kenzo Estate Winery is nearly as big as the city of San Francisco, and with their higher than your average vineyard elevation, they even boast a cool mild microclimate that is reminiscent of Fog City as well. The drive into the estate feels exclusive – after entering the gate, we drove down a one mile stretch of winding road surrounded by a tranquil fortress of trees as we approached the property. We were greeted with a glass of their Sauvignon Blanc, the only white wine that they produce. It was light and refreshing, especially after a long drive, but I’m more inclined towards whites more than reds anyway. The beautifully lit wine cellars had a distinct sweet smelling aroma as we entered, providing a relaxed ambiance despite the cool temperature drop. Best fun factoid on the wine tour? The tunnels were designed and constructed by the same folks who did the tunnels for our public transit system (BART) – only there are no delays here unless it means I need to wait a minute too long for a refill of vino.

Next stop on our drive was nearby Yountville, a quaint little town known for their exclusive dining experiences. Boasting the most Michelin-rated restaurants per capita (book at least two months out for The French Laundry), this is certainly a place that’ll cost more than a pretty penny. Window shop at cute boutiques with wine themed everything you don’t need, then take a stroll outside to enjoy Yountville’s many outdoor sculptures as a part of their art walk – perfect for the little ones to climb on while you get your drink on (not in public, of course).

I eventually worked up a sweet tooth for some, je ne sais quoi. Well, when you’re in Yountville, one of four locations where the famed Bouchon Bakery has their store front, the decision is easy. It was my first time having the macarons there, and what can I say, c’est délicieux!

With gourmet options abound, deciding what to order can be more of a chore than a pleasant experience. If indecision’s your middle name, then the chefs at Two Birds, One Stone’s got your back. Their omakase style menu means the chef will choose the best selection of plates for the night – so just sit back and enjoy the dishes as the come, each one a surprise! Self-described as “California-inspired yakitori,” the dishes are a perfect blend of east meets west. Many of the flavors I’m used to in Asian cuisine were infused with freshly plucked ingredients that so typify the Californian food movement. My favorite was the black kale salad with chicken and the radishes with goat milk butter. It was definitely a case of my eyes > stomach, for I was too full from the delectable appetizers by the time the wagyu short ribs were served. Just a spoonful of dessert sealed the deal – their coconut milk panna cotta with passion fruit curd is lightly sweet with a hint of tartness; I especially loved how the creamy texture juxtaposed with the crisp rice pearls dusted with a hint of matcha. There’s always room for dessert in my book!

We retreated back to Bardessono Hotel and Spa where we checked in earlier. With separate quads and suites spaced out in a minimalist zen-like layout, I found myself in a calm and reflective oasis. It’s the perfect place to unplug by the fire pit with a glass of wine, or to take a dip – or at least get your toes wet – in their rooftop pool. But if you’re like me and forget to bring a bathing suit, well the suites have ample room to relax in with all the amenities a girl could wish for and more. After a long day of driving, wining, and dining, it didn’t take long for me to catch some z’s.

Stay tuned for day two of my mini road trip!

Green and Yellow Brights

If it’s what’s underneath that counts, maybe it should be worn on the outside.

fashion ootd dress

The story behind this petticoat comes from a faraway unlikely place. Not too long ago, I traveled to Bolivia and explored the country’s sights and culture from dusty small towns all the way up to the highest capital city in the world. My style eye is most alert when I’m in a foreign land, and I couldn’t help but be inspired by the traditional “cholita” fashion.

Image 1 | Image 2 | Image 3

“Cholita” was once a derogatory term for indigenous women in Bolivia. Only recently in the last decade or so has this term become a source of pride and empowerment. Even as society modernizes around them, older cholitas as well as younger generations still maintain this way of traditional dress that harkens back to the Spanish Inquisition. It varies slightly by region, but in general their ensemble consists of a bowler hat, shawl, blouse, full pleated skirt, and multi layered petticoat.

I’ll leave the full traditional dress up to the experts – the cholitas – but I found a way to integrate a part of their fashion into my vintage wardrobe.

fashion ootd dress

While the cholita’s petticoat is cloaked under colorful voluminous skirts, I think it’s too beautiful to remain hidden. I may have worn it as a petticoat in my last chain reaction fashion post, but this time I’m showing it off – or at least one layer of it.

Wearing the petticoat as an outer layer, I complemented its cheery yellow with a punchy lime green dress that’s just as bright. The sheer fabric lets the right amount of green peek through, offering a color contrast to the intricate floral embroidery and scalloped hemline. It clearly is a statement piece all on its own.

fashion ootd dress

chain reaction fashion: July | June | May | April | March | February | January | December

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

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!

Wanderlust

I want to get away. I want to fly away.

When I was 22, I was bit by the travel bug and was diagnosed with a chronic case of wanderlust, curable only with frequent vacations in international doses.

I am far from being a jet setter, but I am no stranger when it comes to traveling to far away lands. I love to sightsee, experience culture shock, and devour culinary delights. Immersing myself in a foreign place only makes me thirst for more novel environments. Although life’s daily demands and financial obligations make it hard to travel more often, I try my best to make time for it to keep my wanderlust at bay.

While I’m currently saving up my PTO and plotting my next getaway, I like to play dress up as a tourist – but in the chicest way possible. This thrifted blouse was a tourist trap, quite figuratively. I picked it up at a clothing swap I attended long ago. Normally I would not pay good money for a shirt like this, but since it was free, I had nothing to lose.

To prevent the full-on tourist look, I avoided khaki colored bottoms of any sort. Since the shirt is a bit boxy, I opted for a pair of mid rise skinny jeans to tuck in the excess fabric and show off a more shapely silhouette. My summer tourist shoes of choice are my trusty pair of espadrilles – the small wedge is just high enough to give me some height and I can still walk miles in them. A headscarf is a must, in order to keep that unruly travel hair under control. Now that I’ve got the outfit down, all I need is to book a ticket to a beachy travel destination. Any suggestions?


thrifted blouse (similar blouse) / Urban Outfitters jeans (similar jeans) / Unisa espadrilles (similar espadrilles) / Fossil sunglasses (similar sunglasses)

What kind of traveller are you? Do you like to get lost in a big city or be one with nature?Do you prefer a planned daily itinerary or do you just wing it? Are you a rest and relax type of person, or an on the go sightseer? No matter what type of traveller you are, make sure you look stylish doing so. After all, don’t you want to look stunning in all your travel photos? Whether you’re headed to the beach, a metropolis, or an outdoor glamping adventure, checkout my wanderlust lookbook for ideas on what to wear on your next trip.

Life’s a Beach

Life's a Beach

Goin’ Sightseein’

Goin' Sightseein'

A Glamping We Will Go

A Glamping We Will Go

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)

You Can Toucan

Happy New Year! Nothing like ringing in the frosty weather by bringing in pops of color and showing a little leg in my first outfit post of 2013.

I would sum up my holiday vacation to Belize in one word: ADVENTUROUS.  The sights I saw were simply unbelizable. The weather was gorgeous, the people were friendly, the seafood was plentiful, and the mosquitos weren’t really biting. What more could I ask for? Oh yes, much, much more: snorkeled with tropical fish, turtles, manta rays, and nurse sharks in the second longest barrier reef in the world; hiked through a muddy dense jungle in the pouring rain; found out what it was like to literally be stuck between a rock and a hard place as I shimmied my way through tight spaces and waded through waist deep water in dark caves; witnessed the spectacle of glistening stalagmites and stalactites; and climbed the steep ancient stairs of the Mayan ruins. There were many Kodak moments that weren’t captured on camera, so I’ll just have to rely on the snapshots in my memory.

As for local fashion trends, there really wasn’t anything too exemplary. Even I looked a bit haggard during the trip and donned the stereotypical tourist look: hat, tank top, khaki cargo capris, and hiking shoes. Chic Vic I was not.

There was just one colorful trendsetter in Belize that was out of sight due to its fleeting nature: the toucan. The toucan is the national bird of Belize. Unless you’re an avid birdwatcher or an early bird, the sighing of this colorful beauty is rare and few to the average Joe.

The toucan is a great of example of color blocking at nature’s finest, second only to the panda bear. Color blocking is exactly what it sounds like: wearing “blocks” of color – solids only, no prints. Sorry leopard, zebra, and cheetah, you’re out of luck. I was inspired to use the colors from my souvenir toucan salt and pepper shakers to mimic a little color blocking myself. Pencil skirt, flared skirt, or skinny pants? I couldn’t decide on what black bottom to wear, when at the last moment, while digging through my dense closet, I had forgotten I owned this pair of silk shorts purchased from Express many seasons ago. And just like that, a faux romper look was created. I tied it all together with a silk scarf at my waist for a makeshift cummerbund. The blouse, silk scarf, shoes, and earrings are thrifted. Approximate cost of head to toe look including the toucans: under $50.

Unfortunately, shortly after this photo-shoot ended, both birds suffered trauma resulting from impact on concrete due to my clumsiness. Pepper survived with only minor cuts and bruises, while Salt had to undergo major reconstructive beak surgery by Dr. Superglue. Both birds are now resting and will never serve their purpose of being salt and pepper vessels.

Hey Mon, can’t wait to shake my tail feather once it gets warmer here.