Out and About

Everything except shoes, Zara. Brogues, Aldo. // Make the Bus - Janelle Monáe ft. of Montreal 
Yesterday I went to go walk around my favourite part of town, Gastown, to go check out a café named Salty Tongue and get a copy of Inventory magazine with Tweedledum. I look forward to reading it. I hope to visit Nelson the Seagull before I leave for school next week (!). The people at Neighbor was so kind to point me, the lost fool, in the right direction. I find Gastown strangely hard to navigate in for some strange reason and this is coming from a girl who navigated Shanghai all by herself!

The Dog Days are Over

A lot of you must wonder why do I hate the coming of fall and end of summer so much? I actually do love fall very much: to be able to wear layers, drink warm cups of tea to bed, admire the falling leaves, see my school friends, meet new professors etc. However, it also means I have to stop being lazy and I know I just won't have the time to read books of my choice, to daydream, and to sit and perfect the art of doing nothing. The days will only get shorter and shorter until there is little sunshine left in the day. Though winter is generally bearable until Christmas, fall seems like some kind of cruel teaser to the ensuing horrible weather. How do you guys get through winter?

A Trip Through Neverland

Though I am still denial about the coming of fall, I think it's best if I start to prepare for the weather by getting some basics for school. These two shirts were bought along with the bag below from Zara but from the boys' section. The trip started innocently enough–I was browsing the boy's section for something for my five year old cousin. My sister then dared me to try a shirt in a size for 13-14 year olds and to my surprise, the shirt did not only just fit but hilariously, the shirt fitted well. The shoulder seam (what is the term?) hits at the right place and the cuffs fall nicely a little below my wrists–the photo above suggests that the shirt strains at my chest but that is not the case, just bad posing in general. I don't consider myself petite (well as petite as someone who hovers around 5'7" and 5'8" and usually wears a size M in the women's section can be) but are today's 13-14 year old boys really that big? I will probably keep shopping in the children's section now and then as you can save a good amount of money because usually children's clothing are significantly cheaper and to sweeten the deal, in Vancouver you pay less tax for clothing for children under 14. Who knew I had never outgrown the children's section?

Southern Belle for the Day

 Bag, Zara. Dress, UO. Hat, Shanghai boutique. Boots, UO.
I am still stubbornly trying to "will away" September, Fall and school that is bound to start soon by going to the beach as often as I can. I am still doing geeky things as usual such as watching TED lectures, listening to the soundtrack of Girl with A Pearl Earring, and reading Lucretius's "On the Nature of Things" (there's nothing quite like having a 2000 year old Roman epic poem as a beach read) on my iPad. And perhaps I've been watching too much True Blood lately and because of this video that I wanted to try my hand at dressing like a southern gal for the day with tan leather accents and a floral print sundress. Though of course this is hardly authentic since the farthest down south I've been in the US is Washington D.C., which isn't really "southern" at all. Anyone else also trying to make summer last as long as possible?

Life's A Beach

This bag is definitely the find of the week from the little girls' section of Zara. I have been trying to find a small pouch/purse type thing for a long time now. I never understood those girls who lug those ginormous totes around but I always appreciate it that they do because they will always have an extra packet of tissue, band-aid etc whenever you least expect it. It's like the yōjigen-pocket that Doraemon has (brownie points if you get this reference). Anyway this bag will be super useful especially for college parties because you can always keep this with you–everything you'll need then is just an student ID card and cash. The bag is small but you can fit all necessities and I included the photo below for scale. Since those 'what's in your bag' memes are making the rounds with fashion bloggers again I guess I will do mine here. Some of things I carried with me to the shores today are:
  • a MAC Russian Red lipstick
  • lip balm
  • cash
  • point-and-shooter
  • third generation iPod Nano (soooo old school I know but I don't want to ever give up my wheel control thingy)
  • my Vancouver phone for the summer 
  • debit card
I wish I could lay everything all out for you guys, alas it is not so practical on the sand. For those who are not having such good weather on the other side of the continent due to Hurricane Irene, I hope everybody stays warm, dry and most of all safe.

The Stylish Surrealist

In typical art geek fashion, I found my way to the Vancouver Art Gallery the other day to check out a new exhibit, "The Colour of My Dreams in The Surrealist Revolution in Art". I was always interested in surrealism but I was never obsessed with it like I was with abstract expressionism. Generally speaking the whole experience was great because the whole concept was so well organized, thought out and curated that you can't help but enjoy yourself. There were numerous artists featured in the exhibition: among them was André Bréton, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí from what I remember. The amount of work displayed was comprehensive and extensive–with poetry, painting, sculpture and photographs all included. They even had a copy of André Bréton's Manifeste du surréalisme (1924) that was laid out on display which I somehow managed to read and understand. And who knew that André Bréton drew?
Though there were many incredible artworks on the walls, I became increasingly drawn to Joan Miró's work alone. Maybe because I have seen so much of his paintings in MOMA and the Guggenheim that it was lodged in my subconscious but I am pretty sure by now that I am infatuated with his work (not the artist himself per se). I began to look him up online and soon came across the photos of the artist himself when he was young (above), the artist in his atelier at a much older age (below) and the artist at work (far below). We always imagine the artist to be in some kind of perpetual state of suffering and look scruffy, unkempt, and disheveled as a result. Miró here however proves us wrong by looking ever so elegant, composed and polished. Note his well tailored clothing, leather footwear and complementary colours of navy, red and camel. I have to say as an amateur painter myself, how does he manage to stay so clean? Then again, he is no Jackson Pollack but Joan Miró, a consummate surrealist of sartorial elegance.

So long, J of Jil Sander

This is supposed to be the last UNIQLO + J A/W 2011 collection of the collaboration between Jil Sander and UNIQLO. For the past few seasons, Jil Sander has done an impeccable job of transmitting her unique, trademark minimalism into the collaboration that it does not look, say like a cheaper version of what could be her own line unlike other high street x designer can sometimes look like. The coats take on traditional shape and colour, yet there is a definite modern feel to them. It's all in the subtle detailing and careful craftsmanship. Too bad there aren't many UNIQLO stores in North America except for New York but these coats are totally worth the trouble to get them (and the fact Arizona Muse is the model for the collection is a definite plus).

Courtesy of Fashionising

Filson x Levi

Filson, my favourite leather goods brand of all time, paired up with the classic denim company for the A/W 2011 collection and the result is a wonderful collection timeless basics that I am sure many will covet. This collaboration came in perfect timing as right now I am trying to build up a good set of basics and these pieces will fit seamlessly into what I have right now. I am happy for the strong Filson influences here but I so wish there was more. I hope there will be more collaborations in the future!

Style Notes from East of Eden

James Dean is probably most famous for rocking a white shirt/jeans/black leather jacket combo from Rebel Without A Cause (1955) but I absolutely loved how he looked in big screen adaption of John Steinbeck's masterpiece East of Eden (1955). At first I approached the book (and therefore the film) quite cautiously because I didn't enjoy Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" (1939) much–for me reading southern accents and going through all those apostrophes gave me a headache–though I duly applaud his efforts for writing in the vernacular. Though I was not able to stomach it, the type of dialogue gave the novel much authenticity that the reader is able to commiserate with the Okies' struggle for survival and their pursuit of the American dream.  To my surprise, though I am not familiar with the original Cain and Abel biblical story, I liked "East of Eden" (1952)–not because we only had to read the second half of the book or anything. Even though I had not seen a single James Dean before this one, I was wary of him. I was afraid that because James Dean is so hyped up, he may not live up to my expectations. Boy was I was wrong as he proved to be so much more than just a pretty face. Not to say that he completely blew me away like Marlon Brando did as Stanley Kowalski in The Streetcar Named Desire (1951) but I was pleasantly surprised and now look forward to watching Rebel Without A Cause. Here James Dean portrays Cal, who is the Cain of the story. Find the synopsis here.

Composers of My Life

Please tell me I am not the only one who listens to film soundtracks! I think the reason that I like to listen to them as much as I do is because they are so good at setting the atmosphere around me (very much like the tone of the film) and capable of triggering many memories of the scenes that have been assigned the song. Moreover they lack lyrics so soundtracks are not distracting at all–great for studying/reading/drawing/writing. FYI: I don't have Hans Zimmer here but his music makes studying intense. A. A. Rahman for dancing and parties! Because I am so bad at finding music myself, I usually rely on the guidance of others such as Jada for music suggestions or download playlists from Miss Moss or Unabashedly Prep and therefore am reluctant to be suggesting songs myself. However there are two tried and true composers that keeps me coming back to listening to their scores every time without fail. The two are Alexandre Desplat and Dario Marianelli, both Oscar-nominated composers who each boast impressive résumés. Here are some of my favourite soundtracks from the two. I tried to not let my opinion of the film itself cloud my judgement of the soundtrack but the logic here is that the soundtrack make a film significantly better than it already is, but most great films usually has awesome soundtracks.
From Desplat:
From Marianelli:


I know I had said I didn't want to talk about back to school items quite yet, but I am so in love with these sweaters. They came out a while ago but I can't think of anything better for the New England fall. I hope they fit well on a female frame! Go Gant.
Also to note for the immediate future, I want to finish a good prodigious number of posts before school rolls around in September so you might see multiple posts in day. *fingers crossed* Happy sweater hunting!

Photos from Pursuit Aesthetic. Video from Vimeo.

Prep I Ain't

  Nevertheless I still love a good Slim Aarons photo
Ever since I've fallen in love the PITA aesthetic (though first ivy then trad then americana and prep in that order), I feel like a wolf in sheep's clothing. Although I do love a good pair of go-to-hell pants, critter prints, madras shorts and top-siders, I know at heart I am no prep. In spite of the fact that I do somewhat fit the textbook definition of the word "preppy" in a way by attending boarding school and now attending a four year private liberal college on the East Coast but by no means am I a WASP and I sure as hell know that I cannot identify with preppy blogs (save for Unabashedly Prep which should be in a separate category of its own) nor bring myself to like all things pink and green by way of Lily Pulitzer. This leads to the question that is it possible to appreciate the aesthetics of a closely related style (namely ivy/trad) yet not care so much for the context from which the style arises? Would it be ironic to embrace a style that has social implications of elitism and wealth? I am not entirely comfortable with that idea, given the increasing plutocratic nature of society and the impending death of the middle class. In the end, I believe that if I were to completely disregard the connotations of said style then I will probably end up as a sad paradoxical joke of a person promoting an ideal that he/her does not identify with. This is an interesting subject to discuss at length and warrants a more detailed insight than this, but I suppose I have to make do with this for now. I hope to revisit this topic again in the future.


Sous La Mer


Though the preppier thing to do is to stay on water (either sailing or rowing), I decided to try my hand going down under. After a week's worth of chlorine, saltwater and a suntan later, I am finally a certified open water PADI diver! That was the reason why I have been away for the past week which feels incredibly long ago. Also I just finished my chem final a few hours earlier even though technically school ended a little more than a week ago. Too bad I forgot to ask someone to take photo of myself with all my gear on so there isn't one here.
I know some bloggers are already preparing back-to-school posts, but since I never really had much of a summer other than summer school so far, I really don't want to think about going back to school quite just yet. Let me savour the warmth of the sun and linger on the beach for a little longer?

And what would a nerd do at the beach without the ingenious summer beach towel + subscription combo from The Paris Review? I'll be getting mine here :)

Keep us. Guide us. To the end of time.

"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" Job 38:4,7 
I begin this post with the same words from where The Tree of Life (2011) began. This is slightly misleading because by no means is this a proper film review. Thankfully for those who have not seen the film yet this also means that there will be little to no spoilers hopefully unlike my last post on Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. For those who are looking for reviews, the New Yorker had a nice article on Terrence Malick and I found these two blogs who I think did the job rather nicely. I was reluctant to do this not only because I felt I was (and still am) thoroughly inadequate to do a film of this scale, but also because I had initially thought there wasn't much to talk about in terms of clothing. Mulling it over for the weeks after watching this film however, I did realize there is a little something to be said. I don't think this would be a film where we can take a literal translation from like An Education for example, but the austere focus of the clothes should be something everybody can appreciate.

The reason why I felt I would not be up to par to attempt this because I don't think I thoroughly understand the film myself. The film was ambitious in its undertaking, in its aim to try and related the passing of time to the pass of a man's life. Terrence Malick was rightly awarded the Palme d'Or in his attempt to capture "the struggle between nature and grace, the duality of man, the meaning of life, and a sense of understanding and reconciliation amidst the chaos and suffering of it all" (GoatMilkBlog) though I was wary of the film in the beginning because most of the time films that try to be intellectual and "deep" always end up with little depth and feel shallow and pretentious. This film, with its non-linear narrative sequence feels rather grandiose but manages to maintain the moral weight of the story throughout. I think there will never be a film that will sufficiently answer all of these theological questions within the 2-3 hour time frame, so I applaud Malick for attempting and to have come up with a fair, open-ended answer. For now, I don't think I will really discuss how religion works in here. I know a certain amount due to history and religion classes in high school, nonetheless I am a pragmatic agnostic who prefers G-D to stay out of my day-to-day business so I'll avoid the religious talk here. The meaning and role of it all will be open for your own interpretation. Nevertheless, it goes without saying that it does play a huge role within the narrative of the film, especially within the relationship with the father, mother and son.

For the clothes (finally!), I think what is to take away here is the utter practically of her clothes. That despite such practicality and frugalness and still be romantic without being overly matronly. Most often when we hear the the words frugal and austere in clothing, it conjures the image of stark and stiff black and white nun's habit. What Mrs O'Brien here shows that you just because you dress rather plainly and modestly, does not mean that you have to abandon all soft feminine characteristics. Her dress in this film is a great reminder that there is much beauty in simplicity and womanliness may lie more in the personal character than the actual state of dress. I look forward to seeing more of Jessica Chastain in the future, though she looks so much like Emily Browning and Gemma Artherton that I confuse them all with each other. This film might not be for everyone so I suggest see this only if you have nothing in particular to watch.

Images from Google. Drop Cap from Dailydropcap.com

O Muses, O high genius, aid me now

While having posts with lots of photos are fun and particularly easy to do, I want to write more again now that summer school will be officially over by Monday. The posts from 312, Helene, Lin, and Susie are so interesting that I want to create meaningful conversations just like they did in their writing. However the creative juices are not coming and I just can't bring myself to wax lyrical about fashion. I find myself no longer really obsessing over fashion the way I used to a few years ago, so I wonder if I had kind of outgrown it in a way and letting other things take precedence. There is a part of me that fears this because fashion has always been such a big defining part of me and I don't want this blog to turn into a online diary (I shudder at the Livejournal years). I do want to expand my scope and not talking strictly about the things I am going to wear for the day or the things I want to buy etc. etc. I know I will continue to struggle with ideas for the direction of the blog but for now, instead beating myself up about it further, I will log off now and go catch up on movies on my ever growing list of films-to-watch, which includes:
  1. Cave of Forgotten Dreams 3D
  2. Sleeping Beauty
  3. Crazy Stupid Love
  4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  5. Page One: Inside the New York Times
  6. Life, Above All

Also I just discovered this 30 day challenge to unplug this month at 8pm every work day but I plan to extend it to the weekend because I really do need to curb my internet addiction. Care to join me in this challenge?

The Restorative Powers of Walking

I love the ironic juxtaposition of the title of this post and the first two images. There should be some cardinal rule that dictates for the amount of time spent sitting blogging, there should be an equal amount dedicated to moving out and about outside en plein air.  Last Monday was British Columbia day so I got a day off, which was lovely and well timed. These are some photos I took from fiddling around with the settings on my sister's point and shooter. I usually dislike over-saturated photos, but for the first time I love how insanely supersaturated these photos are. They leave a cloyingly sweet aftertaste like artificially flavoured and coloured Popsicles, which to me was the epitome of summer when I was a kid. This is like the last full week of summer school left so I can't wait finally start finishing my list of things to do this summer, though woefully behind some productive bloggers such as One Sleepless Night here. No matter, as I fully intend to make the most of the summer left until school begins in the fall. In celebration of B.C. day, I would like to list some fellow awesome and creative Vancouverites and I'm sure you'll love them as much as I do:

Food Day Canada

Did I ask a friend who just finished studying abroad at Copanhagen whether she paid a visit to Noma or not? Yes. Am I really a foodie? No. The fact that each of our relationship with food is deeply personal, rife with memories and feelings should make us care all the more about food. Yet somehow, if you give an ounce of care what you put into your mouth, you are marginalized as a "foodie", a word that carries negative connotation as someone out of touch with the average person's eating habits and budget. Nevertheless I am still confused on how hard can it be to follow Mark Bittman's and Michael Pollan's simple advice on eating? Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. It really is that simple, if you look at traditionally healthy diets such as the Mediterranean diet to the Okinawan diet who are all essentially the same in perspective and their use of whole ingredients and vegetables. It doesn't have to be necessarily organic or local. But it has been proven against conventional wisdom that the produce at local farmer's market can be a whole lot cheaper than anything you will find at giant retailers.

Trying to heed my own advice, after a wonderful lunch with family at a golf course in Richmond (my uncle being an avid golfer), we headed to a nearby farmer's market. The place looked idyllic with it's wide variety of local produces and beautiful little farm. My little cousin sure enjoyed playing with the chicken and the goats. Are all cows this adorable? I wish I could forgo all meat (especially after watching Food Inc.) but why must beef carpaccios be so delicious and so hard to resist, I don't know but my stomach grumbles in response.

The day ended quite nicely with a dinner at Yew, the restaurant at Four Season downtown, which sounds rather expensive but in reality is not because of the sable fish three-course special for $35. To wrap up the food theme for today, here are some food blogs that I read quite often:
And of course, some fabulous videos of famous chefs and restaurants from Nowness here. Here's a toast for a fabulous week, an awesome last month of summer before school, and happy B.C. day for those who live in beautiful British Columbia (as noted on our license plates).