The Countdown Begins

So April's over and it's already the last week of school. The weather has gotten much colder so that plus the prospect of exams ahead has put a damper on things for the moment. I still haven't decided what to pack since I have to pack for a variety of events. I don't know whether I should bring a big suitcase or a smaller one, but thankfully they are quite portable complete with extendable handles and a set of wheels on both.  I found the following from Mr. Porter, so it's primarily for men, but I think it would still do quite nicely for the ladies too, don't ya think?

I'll be signing off from the blog until my exams end, but I have a good nine days between the end of my exams and before I go to Greece so rest assured I will have time. Catch up on my favourite blogs in the meantime and until then...

La Nostalgie

These were actually taken a while back for the September 2011 issue of Numéro China by Vincent Peters starring Du Juan and Tim Lim but I came across and fell in love with them again. I can stare at them forever. Somehow 1920s Shanghai (though these feel like they were shot in Hong Kong) is my favourite time period of style and dress along with the late 1950s-1960s Ivy/Trad style of the US. Everything here feels so glamourous and sultry – any picture could have been a screen shot of Ang Lee's Lust, Caution (edit: and also Wong Kar Wai's In the Mood for Love, don't know how I managed to leave that out). It helps that Du's absolutely gorgeous and is one of my most favourite models of all time.
I found an interesting read on Slate on the topic of the cycle of nostalgia, which I found most informative but not at all that surprising. It doesn't make sense for me to reminisce on a time period when my grandparents were just toddlers but it doesn't make it any less fascinating. I'm pretty sure it's a case of looking at things with seriously rose tinted glasses since we focus on so much of what is easy to grasp, namely the aesthetics, rather than framing things properly in their own cultural context. Though I would love to borrow the styles of yesteryear, I'm constantly worried about misappropriating certain things and   whether what I've done would have considered to be in poor taste. Perhaps what is most important is the mindset with which you approach it, since you have the decency of cultural sensitivity.
On another note, I've been thinking about just how cool it would be to have a set of qipao uniforms. My friend showed me a photo of her friend in China, who wears her cheongsam like they were a pair of ordinary jeans; she looks so comfortable and natural in them that she doesn't look out of place at all. Finding simple, slightly looser fitting but not dowdy, non-china-doll-sex-fetishy feeling qipao or cheongsam will be hard to find if they are not custom made but it's something I'm going to keep in mind for the future. Another item that I would like to possess is a light white cotton shirt with a mandarin collar, but that won't be easy to find stateside. Either way, I guess my Chinese roots will show.


Gearing Up for Greece

Sorry with all the spotty posting this month so far. School's gearing up to finish (only nine more days of classes, which is CRAY CRAY) and it's amazing how schoolwork and stress never fails to snowball. To be honest, maybe it's all the work that has been distracting me so far, but blogging "fashion" in general has fallen way down my on my list of priorities. I also haven't been reading many blogs as of late, period. However I would like to attribute more of that to me not buying anything at all and also to learning to streamline my wardrobe for the past month.

What is on the top of my list of priorities is gearing up and preparing for my two month long seminar/internship in Greece this summer. There's some paperwork left to be done, a few bikinis and a pair of good hiking shoes left to buy, but otherwise that's all that's left between me and sweet beaches of Santorini and Chania. Though I would like to stop buying things and save some for couch surfing weekend trips with a couple of girlfriends, I think I might have to re-evaluate my summer wardrobe since I just realised I have very few clothing that's suitable to hot coastal Mediterranean summer weather. For inspiration, I look towards À nos amours, a 1983 Maurice Pialat film about a promiscuous 15-year old Suzanne, who is wonderfully portrayed by a super talented Sandrine Bonnaire. It's a fantastic film that I urge all to see; what really caught my eye in the film is the timeless-ness of the Suzanne's wardrobe. Perhaps its due to the cyclical nature of fashion, I had thought the film was recently shot in the past decade. What's more is that the light cotton layers she wears throughout the film is pretty much ideal to what I should wear to Greece (plus pastels is a hot Spring 2012 trend,  though when wasn't it? *faceplam*). I welcome (and am in sorely need of insight) advice from anyone who has been to Greece or anywhere with similar sort of weather in the area for what to wear and expect. I grew up in Hong Kong so I'm no stranger to high humidity and heat. Meanwhile I'll be reading Athen's Guide, word for word.

Friday Blues

I like mixing it up with a formal top like an OCBD with a casual bottom like a raggedy pair of "boyfriend" cut jeans and sneakers. Always a fun combo. Happy 420.

The End of the 15-30 Project + Other Things

Yesterday marked the end of a month long project started by Sam (along with some others) "to create a better understanding of our own personal style while creating a culture that doesn’t rely on buying recklessly and disposing quickly". While I kinda uh, failed to religiously document what I wore everyday, I am happy to report that not only is a curated wardrobe of fifteen pieces feasible but also not all that difficult. That said, it was not without the effort of initially paring the number of pieces down to just fifteen. There were times within the month when I was tempted to buy some things (especially with all those school trips to Boston and to NYC of all places) but I've resisted and emerged with my wallet unscathed. Fighting the temptation for novelty is not easy, but it's possible! Maybe I should add a small caveat that it is plausible the reason I found things easier was because I was dressing mostly for class and not for work, but either way I'm sure you can find other bloggers who has finished the project and are part of the working force as well.

And while I'm still on this tangent arguing against impulsive shopping and a return to "slow fashion", I've read a slew of articles recently that seems to prove my point that there is already a growing effort to go back to "slow fashion". The article I read from NY Mag examines the "twee" artisanal culture that is currently flourishing in "hipster" neighbourhoods in places like Brooklyn. Naysayers may argue that all these different artisanal products (meaning locally sourced, most likely handmade) are only for the privileged, a select few who can afford beautifully wrapped $8 Mast Brothers chocolate bars while many others are still unemployed and living on food stamps. I do agree with this since it's unlikely this will be available for your average consumer and it's against the nature the artisanal industry to produce things en masse anyway. I do beg to differ in that perhaps the growing awareness to artisans and their crafts with publications like Kinfolk and popular shopping communities like Etsy for example, will push things towards a tipping point in trickling into the mainstream collective consciousness, which will in turn increase overall demand for high quality and sustainable goods. The reason now why such products as expensive as it is, is most likely due to the fact there are the number of such artisanal businesses aren't that big to begin with. Currently each small firm is a dominant player in their particular niche but with the heightened public awareness, ideally then more businesses in will open up in respond to demand that will lower the cost of the products across the board.

One only needs to look to Japan to see that the culture of small artisanal businesses can not only thrive but can also be sustainable. Nothing's perfect as Japan is still experiencing deflation and has a bear economy for quite a while since the 90s now, nevertheless it does show there is a long-term interest for high quality goods is there and will remain. Many Japanese designers and brands have been featured in foreign publications i.e. Canadian magazine Inventoryfurther demonstrates that in our globalised economy, the customer base can only increase. Hopefully this little tidbit of mine can mollify those who worry that fast fashion will dominate fashion entirely; as factory-made, mass produced goods continue to exist, there will always be a reactionary backlash in the form of the artisanal goods. The appreciation for well crafted goods will never go away. High quality yet also affordable products seems like a far-fetched combination right now but we'll be getting there, eventually. Ultimately we should not discount the possibility that technology may improve so much that high quality goods can be sustainably mass-produced. Until then only time can tell.

Another Weekend in Boston

There was another museum trip again this Saturday to Boston, with my fellow college mates and colleagues from working at the school museum. We went to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, who opened in January 2012 with a new wing designed by Renzo Piano. I thought it was very interesting to see another Renzo Piano museum work after seeing another of his work at the Morgan Library and Museum. The courtyard in the Gardner Museum was definitely jaw-droppingly beautiful––the sad thing is that taking pictures are not allowed but thankfully I snuck two in before the guards stopped me ("but I don't see any sign that said no photography!"). I recommend going to the Gardner museum should you find yourself in Boston since it's WAY cheaper than the $20 that MFA charges for students. So glad the school paid for the two museum trips as of late (food included, YERSSS *fist pumps*). I went to Chipotle for the first time ever––how does one even finish a full burrito is beyond me.

The weather for both Saturday and Sunday was also unbelievably gorgeous. I love late spring weather.

And since I was already in Boston and my college friends were free (why don't I get Patriots' Day too?!), I thought I might just stick around Wellesley again for the night. I wrote a lengthy piece on Friday afternoon but I'm still not fully satisfied with it so I'll be rewriting it for another time soon in the future hopefully. Hope everybody had a wonderful weekend and if you're running in the Boston Marathon tomorrow, good luck! My friends at Wellesley will send you many kisses. Hee.

P.S. Thank you Jada for sending me a mixtape as a birthday present. Girl has seriously good taste in music.

Details of the In Betweens

Sam asked for some detail shots of the coat I wore in my last 'A School Trip' post and I'm more than happy to oblige. Maybe she's not the only one that's interested. I was lucky to get this on sale a little more than a year ago at Club Monaco...who now has an online store, finally (and so does Phillip Lim too FYI)! It's strange to see just how slow the fashion world is at jumping on the e-commerce bandwagon. You can buy your groceries online but not a pair of shorts? That's just bizarre to me.
The coat above has become an important staple of the wardrobe along with the other pseudo-varsity jacket below and both are my go-to jackets during the transition seasons of fall and spring. They make for easy layering, which is the thing to look for when trying to buy clothing for such weather.

And here are two nail polishes I can't wait to try this spring that were birthday presents from my lovely aunt. Distracted by all the sparkle of Deborah Lippmann's nail polishes, I haven't tried my OPIs in months. I'm dying to get my hands on those Pantone x Sephora nail polishes as well and let me know if you've tried them already! Ok now back to studyin'...

A School Trip

Yesterday we took a trip out to Peabody Essex Museum in Salem and the MFA in Boston for my East Asian art history class. My great fall transition coat got it's time in the sun again this spring. I have been loving the in-between weather. I haven't been to an art museum with somebody in a long time. That's why I thought it was pleasantly amusing to have argue for the first time over what to see first. Great art, good company and yummy food was involved. It's the little things that count. Happy Easter.

Mad for Mad Men

One of my midterms got pushed back for a few days, so I finally got a brief respite from studying to post something substantial. If you didn't know Mad Men finally returned for season five on AMC two weeks ago, you must have been living under a rock (...or you just don't live in USA, duh). Regardless, I'm so happy season five is back on air and though I have yet to find the time to watch it right now, my friends and I have been trying to squeeze as much precious time we have left aside from studying to re-watch past seasons and refresh our memories. The series has managed to heavily influence my aesthetics again just by rewatching past episodes, from making me want to smoke even when I'm not a smoker to buying several Revlon lipsticks just so I can feel like Betty Draper for a few short glamourous seconds. God knows how much I've missed the show and I can't watch season five AND Game of Thrones. I feel so spoiled for choice after the whole dry spell after Sherlock and Downtown Abbey finished airing. Bet you all know what I'll be marathoning through the second my midterms are over. Anyway, I wanted to share some of these wonderful behind the scene photos of Mad Men by James Minchin III that I found both humourous and aesthetically inspirational. Hopefully you will too.