Notes from January

I'm kind of liking all these monthly wrap up posts I have been doing lately since November so I think I will be doing these, ooh, pretty much every month from now on. Granted though, this post will not be nearly as comprehensive as the previous posts, since I did a lot of traveling recently, which is not conducive at all to mindless internet browsing. So here it goes:
  • There's not just one but two extremely helpful study tips posts on the Art of Manliness (yes I am a teenage girl and I read a blog with such name but then again my own blog more or less explains why)
  • My dear blogger friends' responses to my tag: Hila, E'Clair, Katrina (in the comments), Jada...oh crap these are the only ones that I remember at the top of my head, but please dear friends let me know and I will be post ze links.
  • My dad just emailed me an article from the NYTimes on how the money from tourism is changing Cambodian's lives for the better (via higher education). I felt bad as tourist disrupting the lives of the local people just for the sake of my curiosity and sense of adventure, but I guess it wasn't all that bad in hindsight for the people. I teared up after reading this. 
  • I went to go see The Artist (2011) in the awkward festive days between Christmas and New Year's Eve, and it SO GOOD. Gahhhhh. Please go see this for the little romantic soul within us all. NOW. A fashion-in-film post will be posted for it hopefully this week. 
And that's about it for the month suppose! I was planning to start a #Menswear Monday feature however I guess I'll wait until February rolls along and start in a new month. I'll be introducing menswear style icon that will inspire might help inspire those who are stuck in a fashion rut (namely moi). Also I'm a realizing what a bad fashion blogger I have been in not talking about the Pitti trade shows and Spring 2012 Haute Couture shows + etc BUT all that shall change as I arranged time to get a few posts about them in before the craziness that is fashion week starts from mid-February to early March.

My Date with Teresa

During my short stay in HK, I met up with Teresa to just hang out and chill in coffee shops and go check out Jack Wills. Even though we've never met before (in person), we have so much in common that we never ran out of topics to talk about. This is why I officially have to announce that I just LOVE LOVE blogger meetups, because it's just so much fun. I know people aren't suppose to meet up with strangers that you've online (how sketch does that sound) but I don't know––all my experiences have been great so far. But of course you have to be on your guard to make sure that the person you're meeting is not a 40 year-old pedophile and my advice would be to meet them in open busy public spaces.

She was sweet enough to take me to Jack Wills, which I have been dying to see ever since I broke up with Brooks Brothers (LOL I can't believe I wrote that). The store was HUGE and had plenty of stuff to browse through I have to say I was a tad disappointed since I was so in love with the handbook catalog and their campaign for this season. I reckon this was just a case of idealizing something so much in your mind that when you see the thing/person in real life, it never really quite matches its unrealistic perfect image in your mind. There were a lot more sweats and hoodie that I had imagined, which gave off a kind of A&F vibe––adding more disappointment to it all. Then again, Teresa duly informed me that apparently a lot of HK folk are still salivating after the brands which no one should touch after middle school (A&F, Hollister, etc etc), so I do get why Jack Wills included the sweats there. I have yet to understand though why HK folks are so in love with overpriced jeans and hoodies à la A&F and company when you've got such awesome stores such as MUJI and UNIQLO everywhere. Can we switch places people?

We later head to Dai Haang (which is in between Tin Hau and Causeway Bay) where there were a ton of cute of little eating places around. Our first pick for a café that was out of the way and really really obscure with impossible hours, and wasn't open when we got there. However our second pick of a café was still pretty good regardless (it just means that we have to make a trip next time to go to our first choice I suppose Teresa), and had crazy awesome decor like hanging teapots and cups for lights. Both my cup of cappuccino and Teresa's hot chocolate were delish, and we shared a creamy caramel thing (I'm blanking on the French name of the dessert snack) which was equally fantastic. It's too bad I don't remember the name of the café but you can see the iconic lights from the shop window so you can't miss it.

Lastly to end, almost as if its proof of how much we have in common, we wore similar things to meet up with each other. I forgot to take a pic of what I was wearing that day, but it was my red breton stripe top with boyfriend jeans paired with my old oxfords in the vein of Paloma from The Hedgehog. Teresa has seriously good taste and here is a link for all things creative in HK that she shared me which I liked. Thanks for meeting up with me Teresa and hopefully I'll see you again soon!

Also before I forget again, yesterday was the blog's first birthday! Happy birthday blog!!! *pats monitor* Thank you everybody for such a great year and here's to many many more to come. Most bloggers give grand giveaways for their blog's birthdays but sadly I'm just an ordinary college girl with no budget to spare :( Hopefully in the future I'll find something great for people to win.

Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat

Top, Pants, UNIQLO. Brogues, Aldo. Bag, Dad's.
Can I please get brownie points for the most hardworking outfit photo of 2012? A lot of blood (mosquito bites), toil (the climbing), sweat (from wearing pants and a long sleeved shirt in a tropical climate) and tears (eyes watery to the dust) was poured to climb the steps of the near thousand year old Baphuon (which wasn't illegal no worries). Who knew I had the monkey in me? Anyway, since Dad misread the weather report (how nice to blame someone else for everything), the clothes I packed were more suitable for temperatures a few important degrees lower. I ended up also taking the words of the guide book literally when it said 'wear modest clothing at temples' by covering my self entirely. I was worried that the exposing my knees by wearing my ONE pair of shorts that I packed would be a little too scandalous for the monks to handle. It turns out that the (one or two) monks that were around the grounds could not give a damn, suggested by their indifferent looks as they gazed absentmindedly upon some pasty Europeans in their tanks and shorts, huffing and puffing their way up and down the temple stairs. I don't know why I so worried over this as my pair of shorts were of the more the Bermuda-y conservative kind anyway, which was what I wore everyday afterwards until we left Siem Reap. Apologies for my belated since who knew my internet connection in Cambodia would be better than the one in Singapore (at least in my hotel)? So my advice is to try to be respectful as possible but wearing such long layers in such a hot place can be a serious overkill for the unadjusted (me as Exhibit A, who had long since acclimated to the much cooler and drier temperatures of New England). Thank god for coconuts bigger than the size of my head to quench and soothe the dehydrated and overheated self.

The Robes of Buddhist Monks

Recall that the colour orange is my favourite of the moment and its siblings, deep yellow among others, and while this is kind of a random post to some, I can't help but notice the deep rich colours of the monks robes. At first I thought the photos of monks sitting at the temple ruins were more of a photo opp for guidebooks and publicity, but there really are monks around. They stand out anyway because they dress in such bright colours from head to toe but you could say I'm entirely mesmerized regardless by the wonderful flowing robes in such a gorgeous colour. It's hard to believe that the robes were made from (at least supposedly and traditionally) with discarded fabrics that no one wanted since the robes look so fresh and clean. I had a hard time finding out what the different shades of the robes from saffron yellow to a brown ochre mean (some sites say city monks vs. forest monks or different sects, but I don't know what to believe in). If you happen to know I'll deeply appreciate you telling me, but meanwhile we should all just admire the beauty and simplicity of the monks' habit. It's my last night in Siem Reap, and I don't want to leave just yet. I have a one day layover in Singapore the day after tomorrow so expect a ton of material posted here and on Flickr real soon. A small batch of photos of monks that I took on Bakheng is now uploaded on Flickr for all to see. Hope you will like them as much as I liked watching the sun go down on Bakheng (see below)!

The Sunrise at Angkor Wat


I haven't felt quite so drained...since I stopped doing crew. I meant to update and check in with you lovely people earlier but after an entire day of walking around thousand year old temples in the hot humid weather, all I want to do once I enter into the hotel room is to plonk down on my bed and pass out. Which I did. Anyway, I managed to find some spare energy this evening even though I did get up at the crack of dawn this morning to go see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. There is only a small batch of photos right now on Flickr, but I'll be adding more as I go along (and perhaps even tomorrow morning!). This, of course, includes way more detailed posts with more writing soon. I'm thinking that the future posts will be organized by different themes around a central subject/idea and not so much in a day-to-day diary format. Hint: Though Angkor Wat is incredibly beautiful, majestic and breathtaking, its not my favourite temple yet.

C for Cambodia

Photo by Dataichi
For the next few days I will be around Siem Reap and taking in all beautiful historical wonders the area has to offer. I didn't manage to write enough posts to be scheduled over the course of the next week, so I will be bringing my computer with me. It'll be a great opportunity to flex those photography muscles. The bulk of the photos will probably be on Flickr and though I will be posting some here, they're not going to be too fashion-oriented in general (though I believe Dad won't mind taking some outfit photos for me while we're there).

So I Died and Went to Basics Heaven

What did I do to deserve this? I've always paid attention to UNIQLO ever since they had a collaboration with Phillip Lim but I thought their merchandise in HK was rather mehhhhh at best. And now 1.5 years later back in HK, holy freakin' cow I lurve everything (almost). Even my dad, a self-proclaimed Muji fanboy, jumped onto the UNIQLO ship and has been raving about their inexpensive but well made clothing non-stop. I think someone must have read my mind, but I was looking for a replacement for my now ripped and thoroughly worn out J-Crew striped shirt of four years, and voilà look at all the choices I have! I took this opportunity to replace some other wardrobe essentials that had served me well but now have to be retired because they're also similarly worn to death. I managed to grab two stripped shirts in navy and red and two pairs of skinnies in navy and black. It all sounds rather boring and drab but I'm excited since I just know that these will be major future workhorses of the wardrobe in the future :D I can go on and on about the label and its philosophy but perhaps it's best that people should read GQ's fabulous interview with its founder and CEO, Tadashi Yanai, for themselves since it's more insightful and in depth than whatever observations as a mere consumer with an internet connection can make. I can't wait to see just how this brand will grow, evolve and expand over the next few years.

Alone in Mongkok

Photo taken purely by chance (HEHE how convenient), the main entrance to the mall
So I'm finally back in the city after being almost two years away and everything has been...well disorienting would be the most accurate word in describing not just how I feel being jet-lagged and all, but also how the city feels in general. The Hong Kong fashion blogosphere blossomed and grew tremendously in 2011, and while such #HKbloggers (Superwowomg, T Like Bubble Tea, Carmen Chan, Sam is Home are few that instantly comes to mind) provide excellent coverage of all chic and chi chi in the city, the scope is still a little too narrow to paint a fuller picture of HK as I'd like. Given that it's pretty much impossible just because it's such a big city of more than eight million calling it home, I thought it's still worth a try and so I'm going take a (few) stab at it while I'm here on my own. Take that Cathy Horyn! I've been interested in more of the decidedly un-glamourous underbelly of the local fashion scene anyway. In my search for familiarity within the city and in want of original material to blog, I found my way back to Mongkok, over on the Kowloon side's Argyle Center, which was my Forever 21 back in ye olde days if it ran on steroids.

The photos aren't the best due to several factors, which includes the fact that this is the first time I've use the camera and that I tried to take the shots as quickly as possible to get out of people's way. While I get why store owners would be annoyed easily if someone is obstructing their business (I'm just trying to get food on the table and pay the bills YO), some can be just downright mean for no real reason. Thankfully I avoided getting yelled at but the quality of the photos are compromised as a result.

The mall is extremely small and cramped, with the merchandise piled high on top of another. Music ranging from the Billboard Top 20 to local C-Poppy and K-Boppy tunes is blared from multiple speakers of the different stores. The ceilings are low and bright lights flash from every corner. Sensory overload much? I should probably also add that the there is only really one size for all the clothing and that there are no changing rooms. Everything sold in the mall is cheap, of horrendous quality and super trendy––essentially everything I am against. So why is it worth a visit? Even though I will never buy anything from the place nowadays, the place is where the average female teenager can go to keep up with the trends. The mall has managed to thrive in the face of big name competitors such as H&M and Zara in the city, most probably because of the sheer amount and range of items they are able to sell for unbeatable prices and how the merchandise of each store can change over the course of a single day. The amount of variety guarantees wide appeal and the sensitivity to the fickle tastes of young females all over ensures that something would sell at the end of day (I imagine if it senses something that doesn't sell, owners of each store (more like stalls if you ask me) will remove it promptly for something that will). The reigning fashion bible of the city continues to be the Japanese magazine Vivi and thus snippets and different tear outs of the editorials can be found plastered all over the place so that it can be copied down to a tee.

At the end of the day, I think this place is great place because one can test out what works and what doesn't at a minimal cost before committing to the real deal. It is a given that no one should actually attempt to build a wardrobe with the pieces here and I doubt that's what people have in mind when they shop here. The (generally) young and experimental demographic that stores attract reflects this idea. The stores are really quite harmless, if you treat as a kind of a fashion fast food meal that is palatable and small doses.

Friday Favourites VII

I'll be leaving Vancouver to Hong Kong early tomorrow, but before then, here's some more Kinfolk lovin'. I did say I want to make videos too along with taking my own photos. Two talented couples by the names of Matt and Julie of Tiger in a Jar, and Andrew and Carissa of Andrew+Carissa have basically mastered the art of making videos and are utterly worthy of imitation.

By Laura D'art, Mitchell Thorson and Andrew Gallo

And before I head on east let me end on a hilarious note of a video I saw on Badlands from Jalouse Magazine. Until the next post, I'll see everybody in HK.

The Kinfolk Aesthetic

Photos from Pennyweight
I begin reluctantly...not because I don't want to share my findings on the net, but because I kind of swore to post only original content not only once but twice. Le sigh. But if there was one thing that influenced me immensely and permeated every artistic fiber in my being in 2011, it would be the magazine, Kinfolk. The magazine is created by a whole bunch of different creative types: writers, photographers, name it. Even so, there is a clear aesthetic running through each issue (it recently released the second volume and on its third) and stays consistent throughout each article and photos. The magazine feels wholesome and organic in a very hipster Pacific Northwest way and I'm half obsessing and half spazzing over everything. There is also a kind of clean, calm wabi-sabi touch. I'm not new to the camera (there were summer camps in the past spent in dark rooms) but it's been a while and I need to relearn a lot of things all over again. I believe in learning from the masters, or here the pros, and these are the kind of photographs that I would love to take even if I am no longer using film. Even though it will take me a long long time to have my photographs to even remotely resemble these, the pictures here represent the kind of aesthetic I hope to achieve. Perhaps in the long run I'll go find and do my 'own thing' but meanwhile I'll be learning from Kinfolk. Also people should check out Brian Ferry's and Amanda Jones' (other contributors) photos too!

Irene Adler's Wardrobe

I'm not sure if everybody caught the second season premiere of Sherlock, BBC's modern take on Sherlock Holmes. It's an utterly fantastic show that I definitely recommend anyone to check out while they wait for Downton Abbey. There's only three episodes per season so it's not going to take long to catch up. Also for Doctor Who fans, this show is written and created by Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss.

The newest episode is titled "A Scandal in Belgravia" and if you know your Victorian detective novels, then you would know this was based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Scandal in Bohemia in which Irene Adler appears. No worries for spoilers here as only her wardrobe will be featured in this post. Let's just say that Benedict Cumberbatch blows my mind with his acting and delivery. Brilliant stuff. In spite of Cumberbatch's brilliance, he did not manage to distract me from noticing how gorgeous Irene Adler's wardrobe is. Portrayed by Lara Pulver (who I could not believe was the horrible fairy godmother in True Blood but no worries she's good here), she was utterly spellbinding and super seductive and intriguing. Not going to say anything more about her character, but I totally dig the modern Irene Adler. Rachel McAdam's version is down right embarrassing in comparison. Also did I mention that she is always perfectly coiffed?

Screencaps from Demon Cry

Resolutions for 2012

At first I thought about just writing them for myself and keeping it private, but hey why not disclose them as it gives a somewhat brief overview of what the blog will be like in the upcoming year. These are all blog-specific as the personal ones are a little too personal to share and also boring to boot, since it's the same "stop procrastinating" and "work out more" spiel every freaking year. I have read your comments from before and already have those in mind.
This year I aim to...
  • diversify content through different types of media, i.e. include drawings, videos
  • use more original images (will get to it once I have hands on my pretty shiny new camera)
  • go and take up on Cathy Horyn's challenge to go seek new original material
  • physically get up and out more to cover different topics
  • always try to write from different point of view 
  • learn to say no to companies looking for sponsored anything without seeing the actual product myself (I have been pretty good at this for the past year, but it never hurts to reinforce and reiterate it again)
  • leave more thoughtful comments on other people's blogs
  • stop whining publicly via Twitter
  • reply to comments and emails more promptly (instead of staring at them for hours or even days before I do, currently)
  • don't create filler posts (each post should have its own point)
  • be more consistent in the timing of each post
  • stop changing the template every now and then (focus on the content instead of the packaging!) 
  • take regular breaks from the blog and unplug from time to time should I need to (burnouts and minor mental breakdowns are no good to anybody)
  • learn how to properly utilize social media such as Twitter + Facebook
  • keep an open mind for anything
  • be proactive in approaching other bloggers, like for ex. guest posts
  • don't preach
  • take more care in proofreading each post (bad grammar kills!)
  • beware of the fine line between being critical and just plain harsh
  • be positive! (generally speaking, just not in fake saccharine way)
Maybe we could revisit these at the end of the year to see if I managed to keep them through for the entirety of the year. In the end, I know I will not be a "professional fashion blogger", but if I am going to do this, might as well try and do it well?  
This post was inspired by Little Chief Honeybee.