March 31, 2006

Tea at Laduree, Harrods

Last week when Barneys Girl came to London, we decided we wanted to have tea before shopping around Knightsbridge. We really wanted to have tea at Ritz, but alas, we booked too late. So we settled for having tea at Laduree at Harrods. According to my yahooing, Laduree is a famous Pairsian tearoom which only opened in Harrods last year.

We've had our tea English style and Chinese style before, but never French style, so we were pretty excited to see what the differences were.The differences apparently were that the waiter was forgetful and not the most polite man I have met. The layout of the tearoom wasn't that great either -our table was situated under a staircase! I felt sort of cramped up there.

The food was good though. Barneys Girl ordered this caramel cream cake-like thing and a hot chocolate. Her chocolate drink was actually pretty interesting -it came in a tiny jug of rich chocolate liquid and a little bowl of cream. She was supposed to pour the choc liquid into the cup and mix in some cream. It looked delicious, but understandably, BG thought it was too rich for her taste. So it's def not for people who can't stand serious sweet stuff!

I decided to try the famous French tea food, macaroons with my tea. From what I can tell (and taste), macaroons are basically an outer layer of dry sugar with a thick layer of sticky, semi-liquid sweetness inside. The ones I had were of flavours vanilla, caramel, rose-petal and berry fruit. I know some people think it's too sweet, but I personally really liked them.

Having tea the French way was fun, but perhaps we will stick to English tea next time, (and it will also mean less of a headache to read menus that contain only one language!)

SS06 Fashion Trend: Haute Ballerina

A few days ago when I was shopping in Marc by Marc Jacobs, I noticed at the outfit on one of the Marc salesgirls: she was wearing a shirt dress (as shown in picture above) and had two shirts layered underneath. Also, she had on black glittery eye shadow and mascara, which made her look more 'cool' than 'girly'. I LOVED this look, which I like to call the Haute Ballerina look.

Taking inspiration from the Marc SS06 runway, the first thing you must have are the layering shirts. Buy these cheap from high street stores and make sure you buy both long-sleeves and mid-sleeves ones.
The ones shown in the picture above is from Urban Outfitters. I have also seen a lot at H&M, (even the colors looked suspiciously like the pastel yellow, blue and pink that Gemma is wearing in the picture.)

Next buy some tights -available in footless and down-to-the-feet versions. Unless you have extra skinny legs, don't buy horizontally-striped tights. The ones shown in the pictures are from Urban Outfitters, just so you don't have to splurge on Marc tights.

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If you like the look on the left, then buy this Marc jersey dress (or go find similar ones.)

These two Marc runway looks are a bit more girly and summery than the first two, (maybe it's just the color.) Anyways, tying a sash around the waist is a great way to accessorise and makes the two layers seem more cohesive.
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To recreate the look on the right, buy camisoles that bunch up at the chest area, like this one from Urban Outfitters.

And if all the dresses and ruffles are too girly for you, recreate this haute ballerina look with the oh-so-trendy skinny jeans -that's probably where this whole tights trend spinned out anyways! Don't just wear a camisole with jeans though, you must wear layering Tees with them.

March 29, 2006

Short Hair

After having the same hairstyle for the last 5 years, I was ready for something new. At first, I thought I'd try a shorter hairstyle. Short short hair a la Sienna Miller and Kiera Knightley was suggested.

But as effortlessly chic as they look, it is just a little bit too daring for me. In the end, inspiration came in the form of . . SHOCK. . . Nicole Richie!

She's not exactly my fashion icon, but one must admit that she does look good with short layered kind of bob hairstyle (and her outfits are vastly improved thanks to Rachel Zoe). And the length is just perfect, since its short enough to be different but not so short as to be too shocking to my delicate constitution. There is also such flexibility, as her hair looks great natural, straight AND curly (although not everyone has a personal hairstylist at their disposal all the time).

Alas, Vince, my fabulous hairdresser at the Aveda salon London, made me see the error in my logic.

a) Her face shape is small and angular, so it does not suit all face shapes. I have an oval shaped face, so technically I should fit everything, but I'm still a bit skeptical about it. . .

b) But more importantly, she's blonde and has highlights, which gives the hairstyle texture and shape. If you, like me, are not blonde and have very defined highlights, then the haircut will just turn out to be a boring bob despite all the layerings. Such wisdom. (Note that Sienna and Kiera also has highlights to define their hairstyle)

In the end, Vince layered my hair a LOT, giving it more texture and movement, while keeping it long. Then, he straightened my hair with a flat iron. The end result was sleek and fun. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE my new hair style. Its different but still very me. Unfortunately, the difference is less prominent naturally. Now I'm actually considering permanently straightened so I can look sleek and fabulous everyday!

My shoes for SS06

As a smart shopper who also strives to be fashionable (which is no easy feat I tell you!) it is ever important to pay attention to accessories. Afterall, we live in the times when our clothes can come from just any high street stores, but the accessories must be from an original designer and somewhat this season. So the rule of thumb is to splurge on ONE pair of shoes and ONE bag each season.

At the beginning of this season, I was 80% sure I wanted a pair of brown leather platforms. Kind of like this pair of Chloes, except not as high for practicality's sake.

But then I realised that these brown leather platforms only look good only if they were 4 inches high, so then I fancied some colorful sandals to go with this season's neautral color clothes, like this pair of green sandals by Marc by Marc Jacobs.

Next, I was swayed by the cutest Marc by Marc Jacobs ballet shoes. I've been waiting for such ballet flats which have elastic straps for a few seasons already, and finally designers are making them! But at US$295, are they really worth it?

No they weren't, maybe I'll wait for them to go on sale. Next I tried on this pair of sandals by Top Shop. Totally fashionable, affordable, and after trying them on, they actually look good on one's feet! Sounds good right? The problem was that the straps sort of scrape against the back of my ankles when I walk, and so I sadly left them.

Yesterday, my first full day back to Hong Kong, I visited Miu Miu. While my mum was making a decision whether to buy a gold bag, I was doing what else -trying on shoes of course!

I am totally in LOVE with this pair of platforms (as seen in the top picture in gold) except I want them in white (the color shown in the bottom half of the picture.) These platforms are about 3 inches high but they are AMAZINGLY comfortable -I would say even more comfortable than my 1 inch Marc shoes. Not to mention they look BEAUTIFUL when I wore them, (you know how some shoes just don't really seem right on your feet? Well these totally felt right!)
I also love this pair of seriously glittery platforms. My only concern is that I would NOT feel as comfortable wearing such shiny shoes during daytime. BUT the glitter, patent leather and color combination DOES make them more fabulous than the patent leather ones on top.

So here's my dilema: which pair of Miu Mius should I get as my shoe this season:
1. White patent leather platforms.
2. The same patent leather platforms but wait for gold ones to arrive in store (as seen in top picture) since gold IS more versatile than white.
3. The seriously glittery and fabulous ones.
4. Find something else from another shop.


March 28, 2006

Fashion: London vs US

After hearing so much about shopping in London, last week I finally got to see for myself what it is all really about. And let me say, fashion in London is both exhilarating and depressing. Exhilarating because everything is so much more funky, cool and interesting than in the US. Fashion in the US is simply much more plain and casual.

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A good example of this is Ella Moss. The clothes they show of Ella Moss in US stores (left) just doesn't do justice to her! At this fabulous store that sells mixed brands called Brown Focus they sold some gorgeous Ella Moss creations that were intricate, innovative and cute (right-although this is perhaps not the best example since Brown's online presentation is not exactly that good).

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Then there was of course, one of my favourite brands, Ted Baker London! The store was huge, with 2 floors devoted to men's fashion and one to women. But there were still a LOT more styles and variations than the Ted Baker store in SF. For example, they had the black dress I bought in the SF store in almost 5 different shades. There was also this amazing Stilo dress (above) that fitted me to perfection! Alas, it was £110. . . . so I settled for this funky brown silk polka dot/jersey striped v necked sleeveless top instead. But I am still thinking about Stilo and kicking myself for not getting it.

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Even their "cheap" high street stores were great. After oogling at their site for so long, I finally stepped foot into a real top shop store. It was crazy! On the friday afternoon that I was there at the Oxford Street store, it was packed with shopppers trying on and buying all their wonderful, relatively good quality, super trendy clothes, shoes and accessories. But the weird thing is, unlike H&M, the stuff there wasn't even that cheap! Sadly, I had to limit my purchases. . by a lot. I finally DID settle on this cute Chloe lookalike crocheted camisole that was only £16 ~ $30USD (left). Unfortunately, the turnover rate was so high that they'd already ran out of them in size 8 that wasn't foundation/lipstick stained. . . :( I also considered these thongs too. They're simple but cute, perfect for me to traipse around campus in. But again, £36~S70USD for a H&M/Zara quality pair of thongs seemed a bit steep.

So you can see how shopping in London can also be very depressing. Yes they may be prettier, edgier and all, but they are also even more expensive and unaffordable.

March 26, 2006

Light Packing

So I just came back from an absolutely fantabulous Spring Break in the UK and am currently unpacking all my stuff in my new pad. Man do I have a lot of stuff-10 boxes, 3 suitcases + miscellaneous stuff like the microwave. I definitely do not live lightly. Even when I travel. I had a heck of a time packing going to London, everything seemed essential. Travel blanket, high heels, pointy ankle boots, flats, loafers, sneakers, blazer, 2 pairs of jeans, dress, jackets, tops, sweaters, bags. . . and this doesn't even include my very extensive toiletry essentials. This basically summed up to one big suitcase barely under the weight limit of 50KG. But I DID try. I even took out my laptop!

So yes, not very successful. However I did manage to pack lightly on my short overnight trips to Oxford and Nottingham. I managed to fit it all into my little Prada travel bag. This bag has been a great investment. I use it all the time for travelling, because I can pack it up to the max and be confident that it won't break on me.

It consisted of: pajamas, party top, toothbrush, eye cream, face cream, concealer pen, contacts case, contact solution, eye liner (for the instant night time look), shades, water, paperback, glasses and my party bag. It was still mega heavy and all, but at least it all fit. Although it does make me wonder, what does everyone else pack for an overnight stay? Why does everyone else's bags always look so much smaller and lighter than mine?

March 24, 2006

Pretty Woman

This holiday has been a lot about doing things I've always meant to do but have never gotten around to doing. And one of these things is watching, Pretty Woman.

Its hard to believe that I've never seen this classic before, being the chick flick junky that I am. I'd go to the cinema to watch any old chick flick from Mean Girls to obscure ones like the Wedding Date. Its so obscure that I had to go search for it before I remembered the title of it at all.

Anyway, I LOVE Pretty Woman. It had all the elements of a good chick flick. It had the rich man meets poor girl (who in this case is a whore) plot. It had the makeover part, which was so awesome that the 90's fashion didn't even look that outdated. Then of course it had the happy ending with him conquering his worst fear (of heights) and declaring his eternal love for her. And to think that this is the original, not just another cliche copy of all the chick flicks in the last decade.

I also really enjoyed seeing the Beverly Wiltshire in the early 90's. I stayed there on holiday last summer and the lobby looks nothing like that and there were way more tourists. Although the old glamour was still clearly evidence, along with the old elevator with the seats in it, where Julia Roberts sat when first shown to Richard Gere's penthouse suite. And I must admit, Richard Gere DOES look quite handsome and charming in the movie. Unlike in say. . Autumn in New York where he just looked old.

The perfect classic to watch on a girls night in.

My First Manicure

So the other day, I just got the very first manicure of my life. I know. You are asking, how could I, in all my years, not have found 30 minutes to do a manicure before this? Especially when I so clearly love beautiful things. Truth is, long nails simply bother me (esp when it is at the stage where it is not too short nor too long and dirt just gets trapped there). So I've just keep it all very nice and short. . . . . until yesterday. In celebration of Harrods Girl and I reuniting again in London for spring break, we decided to treat ourselves to our very first £24 manicure.

The actual experience was very relaxing. The lady filed and shaped our nails, cleaned our cuticles and painted 4 layers on varnish on them. Harrods Girl chose a smashing deep red color while I went with an elegant whitish pink color. The end result was well worth the torture of me delibrately trying to grow out my nails during finals week (and finals week is the worse!)-it looked fabulous!
Unfortunately for me, 20 minutes afer my manicure, in my hurry to button up my jacket and rush to dinner at Locanda Locatelli (the best italian restuarant in London!), I chipped one huge piece off and scratched two of my nails. Since then, it has continued to chip and scratch. So in conclusion, at this careless stage of my life, I don't think that manicures are meant for me afterall.
Although I do highly recommend professional nail varnish for anyone interested in home manicures, like the two OPI ones shown above (the Essi ones are pretty good as well). They are easy to apply, quick to dry, longlasting and unscratchable (for thin layers). Plus, they're only about $6 a bottle, which is definitely a bargain compared to the price of an actual manicure.

March 23, 2006

SS06 Bags Trend I: Gold Chains

One of the biggest bag trends this spring/ summer season are the chains (mainly gold). This usually means that instead of that usual leather shoulder strap or handle, it's a chain. This 'chain' trend ties in well with the 'utility' trend of clothes.

As we all know, Chanel has had that whole leather-intwined-with-chain thing for years. So why are chains suddenly the trend now? Well Marc Jacobs started the chain thing a few seasons ago, and together with Kate Moss's influence on the fashion world, chains quickly infiltrated into many designs...

This season, bags from Louis Vuitton not only had chains as the bags' handles, but chains were printed all over them.

Marc Jacobs' own line has the largest selection of such bags -and most of them are gorgeous. They really give a fabulous twist to Jacobs' typical bags. I esp love the Quilted East/West Frame Bag (the second picture.) It's sooo chic and classy.

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Top Shop are now selling a range of bags that were 'inspired' by Marc Jacobs and Chanel. This dark blue clutch with the half bow is actually quite pretty, but the chain is unfortunately a bit over-chunky.

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Since I can't afford the real MJs or Chanels, I bought the Top Shop white quilted clutch just last week, figuring it would be great for a night out. Usually I wouldn't recommend such an obviously 'inspired-by-top-designers' bags, but these Top Shop ones are quite well made.

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This beautiful bag is from Bottega Veneta is obviously designed for the super rich and refined women (ie. Veneta's typical customers.) The chains look so shiny and flawless it's a bit worrying to think what will happen after the bag gets used.

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Anna Sui has got the ultimate girly, bohemian-style bags. They show that bags with chains can also be great daytime bags. can't decide whether I like the white leather floral bag more, or the gold leather butterfly bag more!
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Speaking of nights out, this Anya Hindmarch Katrina evening bag is just too sophisticated to resist! So simple, yet so stylish. Caution: only carry this bag if you have a dress that is just as glamourous to compliment with.

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And lastly, let's not forget Chanel. I love how this bag incorporates the classic designs of Chanel with a dose of youthful features, such as the cute bucket shape.

March 21, 2006

What does your shopping list look like?

At the beginning of the school year, I subscribed to The Economist in an attempt to become more knowledgable. Admittingly, I have only read the articles that have anything to do with retail and science & technology. So in last week's issue I came across an interesting article called Signs of the times.

The abridged version is that retailers now put flat panel displays which show a constantly rotating series of advertisements, mixed with news and entertainment in "high traffic" parts of the shops. Marketers are loving this way of advertising because according to the Point of Purchase Advertising International, an independent trade association, more than 70% of purchasing decisions are made in shops. Most people, after all, write "beer" or "shampoo" on their shopping lists, rather than specifying particular brands.

I found this interesting because well, I have never even thought about the psychology of shopping lists before. For me if I'm listing out beauty products, I always specify which brand and if necessary, which product. For example, in my most recent shopping list, I wrote "Head & Shoulder shampoo", and in one of last summer's said "Lancome Hypnose". I can't seem to buy beauty products without doing crazy research and thinking beforehand, which is probably why I always know exactly which products I want before venturing shops.

One of my friends tells me that she writes down the product type she's planning to buy, such as "shampoo", and usually knows which brand she's planning to buy in mind. So I'm curious, what do you put on your shopping lists?

March 20, 2006

Spring's FINALLY here!

Its officially SPRING! To celebrate the arrival of spring after another cold long bleak winter, we have prepared some prime spring pieces for you to feast on and get into the mood of spring:

The nautically inspired bag by Luella.

Big white quilted bag (the perfect size for school!) from Marc by Marc Jacobs.

GORGEOUS sling backs with flowers also by Marc by MJ.

Chunky Chloe platforms.

Miu Miu platforms. Sigh. Miu Miu never fails to produce beautiful footwear.

Polka dot platforms from Anthropologie.

This floral dress from Free People just shouts of spring (and me-I want it!).

The perfect cocktail party dress by Robert Rodriguez.