Topshop Withdrawal Sets In

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I was wondering how long it would take before I started to miss my near-daily trips to Topshop. (The answer: exactly 20 days.) Excuse me while I deal with the realization that the Frill Platform will never be mine. Boo.

Happy happy holidays!

Monday, December 24, 2007

And speaking of T, here's a few stunning snaps from a recent holiday baubles spread. It's just our little way of saying that we hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday season, whatever you celebrate and wherever you may be in the world.

Fashion is Spinach – even Blueprint agrees

I'm up in Delaware now, enjoying the perks of staying with parents (so. many. cookies!) and catching up on all the things I love to do here (excessive thrift shopping, plus my mom saves me every single issue of the New York Times' glorious T Magazine, which means there's a pile of fabulousness to pore through upon arrival). My last Blueprint also arrived (sniffffle…), and I'm quietly savoring it (curled up in bed with the kitties, as it should be). But I was beyond thrilled to see they published a quote from Fashion is Spinach (the actual book, not this here blog) and it sums up both so well, I thought I'd print it here too:

"I don't know when the word 'fashion' came into being, but it was an evil day. For thousands of years people got along with something called style, and maybe, in another thousand, we'll go back to it." – Elizabeth Hawes, Fashion is Spinach

My Hairdryer is Too Heavy for Me and Other Embarrassments

Friday, December 21, 2007

Upon my return to America, I decided to splurge and get a fancy ionic hairdryer, the Conair 213X Infiniti (er, if $34.99 -– which is what I paid, though the price has jumped since then -- can count as a "splurge," but being that I've never spent more than $9.99 at CVS on a hairdryer in the past, it does in my book). In any case, I do love how it defrizzes and smoothes down my superfine, superthin hair – although that could be the effects of finally living in a place without 95 percent humidity – but after about 10 minutes of holding it over my head and moving it around at various angles, my arm starts hurting from the weight. Which is apparently 3.45 pounds. (But um, at least I'm not the only one who has complained about this? If that helps?) I know, I know, I'm a ridiculous weakling.

So, I'm thinking of exchanging it for something less… hefty. (And, in my defense, also with better power and heat options.) Does anyone have a fantastic hairdryer they swear by? Share with the group, please!

More fun with colors!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

{Continuing today's theme from below, before the city guides…} I so love this stripey ad, via Swissmiss.

Fashion is Spinach City Shopping Guides: We're baaack!

You may have noticed below that we're working very hard to increase our shopping guides (er, before all our valuable shopping information becomes completely obsolete and/or we sink into a giant burrito-induced coma. Ah, America.) We've updated our Singapore edition and added a new Kuala Lumpur guide as well. And we're just getting started! Stay tuned…

FiS City Shopping Guide: Kuala Lumpur

What can I say about Kuala Lumpur, other than it is severely underappreciated by tourists everywhere? After more than four years living in Asia, I hadn't yet made it to the Malaysian capital, mostly because every time I asked anyone about it, the answer was a resounding "eh."

Perhaps my experience was bolstered by low expectations, but I loved it. If you're planning an Asia trip, it wouldn't be at the top of my destinations (cities like Bangkok, Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offer more in the way of sightseeing). But if you are looking for a quick stop and love to shop, then this is the city for you. Whether it's local handicrafts (wooden bead bracelets and gifts galore) or mainstream shopping (Topshop! Mango! Zara!), there's more than enough here to fill 2-3 days.

Me, I did what I could in just about 24 hours. Due to my time constraints, this is by no means a comprehensive guide to shopping the city (I invite more in-the-know readers to leave their favorite spots in the comments), but it should get you started, especially if you're just there for a weekend jaunt.

A few things first:

1) You can find great deals on high-end hotels in KL, which makes the stay that much more enjoyable. (We finagled a $110 per night rate at the Ritz Carlton, which included a free breakfast -- and a to-die-for bubble bath. It helps to call them directly to see if they're offering any special rates during your stay. The service was really impeccable – and the pillows were impossibly fluffy. Really.)

2) The biggest complaint about KL seems to be the less-than-honest dealings of the taxi drivers, who often try to charge higher-than-they-should-be flat fees instead of using the meter. I mostly refused to get into cabs where the driver didn't agree to use the meter – but if the driver was offering a reasonable flat fee (no more than R10, about US$3, to go across the city), I usually just took it.

(To their credit, every single cabbie I had was cheerful, chatty and extremely helpful answering all my incessant questions about the city and where to go.)

3) The LRT (metro) system is very clean and efficient, and I used that a lot during rush hours to get across the city.

4) I found prices to be pretty close to their US/Singapore equivalents (occasionally slightly higher, but not much). So you're probably not going to get amazing deals here, but you're not going to get stung by huge mark-ups either.

Okay, on to the shopping!

Stop 1: KLCC
KL's main tourist attraction is KLCC – a.k.a. the iconic Petronas Towers – which tower over the city and can be spotted from almost everywhere. They're very impressive during the day but at their best at night, when both towers twinkle with lights. Once you've taken the requisite photos outside, head in to check out the huge mall inside. You'll find most of the usual mall-store suspects, but this Topshop was my favorite (its sale racks had sizes and items that were sold out in Singapore, and the main selection had special pieces I haven't seen elsewhere, like items from the Celia Birtwell collection.)

Stop 2: Central Market, Chinatown
Just a short LRT ride from KLCC is Chinatown, where the Central Market is known for being one of the biggest and best shopping spots for antiques, "antiques", local handicrafts, clothing and more. You could easily spend two hours traversing up and down the rows of small shops. I loved that the sales people are polite and helpful and not in-your-face aggressive (which seems to be the standard sales tactic of most other markets in the region). I got some great gifts here – look for ceramics, baskets and other neat finds -- plus piles of wooden bead bangle bracelets (about $2 each) for myself.

Stop 3: The streets of Chinatown
Head out of Central Market and wander your way up towards Petaling Street. There are plenty of local handicraft-laden boutiques along the way as well as local shops selling kitchenware, ceramics and more. I spent quite a while wandering around the neighborhood and poking into any shop that looks interesting (of course, keep in mind that I am the kind of person who gets excited by Chinese restaurant supply shops). The main drag of Petaling Street is bad-fakes central (where you'll find lots of aggressive sales merchants) – I pretty much bypassed it completely, though I did find one great little shop here called the Dexon Button Shop (45 Jalan Petaling, 603-2070 8603) . It's a sewer's fantasy – drawers and drawers of buttons of all shapes and sizes. Very cool.

Stop 4: Mall mania
We already mentioned KLCC above, which is massive and shiny and infinitely shop-able. We were also completely impressed the brand-new Pavilion mall, which was still in the midst of opening during our visit. Here we found an even bigger Topshop, plus hundreds of boutiques like Marc by Marc Jacobs, Zara, Calvin Klein, and the emptiest Forever 21 we have ever been to. Have you ever been to a big Forever 21 when there is almost no one else in it? We can honestly say we have never had that experience before now, and it is really, really pleasant. The basement level food court and restaurant row had a ton of tasty options.

One of the city's famous old malls is nearby Sungei Wang, which is the kind of grungy local mall that is fairly typical of Asia. You can grab some tourist-y souvenirs here (we loved the bright, ethnic-y tops for R15, which we're planning to cinch at the waist to make a mini-dress) but the best part is probably the 1st floor "local designer section," where you can browse boutiques from some up-and-coming Malaysian designers. It's not that cheap, and the selection is hit-or-miss, but we did grab a pair of funky trouser shorts from one local designer (in the interest of finding cool golf wear).

A short walk away is Berjaya Times Square, home to the world's largest Borders bookstore, if superlatives impress you. It also allegedly has a fun park complete with rollercoaster inside, but we were short on time and couldn't find it, so we have no idea if it's a good rollercoaster. (Anyone?)

PS) In the name of thorough shopping, we also took a jaunt out of the city to the Melium Outlets (62 Jalan 8/91 Tama Shamelin Perkasa), which has discounts on past season collections from brands like Tod's, Ermenegildo Zegna, Aigner and Stuart Weitzman (unlike Petaling or Sungei Walk, these are authentic items). I imagine that, like most outlets, it can be hit-or-miss, but we were thoroughly disappointed by the place. The only things we spotted were a great Tod's bag (still $900) and a funky Furla ring (still $50) – not exactly the amazing bargains we were hoping for.

PPS) I took the Aeroline bus up from Singapore – a five hour drive but fairly pleasant, especially because they played the dvd of High School Musical 1 on the way up and the way back. I realize that is some people's worst nightmares, but all the six-year-olds on board and I had a great time singing along.

Got more KL tips, shops and suggestions? Please leave 'em in the comments for all to enjoy.

Last updated: December 19, 2007

Please note: These guides are very labor-intensive and are meant to provide shopping suggestions to visitors and locals in each city. Please do not reuse or republish the information or photos without express written consent from the author.

FiS City Shopping Guide: Singapore {newly updated!}

Here's the latest version of the Singapore edition of our Fashion is Spinach City Shopping Guides. [We suggest you head to the permalink and print this out to take with you.] Now, we try to keep these things up-to-date, but since we're no longer actually in Singapore to check up on these things, we always advise that you double-check to make sure stores are still open before you head out. Have Singapore suggestions of your own? Add to the comments or drop me a note. Credit cards ready? Happy shopping!

Stop #1: Ann Siang Hill

This Chinatown area street has become a hub for some of the coolest stores in the city. Not-to-be-missed spots include The Asylum (22 Ann Siang Road, (+65) 6324 8264), an amazing graphic design firm-slash-boutique, which stocks design books, funky accessories from cool local designers like kwodrent and and their own unique products. I'm always completely inspired after every visit.

Just down the street is Style: Nordic (39 Ann Siang Road, (+65) 6423 9114), a fantastic smorgasbord of Scandinavian design products. It's where I first discovered such amazing products like Froso fabrics, Nudie Jeans and Filippa K fashions.

And down the street to the other side is the very pink Front Row (5 Ann Siang Road, (+65) 6224 5501) , which has an Dean & Deluca café downstairs and a boutique of fun fashions (including chic French clothing line A.P.C. and local Singapore darlings Woods & Woods) upstairs. Keep in mind: Most places are closed on Sundays.

While you're in the neighborhood: Just nearby, the Red Dot Design Museum -- a new branch of the original one in Germany -- is a fun place to find both coffee and creativity. For more shopping, turn left at the Scarlet Hotel onto Erskine Road for a few more cute boutiques like eggthree (33 Eskine Road, #01-08, (+65) 6536 6977) and Anthropology (not to be confused with Anthropologie -- they're not related). Or, head the other way past Front Row and walk down Club Street, which has several cool boutiques like Venue (44-46 Club Street, (+65) 6323 0640) and Vanilla Home (48 Club Street, (+65) 6324 6206).

A short walk away is Telok Ayer Street, where you can find pretty, photo-worthy shophouses and the lovely little Books Actually bookstore. (125A Telok Ayer Street -- up on the second floor, (+65) 6221 1170)

Where to eat: Despite its Chinatown location, Ann Siang is home to several cute French bistros, including Les Bouchons (7 Ang Siang Hill, (+65) 6423 0707). Or head down the hill and into the heart of Chinatown for great, cheap noodles and dumplings at Lan Zhou La Mian (19 Smith Street, (+65) 6327 1286).

Stop #2: Haji Lane

Singapore's newest hotspot for hip boutiques -- just one block over from Arab Street -- still feels like an undiscovered gem. I love the boutique/ice cream parlor Pluck (31/33 Haji Lane, (+65) 6396 4048) as well as nearby Salad (25/27 Haji Lane, (+65) 6299 5808), a neat emporium of black and white things.

In the past two years, there's been a growing number of fantastic new boutiques springing up on the street, like Soon Lee (56 Haji Lane, level 2) and Billet Doux (16A Haji Lane). They join old favorites like edgy little retailer White Room (37 Haji Lane); and two outposts of secondhand clothing store House of Japan (#55 and #78 Haji Lane) , which always has plenty of funky vintage finds -- including my beloved old Japanese kimonos. (But if I find there are no good vintage kimonos left after this, I'm totally removing the recommendation and keeping the store to myself!) Be sure to walk towards Beach Road at hit shops like 2 (at #2).The shops tend to keep odd hours and many are closed on Sunday and/or Monday, so your best bet is to go by in the late afternoon/early evening during the week or on Saturday.

While you're in the neighborhood: I like to poke around the shops on Arab and Bussorah streets for things like fabrics, wide-brimmed hats and baskets. On Bussorah street, right by the Mosque, there are a few cute boutiques -- pay no attention to the touristy junk outside and make sure you go in. A recent discovery was Grandfather's Collections (42 Bussorah Street, 6299 4530), a suprising trove of neat gifts and vintage housewares.

Or walk down to the Seiyu department store at Bugis Junction, which has a recently expanded outpost of minimalist Japanese housewares brand Muji (on level 2). There's a bigger Muji now in Paragon mall on Orchard Road and in Marina Square, but really, can you ever get enough?

Where to eat: One of my very favorite restaurant finds in Singapore is B Bakery at 15 Bussorah Street (just two doors down from the Kampong Glam Café). They serve light, fresh fare like salads, sandwiches and vegetable quiche -- and if you have room for dessert, their warm cinnamon buns are really amazing.

Stop #3: Orchard Road

If you're in Singapore, you'll find yourself on the city's main shopping hub of Orchard Road nearly every day. It's home to hundreds of shops (mainly big brands) and isn't generally cheap (but not much in Singapore is). First, let's get it out of the way: Topshop is at Wisma Atria (435 Orchard Road), and it is every bit as good as they say. If you're an American (and faced with the dismal dollar), the prices in Topshop in Singapore are actually cheaper than in the U.K. Stock up!

(Psst… Just downstairs from Topshop are more U.K. high street brands, like Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge. And local boutique Eclecticism – which has labels like J Brand Jeans and Orla Kiely – is also now in the building).

Okay, now that that's done: Next door to Wisma Atria is the Takashimaya/Ngee Ann City shopping center (391 Orchard Road). Level 3 is home to Japanese mega-bookstore Kinokuniya, a great source for amazing Japanese design and craft books (and just about any other reading material you could ever want. Their English-language design and fashion section is amazing!). One floor up is the Fourum, a hub for arts & crafts stores (including Art Friend, which is full of great crafty inspiration).

Just across the road is Paragon mall (290 Orchard Road), where I especially love the new big Muji outlet on the 4th floor and the darling Blue Canopy housewares store right next door. And way farther down at the end of Orchard (a quick cab or bus ride) is The Cathay shopping center, where you'll find great little boutiques like the recently relocated Déjà vu Vintage and adorable stationery shop woodwould.

While you're in the neighborhood: Oh, let's face it -- if you're on Orchard Road, you are only there to shop your little heart out.

Where to eat: Um, where NOT to eat? Orchard Road has as many food courts and restaurants as it does stores. I always love the Shanghai-style dumpling hotspot Din Tai Fung for delcious pork dumplings (two branches: basement level, Paragon and level two, Wisma Atria). Our local readers also recommend the cheerful Project Shop Blood Brothers Cafe (third level, Paragon), the hip Marmalade Pantry (basement, Palais Renaissance, 390 Orchard Road) and its more casual sister spot, Toast (#02-11 Ngee Ann City). (I personally always grab sushi at the place behind the Topshop women's department on floor 2.) Another favorite for sandwiches and simple comfort fare is Cedele on the third floor of Wheelock (above Borders).

Stop #3A: The Orchard Road extension -- for serious shoppers only!

We would not recommend bringing your husband/boyfriend/potential boyfriend along for this one, but if you're a serious fashion lover (and a serious bargain hunter), you will not want to miss out on a visit to Far East Plaza (14 Scotts Road), just off Orchard Boulevard near Wisma Atria. It can be an absolute madhouse during weekends – we recommend you go on weekday afternoons for the least crowds and the best service – but it is also an amazing place to score inexpensive fashion finds and designer seconds from brands like Marni and Marc Jacobs, particularly if you're willing to root around a bit.

We always start at local boutique chain Bysi (ground floor, streetfront entrance), where trendy fashions – many of which have recently appeared at Topshop or Zara – are reproduced and sold for much less than their foreign high-street equivalents. New pieces are added every Wednesday (if not more frequently), so regular visits are a must.

Once inside Far East Plaza, we always beeline for 2cm (with branches on the second and third floor – the quieter third floor outpost is our favorite), where you can score incredible designer seconds as well as original items from the owner/designer, Vivian Cheo, who recently launched her own shoe line. On the second floor, Therapy and the two branches of Glitz are two of my own must-stops, though many of the other boutiques are worthy of a browse as well. And, it never hurts to ask if they can give a discount – most stores are manned by their owners and are usually willing to knock of anywhere from 10 to 30 percent off the price tag.

Other noteworthy stops in Singapore:
+A new favorite of mine is Stamford House (39 Stamford Road) near City Hall, where you can find great shops like the adorable Swirl (#02-05, 6338 5020)) as well as some up-and-coming Singaporean designers. Just down the street, the lovely Felt (11 Stambord Road, #01-08 Capitol Building) stocks more great finds, including fab Singaporean label Hansel. {And from there, you can pop over to the Raffles Hotel for your requisite Singapore Sling.}

+If you're willing to go a bit off the beaten path, there are a few small boutiques with interesting, well-selected ranges of hard-to-find local and international brands. For women's wear, we love Epitome (14C Kensington Park Road, Serangoon Gardens), which has a fantastic mix of emerging labels, including the top brands from Bangkok. For men's wear (especially amazing denim) and a small women's selection, our pick is The Lawn (38 Ean Kiam Place, Tanjong Katong, 6729 9385), which has a small but carefully edited range of boutique brands (prices can be high -- but there's a fantastic sale room!). Closer to the center of town, the large Designed in Singapore (24 Mohammed Sultan Road, 6733 9954) highlights a full range of local talent. The funky furniture selection is well-priced and really fab.

What have we missed? If you've got a recommendation, please leave it in the comments!

*Last updated: December 19, 2007*

Please note: These guides are very labor-intensive and are meant to provide shopping suggestions to visitors and locals in each city. Please do not reuse or republish the information or photos without express written consent from the author.

Sort of exactly what I had in mind

I *love* the super-saturated colors of this Portuguese apartment, featured on Cookie's Nesting blog.

In which I get decorating inspiration from The Darjeeling Limited

I suspect I'm going to be about three months behind on everything for a little longer, which explains why I only made it to The Darjeeling Limited yesterday. I'm a full-on subscriber to the Wes Anderson style of filmmaking (this recent, extensive New York mag profile on the eclectic director can serve as your Public Transportation Read of the Day) and have been looking forward to seeing the film for months. I'm also -- as you may know -- a frequent traveler to (and madly in love with) India, so the combination of the two was just fantastically great.

I won't go into plot critiques, but what I took away most from the film was a renewed commitment to bright colors and bold patterns and quirky objects and eclectic finds. I'd been veering a bit towards simplicity and minimalism lately – both in my wardrobe and at home – but the film, and all its technicolor goodness, has planted me firmly back in the vivid, vibrant camp. I'm totally going to embrace a mix of bright colors and patterns in my next apartment. I'm getting excited just thinking about it. Bring on the teal!

PS) Also, how incredibly gorgeous and gamine was Natalie Portman in the opening "short movie"? If I had serious cheekbones, I would totally rock the short crop. Also the incredible Marc Jacobs wardrobe.

PPS) How much do I want a proper matching luggage set now? So, so much. My three-for-$99 set, though it has seen me through something like 12 countries, is no longer cutting it aesthetically.

Presentation is everything

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I love these fab gift tags made by Angry Chicken and gifted to all of us on the Internet. They express exactly what you can't say out loud, but in a highly adorable way, which kind of makes it okay. The one above would definitely come in handy for me from time to time. Check out the full selection in PDF download here.

Katie Holmes, my personal hair hero

Friday, December 14, 2007

We don't know what they put in the water over at Chez Cruise – it wouldn't surprise us if Tom was adding in something -- but Katie "Call me Kate" Holmes has been looking pretty great lately (er, if somewhat devoid of personality). We instantly loved these shots from the January InStyle, via the incredibly enjoyable A Serious Job is No Excuse.

We also seriously love Katie's hair. We have a somewhat similar haircut, and we're wondering how we might get that voluminous, slightly flyaway curl thing. Do we have to invest in a curling iron? And, um, is that way too '80s to even consider, or do regular people still use curling irons? We just don't know.

Reader question: Serious suit help!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

We are always extremely flattered when people ask us for fashion advice, though we usually have no idea how to answer (and um, usually don't, now that we think about it, sort of guiltily). Which is kind of how we feel about this question, but we're going to do our best. We're hoping some of you readers can step in and help this nice, job-interviewing girl out a little.

Michelle in Montreal writes:

I was wondering if you had any "working girl" suit ideas for a graduating university student. All of the interview-ready suits that I've tried on just seem stiff, awkward and unnatural! I like skirt suits, and have been searching for something dark (grey or black), appropriate for formal interviews and reasonably priced (under $250) -- but not stuffy or aging. Can it be done?

First, Michelle, a few confessions:

1. We own exactly one suit. We had it custom-made when we lived in Beijing to our exact specifications, which were: slim-cut, very fitted jacket and slightly higher-waisted pants with a long, lean, slightly widening leg. I believe we used a J.Crew catalogue photo as our reference point with a few modifications. I think it cost maybe $90 total, including the fact that we had three pairs of pants made (one in flats length, one in mid-heel length and one in tall-heel length. We cannot overemphasize enough how the right, just-above-floor-grazing length can make or break a pair of pants.)

2. We cannot actually remember the last time we wore this suit. Probably to some sort of interview for a work article. But we like having it around just in case someone invites us to a corporate-y event where our usual ensembles just won't fly.

Now, short of suggesting you fly to Beijing and make a beeline to Ya Show Market to have some suits custom-made, we would probably send you to Zara. (Er, do they have Zara in Montreal?) I find they generally stock a few basic yet nice suit-y pieces each season, in modern, updated silhouettes at pretty reasonable prices. (Guys, we also suggest you head to Zara for your cheaper suit needs – the selection is really not bad.)

And, for just a little more money, J. Crew (pictured above) also has some basic, well-made suit options, with lots of mix-and-match pieces that you can easily rotate between. A good suit will last you for years, so it's likely worth the little extra money to get something well-made in a higher-quality fabric.

[update] J. Crew happens to be having some good coupons right now, which can shave up to $50 off your order.

Finally, though we do realize that some people have jobs where they have to wear a suit (as opposed to, say, cherry-print jammies, which we are still wearing even though it is 2pm), we always like to encourage non-suity options in workwear. A clean-lined dress with a fitted blazer over it is incredibly stylish and less stodgy-corporate than a traditional suit. And we love the idea of a slightly funky blouse under the jacket. Although maybe it's best to start experimenting after you get the job.

One final piece of advice: Do not wear a suit if you are interviewing for a creative job. We can remember wearing a particularly hideous charcoal gray number with a French blue button-down (what can we say? it was the late 90s -- French blue was huge!) to our very first post-college job interview, which was at a Majorly Important New York Publishing Company. Let's just say no job offers were made. We're pretty sure our permanent HR file there probably has some sort of huge red stamp on it that says "Wore a Shoulder-padded Suit – Never, Ever Hire." Ah, hindsight.

And so, readers! Do any of you have suit resources/advice/thoughts to share with Michelle? We have thoroughly exhausted all of our suit advice, and are hoping you can pick up where we left off.

Introducing: Recap Thursdays!

It got off to a slow start (which we will blame on that whole "overseas move" thing), but do not worry: Share With the Group Fridays is not dead! (In fact, it will return tomorrow, in fine holiday form.) Our plan is to allow commentary all week, and then do a short recap of some highlights from last week's question on Thursdays so you don't have to go back and click again and again.

And so, here's a little review of the answers from the last question: What was the last thing you bought? Here are just a few of the fabulous things Fashion is Spinach readers have been scooping up this season:

1. Big, bold, cocktail rings. (We love this smoky quartz version from the Blake Lively-endorsed Liza Shtromberg.)

2. Boys' blazers from Brooks Brothers. We've been scouring the thrift stores for one ourselves. Two green thumbs up to the whole shrunken-preppy look.

3. Oversized Orla Kiely bags! (How cute is this leather shopper? And also: When does our first shipment from Singapore arrive so we can be reunited with our Orla Kiely bags again? We miss them!)

4. Rolls of old-school arcade tickets! Reader Ali is thinking of using them as gift tags. They've got "potential crafty project" written all over them.

5. An Alba Fan Club dress emblazoned with tiny Eiffel towers. Anna, it's so cute!

6. Tons and tons of vintage! Sounds like some great finds are being unearthed out there; personally, we've got an eye out for little capes (like this 50s eBay find. At currently $24.99, it's not exactly a steal -- but so cute!)

Really, that's only the beginning of the great buys: There were tons of good answers -- thanks so much to everyone for sharing! Stay tuned for the next installment, in slightly more timely form...

Sorta wishing we still lived on a tropical island right about now

Via the extremely charming and incredibly bookmarkable Katy Elliott, we are really feeling these pics from Trina Turk's new resort collection. We are also wishing we owned more vintage hats, particularly pink, feathery ones.

Everybody in muffs!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

We've recently lent our full fashiony support to such vintage-inspired trends as sleeved cocktail dresses, sweet little gloves and faux fur jackets (we just picked up a darling and slightly ostentatious gray one at the Courthouse flea market over the weekend and are planning to wear it all around D.C. with majorly large sunglasses and lots of attitude). Now, Zoe has reminded us of another retro favorite: the fur muff. We're pretty sure we grabbed a knitted muff at the thrift store in the recent past – we've yet to make it up to our parents' home in Delaware to be reunited with our winter coats and other woolens, and can't quite remember what goodies are socked away up there– but if not, we will be procuring one pronto. We just love the slightly nostalgic idea of sporting a muff around town this winter to keep our fingers toasty.

Very pretty things on an otherwise grayish morning

Jessica at The Shiny Squirrel is kind of our blog hero for having the motivation and discipline to open up a fab online store, and also for discovering designers we don't see anywhere else to feature on her blog. We loved these recent finds and wanted to share, just in case you missed them.

Above, ultra-pretty frocks from Dorothy Lee.

Below, lovely, classic silhouettes from Whyred:

Below, absolutely gorgeous pics from Jen Kao:

And finally, we’re all loving this perfectly vintagey emerald green frock by Sarah Heartbo. Also, between this dress and Whyred's black one, we are lending our full support to three-quarter length sleeves on cocktail dresses.

(Also, is it just us, or does that first picture make you want to go, "Luuuuke, I am your faaaatherrrr"?)

Truly, truly, truly outrageous…

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I got tagged months and months ago and it's taken me this long to find the time/inspiration to answer. Which is kind of funny, because I kinda love these types of things. So, in the interest of lots of sharing: 8 Random Facts About Myself.

1. I still bite my nails. I have immense guilt about this every time I read a magazine article where someone claims the first thing they look at when meeting a new person is their hands. My manicurist is trying valiantly to rectify this with the help of Ecrinal Bitter Nail Polish, but she's got about 28 years of habitual nibbling working against her.

2. There are few smells I love more than Coppertone suntan lotion and sautéed onions and garlic (but not together. I think.)

3. I really, really love to dance. Most recently, I have been requesting of deejays all across Singapore to play "Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, Nelly Furtado or any combination of the three."

3a. I have also been known to get into arguments with deejays who play subpar dance music. [See Marine Ball 2003, 2004, 2006.] I take this stuff very seriously.

3b. I frequently have personal mini-dance parties in my apartment with the cats. Timbaland amuses them.

4. My favorite book *ever* is The President's Daughter by Ellen Emerson White, a young adult book that I first read in seventh grade. (Its sequels, White House Autumn and Long Live the Queen, are also high on my list.) However, it takes a while to explain why an adult still loves such a book (witty repartee! great character development! just damn cool!), so I usually just tell people it's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius or A Hope in the Unseen. All have been widely influential on my career aspirations and writing style.

{And *oh my gosh* I just saw that this past October, a whopping 18 years after releasing book three in the series, White has published a fourth installment of Meg Powers' story. I am buying this immediately. [Has small heart attack.]}

5. I finagled my way into partying with the Backstreet Boys {see Jan 25} and am damn proud of it.

5a. Only slightly less awesome: In early 2000, I was in the audience for TRL in New York and got to request the number one video, "Bye Bye Bye," live on the air. I'm pretty sure there's a videotape of that around here somewhere.

6. The fabulous Jem (above) was my favorite cartoon as a kid. God, I loved their funky 80s outfits. Showtime, Synergy! (My second favorite show was You Can't Do That on Television. Ah, the nonstop hilarity of green slime. I'm a simple gal, really.)

7. When entering a thrift store, I beeline for 1) dresses; 2) coats; 3) purses; and 4) housewares immediately, in that order. (Tops, linens, books and skirts are tackled later, with less urgency.) There is nothing I hate more then seeing someone else walking around the thrift store with a perfectly awesome find that could have been mine, particularly if they look like the kind of people who will not appreciate its brilliance.

8. I had cold Chinese food (pork lo mein and General Tso's chicken, if you'd like to know) for breakfast today. And it was gooooood.

For display purposes only

Wow, a third décor post of the day! Perhaps Tuesdays should be décor day around here? We were just perusing through some recent Design*Sponge posts and were struck by this highly adorable robot under glass in the home of Sarah Coombs and Andy Pratt. Glass domes – like old-school cheese platters, cake domes and the like – can often be found for cheap at thrift stores and flea markets (we spotted one at Goodwill just this weekend and are now kicking ourselves that we didn't purchase it), and we love the idea of creating a similar quirky display piece.

Knowing us, we would probably use it to display our vintage shoes or favorite accessories, kind of like the displays at Bombay Electric, the amazing Mumbai boutique owned by our incredibly stylish and creative friend Priya. They display their sunglasses for sale under cake stands (below). Such a great way to use your serveware more often, no?

On a happier note…

I was thrilled to thumb through the latest O at Home magazine – love that Nate Berkus! he's just so smiley! – and see that Sarah Gray Miller has just been named editor in chief of the title. Sarah is the former editor of Budget Living magazine, which is one of my All-Time Favorite Publications Ever (it was actually quite Blueprint-esque, though somewhat more quirky/clever). When it closed down years ago, I was pretty distraught (and yep, I have an arsenal of back issues of Budget Living that I revisit frequently). I'm glad to see Sarah back at the helm of a décor/lifestyle magazine.

For your reading pleasure: I've long loved this old NYT profile on Sarah and her bargain-hunting ways (she was one of my first Goodwill-shopping heroes).

And though Budget Living is long gone, you can still get (for an insanely cheap price!) copies of their books Party Central and the ultra-amazing Home Cheap Home, which I still reference for inspiration on a regular basis. You will not find a better decorating book for under $5, which is the cost of most of the used copies for sale on Amazon Marketplace.

In any case, Budget Living was the first place I came across the home of creative types Genifer Goodman and Benjamin Sohr (pictured here), which has moved a few times and been featured in several magazines since then , including Domino and BH&G. (Their first house, in SF, is also in Home Cheap Home.) It is one of my favorite homes ever for its gorgeously eclectic mix of vintage finds, bold patterns and bright colors – and I'm obviously not alone in my love for it. Here's just a few snippets from the BL era.

{Images cobbled together from Designer's Library and BL photographer Deborah Jaffe.}

RIP, Blueprint

I was so sad to wake up this morning and read that Blueprint mag had folded. I have loved it more and more with every issue, particularly the last one, which I read and literally squeaked with happiness over at regular intervals. (I also demanded that Mike get me a bubble gum-pink Christmas tree with clear glass ball ornaments. He did not. Yet.)

When I'm reunited with my magazine stash – yes, I shipped several hundred magazines back to America (um, like I would ever part with my Vogues?) -- we'll have to do a recap of some of my favorite Blueprint moments. In the meantime, here's just a few gorgeous shots so we can mourn appropriately. {Sigh.}

Confession. (Subtitle: Merry Christmas to me!)

Monday, December 10, 2007

I am on serious shopping lockdown until a job is found* but I may have still just purchased these suede over-the-knee flat boots in ash grey as recommended by Blake Lively in the new Lucky (which Barnes & Noble had in stock waaaay before everyone else, as far as I can tell). Everyone is sold out of the exact ones Blake/Serena wore, so I went with their recommended approximation. And! They're 25 percent off with the code CELSFF2007, in case you are also suffering from severe super-high suede boot needs.

*If you or someone you know has a tip on a fashion/entertainment/culture-y writing or styling job in the D.C. area, we would be eternally grateful. As would our credit card.

Getting the Lay of the Land

When I move to a new city, I like to jump in with both feet – at least, fashion-wise. (And coffee-wise. Hello, Caribou Coffee!) Washington, D.C. – my current new home – has a pretty bad rap for its lack for innovative style, but I've spotted enough seriously cute skinny jeans-and-boot combos so far to know that isn't true. (On the flipside, I also spotted a relatively cute guy wearing a snowflake sweater, so it is not all sunshine and Prada over here.) Since arriving on Wednesday night, I've slowly been revisiting old haunts (we lived here for a short spell nearly five years ago and have been stopping by at regular intervals since) and checking out what's new.

First things first: You've got to get to know the local bloggers. The most lauded fashion blog in the D.C. area is probably the D.C. Goodwill Fashion Blog (actually, it's kind of lauded globally – people love it!). The Goodwill thrift stores of D.C. had the vision to hire a stylist to blog about the amazing things you can find at the thrift store – it's really a vintage lover's dream site. We may have scored some really awesome finds at our favorite area Goodwill just this weekend, so we can personally attest that there are some great things to be had.

I'm also enjoying Project Beltway (lots of events and such), DC Celine (currently on a break, but looks like lots of good local finds) and the really cute street style blog Panda Head (more proof that people in D.C. can dress well). I wonder if these gals will be my new blog friends? [Chews nails nervously.]

[update] One of our readers also pointed out local blogger A Serious Job is No Excuse, who has seriously good taste, especially in shoes. {I know I am not the only one having serious palpitations over the shoes below, which I found via her site.} Thanks, reader!

{And I'm also seriously loving The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee, which has nothing to do with D.C. or style and everything to do with tiny adoptable cats in the Seattle area.}

Also key in a new town: You also need to know the nearest place to get fashion magazines hot off the press. Because I need the new Lucky with Gossip Girl's Blake Lively stat. No, I still cannot get enough of that show. Blair's perfectly poufy party dress from her birthday soiree (above)? Swoooooon.

Am I the last person to have seen this?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Well, just in case... not that we'd expect anything less from Miss Carrie Bradshaw, but those clothes look amazing... via no good for me.

Making Yourself Feel Better: A Tutorial

Friday, December 07, 2007

If ever you should find yourself about to move approximately 10,000 miles away – a unique situation that will undoubtedly involve a lot of tears, cursing, sitting on overstuffed suitcases trying to get them to close and a frantic attempt to drink that last bottle of Veuve in the fridge before the airport car arrives at 4am – take heart: it will get better. You'll cry a bit as you turn off the lights to your empty apartment, and as you speed past the rows of palm trees en route to the airport, and when you step onto the plane. You'll still feel a little sad when the plane touches down in your new home, but the first snowfall of the year will help perk things up a bit. And then you'll sleeeeep for a long time. And then you'll wake up and start taking advantage of America. And that is where things get much, much better.

May I recommend the following?

--A lengthy visit to Barnes & Noble, to visit all the pretty magazines that cost like a third of what they charge for them in Asia. Plus, they have all the obscure ones, like New York Look and Adorn, along with the very very latest US Weekly.

--Copious amounts of MTV. Even without Denise Keller, American MTV is way better than MTV Asia.


--Layering. So much layering. Jeans tucked in boots, chunky sweaters over thin sweaters, huge knitted scarves, elbow-length gloves, lots of belting to reign it all in. Plus: Coats!

{An aside: Did you know that rubber bands (or in our case, Goody elastic hairbands, wrapped around twice) around your ankles will help keep those jeans nicely pulled down and tucked into your boots? Thank you, Google! Now if only the internet could help me with solving severe winter hat head.}

--The aforementioned Sephora. A new bottle of Benetint – so much cheaper than in Singapore – will help take the red from your eyes and put it back in your cheeks.

--Urban Outfitters, where you will get the cutest cap ever for $5.

--CVS, with more shampoo than you can ever imagine.


--The cheese section of Whole Foods. Ommmm… cheese...

--Sticking your face into a big pine tree at the local Christmas tree outlet, a smell even better than coconuts.

--A visit to the Corcoran Gallery, where they are holding an Ansel Adams retrospective and an Annie Leibovitz retrospective and a holiday shopping bazaar of homemade artsy things. It was pure museum heaven, I tell you. (The Leibovitz portrait of Leo at his best/cutest, above, reminds us of a time in our life where we saw Titanic in the movie theatre five times including once in Paris, dubbed in French. We suspect this is why we've scored horribly against everyone else in the Facebook movie compatibility test.)

--Diner food. 'Nuff said.

Next stop: The thrift store. And Target. It is time to start bringing the fash back around here.

The Adventure Continues…

We have so much to tell you! We're not even sure where to begin.

Let's see: If you were at the Singapore airport at approximately 4:30 Wednesday morning and noticed a very tall girl in leggings, slouchy boots, the best vintage trench coat ever discovered in Harajuku and two sweet little kitties being dragged onto the plane bound for D.C., then that was me. As of yesterday, I'm back to being an American resident (in celebration, D.C. decided to greet me with the first major snowstorm of the year during my arrival. Which was kind of awesome and kind of upsetting. Waaaah! I miss palm trees!)

In any case, things have been majorly hectic over the last month or so as Mike and I (and the wee kitties) started prepping for a return to America. I am terribly, terribly sad to go, and didn't even get to do all the last things I wanted to in Singapore (though I did go to Topshop approximately 14 times in the past week. Naturally, they had very few cute things that I wanted to buy.) I don't think this is the end of my time in Singapore – I vow to be back, I'm just considering this a temporary break in which we will wear a lot of sweaters and layer as much as possible, a la the ubiquitous but cutely cozy Giles scarf (above) – but things will be changing around here for awhile. Including – we hope – the return of daily posts and new and improved content! But before we jump into that, we have some thank yous we'd like to offer for making our time in Singapore so utterly hard to leave behind.

First, we have to thank many of you in Singapore for being such awesome and extra-supportive readers. We hope just because we live in another country that you will still stick with us, even if there's less of a chance you'll be bumping into me in the Topshop dressing room line (hiya Jodie!). Many of you came out for the Fashion Film Series, or sent news and suggestions about events and stores, and just generally inspired me by coming back here every day. (You like us, you really like us!) So, truly, thank you.

The kids at Pitch Black were amazing co-hosts for the Fashion is Spinach film series, which really just got it start by me saying one day, "hmmm… I wonder if other people would like to get together and watch obscure movies featuring great clothes?" It exceeded all my wildest expectations – and got so big in the end, I couldn't even keep up! – so thanks to them for being so awesome and also making very good popcorn.

My girls at Project Smitten and BeautyBlackBook cannot be thanked enough for being so genuinely wonderful, teaching me how to line the upper lid, feeding me pig's organs for a proper local experience, discussing Katie Holmes' evolving hairstyles with all seriousness (love the bangs!) and making my time in Singapore about a million times more fun than if I hadn't met them. I miss you all already. You rock.

The lovely Gina at Vive Salon in the Paragon was the best hairstylist a girl with hair that goes crazy in the humidity could ever hope to have.

And the equally lovely Elaine at Paws Haven was a fabulous pet sitter, allowing me to go on so many adventures without worrying about my babies. And while we're at it, Singapore's Cat Welfare Society should be commended for bringing the wee Commander Robot and Peeve to us in the first place.

You will not find a better nail person than Tina at Pinc Nails in Centrepoint. Book in advance.

I met so many awesome and inspiring shop owners during my time in Singapore, many of which I didn't have a chance to offer a proper goodbye. My wardrobe owes some serious gratitude to the following amazing entrepreneurs: Wei Loong and Sharon of Soon Lee; Kenny and Karen of Books Actually; Evelyn and Suzanne of Swirl; Grace of WoodWould; Vivian of 2cm in Far East; Kelly of Déjà Vu Vintage; the kids at Billet Doux; and, gosh, so many more. Best of luck to all of you.

There are plenty of Singapore bloggers popping up to take over where we're leaving off. Dottie and Stephie of Fashion Nation have been blogging gangbusters lately, and we always love The Clothes Project for local street style and plenty of stuff to do. The ever-inspiring Imelda gets special mention for just being so sweet and darn awesome.

We are making ourselves waaaay too sad right now, and are going to go placate ourselves with episodes of The Hills (so. fantasically. ridiculous!) and lots and lots of delicious coffee. And a box or two of tissues. And then I am totally going to Sephora. If rows and rows of fabulous beauty products can't cheer me up, I'm afraid I might be a lost cause.

{Image from December Marie Claire knitwear story, via Jezebel}

The only clothes I want to think about are jammies

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hello, dear reader. I hope you are doing better – fashion-wise and otherwise – than I am over here. It's been quite a hectic two weeks, starting off very well (the zoo! Kuala Lumpur! Phuket!) and ending quite poorly (my worst bout of food poisoning ever, and now some sort of horrible bronchial infection). I am trying very hard not to have a pity party, but I am not really succeeding. And so, since rampant complaining does not a good blog make, I hope you'll excuse me for a few more days so I can lie around and quietly be ill. I miss you all, but trust you're making very stylish choices in my absence.

A few style notes: I thought I had discovered some great (and affordable!) extra-long leggings at Zara, and then the seam promptly split the first time I wore them. So now I've got this very unintentional Mary-Kate-style holey leggings thing going on. Which isn't helping much.

On the upside, the Calvin Klein boutique in the Phuket mall was having a very nice sale this past week. A lovely sweater was purchased.

{Cough, cough, wheeze.} See you soon.

{Soup photo from here. Isn't it lovely? I just stumbled upon her pics, but there's lots of gorgeous stuff to see.}

May we have your attention please...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

There's a massive update featuring lots and lots of Paris photos on the other site, if such things are of interest to you. And here, we have my Russian Navy-fied toes, thoroughly enjoying the lovely beaches of Bali last week.