Heels & Soul

Wednesday

26

November 2014

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COMMENTS

Wednesday Wishlist: Thanksgiving Threads

Written by , Posted in Home, Style & Fashion, Wednesday Wishlist

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I grew up in an Asian-Canadian family as the first generation to be born in the west. As a result, Thanksgiving dinners for us had a very different spin and take than what was advertised on television. We didn’t have family come from far and near because my parents’ families were scattered around the world and a great deal of them were situated in countries where Thanksgiving was not a national holiday. When I was younger and before my palate was introduced to “Western cuisine,” we would simply have a potluck mélange with other Vietnamese families, where not a single plate on the table bore resemblance to the new culture our parents had adopted. For us, like many other Canadian and American families, Thanksgiving was a holiday where we came together to gain 10 pounds and to give thanks for our many blessings, but the manner in which we did it and what was on our dinner tables was completely foreign to the country that we called home.

By the time my brother and I were in our preteen years, we had already began demanding more “socially acceptable” foods that seemed more presentable to bring to school. In retrospect, I wonder what that must have been like for my parents, to have a perfectly wonderful way of life become bastardized by the dominant culture. In some ways, looking back, I loved the roast duck and char siu we would have. My Mother started making the most mouthwatering mashed potatoes at one point, and then came the seasoned turkey from my Dad (which would be an all-day affair). My parents have now perfected Thanksgiving dinner by all Canadian standards from the elegant table runner to the juicy, succulent turkey meat. Despite all these new dishes, we always had a special ingredient that would reground my parents with their roots. Our stuffing would be a mix of vermicelli glass noodles and western breadcrumb stuffing. It was an unusual fusion, but it worked and tasted even better.

I hear that in many parts of the country, it will be snowing this Thanksgiving. Here are some picks that will keep you warm, sparkling and comfortable this holiday season. If you’re planning on eating your heart out, you’ve got to have some comfortable clothes on. Style does not mean sacrificing comfort! I’m a huge fan of jumpsuits this season, and J. Crew has an uber luxurious sequined jumpsuit in the very versatile color of black. This Marc Jacobs sweater looks perfect for the occasion and would also be easily worked into many other every day outfits. I am also a huge proponent of high waist track pants like this one at Maison Martin Margiela and high waist pants in general… they are so easy to wear and if you’re sitting at the dinner table for a good five hours, why not give yourself room to breathe?

Enjoy being at home with your loved ones! I wish my parents were here to cook a hearty meal for me right now because I am not quite the domestic goddess in the kitchen… yet. I am pretty sure that whoever I end up with will have to be the one wearing the apron.

Bis,

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Tuesday

25

November 2014

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Outfit: New York State of Mind

Written by , Posted in Home, Outfits, Style & Fashion

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❤ ♬ Kanye West – I Wonder ❤ ♬

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WEAR FROM: Pants – J. Crew (on sale) | Purse – Kate Spade (similar HERE) | Sequined Top – Urban Outfitters (similar HERE)| Leather Jacket – Goodwill (Cathy, my photographer) | Belt - Mexx (similar HERE)

It’s been relatively warm here in New York – so warm that I’ve been going out at night in only a light wool sweater. I think these past few days have been perfect in my books: cool light breeze with blue skies. The more I’m in New York, the more it slowly starts to grow on me. You really can find anything in this city and for a nocturnal night owl, this is the finest destination for those who love the hours of midnight and beyond. All I have done over these past few days is: eat delicious food, shop, read for pleasure, take wonderful walks, watch movements in the city (and subsequently ponder upon them) and engage in thought-provoking conversations. If every day could be like this, life would be completely blissful.

This outfit was thrown on in approximately 5.5 minutes. I was in a rush to get to Chinatown for some dimsum with a few girlfriends and I ended up coming out of the shower with my hair sopping wet with limited time before our taxi arrived. Well ladies and gentlemen, you can look presentable in a short amount of time if you visualize your wardrobe in your mind… or if you simply are good at throwing things on at random. I’ve also reunited with my friend Cathy Wang, who I originally worked with to build this blog with in London. She is such a wonderful human being and will be in D.C. next year working for the economic consulting firm, Brattle Group! She’s a perfect example of talent and brains!

Sequins are making a comeback. In my books, sequins never went out of style, but every major retailer has some sort of a sequined piece available for the holiday season. Sequined skirts, sequined tops and sequined dresses are all the rage. These embellishments add a pop of glimmer and sparkle to simple cuts and basic pieces!

Bis,

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Photos: Cathy Wang

Monday

24

November 2014

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COMMENTS

21st Birthday: 24 Hours In New York

Written by , Posted in Home, Ideas, Soul Food

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What better place to spend the rite of passage of a well enjoyed legal drink on your 21st birthday than New York city? Despite the overwhelming amount of commercialization in this city, I have to say that I do have an affectionate weak spot for New York, in spite of the blatant BOOM of material everywhere. I love getting inspired by the people in this city: their eclectic outfits, the sophistication, the fun, the wild streaks, the artwork, the sounds. I just hate the griminess of New York, but it is a part of the charm. Don’t be surprised to pay a fortune for a shoebox of an apartment, but you’re in New York and that’s the price you pay to live here. Sure, this is where capitalism manifests itself fully, but New York’s pulse is the beat of the American Dream. There are unequal beginnings, things are never fair in life in terms of what lot we have, there’s segregation and there’s diversity and you never know what’s going to happen next or who you’re going to run into. It’s that type of serendipity. It’s colorful. New York is humanity, in all its grotesque mutations and in all its pure, ambitious hope.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up here. Currently, a few girlfriends of mine from California and Houston have rented an apartment together on the Upper East Side (I don’t think I’d ever live here, I like Chelsea and SoHo so much more), but my 21st birthday was full of joy from sunrise to sunset. H. and I started the day off eating cake for breakfast at Lady M, which is famous for their crepe cakes!

Thanks to all my dear friends from as far as Australia and as close as Harlem and Long Island to coming out for such a lovely evening of conversation and a few drinks. We headed out to THE PARK for all the celebrations. It’s a beautiful venue for any gathering of sorts!

Also thanks to the folks at Kate Spade for such a blast at the flagship store on my birthday! Those of you who follow my blog know that I have a huge love for Kate Spade! What is better than having champagne and shopping for an afternoon? I have always loved Kate Spade, to the point that I began investing in their stocks three years ago. The brand embodies so much of what I love to see in design and branding: whimsical, curious, travel, colorful. Yesterday reaffirmed even more for me that my money is going into the right company! The staff are so sweet and everything in the store is so delightful: aesthetic brain candy. Stop by Kate Spade for a treat!

Bis,

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Thursday

20

November 2014

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OUTFIT: The Royal Blue Wrap Dress

Written by , Posted in Home, Outfits, Style & Fashion

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WEAR FROM: Necklace – J. Crew (Similar HERE) | Wrap Dress – (Similar HERE) | Tights – Urban Outfitters (Similar HERE) | Boots – Vince Camuto (Similar HERE)

I’m off to New York in a few days! My birthday always happens to fall on American Thanksgiving, so I figure that if I ever end up living here, at least all my loved ones would come over for the holiday season and by extension my birthday, but seeing that my family is back in Canada, American Thanksgiving has always been an extended week-long vacation I get beginning on November 22nd. I’m so excited to be back in my natural habitat underneath the city lights. I’ll be heading to my roommate’s house for Thanksgiving Dinner but for the rest of the week, I’ll be with friends from as far west as California and family friends from as far east as Vietnam. It will be a packed week full of loved ones over meals and many, many sweet treats, and it will be so good to be stimulated by all the sights and sounds. As much as I appreciate solitude, it is time to get back to movements.

Wrap dresses are a classic piece that are comfortable and a perfect example of aesthetic design meets functionality! There is nothing I love more in design than beautifully-made clothes that are functional and wearable. Diane Von Furstenberg brought us her iconic wrap dress in 1997 when she opened up DvF and I’ve always loved the elegant simplicity of her designs. I’ve been picking up quite a few necklaces from J.Crew lately. I realize that I only have a few simple necklaces and that the rest of my jewelry is all statement pieces. J.Crew is having a 30% sale on winter picks and their fall styles if you enter the code SHOPNOW.

Bis,

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Photos: Jo Exume

Wednesday

19

November 2014

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COMMENTS

Wednesday Wishlist: Warm Scented Candles

Written by , Posted in Home, Style & Fashion, Wednesday Wishlist

 

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I burn candlelight every night. There’s something about soft, warm candlelight that puts me at ease. When I was growing up, we would light a candle in the kitchen every evening after supper to air out the last few wafts of what was for dinner that day. I’ve been a perpetual night owl since childhood (which may explain why I am a mere 5’2 when my Mother is a good 3 inches taller than me and my brother is a giant!), but since I was consistently always the last one to fall asleep, I’d blow out the remnants of kindling candles that had been forgotten to be put out before the household fell asleep.

Good candles make for good ambiance. Tell me who doesn’t look flattering and serene under candlelight? It’s a forgiving, calm light that is less harsh than the fluorescent light bulbs that we are accustomed to seeing one another under. As the days get shorter and greyer, I find that burning candles at night adds an extra oomph! of joy to my life while making the entire house smell utterly delicious or fragrant. While there is no everyday necessity for candles due to modern electricity, going back to one of the most basic forms of man-made light is organic in a way that is quite peaceful. Many of my favorite memories have been around candle-light: gathering family around candlelight during power outages and the excitement and fascination around darkness and small, flickering flames, conversations that extend late into the night over cake and tealight candles, walking into my parents’ room every night to catch a whiff of Lampe Berger’s eucalyptus essential oils, sitting in the living room on my couch reading books to the scent of garden rain, celebrating Christmas with dozens of candles at mass and on the dining table, lighting candles in paper lanterns that would sail down the river in Vietnam, watching the flickering shapes of candle wicks in Rome… I love candles.

Candles now feature soy wax, beeswax and vegetable wax options as staples in home design. It should be noted though that there is no standardized labeling regulations for soy candles, so do your research on what you’re buying because the benefits of soy candles may not be exactly what you think if only 5% of the candle is soy. Also remember to take a look at how many hours of life your candle has. I’ve also noticed a lot of articles popping up about whether or not paraffin-based candles (the majority of candles on the market) are toxic. With the increasing affordability of soy wax and beeswax candles, it seems better for the environment to opt for more eco-friendly and health-friendly candles!  For the winter, I prefer more muskier, seductive, deep tones such as the MALIN + GOETZ dark rum candle that has notes of bergamot and vanilla. Michael Aram, who is an alumni of Bates College, has some of the loveliest candle designs that I’ve seen over these past few years. The designs are inspired by his craftsmanship picked up from time spent in India and the influences of nature. Home design start-up One King’s Lane has an affordable eco-friendly soy candle from Barnaby Black that is lemon-gardenia scented which would be a wonderful citrusy zest to cold mornings.

Light a candle and surround yourself with lovely people and warm conversation this winter season!
Bis,

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Tuesday

18

November 2014

1

COMMENTS

All Endings Are Beginnings

Written by , Posted in Home, Ideas

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I’ve said many goodbyes – some voluntary, some involuntary. There are faces I will never see again and moments will drift into memories. Laughter lingers and missed connections fade. It is the way life is.

It used to be so difficult for me to uproot and detach myself from people I cared for, but I’ve learned that goodbyes are merely a part of growth. They are not always permanent, but they are necessary for one to say to get to where one needs to go. If we never challenged ourselves and comfort, we’d remain stagnant.

Part of being human makes me wonder if restraining or moderating how much you feel allows you to survive better and remain sane because feeling too little is complete denial and feeling too much is at times, overwhelming. When we experience loss and endings: break-ups, death, trauma, fights and irreconcilable differences, it’s often when we start re-evaluating the lives we are living and our very finite time here in this world. When we try to take the ashes and rebuild, it often means small or dramatic changes in our lives which is an invitation to new beginnings and new layers to personhood.

We cut our hair to claim back identity and to let go of the past, we tattoo our skin to symbolically remember, we change our style to enter a new space, we lose weight or gain weight to reflect how we feel, we keep more to ourselves or go out more in an attempt to negotiate who we are as people. It’s fascinating how much we associate changing the physical traits having an impact on the emotional and mental spaces we occupy. By all reason, technically cutting 10 inches off your hair may have no impact on your emotional well-being or open-mindedness but we’ve so deeply engrained our physical outlooks with who we are internally that this sudden “lightness” in hair mass might equate to a “lightness” in heart and disposition for many.

Just like how when Summer exited and Autumn came in 500 Days of Summer, such is the way of life. We can’t live one in chapter forever, as much as we’d like to. Where’s the fun in that? We would never appreciate what we have in the present.

I’m slowly headed to an ending of my four years in the small city of Lewiston, Maine. What next is becoming a more and more pressing question with time, but although uncertainty can be daunting, it’s a blank slate ahead and you are the author of your own fate.

Let go, let flow!

Bis,

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Saturday

15

November 2014

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COMMENTS

Saturday Style: Comfy & Chic Oversized Coats

Written by , Posted in Home, Style & Fashion, Style For You

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It’s Saturday and I’m at a lovely house by the coastline of Maine with 23 incredible people from the Asian-American Students’ Society at Bates! This is one of my all-time favorite trips over these past four years. I definitely have my heart on building or buying a cabin at some point in my life. It’s so great to get away into the middle of nowhere and watch blackness be illuminated by a smattering of stars above. Nature is splendid and a lot of influences in style and fashion come from the Earth!

Oversized coats are my favorites on days when I want to leave the house without getting dressed. My Mother would throw on one of her many Cole Haan trenchcoats overtop her PJ’s and put on a pair of long leather boots and head out to the grocery store for a quick errand during the weekdays. I inherited the habit and if you catch me in the city going for a snack run late at night, I’ll be in knee high boots with a long oversized coat draping over my frame. They’re so simple, comfortable and chic! The great thing is that no one can see what you’re wearing underneath, so you look great walking down the street but little does everyone know that you’re still in your “going to sleep” tee-shirt. Not to mention, in winter weather, you can bundle up in layers of sweaters underneath and still throw an oversized coat overtop and have your arms fit in!

1. Find an oversized coat that suits your outfit color schemes

2. Think about materials that fit the climate you’re living in – 6 months of snow and 6 months of rain demand different fabrics

3. Knit scarves and a pair of knee high boots or cute sneakers will easily complete your look

4. Dress to flatter your shape (I’m 5’2, so I try to find oversized coats that are more tailored so I don’t look like I’m getting swallowed by this great heap of fabric)

5. Throw your coat on and head out the door!

Bis,

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Friday

14

November 2014

0

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OUTFIT: Splash of Blue

Written by , Posted in Home, Outfits, Style & Fashion

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♬ ✩ First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar ♬ ✩

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WEAR FROM: Shirtdress – Marimekko (similar HERE and HERE) | Necklace – J.Crew (Similar HERE) | Polka Dot Tights – LOFT (similar HERE) | White Trainers – LacosteBelt – ZARA (Similar HERE)

It snowed last night and in the early morning, I saw a vast blanket of white enveloped by a tranquil silence. Maine hasn’t made up its mind about whether or not its fall or winter because at 8:00 AM, red leaves were scattered atop of pure crystal snowflakes.

With all this cold weather on the horizon, I’ve brought out the shirtdresses! I’m a super simple person when it comes to getting ready in the mornings because I enjoy staying in bed for as long as possible under my pile of blankets. Alarm clocks kill dreams! I’ve made it a habit of leaving all my curtains open at night so that when the sun rises in the morning, I am naturally awaken by light. This morning, it was such a chore to get up and moving because our house was only 66F, and I was too cold to move out of bed and walk down the stairs to turn up the thermostat. Since I like to get ready under a time constraint, I need pieces in my closet that are versatile, polished and ready to wear without much ironing or primping needed in the morning.

On Saturday nights in London and New York, I would actually start getting ready at 10:00 PM, take a shower, draw a somewhat precise cat eye eyeliner, all while running through snapshots of my wardrobe in my head. By the time the last black line was drawn on my eyelids, I knew what I’d be wearing. Most people assume that I take awhile to get ready, but in all honesty, I’m just trying to sneak in a few extra minutes of sleep during the time when I’m supposed to be getting dressed. The key to procrastinating in the morning is simply to invest in solid, wearable pieces that are both functionally and aesthetically pleasing. A well-tailored shirtdress looks like you’ve got it together, even on mornings where you wake up, press snooze 5 times and have only 15 minutes to hop in the shower and out of the door. Shirtdresses tend to be on the more minimalistic side of design, are comfortable, easily cinched by a belt at the waist and with a statement necklace or a good pair of tights, you’re ready to go!

So:

1. Invest in a shirtdress that is both warm, tailored to your body shape and your style!
2. Invest in a good belt and statement necklace!
3. Let yourself sleep for another 5 minutes in the morning!

Stay warm, stay styling.

Bis,

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Photos: Jo Exume

Wednesday

12

November 2014

0

COMMENTS

OUTFIT: Lady in Red

Written by , Posted in Home, Outfits, Style & Fashion

 

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❤ ♬ Blank Space – Taylor Swift ❤ ♬

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WEAR FROM: Sugared Red Sheath Dress – Anthropologie | Shoes – Manolo Blahnik (Similar HERE) | Gold Coral Ring – Boutique in Greece

Red has always been one of my favorite colors because of a certain je ne sais quoi boldness that comes to mind when a woman walks into a room in a red dress. The dress can be a cherry red or a poppy red, and all eyes will turn to her. Red commands attention. It’s a powerful color than requires little to complement it and looks great on all skin tones. My gala and statement dresses have always traditionally been red because any hue of red photographs well and if you’re going to go somewhere, why not make a splash? I’m willing to speak the opinions on my mind and I want my clothing choices to reflect that fearlessness.

When you wear red, little is needed in the accessories department. The adventurousness of the color speaks for itself! Simple classics will do such as a strand of pearls or a more contemporary take on pearl necklaces. Sparkly drop diamond earrings or cubic zirconia costume jewelry necklaces will also do the trick.

I recently saw this dress on the Anthropologie website and I was drawn to its pretty lace patterns. I put it to use this weekend at the TEDxBatesCollege event that I co-organized! The event was a smashing success and I am thankful to all those who came to listen to eight incredible human beings share their narratives and messages. I’ll be posting up the videos of the event in a week or so. I’m on to my next few projects which include launching the Bates College Her Campus chapter and bringing a $10,000 Entrepreneurship competition to Bates with my best friend and roommate, Rokya, and the President of our Entrepreneurship Club, Mike. Stay in touch for some updates!

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Wednesday

12

November 2014

0

COMMENTS

Technista Thursday: Clean Up Your Email Subscriptions With Unroll.me

Written by , Posted in Home, Technista Thursday

 

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I have this perpetual problem of receiving dozens of emails every day that I simply can’t be bothered to read. Finally, there came a point where I realized that my email box was in desperate need of a massive upheaval. You know the show Hoarders? That’s what my inbox looked like, a landfill of emails waiting to disappear into the universe. It became unsustainable. I was getting emails from Norwegian Air, Jetstar, this grimy party production company in London, Burberry, a pro-bono law firm in Vancouver, Gilt, Nordstrom, petitions and the list goes on. Important emails were being misplaced because of the chaos in my inbox and every morning, it became a battle to delete as much of the unnecessary to make space for the necessary.

That’s when I discovered this GREAT app called Unroll.me that automatically allows you to see what email subscriptions and lists you’re on. How can you troubleshoot your problem if you don’t even know what you’re dealing with? Upon signing up (which takes two seconds), you have access to a list of all your email subscriptions and you can unsubscribe instantly from what you don’t want. Essentially, you can decide what subscriptions you want to see in your inbox, which ones you want to unsubscribe from and what new subscriptions you’ve recently signed up for.

Do it! Clean up that inbox and get things organized! Unroll.me!

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Bis,

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