Girls’ Night Out

I can finally take this jumpsuit out to play! Bought in New York from Lou & Grey – it was love at first sight. I think I love the colour the most – such a lovely rust brown, not my usual thing but at the same time don’t you think it’s so wearable? Or it could be my love of wide legged cropped pants….

In any case, it’s the perfect outfit for a big dinner since it’s so loose! I just love comfortable, laid back glam. The sheen gives it a slightly dressy look, although it would work perfectly as well with panama hat, espadrilles and sling bag.

The YSL clutch is one of my favourite bags for night (or day) – it looks sleek but yet it’s large enough to fit my long wallet! So I don’t have to transfer a bunch of stuff before I step out of the house. And I’m so glad I invested in these sandals – they are minimal and go with everything. (I am a big fan of “go with anything”) Best part is the block heel which won’t kill your feet.

Jumpsuit – Lou & Grey | Clutch – YSL | Sandals – Stuart Weitzman

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White

I love me a good white dress – there’s just something so fresh and breezy about it.  And it’s a nice change from the usual black! 

This one is light enough for Singapore’s hot weather.  I was drawn to the details like the tailored lapels, pockets & curved asymmetrical hem.

Dress – Paulina Katarina, Trixilini | Bag – Cult Gaia | Sandals – M Gemi | Sunglasses – J Crew | Ring – Madewell 

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Mint + Coral

For a recent breakfast at the Botanic gardens, I paired a super comfy mint trapeze dress with this structural bamboo bag for a resort-ish vibe.

Added some coral and pink for colour. Viola! (I would previously have used red, but now I feel that coral/pinks look more subtle and polished yet keeping within the same colour family.)

I love the combination – it felt fresh and not overly bright for someone who mostly wears neutrals or monochromes!

Dress – COS |Bag – Cult Gaia| Slides – DVF | Sunglasses – JCrew

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Daily Jewellery

Clockwise L-R: Circle necklace (old), Gorjana | Metal pearl ring (old), Madewell | Gold discs, Gorjana | Pearl studs, Mikimoto | Bar earrings, Gorjana | Rose gold studs | Interlocking Cs, Chanel

And yes I spell it “jewellery” because I grew up learning British English 🙂

I’m usually quite lazy about jewellery – most days I go about with just my wedding and engagement bands, and a watch. And while I’ve gone through a statement accessories phase, in recent years I’ve found myself gravitating toward smaller, quieter pieces.

Here are my go-to pieces – I like that they are uncomplicated and found that they work well with most of my outfits.

Rose gold studs – purchased at a flea market in Brooklyn, I was attracted by the unique rose gold hue. They are understated but subtly brighten up my face.

Vertical gold bars – the right balance of delicate yet interesting- these are the fail safe pair I always fall back on.

Pearl studs – if I’m going for a ladylike vibe or want to soften up a more modern/urban look.

Gold discs – for when I want a bit more of a statement.

Chanel interlocking Cs – these are classics.  I have a smaller pair, but I like these better as the size is just enough to be seen, but not overly large. And its got just the right amount of bling.

Metal pearl ring – while I like my earrings small, I like my rings chunky. This Madewell one (scored at last year’s black friday sale) is a firm favourite as I love the floating design and versatility of its dual colour.

Circle necklace – I’ll add it on if it feels a little bare around my neck. I like delicate chain and that it’s easy to layer.

What does your daily jewellery look like?

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Dressing By Numbers

After experiencing all four seasons living in New York, I finally found my cold weather fashion formula.

I put down what I typically wear by Fahrenheit (followed the American system when I was there and now my mind only works in deg F! I have indicated the equivalent temperature in deg C next to it)

Here’s my guide to dressing by numbers:

30 Degrees & below ( -1 Deg C)

Patagonia down parka (calf length) + cashmere sweater + thermals + beanie + gloves + scarf + Uggs

Snow boots might be needed if the weather calls for it.

Looks very unglam but really, all I care about at this temperature is staying warm!

40 Degrees (4 Deg C)

Like 30 Degrees but a shorter knee length (down) parka suffices.

At the high 40s, no hat needed but I always like a scarf around my neck to keep myself toasty.

50 Degrees (10 Deg C)

BCBG Jacket + cotton sweater + jeans + booties

Zara faux leather jacket + knit top + jeans + sneakers

60 Degrees (15 Deg C)

H&M lightweight trench or this Uniqlo wool duster + L/S knit top + jeans + ballet flats

70 Degrees (21 Deg C)

Cardigan + light L/S knit top or tee + sneakers

High 70s/80 Degrees (27 Deg C)

Like Singapore weather!

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CNY 2017: Cut-Out Cheongsam

Oops I can’t believe I actually drafted and forgot to post this! Well, here’s my CNY outfit for this year, a cut-out cheongsam from Singapore label I Want The Missing Piece.  I was a little hesitant about ordering long distance, but after asking some questions on the fit, I thought I’d give it a shot. Ee-ling was very helpful and sent me detailed pictures and measurements which gave me the confidence to buy. As for which colour? I was immediately drawn to the coral, but I have another cheongsam in a similar tone, so I decided to take Hubby’s suggestion of the blue.

I anticipated some minor alterations but it was as good a fit as I could have wished for. The material is soft and comfortable against the skin.

Since it’s CNY, I paired it with my red glitter d’orsays from JG Shoe (they make custom shoes and I made mine with a very manageable 8cm heel), and finished with jade rings from Choo Yilin.

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IMG_2692-web.jpgCheongsam – The Missing Piece | Jade rings – Choo Yilin | Glitter heels – JG Shoe (custom heel height) | Nails – Essie Fishnet Stockings

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Gallery Wall: How To

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A gallery wall was something I’ve always wanted to you know what? They are also kind of intimidating. Well, I had a very bare wall in our apartment which was just crying out to be filled.  After reading a couple of blog posts and guidelines, and with the help of the husband, we managed to put one together!

Some simple guidelines when planning a gallery wall:

  • Imagine all the artwork grouped as one big picture. The centre of the picture should be at eye level, around 57 inches from the ground.
  • Art should start 8 to 10 inches from the back of your sofa.
  • Have one large, key piece as the anchor for your wall, and have that be slightly off centre in your imaginary big picture. In this case my large New York map print was my focal piece.
  • I went with black and white frames only for a cohesive look.
  • I used a mixture of drawings, photographs and abstract. I picked ones with a lot of negative space and kept to a fairly muted palette.
  • How many pieces? I just estimated, really and mixed sizes as well orientation (portrait & landscape).
  • Trace all frames on brown paper and label them.
  • Lay art on floor to get your rough arrangement.

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  • Stick brown paper “frames” on the wall to finalize exact placement (We used painter’s tape which comes off easily). This part of the process took quite a bit of time! Try to keep pieces at least 2 – 3 inches apart.

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  • Mark placement of nails & 3M Command hooks on the brown paper. For wire backed pieces, pull the wire up as tightly as possible, and measure the distance between the wire and the top of the frame (centred vertically). That will be where your nail or hook has to be. For sawtooth or key hole hangings, you have to transfer their corresponding positions to the brown paper.
  • Nail (through paper) or stick on hooks (you will have to remove the paper first). Viola! A gallery wall!

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Clockwise from top left: Ship photograph (gift) | Eucalyptus (Society 6) | Singapore skyline (Society 6) | Abstract (Society 6) | Palm trees (Society 6) | Crane (Rifle Paper Co) | New York street (Society 6) | New York map print (Etsy) | Bison (Society 6)

I used Framebridge for the New York map print; I uploaded the digital file and they printed and delivered it framed. The Society 6 pieces arrive framed (so convenient!)

I hope this demystifies the gallery wall if you have ever thought of trying one – it wasn’t that difficult to do, just took a bit of time and remember to double check your measurements!

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Modern Chinese New Year Decor

Chinese New Year is literally just round the corner!

In line with my aim to actively decorate according to seasons & festivities, I started thinking about how to decorate for CNY a couple weeks ago. This year, I wanted to try a minimal/modern approach – I looked up “modern CNY decor” on Pinterest which gave me the idea of using regular party decorations in addition to the traditional CNY pieces I had accumulated over the years.

I kept to a red & gold theme – here’s a brief tour below if you’d like to see:

Entryway

The challenge in this area is the huge white wall above our console table. The 福 (fu) paper cutting I used last year for this space felt way too small when I pulled it out of storage. I found this rooster paper cutting that was large enough ($12.95 from Manhattan’s Chinatown).

The vertical banners from Metro and bamboo plant are recycled from last year. My gold pineapple tumbler was perfectly huat! and I matched it with a gold tray from Target. Clementines add a finishing touch.

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The hanging ornaments are from Metro:)

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Doorway

The 福 (fu) paper cutting from last year got relegated to our door. Instead of hanging it on the front (I thought the apartment management might not approve), I placed it on the inside instead. I hope this is not bad fengshui!

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Kids’ Room

E made this at last year’s summer camp – I thought she did a great job, and saved it specially to use this CNY.

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Dining Room

I found a set of honeycomb balls and fans on Amazon. It took me quite a bit of time to figure out the height and placement of these. It took more than a few adjustments and hanging precariously off a ladder before I was happy with the final result.

The framed paper cuttings wall art was something we brought over from Singapore and are a great match with the paper hangings! I am planning to use this as a backdrop for our family photo on the first day.

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What does your Chinese New Year decor look like? Here’s wishing you a very auspicious year of the fire Rooster!

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Tour of New York Garment District

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Last Friday I had the luxury of exploring the New York Garment District. The last time I did a tour there was in February of 2006, almost 11 years ago!

I took the 2 train to 42nd Street, and made my way exactly where I started the last time – the giant needle and button booth on 39th & 7th Avenue.

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In its shadow is a sculpture of a Jewish immigrant, hard at work at his sewing machine.

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The district generally occupies the area between 5th Avenue and 9th Avenue, from 34th to 42nd Streets.

First stop, B&J Fabrics
525 7th Avenue 2/F (corner of 38th street)
*There’s a really cool virtual store tour on their website!

Hours:
M-F: 8am-5:45pm Sat 9am-4:45pm

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This is what you see when you walk in = it is a fabric lovers paradise! They even cut large swatches of all the fabrics that are on rolls, and hang them up along the huge windows so you can easily browse. You don’t have to pull the fabric out by the roll.

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Novelty fabrics

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Purportedly has the largest range of Liberty fabric in town – Liberty lovers will go crazy here! But at US$36.95 a yard, it doesn’t come cheap. I haven’t tried it myself but a very experienced dressmaker told me that it was a dream to work with.

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Next, Fabrics & Fabrics
270 West 38th Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10018

Hours
M-F: 9am-6pm

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Fabrics & Fabrics is another sizeable store – and what impressed me was the vast amount of brocade they had. Aisle after aisle, all laid out by colour.

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Fabric Inspiration

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C&J Textiles
230 W 38th St, New York, NY 10018

Hours:
M-F: 9am-5pm

A very neat and orderly store filled with fabric that looks to be really good quality stuff! They have no minimums so you can ask for half a yard of fabric comfortably (apparently other stores will not entertain such small yardage)

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They are a wholesaler, and have fabrics that can be reordered over time – important if you are a designer who reproduces styles constantly. Also, they have matching colourways across different fabrics, you can easily match a satin to organza in the same colour, for example.

This wall was filled with the most luxe feeling fabric – stretch silk, duchess satins, silk crepe. Would be nice for wedding gowns or something for a special occasion.

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The icy blue reminded me of Elsa from Frozen!

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Pacific Trimming
220 W. 38th Street
New York, NY 10018
Hours:
M~F: 8:30am~7pm Sat: 10am~6pm

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This store is chock-full of notions like rulers, buttons, zips. Spotted Clover products and tools that a home-sewer might need.

Trim that looks like measuring tape!

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Does this remind you of sprinkles on a cupcake?

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Botani Trimmings
263 W 36th St

Hours:
M-F: 9am – 6pm
Sat: 10am – 5pm

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The shopfloor had these little workstations where the staff are actually putting together zippers!

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For a statement outfit, perhaps?

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Pink safety pins – you know you want this!

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And here I thought there was only one kind of hook & eye…

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New York Elegant Fabrics
222 W 40th St

Hours:
M-F: 9am – 6pm
Sat: 10am – 5pm

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If you have time only for one stop, New York Elegant Fabrics is a good choice – it has a sprawling shop floor, plus and upstairs that stocks home decor and novelty fabrics. There also seemed to be a good range of fabrics at various quality & price range.

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Second Floor has home decor and other novelty fabrics. I discovered ultrasuede, which was something new to me.

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Metro Textiles
265 W 37th St #908
M-F: 9am – 5.30pm

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Metro Textile is tucked away in an unobtrusive corner of an office like building. The owner, Kashi curates a good range of fabric in the compact space. Expect more personalized service that the larger stores.

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I had serious sensory & fabric overload after my trip. I didn’t even make it to Steinlauf & Stoller for my notions – I wanted some fusible interfacing & muslin. Good excuse for another trip – I think there were lots of other stores still unexplored.

Do you know of any other good shops to check out in the Garment District?

 

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Dressing for Winter: Lessons from a Cold-Phobe

IMG_2193-webLet this be said – I am baaad with cold weather. I am the person that carries a cardigan in Singapore because I’m afraid of air-con drafts. If someone wears two layers, I have to wear three. Growing up in the tropics, travelling to colder climates always fazed me because I had no idea how to dress – for some reason whatever I packed would never be warm enough. Style – what’s that? It’s the first thing that goes when you are freezing your butt off.  I remember draping random cardigans around my neck or borrowing (men’s) jackets as a last resort.

So, one of my immediate concerns moving to New York was – how was I going to survive the harsh winters? I landed in the heart of winter in 2015, and am now going through my second.  I really wanted to write up this post on what I have learned so far, because – I am surviving. To think that I even occasionally enjoy the crisp cold air!

Winter Layering Formula = Base Layer + Middle Layer + Outer Layer + Accessories

Key Areas to Keep Warm – Head/Ears, Hands, Neck, Bum & Feet

Base Layer
Uniqlo’s Heattech range is my go-to for base layering. It comes in three different weights, regular, extra & ultra warm. For winter I use at least the Extra Warm Scoop Neck Tee – I like that the scoop neck and three quarter sleeves stay hidden under my clothes.

On the bottom I wear two layers, Heattech Extra Warm Leggings topped with the Pile Lined Leggings. I practically live in these all winter; I don’t wear jeans because they aren’t warm enough for me, and they are harder to stuff into tall boots.

Middle Layer
This is usually a sweater. I have them in cotton (which I use only in Spring), acrylic, wool and cashmere. Cashmere is hands down, the most comfortable and warm option. It is a premium fibre but you can get them at decent prices. My sweaters are from Bloomingdale’s which were less than $100 when on sale (black, below), and Everlane has a good cashmere sweater for $100 (grey, below). Uniqlo also does a range of very reasonably priced cashmere, although I have not tried them myself.

A longish hip length sweater covers your bum and keeps you significantly warmer. A tunic type sweater would also be a good option for colder days.

By the way, you don’t have to dry clean cashmere (added cost!) – I wash my sweaters in cold water, on gentle cycle in a laundry bag. Do not tumble dry them though! Stretch them back to shape to dry flat on a drying rack.

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Outer Layer
I love the tailored look of a wool coat, but on colder days, I reach for my down parka. I think wool coats are more popular in Europe, but you see a lot of parkas in New York. There is a good reason why they are so prevalent here – they are waterproof, block the wind and down keeps you insulated. All very important considerations in New York where windchill is a big factor, and there is lots of walking to be done, potentially in rain or snow.

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Last winter, I bought a Uniqlo down jacket thinking that as long as it was down, it was going to be warm. It was very lightweight, but it wasn’t warm enough for me. I found myself having to wear three layers underneath (thermal, sweater, down vest) in order to feel comfortable. Not wanting a repeat of that this winter, I started researching for a new winter jacket in the Fall and bought the North Face Artic Parka based off reviews on Amazon. It is bulkier and heavier than my Uniqlo one but still very manageable and best of all, warm. It is also petite-friendly coming up just above my knees, and the sleeves are not too long.

What to look for:

  1. Down – down is warm, light and what keeps you insulated. Down is measured by fill power, the higher it is, the better its insulating properties.
  2. Water Resistant – for those sudden downpours or snow.
  3. Length – My personal preference is something that hits me above my knee. It’s warm enough but yet let’s you see some leg – important if you’re small like me. I have a Patagonia mid calf parka which I use on super cold days but I find above the knee to be most versatile.
  4. Zipper Opening – a zip allows you to wear & remove your coat quickly between indoors & out. Test to make sure the zipper is smooth and easy to use. Last thing you want is to be struggling with an uncooperative zipper when you are freezing.
  5. Pockets – slanted pockets are easy to stuff your hands into when the weather gets cold.
  6. Weight/Bulk – something lightweight and warm is best but that usually comes as a premium so try to find a balance that works for you. Heavy jackets are really not that fun to wear or carry around. I would also try to go with a more streamlined (less quilting) to avoid that overstuffed look.
  7. Hoodie – Hoodies are great protection against rain or snow, and keep your head warm if you don’t have a hat handy. And the furry trim on the hoods is not just for decoration, they actually help keep snowflakes out of your eyes!
  8. Fit – get one that fits snugly over your layers. I once made the mistake of buying a coat that was too loose; the cold air will rush in from the bottom once you step outdoors, and you won’t feel very warm at all.

For wool coats, they are style over function for me, and where possible, I’d look for a zippered opening, pockets and a high collar to protect my neck from the cold wind.

Accessories

IMG_2193-webMy number one cold weather accessory is a scarf. It contributes significantly to the warmth factor and I highly recommend one. Make sure it’s snug around your neck and there are no gaps between your scarf and collar to keep the wind from creeping in. Cashmere is lovely because it’s soft around your neck, but I have wool blends which work nicely as well. I stay away from acrylic in winter because it’s just not warm enough.

Hats and gloves usually go together for me – if it’s cold enough that I need a hat, I probably need glove as well. I make sure my beanie covers my ears for maximum warmth. For gloves, I chanced upon these tech gloves and they are great compared to regular gloves! They allow you to use your phone without having to remove them – so much more convenient. Constantly removing your gloves is also the fastest way to lose them!

Footwear + Socks
My warmest and coziest foot wear are probably my UGGs Classic Tall Boots. They are super comfortable but don’t wear them for long distance walking because they don’t have arch support. A note about classic UGGs, they are not waterproof and are not for wet weather. Trust me when I say it is not fun walking around with soaking feet in the freezing cold!

For a dressier option, I like a classic knee high leather boot. It wasn’t easy finding a pair of boots to fit me because most are too tall or too wide around the calf. I had to alter my Kate Spade boots in the calf – it was a risk but they now they fit beautifully. Consider sizing up by half a size to fit winter socks for added insulation.

As a rule of thumb, the longer my coat is, the shorter my boot. It’s not a hard and fast rule but I find that generally, it looks better when I do this. A long coat + tall boots underneath look rather overwhelming on a small frame.

I wore cotton socks last winter but apparently merino wool socks are the way to go for keeping feet dry and warm – I got these from Amazon and they have been working well for me so far.

Additional Layering
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These Uniqlo Ultra Light Down pieces (jacket, vest) are really handy for layering. I didn’t think they could be that warm, given how thin & light they are. But worn with over a sweater and under a parka, it really does offer an additional level of warmth. I could wear this with a wool coat or even under my raincoat (just a water resistant shell without any insulation) which would work great as a Spring jacket!

I hope these pointers helped you! Do you have any tips for dressing warm during winter? I would love to hear!

 

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