Dear NYC

Dear NYC,

This is only my second day here and already I'm having far too much fun. Yesterday, lovely blogger WendyB took me around town and showed me sights I otherwise wouldn't have seen, me being a slightly ditzy tourist who never researches her travel destinations sufficiently. She introduced me to Allan of the upscale vintage store Allan & Suzi. It was there that I found these two skirts.

Oh, the shopping! Your Soho is fabulous. I never had a chance to drop by the first time around and instead (rather stupidly) expected Fifth Ave and Madison Ave to satisfy my shopping cravings. But the stores in Soho are much more relevant to me in terms of price range and lifestyle requirements. At the top of my wishlist were a pair of boots that could accommodate my muscular calves and that I could tuck jeans into, as well as a new winter coat to replace the pink peacoat I thought some alterations would resuscitate but never did. I found both within a 4-block radius. I was in paradise.

In a way, I blame the coat (and the credit card damage it inflicted) on Wendy. She looked so darn cute in her black and white plaid coat that when I saw a different version hanging in Anthropologie I had to try it on. The both of us had so much fun; I definitely want to get together with her again before I leave. Perhaps some Halloween shenanigans are in order?

But if we do go out, I'll be sure to avoid your Long Island iced teas. At home they carefully measure ounce shots into the glass, but here I think the bartenders just free-pour. My Long Island iced tea last night was stronger than what I'm used to--pretty much all tequila and very little Coke. By the time I went home I was drunkity drunk drunk drunk.


Looking Back On Lisa: Money Matters

While browsing through my archives, I noticed that I talk about financial and marketing matters as they relate to fashion quite a bit.

It's interesting to note that when I began blogging, I was dead set against what I perceived as overspending on clothes. Of course, with my newfound weakness for Chanel and Coach, as well as my new resolution to buy for quality and longevity rather than price, that stance has changed. Nonetheless, I still value a stable financial future over shoes.

I love lenient refund/exchange policies. With increasingly skittish consumers nowadays, more retailers should embrace them, too.

Are you contemplating a shopping ban during these rough financial times? Check out what prompted me to start a 5-month self-imposed shopping ban; tips and tricks that helped keep me on track; and my thoughts on the experience overall.

Mrs. Exeter, seriously, are you f***ing kidding me?!?

Geisha Girl Goodness

As long as it's used for the embellishment of clothes and accessories, I'm all for the fetishization of Asian female beauty.

My black Triple 5 Soul tee

Geisha girl picture ring by Rebecca Berry, $20

Ed Hardy 'Ellerise' sneakers (originally spotted on Couture Carrie)


Will Write For Swag (Part 2 of ?)

Jenny and Tabitha weren't the only local designers I did website work for. Christine Ng-Nickerson--whom I met while covering the 4th Ave grand opening for Stylefinds--approached me about doing some website work in exchange for jewelry from her Howling Dog line. It wasn't until the Monday before I left that I found the time to drop by her home and pick out my payment swag. With a penchant for pearls on my mind, I chose a necklace and bracelet made of white freshwater pearls, silver beads, and Swarovski crystals.

I couldn't stop playing with my new jewelry once I got home. Christine sizes her bracelets using her own small wrists as a standard, which I love because I have very small wrists as well and bracelets fall off all the time. This one actually stays on! I'm thrilled.

Further experimentation yielded the fact that I'd gotten 3 pieces of jewelry in 2. I slid the toggle on the bracelet through the loop on the necklace and vice versa, and voila! I had a long statement necklace. Coco Chanel, eat your heart out.


Looking Back On Lisa: Cold Weather Garb

300+ posts later, I can't believe I'm still blogging. What started as a fun pastime on MSN Live Spaces has become an addictive pleasure, as well as a way for me to connect with like-minded, gorgeous, stylish, talented bloggers living all over the world.

I thought that now might be a good time for me to self-reflect and look at the sorts of things I've blogged about in the last 1.5 years. For new readers, this is a chance to get acquainted with facets of this blog you may have never seen before. To all those loyal readers who've been with this blog since I started, feel free to roll your eyes and move on to my blogroll for new reading material. First up: A round-up of posts dedicated to dressing for my favourite season, autumn.

I paid homage to one of my favourite items of clothing ever, the humble hoodie.

Everyone has standby staples for the fall season; mine are listed here.

Wool coats keep you toasty warm when the mercury drops.

My obsession with sweater coats began last autumn and continues unabated.

This is the perfect time of year for dark denim.

Autumn heralds a transition from patio weather to indoor bars and clubs. For guys, now would be an excellent time to get a distinctive dress shirt that will make you stand out in the dim lighting. I found some Roar shirts for a guy friend a while back. (Note: He ended up ordering one from eModa!)

Bon Voyage!

I can't believe I'm in Paris right now! Before I took off on my trip, I did a bit of browsing on the Modcloth website and found some very occasion-appropriate goodies.

Spring in Paris umbrella, $24.99. One of the managers at my office just returned from a business trip to the Paris office and advised me to pack an umbrella and expect rain. This umbrella is a bit too big for me to tote around as a tourist, but I can picture myself using it in Vancouver while dreaming of days spent in the city of lights.

Wanderlust bracelet, $17.99. The tiny Arc de Triomphe on this bracelet totally tickles my fancy.

LAmour luggage tag, $11.99. It's shiny and sparkly and sure to make my generic black suitcase stand out from all the other luggage on the carousel.


Quick Notes From Paris

  • Paris is no less polluted or smelly than London, and in some ways it has a worse problem in the form of dog poop on random sidewalks. (Watch where you step.) However, the architecture is beautiful. I've had gorgeous weather over the past few days and taken advantage of it, wandering wherever my heart desires.
  • Speaking of my heart's desire, seeing this romantic city and its old world charm makes me wish I had someone to share it with, especially when I see couples kissing on the street.
  • My French doesn't completely suck. I'm constantly amazed at how much I can understand and how much comes back to me from my high school days. Yesterday, I successfully told someone en français that I didn't need a plastic bag for my purchase. Today, I had a meal by myself in a seafood restaurant near L'école Militaire. The waiter spoke English with a couple at another table the entire time, but once he figured out I knew some French, he insisted, "En français, madame." I felt so flattered that he was encouraging me to speak French, especially since I've heard that the French will speak English with you if they feel you're butchering their language.
  • The girls here are really stylish. They were stylish in London, too. I feel more like a slob than ever.
  • If you're a genteel-looking Asian girl walking down the Champs-Elysees, expect to get some weird propositions (and even stranger travel stories out of said propositions).

Latin Pop Culture and Fashion (Pt. 2): More Mainstream Latin Celebrities

In my last post on the topic of Latin pop culture's influence on fashion, I talked about Ugly Betty and mentioned that it was Salma Hayek's influence as a stateside celebrity that made the show possible. I also talked about how the show had made a rising star out of America Ferrera. Indeed, more than ever, entertainers with a Latin background seem to be achieving mainstream success in the English-speaking media. Their growing influence on fashion can be broken down into two effects:
  1. Attractive stars with great style are photographed and mimicked. Their clout as style icons can, at times, become a foray into the fashion industry later on.
  2. The diversity of these celebrities' looks pushes yet reaffirms the boundaries of what mainstream America thinks of as a stereotypically Latin look.

The Rise of Stylish Latin Stars

Think long and hard about this question: Before the nineties, when was the last time the English-speaking world looked at a Latina woman as a style icon? Eva Peron? Nowadays, however, any follower of tabloid magazines can name a slew of Latina celebrities whom they consider fashionable: Jennifer Lopez, Eva Longoria, Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruz, America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel, Gisele Bundchen, and so on. These chicas strut their stuff, becoming household names in the process.

Original images from

Some of them have translated their style clout into gigs as designers and spokesmodels. Jennifer Lopez parlayed her fame and uniquely streetwise look into clothing lines. Penelope Cruz and her sister, Monica, now design a clothing line exclusively for Mango. At the height of the Desperate Housewives hype, Eva Longoria's outfits on and off the air were scrutinized endlessly, and she landed major endorsement deals with companies like L'Oreal and Bebe. The clothing lines, collaborations with major chains, endorsements--the success of these endeavours proves that there's a consumer group that identifies with these ladies. This consumer base may be Latin or non-Latin, but it certainly identifies with the personal style, charm, success, beauty, and aspirational lifestyle that these ladies embody.

Interestingly, the chicos haven't had as much success establishing themselves as style stars in the English-speaking world with the notable exception of Diego Luna. After the unprecedented success of Y Tu Mama Tambien, Diego scored English-language roles in a number of films released in North America, most notably Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. His slim build, boyishly handsome good looks, and puppy dog eyes made him an ideal blank canvas for designer suits and higher-end streetwear. The high points of his evolution as a style icon include a 12-page fashion spread modelling suits in a July 2004 issue of GQ, and a stint as a spokesmodel for Ermengildo Zegna in 2005.

Diego Luna looking suave in Zegna

Racial Politics and Latin Celebrities

The diversity of these celebrities' looks pushes yet reaffirms the boundaries of what mainstream America thinks of as a stereotypically Latin look. When most North Americans think of a typically "Latin-looking" person, the image that comes to mind is dark eyes, dark hair, and dark skin. Yet the wholesome all-American looks of Alexis Bledel (Mexican/Argentinean), blond supermodel Gisele, and Gael Garcia Bernal's fair skin and green eyes challenge this stereotype. Latin celebrities who veer from the stereotype have broadened popular conception so that it reflects the diversity of the modern-day Spanish-speaking world.

Alexis Bledel (photo courtesy of Purse Blog)

At the same time, it is interesting to see that appearance-based typecasting in Hollywood still stands. Latin actors who look relatively Caucasian and can speak with no audible accent can land more mainstream parts than the dark-haired, dark-eyed actors who speak with an accent; the latter are almost always typecast. For example, Alexis Bledel rose to fame as the all-American Rory Gilmore. She is so famous for this WASP-ish persona that people are often surprised to find out she's half-Mexican, half-Argentinean, and fluent in Spanish. Contrast Alexis Bledel's career trajectory with that of Salma Hayek's or Penelope Cruz's; both of these ladies almost exclusively play Latina women.

Secret London Travel Tip

Today I learned that the Victoria & Albert Museum is an awesome place for a (discreet) mid-afternoon power nap.

For the past week, I've been up pretty much since the crack of dawn and trekking to and fro in fair London town, so it's no surprise that at the end of the week I just feel plain worn out, even after a full night's sleep and sleeping in until 11 this morning.

As I wandered the halls of the V&A I could feel the drowsiness overtake me. I found an upholstered seat in the silver gallery which was relatively hidden from view by some large glass display cases. Then I sat down, let my head droop, and napped for about 20 minutes. I didn't care what the museum staff probably thought, but at the same time I didn't want to sprawl and lie down on the couch...that would've been too weird. Thankfully, nobody came by and woke me up and told me to go home and sleep.

Post-nap, I definitely had a spring in my step. I left the museum around 6:30 and wandered a bit until I came upon a restaurant called Med Kitchen. A bellini, some grilled chicken and mashed potatoes, and a peppermint tea later, I was feeling ready for a shower and my bed.

Tomorrow's itinerary: Check out of hostel. Go to Harrods and some really famous toy store in London with my new hostel friend Jan. Take Eurostar to Paris in the afternoon.

So Tired

The British Museum wore me out.

Translated: Reik

I've listened to this song so many times I've lost count, but it was only recently that the Spanish words clicked in my head and I suddenly understood the lovelorn lyrics that Reik was singing. What I heard made the incurable romantic in me grin like an idiot, so I thought I'd share these sweet and sappy words with you. Cue the collective "Aww" moment.

Que Vida La Mia ("What A Life, This Life of Mine")

I wake up in the morning, to see you pass by,
and I'll have you in my mind for the rest of the day
what a life, this life of mine
I still don't know your name and now you're in control of me
and I spend all day imagining your smile...
what a life, this life of mine
I don't know what to do to be the air around you
and caress your skin...
I only want to talk, I only want to get to know you
give me a bit of your time to convince you
I only want to be your friend, and I'm dying to go out with you
give me a signal, just give me a glance
if you're at my side, nothing else matters
now I want to be in your arms, and I'm dying to
taste your lips, so red, full of you...
just say yes to me...

I stay awake at nights thinking of you
and if I sleep I dream only of having your caresses
what a life, this life of mine...
I have all this love and it's only for you
and I'm only satisfied seeing you another day
what a life, this life of mine...
I don't know what to do to be the air around you
and caress your skin...

I only want to talk, I only want to get to know you
give me a bit of your time to convince you
I only want to be your friend, and I'm dying to go out with you
give me a signal, just give me a glance
if you're at my side, nothing else matters
now I want to be in your arms, and I'm dying to
taste your lips, so red, full of you...
just say yes to me...

More Random London Notes

  • My Spanish is helping me make friends as much as my English. So far I've met an Argentinean, an Angolan-Cuban, several Mexicans, and an elderly couple from Madrid visiting their doctoral student daughter in London. I love talking to random Spanish-speaking people. Their surprise at my language skills turns into delight after a few seconds and they're always so warm.
  • I had my first skirmish with one of my hostel roomies. What happened was, she was reaching for the bathroom door and wanting to use the toilet just as I unlocked it after taking a shower. When the door opened, she thought mistakenly that I had left the door unlocked and said to me condescendingly, "This is a hostel, love. Lock the bathroom door if you don't want anyone going in." As she said this, I could smell the booze on her breath. She stalked away and I closed the second door that partitions her part of the room off from mine so I could change. I was almost done when she knocked. I said, "One sec"--and then she barged through in a huff to the bathroom. When she came out, she gave me this passive-aggressive apology along the lines of "I'm sorry if you were under the impression that this is your private room." WTF? Who does this drunken bitch think she is? I puffed up and said, "Listen, what happened was you reached for the door just as I unlocked it. It was locked the entire time. We can chalk it up to a coincidence of bad timing. And I'm not under the impression that this is my private room. I closed the second door because I was changing and our male roomie was on his bunk!" She probably thinks I'm a spaz now but whatever. Ironically, that morning--before the skirmish--she called me "the most considerate hostel person" she's ever met. It'll be good for her to learn that even the most considerate people have their limits.
  • On the flip side I may have made an Aussie friend out of a different hostel roomie. She'll be in town in NYC when I'm there; maybe she'll join me for Halloween shenanigans!
  • Not all musicals are created equal. I sprang for a ticket to The Phantom of the Opera because my experience with Wicked had been so outstanding--and I ended up hating it! So much, in fact, that I left during intermission and didn't return. I wasn't the only one. Some muttering Japanese tourists were right in front of me.
  • I'm unintentionally saving money due to an overbooked itinerary. Often I'm rushing from one destination to another with not much time to sit down and eat a proper meal, so I opt for the ready-made sandwiches at the Pret sandwich chain and Marks & Spencer food shops. The more I learn about Pret, the more I love them. They use fresh, locally sourced ingredients and always make their preservative-free food on premises. At the end of the day, any uneaten food is donated to affiliated charities and shelters.
  • The Tower of London. Wow. It's strange to be touring a building that's been there since 1066 and the site of so many executions of well-known historical figures.
  • Westminster Abbey. Double wow. I loved finding all the plaques commemorating writers that I studied in the Poet's Corner.
  • Europe is best done when you're young and a student. I still have my university student ID and it's valid until 2011, so I've been using it to get student discounts at the attractions I've gone to so far.

A Bit More Shameless Self-Promotion

Check out my interview with OAK jewelry designer Christi York on Stylefinds today!

Animal Analogies and Other Small Inheritances

When you're young and hotheaded, you swear up and down you'll never turn out to be like your parents. So at which point do you realize that you have, in a way, and you accept it for what it is?
Take my similes, for example. Once, I replied enthusiastically to a request from my Stylefinds editor by emailing back, "I'm all over this like ants on a picnic table." I've also been known to say things like "I pack like a turtle and take everything with me" and call ditzy moments "bunny bear moments" (inside's cute when you know the story, trust me).

My mom's analogies frequently incorporate the animal kingdom too. Once, she hefted my March issue of Elle in-hand and said, "What is this magazine? It's as heavy as a chicken!" When she complains about the price of parking in Vancouver, it's about how she's fed the meter enough money to buy half a soy sauce chicken from our favourite roast meat shop in Chinatown. One of my friends crowed with laughter ("crowed," hehe) when I told her about the last one: "Your mom's hilarious! That must be where you get your one-liners from."

I've inherited other mannerisms as well, such as my mom's well-intended bluntness and my dad's ability (talent?) to fall into a comatose sleep after an hour in front of the TV. Without realizing it or intending to, I've absorbed some of their traits, and I don't mind it at all.

What sort of mannerisms--amusing or annoying--have you inherited from your folks?

The Madness Of The Midnight Hour


Jebus, my arm hurts. I think I overdid Oxford Street. I didn't buy much, but having to carry "not much" for 8 hours can make anyone strain their right arm, I guess. Like an idiot, I didn't pack any aspirin and the hostel staff aren't allowed to administer any sort of medicine for liability reasons, so I'll just have to bear it and drink lots of coffee to get me through tomorrow. (I haven't been able to sleep all night because of the pain, which is why I'm blogging right now. It's currently 6:26 am London time.)

Plan for the rest of the day: Watch changing of the guard. Return impulsive purchases. Tower of London. Maybe pop by St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey if I have time. Oh, and lots of coffee...I'm going to need it after a night of no sleep.

Random London Notes In 18 Minutes Or Less

I only have 18 minutes of Internet time left in my half-hour session on the hostel's computer. Let's see how many random recollections I can type in that time, shall we?
  • London smells. (This is a bad thing.) Every once in a while I walk across a random intersection and get a whiff of something. It's not deadly or anything, and in fact it smells a bit like NYC and Mexico City. Maybe it's an overpopulated city thing.
  • I'm surprisingly impervious to "the cold" (i.e. the weather that makes people here step out in tights, scarves, and jackets and/or cardigans). In fact, I'm actually overheating and I get way too hot on the tube. Plus it's not raining--miracle of miracles! I'm definitely regretting the wool jacket and boots and knee-high socks that I packed.
  • Speaking of getting hot on the tube, I sat across from an extremely cute guy on the Piccadilly line this morning. He was kind of sleepy and kept nodding off. He also sported cuts on his nose and under his eye and what looked like a recovering black eye. I wanted to ask him how he'd done that, but I was afraid he'd reply that he got those injuries in a bar brawl (plus I was just plain afraid).
  • Like NYC, I'm really enjoying travelling alone and meeting random people and having conversations with complete strangers. The Aussie tourists I keep bumping into are lovely. Oh, and today at lunch I struck up a conversation with a guy sitting next to me at a sandwich shop. He designs Facebook applications for a living. How freakin' cool is that?!?
  • The high street shops sell some surprisingly craptastic stuff. Given the exchange rate, I'm not exactly buying it, figuratively and literally.
  • Purchases from today: a prim cotton top that looks oh so lovely with my cameo necklace, some comfy two-toned T-strap heels, two nude-coloured miracle camis from Uniqlo. I also bought a satiny top from Dorothy Perkins and a skirt from Miss Selfridge, but upon a second look I think I might return them. I have serious reservations about the quality of both pieces.
  • Wicked is wicked good. The half-price tickets deals available in Leicester Square made it even better.

Latin Pop Culture and Fashion (Pt. 1): Ugly Betty

Image from

A while ago, one of my readers, Serg Riva, left me a comment saying that he'd like to know what I thought of Latin pop culture's influence on fashion. I posted an interim response saying I'd have to think about the topic a bit more. My thoughts leaped in all directions and are probably too verbose to be contained in a single post, so I'm splitting them up into a series of posts. This first post focuses on Ugly Betty and its influence on fashion.

What most of us know as Ugly Betty began as a popular Colombian telenovela called Yo Soy Betty La Fea. While the American version puts its unattractive heroine to work at a fashion magazine, the original series made a fashion design firm Betty's workplace. Both locations provide fodder for fashion-oriented storylines, as well as emphasize how the heroine's looks make her a fish out of water in an industry where looks are all-important. Although the telenovela achieved great success throughout Latin America and spawned spin-offs in multiple languages and countries, it took the influence of Salma Hayek to bring the show stateside. The rest, as they say, is history.

Ugly Betty's influence on fashion is not based on its accurate portrayal of the fashion industry; that notion is laughable. Instead, its influence lies in its mainstream appeal and its ability to concurrently serve a dose of fashion fun and Latin pop culture to mainstream America. The show's antics may be crazy, but it does draw on aspects of the industry that it portrays. Ugly Betty provides models such as Rebecca Romijn and Naomi Campbell with starring and cameo roles, respectively. A plotline involving a company softball game against Elle magazine grounds the show in reality by referencing a real-life fashion magazine. Designers such as Kenneth Cole and Vera Wang make brief appearances, while Marc Jacobs's current muse Victoria Beckham has an amusing role as fictional creative director Wilhelmina Slater's friend. The fact that a Latina actress and producer was responsible for bringing this show to mainstream North America, and for providing models and designers with another platform for reaching middle America, is a significant indication of how Latin pop culture has influenced the fashion industry.

The growing popularity of Ugly Betty has also made a style star out of America Ferrera. Ferrera embodies a full-bodied attractiveness and vivaciousness not usually seen in mainstream media, but she has proven time and again that she has the style chops to outshine skinnier starlets on the red carpet. I can definitely see Ferrera giving young Latina girls with body image issues a major self-esteem boost by proving that you don't have to be Caucasian and thin to succeed in the entertainment industry. It's no coincidence that her breakthrough role was in the indie film Real Women Have Curves.

America Ferrera in Marie Claire

Further reading:
Yo Soy Betty La Fea on Wikipedia
Ugly Betty on Wikipedia

NEXT UP: Mainstream Latin celebrities making their mark in fashion

Tired Dispatch From the L-Dot

Today I started off with no game plan in mind other than to go to Leicester Square for half-price theatre tickets and make my way to Covent Garden. However, vague plans have a wonderful way of straying until they don't resemble the original intention at all. I snapped some pictures of Trafalgar Square while it was still relatively deserted in the morning hours and got up the nerve to ask two Australian tourists to take my picture next to one of the trademark red telephone booths. These two Aussies, the lovely John and Dorothy, had just wrapped up a tour of the UK. We hit it off and they invited me to join their walking tour group. Not expecting Covent Garden to get busy until the afternoon, I agreed.

The walking tour took us through the cavalry grounds, St. James Park, and past Buckingham Palace. (It's a lot smaller than it looks on TV.) After the tour, I walked up the Mall and down the Strand heading to Covent Garden.

Now, remember yesterday when I said I was reluctant to shop too much because of serious price sticker shock? I may have spoken too soon. My spoils from the day include a pair of jeans from Whistles, a girly sundress found on the clearance rack at Topshop, and a little pot of bright blue eyeshadow from B. I'm still reluctant to whip out my credit card for every little thing, though, and I still don't want to buy anything I'd be likely to find back home for cheaper.

Covent Garden was winding down and I shifted gears, walking around Whitehall Place and the Parliament buildings. I made a wrong turn around Westminster Abbey and got lost in Westminster. Oops. Luckily, a kind gentleman smoking outside a neighbourhood pub pointed me in the direction of the Pimlico tube stop.

Next up for tomorrow: Buy a ticket for Dirty Dancing: The Musical; venture down Bond Street; and shop along Oxford Street. I've heard good things about Primark on Oxford Street and I'm really excited after seeing so many people carry huge Primark shopping bags around.

Just Touched Down In London Town...

I know I said I wasn't going to be doing much blogging while I'm away, but it's currently 5:12 am in the morning and I'm having a hard time falling asleep. I had a brief stopover in Denver before hopping on an 8-9 hour flight from Denver to London. Do you know what happens to people's legs when they fly economy for that absurdly long period of time? They cramp. The knees start to hurt. Feet swell. It took an hour or two of solid walking and standing to get myself feeling even remotely normal again.

The weather today was unseasonably lovely; I think it was around 18 degrees Celsius and sunny with no clouds in sight. I checked into my hostel (a very nice clean place), had peppermint tea with one of my roomies, and set out to explore the South Kensington area. Further walking took me to Brompton Road and Knightsbridge, where I popped into Harrods. Ohmigod, the food halls!! I stocked up on little tins of biscuits and shortbread as gifts, but I may go back one evening and just have dinner there. However, today I wasn't very hungry around 5-6pm as I went past Harrods, so instead I popped into Richoux across the road for a traditional afternoon tea instead, little finger sandwiches and scones and all.

After tea, I meant to go to Tate Modern because it's open until 10pm on Saturday nights, but the tube I wanted to take was down. Instead I got off at Embankment and walked around, took the London Eye and got a nighttime view of the city, then crossed the bridge over the Thames and walked around the Parliament buildings. They look pretty spectacular at night when they're backlit.

So far I haven't really been into the shopping yet. Everything is so expensive here that I'm experiencing serious sticker shock. It's priced as it would be back home. This wouldn't be a problem except that the exchange rate for Canadian dollars and pounds sterling is roughly 2:1, so everything costs twice as much as what I'm used to. I think I'm only going to buy things I really, really like and know I can't get back home.

London Calling

I can't believe that several hours and an ocean crossing later, I'll be in London for the first time ever!!!

Hello Kitty British flag coin purse, $18.20

Leaving On A Jet Plane

Photo from ANTM

Well, folks, it's time to say goodbye.

In case you just got a horrible flash of what procrastination would look like without your near-daily dose of Solo Lisa y Nada Mas, rest assured that this blog isn't going anywhere. Rather, I am--to London, Paris, and NYC. This will be my first time in Europe and I'm super-excited. I can't wait to see the sights and indulge in touristy goodness. Museums and galleries? I'm there. Baguettes and French pastries? Sign me up for seconds, please.

The good news is that I've already taken care of your need for a means of procrastination. I've been working feverishly to write up posts ahead of time and schedule them so that this blog will update itself. This lets me enjoy my trip with peace of mind and still gives you something new to read. However, the bad news is that I won't be able to comment on any of the blogs I follow regularly. I'll try my best to catch up on all of my blogging obligations after November 5th--respond to comments, read blogs, check my email, etc.

Here's an inkling of what you can expect in the next 3 weeks:
  • I finally got my act together and started writing about how I think Latin pop culture influences fashion. The ideas have been sitting in my head for a while; hopefully they're coherent when they hatch because they've had a long time to incubate.
  • I found cute things here, there, and everywhere.
  • If you're in the mood for browsing my archives, I'll be publishing some retrospectives listing my all-time favourite posts. Think of them as a concise reading guide.
What's more, I'll be posting photos and stories from my lovely trip once I return. Just don't expect me to look super-stylish in all of my pictures; I'm a bit of a slob when I travel. My wardrobe for the European leg of my trip consists of wool sweaters, tanks and tees, jeans, and flats. For dressier occasions, I'm packing my new CiCi sweater dress and my O by Oscar de la Renta black satin slingbacks. My motto is "Pack light, bring money"; I want to have enough space so that I can lug my purchases home.

My day handbag--if you can call it that--will be this somewhat hideous and very utilitarian travel bag from Mountain Equipment Co-op. I know, I know--I'm losing style points left and right, and who knows, by the time I get back I may not have any readers to entertain anymore. But I've been warned enough times about petty theft and pickpocketing to pack a bag that won't be easy to rifle through or be torn off my body. Plus, a hands-free bag makes double-fisting French pastries so much easier.

Bonjour Paris!

Last week, I booked my Eurostar train from London to Paris. I've been excited about London all along, but Paris feels a lot more real now that I know how I'm going to haul my ass there.

Will Paris hold the key to my heart à la Anastasia?

Even if it doesn't, I imagine I'll be running around gaping at everything like Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn à la Funny Face--minus the singing.

In any case, I'm probably raising my hopes up too high. Nance in France provides a more realistic look at life in the city of lights, including a list of things that suck in Paris.

Project Magic Mascara

Shu Uemura's couture lashes. (Image from

Ah mascaras.

They all promise to do one amazing miracle for your lashes: define, curl, lengthen, OR thicken. But how about a mascara that does all of the above for us gals who want it all? This magic product eludes us year after year. Why do the makeup companies keep coming up with a brush or a formula that only does one thing but in a new and improved way?!

I hope some research lab or marketing executive for a cosmetics company figures this out. Shu Uemura, I'm looking at you. You came up with the mother of false lashes and the holy grail of eyelash curlers. Get your scientist chickens off Project Unicorn and onto Project Magic Mascara, stat!

Will Write For Swag

Almost a month after I interviewed Two of Hearts for Stylefinds, Jenny and Tabitha contacted me about doing some writing work for their websites and offered me free clothes in exchange. How could I say no?

The three of us went through a week-long collaborative process and multiple rounds of revisions. Then, this past weekend, Jenny invited me to their Main Street studio to pick out something from each clothing line for which I did a write-up. I had so much fun going through the racks of clothes and trying things on. After much deliberation, I picked the Gigi dress from the Two of Hearts line in black and green, and a black sweater dress from the CiCi line.

I really love both dresses and am already envisioning myself wearing them during my travels. Paired with some kitten heels and tights, the black sweater dress will let me channel my inner Audrey Hepburn if I go to dinner at a nice restaurant or a show in London or Paris. The Gigi dress will look streetwise and super cute with a long-sleeved tee, leggings, and boots while I'm strolling the streets of NYC.

P.S. I can't wait to see my write-ups on the websites!
P.P.S. I should really do this more often if the opportunity arises. It's rewarding and flattering to know that people enjoy your writing enough to offer you the chance to do more of it. Plus, the "will write for swag" arrangement lets me shop without spending money.

Run Fast, Trial #273

Image courtesy of The Purse Blog

MizzJ sent me a link to The Purse Blog's post on the Fendi Selleria Hobo with the words "I cannot believe this purse costs $1460."

I agreed; the purse seemed like a nothing-special hobo. Then I joked, "Unless that's unicorn skin it's made of!"

I don't know where that wisecrack came from. I can only attribute it to one of my favourite Savage Chickens cartoons in recent memory.

Poor Narwhorse (aka trial #72). Your genetically blessed brethren may have been skinned to make boring Fendi.

Post-Ban Reflections

Ah most beloved purse, soon you will be mine!

Two days ago, Jennifer had these kind words to say about the end of my shopping ban:

"Love the cameo necklace! I'm very interested to learn how much money you ended up saving during your shopping sabbatical. I am considering doing this myself, after realizing how much money I throw away on clothing and dining out. I admired your determination! You are a inspiration!"

Jennifer, thanks for the kind words; I'm flattered that you think I'm an inspiration! I typically spend about $300-400 a month on clothes and accessories, so I guess over the course of 5 months that works out to $1500-2000. However, I'd peg the actual amount I saved at a number closer to $1500 since I found myself spending more time going out with friends and more money on toiletries and makeup than I did previously (approximately $200-250, I think?).

Your words prompted me to reflect on the course of the last few months. I think the first few weeks were fairly easy because when I began my ban I simply felt shopped out, like I was spending frivolously and impulsively rather than buying things I needed. The months in the middle were the hardest: I was coveting cute things in stores and had to wean myself off going to malls entirely. Toward the end, I found myself actually embracing the shopping ban. It was surprisingly easy and even satisfying to deposit a lump sum in my savings every month, knowing that the money would be better spent on a Chanel purse I'd have forever, or on my trip to London, Paris, and New York this fall, rather than a cheap top that will start falling apart after a few washes.

It helps to have loopholes so you can feel proud of your progress without feeling like you're completely depriving yourself of indulgences. I still went out dancing, to movies, for dinner and drinks with friends. I bought nail polish, a new makeup case, perfume, and fashion magazines. My ban only covered clothing and accessories, so these were sneaky little escape hatches that let me have a bit of a retail high and still stick to my goal.

Post-ban, I think I've become a lot more thoughtful about what I buy. On the weekend, while I was at the craft market and Banana Republic and browsing various other stores, I found myself touching fabrics and looking at merchandise with distaste. I didn't want to buy anything which looked or felt as though it would fall apart within a year. After having done without shopping for so long, I realized that I don't have to buy something right away, nor should I settle for less by buying something only marginally acceptable according to my criteria for fit, style, and quality. Instead, I can take my time thinking about how I'd use my purchase, asking questions about the materials, checking the fabric composition on the tag, and inspecting the item for shoddy stitching or defects. If I don't find what I want right away, I'll find it eventually.
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