Today's Outfit: Saturday Sojourn

Stuff that happened while I wore this outfit:
  1. Went for dim sum with friends
  2. Got mistaken for a Japanese person
  3. Window-shopped along Main Street
  4. Sipped on an iced Americano while riding the SkyTrain
  5. Had this pick-up line thrown at me by a guy with a British accent: "Nice gams. What are you up to tonight?"
  6. Bought contact lens solution
  7. Finished reading Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

  • Blazer (Gap)
  • Top (Forever 21)
  • Shorts (Forever 21)
  • Shoes (Winners)
  • Acorn necklace (Filou)

Not Here Today

Gorgeous blogger Sal of Already Pretty asked me to do a guest post on dance and body image! Please hop on over and check it out. Sal's writing on positive body image and style is so inspirational and helpful, and she truly is one of the most articulate, entertaining, and thoughtful bloggers out there. Needless to say, I was super-flattered when she approached me about doing a guest post.

Have a great weekend everyone! I'll be partaking in dim sum and dancing--what's everyone else up to?

F21 Finds From San Francisco

I did more window shopping than actual shopping while in San Francisco because 1) I've got some big purchases and another trip coming up before the year's end, and 2) I was too tired to do any serious shopping. Despite these limitations, I knew I just had to pay a visit to the giant Forever 21 on Powell Street. The store fulfilled all my fast fashion cravings and then some as I browsed to my heart's content. I'm modelling the pieces I got alongside stuff from my own wardrobe; the F21 purchases are in bold type. Enjoy!

This red top will look cute with denim skirts and jeans.

I love, love, love this new tie-neck red plaid blouse! It's going to be so versatile as I head into autumn. Here I've worn it with a studded belt (Buffalo), black-and-white sweater skirt (Urban Outfitters), leggings (another new F21 acquisition), and black booties (DKNY via

A new cocktail ring to add to my growing collection for less than $5? Yes, please!

This sweet charcoal bubble hem dress just screams Blair Waldorf, especially with the two oversized bows at the back. Not bad for $29.

These heels are new but not from F21; I ordered them from the Urban Outfitters website and had them shipped to my friend Artem so I wouldn't have to pay extra for shipping. Picking them up from the post office and trying them on was one of the highlights of my Saturday in San Fran.

I loved this rose-trimmed top so much I bought it in two different colours, ivory and taupe. Because the fit is rather snug, I think it'll look especially good tucked into high-waisted skirts and bottoms. Here I'm wearing it with my CiCi skirt, Seychelles heels, and Filou acorn necklace.

I love the kitsch factor of this short-sleeved cardigan, which looks especially good with the new leggings and Seychelles heels.

Today's Outfit: Sail Away

You might recognize the outfit above from this post; it was literally thrown together in the morning and I'm pleasantly surprised at how well the top and the skirt worked together. The colour combination and tied bows create an overall sense of unity. Sailor girl sweetness indeed.
  • Top (Pull and Bear)
  • Skirt (CiCi)
  • Sandals (Sterling)

My San Francisco Trip

Thank you to everyone who wished me a fun trip and offered suggestions for things to do! I had a great time in San Francisco. There are too many adventures and stories to recount, so I'm going to use the technical writer's trick of summing everything up in bulleted lists with plenty of photos in between.

Friday night
  • Arrived in SFO airport and discovered the airline had lost my suitcase with everything in it(!)
  • Met up with friend and host for the trip, Artem, at his apartment and enjoyed the rooftop view
  • Walked up Lombard Street and that high, high hill to the Safeway on Marina in search of a toothbrush, contact lens solution/case, and some groceries

Pier 39

  • Hung out at Fisherman's Wharf and saw the famous Pier 39 seals
  • Ate delicious brownie sundaes from Ghirardelli
  • Watched the bakers at Boudin make artisanal breads shaped like teddy bears
  • Shopped for saltwater taffy in a zillion different flavours at Taffy Town
  • Waited for my suitcase to be delivered
  • Went to The Stinking Rose with Artem and his friends to celebrate his birthday and ordered the 40 clove garlic chicken--yum!
  • Played pool at Jillian's in the Metreon
  • Wrapped up the night with a glass of Guinness at a half-bar, half-Indian restaurant place

Taffy Town

Dinner at The Stinking Rose

  • Woke up late
  • Hiked up to Coit Tower for a spectacular view of the city
  • Window-shopped in some cute little boutiques on Grant Street
  • Wandered through Chinatown looking at kitschy souvenirs and spectacular carvings
  • Sat in Washington Square enjoying an open-air concert free to the public
  • Walked up to Alamo Square to admire the Victorian houses
  • Browsed the Kunokuniya Bookstore in Japantown
  • Meandered down the Divisadero to Godzilla Sushi for dinner
  • Saw the late show for District 9

My favourite photo from Chinatown

The Victorian houses at Alamo Square

  • Got lost looking for SFMOMA and walked through the Financial District and Yerba Buena Gardens
  • Caught the Robert Frank and Richard Avedon photography exhibits at SFMOMA
  • Enjoyed a turkey sandwich and orange ginger tea on the shaded terrace of the Samovar Tea Lounge behind the Metreon
  • Rode the curved escalators in Westfield mall
  • Shopped to my heart's content at Forever 21 (pics of purchases to come in a follow-up post later this week!), then browsed Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, and H&M but was too tired to seriously shop
  • Walked up Nob Hill through Chinatown and back to North Beach
  • Met up with Artem and his friend, Adam, to decide on what we'll do on my last night in San Fran and Artem's actual birthday
  • Walked up to the Zoetrope for drinks and a bite to nibble on (I ordered a glass of rosé), then wound down the night with more drinks at Vesuvio

I highly recommend checking this exhibit out if you're in San Fran!

The Zoetrope, a cafe/restaurant/bar owned by Francis Ford Coppola

  • Woke up super-early after last night's drinking, packed, grabbed the largest coffee I could get, and walked down to the pier for my boat (the world's largest hybrid vessel) to Angel Island and Alcatraz
  • Met a super-sweet couple from Southern California, TJ and Natalie, who became my tour buddies
  • Shivered from the wind chill on Angel Island as I ate clam chowder and drank hot peppermint tea
  • Took the audio tour through the Alcatraz cell house
  • Returned to the pier on a normal ferry
  • Stopped by Trader Joe's for shrimp spring rolls and peanut sauce to go
  • Conversed in Mandarin and English with my cab driver on the way to the airport
  • Killed time waiting for my flight with some more clam chowder and tea and some fashion mags
  • Arrived in Vancouver almost half an hour early, only to be delayed by a faulty jet bridge

TJ, Natalie, and I with our audio tour headphones on

Ah San Francisco...I think I left my <3 there!

Barbarella Salon Party

I'm one of those girls who lets her haircuts grow out much longer than I should in between trims--not because I'm too cheap to go to the salon regularly, but because I'm always busy. A haircut falls lower and lower on the priority list as I find other stuff that needs to be done. I left for San Francisco before I could get to a salon and spent the entire trip with my bangs clipped up and my hair in a ponytail; by the time I came back I was dying for a new 'do. Luckily for me, Miranda had arranged a hair party for the ladies of Stylefinds and Jenn Wint from The Conveyor Belt at Barbarella Salon (3277 Main Street, tel. # 604-876-1414).

By the time I arrived, the party was already getting started. Each stylist had paired herself up with a girl. Serena and Miranda sat patiently in their chairs as their stylists put foils in their hair. Shallom and Jen were chatting, and Karen was in the corner with her head under a blow dryer. The hum of pleasant conversation and laughter filled the air.

Over pizza and a refreshing Pimm's, my stylist Barbara and I discussed what to do with my hair. I'm fairly low-maintenance: I like a wash-and-wear style that doesn't require tons of time with a straightening iron or multiple products to look good. My hair also has to be long enough to put up in a ponytail when I'm dancing. I warned Barbara about how thick my locks could get. She grabbed a handful of wet hair and said doubtfully, "The individual strands are probably thick, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of hair." We decided to trim 3" off the ends, layer out some of the bulk and heaviness, and freshen up my bangs.

Barbara shampooed my hair and cut off a lot of the length, then blow-dried my hair before moving on to my bangs. About halfway through the blowdrying, though, she collapsed into a fit of giggles: "Okay, I take back what I said earlier. I just dried your hair and there's twice as much as there was before!" Inspired by my "really classic" look, she curled the ends under for a retro-inspired touch.

The appalling before shot (my hair looks extra weird here because I'd just shaken it out of a hairclip)...

...and the adorable after!

A big, big thank-you to the ladies of Barbarella, and to Barbara in particular, for a great job hosting the party and doing our hair! I love my new cut.

The Barbarella crew

The post-makeover results

Want to find out what the others thought of their hair? Hop on over to Stylefinds for the full re-cap!

All photos in this post by Yvonne Chew.

Spotted At Spend On Trend

I don't usually post on weekends but I wanted to remind Vancouver readers that Spend on Trend is happening right now! This is your chance to shop Canadian-made and designed goodies from all sorts of designers both emerging and established. I had a chance to pop by on Friday night.

Jenny Yen and Tabitha Savoie were present with summer and fall pieces from CiCi, Togs, and Two of Hearts. The designing duo's Main Street boutique has been open for 6 months already. Look for their online store coming this fall.

Jill MacLeod is the designer behind Crass and Sugar, a jewelry line full of quirky pieces made from unconventional materials and techniques--crocheted sterling silver and copper mesh, felt, bamboo, and upcycled kangaroo leather. Yes, you read that correctly--kangaroo leather! Jill, who's lived in Australia for several years, explains that Australian authorities cull the kangaroo population annually to prevent it from destroying the countryside vegetation. The leather from the culling is used to make shoes, belts, and other leather goods in Australia and would go to waste otherwise. Jill fashions edgy cuffs and elaborate honeycomb necklaces and earrings from this material.

Crass and Sugar pieces

Fresh-faced sisters Fumi and Himi Bull named their accessories line Davie and Chiyo after their father and mother. Plenty of lovely frame clutches were on display, but they also point out that they can make custom orders for special occasions and weddings.

Toodlebunny designer Trudy Wynans named her line after a nickname her boyfriend coined for her one Easter several years ago. Now Toodlebunny is synonymous with luxe-looking, vintage-inspired jewelry for stylish Vancouver girls in-the-know.

Toodlebunny necklaces blend eclectic elements such as leather, tassels, a skull, and a sword together into unique designs.

Fiona Louie (far right) designs sterling silver jewelry under the label Filou (formed from the first syllables of her first and last name).

I underestimated my willpower at this event and ended up buying the silver acorn on a 26" chain hanging under the leaf lariat necklace.

Didn't get a chance to stop by Friday or Saturday? Spend on Trend is still open on Sunday August 23rd 11pm-6pm at the Scotiabank Dance Centre (Davie and Granville).

This post also appears on Stylefinds.

Fine Lines

Blame it on the Francis one-shoulder zigzag dress that WendyB hooked me up with, but lately bold lines of all kinds have been catching my eye. The dresses below are such a fun combination of style and geometry, although they obviously can't compete with my Francis dress. ;)

Beach grass dress (Anthropologie), $188.27

'Above the Line' dress (ModCloth), $52.99

Edges & angles dress (Anthropologie), $165.86

'Dance Hall Blitz' dress (ModCloth), $149.99

Zigzag dress (Anthropologie), $255.51


Style Advice: Packing For a Winter Mediterranean Cruise

Photo by egonwegh

A couple weeks ago, I received this email from lovely reader Meghan:

First, let me start off by saying that I absolutely love your blog! It’s awesome! Well, I was reading your blog on “Packing for a Mediterranean Cruise” and I have to request some more of your expert opinions on this matter. I am going on a 12 day Mediterranean cruise for my honeymoon in JANUARY! It’s going to be cold- but there are also pools on board, and we will be walking around at the ports and all the temperatures are different. Ahhhhhhhh—I’m stressing a bit because I don’t really know what to pack (I have never been on a cruise before), and to stay within one (maximum: two) suitcases. I know that I should layer, but it’s so hard to pack for a 2 week vacation in other countries when it’s flipping freezing!!! HELP!

Meghan, thank you for the kind words about my blog and congratulations on your impending marriage and honeymoon! You must be so excited, and a 12-day Mediterrenean cruise sounds marvelous. Based on the itinerary you sent me, the temperature in your destination cities will hover between 6 and 15 degrees Celsius--most likely around 10 degrees Celsius--with the possiblity of rain. In short, the weather at your port cities sounds like it might resemble Vancouver in autumn. Here's a Polyvore set representing your capsule cruise wardrobe.

Some key points about this Polyvore set:
  • As I said in my other Mediterrenean cruise post, pick a colour palette and stick to it. I chose pink and blue for this set because they mix well with each other and accent silver, white, gray, and black nicely.
  • You're absolutely right about the importance of layering! Layering is the key to conserving suitcase space and keeping warm in style. Bring enough fitted camis for 2 weeks and 1 or 2 cardigans. (Change the camis but air out the cardigans when you're not wearing them.) I'm a huge fan of Uniqlo's HeatTech camisoles, which are super-thin but opaque enough to be worn alone and insulate better than the average tank top. For maximum warmth with minimal bulk, the cardigans you pack should be dense-knit, fine yarn merino wool or cashmere.
  • Your sightseeing uniform in port cities: fitted cami + wool/cashmere cardigan + skinny jeans + flat black leather boots. On top, wear a belted wool jacket + colourful scarf + knit beanie + fingerless gloves. Carry a roomy cross-body leather bag (such as the Coach 'Sabrina') + mini umbrella. The boots and umbrella will keep your feet and body dry if it rains. If you find yourself overheating, stuff the scarf, beanie, and gloves into your roomy bag. Fingerless gloves, aside from being trendy items, will keep your hands warm while letting you maintain dexterity as you fumble with your digital camera or your map.
  • Aside from the roomy leather handbag, pack a canvas tote for all your poolside essentials and a clutch for evening.
  • Bring 3-4 bikinis in complementary colours so you can mix and match tops and bottoms. Instead of a sarong, pack a jersey dress with pretty draping as a cover-up; in a pinch, it can double as an evening dress.
  • Cruises usually have an evening dinner dress code, so pack plenty of knee-length cocktail dresses which can be dressed up or down. A dressy bolero in a neutral colour will keep the chill off bare shoulders. Paired with a quilted clutch, silver heels, and eye-catching jewelry, you'll be dining in style every night!
  • Keep metallic accessories in the same colour family to make mixing and matching easier (here I've chosen silver). For day, a simple pair of studs and silver pendant necklace provide subtle polish for your "port city" look. For evening, a pair of statement earrings and a cocktail ring are just the right amount of bling.
  • Try to limit yourself to 4 pairs of shoes: flat black boots (for sightseeing in cold, possibly rainy destinations), ballet flats (for the long flight to and from Barcelona, going to and fro on the cruise), flip-flops (for the pool), and heels (for evening).
Bon voyage, Meghan! To the rest of my readers, do you have any other advice for Meghan about what she should pack?

Luxe Or Less: Beige Tutu-Style Dresses

Years after Sex and the City left the small screen, the blush pink tutu that Sarah Jessica Parker sports in the opening credits is no less memorable for the show's devoted fans. I've always been ambivalent about the tutu myself, but I was reminded of it when I spotted the 'Notte' dress by Marchesa recently. Underneath the A-line chiffon skirt and beaded bodice lurks the spirit of Carrie Bradshaw, yearning to get out.

At $795 on, perhaps the spirit of Carrie Bradshaw will remain buried a little while longer. For those who want the look but don't relish the price tag, there is an alternative--the 'Strata' dress from Admittedly it's still a splurge at $199.99, but just look at all that pleating and the exquisite ruffles in the skirt! It's just as likely to induce ballerina fantasies as its Marchesa cousin.


San Francisco, Here I Come!

Photo by Olivander

So, in case you didn't see my tweets on Twitter, I'm flying to San Francisco tomorrow! I'm incredibly excited for my 4-day getaway to the city of hippie culture, Harvey Milk, the Golden Gate Bridge, cute Victorian homes, hilly streets, and quaint trolley cars. And, of course, any trip to an American city involves plenty of cross-border shopping. I'll be away until August 18th, but don't let that stop you from checking back--I've got some good posts lined up.

If you've been to San Francisco before or you live there, do you have any shopping and dining recommendations? If you're a salsero/salsera in San Fran, what are the best places to go to for an intermediate level LA-style dancer?

August Events

Mark these oh-so-fashionable events on your calendars.

Spend on Trend
Spend on Trend is back at the Scotiabank Dance Centre, just in time to bring you the best of local fashion and design before the fall season starts! Look for clothes and accessories by Two of Hearts, Filou Designs, Toodlebunny, and many more designers. Friday night features a fashion show and live DJ.

Scotiabank Dance Centre (677 Davie St. Downtown Vancouver)
Fri. Aug. 21st, 5pm - 9pm; Sat. Aug. 22, 10am - 7pm; Sun. Aug. 23, 11am - 6pm
$5.00 admission - partial proceeds donated to the BC Cancer Foundation

GAYA Handbag Sample Sale
Stop by the 4th Ave Boutique for great deals on luxe handbags by locally designed label GAYA.

4th Ave Boutique (2005 West 4th Avenue)
August 20-30th, 12pm-7pm

Enjoy a fashion show featuring silk-and-feather evening gowns and amazing lingerie while helping a great cause. Proceeds from this charity fashion show go to peacegirl, an organization that supports survivors of gender-based violence in Uganda and Rwanda. Click the flyer for more details.

Gossip Nightclub
August 28th 2009, 8:30pm to 10:30pm
Tickets $25

This post also appears on Stylefinds.

Wise & Proper Delivers On Ladylike Clothes

My interview with Elizabeth Law, the designer behind the clothing line Wise & Proper, is slightly different from most interviews I do. First, our plans to meet go awry when we end up at different Starbucks locations downtown--something which has never happened to me before. A quick phone call is all it takes for us to synch up, though, and when I catch up with Liz she is already waiting for me, coolly sipping a passion tea lemonade and waiting to begin.

Another reason this interview is unique is that Liz is unlike any other designer I've ever met. She never attended fashion school and admits she hated sewing while growing up. She also confesses that she doesn't know much about what's going on with the fashion industry at large, such as what the big-name designers and labels are doing at the moment. Her so-called lack of knowledge stems from the fact that she never anticipated becoming a fashion designer: "Because I didn't know I was going to go this route, I didn't really follow the typical path. I just wanted to do something creative and something that would make me happy."

The path that did lead her towards fashion design is an interesting one. The child of Chinese immigrants, Liz succumbed to parental pressure to do "something practical" and completed an undergrad degree in business administration. However, she was dissatisfied with the lack of a creative outlet in her life and enrolled in a graphic arts program focusing on 3-D computer animation. During work on her demo reel, Liz developed a nascent form of arthritis from the long hours spent in front of a computer. She took a 3 month hiatus and went to Asia to visit her extended family. While there, an aunt who worked in fashion enlisted Liz's help on buying trips to Italy, and Liz began to seriously consider fashion as that elusive creative outlet.

Striped top from the Spring '09 collection

Today, Liz divides her time between Vancouver and Hong Kong, working closely with manufacturers who transform her sketches into clothing when she's overseas. Wise & Proper derives its name from the characters in Liz's Chinese name and, true to form, produces classic, demure pieces that can be worn in the office or for a sophisticated evening out. "I want to make stuff that's timeless and not just whatever the latest fad is," says Liz. At the same time, this self-described tomboy (she's an accomplished martial artist with a black belt in Tong Moo Do and currently practices Brazilian jiu jitsu) has no problem getting in touch with her inner girly girl. For these reasons, the tops, dresses, and sweaters in each season feature simplistic lines and silhouettes with subtle, feminine detailing. Her practical, wearable designs are earning fans among fashion editors and Vancouverites alike.

Cap sleeve dress from Spring '09

The Fall 2009 collection will feature dresses galore--autumn-appropriate frocks in heavier jersey knit fabrications with long sleeves, as well as plenty of party dresses for the holiday season. Silhouettes will be loose, flowy, and feminine, with a lot of tunic dress pieces that can be worn as tops or mini dresses. The collection will also feature the luxurious cashmere hoodies and sweaters that Wise & Proper is known for.

For now, though, Liz is most excited about the launch of Wise & Proper's new online store which will ship all over North America. She wants to expand her website and find more retailers to carry her line, and has tentative plans to incorporate more eco-friendly fabrics into her designs and move manufacturing to Canada. She's come a long way since she first began pursuing fashion design, but ever the restless creative soul, she believes she still has a long way to go.

Wise & Proper is available at Boudoir, Dream, Plenty, Tutta Mia, and Twigg & Hottie in Vancouver. You can also shop the collections online via the new online store. Follow Wise & Proper on Twitter at @wiseandproper.

This article also appears on Stylefinds.
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