Style codes you could live by for any occasion

How often have you spent hours scouring the wardrobe just to find the perfect dress to wear? Or perhaps trying to mix n’ match various accessories?

At times being fashionable can be challenging with many of us still facing the struggle of choosing or creating our OOTD. For this reason, we’ve compiled a set of style codes which can work for any occasion.

Remember the primary colors and their families

Even one color faux pas can ruin the whole outfit. It’s easy enough when talking about shades as the basic thing to remember is contrast – light vs. dark. But if all the other colors come in, that’s when everything becomes tricky.

To make things easier, think back to when you were in kindergarten studying primary colors: red, yellow and blue as well as the whole color wheel. Every time you’re choosing multiple colors to wear, envisage the color wheel or have a photo of it saved as a good reference point.

(image: Wikimedia)

Here are some guidelines you can follow:

1. Color pairs at opposing ends of the wheel that compliment each other.
2. Colors that are side-by-side can work, but only with the right contrast (lightness or darkness).
3. You can use various shades of the same color for a layered effect.
4. Never use too many colors. The ideal combination would include no more than three different hues.

It’s important to note, however, that your complexion also plays a role in this process. For instance, Style Doctors explained in a previous post ‘How to Wear Pink’ that different shades of pink have their own respective matches of skin color. Do a quick test by taking the dress and pairing its color to your skin.


Why I choose to thrift

I’m starting today’s post off with a few personal thoughts before diving deeper into the topic. After sharing that majority of my clothing purchases in 2016 were actually thrifted, it sparked some really great dialogues (thank you!!) asking how I got into thrifting and why I continue to buy secondhand.

To be frank, my response to “Why do you thrift?” is two-fold:
1. From a financial aspect, it can be more wallet friendly to buy secondhand. I say “can be” purposefully, because it is very possible to spend more on rare pieces than buying new at retail (e.g. vintage designer purses). For the most part, it’s wallet friendly.
2. There’s a huge negative environmental and economical impact to countries who export fast fashion labour that goes widely unspoken of. Many people who work in factories producing clothing sold to consumers as dirt cheap prices get paid dirt cheap wages. Often, many of these factories do not meet safety standards, do not provide healthy work environments, and don’t treat their labour force fairly. For these very reasons, I have a hard time continuing to support businesses who exploit human labour and am actively learning what it means to be a conscious consumer.

In an effort to spend (and save) more consciously, I’ve decided to own less pieces in my closet and get creative with thrifting the majority of the new-to-me pieces that get added as I rediscover gaps in my wardrobe staples. Instead of filling the landfills with more unwanted clothing, I’ve been shopping consignment, Goodwill, eBay, and Poshmark to hopefully reduce the amount of waste produced. Some of my favourite pieces – many of which you’ve seen on the blog – are thrifted treasures!

the demure muse // vintage Coach Legacy purse
thrifted vintage Coach Legacy purse from Falling for monochrome post, Sept 2016

Thrifting is something that’s been part of my life since I was a kid. Because I used to spend a couple weeks every Summer living with my grandparents, my grandma used to take me along to run her daily errands. Aside from learning how to pick the best produce at the grocery store and the Chinese names of my favourite dishes at dim sum, my grandma taught me how to be a smart thrifter. It was her passion for finding good deals and patience for waiting it out for the perfect piece that helped to shape the way I thrift today. I have so many fond memories of going to Goodwill stores with her, which is probably why I have such a positive association with the stores as an adult today.

As a blogger who has felt the pressures of trying to stay up to date with trends in the past, I have definitely fallen victim to supporting fast fashion. As I’ve grown older and have started to settle into my personal style that isn’t heavily influenced by the window displays of stores, I have gotten better about thrifting pieces based off of the styles more than off the labels.

I know that thrifting and buying secondhand isn’t for everyone. There have been many times that I’ve talked about thrift finds to people who gave me the stink eye about buying used items, but to each their own! I personally love the thrill of finding unique pieces and knowing that I’m helping to reduce the amount of waste in landfills.

If you’re ever curious about learning more about the “cost” of fast fashion, I highly recommend checking out the documentary The True Cost.


Real talk: Blogging woes, (not) keeping up with trends, and the future of this blog

2017 has been in full swing for the last week, yet here I am dilly dallying on getting the first post of the year published. Why? I struggled (and continue to struggle) with putting my thoughts into words. Taking a break from blogging over the winter break gave me a chance to reflect on how crazy 2016 really was. Last year, I found myself struggling to balance between spending my free time blogging vs keeping up a social life vs personal time for myself. While it may be obvious for some to draw boundaries and let creative outlets (i.e. this blog) fall to the back burner, I started to feel the pressures of not wanting to get left behind in the blogging world.

moorea seal tassel necklace
(April 2016: Adventures in the city)

As a blogger who started before blogging was even seen as a plausible career, I’ve seen and felt the pressures of constantly staying on trend, making frequent posts, all whilst staying active on social media. While the balancing act of maintaining a regularly updated blog was doable between my full time jobs in the past, 2016 proved to be much harder. I was on and off the road for work almost every 2-3 weeks. When on the road, I would be at my job for 12+ hour days, falling asleep immediately after walking in the door to my hotel room. All I wanted to do when I was home was cuddle my cat, catch up with friends, spend time with my significant other, and fold warm laundry fresh out of the dryer. There would be full weekends that I would completely avoid checking my inbox or social media because I wanted to be unplugged and enjoy being present for those around me. It’s the little things that help to keep me sane and grounded.

The little time that I had set aside to blog is when I felt the pressure most. I will always be grateful for all of the sponsors and brands who choose to work with me. With bloggers on the rise, I know there are endless options of influencers to choose from and I am ecstatic when my aesthetic and voice matches that of a brand’s.

When I look back on these posts, I feel two things. One, I feel like 80% of last year’s posts were billboards for partners because at least one piece of most of the outfits were c/o. Two, in what spare time I had, I wouldn’t prioritize my blog unless I had an obligation to (i.e. had a post with c/o items that had a deadline) which is what lead to the previous point. While 2016 was the best year for collaborations, I also wish I didn’t feel the obligation to blog because of said partnerships. That pressure of keeping up with collaborations because I saw other bloggers working with them, having the latest and greatest, etc, played a big role.

women's athleisure outfit ideas
(March 2016: Kickin’ it with the cool kids)

Specifically to fashion, 2016 was a transformational year for me. Not because I was the trendiest or because I provided inspirational outfits… it’s actually the total opposite of that. One thing that I didn’t talk about on the blog at all was how I cut fast fashion in 2016. I stopped shopping at places like H&M, Forever 21, etc, because I didn’t want to (or have time to) stay up to date on the latest and greatest fashion trends. After a 2-year long process of minimizing and rebuilding my wardrobe, I had found my own groove for style and learned how to be creative without owning hundreds of pieces to mix and match between.

Instead of supporting fast fashion, I opted to thrift majority of my new closet additions (I’d say about 70% of “new” pieces were thrifted) and made investments in pricier pieces that I knew I would wear more often. I was also lucky enough to work with brands that encompassed the same values of slow fashion, or quality clothing at realistic prices, which helped to keep my clothing budget in check.

Although I added a handful of new pieces as I rebuilt my wardrobe, none of them were real showstoppers. Majority of the pieces were either elevated basics or “plain staples” (like black ankle booties) that wouldn’t turn any heads on the blog or in the real world. There were often times that I would question, “Will people keep reading this blog if I keep sharing the same pieces in my closest over and over again?” “Maybe I should buy a lace-up hoodie because that’s what everyone else seems to be wearing… even though I have no idea where I would ever wear this to in real life.”

To my surprise, even with slowing down on the pace of purchasing and the avenue I chose to buy “new” clothing from, I somehow continued to grow my readership and trust with you all. It was great to have honest conversations in the comments or on Instagram about closet woes (like this post about finding a jacket in the back of my closet that I forgot about for 2 years… it’s since been re-homed to a good friend who’s worn it more times in the last 2 months that I have in the last 2 years) and being accepting of the fact that not all bloggers’ lives and closets are perfect.

Even though I may not be the most fashion-forward style blogger, I hope to bring a new perspective in 2017. I’m excited to be more transparent about the thrift finds and budgeting that I’ve set for myself in the clothing category this year. Part of having a budget for clothes is to force myself to continue to be a conscious consumer… the other part is the fact that I’m also now cognizant of finances required to have a wedding. ;)

I also strive to be a more authentic blogger, sharing the good and the bad for purchases that I make. As a blogger, it’s easy to share praises for brands or products that I personally vouch for, but there are equal amounts of products that I buy on my own and try and don’t have such a “sunshine and rainbows” experience with, but have been historically too nervous to post a negative review about in fear of losing potential collaboration opportunities over.

Phew! If you’ve made it this far– thank you for sticking it out! This is the longest blog post I’ve written to date, but also the most transparent and vulnerable I’ve ever felt before hitting the “Publish” button. Thank you for always reading and supporting this creative passion project of mine. I can’t thank you enough for following along on the journey and am excited to keep styling and posting work that I am genuinely-from-the-bottom-of-my-heart-excited and proud to share!


Keeping a minimalist wardrobe feeling fresh

Building a minimalist working wardrobe is not an overnight task. It’s something that I actively started working on over a year ago and continue to build on today. This whole process was sparked by a combination of reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and becoming a more conscious consumer after reading the effects of fast fashion on the environment.

Although I only have a rough idea of what mission complete is supposed to look or feel like, I sometimes feel like I’m still a ways away from being done. Not surprisingly, 90% of my wardrobe’s palette is now black, white, grey, or denim. The remaining 10% is the handful of “special occasion” or sentimental keepsake pieces. To avoid my everyday outfits from looking like a boring uniform, I have started to play with bold accessories to pair and elevate the neutral basics. Here are some tips and tricks for building a minimalist wardrobe and keeping it feeling fresh.

Minimalist wardrobe building: How to incorporate accent accessories
outfit details:
cold shoulder top: ASOS (exact)
skinny jeans: AG Jeans (exact)
Brooks vintage logo hat: c/o Brooks (Heritage collection)
quilted Vanguard sneakers: c/o Brooks (launching Oct 1!)

1. Pick a limited colour palette and stick with it!

To be honest, the current palette of black, white, grey, and denim, is nothing new to my wardrobe. My previous closet was heavily in favour of this palette. The only difference now is that instead of these colours making up 55% of my wardrobe, they make up close to 90%. Of course, the base palette colours can vary from person to person. Learning what colours you gravitate to most and have an abundance of in your current wardrobe will help identify which colours are best for your minimalist wardrobe. Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer! Whatever works best is the closest “right answer” for you!

2. Look for basics that help shape select silhouettes

Know what silhouettes you like best and build your wardrobe around those. Having multiple pieces that help build the same silhouette over and over again with different outfits will make pairing pieces easier. For example, if you like easy, loose-fitting tops, stock your wardrobe with boyfriend tees in all colours that make up the neutral palette. This will make interchanging of the tees a breeze because all of them will support the same overall outfit silhouette!

vintage brooks baseball hat

3. Rotate accessories to keep it feeling fresh

It’s been a while since I purchased any new staples for my main base wardrobe. To keep these simple outfits feeling fresh and new with each season, I’ve been mixing bold accessories to strike a fun contrast with the neutral base palette. Surprisingly, red is the colour that I gravitate to most for accessories. It’s so bold and attention-grabbing, completely in the opposite direction of the rest of my closet. Mix and match shoes, hats, necklaces, etc, to help bring a new perspective to base outfits on high rotation.

If you’re also building a minimalist wardrobe, I’m curious to know if you have any additional tips and tricks to help keep it feeling fresh from season to season!


3 Tips for buying vintage bags online

Super excited to share my tips and tricks in today’s post after receiving a couple emails about what my research and buying process was like for the vintage Coach City Bag in last week’s post. To be honest, I’m much more of an in-person thrifting kinda gal, but all my lucky thrift finds (like this vintage Coach Stewardess Bag found in Goodwill in 2013) weren’t planned. Whenever I have specific items in mind for trips to the thrift store, I never find them. So, with the Coach Classics line (re)launch to remind me of how beautiful their classic all-leather bags are (but totally out of my current budget), I took my search of a vintage Coach City Bag to the internet.
tips for buying vintage bags online
(photo via Pinterest)

1. Be flexible with style and colour
Although I had my heart set on a Coach City Bag, I also had the Legacy Purse style bookmarked as a second top contender. Price range wise, they were pretty similar when doing some super lightweight, preliminary research in the vintage resale market. Originally, I had set out to find a red bag, hoping that this would be my statement piece for the upcoming Spring and Summer seasons. In the back of my mind, the cognac or mahogany versions would also be good contenders if the red didn’t work out for whatever reason.

Having these backup styles and colours really helped with my search because it gave me options. If I ever got priced out in one style, I could fall back on the other. Similarly with colours, I had such a hard time finding a red one with the right balance of price and condition that I ultimately fell back on my second choice of the cognac. Doing a little bit of research up front for colour options definitely saved my butt from making any impulsive decisions!

2. Have a set budget
It’s so easy to go overboard and want to buy the latest and greatest with all the bells and whistles to boot! If I didn’t have such a strict, self inflicted, shopping budget this year, I might have entertained the thought of buying a new bag from the relaunched Classics line. In reality, $298 was just too steep for me, thus the start of the search for the vintage version of this bag.

Having a strict budget up front will make shopping for the dream vintage bag a bit more challenging, but also rewarding then you finally find the one. By doing the preliminary research to get a feel for the spectrum of what a vintage bag of a certain style sells for, I mentally set my max price and started bookmarking all listings I could find that didn’t exceed the budget. Through this exercise, I was able to quickly learn the condition of bags that fell within my budget and could’ve (but ultimately didn’t) adjusted my max price if I felt that I needed to go up/down a bit to find my dream bag.

3. Research your shopping options
Buying vintage bags online is tough because not all bags will be listed for the same amount(s) on different platforms. Not all shopping platforms will have the same bags for sale. Likewise, not all options will be available at the same time. The beauty of the vintage resale market is that you never know what you’re going to find when you find it! I ended up stalking listings of the Classic City Bag for almost a month before finally deciding to purchase the listing that I did.

To give you a quick idea of the situation I worked with, the Coach Classic City Bag that I purchased had wide spectrums of prices over the following sites I visited (from as low as $20 all the way up to $200+). On average, for the condition of bag I was willing to purchase, here’s what I saw:

  • Ebay: $60 (Buy It Now average)
  • Etsy: $75 (this beauty was my fav!)
  • Poshmark: $50

  • I ended up making my purchase on Poshmark because of the amazing condition of the cognac bag that I found. I ended up missing out on the same bag on Etsy within $2 of my final purchase price on Poshmark because I took too long debating between the two listings. Buying vintage bags online can be tricky because of the sensitive timing, but I think this worked out perfectly given that I have no regrets on buying the bag that I did.

    Hope these tips were helpful! Would love to hear your experiences on buying vintage bags online (or any other wardrobe pieces) and if you have any extra tips to share.

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