Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ode to Hair (and dropping some major change on it)

     Oh it's that time again...the time when you cannot postpone going to the hair salon any longer. Most of you know what I'm talking about...when those roots can no longer be concealed with clever hairstyles or deceptive headbands. Whether you color your hair, or, as in my case, perm/relax it, you are essentially a slave to your hair. You can push back or even forgo the much-needed touch-up appointments, but eventually you have an unforgiving run-in with a mirror and, with a resigned sigh, concede defeat.
     It's especially annoying in my case, since I have to contend with both a full fringe that after 2 1/2 months practically obscures my eyes AND a Japanese straight perm. A straight perm is amazing, it gives even the curliest heads of hair a sleek but not limp or dead straight look. But when it starts to noticeably grow out (usually within 2 or 3 months) it can be a major pain. I used to push it for 5 months, but I usually had to employ a ponytail and an armada of bobby pins to keep it under control. And now with the fringe and shorter bob, forget it! My bangs start to puff out annoyingly by the 2 month mark, so I usually have to trek to the salon for a 3-4 hour $200 session every other paycheck. And sadly, it is that time again.
Two weeks ago, still presentable, but now, it's time to throw in the towel.
     It's expensive, time-consuming, and temporary, but is it worth it? Many (saner) people will answer with a resounding no, but I'm one of those vain fools who would say yes. It may suck sitting in a chair for hours on end growing hungrier by the minute (though it is a nice excuse to read all of those trashy mags I could never buy in Tokyo myself...$12 for an imported US Weekly??? Don't think so) and having to endure 3 shampoos and conditioning treatments throughout the perming process can wreck havoc on your neck, but nothing beats the feeling of stepping out with a shiny and healthy head of perfectly groomed hair. So indulgent and excessive it may be, but hey, I gots to do me.
Salon Fresh
A few weeks later, with some more volume but still in decent shape

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Snow Bright

     I love to wear white, but it's not without its risks. At any moment a brush against a stranger's dirty coat or bag on the train, a quick rest on a public bench or seat, or a sliver of food from my treacherous fork could mar its pristine beauty, perhaps forever. Also, in my job I use a lot of white board markers, the stain of which always ends up all over my hands and could easily be transferred my clothes. So while I wear white sweaters or tops without much worry, I avoid white skirts or dresses since it's much more difficult to stop myself from adjusting them with my hands.
     But I have always loved the modish, sleek look of a white sheath dress, so when I saw one at H&M recently, I decided to take the plunge. The dress is amazing, but doesn't seem to exist in cyberspace, so if you'd like to find it you'll have to head out to your nearest posh H&M (I haven't seen the dress or any other high-end pieces in the more teeny-focused branches). It's fully lined with a back zip that goes up to about the midpoint of the back and the upper collar is secured by two snaps, so it's very easy to step in and out of. It's a pure bright white, not cream, and is shot through with silver thread so it looks like it's been woven with minute clusters of diamonds. It was only about $50, but it looks like it could command a much higher price. And I'm happy to report that after a full day of work there was nary a smudge on it! Knock on wood for the next time...
Slap on some more eyeliner and Bardot-ify my hair a bit, and I'd be all set to live it up in 1960s London.
     A word of caution: this is a sheath dress, not a shift dress. The difference? A true sheath has a very unforgiving fit, especially in the waist and hips, and is usually on the shorter side. A short skirt and a tight fit means that it rides up a lot when you sit down, so unless you can spend most of your day standing or hiding behind a desk/table like I do, save it for a night out instead!
Accessories by mayglobe and Tiffany&Co.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Traversing Trails

     My love affair with J. Crew cardigans continues... next up, the Traversa cardigan. I first saw the grey version on Chloe, and I fell hard for the cute yet subtle frills, especially the flattering way they swept around the back of the waist. I really wanted the grey, but come sales time they only had the rust nutmeg color in medium, but I decided the take the risk with a color I don't wear so often. It's a bit more on the brown side than the richer reddish hue I thought it would be, but I do love the fit. Plus it's very comfortable, versatile, and doesn't wrinkle much (and I got it for less than $30...) so it won me over in the end:
Nutmeg Traversa cardigan (J. Crew), grey pencil skirt (H&M), white ruffle tank (F21), brown suede boots (Aerosoles), accessories by mayglobe and Tiffany&Co.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Methinks I own too much Pink

     Pink and black... in theory I'm not a big fan of that particular color combination. It's not a vehement opinion, but I generally avoid the look. One reason is that it reminds me of the interior a cheap lingerie store (well, any lingerie store, actually), another is that it has a slight 80s/90s vibe, as if I'm somehow sartorially channelling a tube of Great Lash mascara. But sometimes I think, what the hell, let's shake things up. So over the past two days I wore pink and black not once, but twice. Yup, two consecutive days of the same color combination. I aimed to make the overall looks quite different... I hope I succeeded!
Black and white tweed skirt (F21), rose corsage scoop-neck sweater (J. Crew), frilled leather jacket (quoi quoi Japan), black and silver metallic knit cap (Gap), black suede boots (Aerosoles)
Blush accordion pleat dress (H&M), black turtleneck top (Lowry's Farm Japan), black suede boots (Aerosoles)
     Ah, that H&M dress...remember when it hit the fashion blogosphere last year? I first saw it on Kim (then on Tara, and most recently Tien), and I immediatly knew that I NEEDED that dress. Luckily, one of the three H&M branches I scoured had one left in my size (I had found another one in the correct size at another branch and was this close to buying it when I noticed a huge greasy smear of foundation on the collar...gross). It looks way more elegant and expensive then the usual H&M fare, and I actually love the fact that it's polyester because it doesn't wrinkle one bit, even after a furious high-speed ride in my crappy low-end washing machine. I know that it also came in grey, which I have never seen here in the Tokyo stores, but I still have hope that I'll chance upon it some day...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Valentine's Day Feast

     Oh, that's right...this week was Valentine's Day! To be honest I didn't really think about it on the day, since the fiancee and I worked all day until nearly 10pm, and as Monday is our Friday we're pretty much on autopilot until our zombified bodies sink into blissful sleep, elated that unlike the other 6 days of the week the next morning will not be heralded by the bleating of our evil alarm clock. So forgive me if I this Valentine's post is a few days behind schedule!
     Even though we didn't do anything special on the actual holiday (well, on his lunch break the fiancee did run out to surprise me with a box of macarons from Theobroma, which was really sweet) we did celebrate it properly on Wednesday. Not only Valentine's day, which by itself is really nothing special, but the fact that Valentine's day was actually the day we first met 3 years ago. Seriously. My first day at our mutual workplace was February 14th. And as luck would have it, we started dating a year later in the week between my birthday and Valentine's day, so it's a very handy day to have as an anniversary!
     In the early afternoon we headed to the posh neighborhood of Ginza to hit up the Laduree cafe. We were very lucky to score a window table overlooking the intersection, which was a great spot for people watching. This time we tried some different deserts and bought some macarons to take home. I had the Isaphan (the famous rose/lychee/raspberry concoction) and C (my fiancee) had the Honorie (similar to the Isaphan, with a pistachio macaron base). The Isaphan was gorgeous and very tasty, but a bit too dry, and a wee bit too sweet (which is a very rare thing for me to admit)...the Honorie, however...WOW. I know what I'll be ordering next time!
It's a good thing for our waistlines and wallets that we don't live near this place!
     After that we walked around Ginza for a bit, and took advantage of the gourmet food basements and boutiques to pick up some goodies for the evening and the next few days. We got some macarons at Dalloyau and Chez Cima, which are rather famous (we'll be trying them this evening) and a few from Henri Charpentier, which, to be honest, were nothing special. We also got some real, honest-to-goodness English-style scones for breakfast, which were divine. And the one really outrageous splurge: albino strawberries.
I'll keep the price of the strawberries to myself, but the scones were cheap! Well, cheapish.
While we can get reasonably priced and tasty fruit at our local supermarkets and fruit sellers, if we really want some guaranteed taste payoff,  we'll make a trip to the department stores and fruit boutiques to browse the rarer, more expensive, and much more decadently packaged varieties. The albino strawberries are called Hatsukoinokaori (The Scent of First Love) and have a light subtle taste, a bit reminiscent of a good quality dragonfruit. Though I prefer the sweet lushness of Amaou, this year's most popular variety, they were quite incredible.
     In the evening we celebrated another type of love, true friendship. We met our two close friends and coworkers (aka "the boys") for soup curry, a spicy healthier version of the nationally loved dish of curry rice at Shanti in Harajuku. If you're ever in Tokyo, do check it out! You can order different levels of spiciness to suit any taste, 2 being the standard somewhat-spicy level. The scale goes all the way up to 40... which I would wager is pretty much inedible.

     I didn't have the chance to get a good picture of my casual OOTD, which is unfortunate since I really loved it. But I plan to wear it again next week or so, so it will make it onto the blog at some point. The main piece was an open-knit sweater shot through with metallic thread, which I found a month ago at Forever21 here in Japan. I have never seen it on the US site, and it has long disappeared from the Japanese one...I guess it was one of those fleeting beauties that are available for like a week before they fade back into the retail ether:
That is some crazy lighting.
Accessories by mayglobe Japan and Tiffany&Co., beige patent handbag by Louis Vuitton, Silver Screen nail polish by Revlon (love it).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

J.Crew Meets the Gap...and they really hit it off!

     Microsoft vs. Apple, Coke vs. Pepsi, Laduree vs. Pierre Herme... every iconic company has its equally iconic rival. In most cases their branding and products are quite distinct from each other, which is reflected in the fact that the majority of consumers strongly prefer one over the other (personally, Apple, Coke, and Laduree, in case you were wondering).
     But in a few cases, I honestly can't tell the rivals apart, at least not very well. For many years that was true for me when I considered J. Crew and the Gap. Their stores kinda looked the same (even smelled the same, if I remember correctly), their products/branding seemed to echo each other, and they both courted the same demographic.
    This, of course, was before, Gap's surprising and awkward slide into the apparel abyss roughly a decade ago, when all they seemed to sell was baggy, boring, and more boring. Gap's loss of direction allowed J. Crew to break away from their older cousin and carve out a new, hip, fashion-forward identity. They eagerly gave Gap's adrift customers a port in the storm, a port so welcoming that most of us never looked back and even gave up shopping at the Gap altogether. Almost overnight, J. Crew became the darling of the higher-end mall fashion scene while Gap was left out in the cold, for good reason.
     Recently, however, Gap has been clawing its way back into our good graces, revamping its stores and image and, most importantly, producing modern, unique, and covetable pieces. A few posts down I mentioned their silk peony skirt, which I recently saw in a store (it was GORGEOUS)...believe me when I say I'm counting down the minutes until payday. And before that, I wore their metallic tweed skirt (which is sadly no longer on their website) in an OOTD post, which is hands down my favorite skirt of all time. I wore it again yesterday and had about 3 people rave about it and demand to know where I bought it:
Tuxedo/ruffle placket cardigan (J. Crew), metallic tweed skirt (Gap), dark heather grey tights (Kutsushitaya Japan)

Accessories by Tiffany&Co. and mayglobe Japan. This cut-glass necklace is probably my number one  favorite...and I have a ton of necklaces.

Can you tell that I really love this outfit?
     I had previously worn the skirt with a pale pink cardigan and sheer hose/nude pumps; the skirt itself has a navy base, with white, beige, and sparkly silver thread running through it. What's great about the skirt is that the light threads reflect and complement the color of whatever top you decide to wear with it, so in my last outfit, the skirt glinted a blush pink. In this case, I paired it with a white cardigan and dark grey tights, so the skirt took on a cooler whitish/silver cast.  Love it!
     Lastly, a quick shout-out to my awesome Mom who usually acts as my own personal logistics expert by forwarding any online purchases to me here in Tokyo. This J. Crew cardigan was in the last batch, along with the rust Traversa cardigan (which I'm so excited to wear later this week). I forget the exact name of the cardigan, but I know it's occasionally known as the "tuxedo cardigan." Unfortunately, a number of other J. Crew cardigans also go by that label, so I  have no idea how to track down its official name. But whatever it's called, it's amazing. I LOVE J. Crew cardigans; they're super soft and there's no button pulling whatsoever. As you can see in the pictures, I buttoned it up all the way, which I usually don't do because most cardigans make me look boxy or top-heavy (damn you, 34Cs!) if fully buttoned, but not J. Crew. I don't know how they do it, but it works.

    J. Crew cardis+Gap skirts= a marriage truly made in fashion heaven.

    What do you guys think about J. Crew vs. the Gap? We don't have J. Crew in Japan, so I'd love to hear some better informed opinions!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Finally, A Casual OOTD

     I was going back over my posts today and I realized that I've only put up my work outfits so far... oops! But I guess that makes sense, since I have access to a much bigger and better mirror set-up at work. More importantly, I usually put the most effort into my work outfits since I see the most people there and spend most of my day in the office with my coworkers (sad but true). Plus on my weekends I usually laze about the house (well, studio apartment) in PJs, glasses, and a terry-cloth hair band for at least one day, which leaves me with only one day a week to wear casual clothes.
     But as luck would have it I happened to wear my favorite non-office ensemble recently, so I wanted to share it before I go back to my regularly scheduled programming of pencil skirts and cardigans:

Metallic cowl-neck top (Mango), frilled leather jacket (quoi quoi Japan), jeans/jeggings (Zara), black suede boots (Aerosoles), black turtleneck top (Lowry's Farm Japan), accessories (Tiffany&Co. and mayglobe Japan)
      The Mango top is one of my favorite things ever, it reminds me of chain mail and I feel like a total badass when I wear it. To this day I wish I had bought two of them so I can have a back-up at the ready when my current one craps out. I got it on vacation in Singapore last fall and I was hoping that the one tiny Mango store here in Tokyo would carry it, but no dice. So now I treat it with kid gloves and try not to wear it too often, which is tough since I love it so much. Another favorite of mine is the silver stag-head ring, which I initially dismissed as being too cheap looking and over the top, but after I first saw it in the store I kept thinking about it for a few hours. So I went back to buy it, since I knew that it would gnaw at me until I finally gave in. I'm glad I listened to my gut since it's now my absolute favorite ring...after my engagement ring, of course!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The First Time

     Today I'd like to talk about my first time. No, not that first time. I'm talking about the first time, with my first own money, that I bought a piece of truly expensive (aka totally impractical) clothing. I think we all remember our first...that gorgeous, luxurious item that made us turn our heads and enticed us to step into one of those shops, the ones that with elegant, minimal displays, lush dressing rooms, and, say, one or two customers at most.
     For me, those items have always been sweaters and dresses. Dresses, however, I usually have to pass on, simply because Japanese women and therefore Japanese labels favor a billowy, tent-like cut, while I definitely prefer a more solid, form-fitting (at least at the waist), and architectural style. So for me, the purchase that opened Pandora's box was a sweater.
     Not just any was the sweater, the sweater of my dreams. It's a soft true grey, fitted in the torso but with voluminous dramatic sleeves. And the pièce de résistance? The lovely satin faux-collar at the neck, bordered and dotted with delicate little pearls. It's by my favorite Japanese label, anatelier (no real website, but this page has a decent sampling of items). The price points usually hover around $100-150 for sweaters and $200-300 for dresses so I don't torture myself by going there too often, and I usually only buy something when they're having a sale.
     But of course, for my first, I paid full price. And it was worth every penny, or yen, in my case. The only downside is that the super soft wool pills like crazy under the arms, but it's nothing a sweater shaver or deft fingers can't take care of. It's super warm so I only wear it when the weather turns frosty, and with snow on the horizon, yesterday was the perfect opportunity.
Wool sweater (anatelier Japan), grey turtleneck top (Lowry's Farm Japan), faux-tiered skirt (Soup Japan), accessories (Tiffany&Co. and anemone Japan)
     Usually I like to pair the sweater with dark skinny jeans and tall brown boots on my off days, but I add a long white ruffled-hem chemise over the underlying turtleneck. But yesterday I felt like wearing it to work, and when I discovered that the satin of the collar just happened to match the fabric of one of my work skirts, all I had to do was to pull on my sheer stockings and slip into my nude pumps and I was good to go.
     It is, however, a little challenging to squeeze the sweater's billowy sleeves into those of a coat, so I've been on the hunt for a warm grey capelet with swing sleeves.  And I just happened to see one on sale at anatelier a few weeks ago...fate, perhaps?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Punxsutawney Phil is Dead to Me

     I'm going to be totally honest here. I HATE summer. I don't even like summer clothes that much. I mean, I do like the soft colors and breezy, gauzy fabrics, but I'm much happier wearing them with a cozy cardigan and jeans in the colder months of the year than I am soaking them with my sweat in the summertime. And as for spring...meh. Again, I like the clothes, and I do enjoy cherry blossom season here in Japan; it truly is a gorgeous time of year here, though every park and viewing spot is crowded with packs of onlookers and drunken salarymen and women boozing it up with their beloved/hated coworkers.
     But the joy of spring is a short-lived euphoria that quickly gives way to the dread of the quickly approaching summer, with all of the humid stickiness and fluffy, frizzy hair that it entails. So while I gnash my teeth and weep in fear I try to comfort myself with thoughts of these lovely spring offerings from our favorite retailers:

     Lovely...I'm crushing hard on that silk peony skirt from Gap. So while I do not appreciate the coming of spring like most people do, I am excited to see what looks will hit the stores in the coming months! And hopefully I'll be able to enjoy at least one more month of true winter, if last night's weather was any indication:
Tokyo's first snow of the season! A tiny dusting that was long gone by morning, but hey, it still counts!

My Homage to the Frilled Lizard

     I love ruffles. Ruffles of fabric, I mean, not the potato chips...though I love those too. I have a ton of tops whose plackets, necklines, or collars are adorned with ruffles, frills, or flounces. But did that stop me from buying yet another similar top from Forever 21?

Actually, it did.

Just kidding! Of course it didn't. Why have 15 ruffled tops when you can have 16...or 20? I teamed it with a light grey pencil skirt and a delicate cardigan that just happened to be the exact same shade of cream (don't you love it when that happens?), and I was good to go:
Lace frilled-neck top (F21, recent), gold-buttoned cardigan (anatelier Japan), grey pencil skirt (H&M), gold-tone charm bracelet (anemone Japan)
      This ensemble was preceeded a day or so before by a super girly flounced-collar cardigan, which was my very first Anthropologie purchase. And with it I wore an uber girly delustered/powder satin blush-colored skirt and a totally (I'm running out of synonyms here...) girly floral shirt. The pattern of the shirt is beautiful, reminiscent of something that would grace a gown belonging to Queen Elizabeth I or Marie Antoinette. In fact, I love it so much that I used a photo of it to create a header (one of many; it seems that I like to change the header often) for this blog!
Crochet flounced-collar cardigan (Leifsdottir/Anthro), powder satin skirt (Rope Picnic Japan), floral t-shirt (Zara), accessories by mayglobe Japan
      The outfit was sooooo feminine that I almost didn't go through with wearing it, but I thought it went together too perfectly to pass up. In the end, I'm glad I didn't wimp out, because I felt like a floaty princess all day...even though I was suffering through Saturday, the busiest/crappiest day of my work week. It's amazing that something so simple as clothes can completely change your mood or mindset!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Feeding Frenzy

     Well, it was my birthday last weekend, so naturally I indulged in some gorgeous sweets and delicious food all week. Today we went for lunch at the Tokyo branch of Joe's Shanghai, which is apparently a really famous Chinese restaurant chain (well, if you can call 3 locations a chain) from NYC. I stumbled upon it randomly while trawling the web for affordable dim sum in Tokyo. Which basically doesn't exist. I refuse to pay more than 2000 yen a head for lunch, and most dim sum places only offer a crappy set course menu that is inevitably made up of dishes that I don't want to eat. I was intrigued by Joe's however, because it's mostly known for its xiaolongbao (pork or crab soup dumplings), which I love. Plus it happens to be located one train station away atop the famous Sunshine 60 building, which gives diners an amazing view of the ugliness that is Tokyo's urban sprawl. Best part? It would cost less than 2000 yen for each of us even if we ordered a la carte. Sold!

     The verdict? Amazing. We timed our arrival for about an hour before the last lunch order, which ensured that the place was nearly empty, so we were able to get a prime table. The service was very good, even though it was the discount lunch time and not the dinner seating, in which the same food would probably cost double. We each had 4 pork xialongbao (orgasmic) and a main dish. Nearly all of the dishes had seafood, which I don't eat, but the waiter assured us that they could prepare the fried bean-sprout noodles without the clams, and it was delicious. My fiancee had tan tan men, a spicy ramen that he loves, but which can also give him digestive grief. But I'm happy to report it went down without a fight. We'll definitely be going back there again!

     On the way home, we went to the massive food basement at Seibu to pick up some macarons (of course). Seibu has a small Pierre Herme counter, so we got a few each. We had tried PH a few days before, and while we both agree that Laduree is the best, my fiancee is in love with PH's vanilla and chocolate flavors. I had vanilla and yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit), and unfortunately I remain underwhelmed. Strangely enough, a competing macaron counter (Sebastien Bouillet) was right next to PH. Some of their flavors seemed a bit odd (a lot of vegetable-inspired thanks!), but we caught a glimpse of the nougat flavor and had to try it. I myself also tried an Isaphan-inspired one and a cotton candy one (which sounds horrible, but was actually really good). The Bouillet macarons had great texture and were all delicious, so it was a pleasant surprise discovery.
Macarons from Pierre Herme and Sebastien Bouillet

     As of now, my personal macaron ranking is:

1) Laduree
2) Theobroma (Japanese) and Sebastien Bouillet (actually rather similar to Theobroma)
3) Pierre Herme (I just can't seem to like them, is there something wrong with me?!)

Next on the list to try: Jean Millet (at Ginza Matsuya) and Dalloyau (Ginza) and Chez Cima (at Shinjuku Isetan)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Wardrobe Workhorses: Basic Black

     Before I started working, I had never really worn black. Sure, I had a few articles of black clothes...maybe one or two pairs of Zara pants that were originally worn as part of my high-school choir uniform and a t-shirt or two. But I always thought the color didn't suit me; my skin was too light, my hair was too reddish, my dark under eye circles (mostly due to genetics, unfortunately) would be made more obvious, etc. But recently I've come to embrace black. It's effortlessly chic and elegant-especially when paired with shades of grey or camel-it IS slimming, and it doesn't show stains! Plus it helps that my fiancee always tells me he loves it when I wear black, so that's a major confidence boost.
     Now of course they are black statement pieces like fabulous brocade coats or trendy leather pencil skirts. But I think that for most us black usually plays a supporting role, especially in winter. When temperatures dip and clouds roll in I like to wear an all black base under an eye-catching cardigan. I don't wear this combo often because it is a bit lazy and can easily become repetitive, especially since my go-to wool black skirt doesn't require ironing between wears. But when I'm running around on a work day and am just in the office for a few hours, this easy option can be a lifesaver. For example:
Black pleated wool skirt (Limone, Japan), black flat suede boots (Aerosoles), bird-print cardigan (H&M, recent), abstract-print cardigan (J. Crew), thin black turtleneck top (Lowry's Farm, Japan)
 I'm so glad I've come to appreciate black! If I hadn't, I'd definitely be missing out.

Sheer clothes at the office! Sort of.

Short-sleeved cream cardigan with sheer puff sleeves and center bow (F21), thin ribbed cream turtleneck (Lowry's Farm, Japan), grey pencil skirt (H&M). Accessories: engagement ring (Tiffany&Co.), quartz drop earrings and gold-tone charm bracelet (anemone Japan)

     This little sheer-sleeved cardigan is one of those rare F21 scores: it's cute, it doesn't look cheap (in either sense of the word), and it's versatile (can be worn by itself or layered over a matching turtlneck in winter). Basically my rules for F21 pieces are that a) they must cost less than $20 and b) they shouldn't look like they actually come from F21. I'm not knocking the place... in fact I would estimate that at least 40% of my clothes come from there. But at F21 finding an item that you like and that is also work-appropriate and of decent enough quality can be tough. So when the stars align and you manage to get your hands on a truly great find (a find that costs less than your daily coffee/Vitamin Water budget), it is indeed a true triumph.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

As Girly as it Can Get

     You know, some days I don't like pink at all. And then suddenly the next week I'll be all about the pink. Coral, peach, tea rose, name the shade and I've got it. It helps that pink is an extremely flattering color against my not-quite-pale but not-quite-golden skin and my sometimes dark brown and sometimes chestnut hair. And this is Japan, after all, the land of girly girls and the ephemeral cherry blossom. Think pink, indeed.
     I'm currently in my pro-pink phase, though I'll probably eschew the color for at least one week to avoid sending myself and my coworkers into a cotton-candy overdose. But when I do wear pink, I rock it.
Blush wool tulip skirt (H&M, last season), thin black turtleneck top (Lowry's Farm, Japan), nondescript black tights, mayglobe rings and studs, Tiffany&Co. engagement ring, jeweled velvet bib necklace (anemone, Japan)

I guess you'd describe that skirt as tulip-shaped, but I'm not 100% sure. Sources define a tulip skirt as having either overlapping sections of fabric that resemble petals OR a voluminous gathered midsection that tapers down into a narrower skirt, as in the case of this one. But whatever it's called, I.LOVE.THAT.SKIRT. It's super-heavy wool which is perfect for winter and doesn't wrinkle at all. It looks equally great with other feminine shades and pieces or as a pop of color and texture in a sleek all-black ensemble. And that necklace? There are no words.

     And then there's the frillier manifestation of my on-again, off-again relationship with pink:
Grey pencil skirt (H&M), white undershirt (F21), Eloise fan-print tank top (Anthro), frilled pearl-button cardigan (pour la frime, Japan), mayglobe rings, anemone studs and necklace, Tiffany&Co. engagement ring, grey cabled tights and grey pumps (unseen)
 They look yellowish in the photos, but both the cardigan and the printed top underneath are actually a super-pale creamy pink. The cardigan is one of my favorite Tokyo finds; it's a little short in the arms, but since my limbs are twice the length of a Japanese girl's, that's to be expected. The understated frills (an oxymoron, perhaps?), the pearly buttons, and the $25 dollar price tag more than make up for that defect.
     While looking at the photos I remembered that the fan-print top was one of my very first Anthropologie purchases ever (along with a gorgeous Leifsdottir cardigan that was like 60% off). I remember that day fiancee and I were on our first trip together, a whirlwind two weeks that had us visiting both of our hometowns. It was also the first chance I had to visit an actual Anthro store, so I was brimming with excitement. It was a truly San Francisco day that included a touristy shopping trip to the Union Square area, rides on both BART and Muni, and an outdoor cappuccino at the Market Street Coffee Bean among the throngs of pigeons and crazy Jesus-freak homeless dudes.
Ah, memories.

Awesome Thing About Living in Tokyo: Laduree Macarons

My time in Japan has spanned 3 years that were filled with many new experiences: my first job (meh) my first experience paying my own rent and bills (MEH), my first time getting a fringe/bangs (LOVE IT). And the food experiences! Amazing...and I don't even like traditional Japanese food. Seriously, I actually hate it. Miso, sushi, osechi, natto, ochazuke...none for me, thanks. But the other side of Japanese food, the side that takes it's cue from the cuisine of other nations? I could live off of tempura, tonkatsu, soup curry, and okonomiyaki. Which of course I don't since it would wreck havoc on my wallet and waistline, but when I do indulge? Heavenly.
     Another great side of the Tokyo food scene is born from the fact that a fair number of Japanese (specifically the non-working wives both young and old who wield their husband's and/or parents' disposable income like a weapon) love all things European. If by Europe you mean the afternoon tea-swilling, Chanel-wearing, Wedgwood-collecting fantasy land version.
     Which, of course, they do.
     But hey, Japan's Japan, and at least the country's fascination with Europe has led to an influx of foods and brands that we'd never have the chance to sample unless we actually went to Europe. My personal favorite import? The macaron.

     Now, I've actually never had a macaron until recently, even while living in London. Partly because they weren't as trendy and widespread as they are now and partly because in my mind they were linked to the coconut macaroons and hard-baked meringues that I hate. My fiancee, however, loves them, and eventually he convinced me to try one. A classic pistachio one, from a Japanese patisserie called Theobroma. I cautiously bit into it, and as the chewy shell collapsed in a cloud of almond powder and perfume, I was hooked.
     Like most converts, I became a zealot. I was on a mission to find the best macaron available in Tokyo. Sadly, the other Japanese versions were too sweet, too creamy, or too oddly-flavored to impress. The best of the local offerings is most likely Theobroma, but this being Tokyo we had the chance to sample the wares of the most famous original macaron masters: Pierre Herme and Laduree.
     So this past Tuesday we headed out to Ginza, an older area of Tokyo famous for old ladies swaddled in fur and pearls and old-school salarymen marching around in three-piece bespoke suits. It's also the home of Japan's first Abercrombie and Fitch store. We actually went in, and were subsequently scarred for life. But that's a tale for another day... on to the sweets!

     Since it has been open for a few years and it was an early weekday afternoon there was practically no wait. We were seated in the fabulously opulent tea room that was designed to evoke visions of a rosy-cheeked Marie Antoinette feasting on delectable delights...before her subjects cut off her head, of course. The unappetizing fate of the doomed dauphine aside, it was an amazing experience, among the best I've had here in Tokyo. From the delicious cafe viennois to the jewel-like macarons (I had lemon, vanilla, pistachio, and rose), I felt like I had died and gone to girly heaven. Where Marie Antoinette resides, one would guess.

     Then of course we had to get a box of 8 to go...and we ate them all that night.