Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bubbles and Gelato

     So it's been work as usual recently, and while we do definitely appreciate the ever-increasing level of normalcy, it was tough to get back into the groove of things. It didn't help that our work day, now slightly shorter in order to reduce electricity consumption, was unbalanced as we started later in the morning but still had the same huge stretch of work after lunch. Ugh.
     At least some respite was offered in the fact that I totally loved the outfit I wore on Sunday. I wore a pretty decent one on Saturday too, but when I tried to snap pics in the bathroom after work I found a coworker in the bathroom who, no kidding, spent 15 to 20 minutes touching up her like 6:30 at night. I hope she had a hot date or something that she was prepping for, rather than just wasting time after work and preventing me from indulging in my own vanity (of taking outfit pictures, that is, I never touch up my make-up during the day save for using a few oil blotting sheets or using a q-tip to remove any eyeliner smudges). Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
     But on Sunday I had the ladies' room all to myself, so I was able to take photographic evidence of what may be the best skirt I own (quite a bold statement, since I have about 15 of them). Paired with my recently found and favored oatmeal turtleneck AND my recently cut and treated hair, I was in a pretty decent mood that day. Ladies and ladies, I give you the Golden Bubbles skirt:
Sucking in a rather sizable food baby post-lunch.
     This is the first (and so far the only) J. Crew skirt that I bought, and I took a gamble and bought it sight unseen on-line. Since it was crazily discounted there were only a few left, some 6s and 12s. In Zara, Gap, and BR I wear either a size 6 or 8 depending on the fit, so I was a bit hesitant in case the 6 wouldn't work out. After reading a few reviews, though, it seemed that J. Crew skirts usually run a bit large, so I thought the 6 would probably be fine. And happily, it was! It even seemed a bit lose in the waist when I first looked it over, but once I pulled it on over my turtleneck/undershirt layers it was a nice close fit. The skirt itself is made of a rather heavy textured jacquard fabric, embossed with a circle pattern that is sprinkled with a few dots of golden metallic thread. The skirt is fully lined in a champagne color and is fastened with a sturdy zip in the back. As with most heavy fabrics, the skirt barely even wrinkles and after a full day of work only required a quick pass of an iron over the kick-pleat and pelvic area to rectify any crinkling.
Oatmeal turtleneck (Zara), Golden Bubbles pencil skirt (J. Crew), gold-tone charm bracelet (anemone Japan)
     So now I'm a big fan of J. Crew cardigans AND skirts, which is a bit dangerous! But luckily for my bank account we're steadily approaching spring over here in Tokyo, which means I won't be buying many more clothes until fall/winter season later this year. Maybe it's because I don't really like spring/summer clothes that much or it may be because summer here is so brutal and humid that it makes no sense to wear nice clothes anyways, but I always buy less clothes when warm weather comes around. But for another month at least I can probably get away with my winter wear, and even though today is a sunny 65 degrees here, Tokyo climate usually dips in and out of the cold and rainy (and sometimes even snowy) end of the weather spectrum throughout April.
     Speaking of cold weather, I recently came across an awesome lounge wear label called Gelato Pique (yup, makes no sense, but the name is at least cute). They make super soft and fuzzy at-home wear, and yesterday I bought myself two tops because I knew I'd need them for the Toronto winter later this year.
They are probably the most comfortable things I own, and I especially love the shawl collar on the zip-up; I don't really like hoodies but a regular collar line is a bit chilly in winter. I'm even considering buying one for my the most masculine color I can find, of course! Especially since he just bought himself (and by extension, myself) an awesome new toy:
It's a girl! Her name is Ripley (yes, she's named after the badass character from the Alien franchise).
     He had intended to get a new MacBook once we moved back to Canada, but we found that the Japanese prices are basically the same, and in some cases even cheaper. Previously we had been using a reasonably priced second-hand MacBook (not a Pro, though) but it's been having a few issues. I suspect the previous owner did a number on it, since my own 6 year-old iBook has never had so much as a hiccup. I'm definitely liking the new Snow Leopard OS... and with the newest version of iTunes I was able to update the software on my 2G iPod Touch (it was actually a free gift, and I'll be replacing it with an iPhone in Toronto), which is pretty sweet. We went with the basic 15" version, though we did get a model with an American/English keyboard. The Japanese keyboard isn't so different, and has the major advantage of featuring a dedicated "@" key, but when you want to use an apostrophe you have to press shift, which gets pretty annoying. As for software, we eventually went with the native iWork pack instead of the much pricier Office suite, since we can't really see having to use the Office applications, and it helps keep Ripley free of MS stuff.
     Okay, enough tech talk! Have a good weekend, everybody!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Japanese love affair with all things French? Yeah not so much anymore.

     Well, finally! I actually wore something other than pajamas for once. Yesterday was my first day back at work (though only for about an hour, the first real day back will be Saturday). Since I was only in the office for a moment, I didn't really bother with office-y clothes, especially since I was running around Shinjuku beforehand hunting down packets of taco salad spice and Irish breakfast tea (the import supermarket's stocks have only recently been replenished). This weekend will mark the return of the pencil skirt, but for Thursday, jeans and boots were just fine.
Tweed jacket (Nordstrom Juniors), blush chiffon front cardigan (H&M), blush and gold sequined top (Zara), jeans/jeggings (Zara), and brown suede boots (Aerosoles)
Gold antler necklace and gold jeweled bracelet (anemone Japan)
     This top is one of my favorites from Zara, I think it was in stores last spring/summer. Forever 21 had a similar top this winter in grey (which I have), but the Zara one is made of better, silkier fabric and is more streamlined and figure flattering. When I bought the H&M cardigan last autumn I had no idea that it perfectly matched the color of the top, but now that I know, I always wear the two together. 
     H&M has a bunch of lovely clothes in store now, but I haven't had a chance to browse since H&M is one of the handful of foreign companies that inexplicably abandoned Tokyo since the earthquake. Most of them are slinking back and reopening this week (though H&M was still closed as of Wednesday), but it definitely annoyed a lot of Tokyoites. Not so much because we couldn't go shopping, but that the companies couldn't suck it up and serve their loyal customers, even though Tokyo was actually largely unaffected by the quake. Reduce hours to conserve electricity and let the staff head home early? Sure, by all means. Close up shop and worry that the people of Tokyo would start rioting and looting? Come on. I don't know about you ladies, but shopping, even if it's just browsing, is relaxing. It takes your mind off things, even if only for an hour or so. So I definitely felt annoyed to see perpetually closed stores or counters. I ran out of my Chanel concealer last week, and when I headed out into town just to buy it, I couldn't find a Chanel counter in any of the department stores. Not a major tragedy by any stretch, but it's a part of my daily life and routine. They came back this week, but if it weren't for the fact that their foundation and concealer is the best around for sensitive skin, I would seriously consider making the switch to a different brand in protest! Many Japanese are saying how their view of France and French culture (and that of other continental European countries) has been tarnished in the weeks following the megaquake. Conversely, they love the Brits and Americans even more. Now, to each country and government their own, but shifting cultural affinities and loyalties is a real, if subtle, effect of the recent disaster and hardship here in Japan.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What's "work" again?

     Thwarted again! I was supposed to work for the first time at my office on Thursday evening. Got into work early to hang out with my friends, and while a lot of lights were switched off to save energy and in the staff room the NHK radio news was on in the background, it seemed like business as usual. Which it was for most of Shinjuku, but because people were getting back into the swing of things and abusing their heaters (Thursday was bitterly cold), the govt/electric company warned us wasteful creatures that we were approaching our set limit of energy consumption, and if we didn't stop, they would carry out an unplanned blackout. Whoops! So naturally work for most people ended early, so I didn't even get changed out of my jeans and into my work clothes, which was fine because that meant I was properly dressed to join the mass of people leaving Shinjuku (though we went by foot, definitely wanted to avoid the packed trains...everyone in downtown Tokyo finishing work at the exact same time=commuting nightmare). My fiancee and I, hands full of weekend groceries that we had picked up, walked about 40 minutes to our friend's house, dropped off the supplies, then had an awesome and cheap dinner with our best buds at a busy Chinese restaurant nearby. The blackout? Never happened (well, naturally, since the threat of it resulted in a massive drop of power usage). Work for this weekend? Cancelled again! So, until Thursday for me, it's playing video games and watching movies at home, though I'm sure we'll be going out for errands/eating out with friends by Tuesday.
     Things in Tokyo are getting even more back to normal this weekend, much to the relief of all of our bodies; a week of accumulated stress from uncertain news, uncertain schedules, and the panic of well-intended but misinformed overseas relatives has left us feeling rather put out. Found a great video on YouTube (posted yesterday), showing that life in Tokyo is just as it always was. I also like the video because it's an accurate portrayal of daily life in Japan, as opposed to the crazy/weird/pervy stuff that is showcased in the Western media:
     That does, however, mean that I have no new outfit pics, though I will try to take a casual OOTD pic when I go out early this week. But I will share some awesome finds that I scored at F21 and H&M in Tokyo:
Beige pencil skirt (H&M), Crochet Lace skirt (F21), white dress (H&M)
     Now, if only work would start up again (wow never thought I'd ever utter those words) so I could wear these beauties!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fantastic Francois

     Finally ventured outside today! Everything seemed to be business as usual for Tokyo, just a bit less crowded on the streets and in the shops (nice!) and unnecessary lights were turned off, such as in overland trains and in department store display cases, etc. The wind was CRAZY today, though, over 30 km/hour. Yuck. The minute we got home we took showers (anti-radiation measure, just in case, though Tokyo is still fine on that count, the main reason was that the wind was whipping dust around like mad) and are happily hunkered down on our bed-slash-couch sipping tea (chai for him, Irish breakfast for me) and playing video games.
     Actually got a lot done today, finished all of our important errands, had a delicious lunch, got some neccessities from the drug store and a few fruit tarts from Francois Payard at the department store. Seriously their lemon tart is AMAZING, and we got their strawberry/pistachio tart to try for the first time today. I also saw online that they make a peach tart, but unfort didn't spy that at the Tokyo location. Oddly enough, the Pierre Herme counter at Seibu Ikebukuro was completely packed up, with a vague sign that they were closed, no hint that they were reopening anytime soon. Don't know if it's earthquake related or if PH Japan was just reducing their locations, since the Buk counter was never busy at all... but still, a bit weird.
Francois Payard Lemon Tart (image from, but we of course bought the individual-sized one, unfort minus the fruit toppings!

    Tomorrow it's back to work, but only for 80 minutes! Most of my shift falls outside our new limited emergency work hours, which sounds good, but I don't get fully paid, which sucks. I mean, I guess it's fair, but it still sucks. Should only be for a handful of days, though, so whatevs.
Well, at least I'll feel normal again, in my pencil skirt and cardigan!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

And a gown of white lace...

     Well, no fresh outfit of the day recently, since aside from an evening hanging out at a friend's place, I've spent the days since the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear worries began nestled in my apartment, clad in my pajamas, reading chick lit (what?? it's my guilty pleasure), and playing video games (okay, maybe I have more than one guilty pleasure).
     Things in Tokyo and at work are not quite back to normal, everything and anything seems to be operating on a limited scale (though getting significantly better each day). We haven't really left our immediate neighborhood at all, but tomorrow if things keep improving we will prob run some important errands and eat out for lunch (soup curry yet again haha, hopefully this time WITHOUT the earthquake). And then on Thursday it's back to work and wearing my photo-worthy clothes, so OOTD will resume this week for sure. Amazingly, some things are still reliable as ever here in Tokyo, such as the delivery/postal services. I had ordered the amazing Golden Bubbles pencil skirt from J.Crew (can't believe it was only like $50... the original price was practically three times that!) a week or so ago, and it arrived promptly on time this morning. Though the delivery guy scared the beejesus out of us when he thundered up the stairwell at like 9am and pounded on our door without calling out that he was making a delivery (which is standard practice in Japan).  I LOVE it, but was surprised to find that waist on the 6 was a tiny bit big on me, so I guess this means that J. Crew skirts run big? I had expected a snugger fit, but nope. Which is fine by me, since I plan to tuck a turtleneck in and the rest of the skirt is rather form fitting, so it's a good balance.
     This hermetic life has also led me to browse all of our favorite on-line retailers...just looking, I promise! No buying. So many lovely things out there though...sigh.
J. Crew's Lady Lace popover and Beaumont Blazer
     Lace, lace, everywhere, and I'm certainly not complaining. This trend has been around since last fall and is still going strong, albeit in a gauzier spring-friendly form. I'm loving that lace popover top, and the blazer really is quite lovely (though the pictures are horrid, the back shot was the only decent one), especially the scalloped hem. I wish the waist was a bit more fitted (though I think it's unbuttoned in the pic, which might be the problem) and that the body and sleeves were a touch longer.
Anthro Back Porch and Wispy Cirrus blouses
     Anthro is also offering up some lace lovelies... the Back Porch top looks awesome, very slimming and streamlined with the hidden snap placket. I wish the sleeves were either puffed and short or sleek and long, though. I really hate 3/4 arms, I know everyone else digs them, but not me. So same goes for the gorgeous Wispy Cirrus blouse (how perfect is that shade of blue?), looks like both the arms and the hem would be too short for me. Maybe it's a good thing, though, or else I may have been tempted to actually buy them! If I DID fall off the wagon and pull the trigger, however, it would've been on this beauty from Modcloth...
ModCloth Blooms in the Sky cardigan
If and when it goes on sale, I'll be there, chomping at the retail bit. You betcha.
     And if anyone knows what song the title of this post is lifted from, gold star! Hint: it was sung by both Donovan and Joan Baez way back in the 60s.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Safe but not so Sound in Tokyo

     Well, in my 3 years of living in Japan I knew I would experience many tremors. Didn't expect the BIG ONE to hit though. But today a little past 14:30, it did.
     We didn't realize how big it was at first. We had JUST finished our lunch at our fav soup curry place and had finished our errands for the day, when the place started gently rolling and swaying, which is pretty standard for us. But then it really started to shake, and we saw the mid-level buildings across the street undulate like crazy. People spilled out onto the street, and while nobody actually panicked, everybody felt queasy and didn't really know what to do. Slowly people started to get back to what they were doing; we went into the nearby department store basement (which is one of the safer places to be in such a situation) and then the huge aftershock hit. It's 21:30 now, and we're still feeling them.   
     Our place was fine, but inside things were all over the floor (nothing broken, shockingly). But as a precaution, they turned off the gas, so no stove or hot water for us yet.
     It was big here in the capital. But a little ways up north in the formerly beautiful city of Sendai, it's so much worse. The tsunami has already hit there, sweeping away farms, cars, houses...horrible.
     Trains are still down in Tokyo and won't be up until tmr, so people are either sleeping in their offices or hotels, trying to catch buses or taxis (good luck with that), but most people are walking. We were lucky because we were in our hood, so it was a familiar 20 minute walk from the downtown area back to our place, though made rather difficult by the hordes of people walking and standing around.
     No work for the next few days, because all office buildings have to undergo structural checks. Thank goodness for the Internet though. After the quake the phone networks were totally down, but we were able to skype and email friends and family easily. Tomorrow we're heading to our friends house (walking most likely) for an early dinner and to hang out and try to feel better about all this.
     One thing for sure, it's going to be a long night! Forgive the lack of OOTD, I'm sure you all understand. Back to our regularly scheduled programming next week!
    Just for reference, this quake was the biggest to hit Japan since records began. It's multiple times stronger than the recent disaster in Christchurch.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pure Gold

     There are some clothing elements that, no matter how impractical, I will always love. One of these is metallic thread. There was my H&M dress, and I recently bought the J. Crew golden bubbles skirt (for only $50! It used be like $140, and I loved it so much but after months of waiting I finally grabbed one of the last of the size 6s. And then, at Zara, I spied this beauty of a top:
Grey cardigan (H&M), pencil skirt (H&M), metallic thread shell (Zara), gold antler necklace (anemone Japan)
     It's not a part of Zara's main line, it's a part of some new premium "denim" line (though of course the top is not denim at all). It's a silk/wool/viscose shell, mauve in color and trimmed with grey, and it features an art nouveau/chandelier print in gold metallic thread. Looking at the pics, I kinda wished I bought the small and not my normal medium, though I'd imagine that the small would be rather tight in the neck and shoulders. Later in the day I partially buttoned my cardigan, which gave it a much more streamlined appearance, helped of course by the sleekness of the pencil skirt. I want to try wearing it with jeans and my go-to white ruffled chemise underneath to see how it looks...but anyways, back to the top itself! It looks gorgeous, especially when it reflects the light. But metallic thread is never easy. It scratches, it eventually unravels (at least a bit), and it usually kinks and bends stubbornly, which causes a lighter weight garment to loose shape a little (as in the case with this top). And washing in the machine? Forget about it; it's Febreeze all the way until it practically begs for a visit to the dry cleaners.
     Impractical? Yup. Tough to take care of? Sure. Easy to control? Nope. But gorgeous, elegant, and luxurious?
     You betcha.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Oatmeal: Not Just for Breakfast

     I have been searching FOREVER for an oatmeal colored turtleneck, but I was never able to find one that I truly liked. The color may have been perfect, but the knit was too thick or rough. Or I would find one with a lovely soft and thin texture, but the color was too khaki or dark. I dreamed of a cashmere one, but after seeing the prices, I kissed that idea good-bye.
     Last week, however, I finally found one that was both the perfect shade and the perfect knit, and priced under $40. I got it at Zara, which always has two different racks of turtlenecks/v-necks/cardigans: one super cheap and very basic, the other a bit more elegant and pricy. The turtleneck I bought was from the pricier offerings, but it was worth it. At first I was going to pair it with grey or brown, but I thought maybe it'd be a little too safe and boring, so instead I reached for my favorite skirt, the heavy blush wool one that I got at H&M last year.
Oatmeal turtleneck (Zara), blush wool skirt (H&M), accessories by mayglobe Japan
I really like the shell/nacre buttons on the ribbed cuffs
     I was almost out the door that morning when I remembered that I had recently purchased a set of open-knit tights that were almost the same shade as the turtleneck. I grabbed them and pulled them on over my nude hose, slipped on my patent beige pumps, and I found myself with an outfit that I totally loved. Score!
Tights by Kutsushitaya Japan. I'm wearing some awesome pure silver glitter nail polish from I brand that I can't recall at the moment, and while it took me a bit to get used to the sandpapery texture, I'm loving the look and the lack of chipping. Though I'm not looking forward to trying to remove it next week!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Casual Friday

     Most offices back home in the States have casual Friday (if not casual everyday), but here in Tokyo? Not unless you work at a super -hip boutique IT/game/design company, or if you're doomed never to see a client in your working life. Which is a source of shame in most Japanese companies, since no matter what industry, every company seems to have an army of demanding customers who need to be humored, cosseted, and wined and dined every week. If you lack the cool or social skills to do that, then sucks for you (and your salary). But for most of us cogs in the uber-conservative and formal Japanese business machine, the idea of being able to sport jeans, or, heaven forbid, unstockinged legs, is so alien an concept that most Japanese workers can't even visualize it.
     But on Fridays, I can usually get away with it, mostly because I work on-site at a client's in the morning and just pop back to the office for one hour before I'm done for the day. While I can't wear jeans (though I definitely do if I'm lucky enough not be needed back at the ranch for that one annoying hour), I do wear casual everything else plus a pair of work pants, and then put my favorite pair of jeans in my handbag to pull on after work if I want to meet a friend for lunch or go shopping. Which is what I did yesterday...
Blush cardigan (Japan), blush and navy top (F21), white chemise (Zara), jeans/jeggings (Zara), brown suede boots (Aerosoles)

     As you can see, I like to layer. A lot. I have about four going on here, undershirt plus that ruffled-hem chemise, a silk blouse from F21, and a blush cardigan over all of it. Which is a good thing, since despite the sun it was freakin freezing that day. And yes, I have tights on under those jeggings, tucked into knee-high boots. It's kinda like being ensconced in a fashionable sausage casing, which, while necessary in winter, is not necessarily fun when you have to go the bathroom!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Scallops and Shimmer Obscura

     So the title of this post may be misleading- by scallops I mean the scalloped hem of the skirt I wore today, not the succulent seafood that many (not including me) enjoy. I may hate the edible version, but scalloped details on clothing? LOVE. It has been a popular clothing trend recently, much to my delight. Unfortunately the trend hasn't really carried over to Japan, which is about a year or two behind clothing trends in the States. Don't get me wrong, a lot of local trends are adorable (though an equal number are horrifying), but if I see something I like that's popular back home (scalloped hems, high-waisted yet sleek pants, anything rust colored), I have to be prepared to wait a while before I get my hands on it.
      But this spring the scalloped wave has finally broken on the Japanese shore. It's not a major trend (or  "boom" as per Japanese English slang) just yet, but it's getting there. I found this adorable little crochet skirt with a scalloped (well, okay, scallop-esque) hem. I also spied an awesome dress with a great scallop detail on the bust (sounds weird, but if I eventually pull the trigger on it, you'll see what I mean) but I didn't have the patience to wrestle my way into a dress (why oh why couldn't they extend the zipper more so that I could just step into it as opposed to yanking it over my head???) on my lunch hour. Maybe next week...
Frilled leather jacket (quoi quoi Japan), lace scalloped-hem skirt (pour la frime Japan), brown turtleneck (United Colors of Benetton), necklace (Anthro), heather brown tights (Japan)

     I also finally had the chance to break out the Shimmer Obscura necklace I got from Anthro a few months ago. I love it; the stones are gorgeous and not as heavy as they fact, I would even call the necklace rather light. Though I wish the ties were made of silk or grosgrain or anything but the cheap springy panyhose-like fabric. But with most of it covered by my turtleneck, it doesn't bother me too much. Maybe not quite worth the nearly $50 price tag, but I felt chic and polished wearing it, so I'm happy to have it. Would also work quite well with a soft grey time!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pretty in Pants

     Sorry for the radio silence of late. Caught a nasty cold and took a few days off work, which meant I spent almost 72 hours straight in my pajamas curled up in bed with my Playstation controller. Now, I do love my PJs, but I'm not quite ready to share them with the world, hence the absence of recent outfit posts.
     The cold is mostly vanquished now (though it seems to be segueing into hay fever, which I myself have never really had before...oh joy!), and though I wasn't quite feeling my best or most photogenic on Monday, I did like my outfit quite a bit so I decided to capture it for an OOTD post. It's not particularly eye-catching and the colors are rather muted; the whole outfit consists of cream, khaki, and oatmeal, which perfectly projected my inner blah mood. I don't wear pants to work very often except when I'm feeling super lazy or it's that time of the month. My fiancee is always very happy when I do so, because he loves me in pants. He loves my skirts too (at least he'd better), but he is a, ahem, butt man, so occasionally I indulge him.
Khaki pants (Zara), stretch lace top (F21), flower applique cardigan (anatelier Japan)

     These particular pair of pants are from Zara and I love them. I bought them over three years ago before I started working. They're super soft and thick and the slightly glossy material reminded me of breeches or jodphurs, which I thought set them apart from the usual yawn-inducing khaki pants. A handful of years and numerous washes later, they've held up pretty well, though they are a little faded and dulled and a tad too loose now. The flowered cardigan and lace top I've worn before on this blog, but never with pants, and I'm pretty happy with the way the look turned out.
     And as you can see from the way I trussed up half of my unruly hair (you don't want to know how many bobby pins are squirreled away in there) I haven't yet made it to the salon (damn you cold!) but I scheduled my appointment for next week so it's just a matter of days until I feel like my usual fly self (yup as I've mentioned before, I'm a tad vain. Just a tad. I hope.)