Sunday, May 29, 2011

Little Drummer Girl

     This outfit was based, surprisingly enough, on the fact I wanted to wear this simple, $3 burgundy tank top I found on sale at F21. I love burgundy, but it's hard for me to find a shade of it that I truly like. It's a great tank actually, soft and fitted, and long enough to cover the crotch/fly/hips. Peeking through a lacy top and paired with dark blue jeans and a creamy gold-buttoned cardigan, this outfit kind of reminds me of a marching band member or a circus ringmaster, which I think is quite cool.

Lace top and burgundy tank by F21, cardigan by anatelier Japan, jeans/jeggings by Zara

     At work I swapped out the jeans for my old Zara khakis (which sadly have to go to the dry cleaner's for repair since one of the zipper tracks managed to escape from the zipper), and my fiancee liked the outfit so much he proclaimed it one of his all time favorites. Good taste, the boy has.
     Also, I managed to rectify the shoe drama. Out of necessity, more so than anything else, because I noticed the very last pair of sandals I had was starting to fray at the ankle-strap buckle, so I told made it my mission to find two pairs of sandals, one grey and one brown to go with everything, that would not cost more than $25 each. A budget which of course really limits my options, but I knew I could count on Old Navy.

Not the cutest or most interesting designs, but they're cheap and they'll do!
     Their size 11 is true to size, the shoes are cheap, and the quality is decent enough for them to survive one or two summers of constant wear. I wanted to have them shipped directly to Tokyo, but the tax and shipping cost was...wait for it... $76. WTF. For an order of $50? Pffft. So I sent them my lovely Mum in Cali, who never minds collecting my packages and sending them over to her bigfoot daughter over here in the land of tiny dainty women. And I took a gamble on a pair of Hunter rain boots (which I will probably be living in for the next month) that I found on Amazon Japan. Hunters are of course famous and are therefore on the expensive side (over $100), but at least in Japan I can pay for them in cash, either on delivery or by going to any convenience store and punching a code into a little kiosk. Yes, that's right, in some ways Japan is totally amazing. I think the cash-friendliness and the variety of payment options is the things I will in fact miss most about this place. I got a brown pair... which in real life is actually a greyish brown that can go with anything and is the exact same color as my favorite leather jacket, so that was a pleasant surprise. The biggest size they had was UK8/27 cm, and I'm actually a UK9, but a few minutes of research proved that the boots run at least a half-size larger, so I went for it. And they fit perfectly, are super comfy, and are tall enough on me to be knee-high. So I am a happy girl once again!

Me likey.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Shiny Chevalier

     Shoe drama and day-one period issues aside, I had a pretty awesome day today. A very good friend of mine got some relieving and optimistic health-related news, I don't have to work tomorrow (yes, I'm blowing a sick day on a period... believe me you have to when your job demands constant... or should I say incessant... customer interaction for nearly 10 straight hours), and my awesome little bro is coming to visit Tokyo next week.
     Since we're now in the rainy season, the temperature is hovering around 20 C and the humidity is around 60 to 80%, depending on the time of day. Not really heavy knit weather, but with the clouds and the slight breeze it's not exactly warm either. So I decided to take a gamble and wear the awesome H&M silver knit sweater I got after falling in love with it on fashiontoast. It was just light enough that I wasn't too warm, but I know I probably won't have a chance to wear it again until fall/winter.

8 AM, fresh from the rain and the rush hour train. 
The sweater in all its shimmery glory.
Kind of a crappy shot, but oh well. H&M knit sweater, Zara white chemise, Zara jeans/jeggings, Ruby and Bloom flats
    The sweater was a big hit; one client (whom I've known for 3 years and who has never commented on my clothes before, said it was cool), and another said I looked like some sort of mermaid princess, which is awesome. Personally I think it's more reminiscent of a medieval knight or Joan of Arc, and as a someone with an MA in Medieval Studies, I could not not buy it. Academic justification for a consumerist action for the win!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Shoe Lust, a Rant, and a Pity Party

     As I think I've mentioned before, my shoe collection is almost nonexistent. I have two pairs of suede boots, one brown, one black, that are practically three years old and definitely have to be retired this year. I have two pairs of grey flats, one an awesome metallic pair from Born, which unfortunately have begun to wear away at the heel and will soon have to be tossed out. For summer, I had three pairs of flat sandals, but since two pairs were super cheap and were worn practically everyday last summer, only one remains for this year. And for work, I have three pairs of nice, if boring, pumps. One black (tooled leather, which is pretty cool), one grey (but unfortunately a rather murky dark grey, not the clear glossy color I was expecting), and one nude (the same exact style as the grey pair. Yawn).

Behold the carnage! I love how the filler/padding of the flat is red, so it looks like the shoe is literally bleeding.
     It is practically impossible to buy shoes my size (which, depending on the brand, ranges from 10.5 to 11.5 in American sizing) here in Japan, so I've long given up on it. With the Internet, however, it is actually relatively easy for me to find cute shoes in my size, but the problem is actually purchasing them. You see, most foreigners in Japan cannot get a credit card from a local bank unless they've been here for many years, are married to a Japanese spouse, or pull in a high salary. Three conditions which don't apply to me at all. I do have a credit card from back home in the States, but with no way to actually pay the balance off from Japan without paying a ton of money in service and international transfer fees, it's not really an option. That's not to say I never use it, but I rarely do, and unfortunately most of the balance has just been sitting there racking up interest and will continue to do so until I'm living in a country where it's easy to pay it off (which is definitely NOT Japan).
     This tends to cause me a lot of annoyance, frustration, and sadness when I find an awesome pair of shoes in my size (for instance, there are a ton of amazing suede fall boots on sale over on Zappos, which are under $150, which I would happily buy ASAP if I could pay in cash or had a way to pay off my credit card). And since I need to wear pumps at work, 5 days a week, I'm getting tired of wearing the same one pair (the nude, since I mostly wear the black in fall/winter, and I don't really like to wear the grey), which will surely break after being worn every work day from now until September.
     Today, PMSing and not looking forward to heading into work this evening, I decided to torture myself by looking at possible summer pumps to wear to work. An action which I totally regret now since I have fallen in LOVE with a pair of FRYE slingbacks. I actually cried a little bit (damn you, PMS) when I saw that they had the color I wanted in the size I needed!
FRYE Maya Cut Slingback pumps, $168.
     Peep toe? Check? Solid heel which is not higher than 2 1/2 inches? Check. Beige/sand colored? Check. And I love the cute cut-out design, which keeps the rather standard style of the shoe from looking too boring or matronly. Arrrrrrgh.
     Time to go drown my sorrows in a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream! So what if it's only 10 in the morning?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Double Duty

     Since Tokyo has been so warm lately, I'm practically living the F21 lace tunic/dress I recently bought. So I apologize for the lack of varied outfit posts, but I think that this should be the last lace-themed one for a while!
     Yesterday I decided to try tucking the tunic into a tight-waisted skirt, and since it won't work under a slim-fitting pencil, my only option was my blush tulip-shaped skirt from H&M. The combination worked perfectly, and the lace didn't get snagged in the zipper like I had feared. I'm still not sure if washing the tunic is a good idea or a risky one, but I think I'm going to take my chances and try it out today. Fingers crossed!

     As you can see from the photo, it's time to head off to the hair salon and get those straggly bangs and puffy, wavy roots taken care of!

Update: Just as I suspected, washing the lace was no problem at all. I'm always a little doubtful when I see "Do Not Wash" labels on something from F21! Such instruction is usually a hoax anyways, IMHO.

Friday, May 20, 2011


     It seems that I'm on a lace kick this week! Well, with good reason, I suppose; lace is the perfect fabric for spring. It's pretty, feminine, and also practical since it keeps you cool in the warm to hot late spring months.

Lace top (F21), grey pencil skirt (H&M), cardigan (anatelier Japan)

Close-up of the lace, and accessories (mayglobe Japan)
     Of course, when I wore this outfit yesterday the weather was warm but not yet hot, but today it was HOT. And it's supposed to be hot again tomorrow, and then for the following few days it's supposed to be significantly cooler and rainy. Choosing the right outfit is going to be a challenge for the next few days for sure!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Light and Lacey

     Today was a sunny and breezy day, thankfully warm and dry rather than hot and humid. It was the perfect chance to wear the lace tunic (or "dress" as Forever 21 deems it) I finally scored after months of hoping that it or the earlier blouse version would find its way onto the Tokyo shelves. It was surprisingly easy to get in and out of... no tightness or pulling even though the lace itself is not really stretchy at all. It's really comfortable and not scratchy, and it's a versatile piece that manages to be both dressy and casual at the same time. I'm even considering wearing it under a tight-waisted skirt as a blouse!

Lace tunic (F21), jeans/jeggings (Zara), accessories (mayglobe and Rope Picnic Japan)
Detail of the lace
"I'd Rather be in Paris" bangle that I found at Rope Picnic here in Tokyo, though it seems to be sold on random online boutiques back in the States as well

     The attached slip is a bit annoying, though, the straps sometimes twist and pull awkwardly, but it's just a minor quibble. I may just detach it, actually. And despite it being from F21, it boasts the dreaded "Do Not Wash" label, which I'm debating whether or not to heed. I'm sure if I put the tunic in a protective mesh laundry bag and use a delicates cycle, it will be fine. But since it's such a hard-won piece, I'm a bit hesitant and may just send it to the dry cleaners. If anyone out there has this tunic/blouse, any advice would be most welcome!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lemon Drop

     Despite the fact that Monday was actually on the cool side and was more cloudy than clear, I decided to wear a very "spring" outfit. I wore my lace skirt that, until now, I had only worn with thick, opaque tights. This time I went bare-legged (well, I wore nude hose, but close enough) and donned my rarely-worn lemon yellow cardigan. I quite liked this outfit, and I really liked the fact that my hair decided to have about double its normal volume. Ever since I started blow drying my hair upside down and using an awesome awapuhi volumizing condition my hair has had a lot more lift, but yesterday was insane. A little more height and it would've crossed the border into Texas hair! Probably was a combination of high humidity and the fact that I'm long overdue for a straight perm/cut, but I'm glad it was more voluminous than frizzy.

Crochet lace skirt (pour la frime Japan). frill neck undershirt (F21), yellow cardi (Japan). accessories (mayglobe Japan)
     Today I  was at home all day, which was lucky for me because we had one hell of a downpour in the middle of the afternoon. Super dark clouds, thunder, pounding rain, the whole deal. Pretty rare for Tokyo; I felt as if I was back in Singapore for a few hours! Of course that means that tomorrow might be muggy, sunny, and hot... I do hope I'm wrong!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dainty Doily

     When I first started this blog a few months ago, I listed a little ModCloth cardigan on my Wish Lists page. It was pretty expensive for ModCloth, about $60, but I loved it so much I had to have it. Today was the first time I actually wore it (I actually kind of forgot about it) and I have to say, I'm pretty pleased. It's a very short/cropped cardigan, so I don't think I'd ever wear it without a high-waisted pencil skirt, and I wish the sleeves were a bit longer or puffed, but the crochet lace/accordion-pleat ruffle more than makes up for any tiny defects!

Cardigan of Her Dreams (ModCloth), cream turtleneck top (Lowry's Farm Japan), grey pencil skirt (H&M),
accessories (
mayglobe Japan)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Afternoon Delight

     Back in the day (not really sure when "the day" actually was, but whatevs) there used to be a clear line between day and evening dress, especially for women. In recent decades, however, that line has been steadily erased, and we now wear most items whenever we feel like it. The color black, for example, used to be reserved for post-work hours, as were open-toed shoes and statement jewellery.
     One of the most recent fashion elements to cross the great divide from night to day is the use of sequins. Sequins (also known as spangles, or, if very large, paillettes) started showing up in daytime wear only a few years ago, and while it's still better to leave that sequined body-con mini dress for a cocktail lounge (or a stripper pole), a few shimmering discs of light-catching plastic can literally brighten your day.
     Yesterday I wore my first fully sequined item of clothing, a little camisole I got ages ago on sale at Forever 21. I liked the bright (but not too deep) coppery color, which reminded me of a fresh new penny, and the sheer non-sequined neckline which made it possible for me to wear my favorite sparkly necklace without looking too over-the-top glittery. Daytime sequins are not really popular in Tokyo yet, but the occasional admiring and interested glances I got from some young women makes me think that it would be warmly embraced here.

Copper sequin top (F21), white cropped cardigan and grey pencil skirt (H&M), cut-glass necklace (mayglobe Japan)

Closeup of the sequins. I wore the cardi unbuttoned at times, but it was a bit too cold for that in the office.
     It was my first time wearing a truly sequined garment, and I quite liked it. I checked out a few shops for similar items, and it seems that J. Crew is the main purveyor of daytime-friendly glimmer:

     I especially like the merino-striped sweater on the left. I recently spied it on the ever-stylish Kimmie, and boy, do I want it! It recently went on sale, too, but I still can't justify its (reduced) price of nearly $90.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Topshop Part Deux

     Continuing my renewed love affair with Topshop, I decided to go ahead and wear the other piece I had bought along with the billowy blouse from my last post. It was a) a cardigan b) greyish-oatmeal c) featured a peachy coral floral print. Love. And I happened to find a layering tank that was the perfect color to go with it.

Floral print cardigan and peach tank-top (Topshop), wool skirt (H&M), accessories (mayglobe Japan)     
     I really loved this outfit, the skirt was a great base for the cardigan. The only small annoyance was the fact that the cardigan's material was partially angora, which meant that little strands of wool would waft free from time to time. No big deal, but inhaling one of those threads and choking on it mid-sentence, while my eyes watered over? Not fun. But I guess we all suffer for fashion, right?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Billowy in Ginza

     Today was the last of the string of Golden Week holidays here in Japan, and tomorrow it's back to work I go. Normally I spend my Sundays (well, Wednesdays) or any public holidays embowered in my apartment to revel in a day of total sloth-asides and to avoid the hordes of people that descend on every cafe, train station, and shop in the Tokyo area on any given weekend or holiday. But since I already had a day of sloth yesterday, and because the road crews had once again started jack-hammering away at our street, I decided to head out to do a bit of shopping.
     Normally I go shopping in Shinjuku, the most downtown of all of Tokyo's downtowns, home to department store flagships, the metropolitan government offices, my own workplace, and the world's busiest train station. It's convenient and every shop that I frequent has at least one branch there. But though it's easy to shop in Shinjuku, it's not that enjoyable or relaxing. It's near work, it's full of stressed out people running every which way, and it's home to a large population of bums and, well, weirdos. So instead I decided to head a bit further afield to Ginza which, while also crowded, is a much more pleasant place to shop. The streets are much wider and the (mostly rich) people there don't tend to stare rudely at you or try to practice their junior high Engrish on you. Furthermore, the shops in Ginza usually have much better and newer inventory; the Zara there is small, but always has the latest collection, and the H&M there is the best in Tokyo.

East Shinjuku (photo not mine), not yet that crowded
Ginza, at normal crowd level (photo not mine). Look, trees! A VERY rare sight in Tokyo.
    I didn't get anything that exciting, mostly some undershirts and a plain white cardigan for layering, though I did get a very nice leather cosmetics pouch and a red silk dress/top at Zara (which was  bizarrely only $30). I saw this dress/top that I absolutely LOVED at Forever21; it was very non-F21, the print was large and only consisted of 3 colors...more Zara than F21. The problem? The top of the dress was very roomy, but the bottom was super tapered and tight, which caused the lining to bunch up like crazy around the midsection. Shame. Here's a pic of it from F21's US site:
Yeah, it does NOT fit like that in real life. According to the site, the model is 5'10" and wearing a small. If by small they mean a medium that has had the back seam ripped open, then sure!
     Despite the crushing defeat, I was still in a very good mood, enjoying the nice but not too warm weather and my awesome outfit of the day. I wore my go-to Zara skinnies/jeggings, my gray suede sandals, and this fantastic medallion-print blouse from Topshop:
Yes, I took a photo of myself in the fitting room at Zara. 
     It's rare for me to wear something this billowy. I usually wear clothes that are much more body-conscious (but still rather covered up, no spaghetti straps for me, thanks) because, well, I like my body very much. Yeah, I know, we women are not supposed to say that, but whatever, my parents gave me great self-esteem LOL. But I saw this blouse on the "Last Chance to Buy" rack at Topshop two weeks ago and I just needed it. Its base is a soft peachy-salmon, which is probably my favorite clothing color after grey, and the medallion print is just awesome. And while the top is indeed loose and billowy, it still shows the lines of the body enough to avoid the pregnancy effect. 
Close-up of the print
     It was also a sentimental purchase for me, because Topshop always reminds me of the year I spent living in London whilst doing my MA. I lived very close to Oxford Circus and I'd always meet my friends at the iconic Topshop before we headed off to a ridiculously overpriced movie at Leicester Square or a ridiculously cheap meal in Chinatown. Of course, the teeny-tiny Tokyo branch is a far cry from the massive UK stores, but still, I'm glad that I can visit a little piece of London whenever I feel like it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Farewell to Chunky Knits

     I can no longer deny it, cool weather is officially over here in Tokyo. It's actually warmer than usual for May, which does not bode well for summer... so this week we have been washing and folding away some of our heavier clothing, though of course we'll have to keep some warmer clothes on hand until the June for the random cold days that pepper a Tokyo spring.
     One of those freak days occurred this past weekend; it wasn't even overcast, but it was definitely not spring weather. Not cold enough to wear a coat, but I wore a turtleneck undershirt and a thick, oversized sweater and I didn't sweat a drop. The next day it was much warmer and if I had worn that outfit I would've fainted from heatstroke the moment I stepped out the door. I have a feeling I won't be able to wear such a heavy sweater again, at least not until winter!
     So, adieu, chunky knits! You have served me well.
Blush/white oversized sweater (H&M),  grey turtleneck undershirt (Lowry's Farm Japan), khaki pants (Zara

I love the design on the chest/shoulders; it's actually angora wool (unlike the rest of the sweater)