Category Archives: Fashion

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Louis Vuitton Tivoli PM and No I Don’t Have a Brain Tumor

To your right is the Louis Vuitton Tivoli PM bag. It will be the next handbag I purchase, especially since I apparently missed the boat already on the Kooba bag that was specially designed for an HSN segment co-promoted by Lucky magazine. The TV event starts on Friday but it looks like it’s already sold out online…(sigh) if only everyone else had bad taste.

Speaking of bad taste, I noticed today that everything I ate today left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth (Cheerios — bitter. Strawberries — bitter.). I was getting worried since I recall hearing (from a marketing person, not a doctor) that one sign of brain tumor is altered taste perception (although I think she said something like you could taste colors, or maybe she was talking about a different experience altogether). Anyway, I went to my Primary Care Physician (the Internet), and found a forum where people posted about the same symptom — and they had all eaten large quantities of pine nuts! Flashback to Monday night — my daughter and I chowed down on a bag of Costco brand pine nuts after dinner, squirrel-style. Apparently this can last for days — like possibly five or so days.

Back to the Tivoli. I actually went to the LV store to try it on, and I LOVE it (especially after my friends were selling me on how practical it is — “I spilled a Tall Latte on it and it wiped right off” or “Your kids can drop an ice cream cone on it and it comes right off”) except that you can’t put it over your shoulder. Well, here’s the screwy part: I LOVE how bags look when you can’t put them over your shoulder, because I like the look of satchels, but I always try to put a bag over my shoulder (two kids), so I fear its impracticality. However, I tried on the GM version which you can put over the shoulder, and it’s not quite as cute and is a tiny bit too ginormous for me. This is why I don’t yet own a Tivoli. Or do I need both?

Fashion Shopping

Angry Little Girls

Now that summer’s officially over, I’m dealing with the new two-kids-at-two-different-schools-that-start-at-the-same-time-but-are-20-minutes-apart-oh-and-my-husband-is-out-of-town-all-the-time-lifestyle. Add to that having to get people to do homework (as well as dealing with my own homework, which is of course work I take home), doing the cooking, cleaning and general herding of children, and it’s all enough to make me an Angry Little Asian Girl. As if she knew, my friend Sandra got me some Angry Little Asian Girl (ALAG) spirit gear, my favorite of which is pictured at the right: it happens to be a great little wallet, with lots of practical zippered compartments and enough slots to hold my incredible number of credit cards, and it also has one of my favorite comics on it:

Kim (Angry Little Asian Girl): I got you a gift.
Mom: Why you waste money?!?

My favorite part is the mom, who has what my friend so aptly named AMH (Asian Mom Hair) — the short hair with a perm. It’s probably the most unnatural state for Asian hair but strangely the most common configuration for Asian moms. I have on several instances begged my mom not to get a perm.

I also received a tote bag, which is well made and has really good compartments, including one of which all sensible Asian moms would approve: a hidden zippered compartment for your wallet! It really is hidden — you can’t even see it from the inside of your bag. Perfect for the paranoid, and a good fit for those who avoid being blown by the wind at all times (if you have an Asian mom you’ll know what I mean).

But Lela Lee, the creator of the ALAG, doesn’t stop with angry Asians. She’s got a whole slew of angry little girls, one to suit every haircolor and personality type. Check out the online store — plenty of cute things to be had. Be forewarned on the T-shirts though — they run REALLY small. I usually wear a small in most things and had to move up to a large in the ALAG shirts.

Fashion Shopping

Tea Collection

Today is my birthday (the best 26th birthday ever…this is, like, the twelvth one…?) , and I’ve really noticed a change this year. For one, if I’m ever seen without makeup, people ask me if I’m feeling okay (actually, people have been doing that now for about ten years). In pictures, I exhibit a trademark appearance of perpetual exhaustion (I also learned this year not to be photographed with your reports at work who are 10-15 years your junior with long blond hair, perfect teeth and skin) . I observe a sort of conservation-of-beauty-effect: I watch my daughters blossom while my own looks fade. I’m focusing on the parts that are still good: I still have pretty decent fingernails and my calves are still bearable in public. Palms of hands also still acceptable. Brain still mostly functioning.

As I think about youth, I find myself more and more wishing I could fit into my kids’ clothes — or at the very least that they made clothes like that in my size. One of my favorite purveyors of childrens’ fine clothing is Tea Collection, a San-Francisco-based line with global influence. My daughter has a purple tank-and-capri combo that is just to die for. They change their international theme seasonally, which keeps the collection interesting, and the clothes are really well-made: high quality materials, elegant cuts with simple but sophisticated drape. If you hurry , they’re having a Tea Collection sale on Gilt today. Tea offers kids’ sizes up to 8, so my children only have a few more years to enjoy this experience. As they say, youth is wasted on the young.

Fashion Uncategorized

Marc Jacobs Totally Turnlock

Will someone please talk me down from the ledge? After subscribing to a most dangerous service, which I’ll write about some other time (it emails you things that are on sale, in your size, from designers you like, daily), I came up on this gorgeous bag: the Marc by Marc Jacobs Totally Turnlock Tobo bag. I do love most things Marc Jacobs, but this bag crept up on me like the Botkiers of yesteryear. With its perfect puffiness, casually latched top and part-hobo, part tote presentation, I felt like it was an old friend. Or a baby. I got the feeling I imagine some women have when they see a baby — that irresistible urge to want to hold it. The simplicity of the design and the versatility of the white (I happen to believe in winter white) pushed me over the edge — the elements that make this bag appealing are the same ones that make Hello Kitty universally cute — not so much what is there but what isn’t. I also have a weakness for buttery-soft leathers, and this one looks like it measures up pretty well.

I’ve heard that Jacobs bags weigh a ton. Would that be a deterrent for me? Or could I argue that carrying the bag would be the only exercise that I get — and then perhaps that I should get two?

Fashion Shopping

Asian Fit Sunglasses

A couple of years ago I took a trip to Taiwan that would change my life. Having spent months prior trying to find a good pair of over-sized sunglasses that fit (and by fit I mean that it needed to meet the following criteria: 1) it should not miss the bridge of my nose completely and have to be fully supported on my face by my cheeks; 2) it should not have so big a gap between my brow and the glasses that the full force of the sun would shine on my eyelids, thereby defeating the purpose of wearing sunglasses in the first place; 3) it should not project off of my face in a mysterious floating manner that would conjure up ideas of man-in-space programs), I finally settled on a $450 Chanel pair (yes, it really was the only pair that vaguely fit me) that was adequate. I’d say it met my criteria 75% — gap was still there, but not so that I was completely blinded, and it looked mostly okay.

Enter trip to Asia. I ended up at various opticians because I was shopping for a good pair of regular glasses — being blinder than most bats, I would benefit from the ultra-thin high-index lenses that are available in Asia (apparently, Americans are not blind enough to warrant a market here of this sort). Tried on a few frames. To my surprise, they all fit. Heart pounding, moved over to the sunglasses. Again, they fit. All of them. If I knew how to pass out I would have.

I bought a pair, and from then on, my life was different. I could see outside — clearly. Nothing sat on my cheeks. I didn’t have to squint while I wore sunglasses. It was marvellous, like being in a black-and-white film that just got Technicolor.

Then — tragedy. A couple of weeks ago, my stomach fell as I reached into my bag (which at the time happened to be my Botkier Stirrup, in case you were curious), and it was gone. I searched frantically — nowhere to be found. After a day of despair (and several days of mourning thereafter), with fingers crossed I went online and ordered a couple of pairs of Oakley Asian Fit Sunglasses. They arrived within a couple of days, and I hurriedly ripped open the box and pulled out the Script model (I’d ordered two of the same) — and they didn’t fit!!! I was aghast. They still sat on my cheeks. Now normally, I would be apt to believe that this was due to a personal deformity of some sort — except that I had validation from my trip to Taiwan that most glasses sold overseas actually did fit me.

Which leads me to wonder if Oakley used actual Asians in creating the Asian Fit glasses? Or were they like some of the cosmetics companies who offered “ethnic” colors as they imagined “ethnic” people would be?

The story has a happy ending though. One of my kids had stuffed my sunglasses under the sofa in the family room (this is indicative of another problem that warrants a separate post altogether), and rediscovered them one day when I came home. I nearly cried.

Fashion Shopping

Eugenia Kim


Since my hairdresser’s been on maternity leave, and I’ve had two traumatic cuts that I’ve had to fix up by myself afterwards (my haircutting skills are pretty much on par with my knitting skills — ok from afar, but a little scary up close), I’ve been a little obsessed with hats. I’ve noticed that even in winter here, I seem to be the only person wearing knit hats. Ok, nevermind the fact that it’s 65 degrees and sunny on a cold day, or that I’ve been getting headaches from overheating my head, but hats are cute! And they look a lot better than my hair does nowadays.
I’ve always been an admirer of Eugenia Kim, the hat designer. I love the fact that her business started from an attempt to hide a bad haircut (yes, that in particular resonates with me), and that she’s very accident-prone (see the Design Philosophy section). I have a particular affinity for knit hats, and of those in her collection, I’m a fan of the Heather cable knit hat. Being knitty myself, I love the chunkiness of it and the way she’s able to put a little edge into cables, which can often come off as being a little too precious. I am also impressed with the fact that she can charge $190 for the hat, which is about as much as I would have to pay someone to wear one of mine. Here’s more on Eugenia if you’re interested. It’s a good thing for us that she didn’t become a doctor (nevermind the accident-prone thing).

Fashion Shopping

I Got the Boot

Whoa, I didn’t mean to make the image that big. But I also can’t seem to figure out what I did wrong, so let’s move on.

I haven’t posted in a while, so you (I do have a realistic perception of my readership, so yes, that would be “you” in the singular) may be wondering what I’ve been up to. The truth is, I can’t really remember. I blame my children. I have this theory that while you’re pregnant, the child, in addition to sucking all the nutrients out of your body, also drains away the ability to ever wear dresses made of knitwear and your short-term memory. The worst question anyone can ask me on Monday morning is, “What did you do this weekend?”

The good news is that I have been taking pictures, so those usually help me with recollection. And I do remember that two days ago, I got into work, reached into my bag to pull out my laptop, and promptly got a deep wide paper cut from a manila folder that I had also shoved into my bag. It was on my fourth finger on my right hand. Before I went on my trip to Colombia I went through the exercise of carefully selecting a fingertip to have lopped off if my kidnappers were to do so in order to prove that I was in their custody (this also assumed that they would have taken requests, but I would think that most kidnappers would). I’m pretty sure that at the time I went with the fourth finger — probably on my left hand. Having cut the fourth on my right hand, however, I’m sort of reconsidering. The fourth contributes more than you think — it really helps to balance your hand when doing a variety of tasks, ranging from slicing vegetables to styling your hair. So I’m really not sure what I’d pick. The pinky? That one’s pretty important too — especially for capitalization on a QWERTY keyboard. Tough call. Maybe best to leave it to the kidnappers.

Speaking of business trips, I have another one in about a week. I’m going to Connecticut and New York. After I booked the trip I realized that I had no closed-toe shoes. See the photo above to find out why. So I embarked on a mission to find ankle boots that met the following criteria:

  • I can comfortably spend 12 hours on a plane in them.
  • They are not totally boring and devoid of style.
  • They are no more than $300, since the majority of their useful life will happen on this trip.
  • I can walk around NYC in them while lugging a laptop, luggage, and a handbag that I would have rubbed with Apple leather cleaner prior to departure.

Since the local selection is pretty limited, I ordered a total of 8 pairs of boots from the following retailers:

As my forecast expected, only one of them really worked out. To my surprise, it was the cheapest of them all — they were so cheap, in fact, that I almost didn’t order them. So the winner is: Audrey Brooke’s Jimmie Leather Ankle Boots — at $69.94!!! They’re cute, incredibly comfortable, and practically free! A close runner up was the Boutique 9 Coda ankle boot from Bloomingdales — going for $195, it had superior materials and craftsmanship, and surprising comfort level given the height of the heel — but I think the boots run a little big, so the pair I got was way too loose. If my trip weren’t next week I’d consider exchanging, but the Jimmies are so comfortable that I’m not looking back.

And kudos to DSW, from whom I’ve never purchased: they shipped everything quickly and packaged it beautifully. When it came time to return one of the pairs of boots that didn’t work out for me, they made it really simple: there was a DHL label enclosed, and best of all, you can schedule a pick-up from your home free of charge. That’s so lazy — I love it!

But to answer your question, I have sometimes been taking the kids to the beach (see above). I think part of the reason I don’t remember much is that nothing really happens to me anymore. Does going to the grocery store happen to you? Does being tired all the time count as happening? Anyway, I’ve also gone to Legoland recently, but I’ll write about that another time.

Fashion Money-Saving Tips

$700B Bailout Fashion

One thing a bad economy can do for you is to make you more industrious. When it comes to fashion, I like to think that I’m a survialist. That is, rather than revert completely to classics (I’m just not sure I understand classics. The idea behind classics is that they never go out of style, right? Which means that they’re either non-descript enough to go undetected, or you never have to buy new clothes — neither of which interest me.), I rise to the laid-off-spouse-induced challenge and force myself to innovate! So here are a couple of things that I did recently to make lemons into lemonade. Um, they didn’t all end up being lemonade; some turned out more like pee. But anyway, maybe it will trigger some ideas for you:

  • Restructured my jeans collection. I have about six pairs of jeans in rotation, two of which I wear pretty regularly. That doesn’t seem right; I should want to wear all of them. My analysis told me that the two pairs I wore were hemmed for wear with heels. Which means that half the time I’m forced to wear heels just because I want to wear those nice jeans. But I also want some pairs to wear with flats. My flats jeans were all faded and on their last threads. So I took a few of the other pairs that I wasn’t wearing, mostly because I didn’t like the fit or leg width quite as much, and brought them to the tailor to have them re-made into jeans for flats. Voila! Three new pairs of jeans at a fraction of the cost of new ones. My current favorites are Joe’s Jeans, so I made sure that I had one high heeled pair and one flats pair. And I just love dark washes — they make you look so skinny!
  • Lopped off my capris. I had several pairs of capris that I bought about three years ago that just didn’t look right anymore, and a pair of Burberry-print slacks that had just too wide a flare. One boring evening (out of many) I took a pair of scissors to the slacks and hand-hemmed them to be knee-length shorts. Suddenly my tired looking slacks became a set of cute shorts! Except for the questionable workmanship. So the capris are getting the same fate. Perfect for wearing with my cream-colored nubuck cowboy boots that I got on super sale at a boutique last month.
  • Belted it out. Being on spending moratorium wasn’t much fun, but in my book, spending money on belts doesn’t count! I acquired three new belts: 1) a patent leather wide belt in a royal purple, 2) an amazing and cheap reversible (!) studded leather belt from Steve Madden — black on one side and brown on the other, and 3) a thin, stamped python belt from Betsey Johnson. Sticking a belt on all my tops suddenly transformed my clothes — and I like belted tops over skirts. I’ve been wearing loose-fitting, billowy tops for the past year or two, both capitalizing on the trend and taking the opportunity to let my gut hang loose, so belting these tops was a nice change. As a bonus, I took the Steve Madden belt to my local cobbler, and he pounded a new buckle hole into it for me at no charge.
  • Accessorized. I’m a big fan of long necklaces — 32 inch and 34 inch ones — layered. I just think they look so great over the longer tops that are around now (and that I hope will stay around til I die. Fashion gods, please do not allow the cropped tops of the late ’90s to come back unless I get a personal trainer!). I have a few in my regular rotation that I got from Target, which has a surprisingly fresh and trendy accessories section — and J. Crew is currently having a final sale online where you can get pretty decent deals on gold plated jewelry for layering. I also bought a giant flower pin made of feathers that I am sure is going to look right any day now.

So good news: my husband got a job! It’s a 3-minute commute from our house and his office will have lavish facilities like windows, in-office closets, a beautiful gym and a really nice cafeteria. I am jealous. He starts in two weeks. Just in time to save me from the classics.

Fashion Shopping

Apple Leather Care

Don’t you think that the following things should really count as “income”?

  • Merchandise returns


  • Flexible Savings Account claims



  • Expense reimbursements



  • Discounts from sales and using coupons


If I ran the world it would be a very different place.

Now if you’ve funneled all that “income” into a new leather bag, you probably want to extend the life of the bag as long as you can (or at least til you get sick of it). Being that Botkier bags are currently the core of my existence, I did a lot of research on products that would be appropriate for use on this most exquisite lambskin. There are leather conditioners / cleaners out there that should not be used on soft or exotic leathers.

The best source I found for information on fine leathers were the discussion boards on The Purse Forum. And pretty much unanimously, people like Apple Leather Care. I bought it from Paradise Pen, with whom I had a great experience — not only did the product ship quickly, but enclosed was also a thank you note for my purchase written in calligraphy. Uh huh. Nothing says “thank you” like summoning the image of a bunch of monks in the Sistine Chapel slaving over your note. The Apple Leather care doesn’t leave a residue (which is apparently bad for leathers by preventing “breathing”), and as a side note, my hands were silky smooth after I rubbed the lotion on my bags. They were probably embalmed, but I’m a glass-is-half-full type of person.

Fashion Shopping

Coach Carly and the Nordstrom Shoe Sale

My husband should really know better than to leave me alone on a Thursday night with a computer and a credit card. He is out playing poker, hopefully winning enough for me to cover my next purchase. Which will be determined in the next 30 minutes.

Anyway, I’m not the biggest fan in the world of Coach bags (Though I did have a particular old-school coach I bought in the early ’90s that I still have that brought me great comfort. I used to have a job where I traveled a lot, so on planes I would rub the buttery soft strap like a security blanket, and when no one was looking, I would smell the purse. This is why I do not post my name on this blog.), but this Coach Carly signature bag (at Nordstrom for $348) is awfully cute. There’s something about the giant letters and slouchy hobo shape that I really like. I like some of their Legacy collection bags as well . In any case, if you live in a big city, you’ve probably seen this bag quite a bit — I saw it when I was in San Francisco last weekend. But if you’re in a town that has terrible food courts like San Diego, this might still be somewhat exciting to you. So those of you out there who try to minimize the leather you buy because of animal rights, take a look at this option. It has some leather, but not a lot. The rest of you, keep looking at Botkiers.

As a side note, Nordstrom is having a 40% off shoe sale online. I am trying to decide whether I can walk in shoes that are 3.5 inches high. Without falling, I mean.