Passport to Paris

Ahhh, the soft beaming rays from the sun. Oh, look at that pastel blue sky! Mmm……Can you even feel the breeze from the Seine or smell those freshly baked croissants from a café a mile away?

Bienvenue, Paris!

As you stroll through the streets, walking around the City of Light makes you feel like you’re inside a park with your dog. Packed with stores, cafés and monuments at a stone’s throw, how can we not thank God for making such a perfect city?

If the convenience is a reason as to why Paris is one of my favorite cities to travel to, it’s also their super hot retail scene and the Parisienne’s reverence for the art of fashion that made me enjoy it. In fact, it’s their refined aesthetic for beauty that made me want to appreciate Paris.

If you have never been there before, you must ABSOLUTELY book a ticket. Since the city is as wide as a football field, here are some of my favorite places you need to bookmark before hailing a cab:

Continue reading “Passport to Paris”

How to Shop Vintage: A Tell-All Guide on How Your Favorite Style Icons Do It

Spring cleaning is at peak season and I know that more than a handful of you are looking to find some new clothes/accessories to fit into your closet. If I have to find something unique, the only method I swear by is by shopping vintage!

Growing up in Asia, vintage shopping was seen as a stigma as it was associated with people who couldn’t afford much to buy new clothes. Also, it was deemed unhygienic as the garment was previously used. It wasn’t until I started reading Mary-Kate and Ashley’s Two of a Kind series that I learned what vintage clothing was since a character wore secondhand clothing from two decades ago. I was desperate to emulate the “cool girl” look by shopping vintage. As a diehard fangirl of the Olsen twins, I learned that their famous semi-homeless chic bobo style mainly included vintage clothing as their base. I mean, even Kate Moss’ style was deeply rooted in vintage clothes she scored at flea markets and thrift stores! Deeply incentivized by the urge to try vintage shopping, I walked inside What Comes Around Goes Around during a summer vacation in NYC when I was 12. Despite walking out empty-handed, I felt inspired to find vintage clothing and accessories whether it be from a boutique to my late grandmother’s closet.

Ever since I went to college, I treated myself to vintage goodies and based on the five years I’ve shopped secondhand, I feel like it’s time for me to (finally) give away my secrets. Gear up and take notes, ladies! (Gentlemen, you are included, too!)

  1. Study the popular silhouettes/trend of a decade

As history buff, I endlessly scroll through Google, pore through my mom’s fashion history books and hit up museums that display antique clothing. When I look at more than two garments, I begin to picture the silhouette on me.

If you are a beginner, try sticking to one silhouette that matches with your current wardrobe. It helps you identify what will flatter your body as vintage cuts are generally smaller than contemporary sizing. Also, the majority of vintage garments are built to be fitted to one dominant body type of an era.

2. Look carefully at the label or date on a garment

Carbon-dating sounds extremely tedious, but you can save yourself some time by investigating carefully at the labels. If you ever go shopping in the US, there’s a label “ILGWU“, which stands for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union. This label was common in the ’60s to the ’90s, when it disbanded. Shall you encounter it anywhere at a vintage store, snap it up immediately as you can never find it again.

Also, labels help you indicate the era a garment was made. However, this issue of finding an era doesn’t stop there. In fact, dates on garment’s label or drawing are common as it will tell you when it was produced. But finding a date on the shirt doesn’t stop here…

3. Zoom closer on vintage tees

If you pop into a vintage store and run through the racks for vintage concert shirts, every single design will indicate the date. In fact, dates are a matter of life and death. As so many vintage band tees are being reproduced by fast fashion companies (ew!), it will basically give out the year when an old design is recently licensed for the company to produce it. For example, if you are looking at a Led Zeppelin tee, but the date is from 2006, it’s most likely to be a licensed repro than the real deal. (This happened to me once as I didn’t look at the date carefully!) For tours or events that are well known (e.g. Rock for Choice or Guns ‘n Roses and Metallica’s co-headlining Use Your Illusion Tour), these tees are super duper RARE! Rule of thumb: The rarer the shirt, the better.

4. Condition

Ideally, every single vintage item should be in pristine condition. In that case, it means no tears, smells, stains and other flaws your local dry cleaner can clean out. But in vintage terminology, these are the terms you need to know:

A) Deadstock – new unworn old stock. Sounds confusing, but it’s basically unworn old inventory that has been lying around in storage for YEARS! In fact, some of deadstock items you find will have a price tag attached.

B) Excellent – the garment has been worn multiple times, but there are tiny, yet extremely fixable flaws that aren’t that terribly noticeable from afar.

C) Good – a bit more worse for wear than an “excellent” vintage garment, but there are more flaws. This is where rips and tears or pilling fall in.

D) Fair – a bit average above poor, but the garment is super distressed and a LOT of repairs need to happen. If ultra distressed is your thing, then you got the best beaten up vintage treasure that a lot of fast fashion retail stores try so hard to achieve with heavy chemical processing and labor.

5. Types of vintage pieces you must invest in

In case you are wondering why some vintage pieces cost as much as your rent or year’s paycheck, it’s because the quality from eons ago was better. Not to mention, fast fashion wasn’t so prevalent; hence, the superiority in durability. No matter if the item is branded or unbranded, some things are worth saving up for. Here is what you need to start out with:

  1. Concert, TV show or movie tees – owning a piece of history feels so great and as a pop culture fiend, it rings a bell as I want people to notice my interests. Showing your passion for a band, TV show, solo artist or movie you love is best done via a graphic tee. It’s the type of understated statement piece that all of you must have! But only buy it if you TRULY like the topic. (No posers, please.)
  2. Leather jackets – details are king. In case you are wondering why Kate Moss’ leather jackets look so comfy, it’s because all of her pieces are vintage! Leather jackets from the ’50s to ’80s have drastically changed their silhouette to suit the popular fashions of each time. Despite the dramatic changes in style, I’ve noticed that all of my vintage leather jackets (from my Kate Moss Roncelli trucker jacket from the ’70s to the ’80s cropped studded leather biker jacket) end at the waist for a flattering, figure-friendly look. Whether it’s oversized, slightly long or shrunken, go for one that plays well with your proportions! Although buying jackets seem so tricky, it’s actually one of the easiest things to buy.
  3. Bags – no outfit can be complete without one. If you want quality purses, go for designer vintage pieces whether it be Dior, Fendi, Gucci or Chanel. Each piece from these designers never repeats the same design seasonally every year. Most importantly, treat your bag like it’s your ride or die as you want it to match with at least 75% of your closet.
  4. Dress – I LOVE dresses. I always swear by it whenever I feel too lazy to put on a pair of pants. Given that each of us are built differently, you MUST get one for at least 3 separate occasions: everyday, work and cocktail/party.

As easy as vintage shopping sounds, here are some gems I’ve picked up along the way:

  1. Try on things you can’t return at the (physical) store – I’ve had moments when I wanted to return things because they couldn’t fit. Mainly those things are button down tops and jeans. As vintage sizing for jeans is absolutely the trickiest, it’s best to try it on in store before you order it online.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask – if you shop online like I do, the first thing I do before I buy is to ask the owner. They will go out of their way to help you at all cost. At the end of the day, what you purchase is what you MUST KEEP as most vintage stores don’t accept returns. (True story, guys!!) This rule applies best for shoes as I’ve made the mistake of NOT asking if the chic leopard print furry Mary-Jane platforms were gonna crumble after wearing them for 2 years (RIP furry shoes! :’/).
  3. Measure yourself before you shop – one of my late granny’s go-to methods for shopping always included a roll of measuring tape. As strange as it sounded to me, it was purely handy. Size measurements are never ever wrong it can help you determine the fit of the garment. As each era has different cuts, pattern and styles, you always need to know if your body suits the shape of the actual garment no matter how trendy an item was 20-60 years ago.

Here are my top vintage picks for you:

  1. The Kickstart My Heart Jacketheavy metal hottie jacket.jpg

I am wild at heart and I also love how ’80s heavy metal reflected the energy of the artist’s super turbulent lives. While thrills are sexy, living the junkie lifestyle ain’t that hot. However, you can get a dose of ’80s rock ‘n roll from Dr. Feelgood with this super duper cool Motley Crue-esque jacket (Go find photo #17 on this Buzzfeed listicle –  it’s the closest you can get to Tommy Lee’s version!).

Like a true ’80s child, pair it with high-waisted jeans (or leather pants!) and a crop top. Or a band tee and high-waisted shorts with white ankle boots and matching socks! Aquanet hairspray optional.

BUY IT HERE

2. The Cadet Kelly Crop Top

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Remember the Hilary Duff teen movie, Cadet Kelly? Her uniform looked extremely similar to this super adorable vintage Boy Scout crop top from the ’80s! Shorn, sexy and with a touch of innocence, you can run wild with your imagination. Whether it be casual with mom jeans or music festival-friendly with faux leather shorts, you can take this top anywhere with you. Don’t be surprised if all the designers want to copy it on the runway. 😉

BUY IT HERE

3. The Around the World in 80 Days Skirt

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Instagram photos may be the new postcards, but this skirt takes it a notch. With so many countries’ flags plastered all over the skirt, it adds such an interesting statement piece that adds color and character. If you are to pair this with anything, it can be ultra femme with a slip camisole or laid back cool with a white tee. Seriously, this masterpiece from Galliano-era Dior is not to be overlooked.

BUY IT HERE 

4. The Survivor Onesie

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I can’t let go of Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” music video, where all Beyoncé, Kelly and Michelle wore camo from head to toe. A camo onesie might seem super duper extra, but I like how this roomy design can look fierce with boots or a pair of high-heeled strappy sandals.

BUY IT HERE

5. The VIP Mini Backpack

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Buckled details are a tale as old as time; however, they’ve always remained fresh. In case you missed it, one of the greatest examples of multi-buckled garments was in Pamela Anderson’s show VIP. (FYI, it’s on the first episode where Pamela tries on clothes with her friend, who wore a bondage-style multi-buckled top!) Multi-buckled bags are seriously one of the most underrated and overlooked trends of the ’00s, but once you see them on the street, always think about who wore them first. 😉

BUY IT HERE

6. The Boho Babe Dress

anna sui dress

Part Seattle grunge (look up Bridget Fonda in Singles), part boho, this Anna Sui dress is pure ’90s dreams. Causal in a denim jacket or dressy in a PVC clear trenchcoat, you can style this dress anyhow you want. That’s why Anna Sui is one of my favorite designers: her pieces can be easily worn to dress up an outfit, even if it’s a simple clean white sneaker with denim or delicate gold jewelry!

BUY IT HERE

7. The Cool Cat Sunglasses

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I love a cat eye and it’s a big part in my personal style as I like all things retro. Personally, this silhouette is SUPER flattering as it lets your eyebrows stand out and softens the most masculine features of your jawline. (FYI: my paternal grandpa thought that I look SO manly because of my jawline lol!) Whether you have a pixie cut, a Christina Aguilera-style ponytail or a fierce lob, go for it!

BUY IT HERE

8. The Shoes Ariel Would Walk In

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If Ariel and Drew Barrymore walk into a bar, then this killer pair of metallic blue boots is a cocktail you must sip. Part grunge, part mermaid and a whole chock of young Brittany Murphy in Clueless, the metallic hue helps to make an outfit pop! While most girls back in the day would wear this with coordinating pastel blues, you can work the millenial blue look by pairing it with a floral dress (with some bit of blue flowers!), small cross body bag and a suede miniskirt. It’s flirty, yet it can get great conversations to come out from it.

BUY IT HERE

Will you try vintage shopping? If you plan to, what are the top 3 things you want to buy?

Photo by Hallie Geller

Clinking up with Pop & Suki

A few days ago, I was checking through my DMs in the morning before I headed out of my bed to get ready for work. Usually, I’d be expecting one from my friend as it’s one of the most convenient ways to keep in touch. However, one message surprised me.

In the message, it was asking me to be an ambassador, which means that I get to promote the brand and provide a special link to my readers/followers. The sender was Pop & Suki, an LA-based handbag brand. For the past two years since I followed them on Instagram, they just asked me to be a brand ambassador.

For those of you who are new to Pop & Suki, it was founded in 2016 by TV presenter Poppy Jamie and model/actress Suki Waterhouse. I discovered them through Suki’s Instagram, which I follow to keep up with her Marianne Faithfull meets L.A. girl sense of style. It’s also the brand whose famous versatile camera bag was spotted on so many celebrities from Pippa Middleton, Paris Hilton, Cara Delevingne to Lady Gaga. Given that more than a handful of you saw me wearing my trusty buttery smooth Pop & Suki camera bag over the past year, I really thank God so so much for opening up a door to let Pop & Suki give me the opportunity to be an ambassador.

As my treat, please type in “MICHELLEVARINATA15” to score a 15% discount when you shop on Pop & Suki!

Before I forget, all of you need to hit this link (ambassadors.popandsuki.com/MichelleVarinata) to score your perks!

Nothing means more to me than your support for women-led small businesses.

xoxo

Michelle

TLA by Morgan Stewart: The BEST activewear brand you need to stock up on

 

Let’s get real: Have you ever wanted to look this hot while you sweat?

I, like countless other girls like you, definitely did. Eight years ago, I always had to wear a baggy white tee and cotton navy blue shorts with my white Reeboks. It was P.E. class, where almost *nobody* pranced around the track field like the cast of Baywatch (the original TV show, not that Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron movie!) Safe to say, looking hot only looked better after a five minute shower and a freshly changed uniform.

Flash forward to today, there are less baggy tees and shorts than a pair of leggings and a closely-cropped sports bra. Thanks to the Hadid sisters and the Kar-Jenners for spurring this trend in activewear as everyday wear, the one brand that is pushing fitness gear to the next level is Touché LA.

Founded by Jaynee and Karl Singer, Touché LA partnered up with Rich Kids of Beverly Hills star/fashion blogger/Daily Pop co-host Morgan Stewart Fitzpatrick to create a seasonal collection. (Before you continue, check out my interview with her for Galore!) Upon looking at the entire spring/summer range, my jaw dropped to see that sports bras and leggings are meant to be paired together like a Chanel two-piece suit. Thirsting to try a set, I reached out to Touché LA to send me one.

The moment I tried it on, my eyes instantly went acidic. Wearing lemon yellow from head to toe, I thought that I would look bigger than a turkey. Instead, the ribbed waistband and panels on the leggings hugged my thighs to create a contour-like effect. Despite the thickness of the material, it was quite see-through at the back. (Disclaimer: I took countless photos of myself wearing it and it doesn’t show in any photographs!) But what I was truly worried about was my boobs.

As a 32DD, I constantly felt SO self-conscious as A) I was told not to show off my boobs and B) they are too big for anything. From one D cup sister to another, Morgan Stewart really understood the struggle of #bigboobproblems when designing this bra. Based on my previous experiences with sports bras, they’d usually loosen up after an X amount of washes, made me look like I had monoboob and/or not give me enough support (as the band is too loose at the bottom!). Here, the double-cross straps lifted them up and the fabric held on to me when I worked out.

When a sports bras and leggings set looked figure-flattering, would it actually stay in place? To answer this, I popped in a Popsugar video and did the entire workout for 30 minutes. During the workout, I felt moisture running down my back, legs and armpits. Since the leggings were high-waisted, the sauna-like atmosphere inside the fabric made my skin leak out sweat. Simultaneously, the waistband wrapped itself around my waist and hips like Spanx, leaving me to have a better ability to control my abs when I rolled up from the mat. The bra left my two bulbous balloons to stay in place – even as I did some side crunches. Unlike my VS bra, I didn’t need to make ANY awkward adjustments at all!

Although I personally didn’t wear much activewear outside the gym, I finally understood see why so many celebrities and influencers wore it. It was comfortable, slimming, looks great at every angle AND easy to mix with other pieces (e.g. a cropped baby tee and a handbag). Mrs. Fitzpatrick herself once told me that you are meant to rock it at the club with high heels. (I have yet to do this myself, but I’ll try it!) If casual Fridays can be everyday, I’ll happily pull it out from my closet without a care in the world.

P.S. This is me post-workout!

Touche LA x MS review

 

UPDATE: The set is sold out; however, you can get a similar set in tangerine at Touché LA’s website.

DISCLAIMER: This set was sent to me for review.

How to Rock NYFW Like an Insider

 

Got a bad case of stiff calves from wearing high heels for seven hours? Check. In the mood to grab a Pandol after hopping around town aimlessly? Double check. Need to put up a reminder on your calendar every day just to set up a time to leave your hotel room to catch a fashion show or party on time? Triple check.

Congratulations! You are officially initiated into the NYFW life. As one of the busiest periods in the city, nothing matters more than being able to keep up an incredibly tight schedule 24/7.

Regardless of whether you’re attending a fashion show, pop up event or party, there are so many opportunities where you can have fun and expand your network as you make new friends. Despite being a newbie to the NYFW game, you can live it up like you’re an insider!

Here are my top tips to surviving NYFW:

Continue reading “How to Rock NYFW Like an Insider”

The NYFW Starter Pack Tips You Need to Try

Welcome to the Empire State of Mind, where dreams are made in the city. With Labor Day weekend coming in to a close, you can feel the aura of the stomping feet, honking horns and the smell of freshly made coffee.

While your copy of every September issue you’ve ever owned says that you need to be in the mood for fall, truth is that it’s still fairly warm for NYC. In that case, you can pull out your oversized bell sleeved tops, ruffled skirts and other forms of summer clothes to mix and match with your sheer turtlenecks out in the streets. Most importantly, it’s never too late to play around with your closet before the snow comes.

As an NYFW veteran, I’ve had to say that my experiences made a difference in my life. Growing up, I idolized the glamour, glitz and creativity that sprung from the runways. Whether a celebrity, model or editor was dressed to the nines, I never forgot my moments of seeing them face-to-face (FYI, I’ll spill more on that later).

If this is your first time at NYFW, brace yourselves for the inevitable and always remember that everyone wants to look their best. Regardless of comfort, don’t even *think* about pulling out your college sweatpants!

While it’s easy to run out of ideas on what to wear, let me show you how you can rock NYFW.

 

Continue reading “The NYFW Starter Pack Tips You Need to Try”

Freedom ’17: An Empire State of Mind

 

Image_HBGPhotography - 588Image_HBGPhotography - 580Seville Michelle choker (as bun holder)| Vintage Guess jacket | Vintage slip dress | Zara choker (as bracelet) | CC Skye wrap bracelet | Vintage Doc Martens

New York, I can’t let you go too soon. Although it’s been one year since I moved to the city and a few months since I moved out to Singapore, the spirit of being in NYC has always been with me. Given that I can’t call myself a New Yorker (yet!), it’s nice to be inspired by what you can wear when you’re over there.

Honestly, being in NYC taught me that I can’t give two fucks if I just sit there and play it safe in the fashion department. So, my approach to mixing decades, prices and all sorts of innerwear/outerwear have been mambo jambo thanks to the eclecticism of the city’s energy.

For NYFW, I am telling you that 99.9% of influencers, fashion bloggers and editors out there are going to wear some ’90s inspired fits this season. But as much as you and I LOVE the decade, y’all need to heed to this ‘cuz you can’t go too literal.

First things first, wear an actual vintage piece from the ’90s. To do this, always always always ALWAYS stalk through eBay! My top eBay hack is to be extremely specific as to which authentic vintage piece you want to find. Going through listings is like trying to find your friend’s number on your phone, but seriously, the hunt for the perfect piece is worth it! Whether it be a denim jacket or a pair of Docs, use your new vintage find as your outfit’s foundation.

My other go-to tip is to dig through a vintage store. If you’re nowhere near NYC or LA, Etsy is the best option. If the internet ain’t your thang, hit up your local vintage store! (Or if you’re on tight budget, THRIFT!!) When I used to live in NYC, my main go-to for cool vintage is The Vintage Twin. I go there to find ridiculously sick vintage denim jackets. Regardless of the brand, always make sure that the jacket is actually from the decade you are searching for! As for my Guess jacket, it’s from the ’90s. So, I decided to give it that SUPER ’90s twist by pairing it with my vintage Docs.

If you need to go ALL the way to show your fangirl devotion to the best decade EVER, rock a slip dress. Seriously, this easygoing style is the reason why so many of your faves like Princess Diana, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Courtney Love swear by it. It’s sexy, yet ridiculously flattering as it can hide your food baby.

Given that it’s freaking NYFW, go all the way out with the jewelry! Bling or no bling, you need the jewels to keep your ’90s inspo ridiculously modern. Believe me, if you wanna stand out, try wearing jewelry in places where you don’t usually put it on – like your hair, for example. It’s a daring look, but I dare you to try it on until you see it yourself!

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All photos by Hallie Geller