Spring/Summer 2015 Trend: Broderie Anglaise

Monday, 15 December 2014


No one does broderie anglaise tops better than Isabel Marant. I've worn mine so much over the past 3 years that they're falling apart having been washed more times than I can count. I love how she takes a fresh approach with embroidery and manages to churn out wearable but very appealing summer clothes every year. These days, Isabel Marant clothes are readily available online and in stores so I tend to wait till the sales season instead of paying full retail price. On the other hand, her broderie anglaise tops are almost always sold out within weeks of hitting the stores despite being relatively expensive.

This time, I'm beyond ecstatic that she's finally introduced them to her diffusion line and the prices are far more palatable to my taste. This crochet top costs £140. Another voile cotton blouse is very similar to the popular and costly Olympe (it had a price tag of £390) but thankfully, it's  £280 this time around. It's so difficult to choose as I want nearly every broderie anglaise top and dress from the spring/summer 2015 collection. Decisions......decisions.......


Interesting Weekend reads

Sunday, 14 December 2014
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English in America vs the U.K. For the record, I use the word stroller but over here, it's not pram as stated in the video. It's either buggy or pushchair.

10 steps to looking photogenic. Invaluable tips especially if you're camera shy.

How to cut an onion without crying. You'll be surprised.....

Why I bought a $4K jacket I can't afford.

How I broke up with my clothes.

What I instagrammed vs what was really happening.


The social greeting conundrum

Friday, 12 December 2014
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After 6 years of living in the U.K, the art of cheek kissing still has me stumped. A hug? 1 kiss? 2 kisses? Oh wait....there's cheek kissing where your cheek only ever grazes the other person's. What happens when there's actually a lip and cheek contact? Is that too much?

There was the embarrassing moment in the Netherlands when I was pulling back after the second kiss and the other person was waiting for the third. Uneasy laughter all around. Lesson learned. In Amsterdam, do the left cheek, right cheek and do not forget the final bit - left cheek.

Recently, I had another awkward moment at a party as I reached forward to cheek kiss and the other person nervously patted my shoulder. Oh wait.... the rules have changed again. The other guests have had a few drinks and thought it was the funniest sight ever. This was probably one of few occasions when I'd welcome a sinkhole under my feet.

What about in more professional settings where one wouldn't think of doing any form of kissing?There was that other time when I happened to sit across an illustrious person within the fashion industry. I reached over to shake his hand and he asked for a ...............  fist bump. Whaaaaaaat?! Yes, you've heard right. I looked around rather uneasily to see if anyone was looking and slowly raised my fist towards his. My first ever fist bump at the age of 40 to someone who is two decades older than I. Is this how fashionable people communicate these days?

Previously, there's the one cheek kiss rule in England but these days, some folks expect a second. When I'm with my French friends, that's pretty easy to figure it out.... 2 cheek kisses. With my English friends....it's a bit of a guessing game at times. Some prefer a hug. Others reach out for a kiss. And the odd one prefers two kisses. As for my American friends, a hug is sufficient as a social greeting. 

Cheek kissing is something very new to me. We, folks over in Australasia aren't all that fussed about social kissing. You may expect a hongi if you find yourself at a traditional Maori ceremony but in general, we're pretty direct. We hug or shake hands. Full stop. But then again, we're pretty direct folks which may scare newcomers because we're not all that great at mincing our words. 

Let's talk about it from a cultural perspective. Actually, mine. I'm one of those global citizens from Asia residing in Europe with one foot sitting firmly in the eastern tradition and the other, western. The older Chinese folks will keel over if I cheek kiss them. There's no touching the younger ones too unless you know them really well. A hug if you're close or perhaps linking your arm with a friend of the same sex as you're walking but that's as far as we'll go. A handshake with a nod or a very VERY slight bow is fine if I'm formally introduced to someone older from China. 

Asians are more concerned about honorifics. We spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how to call each other. It's the kind of social rules that stump most from the western world. Calling someone older than you by name is akin to a social catastrophe.  There's a title for EVERYONE. Say, your mom's younger female first cousin's older male cousin (got it?). Or your dad's fourth brother's wife's younger brother (you still with me?).  Ahh..... Confucianism........so complicated.

There's that time when I was introduced to my sister in law's Korean family where I had a quick lesson in bowing. Let's just say amongst Asian folks, there's little touching involved unless you know each other very well. And absolutely NO kissing of any sort to anyone who's not your other half or you might get decked. Male to male - hell, no! Male to female - only if you want her spouse or boyfriend to physically take you apart. In any case, no cheek kissing. You get my drift.

What's your take on social greeting etiquette?

My current miracle skincare products

Wednesday, 10 December 2014
REN evercalm

I normally get a zit or two (or three) when I'm PMSing but for the past 4 months, there seems to be what looks like a pimple pandemic going on my face. I lost count after 20 on my forehead alone. I won't mention the ones on my cheeks.......  I've been using the same skincare for years and never had a problem until recently. I finally conceded defeat when nothing worked and consulted Amanda, my friend and a walking skincare encyclopedia (the other being R, a reader here). A few furious (and desperate) exchanges later, the conclusion was unanimous (or rather I agreed with her wise words). Stay off oils and AHA serums.

It appears that my skin has gotten hyper sensitive that the slightest oil on its surface causes a flare of outbreak the next day. I decided to try my luck with REN's latest skincare products - Clear Calm range. They're not cheap  by any means but thankfully, there was a discount code floating around which helped (there's a 10% discount at the moment). I'm being stubborn here but I'm still trying my best to stick to natural products for as long as possible.

What's impressive is that my skin ACTUALLY calmed down overnight after using the ClearCalm clarifying clay cleanser and replenishing gel cream. After 2 days of using all three items including the mask, my skin is finally back to normal. Whew. I'm truly amazed and ecstatic because I didn't expect instant results. Instant gratification rocks! The gel cream is not as hydrating as I'd like it to be so I ended up slathering quite a bit more to keep my skin moist. My skin used to be fairly oily but it's getting dryer and dryer as I age. Aging process..... Bummer.

The other wonder product is this little tinted spot treatment from Natio which works remarkably quickly. The light beige cream camouflages the redness and treats the zit at the same time. I only wish they make it in various shades to suit all skin tones. Since the color of my skin in winter resembles that of a vampire, the light beige shade works fine on me. It's incredibly affordable AND a little goes a very VERY long way.

I've been using this anti-wrinkle eye mask from Apivita on and off for the last 3 years. So far, I haven't found a better alternative. You leave it on overnight and wash it off when you clean your face the next morning. It's light but boy, does it plump up the fine lines and moisturize the eye area. The mask really holds my laughing lines at bay and works a hundred times better than any of the expensive eye creams or serums I've used in the past. A sachet will last at least 3 weeks.

Anyone suffers from adult acne lately? What worked for you?


50% sale on Rick Owens, Isabel Marant Etoile, Burberry trench coats and more

Monday, 8 December 2014




If you're a big fan of Isabel Marant Etoile, Rick Owens, Burberry and Helmut Lang, you'll be pleased to find out that Selfridges is running a 50% preview sale which includes quite a few classics that are rarely discounted. Sizes are selling out fast though so be quick. Make sure you register to have an account there in order to take advantage of the sale. Discounts will apply upon checkout. They're also knocking off 30% on shoes with discount code SHOES30. Good luck and happy shopping!


Christmas Gift Ideas for the family

Friday, 5 December 2014
Christmas gift ideas copy


1. Neom Organics rose and neroli candle £30 (prices start from £16 and free worldwide shipping)
2. Acne Studios brushed lambswool large scarf  £110 (USD 170)
3. Comme des Garcons embossed pouch £57 (USD 105)
4. Uniqlo cashmere sweater £49.90 (USD 79.90)
5. iPad Mini (prices start at £239 / USD 299)
6. Laduree Sucre recipe book £28 (USD 27.15)
7. Nespresso coffee machine with Aeroccino £129.95 (USD 149.99)
8. Lambswool throw £60  (USD 79)
9. Bose SoundLink Mini £169.95 (USD 199)
10. Moleskin large plain notebook  £14.95 (USD 14.99)
11. TOMS wool slippers (USD 48.95)


If you want to find an all organic and natural candle using only essential oils, Neom Organics is the name you'll have to remember. I've used their products for years and can safely say that their candles have never triggered an asthma attack. My favorite fragrance is the rose and neroli combination which smells divine.

I used to be crazy about Hermes cashmere and silk shawls but they're incredibly expensive. If only they don't pill like the ones produced a decade ago. These days, I prefer something easier on the pocket like the oversized scarf from Acne Studios. I like mine big enough to double as a blanket when I'm traveling.

If you're tired of carrying around a large wallet which takes up too much space in your bag (like mine!), the eye-catching Comme des Garcons pouch is incredibly affordable and big enough to slip your iPhone in as well.

If you're feeling the cold, you might want to think about getting a luxurious cashmere sweater. These ones from Uniqlo are so reasonably priced and they just last and last. If you're living in the U.K, you might be in luck as they're knocking £10 off the price of each sweater. I've just ordered 4 for the family. The prices for kids' cashmere jumpers start at a mere £29.90 and adults £39.90. Shipping is free for orders over £20.

No one, not even kids are immune to the pull of tablets these days. They easily outsell any other toys or gadgets. I find my iPad mini to be invaluable, both for work and to keep Lil L amused so that I don't get talked to death.........

The Laduree cookbook (Sucre and Savory) itself is a work of art. Beautifully bound and tastefully wrapped, the layout makes reading a dream and the photography is as stunning as its packaging.

Ahhh......My Nespresso coffee machine is probably the most used gadget in my flat. I now get my friends to come over for coffee instead of spending unnecessary money at cafes. I strongly urge you to get the Aeroccino milk frother. It whips up milk in a jiffy for your cappuccino or hot chocolate. There's a promotion running in the U.K which gives you a £75 gift voucher for every purchase of a Nespresso machine and Aeroccino.

I hesitated for the longest time before getting a proper throw. It seems like such a waste of money but it's the one item you reach for when you're watching the telly or banging on the keyboard.

What can I do without my Bose SoundLink Mini speaker? It's turned on night and day as I switch from my laptop to smartphone or iPad. Who would think something so small could be this powerful?

Many people still consider buying Moleskin notebooks as a luxury but would gladly receive them as gifts. They're perfect for jotting down inspirations or sketching.

TOMS have come up with wool slippers which aren't ridiculously expensive but you'll be so thankful for them when the temperature continues to dip lower.



Create your own personalised wrapping paper

Thursday, 4 December 2014
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Those who know me well enough understand that the word DIY and Marlene should never be used in the same sentence. Up until recently, my god-daughter and her mom were appalled by my wrapping skills (hey! It's the present that counts, right? Right??) so lately I've upped my game a little. I've had a chance to try out Wrap.Me which was just launched recently. Those who are Instagram mad like me LOVE the opportunity to personalize our wrapping paper using our favorite snapshots.  Most importantly, it's dead easy to use.

Pop over to the website and it'll link to your Instagram or Facebook accounts in a jiffy (or upload your photos from your computer). Go crazy or play it safe by choosing photos that share similar tonal theme. All you have to do is click to choose the image. Create a story, propose to your other half, plaster the wrapping paper with your kids' photos (grandparents will love this).......

 A single sheet (65cm x 46cm) costs £4.99, a small roll (50cm x 2.2m) is priced at £9.99 and the large roll (50cm x 3.6m), £14.99.


This post was kindly sponsored by the lovely people at Wrap.Me. I'm sure family and friends who'll receive presents from me this year will no longer have to deal with the eyesore seeing that my wrapping skills (and paper) have improved.......

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