Thursday, 31 October 2013

Where the treasure lies

I have this love-hate relationship with clothes, or specifically, the ones on offer for females. It is not that I don't love dresses and stuff, I do, it is more like a lot of the items that I would like to have in my wardrobe are the ones I stumble upon in....

the men's department.

I guess I've always been a tomboy at heart. x

Thursday, 10 October 2013


I am in love with Janice at The Vivienne Files. I spent the past week going through her archives and getting inspired by her style philosophies. Love how her wardrobe principles are so concise and practical.

If I am ever lucky enough to meet her in person one day, she will be the image to the word Sprezzatura.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

A trip down memory lane

I always cringe, a lil bit, whenever I forget to blog. Blogging is not a chore for me, I do like it, it brings me a lot of enjoyment that I otherwise would not have derived from life. And there are a lot of other things that I like doing, some of which take priority, life happens, yadidadida

I went to hit the pavement this morning, slightly apprehensive following my most recent injury, and had to stop just before hitting 5km. It was not like I ended up limping, it was just that I felt the early stages of the pain returning. I got scared, okay. I stopped running and walked home. 

Circa 2008, I finally became a doctor. I returned to the love of my life that is travelling and set off on a 2 months trip to the land of the US of A, spending the majority of it in LA, with the above being my favourite spot. Favourite as in I would go there whenever I could, as often as I could and if anyone asked the question, then that would be the answer. What can I say, I play favourites and once I have my heart set on something, that's it. It's like rum and raisin, the ice cream. It is not just the number one choice, it is the only choice. I would rather not have ice cream if it's not rum and raisin. 

I realised that I can't quite articulate why I like that spot. I mean, the malls were (and probably still are) great and back then, I was more into shopping than I am today, so it was shopping heaven, enabled by the fact that I was not as meticulous about what went into my wardrobe as I am today. Fast fashion was definitely the bomb. Such a far cry from where I am today in terms of wardrobe and style. 

Well, we live and learn. 

"I love my past. I love my present. I'm not ashamed of what I've had and I'm not sad because I no longer have it." Colette

Friday, 20 September 2013

My shopping ban

On the 20th August 2013, I put myself voluntarily on a shopping ban. I got a dear friend to join me. It did not take much convincing because we both did it once before and spectacularly failed within 3 days. In the interest of full disclosure, my damage was a big box of Calvin Klein underwear, which I desperately needed at the time. Note to anyone contemplating on embarking on a shopping ban: make sure you have decent underwear before you do anything.

The shopping ban was supposed to be a month, loosely defined by me as 30 days. That pretty much meant it concluded on the 18th September 2013. We both graduated with flying colours. I officially ended my ban, while my friend continues with hers until Christmas. She asked if I would like to continue with her, I was not sure. And as in the case when I was not sure about something, I declined.

The aim of my voluntary admission into the shopping ban is primarily because I want to know whether I have a shopping addiction (and also because I desperately want to have something to blog about). A lot of people define shopping addiction differently, and I am not really interested in going down that discussion path. During the ban, my test would in the form of the kind of withdrawal symptoms I experience. I admit that there were moments during which I felt edgy and rather annoyed that I did not have the choice to purchase, but I am happy to report that I did not feel like purchasing all of those things that were loaded in my virtual shopping carts - a sure sign that those potential purchases are impulsive in nature. It was especially hard when ASOS was having an additional 10% off sale items, which made certain things ridiculously affordable, definitely desired but totally not needed.

I guess in some ways, I do have a shopping addiction. I am not sure I can ever be free from this "addiction", and I have resigned to the fact that the best I can do is to actually manage it. This is because as I have said over and over and over again, I like beautiful things: looking at them, touching them, smelling them... ha!

There is no secret to the successful execution of not-shopping other than the fact that one has to actively work on the passive act of not shopping. Controlling the urge to do anything is difficult, almost as difficult as motivating oneself to do something, perhaps because they are essentially the same thing. To not do something often requires us to do something else, which we may or may not like as much as the thing that we are abstaining from.

Whilst I temporarily stopped shopping, what I did not stop doing is evaluating my wardrobe, and this is one of the many revelations that I had during the ban: my hobby is associated with my wardrobe more than with shopping. So I learn this rather powerful skill called editing, and for the first time in my life, understand why there are professions called "editors".

The shopping ban was not easy, takes a lot of concious effort and is definitely worth it. I say this because I did not have a binge session at the completion of the ban, although I realised that this was a very real possibility, and was something that I was rather scared of. I don't have a secret weapon on how to handle this, it just that while the opportunity to binge did present itself a number of times, I have no desire to succumb to temptation. Why this was the case I have no idea. Meanwhile, I will just be happy to getting one step closer to a well-curated wardrobe.  

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Woman in the mirror

Every now and then I wake up in the morning thinking to myself that today is going to be the day that I am going to dress a lil' bit better than I did yesterday, if only for the mere fact that I need to show a lil' bit more respect to the people that I am going to see that day.

I guess what I really want to say is that, I have those mornings whereby I feel ... lazy...and incredibly so at that. I do want to blame this on the weather, but after noticing this particular pattern, I realise that this is rather independent of the state of the mother nature. When that happens, I tell myself to dress up in the name of respecting the people that I am going to see that day, one of which is myself. Hey, that's what the mirror is for right?

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

What are you supposed to look like? (And your personal style)

I've been thinking about expectations. It is true that in this life we may not be able to escape societal expectations, especially when it comes to metrics of success, including how we are supposed to look like. I am pretty sure that groomed and clean would be somewhere up there because the alternative of being grotty and yucky is not that acceptable on the grand scheme of things that involves other people. Or in other words, how we decide to look for an occasion is very much an extension of being respectful of others...

... and we get judged by how we look. Say what? It's true. First impression is everything and for a lot of people, this comes in visual form, virtual or non-virtual: we only see what we want to see.

Back to the original question: what are you supposed to look like? I mean, given the option of looking like anything you want to look like, what sort of looks would you pull off? And how many times have you changed this so far in your life?

I've changed mine so many times that I've lost count. I call it a series of on-going experiment, which I am okay with, but it does beg the question as to whether there are items in my wardrobe that have been around for more than 5 years. The answer is probably no.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

On not buying things and why I blog

I'd like to think that my shopping habits when it comes to my wardrobe is "normal", but this is quite possibly because of my definition of "normal" rather than it being normal as per societal standards. These days, I don't exactly know what societal standard is when it comes to a woman's clothes shopping, but I think it's safe to say that women are expected to shop more than men.

For a few weeks now, I have been slowly reading Debbie Roes' Recovering Shopaholic blog. A lot of things that she wrote resonated with me, largely because ever since I got onto Project RumnRaisin, a constant theme that I have when it comes to dressing up is that nothing fits. And since nothing fits, I've been mostly overwhelmed by the number of clothes that I can't wear. Debbie's blog documents her journey of paring down her closet, and I quite like her engineer-like approach.

A significant part of the equation when it comes to paring down the size of one's closet is not buying things - be it new or thrifted. Ebay is my Achilles heel when it comes to the latter, where as for the former, oh well, I have not exactly been staying away from these two sites, but I am happy to report that my purchasing frequency has slowed down quite significantly ever since I start reading Debbie's blog.

Long story short, Debbie's blog got me thinking. How many people out there really want to have a well edited closet, a well curated selection, engage in thoughtful dressing and effective shopping strategy? More importantly, how many of these people realise that to achieve these desires take a lot of work and effort and well, thoughts. We are expected to look good, effortlessly; but to look good is bloody effort-ful.   

Before I started this blog, I told myself that I do not wish to have a style blog that's geared towards selling, selling and selling. There is nothing wrong with such blogs, and I get that bloggers want to have an income source, but that's not what I want for mine.

I don't mind recommending a few things here and there, and I guess, in the process, end up selling them. The point of difference is that I do not wish to mindlessly link items that I am interested in whenever I browse shopping websites (and there are many of them). I'd like to recommend high quality items that are affordable, for example, because I am largely sick and tired of all the shitty quality clothes that seem to be infesting the market at the moment. I get that these cheap items are very popular with the younger crowd (yes, I was one of them), and I wonder if things had been different for me had I had this awareness of fabric quality when I was younger.

I think a significant part of dressing well means we exercise discipline when it comes to the things that get inside our closets. This discipline is worth exercising because (1) our closets will be that much closer to being well edited and (2) our wallets will thank us for it, and in my case, since I live in a small apartment, (3) my closet is not overfilled with stuff I can't wear.

And just like any form of exercise, this is hard work. 

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Happy people

Happy people are happy, whether they are rich or poor. Unhappy people are unhappy, whether they are rich or poor. It has nothing to do with the size of their bank accounts, or the stash of money under their beds.

Money simply presents us with opportunities to expand our lives. Whether we utilise it or not, that makes all the difference.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Something new

In the interest of (1) trying on new things and (2) have something to blog about and (3) clean my wardrobe, I ventured off putting my clothes up for sale on eBay.

I am always of view that selling my stuff on eBay is a rather pointless exercise because I often judge the value of my worn/pre-loved clothes as zero or somewhere close to it, so to put in all the effort to sell is just too much of a hassle with little to next to nothing return.

I mean, to put it differently, there is a reason as to why eBay is the place whereby I find a lot of bargains, so to be on the other side of the equation is really something I have an aversion to.

BUT one of my friends is kind enough to help me put my stuff up on eBay with her account (I swear she is the sweetest friend ever). Long story short, her act of kindness plus a casual remark from another friend who told me that my reluctance to do the eBay thing myself is really a manifestation of my laziness to new heights (not her exact words because she was being polite), combined with my guilt associated with inaction, eventually led me to set up a seller's account. Fast forward a few days later, I sold three items (out of the ten that was allowed). Thirty percent success rate is pretty good for a beginner, I think.

The only catch to this whole exercise is that I purchased a pack of ten parcel bags from Australia Post, so now I feel somewhat rather obligated to sell at least another seven items so that these unused parcel bags are not cluttering my apartment.

And onto something completely unrelated but brings a smile to my face every I think about this: I find it somewhat odd the other day that one of my friends judged the value of my wardrobe to be somewhere around the $20k mark. I can't think of a better compliment, really.

[ps. Out of the three friends mentioned, the first does not read this blog, not sure if the second is, but both regularly bond with me over our love for fashion and clothes. The last does not care about clothes, or so she said, and does not read this blog. Or maybe she does but she told me she prefers my other blog better.]

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

You know when you have to ask someone for money?

I am about to ask you for yours.

But it’s not for me.

They are really nice people. One of their reps called me to thank me personally.

I was touched.

And oh, I am not a hero.

Corresponding, more "wordy" post can be found here.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Hair cut?

This shot makes me look like I had a hair cut! And I guess this is what I would look like had I had the said hair cut. I always toy with the idea of cutting my hair but never got around to doing it. I prefer it long, thankyouverymuch.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Things I miss

1. My best friend

2. Seafood platter

3. Hot sand, on my feet.

I miss you, summer.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

When you can just stand out

In my opinion, dressing for your shape can be rather ridiculous.

I get that it is about balance, highlighting features you love and camouflaging ones you don't really like... but why do you want to make yourself look like you are not your shape? I mean, what's the deal with looking "balanced"?

If you are skinny, you don't have to make yourself look less skinny when you dress. By all means, wear the tightest clothing to show off the fact that you are skinny and get everyone else to look at you in envy.

Whatever happened to embracing your shape? Yourself? When everyone is striving for a balanced look, what ends up happening is that everyone is going to look the same. Fitting in is so overrated. Why spend so much time and effort fitting in when you can just stand out, naturally?

ps. same outfit as the one shown here

Thursday, 27 June 2013

I am okay with that

There comes a time in our lives whereby we are old enough to be responsible for the outcomes of things that we choose to do or do not choose to do. The tricky bit is that, it's not like this moment is defined by someone telling you that from this point forward, you are ultimately responsible for your life. It is more like you realise that how your life turn out is very much a function of your choices and decisions, and so you begin to focus on the things that you can change and let go of the things that you can't, while learning the difference between the two. 

I am responsible for my life, my decisions and my actions. At every turn, I consider, as much as I reasonably can, the risks and rewards attached to each opportunity before I take the plunge and pursue them. My ultimate investment, at this point in time, is my time. I am aware that I am young and thus lacking experience by definition, with a lot of time to offer, also by definition. I am okay with that.  

I don't have everything worked out. I am still largely finding myself, it is like as if I lost myself somewhere without even realising it. It is like maybe I am in this perpetual search of something, anything to make me (supposedly) complete. That makes me incomplete, by definition, with lots of room for growth and improvement and enhancements. I am okay with that. 

You may not be okay with all of these. I am okay with that.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Hello! You've made my night!

It is so hard to resist the temptation of end of financial year sales! I suppose this is partially my fault because I have not exactly been working on not tempting myself. Plus there is always this side of me who wants to "stock up" - ha! I call this the Asian side of me, old habits die hard. [Don't know who actually instilled this habit in me, pretty sure that it is not the parent that I am the closest with.]

Thanks to some terrible photography, the above picture did not actually turn out the way I had it in my mind. It was a date night. I put on way too little clothing and was freezing my ass off on our way to the Lyrics Theater. Make up was inspired by this true blue make up look, because blue just reminds me of a certain someone, and I think it actually looks good with brown eyes. One of the highlight of the evening was getting compliments on my make up from a total stranger, who also asked where I learned it from (the Beauty Bybel) and wanted to see it up close!

So stranger, if you, by some obscure chance happen to stumble upon this, hello! You've made my night!  

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Versatile items: leather jackets

About time for a new post! It is freezing cold here in Sydney, winter's no longer coming, winter is here.

Ah, leather jackets. Jemma Wei is obsessed with them! She "impulsively" put herself on a leather jacket ban just so that she could start wearing other things in her wardrobe. The first thing she did when the ban is over? Yeap, you guessed it. I don't know Jemma Wei in real life, I haven't met her yet. I just reckon she's gorgeous! 

I would like to think that I have a somehow more legitimate reason to reach out for my leather jacket given that it is winter here in Sydney. My current favourite jacket is a brown leather jacket that is not pictured above. I purchased the black first and then the brown a few months later, and right now prefer to wear the brown more because it is smaller than the black. It is a fit issue more than a colour issue, really. I suppose the fact that I own two colours of similar jackets says a lot about how much I love wearing them. I would not recommend this approach unless you absolutely love the item. This is because as it is right now, the brown gets more wear than the black, because I can only wear one of them at a time. 

(Commenting has been disabled in this blog for a plethora of reasons. If you want to get in touch, please do so via twitter: @drbelles. Mucho gracias!)

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

On self image

So. My friend, who is a girl, said that one of the lowest ways that some girls used to fish for compliments is to self-criticise. I think she is being extremely nice in describing this because this is something that I would've classified as a manifestation of insecurity and self-absorbed behaviour. We have all experienced girls like this at some point in our lives. Some are chronic offenders, others are just desperate for attention, the ones with genuine mental problems (that remain undiagnosed) - let's not go there.

For as long as I can remember, I was fat, I was chubby, everyone told me so. I tried to lose weight, and subsequently resigned to the fact that I am one of those people (if they ever admit to it) who are perpetually on a diet. Now, I think I look fine, thankyouverymuch. I like the way I look. I quite like my jaw line too, now that I am looking at it in the above picture. And that is all that matter. 

Admitting defeat: white is never my colour

Admitting defeat is hard, but is necessary for progress. Once upon a time, I was into white. I don't quite remember that time, but I imagine I must have worn white. Why I wore white is something I can't quite figure out today. What attracted me to the colour is something I am struggling to comprehend. Because it is definitely not my colour of choice, for both practicality or flattery, not to mention maintenance. There, I said it. 

And as in the case of temporary infatuation, it ended quite so abruptly and these things were banished to the dark corners in my wardrobe, and did not quite see a light of day until this morning, when these pictures were taken. So long!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Worthwhile investment items

Somethings in life you are better off investing in. These things are usually reliable, consistent and... persistent. In this case... the sunglasses! For as long as I can remember, I've always had sunglasses. They are reliably protective, especially if you live in Sydney; they are consistently in season, i.e. as in wearing sunnies never go out of style; and you persistently need them, especially on those days that you want to conceal your dark circles!

Sunglasses by (old); t-shirt by ... err.. not sure, but it's really old!!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The biggest lesson about shopping

The biggest lesson that I've learned about shopping is: watch out for low prices.
(1) Low price is often an indicator of low quality and low wear-life. Considering that I often search high and low for a particular colour/cut/style, this combination is annoying.
(2) Low price, usually on discounted items, often represents bargains! Bargains are my Achilles heels because I often end up buying things that I don't need nor necessarily want, other than the mere fact that I wanted to score a bargain (and the high does not last that long).
(3) Low price usually means mindless purchases for me, which is something I am trying so desperately to curb. I don't even want to talk about whether I am contributing to the terrible impact of the fast fashion industry because I suspect I am and I don't know what to do about it.

I much rather spend on high quality items that I need and want and stand the test of time; bring me joy every time I wear them, true to my style and lifestyle, as well as contributing to the greater good of the planet. That may be too ambitious, but something to aspire to. 

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Style Resolutions (June 2013)

It is useful, in my opinion, to evaluate one's style at least annually, at the very minimal, to prevent a clothing rut. My personal preference has always been for this thing called reinvention, which, to me, indicates a certain level of personal reflection and growth. I have put this under the general heading of style, but it is really about wardrobe management.

This year, my only style resolution was embedded into the general pool of new years resolutions that I wrote when I was freshly out of Jakarta's most recent flood. At that time, I wanted to be more conscious of the things that I bought, in particular, not buying things just because they are a good deal. As all the bargain hunters out there can attest to at one point or another, this one is really difficult to stick with.  The number of times this has been broken so far this year: 7 times. That's on average slightly more than 1 item per month, but the concentration of breaking this rule has been towards the beginning of the year, during the month of April, to be precise (I succumbed to the temptation of For the remainder of the year, I'd like to follow a closer observation of the same resolution: do not buy items just because they are a good deal

A new resolution I'd like to adhere to, and is inline with my first resolution, is only keep items that fit my lifestyle. What this really means is that I need to embark on this journey of parting with items that do not and/or will not get enough wear. I have been purging since the beginning of this year and have given a lot of things to people that I think will like them. This has been a difficult but very rewarding process. The hardest part about this is admitting defeat. You know, when you admit something along the lines of: I bought these things because they were a good deal. I wore them once or twice max and the rest of the time they are just sitting there in my wardrobe doing absolutely nothing. It is time that someone else enjoy them, hopefully more than I did once upon a time.

Admitting that you are wrong is not a nice feeling. Having a well-curated wardrobe is. I'll choose the latter any day, thanks.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

But I have nothing to wear

It is a battle for me getting dressed every morning. This is because most of my clothes do not fit like they used to. It is like that feeling of having a closet full of clothes but you have nothing to wear.

My default go-to outfit perfectly describes my "laziness" when it comes to dressing up these days - a pair of shorts and oversized tees. The tees are oversized because well, they used to fit well. I am somewhat rather attached to my clothes, so I'd like to "stretch" their usage in my life before I admit defeat and put them in the donation bin.

Ever since I took up running, I much prefer walking around with sport shoes. Yes, I know that a lot of people are officially horrified by this. All I can say is, sometimes, practicality becomes style. 

To "winterise" the outfit, I put on an oversized jumper. I know, I know, that's laziness to a new level.

Coming up: style resolutions!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

A touch of leopard

Where I am in this wardrobe journey? Approximately eight months ago, I decided to adopt regular exercise into my routine. Prior to this, I was an on-and-off exercise person, mostly on the off. My wardrobe used to fit really well until I changed my routine, because a very nice, unintended side effect is weight loss. This time around, I approach my wardrobe differently than I have been in the past. I have been evaluating and re-evaluating each piece and questioning myself why I was keeping the things that did not bring me joy. They were either the wrong colour, wrong style or just terribly ill-fitting. I happily let those things go and there are still more to let go. To put it simply, I am in a transitional period of letting the past go and figuring out what's to come.

Leather jacket by; leopard scarf by cotton on

Friday, 31 May 2013

Chillin' in the sun

I never quite figure out what to say in that absolute first post. It is like, hi, this is me and this is my blog! Isn't that too obvious to say out loud?

This is particular blog is a long time coming. I've always wanted a creative outlet for the (not so) random things that I do. If you want to see a more wordy side of me, go and visit my other blog here.

About the photo - we were at a wedding, always the perfect excuse to dress up. We were waiting for the ceremony to start and le boyf was busy with his camera. I was busy with my then-love, the crackberry.

Dress by Karen Millen (old), shoes by Mimco (old).