January 27, 2011

Book Notes: Lunatic Express

- Now I needed to do something huge, to jar myself out of life - and that was what long journeys did best. There remained so much I still wanted to know and see in the world, and I hoped that I might come home with fresh eyes.

- Books sweep you up, take you away, transport you. 

- I wanted to look into every boat, every house. I wanted to touch each person, to taste every meal, to open up and slip into each like a suit of clothes. But I couldn't. The world was too big. Too diverse. There were too many languages and not enough time; it was easy connecting with people like families in first class. We had a shared language, technology, worldview. We all loved prosciutto and Picasso and lying on the beach in the sun and sitting with friends in a cafe. But to pass the days with poor was something else. I sat up, gazed into the darkness. We slid past a boat with no lights at all, just a black shadow, it's gunwales underwater, the dim outlines of figures standing at the stern. The deeper I pushed, the harder it became to know them, the more ignorant, curious and powerless I was. Each was a world unto its own that I could glimpse but never know. 

- But it wasn't hopeless. It wasn't the end. Every moment we had the choice to forgive ourselves and try again. And suddenly I didn't to run anymore; I wanted to be those people  on trains and ferries on Buru, lying in tangled piles, holding hands  instead of running. Travel - my journey - was showing me what I wanted, craved, giving me perspective for the first time in seven years. 

- But how can you not live that life, taste that taste, after you've had it? 

- It was time to go home. Time to complete the circle. Travel was only worthwhile when your eyes are fresh, when it surprised you and amazed you and made you think about yourself in a new way. You couldn't travel forever. When you stopped seeing, when you lost your curiosity and openness to the world, it was time to return to your starting point and see where you stood. In everyone, I suspect, lay a tension between the need for otherness and home. We all want security, we all want adventure, the familiar and the new always jockeying for control. 

- To be known, to let your guard down, was scary; how ironic that so many of us fled instead, that we didn't allow ourselves the very thing we wanted in our deepest souls. The lure of foreign countries and cultures has always been escape, but also transformation, redemption, discovery. 

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August 20, 2010

Levi's Curve ID Jeans

WWD had an article on Levi's Curve ID last August 9th. It reminded me of this body scanner at the mall that I worked retail at five years ago. It was Intellifit. I stood in the middle of a booth, held my arms out and these red lasers spun around me and did their thing. A few seconds later, out comes a print out and a card with a bar code suggesting my sizes for tops, different fit bottoms (pants and denim), dresses for a few specialty chain brands that participated or maybe sponsored Intellifit. I thought the technology was sooo cool in a nerdy kind of way. So off I went to the stores to check accuracy. Tops of course are always easier. Bottoms, specially denim are always, always a struggle. Intellifit though pretty much got it down. I kept my Intellifit card but my googling has proved futile. They must have changed company names.

Levi's has used a similar 3D scanning technology in their newly launched denim offering. 

Which curve am I?
(photo credit: levi.com)
Here's their SVP of Merchandising & Design discussing the new system.

Wow, 54% of women try on at least 10 pairs before getting even slightly close to the one? I'm nodding to that! It can be such an ordeal! When I find a pair that fits, I semi-hoard! Levi's claims that their Slight Curve, Demi Curve and Bold Curve IDs represent 80% of women. They're in the best position to make the claim! After all, Levi's INVENTED jeans right? I love it when brands take consumer insights and feedbacks to heart so I'm going to find me a Levi's store and give these a shot soon! 

I'm hopeful! It's hard enough finding the one, we can at least have help with THE ONE in jeans! =)=) Toink! Good lucky girls!!!!

- the one that elongates
- the one that doesn't gape in the waist
- the one that enhances your butt
- the one that is the right length (for heels & flats)
- the one that doesn't cost an arm and both your legs 
etc.... etc....

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August 19, 2010

Mulberry, Tucker and John Derian - SHOP GILT FREE!

This is one Gilt Groupe offering that just might be too good to pass up!

Here's the text from Gilt.com 

Whenever Target® releases a designer capsule collection, style-setters take notice — and the pieces invariably sell out lightning-quick. Now, for the first time ever, Gilt customers have early and exclusive sneak-peek access to three exciting new Target collaborations with the likes of Tucker, Mulberry and John Derian. Be among the first to get your hands on Tucker’s dainty tops and ladylike dresses, boasting pretty butterfly and diamond prints; Mulberry’s chic carryalls, from patent satchels to denim cross-bodies; and John Derian’s charming decoupaged tablewares, picture frames and storage bins.

From the graphics, those two dresses are perfect for fall!
 Something for your home AND closets! =) 
Why wait for these to hit Target stores when you can get first dibs tomorrow!

Not a member yet? Join with this invite! YOU MUST PRONTO! 

(photo credits: gilt and target.com)

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August 10, 2010

I Want Slim Cargo Pants

Cargo pants are popping in stores. There must be a utilitarian trend going on. I own two pairs that are cargo-ish from at least five years ago that I still actively wear.

A pair from Topshop circa 2004 I think 
As you can see, the legs are straight. Mind you, these are old!!! The updates that's seen across bottoms a few seasons now are that the legs are narrower - skinny, slim, ankle, cigarette. Whatever your terminology maybe.

Why not cargo pants too? I repeatedly saw J.Brand Houlihan Slim Cargo Pants as the IT pair in trendier blogs. They'll set you back by $231 at Bergdorf's. Toink!

(photo credits: bergdorfgoodman.com)

Of course, there are alternatives for us without trust funds. YAY for specialty chains! Back in March, there was that J.Crew pair that I gushed about. I perused the site. Look!
In ripstop - wear later!
In camo!! ha!!
In silk - linen - wear now!
(photo credits: jcrew.com)

I saw nices ones at Loft . Here are two of four colors for $59.50.  
(photo credits: anntaylorloft.com)
Of course I try them in petites! =)
I like the length and the absence of bulk where pockets would ordinarily be - slit pockets!!!

Alternating feminine cargos with your skinny denim sounds like a Fall plan to me. I'm anticipating deals for these already. 

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August 06, 2010

I Want Gap's Legging Jeans

Back to school season means denim on denim on denim in stores. Gap goes all out every year, obviously it is a core business. It has been years since I last bought jeans from the Gap and worked retail for them - in denim no less!!! I'm quite particular on fits and for awhile, their jean offering was just well, blah. Except for their long time Long & Leans and now discontinued 1969 Western Boot Cuts. Nothing fit me. I'm petite with a little meat! I don't know of anyone who's had it easy finding THE ONE. 

- the one that elongates
- the one that doesn't gape in the waist
- the one that enhances your butt
- the one that is the right length (for heels & flats)
- the one that doesn't cost an arm and both your legs 
etc.... etc....

I have leggings, I have skinny jeans. But I don't own and have fallen behind the "jeggings" trend! (By the way, I'm cringing as I type. I hate the sound of that term!) About two weeks ago, I spied these legging jeans from the Gap. 
Retails at $69.50

I tried them on and they fit me gooood!!!! 

At 5'0, I always have issues with length (sometimes even in petite sizing), these worked out. Some bunching at the hem but not at all sloppy looking right? I checked the label (always been a habit) and there was ample stretch which held and gave in all the right places. Anything over 2% spandex though, I'd be cautious. I've made the mistake of buying denim in excess of 5% spandex and those just sag, sag, sag (at the knees and butt) after wearing them a full day. This cut would pair well with all your sandals, flats, heels and tuck nicely into boots as we transition into the Fall. 

These are the washes from the website. I picked the faded dark wash and faded black wash in the pictures. For the most part, I like my denim dark and pretty solid. 
(photo credits:gap.com)
Denim's always a challenge to buy isn't it? I have helped a lot of women (& men) find their fit during my retail days and gotten thank you hugs! I understand how frustrating it can be! I have spent hours in fitting rooms trying all fits at all price point levels at several denim bars for myself. When I find THE ONE, I buy in multiples and wear them to shreds. I've gone through Old Navy, Banana Republic (Petite!), Express (Short!) and Topshop. Now, I'm on a Madewell and Loft (Petite!) phase. Am I glad I don't do so well with designer denim - saves me a ton of moolah!!

As soon as I get wind of a coupon / offer / promotion with a substantial discount, I'm getting at least three pairs! Relaunch after relaunch after relaunch, Gap got this one right! Hooorah!! I'm always loyal to the Gap!

Go try 'em on girls! 
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August 04, 2010

Biltmore House - Home of the Vanderbilts in Asheville, NC

It's been a month since our family got back from the Florida road trip and I'm only writing about it now. Shame on me! =/ Anyway, on the way home, we took a pit stop in Asheville, NC to see the home of the Vanderbilts - Biltmore House.
Hello from Biltmore!
The grand staircase facade
Lounge around here to see...
...this view from the terrace

I wish I can show actual pictures of what's IN the house but no photography was allowed. I didn't mind it so much as this allowed me to take everything in and imagine what it must have been like to live here in the early 1900s. As much as I like taking photos, it can be a distraction and you miss out seeing what should be seen. The self-guided house tour was very organized. You kind of just go with the flow of people. The pace was just right. We saw a bazillion rooms specific to what an elite family might need. Banquet halls, breakfast rooms, winter gardens, sitting rooms, a gymnasium complete with bowling alleys and an indoor pool, dressing rooms, a whole floor just for guest bedrooms, a bachelor's wing that had smoking and gun rooms, a tapestry gallery, servants' quarters, a pastry kitchen, a rotisserie kitchen, walk in refrigerators, laundry and drying rooms etc... etc... Enough rooms for ya? Read more here

I picked two favorites. 
1.) The Library - it was just...lovely. Is it proper to use lovely as an library adjective? To me, it is! The Biltmore guide stated that the collection ranged from American / English literature to religion, arts, philosophy, history and architecture. I read somewhere that George W. Vanderbilt was quite a reader. It was floor to ceiling, wall upon wall of books. The chess set and gaming table they used was previously owned by no less than Napoleon Bonaparte.  
This is him by the way. See, a book!
The woman of the house Mrs. Edith Vanderbilt
(photo credits: biltmore.com)

2.) Mrs. Vanderbilt's Bedroom - This too was lovely because it was just that - lovely. It was feminine and was the perfect boudoir. From that portrait of her, she looked like a lady who appreciated fashion don't you think? Love it! 

We walked the entire garden too. Gardens are soooo relaxing. Good ones that is. 
My dad and niece
towards the greenhouse
water lilies

a little creepy don't you think? 
gumamela? let's make bubbles
such happy flowers!

After touring the house and gardens, we stopped by Antler Hill Village for Biltmore wine tasting. The village had small exhibits and al fresco dining. Their car was there. It is one of only 10 model C-Six that's believed to still exist today. 
click for more info!
this is the model C-Six!
And this was the typical driving outfit that time. Talk about being covered. 
The wine stash
wine tasting
I downed two glasses of different wines I think
My winner!

I can't help but compare it to the last big estate and house I've been to - Versaille is a loooot bigger and more opulent which just blew me away. Biltmore, inspite of its size, felt homey. Maybe because it was owned by self made people and not monarchs? That I like a lot. I feel like I 'saw' the house. Anyways, old money's fascinating isn't it? To know more about the Vanderbilts - click here. Anderson Cooper, you lucky, lucky man!

The only thing I knew about Asheville was that the first family came here last April. I didn't expect much from a small town but everyone enjoyed this leg of the road trip!
Yay for Asheville, NC!!!
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