It's been 7 months since I wrote a word here, and it makes me sad to realise perhaps I have not made blogging my priority. What happened? Looking back, this 2017 has been a whirlwind of events. In the past 12 months, I had left my old job feeling really lost and discouraged, travelled, got my first tattoo, got offered a job I love, and met a whole new bunch of people at my workplace whom I treasure and consider my extended family. I wish I had it in me to pen down every single event that mattered to me, but there's only so much energy I can muster, so if you're still with me, I appreciate it so much!

One thing that mattered to me this year has been building a greener wardrobe, which involves downsizing my collection, getting more wear out of clothing, and my favourite part – buying second hand. To illustrate this, I'm dressed in mostly thrifted items today (minus the shoes). The vintage dress was bought off Carousell for only $8. Based on the aged fabric and unique silhouette, I believe it was made in the seventies. Definitely not an everyday look, but I love the square neckline and intricate embroidery too much to care. Meanwhile, the straw tote was spotted by my dear friend Jing at The Salvation Army. Its bamboo handles, crochet stitching, and leather flower brooch sealed the deal for me at $15. These items may not be shiny nor perfect but like faded photographs and dried flowers, I think they carry plenty of character and charm.

Photos by Yun Jing.


How To Care For Vintage Leather

My relationship with leather flourished at a young age when my mother would pass me her hand-me-downs, such as vintage leather handbags. However, caring for leather can be tricky when they are subjected to humid conditions in Singapore, often resulting in mould, cracking and damage – total heartbreak. With that said, over the years, I have gathered a few tricks up my sleeves. I'm partnering up with The ShoeTree Project to show you how I care for my favourite vintage leather.

One man's rust is another man's patina.

It's important to understand that leather is organic matter and reacts to its environment. Like our own skin, it 'lives and breathes' and will respond positively if we treat it with care. Believe it or not, leather is better used, so make it a point to wear it often because a little touch goes a long way. Good quality leather develops a patina over time which adds to its character. 

As moisture is the main culprit for mould, always remove excess moisture before storing any leather products away. The newspaper is super handy for damp shoes after the rain. I like to keep small leather items in a dry cabinet with controlled humidity level and house larger items alongside chemical dehumidifiers. If you're someone who isn't too fickle with a strong scent, I find moth balls very effective in keeping away small insects during the wet months.

Vintage leather age just like we do. Sometimes it needs a just a little help to regain its strength and lustre. One way is with a restoring moisturiser that cleans and conditions. The Saphir renovateur is an essential for my vintage burgundy loafers I purchased from Tokyo last year. What makes Saphir special is its base ingredient, mink oil, which has a similar chemical structure to the oil in our skin. Think of leather conditioner as an anti-aging product. Setting a regime for your vintage leather will definitely pay off in a long run.

To illustrate, here are my three basic steps to my leather conditioning routine;

Step 1
Using a shoe brush, brush away any surface dirt. Always remove laces. Use a minimum amount of water and a wash cloth where necessary to remove any grime buildup.

Step 2
With an old rag (I cut up an old tank top), dab a tiny amount of the Saphir renovateur. 

Step 3
Spread the product evenly on leather in small, circular motions, paying extra attention of cracks and wrinkles. Leave the leather to air dry and you're done!

It's totally up to you but I personally repeat this routine every three months or when I feel my leather needs a lift. Is the Saphir renovateur necessary? No. Does it make a difference? Absolutely. A light round of polishing already makes a visible difference to my loafers. Despite its age, the left of its pair looks just that little more 'alive'.

Just as we use hangers for our clothing, shoe trees are the equivalent for shoes. When I was younger, I used to wonder why men's footwear always had those strange looking wooden fixtures in them. There's no need to stock a pair for every pair of shoes you own, but I can't help to feel that they belong together, reviving my vintage loafers its former glory. These fragrant cedar wood shoe trees smell incredible and help to wick any moisture trapped within. They help keep the leather taught, stretching out any wrinkles that have caved in during wear, reducing the possibilities of cracking. Invest in a pair of shoe trees for your most cherished footwear, you will not regret it.

My latest vintage accessory addition is this 1960s handbag I discovered at a countryside antique market in Daylesford, Victoria. It was in decent shape with some wear and tear when I brought her home, and with a little polishing, I was able to bring back a piano-like shine. A trick of mine is to then stuff its interior with paper to retain its shape.

I love vintage bags and shoes and I make it my responsibility to preserve them the best way I can. Living in Singapore doesn't make it any easier, but with discipline and a routine, I have seen the biggest difference in my own wardrobe. Instead of buying brand new clothing, give vintage a chance. Treasure and love them, and they will do the same for you. 

I feel so happy to work with the friendly folks of The ShoeTree Project in sharing these tips with you. Do check out their website for its line of Saphir shoe conditioners and polishes and other shoe care accessories. Hope you enjoyed this post!


Taiwanderland: Guide To Taipei & Tainan

I have travelled to Taiwan for 3 times in the last 6 years and I can confidently declare it as one of my favourite places to return to. It's a country of rich Chinese culture, modern city life, and nature, all within close proximity. Earlier this year, I was extremely lucky to attend my very first press trip with Everrich Duty-Free Group along with many other Southeast Asian bloggers to experience this amazing country like never before.

Based on my travels to Taipei and Tainan, I have made a guide of places and things to do to help you make the most out of your trip. If you have special recommendations to share, leave it in the comments!

Stay tuned till the end of the post for a special treat for my Southeast Asian readers who are travelling to Taiwan!


My Wardrobe Story On Straits Times

I'm featured on The Straits Times! So happy to have had the chance to share a little bit about my wardrobe and vintage fashion, a topic that I feel so enthusiastic about. 

Thinking back, the defining moment when I 'found' my style was when I decluttered a huge amount of my belongings 2 years ago, as inspired by Japanese organization consultant Marie Kondo's teachings in her book The Life-changing Magic Of Tidying Up. I realized that my energy could be put to better use by taking good care of people and things I already have, instead of consuming aimlessly. 

Since then, I saw fashion from a new, clearer perspective. My love for vintage grows everyday and I truly believe in cherishing old pieces of clothing and buying less but better quality apparel. All the items mentioned here are worn on a daily basis.


La Vie at Spottiswoode Park

As Chinese New Year is approaching, I had the opportunity to style and shoot some amazing Cheong Sums. Whether you are shopping for new outfits for the new year, or wish to add a piece of traditional garment to your collection,  I hope you'd consider the pieces I'm about to show you.

I think Cheong Sums are so beautiful and I believe there is no garment out there more precisely constructed for a Chinese woman. When I was younger, my mother – born and raised in Shanghai, China – described the Cheong Sum as the quintessential clothing item for women in her family, particularly in the 1930s. For a lady then like my great grandmother, the Cheong Sum was typically paired with dainty jewellery, roller-curled hairdo and silk stockings. Cigarrettes were common. Without saying, poise and elegance were key qualities to embody, especially in a garment so snug and fragile.

Unfortunately, in a modern and cosmopolitan city like Singapore, Cheong Sums seem to have a hard time staying relevant for its time. Fashion come and go. Maybe it's inevitable for so-called progression. But it upsets me when beautiful things lose their place in the society. For many people, including myself in the past, have the misconception of it being an old-fashioned look reserved for mature women. However, as I study its history and observe the works of some Asian fashion designers, Singaporean designer Ong Shunmugam for example, I began to see the Cheong Sum in a different light. We have to cherish what makes us. It is knowledge and identity.

My personal favourite piece – a silk midi-length Cheong Sum with floral print

Thankfully, some make their lifelong mission to keep the tradition alive. The clothing items I'm featuring in this lookbook are sold by Lucia Chiang, a kind and bubbly elderly lady. However, due to rising rental fees, Lucia was 'forced' to move out of her boutique La Vie (originally at Orchard Towers) last August. Since then, Lucia has been struggling to continue business in her little 130-year old heritage shophouse at Spottiswoode Park Road. During our conversation, I learnt that she's had more than 30 years of experience selling and tailoring Cheong Sums.

Through my friend Kai Xin, I came to know Lucia, and together with Yun Jing, we created a little fashion look book hoping to show you some of the gems you will discover at La Vie. I had so much fun wearing the pieces, from the ones made of delicate silk to those with intricate embroidery, I can tell you they are all exceptional in design and workmanship. They’re very reasonably priced with comes with complimentary alteration service!

Instead of the mass-produced styles this CNY, why not pick out your tailored Cheong Sum with an experienced lady who knows ‘good fit’ better than fast fashion brands would? 

Interior of La Vie Spottiswoode Park shophouse

Lucia and store assistant Janet

La Vie Spottiswoode Park
Address: 5 Spottiswoode Park Road, Singapore 088632
Business number: +65 84116729
You may go down to Lucia's place to have a look, try out some of the outfits, or simply have a chat! Walk-ins are not allowed due to government regulations so it's best to make an appointment via a call or a text if you are heading over.

We are also working on increasing Lucia's online presence so it would mean a lot if you would like her page! You will also find information on product offerings and contact information.

P.S. Thank you for the positive response and kind messages on Facebook and Instagram! Some of you told me that you'd love to meet Lucia. If you do go down, remember to share with me your experience and what you got! I'm sure Lucia would be overjoyed for all the support. Please continue to spread the word!

Photos by Yun Jing