Monday, December 3, 2018

Christmas party dressing is all about sparkle. Or is it?

Stella McCartney on Bond Street - my favorite shop decorations this year.

J.Crew top (HERE).
J.Crew shoes, a few seasons old (similar HERE or HERE).

I love sparkle for Christmas, and have just dug out a barely worn sequin top for the party season.  It's rose gold and a bit oversized, perfect for a buffet.  I bought it last winter in Hong Kong, and now it is again in stores in London.  A good standby for the season but I don't think it will ever make a perfectly accomplished outfit for me.  

A perfectly accomplished outfit is the kind of outfit which fits like a glove, makes you confident in your body, enhances the color of your skin, is slightly different from all the other more predictable outfits in the room, is pretty but also has an edge;  a perfectly accomplished outfit is a bit of a contrarian, it is somewhat smug, and it makes you feel more unique than the prints on your finger tips.

My friend Natasha's accomplished outfit is a custom tailored dark red dress with beautiful draping across the body which I first saw on her at The Pawn in Hong Kong.  When she wears it she looks radiant in every single way.

My friend Erica wore an all cream outfit to the Coopers Arms about 18 years ago.  A cream jumper and pencil skirt and cream grosgrain Manolo pumps.  Unforgettable to everyone present.

A perfectly accomplished party outfit for Karlie Kloss is all matte pink.

Karlie Kloss in a stunningly unexpected evening combination of pink suede skirt and lavender jumper, not a sparkle in sight.

In the past I have blogged about matching your shoes to your bottom and your bag to your top (HERE) which is a really effective way of looking polished without feeling old fashioned.  From this photo I can't tell if Karlie is carrying a bag, but she doesn't really need one;  the perfectly matching shoes and skirt make this outfit magically beautiful, and to me far more interesting than many an embellished evening dress.  Admittedly, Karlie Kloss could wear a grass mat and still look stunning.

There are a few easy tricks to transform every day clothes into dressy and elegant combinations (although I am not suggesting in any way a fuchsia pink suede skirt is a regular every day piece of clothing!)

First of all, wear light colored clothes in winter and dark colors in summer.  

Many apologies to regular readers, I have posted this outfit before.  It's simply a Zara jumper and J.Crew trousers, but the lavender and baby blue colors make it unusual and interesting for Christmas.  I lived in Hong Kong at the time, which made the sandals possible.

Another trick is wearing an outfit in two different tones of a color, for instance mint green and bottle green, pale yellow and canary yellow or burgundy and tomato red.  You could combine them with nude or grey accessories matched the old fashioned way or in two different materials, like patent grey and suede grey.

Don't get me wrong, I still love sparkle (as recently as my previous post!), but sometimes an outfit stands out more when it hasn't succumbed to a Christmas cliché.  And often I just don't want to spend money on sequins which will be worn only once or twice.  

I hope you are all enjoying this Advent and spending lots of time with family and friends. My husband and I take regular walks to the many atmospheric pubs in the area, and currently most of them are heaving seven days a week with a lovely mix of 20 somethings and over 50s (the rest are all taking care of kids) feeling lively and getting another drink in.  Often London feels exactly like a Richard Curtis movie to me.

Thank you for reading,
xx Dianne

Decorations and skating rink at the Museum of Natural History.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Transcontinental Move Completed... Sort Of

This was the dinner table at one of my favorite Hong Kong evenings ever.  Organized by beautiful Theresa, we had a super glam, super giddy night out with seven friends at Gough's on Gough.  

The cocktails were superb, and simply looking at this photo makes me salivate (it is 10.52 AM here in London).  It also makes me miss the ease of Hong Kong friendships, and the adventurous nature of Hong Kong expats.

I loved my outfit on this evening (a silver sequin skirt, a black shirt, white pumps and a cream bag) and snuck a comically smug bathroom selfie to remember the night.

Zara silver skirt (similar HERE or HERE)
Zara black shirt (similar HERE)
White pumps (similar HERE or HERE)
Gucci bag (similar HERE)

I must admit I often wonder where is that girl now? 

As much as I love London, and as much I was ready to be closer to my son's boarding school, the last few months have been difficult frankly, and as you may have noticed from the lack of posts, fashionable restaurants and glamorous outfits have not exactly been on my mind.

It's taken me some serious reflection to realize that sending my baby girl off to boarding school along with her older brother has been the hardest thing I have ever done.  She wanted to go, and I thought it would be great for her, but suddenly being alone and purposeless afforded me way too much time for the kind of existentialist thinking that makes one want to hide under the duvet and eat milk chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Not that long ago I turned 50 and I don't think I ever quite got used to it.  The day itself was wonderful, and my birthday party at Arcane was great fun, and even the day after seemed just fine, until weird behavior started sneaking in.  I bought a variety of very short skirts (one in black leather), a skintight off-the-shoulder mini dress, and a tube top.

Desperately trying to hold on to girl status I also acquired some Heidi Klum push-up bras.  None of these silly things ever got worn of course, and looking at them in my box destined for Vestiaire, I feel worried for that Dianne.

I've never been particularly good at facing reality, but not accepting one's age is obviously fruitless.  Yes, there are things that can be done on the outside, but right there underneath our skin is reality central: biological age muscles, biological age organs, and no amount of botox or fillers will make 50-year old joints any younger.

The transcontinental move from Hong Kong to England seemed a minor obstacle when I left in late July of this year, but I suppose when you throw it all in the mix, it's no wonder I've been hopelessly absent for the last few months.

I am very well aware that getting properly dressed in the morning greatly improves one's chances of having a good day, but that's easier said than done when the thought of having a shower is so overwhelming you can't move your feet in the direction of the bathroom.

But here I am, baby steps, sitting in front of my laptop, wanting to share, and craving fashion.

Covent Garden

Duke of York Square, Chelsea

Christmas is everywhere in London, and it is almost impossible not to feel childlike elation for the weeks ahead.  I wrote myself a job description a few days ago, trying to figure out my purpose now that my girl and boy are at school.  I am first and foremost still here to love, support, and encourage my children, but I am also the manager of my house, and finally I am still proudly fashionexpat, because even though I haven't quite managed to pay my council tax, I do still love clothes and figuring out how to wear them well.

If you are reading I guess it means you haven't given up on fashionexpat.  I can't begin to tell you how grateful I feel about that. Thanks a million for your patience.

xx Dianne

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

White Jeans and Tweed

While unpacking my air shipment (a few boxes which have arrived sooner than the slow boat container) I feel the excitement of Fall, when a whole new fashion year begins. The kids are back at school, and finally mums everywhere have a chance to get dressed and make their hair and make-up look halfway decent. 

I'm intimidated by all the extremely well dressed people on the King's Road, feeling slightly unsure whether I can still call myself fashionexpat surrounded by all these people just living their lives not making a fuss about their style, despite naturally having so much of it.

I've got to leave the house early tomorrow and have laid out this Isabel Marant Étoile tweed blazer (HERE) with some white jeans, a grey T, and Dior loafers (HERE). 

Last year's Proenza Schouler Hex bag (find it HERE in this season's colour) has also arrived and replaces the smaller bags I would usually carry in Hong Kong.

I have decided I don't want to use plastic bags anymore, ever, so the cute mini bags of the last few seasons will have to go. A big sturdy tote is my best friend nowadays.

Have you seen the film A Plastic Ocean? You can find it on Netflix and if I may preach for a moment, it's a great one to show to your children. We need to educate young generations about the hazards of plastic waste, and this film is the perfect messenger.

And after you've watched it, you can treat yourself to a big stylish carryall so that you'll never need to accept a plastic bag from a store ever again.

Hope you are all well, and enjoying the beginning of Fall as much as I am.

Lots of love,

xxxxxxx Dianne

Monday, August 27, 2018

Postcard From Skirrid Fawr

I was worried that I would miss Hong Kong's sweeping views after moving to London, and indeed I already do.  But a bank holiday break in Wales is recharging my starved eyes.  Climbing Skirrid Fawr yesterday, the views were spectacular.

My husband (in back) forgot to bring comfortable walking trousers but it so happens there is a mountain gear shop in the town of Abergavenny.  I only just managed to prevent him from buying the kind of pants that turn into shorts at a mere pull of its horizontal zips.

I described his previous pair of mountain trousers HERE in 2012, in one of my personal favorite posts on this blog, written during a short break in New York state.

We arrived at our cottage on the castle grounds during a full moon.  For city types like us the darkness and silence are unnerving, but the cottage inside is as quaint and peaceful as the first ten minutes of a Miss Marple mystery.  You know, just before the mayhem ensues.

Wales is perfect for a weekend break; we even encountered a band of wild ponies on our first hike.  It's currently foggy and raining but the Angel Hotel bar has a large selection of champagnes and Fulham has just beaten Burnley.  I feel a celebration coming on.

After a day of torrential rain we move north of Abergavenny towards the tiny town of Garth where we pick up our son who is visiting the Wilson family, proprietors of the beautiful Garth House in mid Wales.

The sun is fighting to break through the clouds above the stunning Grade II Listed Garth House
(find it HERE).
After a lovely visit with the family and their dogs, it's time to go home to London.

Thank you for reading!

Lots of love,

xxx Dianne

Friday, August 24, 2018

Chanel Jacket At Zara - An Impulse Buy For Dinner

Zara jacket (HERE)
J.Crew jeans (similar HERE
Dior shoes (HERE)
Zara T-shirt (HERE)

I felt such instant guilt buying this jacket for a dinner outfit that my subsequent purchase was a yellow notebook which I used to write down all my personal expenses since our arrival in London.

The thing is, other than for accessories and shoes, I am mostly a high street shopper, and I've become part of a cycle of waste that I am not proud of:  buying cheap and cheerful trends and discarding them after a season (read more about the true cost of fashion HERE).  Moving to London felt like a fresh start, and hopefully the impetus to change my shopping ways.

I promised myself to buy nothing at all until our shipment from Hong Kong arrived.  I would unpack my fashion possessions in the new house, and taking into consideration my future life in London I would slowly, slowly consider shopping again.

I loved my dinner outfit, but must try to get back on the plan.  The yellow notebook will make a difference, I think.  Seeing all my purchases right there in blue and white, demanding not to be forgotten, will hopefully over time make my personal difference to a fast growing problem.

Early evening in Farringdon looking back at Smithfield Market.  Strangely quiet moment in a bustling, charmingly messy area.

If you too want to keep away from the shops, you've got three days left to get to the Bacon and Freud exhibition at the Tate Modern.

Happy Bank Holiday Weekend, everyone!

Lots of love,
Dianne xxxxxx

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Waking Up In Farringdon I Finally Unpack My Larger Suitcase Where I Find These Dior Mary Janes

Finding myself in a clean apartment I finally unpack some of my clothes.  I grab a light and fluffy LoveShackFancy jumper from my friend Jane's lovely store, Jordan Baker, find it HERE.
Dior Mary Janes, HERE
Isabel Marant Étoile jeans, HERE

London has the best short cuts.

I add my chunky Mango rings and feel like a million bucks.  August is not a great month for shopping, unless you are looking for sale dregs, because most new season clothes have not yet arrived.  At this time I love finding a fun accessory to brighten up the clothes I've been wearing for months.
Mango ring set, HERE

Passing some dream houses on our Sunday walk.  Yellow was my favorite color as a child.

Wine on the terrace rounds off a perfect day in London.

What's the difference between an expat and an immigrant, I have been wondering lately.  I suppose an expat knows she's abroad for a finite amount of time only whereas an immigrant is trying to make her new country home.

I think I'd be happy to spend a very long time here in London, but expat life makes one restless, and committing to a lifetime in one place becomes unfathomable after experiencing life away from home (although for those born in New York City, Paris, or London I can see going home would not be a hardship posting).

Hong Kong already seems a lifetime ago, but I miss my friends like crazy.  Thinking of you all.

Thanks for reading.

Lots of love,

Dianne xxxxx

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Good Hair Days Are Everything And The Service At Dior Is Out Of This World

I am popping up everywhere!

There is an Alaïa retrospective at the Design Museum on High Street Kensington.

I've really missed these things called museums.  Hong Kong is not big on them.

As I described in my last post I had instantly become depressed a few days ago after my confrontation with a rude cosmetics salesman, but today was the total opposite of that.

What makes a day into a great day?  It feels you can never quite control it, although it does seem to help if you meet kindness during your day.  This is maybe where Oprah would say you control it by being generous of spirit in the first place, and then kindness will come right back to you.

I do think there is a point to that.  When you randomly smile at people or hold a door just a bit longer for someone behind you, you will receive positive energy right back.

The people at Dior in Bond Street are masters at it.  They have customer service down pat.  Enquiring about a bag for a beautiful Hong Kong friend, there was lots of friendly information but no pressure.  I was shown the entire stunningly beautiful store by an eloquent young Frenchman named Bocar and felt like a princess when I finally left the store having purchased nothing.

It also helped that I had a good hair day.  I haven't had a chance to take care of it properly, but this morning I had some time.  And my dress is an impulse buy from Zara, after I'd become well and truly sick of the limited wardrobe I am currently living with.

Zara dress, find it HERE

The dress is nothing special, but somehow it makes me feel like a million bucks.  Why does that happen sometimes?  Tomorrow I could buy another loose fitting cotton summer dress that will never make me feel the same way.  Is there anyone out there whose every purchase is a perfect price-per-wear miracle?

Let me know if that is the case for you.  I want to know your secrets.  Although good hair definitely helps.

Thank you, dear readers, for coming with me to England.

Lots of love xxxxxx