December 13, 2013

Party perfect

'Tis the season... for many festive parties. I'm usually not a party person at all (my idea of a great weekend is being in bed with a good book), but this holiday season I've been itching to get out of the office and start spending quality time with friends who I don't work with!

Either that or working has driven me to drink...but I'd like to think the former.

Here are some outfits for some fabulous soirees:

Party Outfits

Art Deco Glam: Topshop dress ($130), ASOS earrings ($10), Natasha Couture box clutch ($38), Kate Spade shoes ($258)
Gunmetal Chic: Zara cropped top ($70), River Island skirt ($57), Forever 21 earrings and cuff ($5), Kate Spade clutch ($330), Jeffrey Campbell pumps ($150)
L(eopard)BD: Zara dress ($60), Zara heels ($50), Debenhams clutch ($30), Mango earrings ($28)

Art Deco Glam: I love this Gatsby-inspired dress that reflects the Gatsby obsession we've had all year but doesn't veer into costume territory. The box clutch and gold earrings are simple, chic, and don't distract from the embellishment on the dress. I love this pair of Kate Spade d'orsay flats - I chose flats because the dress is quite short, and I personally don't like wearing heels with super short dresses. Its subtle gold back is perfect for parties and to add some glam in everyday wear.

Gunmetal Chic: Oh for abs of steel!! I've seen this cropped top in person and it is beautiful. It's a little looser than most other cropped tops, so it's a little more classy. Paired with a high waisted grey skirt and a pair of hot red pumps, it's super on-trend and perfect for the holidays. I accessorized with an adorable Kate Spade clutch and a gorgeous gunmetal earring-cuff from Forever 21 -- it is insanely affordable and I think it just adds that perfect pop of grunge.

L(eopard)BD: Ah, the LBD. I like this one from Zara because it has a very sculptural shape on the body (click through to see the dress on a real person). And leopard is always the perfect accent. Topped with shoulder-dusting, over-the-top earrings (I mean, this is a party after all) and a pair of strappy gold sandals.

While I love all of these looks, the frank truth is that it's been freezing in the Bay Area lately (we had a frost warning last week!), so my version of a holiday look would probably be more in line with this outfit, but pairing it with some huge dangly earrings, black tights, and a pair of vertiginous black d'orsay pumps.

Happy holidays!

December 11, 2013

Four years with Dan

Dan and I celebrated our 4th year anniversary last week (!) which is one of the most astounding things ever. We went to benu and partook in some extremely delicious food. These grainy iPhone 4 pictures completely do not do it justice, but I wanted to share anyway because this was the best meal I've ever had.

It was a tasting menu with the most innovative, crazy dishes. My favorites are above: the lobster xiao long bao, the most delectable quail, and a melt-in-your-mouth beef dish. We ended the evening with a really lovely salted caramel mousse cake thing that was so crazy good. (This, by the way, was only 1/8th of everything we ate that night!)

The thing I loved most about benu was how so many of the dishes reminded me of home, but with a twist of something very special and definitely way more delicious. It was surprising and familiar at the very same time. And everything was impeccable -- from the service to all the little surprises.

I also really can't believe it's been four years -- long years of getting each other through college and finding jobs and finally settling down in the city. I am so lucky to have my best friend with me through this journey of growing up :)

December 9, 2013

One Outfit Monday: Asymmetrical Skirt

I've been looking for an asymmetrical hem skirt for the longest time -- something that was more exciting than a traditional pencil skirt but was not too over the top and inappropriate for the office. Behold -- this beauty from Vince Camuto, which checks all the right boxes and is affordable to boot!

OOM: Asymmetrical skirt

Mango bag ($100), Vince Camuto faux leather trim envelope skirt ($74), Uniqlo dark green silk shirt ($50), J.Crew Factory necklace ($20), Zara kitten heels ($80)

It looks awfully short in this picture, but on a human Nordstrom assures me it is only slightly over the knee. This can go with anything, really, that you would pair with a regular pencil skirt, so I paired it with my officewear basics, a silk shirt. I have this one from Uniqlo (and love it); it's such a deep mossy green. I would unbutton the top buttons and wear the necklace inside the collar, giving a pop of unexpected color.

The burgundy bag from Mango is such a steal, and dark greens and reds paired together always look so festive without being too Christmassy. Black tights, d'orsay kitten heels (too many trends in one shoe? Never!), and a camel coat would complete the look.

For beauty, I would wear my hair in a low pony tail and wear lashings of mascara with a berry stained lip. I love the Revlon Kissable Lip Balm Stains for an easy tint.

December 6, 2013

On the Reading List: November 2013

I haven’t featured a reading list on the blog in some time, and have recently been inspired by these books. Since graduating college, I did a total about-turn and exclusively read young adult fiction about vampires (though not of the sparkly variety – I haven’t gone completely off the bend) and dystopic worlds, but have recently started gravitating back towards the kinds of books I used to read in college. When I’m stressed, tired, or upset about something, there’s really nothing better than curling up with a good book, a lit candle, and some tea.

Here are three books that have inspired me this month:

Grace: A Memoir, by Grace Coddington: I’ve wanted to read this for ages, ever since I watched The September Issue and found out soon after that she was going to publish a book. It’s so interesting to read something written by someone you so admire for their keen, artistic eye, and all the people and influences that have shaped that vision. Really easy read.

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed: After I tweeted about a short story she published and read all her Dear Sugar articles, this became a must-read for me. I cried, in the best way possible, in the way you do when people write words that touch that special nerve in your heart, where you feel so connected with the humanity of world, and you are just so endlessly inspired by situations and people that are described. What I meant to say in that roundabout way is: read it. This is a beautiful memoir.

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman: Haven’t read much of Neil Gaiman in recent years (American Gods remains a firm favorite though), but I was really drawn to this novel when I saw it on the shelves. Beautifully illustrated, just an all-round wonderful Gaiman novel.

What’s next on my list? Alexa Chung’s It (my haircut was inspired by hers!), Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch (which my colleague got me for Christmas!), and perhaps the extremely daunting list of 100 best books compiled by editors of the New York Times.

December 2, 2013

One Outfit Monday: Turtleneck and Leather

I've been totally obsessed with this outfit for the past 2 weeks or so. It's gotten to a point where I actually braved the crowds this weekend at Union Square and waded into the mess of Zara and H&M for the express purpose of purchasing these items. I ended not being able to find the H&M sweater, and settled for one from Zara instead.

It's going to be a beautiful day when my skirt arrives in the mail and I can finally wear this in person.

OOM: Oversized turtleneck + leather

H&M turtleneck sweater ($35), Zara pleather skirt ($60), ASOS earrings ($11), Modcloth shoes ($60) Dorothy Perkins bag ($100)

I actually don't even know why I'm so into this look. I love the contrast of slouchy (top) with sleek (skirt), am really into the houndstooth print of that d'orsay flat, and think that the burgundy bag and gold earrings add some quiet chic to the entire look.

Happy Monday!

November 29, 2013

Coats perfect for Fall

I don't know what it is this season - I think it may be the sigh of relief that comes with knowing where you're going to be next year, and that yes, it is going to be cold - but I'm completely obsessed with buying coats. They just take a look to the next level and SF is freezing all the time, so a warm coat you love is such a staple. I've been wearing an army green parka from Old Navy for the past year or so, and it's pretty casual and cool on a lot of outfits, but doesn't exactly scream professional. That was fine when I was a student, but now I've been gravitating towards slightly oversized, boyfriend coats. With a popped collar, a la the ever-chic Alexa Chung.

Below, some coats I'e been obsessing over:

Fall coats

SheInside houndstooth coat ($39) I had already bought my coat this season before I saw it and literally could not get it out of my mind. Houndstooth, oversized, boxy. This coat is perfection. If you're into the black and white but need something a little sooner (or are skeptical of Chinese websites like that, which was a huge barrier to purchase for me too), this Mango coat at $150 is also another great option.

Zara mustard wool coat ($119) Mustard in my book is a neutral. Love the shape and totally in love with the color.

Forever 21 contrast sleeve down jacket ($55) This is one chic down jacket! I love the contrast sleeves and how it's like an updated version of the varsity jacket for a girl who needs to be warm and/or wear this to work. The length, the muted palette, the downright awesomeness at an incredible price makes this a winner.

Zara cape ($189) This cape breaks my heart, you guys. I can't afford a $190 cape, as much as I love the leather detailing and the very fact that it is a cape. I've wanted one for so long and never took the plunge but this is calling to me, like a siren into its warm capey goodness. This is a cheaper alternative in tweed from Dorothy Perkins at a more acceptable $79, but the heart wants what the heart wants.

Uniqlo burgundy funnel coat ($100) I have this, I love this, I feel like a J Crew model in this (without the cray J Crew price). Unexpectedly super warm and I love hiding my face in the tall collar. This deep shade of burgundy is also such a nice added color without being too in-your-face and it's just so grown up and perfect for the office.

SheInside mint coat ($50) Pastel coats have been really big this season and I love this pale shade of mint. The slightly oversized shape cancels out any prissiness from the mint color, and this would also be great for transitioning into the spring.

I think these are some great, fresh coat options (I mean, how many black pea coats can one own?) (the answer in my case is: none. Oops.) perfect for the Fall or, if you live in the Bay, perfect for all year round.

November 27, 2013

Favorite brunch places in San Francisco (at the moment)

Daniel and I have a tiny little brunch addiction. We've only gone out to brunch every weekend since I started getting weekends off again, and that's usually our only stop out of bed that day. I know.

We are super into Asian Fusion cuisine, and brunch is no exception. I love the traditional goodness of brunch at a French bakery, but sometimes you just need to explore a little. Here are 3 places that have not disappointed:

This place is in the Marina, and Dan frogmarched me in here when we went because there are so many distracting brunch places in the area. Blackwood serves Thai/American fusion, and oh my word, their eggs benedict are to die for. I can't remember which benedict I got, but it had a Thai chili hollandaise sauce and it was all kinds of spicy deliciousness.

Image via their online ordering system

The next time I go, I will be trying out their millionaire's bacon, and the BW Stone Pot, which is like Bibimbap on crack, seriously. It is all sizzling hot pot goodness, and Dan almost stole a fellow diner's meal off their table when he saw it arrive.

It would be nice to say I'm joking, but friends who know Dan in real life... you know I can't.

Four words: spam and cheese waffles.

Take a moment to imagine the awesomeness of that combination. It is truly magical - Grindz serves Hawaiian-inspired meals (hence the presence of spam in 75% of their menu), and the waffles are incredibly light, fluffy, and darn delicious when doused with their accompanying organic maple syrup.

Everything on the menu looks to die for, but unfortunately I can't recommend the spam musubi -- I thought that the rice/ spam ratio was a little uneven in favor of the rice, and couldn't really taste much flavor compared to the awesomeness of the waffles. In the future I'll be getting the chicken and waffles combo. Predicting it will be a mind blowing brunch moment.

Possibly the best part about this place is that they are located right next to a Goodwill, where I scored a pair of brown leather oxfords for a mere $8. Shopping + food = magic.

Sweet Maple
The wait for this place on weekends is insane. Good thing they serve coffee and this delicious strawberry-orange-lemon water while you wait, and provide you with a huge range of magazines to peruse. Sweet Maple is pretty large, and we got a seat fairly quickly.

The highlight of this meal was the millionaire's bacon:

It's basically thick slabs of bacon fried in maple syrup and chili flakes and it is DIVINE. Above is a image of Dan's meal, which is a heart attack waiting to happen. Deep fried french toast, sunny side up eggs, and 2 slices of millionaire's bacon. I had the Hass benedict, which was a delicious bacon, avocado and chipotle hollandaise sauce benedict. Oh my word - so good.

Any other brunch places we should check out in SF?