Friday, March 06, 2015

in the fitting room: uniqlo x idlf

I didn't know that a Uniqlo x Ines De La Fressange collection was happening, until I passed a Uniqlo outlet that had a cheery summery display near their entrance, featuring said collection.

I went in more out of curiosity than anything else - I've been told more than once the IDLF clothes are very "me" (probably because there's lots of navy and white) but actually, nothing from the previous collections grabbed have me, probably because I already had many of the same basics.

But flipping through the racks this time, I found myself wanting to try quite a few pieces, so much so that I decided it was worth doing a review of the collection. It has a rather different vibe from the first collection - more “weekend in the countryside” than "city", which I suppose is what I want right now.

I was particularly drawn to a series of cotton-linen shirts in stripes and checks, all cut in a cropped, boxy style with a schoolboy feel - very Margaret Howell.



My favourite was this one in a cotton double-gauze - the material is soft and tissue-like but not fragile. The inner layer makes a nice contrast when you turn up the cuffs and collar.

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I also liked the layering possibilities of these shirts – they're are cut almost like jackets and below I'm wearing a stand-collar one over my own sleeveless shirt. They also have cropped sleeves that hit somewhere between my elbows and wrists.

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I also rather liked the boat neck linen blouse I'm wearing above - perfect for the hot weather here and the cropped length (just below the belly button) feels fresh and the little eyelet trim is cute without being too girlish. It has a trim, tidy feel that I prefer over the longer, tunic-style shirts in the collection. It's also not too sheer.

I'm wearing the large size in all the pictures above. For the record, I am a UK 12/US 6-8/EUR 40, and it should be said that I am broad-shouldered, broad-hipped, narrow-waisted. Also, I'm about 1.79m tall.

I wasn't optimistic about the trousers - I tried the cotton chinos last year and they were very narrowly cut and were the least flattering things I'd ever seen on myself. But I saw a navy pair in a beautiful cotton-linen herringbone, tapered and cropped, and I thought it was worth a second chance. And I ended up loving them. They're perhaps lower rise than what is currently fashionable but they sit high enough to look respectable (just below my belly button and covers my hipbones) and fit my non-supermodel hips and thighs superbly. I didn't get a good picture unfortunately, so you'll have to take my word for it.

The quality is also impressive - I challenge anyone to find a better made pair of trousers from a mass-market brand. These had a wonderfully constructed and solid waistband, and although they are unlined, the material is substantial and doesn’t at all look like the flimsy crap out there in the same price range (these are S$49.90). They also passed the crumple test (me clutching a handful of fabric in my fist). Given it’s the same price as the blouses and shirts, I think this is actually the best deal of the collection, in terms of workmanship. I also thought it was better made than the other trousers in the collection. According to Uniqlo's somewhat confusing sizing for bottoms, I take the 67cm waist in these, which is the largest available size for this style.

The cherry on the icing is the matching herringbone jacket. It doesn’t look like much on the hanger and I wasn’t sure what made me it try it on. But after I did, I didn't want to take it off. I usually prefer longer jackets and have always found cropped styles ridiculous on me, but this one worked. It's the opposite of a sharply tailored look - it’s more of a sport coat perhaps and has that schoolboy feel. But it has just enough structure to look polished and I thought the quality was great – cute striped lining on the sleeves, an inner breast pocket, everything was nicely finished. It's partially lined at the important places - sleeves, shoulders - so that it slips on and hangs nicely but still works for the warm weather here.

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At S$99.90 it was the most expensive thing in the collection, and although it took serious willpower for me to put it back on the racks, I did anyway, suspecting it will end up on the sales rack (jackets often do in Singapore). I'm wearing a large in the picture and it fit well - no pulling and I could move with ease.

There were other unlined blazers in the collection that felt more like shirts which I am not to keen on.

I tried this retro Italian housewife tea dress more as a lark than anything else. I suppose if I wanted to dress up as a WWII-era nurse, I would come back for this dress, which also comes in black. It has a generous full skirt which make it fun to swish around in and the linen material is weighty and more substantial than the linen skirts in this collection. I thought it was quite nicely cut - the shoulders, waist, lapels all sat nicely - but perhaps it's more suited for a tall person. I’m wearing a large here.



I actually really wanted this dress when I saw it, but felt in two minds once I tried it on. I like the vintage nightgown feel - and it is comfortable as pajamas - but I don’t really like things cut high on the waist. After dithering around a bit, I decided to pass, but I'm still thinking about it. I'm wearing a medium here - this one runs on the large side.



There were also these nice striped cotton-linen midi-length skirts but alas, I looked frumpy in them. If I were a more straight-hipped person I would have a field day - this is the stuff that evokes long drives in the Tuscan countryside, or strolls in some pretty European town with honey-hued walls, cobble-stone streets and bougainvillaea spilling out of balconies.



I bypassed all the floral print items because they looked cheap and the material used for them certainly felt so. There was a cute navy short sleeve knit with red piping but it wasn't very well-made - it felt cheap and sagged too much. In fact I would give all the knits a miss, including the cotton Breton pieces - they didn't stand out for me. As for the hoodies and sweatshirts, I couldn't tell what made them different from the usual Uniqlo offerings. I would also pass on the silk blouses - they felt cheap. The oxford shirts from last year are still around - they're nice, so now's the chance to grab them if you missed it the first time.

And I skipped the jeans because I was lazy to try them but they feel more substantial to the touch than Uniqlo's own jeans. Yes, doing a review post is tiring - I went to the store twice in two days (granted it's on my way to yoga). Never have I worked this hard for a post.

Overall, it's 50-50. The aforementioned cotton-linen shirts, and the cotton-linen herringbone jacket and trousers stood out for me, in terms of quality and thoughtful design. The dresses and the midi skirts, on the right body type, are nice buys too - they stand out in the sense that there isn't quite anything like that design-wise in this price bracket, and look nice for the summer.

But there's also items in the collection that are either duds (the cheap-feeling florals, the knits) or mediocre (the sporty jersey pieces). Also, a lot of it is linen which rumples easily and this might bother some.

Despite the shortcomings, the collection exceeded my expectations where “high-low” partnerships are concerned, but due to my own prejudice my benchmark for these things are pretty low in the first place. And I've never paid close attention to such collaborations so I’m not the best person to charge.

In the end, I bought the double-layered gauze shirt and the navy trousers. I felt the boxy shirts were the most interesting design-wise - they're unlike anything you see in stores at the moment. The trousers, apart from being great quality, actually fit me well, and I think such things shouldn't be passed on too easily. I was tempted to buy another one of the cropped shirts in striped linen, but held back since I have lots of shirts. And of course, I'm still thinking about the blazer. Perhaps it's time for my first pantsuit...

*I'm writing like the Uniqlo x IDLF fall collection didn't happen, because I never actually took a good look at the pieces when they were in stores, so can’t make any comparison where those are concerned.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

women who work

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“But a successful work uniform does much more than save time and brain space. It tells the world what kind of work you do, how seriously you take it, and — here’s the complicated part — what kind of woman you are…Your work uniform signals your ambition, authority, experience, age. It conveys if not actual competence, then your feelings about your competence as well as your desire (or not) to blend in.” – Lisa Miller, The Cut

Well, that’s the essay I should have written about three months ago. I had been trying to start a series of blog posts centered around the work uniform, and even contacted some other bloggers for contributions, but was too busy with, well, work, to actually develop this into a proper project.

On my blog, you can find examples of my work outfits in the early years of my career. I will not link to them because it embarrasses me, some of the things I thought was okay for work Рthere was a time where I thought a loose tank top tucked into a flippy grey m̩lange skirt from American Apparel was okay for press conferences.

How I wished someone gave me some career advice about dressing – no, nothing happened (to my knowledge at least; for all you know I could have been running a media conglomerate by now if I had dressed better) as a result of my cavalier attitude to work wear. I have the fortune of working in an office with no clearly enforced standards of office attire. But there are downsides. I don’t want to be told exactly what to wear but I wished someone had taken me aside early on and asked me to think about the professional impression I left on others with my dressing.

Was there anything offensive about that little flippy American Apparel skirt? No, but I looked exactly like what I was – a fresh graduate that hadn’t quite understood how to go from “student” to “super awesome and professional adult”. I didn’t understand that it didn't  matter whether I thought my outfit was appropriate – it was also about what other people, whom I was meeting for the first time, sometimes under antagonistic circumstances, thought. Once you enter that sphere of working for someone else, you have to look past your ego, and learn to dress for the gaze of others. This is especially important as a journalist, because, your subject, not you, is the story.

And yet, you want to signal your individuality, because that’s also part of winning people over. People respect independence of thought, which can be signalled through dress. And you want to be true to yourself, because that way you carry yourself with more confidence. The challenge of dressing for work is to nail that perfect balance of utility, individuality, and, as The Cut put it, the "public-facing self".

I figured it out, after a while. I embraced the liberties of my workplace, but I looked for ways to polish things up. I can still wear jeans, t-shirts, sneakers. But I made sure I had back-ups – a blazer to throw on for important events, for example. I gave up sneakers (well, most days I do) and embraced the oxford because they dressed up a pair of jeans well. I found shirts that worked for me - ones I could leave them untucked for comfort, and tuck in when I need to smarten up. I found a good alternative to the t-shirt – slightly structured, boxy short-sleeve tops in stiff materials that were comfortable as t-shirts for days spent outdoors, but less sloppy than t-shirts. I even found dresses that were neither casual t-shirty things nor power-woman tailored sheaths – shirt-dresses or similarly cut shifts, slightly loose on the body. A couple pairs of well-cut black trousers – loosely tapered, cropped – to take me through days where denim is really a no-go. I don’t wear make-up, but I realised well-groomed brows made me look less sleepy.

I learnt to maximise versatility and comfort, and show respect for the myriad of circumstances I encounter in my work. But I also learnt to make the casual edge work for me. People remember me, because in a room full of suits, I could wear a slightly oversized shirt with sleeves pushed up, and leopard-print loafers. My collection of jeans, dating back to my university days, have never gone out of rotation – even the ripped ones, or the slouchy boyfriend ones. I just had to wear it with the right items for the right occasion.

The Cut essay touched on a dimension I hadn’t given much thought about – sexuality. I've always thought, if you draw a lot of attention to your body in the way you dress, people will talk about it, and it's up to you as an adult to decide how you want to deal with it. Maybe you have the confidence to live with the chatter, or are so powerful that it has no detrimental impact on your career. Maybe your office genuinely doesn't care. Whichever option we choose, it's a statement.

So what do my work outfits say about me (apart from the fact that my clothes seem to rumple a lot)? But they're practical. Sober. I think they respect most of the professional situations I find myself. They're also consistent, which I find useful - it's nice to have a signature look at work so that people remember you (like Jenna Lyons and her glasses). What do you guys think?

I didn't want to make this just about me, so I approached some other bloggers to chip in. For a start, Maja of Maja Huse and Marlene of Chocolate, Cookies and Candies will share their thoughts on dressing professionally, and hopefully, I can add more to this list as and when.

Look out for the first feature next week. In the meantime, I would love to hear what you guys have to say about this.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

good buy, checked x3

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One of the things I was particularly thrilled to find in the sales are these Dieppa Restrepo Calis in a lovely, classic burgundy. I seem to specialise in landing these shoes during sales - my first and second pairs were sale finds too in 2013, and I find them to be pretty value, given the quality.

I was giving my old ones a good clean a couple weeks back, and realised that lining them them up side by side gives a good idea of how these shoes hold up to frequent wear.

I don't take especially good care of my shoes and it shows - the tan pair, the oldest pair, has obvious discolouration, probably from the times I carelessly cleaned them with a wet wipe. After I started applying leather conditioner regularly - once every few months - they started to look much better, but the damage is done and it's undeniably lost some of its richness.

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Nonetheless, I think they're holding up well. Don't be put off by the peeling edge on the sole of the tan pair - that's the Vibram sole I had added to the shoes when I first bought them. Vibram soles are essential since it rains here a lot, and apart from protecting the leather soles it also saves me from slipping. Not terribly impressed that one side is peeling though - going to need to have a word with my cobbler about that.

The thickness of the leather soles has largely remained, and there's no sign of the shoe coming apart anywhere else yet. The leather darkens when rain gets on it but it's so far dried without leaving visible watermarks.

The white pair was always going to be high maintenance, but I think I'm doing all right. Like my first pair, it always looks better after I've given it a good clean and condition (sadly, all of twice a year). There's no visible discolouration. The heel cap is a little worn in one corner, so I may replace it soon - the first time I'll be doing so for this pair.

Clearly, they wrinkle quite a bit, so if you're looking for that glossy, immaculate, shell-like finish, these are not for you. But they have kept their shape pretty well and I don't keep them stuffed or use shoe trees. The discolouration of the tan pair made me hesitate a bit about choosing a pair in a rich colour like burgundy - how do I know it won't happen? But my feeling is that had I taken better care of the tan pair, it might have aged better, colour-wise. After conditioning them regularly (twice in six months), I thought they were looking better. I don't polish my shoes though - too much work!

I've replaced the heel cap on the tan ones once, and I'm due to replace the ones on the white one soon - I've been told to be careful about that; once the wooden part gets worn it's pretty pointless replacing the cap after, diminishing the lifespan of the shoes.

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Miss Sophie recently posted about the diminishing returns we get from brands as they grow in popularity - I hope this isn't the case with Dieppa Restrepos. They've become my staple, the grown-up version of the sneakers that used to rule my life. Are these the best-made options out there? There are doubtless better shoes, but then those options are also more expensive. My Margaret Howell oxfords roundly beats the Dieppas in terms of workmanship and quality of materials, but then MH shoes start at about GBP300 (I could afford mine only because I was at a sample sale). Dieppas are half the price, and less, if you, as I do, wait for the right pair to show up at the sales. They suit my wide feet and I never had to break them in - I go sockless and haven't gotten a single blister. I like how they're more casual and laidback than a classic oxford shoe but they're still elegant and more substantial than say, a pair of jazz shoes.

I'm also a big believer of never depending on a single pair of shoes. The most well-made pair of shoes are unlikely to last long if they're worn every day, year in year out, and rotating shoes is a good way of extending the lifespan of a beloved pair of shoes.

In terms of care and maintenance, I can't profess to be an expert. I bought the Ecco leather cleaner and conditioner at a department store because I have store credit, and so far they work pretty well.

For leather shoes like the Dieppas, I spray the shoe cleaner into some kind of cloth that doesn't scratch - old ones for cleaning spectacles, or ones used to polish shoee, and just wipe the shoes. I rub the grubbier bits a little harder and so far haven't experienced any discolouration - I clean a bit at time, let it dry out, and check if I've done any damage, to be safe. When I'm done I wipe all over with a clean dry cloth, let it air a bit, and then I apply the conditioner - again, I do a small section at a time, and I don't use too much on the cloth at a time. The best is not to press too hard at one point for too long - some shoes darken a bit overall, and I want it to look as even as possible.

I'm always impressed how good the shoes look when I make the effort - the leather really glows after conditioning, even the shabbier, scuffed up bit.

Suede, unfortunately, is more of a pain - I have a suede brush and eraser but I can't seem to get the dirty spots off. I'm definitely thinking twice before I get any suede shoes in future - certainly it has to be in a pair that looks good even when dirty.

I particularly like nubuck - they're soft and they looks pretty good dirty and stained! I like that matte quality they have, in contrast to the polished look of other leathers. I follow the same cleaning process described above for my nubuck boots, and the only difference is that nubuck darkens more when I apply the conditioner.

What are your go-to shoes?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

perfumed, part II

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After close to five years, I'm close to finishing my bottle of Vintage Gardenia by Jo Malone. The bottle looks a little forlorn on my dresser. The scent brings always a rush of memories and a number of other things, all of them pleasant - balmy nights, rich damp earth, a flutter of ivory silk, the sweet scent of flowers crushed on the pavement.

But I've also moved on, sort of. Last year, for a change of scenery, I bought Le Labo's Rose 31*. Vintage Gardenia - which really smells more like something else, closer to a Tuberose scent - was always a little sweet for me on some days, and it's also disappointing how quickly the scent wears off.

I smelt Rose 31 ages ago and loved it, but was reluctant to buy a new perfume when I was barely halfway through another. I take ages to get through perfume - I bought Vintage Gardenia in 2010, and it's a mere 30ml - and limit myself to one bottle at any given time. But last year, looking at the Le Labo counter and figuring I had nothing better to spend a 10% voucher on, I decided to get it. At least I was down less than 1/4 of Vintage Gardenia left, I reasoned.

Rose 31 is immensely popular and I won't go on at length about the technical points except one thing: it doesn't smell like a classic rose fragrance, despite the name. This was the thing I learnt about Le Labo perfumes - they don't always smell like their names, because what's named for is just one of many ingredients used. The eponymous ingredient is the one used in the highest concentration, but it isn't necessarily what dominates your nose when you take a whiff.

Like Vintage Gardenia, there's a floral headiness about Rose 31, but there's also an incense-like quality. There also a sharpness that cuts right through, and an earthiness I always look for in my perfumes. I can't identify any of the ingredients by smelling it, but I can tell you it makes me think of black velvet, red wine, grass after rain, my mother. It also lasts - I like that moment when I pull off my shirt at the end of the day and catch a whiff of its last, dying notes.

*It was only recently that I discovered that Le Labo was purchased by Estee Lauder in November. Estee Lauder has also purchased Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle and Rodin olio lusso. What I hate about niche brands being bought by conglomerates is that they're not longer quite free of the animal-testing taint even if they continue not to test on animals (because Estee Lauder does). I love this perfume, but I certainly will think twice about a repurchase when my current bottle runs low.

Friday, January 16, 2015

notes for january, book edition

Recently, I finished the fifth of six books I picked up before Christmas, because there was a great deal for members at Kinokuniya, and I finally had time to read. Because this was an unusually good haul - in the sense that I loved most of the books I completed - I thought they were worth a quick and dirty "review".

1)
I can't believe I'd never read "Seabiscuit" by Laura Hillenbrand until now - I loved every last word and found myself holding my breath during the chapters on the races. I'm pretty inspired to give "Unbroken" a go. The last time I enjoyed a non-fiction account such as this one so much was "The Orchid Thief", which was THE book that made me want to be a journalist. Both books have the kind of depth that comes from really doing your homework and delving into the lives of these people and their circumstances. They also strike that awesome balance between empathy and cold-eyed clarity - you feel deeply for all involved, but you also see them for who they are.

2)
I read "Monuments Men" by Robert M Edsel right after I finished "Seabiscuit", and I suppose because both are books describing the lives of real people, I couldn't help comparing them although the subjects differ. Without a doubt, Laura Hillenbrand is a much better storyteller - the people she wrote about came to life for me, as did the times they lived in and the issues of the day. "Monuments Men" is a great story but it just wasn't told as well.

3)
I bought "The Blazing World" without opening it and reading a single word - it's a rule for me usually, to read the first few pages of a book before I buy it, to decide if it's the book for me. But I love Siri Hustvedt's work that much. The novel begin with a premise that begs for resolution, but the way the tale unfolds left me thinking it didn't matter in the end. The story is told through a jumble of diary entries, recollections of different people, "magazine" articles and reviews, and there are references to philosophy and art, all meticulously foot-noted. This should have been discordant, but everything plays off everything else so deftly that you find yourself completely absorbed, as if you are a scholar, delving into the mysterious life of a woman long dead, trying to make sense of it all. And as always, her writing is clean and beautiful - it never fails to hit me right in the heart.

4)
"Justice" by Michael Sandel was recommended to me - I admit, these days, I read for easy pleasures and moral philosophy didn't immediately excite me. As it turns out, "Justice" is testament to the power of good writing - there is no way I could have absorbed the general premises of Rawls, Dworkin, Aristotle, Kant, Locke and other no-first-name-needed, oft-cited superstars of philosophy otherwise. In about 200 pages. It's quite something, to explain all this and their relevance to contemporary political and social issues, and explain it so well that I've started thinking about issues I come across through their lens.

5)
 I was pretty excited when I bought  "Travelling to Infinity" by Jane Hawking, but after I finished, I felt exhausted, and not in a good way. Yes, their marriage was every bit as complicated as one imagined and Stephen Hawking appears to be...no picnic. But while she painstakingly described her feelings and her experiences, I wished there was a bit more reflection, a little more explanation on why she chose the life she chose. It felt like there were feelings that she had yet to confront.

6)
I have one book left, "The Rest is Noise" by Alex Ross. Haven't started, but I can't imagine disliking a book that comes with a recommended playlist.

Which books have you read lately? Share!

Monday, January 05, 2015

hello, 2015

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Nayapul, Nepal, December 2014

I spent the last day of 2014 on "me time". I picked up my new mobile phone in the morning, got a hair cut, grabbed some magazines at the bookstore, and went home. I spent the rest of the day reading and snacking on strawberries, had a shepherd's pie I made a couple days before for dinner, and then lounged, read, and watch old episodes of The Mindy Project. I was blissfully unaware that the clock had ticked past 12, until a good 20 minutes later. I said very little all day.

It was the kind of day I lived for all year - in 2014 I felt extremely challenged at work, vacillating between "I love this!" and "I am not cut out for this!" and there were times I didn't handle the bad days well. I let myself get carried away with the drama of it all, and it was draining. I needed the days where I could ignore emails and speak the bare minimum. 

I feel a lot better about 2015. 2014, while challenging to get through, was extremely enlightening on hindsight, and spending the last few days of the year away from work has been a great way for me to organise my thoughts, and think about what I want to do this year. 

It's been quiet on this blog, because I haven't had the time (I have one blog project gathering dust in my draft folder and email inbox, apologies to those who responded!). But also because, much as I continue to love clothing and be fascinated by design and style, I also felt like I've said pretty much all I want to say about this topic. I enjoy reflecting on my buying decisions and reviewing my experiences with certain things (how well did these shoes hold up? how often am I wearing the dresses I bought? what should buy less of?) but there is only so much energy I can devote to those things. 

Increasingly I have become more comfortable with going with my instincts when it comes to shopping and dressing myself, and I feel less of a need to evaluate my purchases. If buying something is going to make me feel bad, I don't buy it. If buying something makes me feel good but not that good, I don't buy it. If I feel that warm glow in my chest from looking at something wonderful that captures my imagination, I buy it. If I need it, I buy it.

I continue to make the odd questionable impulse decision but I don't believe in spending too much punishing myself with regret. Life is far, far, far too short for that, and I trust that since I've almost always made responsible decisions all my life, buying a pretty swimsuit I won't be wearing for another six months isn't that major a mistake. 

In the same way, I hope to feel more certain about other aspects of my life as well. So, happy 2015! 

Saturday, November 08, 2014

all about me

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A sleepy b&b in Loket, Czech Republic, June 2012

Taking a leaf from Amanda's and Kali's book, and telling you all kinds of things about myself, whether you want to know or not. A strangely relaxing exercise.

1. What are you wearing? 
Lounging at home in an batik cotton dress which I also sleep in. It's a lazy Saturday.

2. Have you ever been in love?
No.

3. Have you even gone through a horrible breakup? 
No.

4. How tall are you?
1.79m

5. How Much do you weigh? 
65kg

6. Do you have tattoos? 
Yes one. Alphonse Mucha's "Music" on my upper back.

7. Do you have piercings?
Nope. I did use to want an eyebrow ring, for some reason.

8. What is the ideal couple to you? 
I once met a couple on on diving trip - if love was a competition, they would be champions. They were in a relationship for almost 20 years before marrying in their late 30s, and have two young children, and I loved that they appeared to still find each other very entertaining, interesting and attractive. It was lovely to see them together.

(They were also funny, nice and smart people to hang out with, leading interesting lives - mountain climbing, diving, with children in tow where possible - and appeared to have successful careers. Damn they're good at life.)

9. Your favourite TV show? 
Oh dear, where do I begin? I'm currently working my way through the Gilmore Girls again - in my youth, this show misled me into thinking I could just say inappropriate things out loud and get away with it, like Lorelai. I was wrong.

To pick a more recent TV series that's ended, it would be "Breaking Bad".

10. Your favourite band?
Argh, too many. The bands I've stayed faithful to since I was a teen are AC/DC, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, No Doubt and U2. The bands I've listened to a lot in recent years are The Killers, The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes. The band I'm really exciting about coming to Singapore next year is Little Dragon.

(I also listen to a lot of pop, but never one band/singer consistently.)

11. Something you're missing?
Scuba diving and being at sea.

12. Your favourite song? 
Last night when I was waiting for a cab with a friend, I played The Strokes' "I'll Try Anything Once". Classic song for me on late nights.

Currently, I'm listening to "Partition" by Beyonce a lot. I can't make of what I feel about the lyrics of her songs but I haven't stopped listening to the album since she released it last year.

13. How old are you? 
30

14. What's your astrological sign? 
Seriously?

15. An essential quality for a boyfriend? 
The capacity to handle lots of sarcasm.

16. Favourite Quote?  
"Really? I already have a drink. Do you think he'd buy me mozzarella sticks?" - Liz Lemon, "30 Rock"

17. Favourite Actor?  
Surely no one has just one? Right now, it's Michael Fassbender.

18. Favourite Colour?  
Navy.

19. Do you listen to music at a low or high volume?  
High.

20. Where do you go when you are sad?  
Back to bed.

21. How long do you stay in the shower?  
About 15 minutes.

22. How long does it take to get ready in the morning? 
30 minutes to leave the house. 15 minutes if I don't have breakfast.

23. Did you ever get in a fight?  
A physical one? Only when I took MMA classes for a year back in university. One lecturer thought I had an abusive boyfriend. It's quite an experience, being punched in the face. Like bungee jumping. Of course this would not be funny or welcome in a situation of actual danger.

24. Something that seduces you in a man?  
Self-assurance.

25. The most repelling thing in a man?  
I also find the same quality repelling in a woman - selfishness.

26. Why do you have a blog? 
To decompress. These thoughts need a place to go!

27. What are you afraid of?  
Dissatisfaction.

28. The last thing that made you cry?  
The look on my friend's face when he told me he was afraid his father was dying.

29. The last time you said "I love you"? 
Out loud? It's been a while. But I usually think it when my mother cooks for me.

30. What does your blog name mean?  
Shopping. I'm such a consumer - I love taking things out of the bag when I get home from a shopping trip.

31. The latest book you read?  
"The Handmaid's Tale", by Margaret Atwood. I didn't love it, but I think it's because I read it after hearing too much about it/

32. What are you currently reading? 
Haven't found a book to start on yet.

33. The latest TV series you watched?  
I'm watching The Good Wife, Homeland and The Walking Dead. But if I were to just pick one show I've found consistently impressive in recent years, it's Veep.

34. The last person you talked to?  
My mother.

35. Who did you last text with?  
One of my best friends.

36. Your favourite food? 
This is impossible! Something Chinese and broth-y with noodles in it.

But I also never say no to cheese and chocolate.

37. Places you want to visit? 
Too many. I'm headed to Nepal in December. Next year, I've put down Palau for scuba diving. Iceland, because it looks epic. Indonesia for a mountain-climbing trip. And perhaps California, to visit a friend. But I usually just pick whichever destination that has a cheap fare going on.

38. The last place you visited?  
The Maldives

39. Are you currently sweet on someone?  
Yes. Although it's mildly embarrassing to use that phrase...

40. The last person you kissed?  
A person I don't speak to anymore.

41. The last insult you were told?   
Ohhh this one really stung, because it just happened at work this week. "When did we get so boring?"

42. Your favourite candy flavour? 
Something tart.

43. Do you play an instrument?  
Nope. I took violin lessons as a child but none of it stuck.

44. Your favourite piece of jewellery?  
A gold ring that belonged to my mother.

45. The last sport session you practiced?  
Yoga (Vinyasa).

46. The latest song you sang? 
"XO", by Beyonce (I told you I was listening to the album a lot).

47. Your favourite catch phrase? 
"High-fiving a thousand angels" (I am a serious Liz Lemon fan).

48. Have you ever used it?  
Yes.

49. Your last evening out?  
Last night. Crawled to a bar after work (I work nights till midnight), stayed till they closed at 2am, continued sitting by the river and talking till 4am.

50. Who are you tagging?  
Don't wait to be asked, go for it! I promise it's fun.