Fall Trends

black floral dress black pants black heels by 14 shades of grey

I’m not a trend follower by any mean. Most of the current trends (crop top, off-the-shoulder, etc.) don’t work on me, and I tend to go for the more classic look anyway. That being said, I just discovered that dress over pants is the latest trend (never mind that Vietnamese women have been wearing that combo as our traditional costume for nearly a century), I’m all over that. It’s comfy, it can be dressed up or down, and best of all it allows me to wear dresses that are too short or too frilly for work – like this one. I’m not brave enough to try a different kind of pants other than these cropped black ones, but I’m happy to experiment (maybe with skinny jeans next?)

Apparently dark floral print is a trend this fall too, so as far as I know this is the most on-trend outfit I’ve ever worn😛

black floral dress black pants by 14 shades of greyblack floral dress black pants black heels by 14 shades of grey

Dress: Forever21, Pants: thrifted, Belt & Shoes: local shops

The Black Cat

black tee mustard jeans red heels by 14 shades of grey

Jen may have picked this week’s SIA, ThĂ©ophile Steinlen’s “Le Chat Noir“, for its fall colors, but I couldn’t go with fall in my outfit because fall is still a long way off for us (give it another month or so). So I chose my black t-shirt, mustard jeans, and red shoes instead. The mustard yellow of my jeans is darker than the yellow in the print, and my shoes are the wrong shade of red, but they would have to do. And hey, at least I could find an excuse to wear my cat brooch!

Remember to stop by Jen’s blog tomorrow for the full SIA round-up!

black tee mustard jeans by 14 shades of grey

mustard jeans red heels by 14 shades of greyblack tee cat brooch by 14 shades of grey

T-shirt: Target, Jeans: Cache Cache, Shoes: Zara, Brooch: Singapore gift shop

The Netherlands Diary #6: Deventer & Utrecht

In my post about the Amsterdam Gay Pride Parade, I said there were two reasons I stayed an extra week in the Netherlands. One was the Parade itself, and the other was a book fair held on the first Sunday of August in Deventer, a town in central Netherlands. It is said to be the biggest book fair in Europe, with 6 km (!!!) of stalls winding all through the Old Town and along its riverbank. I knew I couldn’t pass up such a chance. So on Sunday, I got up early and took the train to Deventer (it takes 1.5 hours from Amsterdam, and the fair started at 9:30).

If you ask me what Deventer is like as a town, I wouldn’t be able to answer. As I left the train station, I followed the signs (and the crowd) to the main square, where the stalls began, and I didn’t see anything else after that. It was all books, books, books as far as the eyes could see. It was like Heaven. Of course, most of the books are in Dutch, but just basking in that atmosphere is exciting enough. After wandering around a bit to take it all in, I did find some stalls specializing in English books and spent the rest of the morning browsing through them.

I have died and gone to Heaven

It was fun to people-watch too (I really liked that dress)

Because of my luggage weight, I had to limit myself to 5 books. I ended up getting just three, but for less than 10 euros, I’m happy with my haul.

Book haul!

I couldn’t walk through all 6km of stalls, of course. By the early afternoon, my legs were screaming, so after a quick lunch, I got on the train again and headed toward Utrecht – it was on the way back to Amsterdam, and it was a town I’m interested in.

I didn’t spend too much time at Utrecht (mostly because I was exhausted), but I liked what I saw. I walked along the canals, visited the central museum, and finally settled down for a cup of delicious hot chocolate at the museum cafe. Utrecht has more of a scholarly air than other Dutch towns I’ve visited, and I also like that the canals there have stairs leading down from the streets, so you can walk along them. And of course, its most famous creation, Miffy (or Nijntje, as she’s known in Dutch), is everywhere.

The canals of Utrecht

Two views of the Dom Tower

The Dom Cathedral’s garden

And with that, my absolutely wonderful trip was over. It has reawakened the wanderlust in me, and now I can’t wait to plan my next trip. Where should I go?

The Netherlands Diary #5: Amsterdam Gay Pride Parade

There are two reasons I stayed in the Netherlands an extra week after our Iceland trip, and one of them is the Gay Pride Canal Parade in August. I’ve never seen a gay pride parade before, and since the Amsterdam parade is unique in that it is held on the canals, I knew I had to check it out.

On that day, my friend from The Hague also came up for the festivities, so we met her at the Central Station and walked to the start of the parade – at Westerkerk, near Anne Frank’s House. The parade was scheduled to start at 1:30 PM, but at 11 AM, the station and the streets were already thronged with people dressed up in all sorts of colorful and outrageous costumes. The closer we got to Westerkerk, the thicker and noisier the crowd got – there were party boats all along the canals blasting music at full volume. It was a bit stressful, but oddly exciting at the same time.

By the time we got to Westerkerk, the line along the canal was at least three-deep, and there was absolutely no room left on the bridges – since those are the best spots for photos. So we wandered down the canal, in the same direction as the parade, until finally I found an empty spot between two houseboats. It wasn’t ideal, but at least it was clear and we could watch the parade. It was truly an explosion of colors and sounds. There were all sorts of boats from all sorts of organizations, but my favorite has to be the senior citizens’ – their slogan is “Ou(d)t and Proud” (“oud” means “old” in Dutch). That’s clever.

Even this cutie is getting in the spirit of things

After an hour, though, we were beginning to get sensory-overloaded, so we left for the quieter side streets and stopped at a cafĂ© for some much-needed refueling. After that, we just wandered in the general direction of the parade, until we ended up at its conclusion at Rembrandtplein, on the other side of the old town. There was a huge street party nearby, but we’re not exactly party girls, so we decided to call it a day and went home.

I was exhausted from all the noises and the sights, but still, I had a great time – I may be a hardcore introvert, but sometimes it’s fun to go outside of my comfort zone and join a huge celebration like this. This is Amsterdam at its wildest, and I’m glad I got to see it.

The Netherlands Diary #4: Amsterdam

After 10 days in the Netherlands, I finally arrived in Amsterdam. Knowing its reputation as the party center of Europe, especially in the weeks leading up to the Gay Pride Parade, I was a bit apprehensive at what I was going to find. To my great relief, it’s not much different from the other Dutch small towns I’ve visited. Sure, it’s bigger, there are more tourists, and there’s the constant smell of weed in the air, but other than that, I found the same pretty canals, the same cute crooked houses, and quiet streets if you know where to look for them (hint hint: the Jordaan neighborhood. Seriously. Just five minutes up the canal from Anne Frank’s House, and the crowds melted away. Plus CafĂ© Winkle 43 with their famous apple pie is right there.)

A corner of Jordaan

Inside Winkel 43 and a slice of their heavenly apple pie

I didn’t do a lot of the touristy things in Amsterdam – I didn’t take a boat tour, I didn’t rent a bike (my friends, whom I stayed with, live in the south end of town so I had to take the metro into town center), I didn’t go to the Red Light District (not at night anyway) and I didn’t buy any weed from a coffee shop. I didn’t even go to Anne Frank’s House! I know, it’s like going to Paris and skip the Eiffel Tower, but honestly, it was always insanely crowded, and even with my Museumkaart, I would have to wait in line for 45 minutes to an hour. I’m OK with that choice.

View from the top of the Amsterdam central library

And of course, there are bikes everywhere

Even dogs ride bikes

A vintage car and the headquarters of the CIA (Comics Import Amsterdam)

Making friends with the local feline population, as usual

What I did do is walking along the canals taking in the sights, and going to all of the museums. I went to the big ones like Rijkmuseum (I spent an entire a day there), Van Gogh Museum, and Rembrandt House, but the pleasant surprise was the National Maritime Museum. It’s free with my Museumkaart, and it was rainy that day, so I figured, what the hell, let’s check it out. It has a lot of great history, you get to climb on a real ship, and my favorite is the navigation room, where all the devices used for navigation back in the day are laid out under a starry ceiling. It was a great way to spend a morning.

It was the hottest day in the Netherlands, so everybody was cooling off in the pool in front of Rijkmuseum

The corridor leading up to The Night’s Watch, and a SIA classic – The Milkmaid

The dollhouse that inspired “The Miniaturist

I want that comb… and that library

The Royal Palace (a tour inside is free with the Museumkaart as well)

The ceiling of the National Maritime Museum

The navigation room – it looks like the inside of the TARDIS!

After coming back from Iceland, I had a week left, so that time I spent at open-air markets like the Waterlooplein Flea Market, Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market), and Albert Cuypmarkt, to shop for gifts. True, these markets may be geared toward tourists with lots of stalls selling knickknacks and souvenirs, but I wasn’t that particular about buying unique gifts (I ended up getting a scarf for my mom, a bulb of amaryllis for my dad, and stroopwafels for everybody else) so I really liked them. Plus it was fun just to people-watch.

It was also the week of my birthday, so I dropped into a few vintage shops to find something for myself. I didn’t get a picture of the dress I bought, but you’ll see it on the blog soon enough.

Bloemenmarkt and Albert Cuypmarkt

The two things I didn’t get – the dress is too expensive, and the skirt has slits up way too high

I still have one more post about Amsterdam, but my impression of the city was a fun, relaxing, quirky place. It may be a bit too outgoing for my taste, but there’s definitely more to it than just sex, drugs, and parties!


white button-up navy jeans brown oxfords by 14 shades of grey

This outfit is super simple and normally I wouldn’t bother blogging it, but I just wanted to show off one of the things I bought from the flea market in The Hague – this eyeglass brooch. There were a lot of pretty brooches there, and I would’ve gladly bought them all, but they were so expensive (well, expensive for me. I limited myself to just 20 euros). In the end, I managed to find a tray filled with odds and ends, dug through it and picked out about four or five brooches, before narrowing it down to just two (again, 20 euros limit). Yeah, I wish I could’ve bought more, but I’m happy with my purchase.

One thing, though: I couldn’t find any enameled flower brooches like the ones that I often wear – and would usually find at the flea markets or thrift stores in the US. I wonder, did they not make them in Europe?

white button-up navy jeans by 14 shades of greywhite button-up navy jeans brown oxfords by 14 shades of grey

white button-up eyeglass brooch by 14 shades of grey

Shirt: Topshop, Jeans: H&M, Oxfords: Vagabond

SIA Inspiration: ThĂ©ophile Steinlen 2.0

This week’s inspiration for SIA, courtesy of Jen, is another iconic poster – “Le Chat Noir” by ThĂ©ophile Steinlen:

We’ve featured another of Steinlen’s cat paintings (“Cat on a Chair“) on SIA before. This time, Jen picked this poster for its fall-appropriate colors, and also because she has a print of it framed in her house. Anything cat-related is OK by me, so I’m looking forward to this. Remember to send your outfit to Jen (librarianforlifestyle@gmail.com) by next Monday, September 19th. Enjoy!