Saturday, February 13, 2016

tropical travel heroes, and other random thoughts about packing

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On the 8th day of a trip to Sri Lanka in December, I discovered that I had picked up a new habit - if I wasn't planning to shower the next morning, I would sleep in the clothes I planned to wear the next day. It was delightfully slovenly, yet time-saving, and only possible because of the nature of the clothing I tend to pack when I'm travelling, especially when I am backpacking.

I was travelling with my travel hero items: drawstring-waist trousers in some kind of soft, wrinkle-resistant, breathable material, bonus if it contains a tiny bit of stretch. If you find something in a flattering cut that can be dressed up or down (and slept in!), stock up. They're more comfortable than jeans, essential if you're travelling somewhere conservative and roll up like a dream. Mine are inexpensive viscose ones from Forever 21 and Cotton On, and while I'm often tempted to grab more pairs, these ones have been virtually indestructible, which is horrible from a landfill point of view but awesome as a wardrobe staple. I can dress them up when need be with a pretty blouse, or sit comfortably on a hot, dusty bus for six hours in them. They work for most warm or moderate climates (late spring, summer, early fall) and wash and dry easily - a godsend in the tropics when you perspire a lot on the go - and are a great screen against mosquitoes and other bugs.

It's easy to let style take a backseat when you're wilting your way through the tropics, especially if you're not lounging by the beach and being chauffeured around. But after years of backpacking - shared bathrooms, bunk beds, et al - I've come to develop a uniform built around comfort and practicality, where I still feel like I've put together a decent outfit I'm willing to wear on the streets back home. These trousers are one example - I wear them on an everyday basis too, not just for travel.

Because these trousers also sit higher on the waist, I can wear t-shirts and tanks that are boxy and slightly cropped without showing skin. You may laugh at the idea that a few inches can make such a big difference, but cropped t-shirts truly let more breeze in, and the the whole effect is also a lot less "pajama party" than with longer t-shirts. I like white but heather grey is the most practical option - when you have to scrub out rings of dirt around the neckline of a white t-shirt, you'll wonder why anyone packs white things to travel in at all...

Alternatively, I also like Uniqlo's sleeveless linen shirts for a more pulled-together look. Linen shifts are also a great option - two of my favourites are from Muji. I like them knee-length for practicality, boxy fit for comfort, and with pockets, always so handy for stuffing a handkerchief in for mopping a sweaty face.

If I'm travelling somewhere with strict rules about covering up when entering a place of worship (where simply covering the shoulders isn't enough), I bring along a men's collar-less linen shirt I bought years ago, and wear it like a jacket when need be. It's handier than wrapping a scarf around me (which gets in the way when I'm taking photos) and I like the option of being able to take it off, instead of wearing long-sleeves all day.

On the beach, I don't care what I wear over my swimmers. I have two pairs of board shorts (plain, logo-free), and any t-shirt that's become too faded or pilled to wear out on the streets become my beach cover-up of the moment. I do have a very comfortable loose-knit pullover made of viscose from Cotton On because sometimes long sleeves in a quick-dry material is comforting when the wind is strong and you're still damp from the sea. I am bratty about putting on damp swimmers in the morning, so I always pack at least three sets of bikinis so that there's always a dry set to change into.

These items pretty much add up to a formula that works for almost all occasions - if I throw in a merino wool sweater, a parka, and a pair of jeans, I'm all set for cooler climes. Shoe-wise, I get by on almost all holidays with a pair of sneakers and a pair of flip-flops. I never take anything dressy unless I specifically planned something into my itinerary.

Other little things that help:
- Packing cubes like the kind by Eagle Creek or Muji - keeps things organised tidy. I only like the small ones though, because anything bigger encourages stuffing in more things, and plus the bigger ones don't work for backpacks.
- Cotton drawstring bags for shoes and dirty laundry (plus some plastic grocery bags for the truly dirty items). I use the ones that you sometimes get when you buy shoes. Or pillow cases.
- Lots of socks and undies. When it comes to these two things, more is more.
- Flip-flops. Useful in tropical downpours, on the beach, in dirty hostel rooms and bathrooms, or at a campsite after a day of hiking.

What are your holiday heroes?

Saturday, February 06, 2016

a bit of love for the basics

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If I had to pick a store where I've consistently left with wardrobe gems I refuse to let go of, it would be  Uniqlo, where I have consistently shopped for nearly a decade. I buy necessary foundations like socks (from the men's section), undies and bras, base layers like those Airism tanks with built in bras (so comfortable) or the odd Heat Tech. I buy "utility" clothing like shorts (denim and chinos), t-shirts, lightweight fleece and down pieces for winter/fall travel. I buy well-done basics that have a bit of flair: linen shirts (long-sleeved, sleeveless) and summer dresses (a flowing midi-length dress, boxy linen shirt dresses). In this universe of basics in every colour, there are even "special finds" - I'm in love with a French workman-style denim jacket from the new collab with Ines de la Fressange.

In a shop like Uniqlo - compared to say, Zara - I feel like I'm more likely to figure out my personal style. Like all trend-driven stores, Zara is the instantly gratifying conduit to what's happening now. You can come out looking like you've stepped out of a magazine. It's like a highly polished performance.

A shop like Uniqlo on the other hand is style evolution at a slower pace. There are nods to trends (like wide-leg trousers and culottes), and seasonally-refreshed colour palettes, but generally, one starts with the basics before the eye adjusts and starts to pick out pieces that elevate the foundations you've bought - a navy bomber here, a men's shirt for layering there. There's something very relaxing shopping in a place that doesn't sell a look, where it's not about the vision of a particular designer. I do love the inspiration that comes from fashion, but as a regular person with a life that demands practicality, my sensibilities are grounded by something much more down to earth.

This note of appreciation for Uniqlo stemmed from the realisation that I somehow did almost all my Lunar New Year shopping there, the above two items being prime examples. The dress on the left is an excellent weight linen that tempts me to buy one in every colour. The jacket is a little out of character for me seeing as I wear a lot of jeans and am not a fan of double-denim pairings. But they look great with dresses and are a great alternative to the cardigans I wear in the office. I recently did a spring clean where I had to discard some clothes that I loved but that had become too worn to keep wearing. But as in the years before, I didn't throw out anything from Uniqlo.

Meanwhile, the folks of Put This On had a good post recently on what makes street style interesting, in which they shared a nice quote from Styleforum owner Fok Yan Leung:

"The problem with “fashion people” who are often photographed is that it’s much too easy to fall into the trap of looking all uniquely the same. You shop in the same stores, you replenish your clothing regularly, you work the fashion circuit, and it would take an extraordinary sense of self to not be influenced by globalized fashion. That, or you react so strongly to or against that you become a caricature.

On the other hand, random people on the street who look cool probably took their time to purchase their clothing and want to look good, but they are not surrounded by “fashion, fashion, fashion” constantly. And their dress has to fit their lifestyles, which does not generally involve being around a bunch of fashion people all day. So you have someone who might find a uniform and wear it for 5 years (a lifetime in fashion). Or someone who buys several pieces every year and incorporates them into his wardrobe, thus evolving their own style, but at a much slower pace than fashion is changing."    


Sunday, January 17, 2016

lately...

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Photographer: Tim Hout via Apiece Apart

A few nights ago, I spent a fair bit of time window shopping online, and the following day, I spent a day out shopping where I relentlessly tried stuff. I bought nothing. I was feeling restless, style-wise, but I didn't actually want anything new. I was merely bored, and thankfully, impulse control prevailed.

One of the things I used to do was to collect images of inspiration, and post them on my Tumblr or here. I stopped doing that due to lack of time to read blogs and blog, but then I started wondering into shops more, often something trying stuff on just see how something looked on me. And this predictably, led to actual purchases.

At the end of the day, I'm drawn to simple pieces, usually based on classic shapes, and it's not impossible to update a wardrobe of such pieces to acknowledge the current - an unexpected shoe-pairing here, some layering there, taking up the hems of an old shirt or dress. Which means some of the things I buy don't end up getting much traction, because nice as they are, they never meant much to begin with. I could have done more with what I had.

So I started slowing down and lingering over fashion imagery I like again, in particular looking out for looks that remind me of things I already have, or pair similar pieces in unexpected ways. I started pulling out things I'd stopped wearing for a while and trying them on when I had the time - sometimes I think of new ways to wear them, sometimes they're fit differently from how I remembered. Even if there is nothing remarkable about an outfit - it doesn't take much imagine to put together a simple long-sleeved top, jeans and white trainers - I think seeing it done well on another person, beautifully photographed, is a nice reminder that gets me going: "Why am I over-thinking it when this works so well?"

The types of images I go for are ones featuring a style and colour palette similar to what I own, and I avoid things that I know have no place in my life: heels, formal clothing, winter-wear, to name a few. Yes, there is the chance that looking at such images prompts a craving to buy new things, but usually the urge passes.

"Shop your closet" has become a catchphrase, like "investment buys", but unlike the latter, I think it's immensely sensible, surprisingly fun and it actually saves you money. If you're at that stage of your life when you've spent at least a decade buying your own clothes, and you have a decent trove* of clothing to tap, you shouldn't let that go to waste.

*This is why I think decluttering is overrated. It's too easy to go overboard with the purging.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

blank canvas

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When my I finally accepted the fact that it was time to part ways with my filthy Converse trainers last year - the filthiness was tolerable to me, the rip on one side made it impractical - I got a new pair. I've always loved trainers, and my Chucks (classic low tops) had been a faithful companion for about seven good years. Getting a new pair reminded me of the freshness a new pair of white trainers added to clothing. My old ones had lots of character no doubt but a clean new pair took my same old outfits in a new direction - zippier, sporty but more pulled-together.

First, I bought a model hilariously named the Dainty (above). It is less chunky than the classic All-Stars and cut lower at the ankle, and something of a refreshing change for big-footed girls like me. I love it mainly for its off-white-and-navy colourway. I'd always gone for the off-white with blue and red trim, and losing the red seems to make for a more understated vibe. I loved and wore it frequently, especially on holidays.

This happy trainer update opened me to the idea of a more "formal" variation on the theme - plain white leather Jack Purcells. Jack Purcells (owned by Converse since the 1970s) look a little more grown-up and in white leather, they are very much in line with the currently fashionable Common Projects/Adidas Stan Smiths look.

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They're also more comfortable than classic Chucks (but I'm not comparing against the latest version with Nike sole technology) and the quality in my opinion is better than the Stan Smiths. I especially love how they look with dresses and tailored trousers and shirts for work.

Incidentally, January is always shoe-buying month for me - it coincides with the sales so it's good for snapping up a bargain. Also, I've always felt Chinese New Year (in Feb) calls for new shoes so unconsciously I start looking out.

It's also the time of the year where I delude myself into thinking maybe a sweater dress isn't all that impractical in Singapore (because so many are going on sweet discounts and look so awesome). But I've not made that mistake this year so far, and hope to keep it that away.

Another shopping resolution for the year: Rein in the tendency to shop my feelings. It's been going on for about 18 months now and it needs to stop.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

discoveries and disappointments

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All my essentials, between my feet, Kandy, Sri Lanka, Dec 2015

I stole this post title from a piece I read in the Financial Times in which their travel contributors gavetheir take on their travel discoveries and disappointments of the year. It seemed like a good way of summing up some of the thoughts that had been poking at me during my latest holiday in Sri Lanka (I had a GREAT time in Sri Lanka, which I will share about in more detail in a separate post).

One of the things that struck me as I was planning for my trip was how the term "Instagram-able" has become an acceptable way of describing a place or a thing. This annoyed me because it's so lazy - what does it even mean? It surprised me, that despite the proliferation of travel blogs, it isn't easy to find good ones offering practical advice, or providing a good sense of that person's experience on the ground.

I've found that it's better to choose words over photos when researching my destinations. Yes, photos play a role in piquing my interest, but they can be deceptive. A lot of places look more impressive than photos suggest. A lot of places are exactly what they are. And a lot of places are fairly underwhelming.

True, there aren't many real frontiers left to explore in this world, but that doesn't mean we can't preserve a little mystique by deliberately leaving some things to chance. Sometimes it's better to read about the place, and avoid looking at pictures. Sometimes it's better to just turn up and decide for yourself whether a place means something to you.

My best travel discoveries these year were awesome because they were actual discoveries for me. A museum I decided to pop into because a few years earlier, I had read a fascinating article about it. A town I had to visit because I'd always had a soft spot for the Byzantines. I went to all these places on instinct and it was ok if I didn't love them.

Even though I usually travel on a limiting schedule - I get 21 days of paid leave a year and I don't usually get to spend more than two weeks in a country - I've become more determined to be a little more spontaneous on holidays. For example, I don't always book all my accommodation in advance so that I can make last minute changes to my itinerary, and I don't force myself to do everything I planned on doing. This has meant some frightful hotel experiences but nothing I don't get over in about 30 minutes.

Onto the discoveries:

The mosaics of Ravenna, Italy
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The Byzantine-era mosaics I saw in Turkey left a big impression on me, and one of the souvenirs I picked up on that trip was a very good book simply titled "Byzantium", a concise and accessibly written history of the empire. The author, Judith Herrin, had mentioned some mosaics she had seen as a girl that left a deep impression, in Ravenna, a province in Italy. When a friend and I decided to visit Italy in April, I insisted we make a detour to Ravenna to see these mosaics.

As it turns out, the mosaics, in particular the ones at the mausoleum of Galla Placidia (above), are the perfect example of things that look better in real life. None of the few pictures I saw before I got there prepared me for what I saw. None of the photos I took captured the way the tiny, gem-like tiles glittered in the light, the way they seem to suspend time. Over a thousand years old - built in the fifth century - they felt as alive as the day they were finished. In the nearby town of Lido di Classe was my favourite accommodation of the whole trip, Ca' Barbona - the owners are friendly, the rooms are cozy and pretty, and the food will warm your heart and stomach. It was the epitome of the type of bed and breakfast I didn't know still existed.

The Palazzo Doria-Pamphilj in Rome, Italy
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I read this Vanity Fair story some years ago, so it was with some amusement when my friend and I, while strolling down Via del Corso in search of shopping (I admit it, I was looking for & Other Stories), saw a sign for the palazzo. It is pricey to enter, the way private museums usually are. And the art collection, while boasting some very fine pieces, might be best described as the "B-side" of an artist's portfolio - less popular, or actually just not as good. But the family, a very aristocratic one, has had a bit of drama in recent years, which adds a certain intrigue to the visit - particularly as the audio guide is narrated by one of the heirs. It's interesting because beyond the art, the visit gives you an idea of what it's like to be royalty in Italy, and what might simply be a series of sumptuously decorated state rooms take one a liveliness when you realise people actually still live there. I spied a bottle of shampoo stashed behind a shelf in the marbled bathroom. It could be a clever prop, but it made all the difference between a relic and a living space.

Lido di Venice, Italy
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Venice is beautiful, and it is possible, despite the crowds, to walk into an alley and feel transported. But I needed a break from all the grandeur, and so I took the water taxi to Lido di Venezia, another island. Lido is touristy in its own right - it's wide, flat sandy beaches have attracted no less by Lord Byron himself, while September brings celebrities for the Venice Film Festival. But when we visited in April, the sunny beaches were relatively quiet and perfect for picnics. Beautiful Art Deco buildings sit next to the more pedestrian modern residential buildings, and the whole place has an assuming, relaxed vibe. I have never been to Miami but I imagine Lido looks like the low-key, European version.

The national parks of Sri Lanka
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Poring over a map of Sri Lanka, I'd noticed a large number of national parks, but it took actually being there for me to appreciate the amazing biodiversity of the country. In the north, the famous Sigiriya rock is surrounded by quite a few national parks, and the lush, undulating forest beneath your feet is breathtaking. Above is Horton Plains National Park, high up on a plateau in hilly tea country. While World's End, a look-out point, is its top-billed attraction, I recommend spending more time exploring its less tread-upon trails. Clocked in mist, it is otherworldly in its beauty - winding rivers, waterfalls, rolling grasslands (I preferred the open trails to walking under the cover of the cloud forest) - and boasts Sri Lanka's second- and third-highest peaks, both fairly easy climbs. The downside is the considerable cost of hiring a driver to bring you there - and the longer you stay the more it will cost you. But it's easy enough to make friends with fellow guests at your guesthouse (most people staying in the nearby town of Nuwara Eliya are there for Horton Plains).

And the disappointments:
- Actually, this one is simple: anywhere and anything that has become an Instagram cliche

Hope 2015 has been kind to everyone, and here's to more adventure in 2016.

Monday, November 02, 2015

rinjani

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Rinjani, on the island of Lombok, Indonesia, needs no introduction for anyone with the slightest bit of interest in doing something outdoorsy with travelling in Southeast Asia. After Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia, it is probably one of the most climbed mountains among travellers, and there is no lack of information on the practicalities of doing a trek there. A lot of Singaporeans go, because it's a short flight away, and the climb, while tough, doesn't require technical equipment or skills. Good for city dwellers like us.

I was travelling in Europe in April when a friend texted me and invited me along, and I agreed - too quickly, on hindsight. About a month before the trip, I looked it up, and found a disturbing number of blog posts by climbers that included the words "hardest thing I've ever done".

Like I said, Rinjani isn't technically challenging, And yet, at 3,726m, Rinjani was a tougher climb than Kinabalu (4,095m), and yes, is probably one of the hardest physical things I've ever done. You will look down at what seems like a near-vertical "slope" consisting entirely of sharp rocks and think, "Is this where I die?" You will look up at what seems like a never-ending, steep slope of gravel and think, "I can see the sunrise from here, thanks". You will force yourself to go on because you don't want to be the only one in the group to not finish, and then feel ashamed at being so shallow and pointlessly competitive. And after the climb, you will spend a few days flinching every time you see a flight of stairs. Rinjani is not something to attempt without some physical and mental conditioning.

But the beauty of the place is worth every iota of pain. You start off (in my case, from Senaru) in bright sunshine, under a sky so blue and clear, that you can't stop smiling. June is the dry season, and the air is crisp and cool. There is almost no shade at the beginning and the sun is relentless but you've got your hat on, and Rinjani looks deceptively benign, welcoming even. How bad can it be?

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The lower part of the mountain is a picturesque savannah, all rolling grasslands catching shafts of light and shadows cast by the fast-moving clouds. It is hypnotically beautiful, and also the only part of the trek that can be considered a cake walk. The sun vanishes behind the rolling mists and it becomes pleasantly cool. When you stop for lunch, you will feel victorious, and even kind of smug for managing rather well so far. Silly me.

Post-lunch, the pace picks up considerably. The incline is steep, and although the leg muscles are working fine, you start to feel a little out of breath and keeping up conversation becomes challenging at times. Entering the forest, it becomes considerably chiller. Looking behind you is a bad idea if heights bother you.

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After a three-hour slog, you arrive at base camp and find that your porters have everything all nicely set up, and they've even got a kettle going to hand you a hot drink right away. I should say at this point that if you engage a trekking agency to guide you, you will never go hungry and never have to deal with tedious things like pitching tents, starting fires, and digging your own toilets. While I don't mind doing any of those things on flat ground, I didn't think I was fit enough to carry my own tent, drinking water and food up a mountain, so no regrets taking the pampered route this time. We went with the Rinjani Trekking Club, and they were excellent - very conscientious about not leaving trash behind, and very professional. Just be sure to get the right one since there a few copy cat agencies trying to piggyback on their good reputation (http://www.rinjanitrekclub.com/).

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We went to bed around 8am, and woke up to start the climb at around 1.30am, under moonlight so bright I didn't use my head lamp or torch at all (it was the full moon). I have few photos at this point because a) it was cold; and b) the physical difficulty of the climb at this point made the whole of yesterday seem like a casual stroll in the park.

It's one thing to read about how it's all "take one step up and slide two steps back", and I've actually had some experience with this before climbing other volcanoes. To actually climb like this for some four hours was a whole different story. Only one of us actually made it within 4 hours, to sit on the summit with dozens of other people to catch the sun creeping up over the horizon. Quite a few climbers gave up and simply took in the view on the narrow, windy ridge that leads to the top, which is pretty spectacular.

I made it one whole hour after the fastest climber in our group, and by then, the sun was up. The upside is that we had the summit all to ourselves, as other climbers had already descended. It's not a very big space so it was quite the luxury, lying back, munching on apples.

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The descent was GREAT. It's sort of like skiing on gravel, and except for the need to sit down and tip the loose rock out of my shoes from time to time, and the blazing sun (do not forget the sun hat), it was basically the reward for the hellish climb up.

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At some point I gave up on taking photos, because  I was way too tired. By the end of the third day, when we had left the lake, returned to the bottom of the mountain, and walked back to the guesthouse where we had left our non-essential luggage, my legs were stiff like two pieces of wood, and aching so much that sitting down on the toilet without screaming felt like an achievement.

On hindsight, I wished we took a longer trip - we did it in three days, two nights - and spent a couple more nights in Lombok, which, like Bali, has staggeringly beautiful coasts and beaches. It is also way less touristy than Bali and much quieter, even in the towns that cater to tourists, like Senggigi. Rinjani is an intense experience, and hopping on a flight home a day after getting our feet back on firm ground didn't quite seem like the right way to end it.

But now, looking back, enough time has passed for me to remember the serenity, rather than the slog of the climb. We went during peak climbing season, and yet it was possible to find myself completely alone at some points, listening to the rustling grass, the whisper of the mists, the crunch of sand and dirt underfoot.

I was worried when I first heard just how tough the climb was going to be, but this trip taught me the value of doing things that scares me a little. As far as I can tell, it's always worth it when you get to the other side.

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If you go:
- Ask your trekking guide about their trash practices. And bring your own stash of trash bags for your own bits of rubbish to bring it down with you. The trash problem on Rinjani is not pretty.
- My trekking agency provide plenty of fresh fruit, but veggies is limited to cabbage, tomatoes (not a veggie I know) and carrots, often cooked in a far more oily manner than I would like. Also, the snacks are usually sugary biscuits or bananas. I like all these things but I was relieved to have my own stash of nuts and dried fruit to snack on from time to time.
- Don't make the mistake of thinking it can't be all that cold because it's the tropics. It gets very cold at night and the mists leave a damp chill in the air, which made it rather clammy in the tents. The base camp and summit climb is also largely exposed to constant wind, which is sometimes strong enough for guides to call off climbs. I recommend a good fleece and shell at minimum, and how many base layers you need to keep cozy.
- Wear a beanie for the summit climb but pack a sunhat and sunblock for the way down! There is no hiding from the sun.
- We camped at 2,600m, which didn't seem high enough for altitude sickness to be a problem, but I woke up that first night feeling giddy and nauseous. It passed after I popped a pill for altitude sickness. I felt the same way when I trekked in Nepal and although I never went higher than 3,200m so I think I'm a little more sensitive to this than most. Something to note, if you're the same.

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Saturday, October 03, 2015

on trends

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I once wrote that avoiding extremes in clothing was a good way to avoid ending up clothes that date too much - like extreme flares on a trouser, for example.

I am eating my words now, for I have jumped on the wide-leg trouser bandwagon. I blame those amazing Jesse Kamm trousers that are way out of my budget - certainly it was too expensive to ship to Singapore and risk it fitting poorly. They're like JNCOs, crossed with Annie Hall cool, and extremely adorable. But trousers are things I wouldn't buy without trying on.

The budget alternative appeared at Zara - always reliable for a trendy knock-off or two. They were surprisingly flattering and it was hard to pass up something gave such a good jolt to my wardrobe. There's a 70s' vibe to the style but what makes them appealing to me (as opposed to the bell-bottoms and flares of the era) is the voluminous leg and cropped length - my favourite length where trousers are concerned. The length worth for my lifestyle (flats-dominated), flatters my proportions, and are surprisingly versatile across a variety of cuts. I caved.

This whole affair got me thinking about trends, and brought me back to this great interview with Sally Singer in Paper magazine, where she noted that fashion was about the zeitgeist and how people don't wear clothes in isolation. This is certainly true for me, as someone interested in fashion and personal style. For me, clothing is socio-emotional. I connect with it at a level that's part nostalgic, part aspirational and part tribal, and even though I dress to please myself, some part of it has to do with what I'm surrounded by. I didn't agree with everything she said, but I particularly liked this quote:

"People who are interested in style -- designers, stylists or the girl or boy on the street -- get an idea and fixate on it, and for their whole lives, that's their ideal....Yet every season, there's a way to connect your personal aesthetic with something new. You intuitively think, 'I want something new that updates who I am, but at the end of the day I'm still myself'."

There have been trends in recent years that I've embraced - the return of a higher waist for trousers, for one,  the midi-length is another. I'm not sure where they'll end up relative to my "forever" list (skinny jeans, converses, white t-shirts, loose fit blue shirts, navy cardigans). But I'm enjoying pulling things together from everywhere,  while feeling like they make sense.

Speaking of fashion and the zeitgeist, this is a tremendous take on the Public School debut collection for DKNY. I agreed with every last word. Sample para:

"Throughout the ’90s DKNY dominated the market appealing to a younger, urban-oriented consumer who, though not shopping designer collections, could afford to spend a bit more to buy a nicely done jacket, in black crepe for the town, in tweed for the country. Or perhaps pick up an inventively cut but wholly appropriate black dress, prime for a gallery opening or a good day at the office. Throughout the ‘90s, not unlike the television show Friends which seemed to validate the urban lifestyle DKNY sold, it reigned supreme."

DKNY is one of those brands that defined an era for me, and I hope Public School can get past its unpromising start and return it to its heyday.