It List: Blissful Bags

Thomas Wylde Bag in White

If there’s one fashion item that I’d have to invest on, it would be delectable Italian-leather made bags. A popular guilty pleasure but you know it’s worth every penny. Aside from shoes, it’s the one thing that could make or break an outfit or better yet, exist on its own as a fashion statement. Ladies, you’ve got to agree, everyone’s been a bagaholic once in they’re life! On this week’s IT LIST, see my must have bag list!

BAGAHOLIC ESSENTIALS

Go ahead, cop one of your own– it will be our little secret! 🙂

Fashionable Woman in Aviators


See more on how I styled my recent favorite studded bag in
white is from Thomas Wylde on this post!


The Le Tote Subscription – Totes Worth It.

Work From Home

When I hear kids using the word “totes” instead of “totally” I can almost feel my high school English teacher sighing loudly and muttering “how much time does that abbreviation even save you?”

So when I first overheard a friend singing the praises of Le Tote Subscription, I was momentarily worried that this was some variation on the slang.  As it turns out, Le Tote is destined to stick around, unlike a passing verbal phrase.

Le Tote Heidi Nazarudin

Basically Le Tote sends 3 pieces of clothing and 2 accessories in each delivery and you can keep what you like for as long as you like and send back what you don’t.   If you want to own something outright they’ll just charge you a discounted price.  It’s like having your own personal shopper, deliveryman and assistant to return things for you.  All for $59 monthly price!

Le Tote Sweater

 

Le Tote Accessories
Work From Home Office

Fortunately Le Tote has done a better job picking than I have in the past.  Of course they see me for who I really am, not a 5′ 10″ , size 0 and blonde. ( Note to self: Do not buy something just because Gigi Hadid looks fabulous in it … because Gigi Hadid looks fabulous in anything.)

Well…  it could happen – I’m just one hair-dye job and a couple of pilates sessions away.  Right?

Heidi Nazarudin for Le Tote

Some Le Tote Member Perks

Brands: Vince Camuto, Sam Edelman, Kate Spade, French Connection, House of Harlow, BB Dakota, BCBGeneration, Max Studio, Levi’s, Free People, Rebecca Minkoff and more.


Photographed by the lovely Sabrina Hill. Makeup and Hair by the talented team at StyleBee 


How To Develop Your Signature Beauty Look

Spring Portrait Beauty Shot in Garden

I AM UNIQUE!

Having a signature look is what defines you, It represents your own personal style and It is the best start for your fun style journey.

Heidi Nazaurdin at The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur
Orchids at The Majestic Hotel
The Majestic Hotel Garden High Tea Setting

…how can I be unique?

Being unique doesn’t mean you have to be bold and different in every way. Unique means that you’ll be able to stand out, let’s put it this way you’re at a tea party and when you entered the room a lady from the corner table is also wearing the same turquoise skirt that you have on. How do you stand out girl?

Heidi Nazarudin wears FIZIWOO
Pink Satin Gown by FIZIWOO

 

Spring Floral Beauty Closeup
Purple Orchids
Garden Tea Party

 

What’s your signature beauty look?


This beautiful tea time garden setting was taken at The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur

Photography by Mandy Aileen | Gorgeous Pink Gown Designed by FIZIWOO

Makeup by Anna Sherie


In Bloom With Banana Republic

Floral Suit By Banana Republic

Like many women, I juggle a number of lives every day.  I can go from a corporate business meeting to a casual lunch to running errands and then a dressy event in the evening. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the clothing budget to have a different ensemble for every facet of my life.

This is where having a split personality comes in handy.  I look for pieces that can play as many roles in my wardrobe as I have to in my life.  And that doesn’t just mean a pair of black pants or navy blazer that goes with everything.

Floral_Blazer
Floral Print Suit By Banana Republic
White Strappy Heels

This year floral is in fashion.  And I live in drought-ridden California where only the fake-grass is still green.  So I’ll take flowers wherever I can get them.  Which is why I gravitated to this amazing print at Banana Republic.  Look how versatile it actually is.

Here I paired the blazer with the pants but added their monotone (but with a great silver sheen) sweater. The button-up collared shirt underneath really pulls the outfit together as a formal suit.

Later I removed the blazer and shirt, leaving just the sweater and crop pants. It’s casual, sporty and fun.

Banana Republic Floral Pants
Floral Slacks
White Leather Tote

I wore the same earrings with both outfits (“cat’s eye” stones!  Need I say more?  They had me at “cat.”)  Changing up my hairstyle took the looks from reserved to relaxed.

Banana Republic Cat Eye Earrings

I find it ironic that the store is called “Banana Republic” which was a phrased originally used to refer to a country that relies on only one exported crop to survive.  The actual Banana Republic store has such a wide range of attire and their pieces can be used in so many different ways. That’s not one crop – that’s the entire produce department!

OK, maybe I don’t technically have a split personality, but I am starting to sound bananas…

Heidi Nazarudin for Banana Republic

Shot on location at the beautiful Culver Hotel Los Angeles
Photographer Sabrina Hill.
Makeup and Hair by the talented team at StyleBee 
What’s your favorite Banana Republic piece?


FINALLY – Runway Looks We Can Wear To The Office

Looks From The Banana Republic NYFW 2016 presentation:

Form should always follow function and Banana Republic holds true to this mantra by presenting us with perfectly tailored ready to wear pieces during New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2016. From sleek trousers to cashmere sweaters, tailored coats, bright blazers and textured turtlenecks, their array of colorful clothes paired with bold patterns and textures definitely leave more than just a lasting impression– it is the must-have RTW collection of the season!

Here’s my favorite looks that would be perfect outfits for work from Banana Republic’s NYFW Fall/Winter 2016 Collection :

1. This chic yet comfortable turtleneck poncho layered onto a black and white striped long-sleeved top and paired with cigarette pants is perfect for the smart contemporary office. A classic striped clutch and black heels completes the look. Saunter into work on  Monday looking like this and its a work-week slam dunk.

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2. For a classic yet modern office look I love the blues in this outfit. The deep sapphire blue blazer looks amazing with other shades of blue here, or with other neutrals you would likely have in your closet. And if you can wear it with almost anything else in your wardrobe, isn’t that an investment?

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3. Feeling a little femme fatale-ish? 50 Shades of Grey is not exactly office appropriate but wearing different shades of this classic neutral is always a good idea. Banana Republic gives us ample options  from the deepest charcoals to the lightest smokey shades. I especially love the fact that because of grey’s muted tones here, The fur cardigan, leather gloves and pointed clogs in black gives the look just enough edge.

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4. Almost the weekend, but you’re filled with meetings? Well secretly enjoy making an entrance to your appointments with chic ensembles like the ones below. The best thing is they look modern, yet still classically tailored that they would last you a few seasons. That is if Banana Republic doesn’t come up with yet more gorgeous coats for their next FW season.

Banana-Republic-The-Ambitionista-NYFW-Fall-Winter-2016-Heidi-Nazarudin

5. Casual Fridays is finally here! Add some color to celebrate – I LOVE the mustard yellow blazer and distressed boyfriend jeans and lets not even talk about that brown leather jacket in the background.

Banana-Republic-The-Ambitionista-NYFW-Fall-Winter-2016-Heidi-Nazarudin-Casual-Friday

So the question is – should I switch my king-size bed for a twin bed in my bedroom so
I can have more space for all this fabulousness?

PS: Thank you Gina Doost for attending the NYFW Banana Republic FW16 show for me.


Flytographer – A Fashion Blogger’s New Best Friend

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Photos are important.  When you’re sharing moments with somebody or looking back on your life when you’re old and grey (but still fabulous), you’re going to want photos to help you relive those once in a lifetime opportunities.  In this day and age, selfies are all the rage.

In fact teens seem to think they are the only way to take a photo.  But let’s get real, the most beautiful photos show off your gorgeous outfits and stunning surroundings and you can’t take that photo yourself. Sometimes, selfies just don’t cut it.

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When you travel, you want to freeze the moment and carry it with you when you go home.  If you are travelling alone it is especially difficult to capture those special moments you may never experience again.  And even if you are travelling with your partner or your BFF, you still want somebody else snapping the photos so that you can both be in the frame.

Introducing Flytographer: it’s a company that specializes in capturing those special memories.  It comes in handy on vacations with many photo ops, special events, or capturing a once in a lifetime moment (like a proposal!) The company boasts 280 handpicked photographers across the world. They make it easy to find someone talented who you can trust.

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I recently had the opportunity to check out Flytographer and the experience blew me away.  It was easy and left me very satisfied.  I was visiting NYC and wanted some beautiful shots of me in Battery Park.

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I filled in a simple form and the concierge quickly recommended a photographer.  I had the chance to peruse her portfolio in advance to make sure her style and my own matched.  I was lucky enough to be paired with the lovely Sam. She knew the city well and was extremely talented and professional.  She shot me in Battery Park and also took some in my hotel room.

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I was so pleased with the service (and it’s reasonable price) that I used it again in Singapore on my next solo trip!  Again, I was left satisfied and with beautiful photos.  

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Let’s get real: just because selfies are on trend doesn’t mean you want them to be your only documentation of an amazing trip.  For a reasonable price, you can preserve priceless memories and that’s something you’ll never regret.

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All Photos c/o Flytographer


Ti Amo Italy

Italy calls to me again and again.  And I barely speak the language!  I can say “Dove il negozio di scarpe più vicino?” (Where is the nearest shoe store?) but that’s pretty much it.  So, let’s be honest, it’s the clothes, the food and wine, and the beautiful hotels and scenery that draw me back.  

Te Amo_Pinterest

But I’m not the only one seduced.  The Italian women here seem born to seduce.  How they ignore the cobblestones and strut around in heels all year round I’ll never understand. I love how a lot of them understands that feminine allure does not mean showing a lot of skin, but wearing clothes that are well-tailored to accentuate one’s best assets.

And that is why Italian designers are often the best women’s clothing designers.  So you are technically telling the truth if you declare you’re spending the day looking at Italian art and architecture, but really plan on shopping. From A to Z:  Armani to (Giuseppe) Zanotti.

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If you love fashion and adore Italian labels as much as I do, I really recommend either a) packing very little so you have enough room for all the beautiful clothes you’ll inadvertently end up buying or b) making sure your other half packs very little so that he has enough room for all the beautiful clothes you’ll inadvertently end up buying . I am not divulging which option I took. (Look, I was also willing to buy a new set of luggage with which to ship the purchases home, so really, he brought it on himself.)

Don’t be intimidated by designer prices here.  Remember the saying:  When in Rome do as the Romans.  In other words, if you go to outlets and consignment stores in Italy, you’ll find Italian brands everywhere. At a second-hand store in the States, those Gucci or Prada bags might be harder to find and cost a fortune, but in Italy they are ubiquitous. And even at a typical store, prices for Italian designer items are significantly cheaper in Italy than they are in the US or Asia.

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Here are some basic tips for shopping throughout Italy:

  1. In general, the best clothes shopping happens in northern Italy, while the best leather goods can be found in the center of Italy. The best designer outlet mall in the whole of Italy is The Mall, in Florence. I’ll write more about this outlet in my upcoming post about Florence

  1. Bargaining is allowed within reason. Not in name-brand r or large department stores, but in smaller shops and markets.  Especially if you are buying more than one thing or if paying in cash.

  1. If you spend more than 155 Euros in a store, you can often obtain a tax (aka IVA) refund. If not, you must save your receipt (not just the credit card receipt – the full receipt indicating your purchases) and then you’ll need to apply for your refund at the airport, or other such refund points around Italy.  Keep in mind you need to have all tags and soft packaging intact ( i.e garment bags , but shoe boxes can be discarded).  Always bring a copy of your passport, actual passport or valid ID. I forgot my ID – twice! – and had to rely on my social media presence to vouch for me.  Who knew Instagram is a valid form of ID?  It’s actually not (yet!) so I don’t recommend this awkward process, but I did get lucky both times. More info coming soon.

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  1. Always get a receipt for purchases (even that to-go latte!) because it’s the law. You must carry your receipts if you’re taking the purchase more than 200 meters away from the storefront.  And because it’s the law for the merchants as well, you’ll find them pushing the receipt on you even if you’re used to just shrugging it off in the U.S.

  1. If you’re buying some beautiful Murano glass (or anything breakable) have the store ship it to your home.  Yes, it costs slightly more, but you don’t want to chance it breaking during the rest of your trip, or on the flight home.  And be sure to take a photo of it before they pack it up for shipping.  That way you have proof for any insurance claim you might need to make if it doesn’t make it home in one piece.  (Years ago my parents purchased a custom, very expensive ceramic piece that they had shipped home.  It arrived shattered.  Completely shattered.  They shipped the pieces back and not long after it was returned in one piece.  The store claimed they had it repaired but we’ve never been able to see one repair indication so we suspect they just had a new one crafted.)

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  1. This is Europe– often stores close for one or two hours at lunchtime and their hours of operation vary from summer to winter time. And many shops don’t open until 3pm on Mondays or just aren’t open at all that day. Museums are usually closed on Mondays (and that includes the gift shops!)

  1. Refunds are not common. They will generally replace a damaged item or offer store credit, but don’t expect Nordstrom’s “we give you your money back, no questions asked” type of service.

  1. We have all heard of Giorgio Armani, Max Mara or Fendibut there are numerous, lesser known Italian designers who you should look out for.  Check out Gabriele Colangelo who used to work for Cavalli but recently began his own eponymous brand.  Also, Arthur Arbesser, another up and comer.  Be sure to Italy’s version of Nordstrom which is La Rinascente.  You’ll find amazing brands at equally amazing prices.  La Perla bras for $20-30?  You’re speaking my language.  The Elizabeth Spignoli brand (they are in all major cities)  is like walking into an Italian Chanel but without the sticker-shock.

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Other tips for enjoying your trip to Italy:

  1. Be aware that there can actually be different prices for sitting outside a restaurant as opposed to inside. Consider the increase in cost, the cost of people-watching.  However, it is often better than most TV. There is also often a ‘coppa’ or cover charge of between 2 to 4 Euros per person. Restaurants and cafes that don’t have this usually loudly proclaim it as NO COVER CHARGE.

  1. Be sure to visit the pharmacy while in Italy. Look for the green cross sign.  Step across the threshold and you’ll never want to visit Walgreens again.  Make a beeline for Acca Kappa brushes, combs and accessories which are exquisitely made in the country.(and are much cheaper than in US)

  1. Make sure you get your smartphone unlocked before you leave. This way you can get an Italian SIM card so you can use your phone will in Italy. Check with your carrier – your phone may already be unlocked and all they need to do is put you on an international plan for the duration of your visit, or else they can unlock it and give you a code to use a SIM card.  They will try to convince you that the international plan is better, and it’s certainly simpler, but it is generally more expensive.   If you’re going with the unlocked and SIM card replacement, shop around for a SIM card immediately once you’re in Italy, at a mobile-phone shop (they’re called “mobiles” there and not “cells”.)  They will require seeing your passport and making a photocopy.  Don’t forget that if you have a smartphone, you’ll want one with a data plan as well.   If all this SIM talk has confused you, why not rent a temporary phone from Cellular Abroad http://www.cellularabroad.com/) where they send you an unlocked cellphone and applicabe SIM card and when you’re finished with your vacation, you just send it back. It’s what my friend who is an executive with Delta Airlines does every time he travels and he travels internationally constantly.

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  1. However you end up getting a cell-phone to work inexpensively while traveling, trust me, the hassle is worth it. You may think that you’d like to disconnect while on vacation but there are reasons to stay connected in Italy.  I, for one, can’t live without Google maps.  Especially not here where the streets are tiny and often not even labelled.  In cities like Venice, without Google maps you might as well be wearing one of their Carnival masks all the time. It’s a maze.  And half of that maze is water.  You’ll also want phone access to arrange things like porter service at the train station or to get your water taxi to your hotel in Venice.  Plus you don’t want to be off-line when someone gets a great shot of you climbing the Spanish Steps and want to post it on Instagram or Facebook.  (Oh, is that just me?  Well, I’m a blogger so that’s my excuse.)

  1. Bring a couple of Italian electricity adaptors and a Conair portable steamer. Let’s face it – even if you can afford it, spending hundreds of Euros to press or dry clean items pulled out of suitcases is silly. This $25 gadget will do the job in just a few minutes. I also really really recommend this travel adapter from Belkin. Because it swivels, you’ll be able to use it anywhere and in odd spaces. Most people I know need at least 2-3 outlets per person. So no more fighting whose phone gets to be charged first or having to choose between charging your ipad or your hair curler.

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  1. My secret weapon when traveling is the Luxe City Guides. I honestly find it’s catered more towards people like me who like pretty cafes, gorgeous collectible objects and more sophisticated attractions. Get the good-old-fashioned printed city guide to pop in your purse, or stay mobile and get the app.  This comes in handy every single day you’re traveling (not to mention you’ll appear quite sophisticated to your friends) – pointing you in the direction of the best hotels, entertainment, restaurants, shopping and places of interest from hip locals and insiders.  Granted, there are no bad restaurants in Italy.

  1. Mode of Payment and Tipping 99% of stores accept Mastercard and Visa and 80% (of the especially large/established ones) accept American Express. I prefer Amex because of the points and their built-in insurance on purchases so I tend to use it whenever I can , and use my Visa debit card for those stores that don’t. Cash is important for taxis and public transport.

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Italians don’t expect tips. A lot of restaurants and cafes have service charge built in… but it’s hard NOT to tip when your porter just helped you carry your 60 pound luggage (on this trip we named my one suitcase “the black beast’ -) or when your waiter went the extra mile and snuck you two desserts because you couldn’t decide between the tiramisu or pannacota.

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And speaking of getting around, a lot of Italy is cobblestoned so make sure you have comfortable walking shoes (most of the time I was walking in my Uggs or these beauties ). If you want to wear heels opt of those with chunkier heels/wedges so you won’t ruin your stilettos when they get stuck between the cobblestones. You’ve been warned.

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PS: Stay tuned as I write more about Venice, Florence and my Milan adventures.