Elsie tells us the reasons she included this black skinny trousers in the collection and why it is an essential item in every women's wardrobe!
Elsie shows us some of the latest fashion trends in AW2017 - tweeds and pleats.
Last Thursday, we were pleased to have been one of the fashion boutiques invited to contribute some of our pieces for MBLM’s first ever Style Capsule Workshop. They invited style influencer Savina Chai to pick suitable items from shops within the mall and show customers how to put them together to create stylish outfits. Of course, we wrangled for free tickets to attend the workshop (we’re gluttons for style tips – so that we can pass them onto you!! File that under job hazard). MBLM’s management were kind enough to extend their invitation for our VIPS to attend the event without the official minimum spending required!
So, here’s some post event coverage, including door gifts, refreshments from Cedele! We had a fun time catching up with everyone, thank you MBLM for organising everything, we’re sure there was lots to do behind the scenes to have a successful event!
Thank you MBLM and Savina Chai, for an enlightening evening!
Ladies, if you couldn’t make it for the event, don’t worry about it! Here are some of our pieces that were featured. If you like any of these, do message us and we’ll do our best to reserve it for you!
Cheers and have a lovely month of May!
I know it’s been a while since we posted, that’s because we had our fingers in too many pies! We had family visiting from abroad, we had our new collection designs to be confirmed and shipped (while writing this blog we are actually booking our next work trip already …) and mostly satisfying this month, we had run a “DRESS FOR GOOD” campaign to raise awareness for the Star Shelter and collected pre-loved dresses for Dress4U, which is thrift shop that is run by volunteers of the SCWO (Singapore Counsel of Women’s Organisation).
We’ve stretched and learned so much through this experience, and while I do post a little something everyday on Instagram (@butterfliesandmarigolds) and Facebook, I thought its only fitting that before the month ends, I should update our followers so that you know what’s been going down with us.
Where do I start… well, I’ll be honest and start by saying that while we were planning our April schedules, I didn’t intend to work so fervently for a “charity drive”, that wasn’t our primary objective. We just wanted to do something “good” for Good Friday – involve our staff, customers, suppliers, landlords … everybody basically, to publicise “doing good” instead of the usual “sale” or “promotion” every excuse we get to cash in on public holidays.
That said, when we started to brainstorm about what “good” to do, Star Shelter came up. We did some legwork and found their cause of giving women suffering from family violence and abuse a temporary refuge resonated with us, we knew we wanted to help further their cause. Here I am teaching about detoxing our wardrobes, how we should learn to dress ourselves happy, then discovering that there are women in Singapore who hide in their closets to avoid getting beaten by their spouses, or women who pack what’s left of their wardrobes into a tiny handcarry, ready to run if their husbands get drunk and violent again, but who have no place to go to ready broke my heart and propelled me to push our Good Friday “Dress for Good” campaign to be so much more than a “marketing’’ event.
Sometimes in urban Singapore, in our busy-ness to keep up with our jobs, our families, our friends or our lives plain & simple (not that any of these ever are!!), it’s so easy to overlook the needs of the silent and less fortunate in our midst. I’m not pointing fingers, God knows I was blissfully unaware of these women until we started planning for a Good Friday event about a month ago! But now that my eyes are opened and I’m aware, I can no longer pretend to be unaware! So April became the month of “now that you know, what are you going to do about it?”
Well… we roped in Audrey Hepburn! As in we took a screenshot of one of her most fabulous poses of all time from the classic movie Funny Face and used her to canvas for everybody to “Dress for Good” and “Make a Fashion Statement”. I’m sure that Ms. Hepburn would approve, as she herself was also an avid giver and championed supporting women issues. We decided that we’ll give a $10 B&M voucher to all who would walk into our shops and contribute 2 pre-loved dresses of their own. Then with everything that we collected, we delivered them all to New4U.
Promotion mechanics and logistics aside, after all the research we did about the Star Shelter, and after multiple visits to the New4U thrift shop, chatting with the enthusiastic volunteers and even the shoppers who patronise New4U, we really wanted to run a good campaign. I’m happy to report that everyone, from family, friends, staff, customers, suppliers, and even landlords pulled their weight and donated, contributed, carried bags of clothes (although technically we only asked for dresses) to our shops – some didn’t even want our vouchers as they just wanted to give, while others came more than once, because they wanted to give some more! Some wrote to us to extend our collection dateline because they couldn’t come in time! How could we say no to that?
So yes, it took more time, more effort, disrupted our shop sales a little, and for those couple of weeks, we were driving bags of clothes from our shops to SCWO whenever our shops got too cluttered to free up space for our girls to do business. It was well worth it, this little discomfort is nothing, compared to the difficulties the women at Star Shelter are facing.
Now that the donation drive is over, we truly want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped or contributed in anyway. We are truly humbled by your generosity. What will May bring? I don’t know. But what I do know is that, here at B&M, we’re happy that we had our hands and hearts filled, spending our April - Dressing for Good.
Let's start by defining what qualifies as an embellishment. An embellishment is a decorative detail or feature added to something to make it more attractive. When it pertains to fashion, examples of embellishments include: embroideries, sequins, rhinestones, buttons, zippers, studs, ribbons, ruffles, and any other decorative details that are added to make our outfits more attractive.
Embellishments are a big trend for Spring 2017, however, while we are inclined to give embellishments a try when dressing up for an evening outing, most of us are cautious about wearing this trend to the office because we don’t want to “over-embellish” ourselves and end up looking like an out-of-season Christmas tree. Hence, I thought I’ll share a few ideas how to wear embellishments to work confidently without crossing the OTT line.
When in Doubt, Start with Accessories
If you’re just dipping your toes into the embellishment trend, don’t feel pressured to go “ALL OUT”. Try adding a fun scarf as a collar, an interesting brooch on your trusted black jacket, a cute bag with embellishment details eg: embroidery or sequins to your go-to-work outfit. Embellishments do not have to be dramatic for them to be impactful, but they can go a long way to help personalize your style.
Use a Dark Base
If like me, you value timeless style over seasonal fads and you intend to keep your embellished pieces for more than one season, I suggest that you invest in embellished pieces in darker base colours eg: black, grey and navy. These are much easier to mix and match with wardrobe staples, eg: an embellished blouse or top when paired with a sleek jacket, slim trousers and heels, will instantly be office-friendly. Or pair an embellished cardigan with a neutral camisole and a pencil skirt to shine confidently at work.
Don’t Do the Matchy Matchy
When it comes to embellishments, do not wear matching sets together. In fact, I’d rather you not buy the set. So if you like the jacket with the embroidery and stitching detail, get that, but you don’t have to get the matching trousers and skirt as well.
Or if you like the statement necklace don’t invest in the matching earrings and cocktail ring too. It's far better to wear that one special embellished item and keep the rest of the outfit clean and simple, so that the ONE embellishment has lots of room to shine rather than to overcrowd your outfit with variations of the same theme. Less is more, period.
Casual Fridays Don’t have to be Boring
In creative office environments, denim is the norm. Even if yours is not a creative office space, most workplaces these days allow for casual Fridays. Don’t make it an excuse to allow your style to slip a few notches, why not up the ante with a denim jacket with personalised playful pins, sequins or embroideries? Just skip other jewelry so you're not attracting too much attention.
Ground Embellishment with Casual Pairings
Neutralize a too-fancy top, with classic black trousers and ballet flats. Throw on a blazer during the day to keep it semi-covered and slip it off, and put on a sexy pair of heels once happy hour starts.
Here's a video I did about embellishments. Watch it for more practical ideas and tips to wear the embellishment trend for Spring 2017 with confidence and style!
Write and let me know in the comments below which tips you tried or better yet, send us photos of your embellished outfits!
Go forth and shine!
Spring is usually the season when we tidy our homes, clean out our wardrobes, give away the kid’s toys & books, that’s why we say “Spring Clean” or “Spring Cleaning”. I don’t recall anybody say they are doing a “Summer Clean” or “Autumn Clean”.
When we are discussing ideas for styling and marketing themes for our business, we decided to go with some friendly and encouraging: “Start as you mean to go on…” I think when it comes to our wardrobes, many of us are reluctant to “let go” of pieces that have been in there for so long, because we feel:
1. Guilt - the item was expensive? It was a gift?
2. Fear - what if after I gave it away, I find myself needing it for a special occasion?
3. False hope - when I lose/gain 2kg, I’ll be able to fit into them again!
When we repeatedly tell ourselves, these stories, our wardrobes never get thoroughly cleansed as we’ve left behind lots of “exceptions” that will continue to be space fillers. Yet there may be lots of “gaps” left to be filled where our style in concerned, even though our wardrobes are packed to the max!
It was Albert Einstein that said: “Its Insanity to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result”. Hence for this Spring, we’ve intentionally based our collection on timeless classics and effortlessly chic pieces that you can work into your existing wardrobe with ease to support and update the pieces you already have!
We’ve deliberately stayed away from show-stopper pieces, drama-mama fanfare since we know you already have those ones hanging in your closet. What most of us need are dependable pieces that we can rely on to update our style and make us feel fabulous everyday – when we go to work, when we fetch our kids, when we do errands about town or when we meet our girlfriends for coffee, you know - when we do LIFE!
That’s why this blog is slightly delayed as we had to get our Spring Collection into our shops before we can show you our curated collections. Anyways, we’re back and here is a sneak preview of our favourite Spring 2017 pieces from Butterflies & Marigolds. Enjoy!!
Have a great week ahead and remember to shine!
PS: If you’re struggling with cleaning out your wardrobe and would like to learn more, how you can edit a wardrobe that works for you, I’ve created a fabulous A-Z Wardrobe online course that will certainly help you clear the clutter and get your happy back when you get dress everyday. CLICK HERE to check up the details and sign up, because every women deserves to shine with grace, gladness & style!
Recently, I was honoured to be invited on “The Tao of Self Confidence” talk show by Sheena Yap Chan and just a few weeks ago, the episode I was on was aired.
Here's some back story, before I share the podcast. I didn’t go searching for publicity on a talkshow. In fact, for those of you that know me, you know that I’m a relatively "do-my-own-thing" kind of gal. I do have a wacky side that comes through when I’m teaching my style and wardrobe courses (I’m super passionate about helping women get their style mojo back), or when I’m doing personal styling, and sometimes I burst into song (loudly) when I’m stressed and have challenges I need to work through. Mostly, I’m not a sanguine or a gregarious personality.
So when Sheena approached me, I was equal parts surprised/excited and apprehensive. In the end, I decided to give it a go, because I wanted to do something I’ve never done before, because Sheena was genuine in her asking, because I checked out her site and it was legit, because it was a genuine opportunity to share my views on confidence with other wonderful people on the same journey as me, because growth never emerged from staying within my comfort zones… for all those reasons and then some, I decided to give it a go.
The regrets started coming fast and furious the minute I said yes! The fear was paralysing and at some point bordering irrational. Weird thoughts like “what if people didn’t like the sound of my voice?" Self doubt like “she’s done this podcast thousands of times over, what do I have that is so special to bring to the table?” It’s a live podcast, there are no re-takes, what if people think I’m boring, what if I did the worst podcast ever as I've never done one and its not something you get to practice!
To compensate for my fears, I prepared and prepared and worked and reworked from the list of “potential” questions and listened to Sheena's previous podcast guests (all of whom are fabulous in their respective fields, and I felt even tinier than before I started listening).
Fast forward to the day of the podcast, I was a giant ball of nervous energy (shhhh: if you listen to the podcast, you'll hear the nervous laughter!!) As Sheena Skyped me and we chatted for a few minutes before going live, she told me that she was in the Philippines visiting her family and so her "Tech support and equipment” was not her usual standard, but she was pushing forward anyway. Strangely enough that calmed me down. I saw how another woman was showing up and doing her thing, even though not everything was “up to par” and a switch turned on inside me. I can do this. We’ll get through it, Everything will be alright, we’ll live through it, we’ll learn we’ll be fine.
Honestly the tech meltdown happened 3 times before we finally managed to get the show on the road, but it was worth it. We felt so accomplished, we said our goodbyes and we moved on. Will our paths ever collide again, I don’t know, but I am glad that for those few minutes we had with each other, we both chose to show up and do our best to help each other on the journey.
So CLICK to listen to the podcast and tell me your thoughts in the comments below, would love to hear from you.
We’re still in the midst of the 15 days of Lunar New Year, so Gong Xi Fa Cai!! I hope you had a wonderful time visiting family and friends, and enjoyed all the LNY delicacies.
This Chinese New Year season, as our family went about our reunion dinners and visitations, I’m reminded of this age-old principle of sowing and reaping. As I sat and chatted about old times with my aunties, uncles, cousins, as I carried grandnieces and took countless wefies with various sides of the extended families, I realised how blessed we are as a family - our parents, our grandparents had laboured to keep the family ties strong. Every new year as we exchanged stories of days gone by (some would call them old grandmother stories), I’ve learnt to appreciate that these stories were weaved with real people in them! It’s not Korean drama or reality TV. Its real life!!
These last few days, as we poured over old photographs filled with beehive hairstyles and can-can skirts, as we laughed over the bad fashion mistakes of our youth - we had lots of fun reminiscing the old days. As family sagas get retold, the essence of family togetherness gets filtered into our DNA and that’s something I’ve come to look forward to every Chinese New Year.
Instead of simply going through the motion of reunion dinners silently with family members who are practically strangers in our day-to-day lives, why not try to piece the family tree together? Who married whom, who are their kids, whose grandparents left their home country (China, India, Taiwan, Malaysia) to come to Singapore – or whose families have migrated where and why. Play the six degrees of separation game and you’ll discover that we’re all not that different after all ;)
This year was especially heart-warming for us because this year, we decided to host our family party even though we had no helper. Firstly, let me qualify that I am not a party animal. We do 2 parties a year, one for Christmas and one for Chinese New Year for our close friends and relatives, so that everyone has a relaxing time catching up with each other over home-cooked food. Generally, its free and easy and the turnout varies between lunch till dinner, about 50 –100 guests.
I pondered long and hard about doing the party this year because without a capable helper, cooking for 100pax is no mean feat and not something we’ve attempted before and catering is not an option –period. The family supported the decision and so we trudged forward. 3 generations cooking together for the first time in the kitchen, we went on countless trips to the wet markets and supermarkets.
Though in the end, we managed to hire a helper, she would have been lost if not for the support of my friends who didn’t just come for the party but showed up with food, drinks and even their helpers to help. Everyone was so supportive, thoughtful and understanding, I was floored by all the love and understanding that I received. I thought I was giving, in actual fact, I received so much more than I gave. It was the most disorganised party I’ve ever done (we ran out of rice and wine!!) but it was the one party I’ll remember for the rest of my life!
At the end of the party as my god-daughter was leaving, she showed me a delicate bracelet she was wearing and that really made my day. It was the first present I gave her, when she was one month old - a charm bracelet with butterflies and marigolds – the emblems of our business which we registered as Butterflies & Marigolds Pte Ltd the year she was born. She’s kept it safe all this while, waiting for the day she’s able wear it – and wear it well, she did.
It has been my privilege to sow into the lives of my friends and families, and they into mine. I pray that we’ll always be able and willing to continue to do the same for a long long time. But this year, I want to say that the pleasure of reaping a bountiful harvest from seeds sown a long time ago, is overflowing in my heart and too precious to put into words.
Have a fabulous February, friends ;)
PS: next year, I’ll start planning my CNY menu earlier!!
Chinese New Year is a time for family reunions, visitations, feasting and celebrations. In last week’s blog I wrote about my struggle to walk the line between standards and sustainability, between perfection and progress
Lunar New Year seems to be the festive period for reporting. Well meaning relatives ask the usual: “Graduate from University already?”, “Go National Service already?”, “Got boyfriend already?”, “Getting married already?”, “Got baby already?”… the list is endless, and even if you’ve answered “YES” to every one of these questions, more will be added UNTIL you give a negative reply. Then they cluck their commiserations accordingly, encourage you to try harder in your “area of lack” – regardless of your reasons, and next year when Chinese New Year comes around, they probably won’t remember the conversation and redo the same drill all over again!
Whether it’s a case of poor social skills, bad communication or honest to goodness - curiosity, this repeated line of questioning used to get on my nerves and put my defences on high alert. Perhaps it’s an age thing, but recently, I caught myself verbalising similar “busybody auntie” questions when my son’s friends recently came to hang out and I was shocked! When did this happen? I could see the kids doing their best to accommodate my queries as politely as they could, (squirming while they were at it), and I thought to myself in equal parts of horror: “Why am I doing this?” and warped vindication “Now, do you know how I felt back then?”
Please write and tell me in the comments below that I’m not alone with the weird family interrogation routines over Chinese New Year ;) Whatever your relatives are like, this Chinese New Year, let’s decide from DAY 1 to celebrate FAMILY and enjoy each other’s company – similarities, differences, weird bits and all!
Here at B&M, we’ve put together a short CNY video, complete with auspicious Chinese New Year greetings to wish everybody an amazing grand entrance into the year of the rooster! May you enjoy prosperity in every way – body, mind, soul and spirit, and everyday of this Chinese New Year!
Gong Xi Fa Cai, everybody!!
Here in Singapore, we celebrate 2 New Year(s) almost back to back. That’s because 80% of our population is of Chinese descent, so Lunar New Year - which usually takes place between end January and early February, depending on the Lunar calendar, is celebrated arguably more enthusiastically than Christmas & New Year’s Day.
We spring clean our homes, dress ourselves and our children in new clothes, so that by and large, we make ourselves “presentable” during the festive season.
Traditionally, during Lunar New Year, we have reunion dinners with families, we visit relatives over the “official” 15 days of Lunar New Year, we wear new clothes, we give (and receive) Ang Pows – which are auspicious gifts of money placed in red packets given by married couples to kids, unmarried siblings, relatives and friends. Some of us also give red packets to our parents and grandparents as a token of our appreciation for their love and care. We bring and exchange mandarin oranges (which are symbols of prosperity) when we visit our relatives. We bake/buy cookies to entertain friends and families when they visit us. Therein lies my first issue of 2017.
How much cleaning is too much? How much tidying is too much? If I’m so busy doing the cleaning, marketing and the baking until the joy of anticipating a wonderful family dinner is overtaken by overwhelm and tiredness, I’ve crossed my personal limits. By the time the grouchy me surfaces and starts to snap at innocent bystanders, I know I have to cut back on my cookie baking agendas.
This year, one of my first dilemmas for 2017 is – whether I’m alright being invisible? Am I contented working behind the scene, doing all the preparations for Lunar New Year festivities, so that everybody has a good time? I briefly wondered if I was ok about my efforts towards our preparations, not being acknowledged by my own and whether I will feel taken for granted?
The perfectionist in me had trouble letting go of my personal standards. For example, in previous years, I expect the floors to be vacuumed, mopped and cleaned in a certain way according to my timeline. The leather sofas and dining tables have to be wiped and polished my way. My children had to pick clothes that meet my style expectations. I realize I leave very little room for others to shine differently from me and it was frustrating us all!
So this year, I came to a new Lunar New Year conclusion. If we’re not happy to do the cleaning, cooking and baking as a family, we’re not doing it. I’m not going to bake and giveaway bitter cookies to anyone. We can always buy ready-made ones! I’m not going to cook reunion dinners that make my whole family miserable because I’ve overextended myself. We agreed to simplify our reunion dinner menu to something we can comfortably manage, so that everybody (including myself) can enjoy.
Let’s face it. At the end of life, what really matters is not what we bought, what we got; but what we shared; not our competence and our standards but our love and our values.
This Lunar New Year, I want to do stuff that matters to my family joyfully. I want to be authentic and live a life I’m proud of, so that everybody in my family can really enjoy a happy New Year together.
Gong Xi Fai Cai everybody! 家和万事兴!
With Christmas out of the way and Lunar New Year round the corner, I thought this is a perfect time to offer some tips for selecting a Cheongsam or “Qipao” – the national costume of China, as some of us may be interested to shop for one to wear for Lunar New Year festivities.
Although the Cheongsam/Qipao is designed to flatter the feminine body, few of us has the perfect figure to carry it off well. Here are some guidelines that can help you choose the right Cheongsam for your body shape so that your Cheongsam will accentuate your assets and gloss over your flaws.
There are few unique style elements of Cheongsam such as the collar, the sleeves, the buttons, the length and the slit of the dress.
Let’s start from the top, ie the collar of the Cheongsam. Traditionally, the collar of Cheongsam is high and fits tightly around the neck. The edges of the collar are shaped as a semicircle, flattering the soft and slender neck of women. There is usually a Chinese knot button at the base of the collar which adds an interesting detail.
Obviously, women with longer necks will look fabulous wearing the high collar Cheongsams, however those of us with rounder faces and shorter necks do have alternatives to choose from. Simply pick a Cheongsam with lower collar or collarless design and make the “V” opening of the neckline a little deeper. This little trick will elongate our faces and necks, thus making us appear slimmer!
The length of sleeves is another unique element of the Cheongsam. There are generally 3 lengths: short sleeves, three-quarter sleeves and sleeveless. Women with slim arms will look great in sleeveless styles, while those of us who are concerned about flabby arms and bulky shoulders would be more comfortable with short or three-quarter sleeves to camouflage our wobbly bits. Those of us with slopping shoulders may want to consider adding shoulder pads under our Cheongsams, while those of us with broader shoulders will look much better without them.
One of the sexiest details of the Cheongsam is high slits on both sides, designed to display slender legs and also for ease of movement. Nowadays, Cheongsams usually come in different lengths - above the knee, midi and floor length. The slits are placed differently too: 2 side slits, 1 side slit, front slit or back slit. Of course, if you have beautiful long legs, any length is fine and any slit placement will be alright. For the rest of us (and those who are vertically challenged), knee length Cheongsams are the most universally flattering fit. For the pear-shaped women, a straight-cut Cheongsams with side slits are more forgiving.
If you’re going to buy only 1 or 2 Cheongsams, pick a better fabric like silk or brocade. These are classic styles and the better material will hold well over time. Traditionally, Cheongsams were made of silk however, I find that silk (especially shiny ones) are more suitable for skinny women. This is because the smooth and shiny silk material will highlight the lumps and bumps of those of us who are not so slim! Do take note that silk is more expensive and requires dry-cleaning.
Brocades and jacquards are also good fabric choices for Cheongsams. These are heavier fabrics, hence they hold their shape better than the soft and delicate silk ones. However, these tend to look more formal, because designers like to stitch raised embroidery patterns on them with gold or silver threads.
Let’s talk a little about colour choices. Red is probably the most popular colour, because the Chinese believe that wearing red will bring prosperity and good luck. Just make sure that you don’t look like a waitress in a Chinese restaurant! Bright reds are suitable for brides, pinks are great for slimmer and younger ladies, while more matured women look elegant and dignified in dark reds and purple hues. Larger women look slimmer in darker shades, like black, navy or pewter.
Lastly, the embroideries and prints on cheongsams are symbolic and related to the Chinese culture too. For example, the peony flower very popular it is China’s national flower - it symbolizes prosperity and wealthy. The lotus flower on the other hand symbolizes purity and beauty. Wearing chrysanthemums represents joy and longevity. Fishes - prosperity as the Chinese pronunciation of fish: “yu” means abundance. The dragon symbolizes the supreme power of the emperor. In ancient times, only nobleman and officials can wear dragon designs while the imperial concubines, princesses and diplomatic wives will wear the accompanying phoenix designs.
Well, that’s it for today’s blog. Did you find it interesting? Will you be wearing a cheongsam this Lunar New Year? If you are, I’d love to see your cheongsam choices! Please take a selfie and tag us on instagram #bnmcheongsamchallenge.
Happy 2017 everybody! May your new year be filled with joy overflowing, abundance and prosperity! Enjoy a fabulous week ahead, peeps ;)
Greetings from Hokkaido!
One of the non-negotiables when I started my own business more than a decade ago, was to be able to go for an annual family holiday. When the kids were younger, we’ll pack them off to nearby places like Sentosa, Genting and various parts of Malaysia, just to enjoy each other’s company and have some family bonding time. As the kids grew and while the grandparents are able, I want to keep the tradition of travelling as a family – young and old – see the world, experience different cultures, food and weather because I believe that travel (physically) takes us away from our work, our routines, our problems etc and opens our eyes and spirit to enjoy the vast and beautiful world God created, that most times we’re not even aware of or too busy to notice.
This year, we choose to go to Hokkaido because we wanted to see snow and enjoy the food!! Living in the tropics where it’s humid and hot everyday, packing off for temperatures below zero Celsius was going outside the comfort zones for us. Of course, the kids were excited and I wanted to “show them the world” but there was a little part of me that was also concern about the cold, whether the old folks will be alright walking in the snow. Do we need snow shoes? Winter coats? Heat pads? Hats? Scarves? Did I bite off more than I can chew? Anyway, for better or for worse, I forged forward because I didn’t want to disappoint the family who were all expecting a white Christmas.
On the first day we arrived, we found out that cold winds were coming our way, maybe a typhoon or a blizzard. I read that hundreds of flights were getting cancelled in the very airport we arrived in and thousands of passengers were stranded. Great news for starting a holiday! But I refused to let it dampen our family holiday (Anyway, what could I do? We were already there!) and went ahead with our itinerary anyway.
One lesson I gleaned from this holiday is that at the end of the day, the best of plans is just that - a plan. We’ve all heard the saying “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, but this holiday reminded me that even with the best of plans, things may still not work out. We can’t control the weather. When will it snow? - so we can go skiing or when will the sun shine? - so we can see the lovely animals at the winter zoo. Just because we put it in an itinerary, doesn’t mean it’ll happen accordingly.
We need to realise and accept that some things are not within our control. We braved a blizzard to visit a quaint town called Otaru near Sapporo, just because it was on our itinerary and our timing was tight, we didn’t get to enjoy much sightseeing and we almost couldn’t get back to Sapporo because the trains got cancelled due to bad weather! We ended up taking the bus back, it took us 4 hours instead of 1 hour by train to make our way back, not to mention the stress and the squeeze with all other stranded tourists that day.
On hindsight, it was not a clever decision to insist on sticking to the plan, just for the sake of it. We could have had a more enjoyable day just hanging out in the city instead. Squeezing it in, forcing it through doesn’t produce the best results. Thank God we got back alright, (I think there were other tourists that were left stranded in Otaru and had to find last minute accommodations for the night!), but we were wet, cold and hungry, and it wasn’t wise use of our time at all! In 2017, I resolve to plan well but leave room for flexibility. I will hustle my bustle for the business and enter into projects with more mindfulness. If the door doesn’t open, I’ll choose to believe that there’s something better on the way and graciously bow out, rather than bash my way through or overstay my welcome.
Another huge lesson from this trip was the dedication and level of excellence the Japanese have for their passions. We chanced upon a tiny DIY maple wood aeroplane booth at a Christmas market and I wanted to buy one as a present. As we conversed with the owner, we came to know that he makes these aeroplane models by hand, one at a time and an engine can take him up to a month to put together! Not only that, the combination of paper and wood, is carefully thought out so that the planes can fly when you throw them, yet they are not easily damaged or broken – he “created” and patented his paper! And he has a day job (because although creating and selling aeroplanes is his passion, he is fully aware that sales from that little booth, is not enough for him to make a living), and he looks like he’s 60 years old! He says he won’t ask his “art” to “make money” for him, because then it will kill his joy of creating planes.
I was blown away by his commitment to his craft - his practical mind-set of separating his passion and his living, and his ability to balance both. I am reminded how blessed I am to be able to do what I love AND make a living out of it. I really should count my blessings and be grateful – it is my passion and my living and I should learn to enjoy the journey more, even if there are challenges in 2017.
On one of our last excursions, we visited a Ninja Museum and chanced upon a half frozen lake where some fishes were still swimming. Grandma commented: “Oh the poor things, the water must be freezing!”. The kids replied: “What do you expect them to do, they’re fishes!” I don’t know much about fishes or the intricacies of hibernation etc. but it got me thinking about our human perspectives and how it steers our thinking. We feel the freezing temperatures, so we conclude that the fishes are cold too, hence we feel “pity” for them.
My limited understanding of science is that humans are warm blooded but fishes are cold blooded so we feel cold but they bear it much better than us, scientifically speaking. However, we “filter” situations through our knowledge and personal experiences, but these could have been tinted through the years and may not point true north. Is it possible that some of the stuff we think, worry about, are just left baggage from years before? Is it time to clean house? Wipe the slates clean as we enter 2017 - take time to list and let go of the past hurts, failures and lost opportunities. Allow ourselves to heal. Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means that the damage no longer controls your life.
I discovered I love snow. The pristine white blanket of fresh snow covering everything in sight, makes the scenery look so fresh, so cool, so clean. It makes me believe that a fresh start is possible and only a choice away. I’m making mine today, will you join me and make it a Happy New Year for you too?
This is the first time in 12 years that the entire B&M team got together and sang a “Merry Christmas“ greeting. For the more observant ones, you may have noticed that we’re dressed in the same clothes as the “Christmas Launch” advert we did in November, that’s because this video was filmed on the same day! I’ll let you in on a secret too – while filming the advert took ahem "many many takes", the video you just watched was "take one only"!
It just goes to show (what a wacky bunch we are ?!) How excited we all were to celebrate Christmas! It’s truly the happiest season of all. Somehow I find that Christmas gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect on the important things around us. It’s a time when we can look back on the year that has passed and prepare for the year ahead.
As a Christian, I believe that Christmas is the day of Jesus was born. To me, Christmas is the perfect time to celebrate the love of God and family, to create memories that will last forever. Even if you are not religious, Christmas is a season to be surrounded by loved ones, of sharing and caring, and giving of ourselves.
It was Oprah Winfrey who wrote in her book “What I Know For Sure”, that when you make loving others the story of your life, there’s never a final chapter, because the legacy continues. She says you lend your light to one person, and he or she shines it on another and another and another.
I believe, that in the final analysis of our lives - when the to-do lists are no more, when our email inboxes are empty – the only thing that will have any lasting value is whether we’ve loved others and whether they’ve loved us.
So this year, I choose to honour Christmas in my heart and to keep it all the year. And of all the good stuff I can wish for you this holiday season, clique as it may be, I am sincere when I say, I wish you love.
From all of us at Butterflies & Marigolds, a very blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!
What a week it has been! We went off for our Lunar New Year buy in the midst of our Christmas promotions and were fortunate enough to score a lovely range of Cheongsams (will share more of this later)! Then we dashed back just in time to participate in a fundraising event in support of Project Battambang, a non-profit community project started by the volunteers of the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS), in the rural districts of Battambang, Cambodia.
We had been selling tickets and collecting donations from friends, VIPs, and customers 2 weeks leading to the event and I was privileged to be invited as one of the speakers for the evening. It was another milestone for me – presenting my wardrobe and style ideas in front of a live audience – and I was very apprehensive about my speech prior to the event.
At one point, I briefly considered excusing myself as a speaker, quoting jetlag (it is true I took a redeye flight back less than 24hrs ago and I was slightly under the weather), but I thought about the faces of the Cambodian children I saw on the Project Battambang YouTube and I knew I had to do the right thing - deliver my speech the best I could despite the circumstances.
Anyway, I am happy to report that the event (and my speech) went well. A big thank you to our customers that bought tickets, gave donations and showed up to support us. We are touched by your generosity and I’m personally very encouraged to do even more good for the needy around us.
The following are some candid photos and highlights of the event. When we tally up the donations and ticket sales for the event, we’ll keep you all posted.
I believe we rise by helping others. One point worthy of remark is that the monies raised do NOT go to fund the volunteers air tickets or accommodations in Cambodia. They give of their own time and finances to make their way there. It goes directly to the education, health screening and care of the patients – young and old in Battambang. They are not a listed charity organization (they started as a project in NUS medical school) but we have a personal friend who has gone on one of their volunteer trips, seen the extend of poverty and need there - that is why we are so enthusiastic to help in whatever way we can
If any of you are interested to learn more about Project Battambang, do visit their Website and Facebook for more information.
It’s a week before Christmas, friends, take time to soak in the festivities, enjoy the laughter and love of friends and family. Here’s wishing you all an unforgettable Christmas filled with joy, peace and all you hold dear.
Every year as December comes along, those of us living in the tropics will dream of holidaying somewhere where we can experience a white Christmas complete with powdered snow on alpine slopes and fire places in wooden cabins, while our temperate climate friends think where’s the shovel, more work to do!
But regardless of where we are in the world, we unanimously agree that Christmas is only the season where everybody goes all out with the decorations. From shopping malls, to exercise gyms, restaurants to hotels, every urban city and theme park has a Christmas theme and special Christmas events and parties, making Christmas the most internationally decorated and celebrated holiday of all!
As a child growing up, my mother refused to allow us to put up Christmas decorations in the home (not even a Christmas tree) – her practical logic being that what goes up, must get taken down and packed (till next year) and we didn’t have much storage space. Anyway, perhaps because of that, I’m really enthusiastic and hands on when it comes to our Christmas décor in our boutiques.
Over the years, I’ve used reindeers, snowman, Christmas trees, angels, hollies, fresh poinsettia, fake snow and of course lots and lots of Christmas baubles to decorate our boutiques and home. Every year, I promise to discard some of the older pieces, but I always end up buying more replacements … my elderly mum gives me the eye when I pack these ornaments into the storeroom after Christmas but these days I’ve learnt to suffer the silent “I told you so” treatment gladly.
Here’s a candid video of our staff changing out the boutiques with our Christmas collection. I know things will get messy come Christmas morning with torn gift wrappers and half eaten candy attracting ants. There’ll be leftovers to clear in the fridge, hungover friends and family crashing at our place, but its’ evidence that we’re surrounded by loved ones and that we’re secure enough in each other’s presence to let it all hang out on Boxing Day!
Our countdown for Christmas has begun. Are you ready for your Christmas holidays? If it’s a special outfit that your looking for, why not drop at our boutiques and let us dress you in your best for the most wonderful season of all?
Tick tock tick tock ;)
Happy Holidays ;)
Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!!
December is finally here and Christmas is just round the corner! A couple of weeks ago, we had a blast launching our Christmas Collection at our Marina Bay Link Mall boutique. We had a good time mingling with our VIPs who got to preview our full Christmas Collection amidst some sumptuous cakes and bubbly Prosecco! In case you missed the event, here are some candid photos of our celebrations.
This week, I thought it would be fun to share our team’s personal favourites from our Christmas Collection and offer my (ahem!!) professional stylist insights about their choices. Our lovely ladies gladly obliged with an impromptu photoshoot, and viola! here are their fave picks for the season!
(Important note: In the interest of authenticity, the ladies were given a free hand in their selection. This is not a “guided tour”!)
Selly selected this cute red and white striped knit top that comes with a matching red and black polka dotted necktie (which incidentally can also double up as a hair band or tie). I think this top works great for her bubbly personality, the red horizontal stripes are attractive and adds presence, as Selly is rather petite in person.
Anna selected this colourful hoodie with pouch pockets, vertical stripes and some texture. I think it’s a smart choice because the bold vertical stripes make Anna look taller than she actually is! Also, the cheerful pop of colour on top, attracts people’s attention to her face, where she always has a brilliant smile to welcome everybody into our boutiques.
It was love at first sight for Grace, with this gorgeous tri-coloured scalloped lace dress. Ever the practical gal, she decided that this dress was a good buy because you can wear it for Christmas and for Lunar New Year (because of the higher collar, it somehow does resemble a cheongsam).
Grace also selected this cool grey pinstriped dress (New discovery - I guess our ladies love stripes!! ) and accessorised it with metal jewelry.
Jean selected this drop-waisted printed dress and matched it with a bolero cardigan, because she was conscious of her arms. The straight dress with no defined waist is a wise choice for her as it skims her body and does not bring attention to her tummy, which is a area of concern.
Selly’s next pick was a cute polka-dotted mini dress with swans embroidered on the collar. It’s a whimsical style – very B&M – because we believe life is too short to wear boring clothes, so there’s always something special, something interesting, something different in our designs. Wear this dress if you want to be as graceful as a swan, but cute too! (as she is!)
An interesting point to highlight is that the size of the print in Jean and Selly’s choices is proportional to their individual physiques. Jean being taller looks good in the larger print, while Selly being petite looks fine in her little polka dots. Should they have exchanged their selections, even if they wore the right size clothes, the larger print would have completely overwhelmed Selly’s small frame, and the tiny dots would have made Jean look larger than she actually was. Generally speaking, if you’re going for prints, my tip would be to pick a print no larger than the size of your clenched fist.
Anna’s next pick was this classic crew neck cardigan, in Café Mocca. These cardigans come in Ruby Red and Midnight Blue too! Since it’s the holiday season, our cardigans come with lurex threads to add some shine to your festive outfit, but they’re understated enough for you to wear them long after the Christmas parties are over. Again, Anna has kept the shiny bits on top and she’s kept the bottom black and minimal, so that attention is kept on her face – where she wants it to be.
For her next outfit, Jean chose this tie-dye cardigan in a combination of leave green shades. Although it was a round-neck cardigan, she unbuttoned the top 2 buttons, creating a V neckline which elongates her neck and slims her face. The stripped piping detail of the placket also helps to direct the eyes vertically, which helps to create the illusion of a slimmer figure too.
Finally, Grace picked this delicate lace dress with scalloped hem. It’s a very feminine piece (I think its great for meeting the parents, or a cocktail event!), but this one is hand-washable and the lace is super comfortable – not the kind that scratches and itches at all!
So, what do you think of our picks for the season? Which one was your favourite look? Write and let me know in the comments below. I’ll love to hear from you. Also, if you have a styling question, or would like to do a personal styling session with me, click here to email us.
That’s it for this week my friends.
Have a fabulous December!
Perhaps this is the time when more of us are shopping for formal wear, maybe even a ballgown for your Cinderella grand entrance! With Proms, Christmas, New Year celebrations and company D&Ds, there’s always an excuse to up the glam game and squeeze in a gorgeous dress for your diva princess moments at the year-end party.
On the other hand, if you’re Miss Practical (as am I), you may be searching for something presentable, re-wearable, that doesn’t make you look like what the cat dragged in. However, vanity does not allow you to wear that same black dress for the 3rd year running to the office party yet again and you don’t want to spend too much money on something you’ll only wear once (or twice) in a year! Whatever your predicament, here are my best tips when it comes to shopping for an evening dress.
1. Shop for it when you don’t need it.
I know this may be advice given too late at this point, but really, evening gown shopping is best done when there is no immediate or urgent need. We don’t want to be that stressed-out drama queen, with a timer ticking at the back of our heads because we know we need to look like Beyonce TOMORROW for a red carpet event and at today’s lunchtime, we’re still madly scouring the racks hoping to find a gown that 1) makes us look amazing, 2) doesn’t constrict blood circulation and 3) doesn’t break the bank. If this is you and you’re saying, well and good, next year I’ll take your advice, but I need help NOW - then here’s my suggestion in one word: RENT. That’s right, you can always rent a gown, just this once, brides do it all the time - wear it and return it! No long-term love affair needed, no huge investments necessary, just like it enough to rent it for a night. Or better yet, borrow one from a girlfriend who’s about your size.
2. Find a dress that flatters your best feature.
Let me explain. Say you have nice shoulders, then perhaps you want to look for a strapless gown that will showcase them or if you have a sexy back, then perhaps a dress with a low back feature will accentuate your back. Maybe you have amazing legs, then selecting a gown with thigh high slits will amp up your sex appeal. Bear in mind that its best to decide on ONE body part you want to accentuate and find a dress which suitably highlights that well.
Don’t get a dress that has a plunging neckline, a cinched in waistline, with thigh high slits and in a see-through material with strategically placed sequins, unless you intend to cameo for a stage show in Las Vegas! Too many accents will end up being a distraction, so go with 1 or at most 2 best features to accentuate and shoot for sexy and confident, not tarty and uncomfortable.
If you can keep your game face on and rock this dress, more power to you, go ahead and rock it! But if not, no matter the rave reviews - yours is the only opinion that counts, so get something that you’ll feel confident and comfortable in, not exposed and vulnerable.
3. Find a dress that flatters your complexion.
Let me qualify that I have nothing against black. In fact, black forms the backbone of my personal wardrobe. I mean, there is a reason why “black-tie” is used as a dress code to describe the ultimate in formalwear right? But, it’s harder to stand out from the crowd if one is dressed in a black evening gown, because chances are, there’ll be more people dressed in black than any other color – hence more competition for attention. My take will be if you’re going to buy a black gown (any gown for that matter actually, but doubly so if its black!) make sure you love it, make sure you look impeccable in it, so that you’ll have the self- confidence to know that every time you wear it, you’ll crush the competition.
Otherwise, I would suggest that you choose a darker color that flatters your complexion or one of my personal favourite color tips, try something in the jewel tones family. I prefer darker (rather than lighter or brighter colors) because I’m a firm believer of Murphy’s Law - anything that can go wrong will!
Darker shades camouflage wine spills and other sauce related accidents much better than lighter and brighter colors. I’ve seen lots of K-drama actresses that look fabulous in white gowns but I’m such a klutz, I don’t think I can carry white off with peace of mind and confidence, more likely, I’ll be a nervous wreck, just anticipating a bumbling waiter to walk right into me with a tray full of food and drinks.
4. Go for quality and timeless fabrics.
If you foresee that you will not need to wear evening gowns too often, select one in a fabric that is relatively season-less like silk or chiffon. I would also suggest going with a solid color rather than prints, although if you want to push the envelope and go with prints, make sure the prints are not loud and gawdy. Pick timeless prints for example stripes, dots or checks but make sure you pass on prints that will mark an “era” because these will make the gown look dated very quickly.
5. Keep It Simple Sweetheart (KISS!)
It’s always tempting to get carried away with “SALE” signs and settle for a gown (since you won’t wear it so often anyway) in a slightly funny shade or with a little too much risk of exposure or beading or embroidery etc, and yet because of the attractive price tag, you decide that you can work around it. If you only need a couple of evening dresses to complement your lifestyle needs, choose simple and elegant gowns without fussy details.
Avoid the ruffles, multi-colored sequins, heavy beading etc. This way, you can always wear different accessories – statement necklaces, cocktail rings, shoulder duster earrings, add a clutch bag, a shawl or a plush fur coat, sexy heels or style your hair and makeup differently to get maximum mileage from the same evening gown.
So these are my top 5 tips what to look out for when shopping for evening gowns. I hope you have fun if you are indeed looking for one. Let me know in the comments below if you find any of these tips helpful or if you have other tips or experiences to share with us about shopping for eveningwear.
By the way, I share these tips and other style secrets in my book “The A-Z Wardrobe”, so if you’re looking for gift ideas for your fashionable friends this Christmas, why not gift this book to them. I know there’re lots of good style books out there in the market – but this one’s a concise style guide, a quick and practical read, and I know it’s good – coz I wrote it!! (insert wink emoji!!) ), so I’ll be thrilled if you support my writing, and buy a few as gifts for your friends and family this Christmas!
PS: 30% of the book sale from now to 31 Dec 2016 will be donated to Touch Community Services, a Not For Profit organisation based in Singapore, which we’ve been supporting since the start of our business in 2005. This year, as part of their Christmas initiative, TCS is seeking support to help some 2,600 frail and homebound seniors who require home medical and nursing. We want to use our expertise and our influence to extend practical help to those within our own community, we rise by lifting others, so in the season of giving, please contribute generously.
After 3 years in Marina Bay Link Mall, we finally did a Christmas Launch there yesterday and were mighty pleased with the turn out, despite it being a very last minute put-together affair. So in this week’s blog, which is overdue because we were busy planning our launch, I thought I'll write a candid post about what happened behind scenes of our Christmas Launch and my own 2 cents worth of takeaways from this experience.
1. Be Adaptable
Firstly, failing to plan is planning to fail. However, even with the best plans, things don’t always happen according to plan. With our Christmas Launch, we had planned to give away our lovely A-Z Post-it as door gifts way back in October. We specially designed and printed them, we thought things through, they were on-point, relevant and apt for the season. But, they were massively delayed because of a quality issue and so we couldn’t confirm our launch date because we didn’t want to risk a situation where we invited all our VIPs and couldn’t give them our Christmas “gift” because it didn’t arrive! Of course we could have compromised and came up with some other gift or simply give a direct purchase discount - but that’s so common these days and we wanted to stay true to our originality so we delayed our Christmas Launch to accommodate our specially designed "gift".
2. Don't Underestimate Good Vibes and Laughter
Since we’re a small business, we don’t have deep pockets for A&P. However, everybody’s on the social media bandwagon and so we thought we’ll try our hand at producing our own FB advert to invite our friends and VIPs for our launch. We are all newbies doing video but we had a blast doing the script and our very sporting sales staff, gladly took their turns in front of our iPhone cameras for their very first video recording. I think we had more bloopers and blunders than actual advertisement footage, but we all had so much fun doing the video – we were laughing with each other - the experience of learning something new together and the team bonding is probably worth more than those corporate team-building courses.
Don’t take our word for it, check out our bloopers photos below ;)
3. It’s all About Teamwork
When it comes to running a business – any business, its all about the team. No matter how able, smart, rich ..... insert your adjectives, no one can do it alone.
The power of a successful business depends very much on how engaged the team is towards achieving the goals of the business. I guess its in this aspect that B&M really shines and this Christmas Launch was a great reminder for me how much I enjoy doing this business - in part because of the excellent team we have. People say that if you get to do what you love and love what you do, you’re blessed. Well, I get to do what I love and love what I do, AND I get to do it with a team of women who also do what they love and love what they do ..... so as a team we are DOUBLY BLESSED!
4. Create Any Excuse to Celebrate
Modern living has us orbiting our own little busy worlds and if we allow ourselves, there’ll always be a reason to put off celebrations. No time, no budget, no manpower etc. Yesterday’s Christmas Launch was a brilliant reminder that we all could do with more celebration in our lives. Time passes however much or little we choose to do with it.
Yesterday, as I watched our VIPs try our merchandise and look good in the clothes we’ve curated specially for the Christmas season, I felt a sense of pride and joy that “Wow! This is my business - I get to do this!” and it’s a feeling I’ve forgotten in recent months, because of the “busy-ness” of running the day-to-day “business”. Celebrations like our Christmas launch, allowed ourselves, our team and our customers some much needed excuse to indulge, pamper and enjoy ourselves a little. That little bit of shared joy and laughter, does wonders for the soul.
5. It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to be Successful
Oooo ..... I can always count the ways we got it wrong yesterday.
Books late – check.
Notifications to customers late – check.
Didn’t manage to RSVP everybody – check.
Bad timing, it was the last day of the primary school term and most of our VIPS had school going children – check.
Wrong day for launch – Friday is when most people have drinks and dinner plans – check.
But sometimes, if we go with what could go wrong and wait and wait and wait for a better time, the moment is past and the “right” time may never come. Sure, we can do it better next time and yes there are lessons to be learnt – but, all in all, we’re glad we did it, and given the same set of circumstances, I’ll gladly do it again!
So, a very big thank you to all of you who graced our Christmas Launch yesterday. Your presence really meant a lot to us. Thank you for supporting us and being a part of our local business all these years!
Bringing you some early Christmas Cheer!