Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bricks 'n' Mortar vs Net-a-Porter: A Guide to Online Sale Shopping

I get warehouse sales. You run in, you punch all the girls who took the shoes that you want, you divide and conquer (one girl each to shoes, bags, accessories, another to man your place at the cashier. The one with the knuckleduster is in charge of punching, the one that's good at math is in charge of paying for everyone's stuff so you get the bulk extra discount.) You grab and grab and grab and then while you're waiting in line to pay, you cull. You go with your gaggle of gal pals but you DO NOT SPEAK until everyone has done a full round of the venue. It's practically down to an ART.

Then there's this whole online beast, which is a great alternative to shopping in Hong Kong's marked-up market, but doesn't really compare to the steals you get at a sample sale. Until sale season. I think I've got the schedule down for Net-a-Porter -- the US sale starts first, followed roughly two weeks later by the International site's sale. It starts at "up to 50% off", then goes to "final clearance up to 70% off" and ends with an extra 20% final final final clearance. Then whatever's left over goes to the Outnet. Problem is, I CAN'T PUNCH ANYBODY ON THE INTERNET. Especially when I stick something, say a beautiful canary yellow lace Erdem cocktail dress, into my shopping cart and when I hit "Checkout" it's mysteriously gone, and I'll never know which bitch it was that took it.

Anyway, this has happened to me multiple times this season. With the Erdem frock, as well as a DKNY racerback gown, a Vionnet find on the Outnet clearance rack, a Theyskens Theory tuxedo dress on My Wardrobe. Finally I had to go on an Asos binge to make up for all the things I was not buying. Online sale shopping, I must say, simply does not work well with my shopping style. But I've come up with a few sensible suggestions to make my next sale season a more profitable one.

In that light, a few tips on online sale shopping.

Figure out when a sale is going to be on. A good way to do that is to figure out when the sale was last year. Start pre-shopping so you know what you want beforehand. If you need to visit a brick-and-mortar store to get an idea of sizing, do that before the sale begins.


Decide how bad you want various items. If you NEED it, get it the minute the sale starts. If you only need it at a certain price, then you can wait till the second or third round of price-slashing -- but unless you have bad taste or it is a high-ticket item, there's a big chance it'll be gone.

Figure out at what point the items in your basket can't be poached (usually once you hit checkout and head to the pay screen). Just because it's in your shopping cart doesn't mean it won't be gone by the time you're ready to pay. Also work out how long items can stay in your shopping cart for -- it could be as short as one hour, so if you spend over an hour shopping, you'll have to re-add your items to the cart again.

For god's sake, figure out shipping costs and group combo buying earlier, rather than later. If I had the patience to do it, I'd even create an excel spreadsheet of shipping costs against sites. (Note to self: good idea for another blog post.)

Remember, even after the discount, not all sites are created equal. Net-a-Porter items might have steeper discounts than they do on Shopbop, but Shopbop's mark-up isn't as high. A good site to do price comparisons on is ShopStyle, which archives the same item from different sites. (Bear in mind that they work with the US Net-a-Porter database, not the international).

Decisions need to be made quickly, but many sites allow returns, even on sale merchandise. But if you're going to buy on impulse, either make sure that the site pays for return shipping, or that the item is light enough that it won't cost $500 just to send it back from whence it came. There's nothing sadder than ordering shoes, realizing they don't fit, and having to pay even MORE just to get rid of them. Tees, bras, slutty dresses GOOD. Shoes, coats, anything leather BAD.

Image: QuartSoft


South East Asian Comfort Food

hkLifestyleGeek reviews Cafe Malacca

Malaysians hankering for some authentic dishes in Hong Kong now have a place to call home. Cafe Malacca in the Traders Hotel in Sai Ying Pun does a pretty good job at satisfying people's cravings for Penang Assam laksa, Hainanese chicken rice, klang bakut teh and beef rendang.

The restaurant is located on the second floor of the hotel, and it's no frills with long wooden tables and benches with cushions to promote family-style dining. It's quite a large space and on a recent Monday night there isn't much of a need to make reservations or was it because of the incessant rain?

After we ordered, the dishes came relatively quickly in no particular order. The Singapore laksa (HK$88) was not too spicy in a rich coconut milk broth, choc full of tofu puffs, slices of fish cakes, prawns and half a boiled egg mixed with rice noodles.

This is a great comfort food dish if you're into soup noodles and very satisfying. We also liked the Hainanese chicken rice (HK$108), that featured a plate of boneless chicken that was very flavourful and tender, though portion-wise on the small side. It came with three dipping sauces, chilli, ginger puree and soy, along with chicken broth that had small cubes of tofu in it.

Another good dish is the fried carrot cake (HK$63). We don't know what it's called this when there's no carrots in it, but cubes of turnip, stir-fried with bean sprouts, prawns and preserved turnips. We're into this root vegetable so we enjoyed this hearty delicious dish.

What makes the satays (HK$72) good here is the fragrant peanut sauce. Interestingly the dish comes with pieces of cucumber, onion wedges and rice cakes. We also enjoyed the sambal belachan ladies' fingers (HK$45) or okra, that was sliced diagonally and stir-fried with chilli and shrimp paste. It was so popular, we managed to get the last serving of it that evening and it was only 7.30pm.

Instead of a plate of water spinach, we opted for the fried eggplant with curry leaves (HK$45), but it's really deep-fried and is served with fried garlic, shallots and garnished with curry leaves. Other than eggplant tempura I don't think I've had deep-fried eggplant but it works well, a contrast of textures and flavourful too.
By the end of it we were too full for dessert and in the end for four the bill came to HK$460. So if you're in Western district looking for a solid place for a bite to eat, look no further than Cafe Malacca. You won't be disappointed.

Cafe Malacca
Level 2
Traders Hotel, Hong Kong
508 Queen's Road West
Western District
2213 6613


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

APM Monaco's Holiday Collection

Feeling the Arabesque vibe from my client's Holiday Collection. It's making me want to travel instead of working like a fiend! Loving the ring. Now if only I were by the beach sipping a cocktail while wearing it.

Available at APM Monaco


Monday, July 29, 2013

Happy Socks Make Me Happy

Happy Socks make me happy, especially when they're peeking out from in between a nice Italian suit pant and a pair of good leather shoes. So cute!


Geek Spy: Pillow by Snarkitecture

Just stumbled upon the online shop of design firm Snarkitecture where I discovered this awesome phone stand. Looking like a soft fluffy pillow for your phone, it's actually hand casted cement. Yes it's technically useless as my phone really doesn't need a stand but the combination of this contrast in visual appearance and texture and the name of the firm makes me lust after it. I mean come on, you just can't deny that Snarkitecture is an awesome name.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Smiley for Miley

Never thought I'd be into Miley Cyrus (stylistically speaking, not musically). But a pair of scissors really has changed my whole outlook on her, though I'm not sure if I'm referring to the pair that cut her hair or the pair that cropped all those bra tops and cut-offs. Inspo photos after the cut!


Friday, July 26, 2013

SHOErotica: Dolce & Gabbana Cage Sandals

I feel like there's a witty connection to be made between Misters Dolce & Gabbana being convicted for tax evasion and charging HK$20,000 for a pair of shoes. But whatever that connection is, it's too wet and gloomy today to make it. All I'm really thinking right now is, when is the rain going to stop?

Get these at Lane Crawford.


Bag Lady: Suede Bull Skin Boy Chanel

Be still my heart.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Minion Mania

I've gone a bit minion crazy lately after watching Despicable Me 2. After all, who doesn't want an army of minions to do their nails for them, clean up the house and generally make one laugh? So for the past two Fridays I've been having Happy Meals from McDonalds to get the minion toy and made my own fondant minion at Spark Studios too. Of course, with Monsters University also out, I managed to make a fondant Mike as well as having Randell play mahjong with the minion crew. Now I want to make more fondant minions. Question is, what do I do with them after they are created? I made this one have a sad face because I presumed someone would eat him but apparently my kids at Spark deems he is too cute to be ingested so now he's chilling in my fridge. Ah dilemma.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Beauty Notes: Blanc de la Mer The Brightening Essence Intense

You'd never believe it, but I've come to find that La Mer is very much the Marmite of expensive skincare. I know people who swear by it, and people who just poo-poo the entire series. I always personally thought the line was targeted at older, more moisture-starved skin. But count me converted, because I've just dived into my first La Mer experience, and I'm lovin' it. You can imagine that, while concussed, I took pretty good care of my skin. I did copious numbers of masks, put on lavish makeup to go to the supermarket and followed the five-step skincare regimen plus Clarisonic cleaning to the max. Plus I finally managed to finish my Guerlain Terracotta Sun Serum (crap, so crap that the dropper it comes with doesn't even want to suck the serum into its belly so you can't even get it out of the bottle).

It's now been about a week into using Blanc de la Mer's The Brightening Essence Intense, and I feel... intensely brightened. That could be all the extra sleep and the proper care. But it could also be my new amazeballs serum, which feels so good on my fingers I really want to squirt endless pumps of it and lather myself top to toe. My skin just drinks it in, it melts on at the lightest touch. Verdict: LOVE. That said, is it so good that it warrants the US$290 price tag? I mean, I'd rather buy a nice dress than a nice serum. But that said, if you're the kind of person who is already spending that kind of dosh on serum, then this one is now tried, tested and Geek-approved.


Beauty Notes: Benefit Stay Flawless

Summer humidity used to be the bane of my existence what with my foundation melting pretty much by the end of the day. I was having issues finding primers that would actually work until I discovered Benefit’s Stay Flawless primer. I was given a tester to try and to my delight, after a busy work day, I don’t look like the Wicked Witch of the West. I paired it with my Guerlain Parure Extreme and loved it. Pop by Benefit counters now to try it out. The brand claims it lasts for up to 15 hours though I’ve yet to test that theory. Priced at HK$315


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Concussed and Nonplussed

So poor V has been blogging all by her lonesome for the last week or so, mainly because I've been sitting in a sensory deprivation room known as... my bedroom. Smashed my head against the water wakeboarding last Sunday and ended up with a minor concussion, which had the effect of making me a dizzy, nauseous, emo and slightly stupid little bunny. (But not that stupid. Doctor: Where are you? Me: Uh... doctor's office? Doctor: VERY GOOD! GOOD GIRL! Now, draw a circle!) Anyway, so speaking from experience, we of the concussed are supposed to steer clear of bright screens -- TV, phone, computer -- and fast transportation (cars, busses, zoom zoom elevators)... which pretty much left me either in bed with my face in a vat of ice cream, "listening" to the TV, or shopping around Causeway Bay and Wanchai or anywhere else within walking distance of my place.

It ALSO MEANT that I missed out on everything I wanted from the Net a porter clearance sale. But... I'm back now, mostly all good except for minor headaches now and then and dizziness. So hopefully blogging will resume tomorrow. Wakeboarding will have to wait a few weeks, though.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Nail Files: China Glaze Sun of a Peach

I’ve always had an affinity for colour and given that I’m a bit more subdued now at work in terms of outfits, there’s nothing that cheers me up more than bright nails. Recently discovered China Glaze’s Sun of a Peach colour which is deliciously neon in a pastel hue. Yes it sounds contradictory and doesn't quite show from the above pic so you'll just have to take my word for it!


Friday, July 19, 2013

Bag Lady: MCM Candy Bag Collection

Well done MCM. You caught my attention by linking these bags to Candy Crush and now I am forever associating my candy with these bags and feeling that I must own one. HK$4200 a pop and available in store in August.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tie Me Up

I've just been introduced to ERA ORA, a brand that creates lovely scarves and pocket squares made of the softest silk and feature hand-stitched hems. The latest collection features two lines, Voyage and Atelier. Voyage is travel themed while Atelier offers quirky art prints. All items from this brand are produced in limited qualities and I hear they are having a special 10% off sale at Purchase on or before July 26th and use the coupon code ERAORA10 to enjoy this discount.