Monthly Archives: January 2011

Style Signatures (For Work)

Jasmine: As much as we’re for experimentation and taking risks with one’s style, Andrew and I have also have certain “style signatures”, or fail-safe styles that are easy to put together and always figure-flattering, that we fall back on whenever we’re stumped.

For the office, the key ingredients of my style signature would be

Dresses

IMG_9420

(All dresses from Far East unless otherwise stated)

Dresses are actually my default mode of dressing. When I introduced myself to a class and asked if they had any questions, one student raised her hand and innocently said, “Why aren’t you in a dress today?”

[Andrew: Interestingly enough, that was the one thing that attracted me to Jasmine initially! (Jasmine: Only one thing? Thanks ah Andrew…) She was the only girl I’d ever met who never wore jeans to NIE and was always appearing in various interesting dresses. Yes – and at that point, the level of my fashion discernment was only at that stage of being able to pick out what types of clothes people wore. Heh.]

IMG_9412

IMG_9414

Jasmine: I get my clothes from all over: flea markets in Sydney, discount racks in London, vintage finds from Etsy and of course, my beloved second home, Far East Plaza, is a veritable treasure trove of Korean dresses and cheap strappy sandals.

[Andrew: As much as I groan whenever Jasmine suggests we go to Far East, I have to admit that I’m consistently amazed by how affordable yet unique the clothes there are! Of course, Dearie always seems to have an astute eye for picking out the best outfits from the countless stores there. At a recent trip to Far East, the salesgirl even asked her what her profession was as all the clothes she chose [from their own racks] were very nice!]

IMG_9409

(Dress: LoveLabel, belt: Dustbunny Vintage, shoes: H&M Hong Kong)

Jasmine: I don’t enjoy wearing designer from head-to-toe as I think it’s far more inventive –and individual– to mix high and low. In fact, I only have one piece of designer clothing, a seersucker wrap dress from Diane von Furstenberg, and that was bought at 75% off at a consignment store many years back.

IMG_9416

Some close-ups

IMG_9418

(Volume brooch from Tatty Devine, mixed buttons belt from Greenpetals)

But of course, what is a statement dress without a…

Statement Piece

Jasmine: If you ever feel your outfit is coming off a little “blah”, throw in a statement accessory. I only have these two at the moment:

Jasmine: I got this at Bondi Beach Market (what can I say, I’d rather shop than suntan…). It reverses to black as well so technically it’s really one-and-a-half necklaces:) Unlike other graphic necklaces that are crafted from acrylic or hard plastics, this is hand-cut from leather, so it fits around the neck and body, almost like it’s a print on the dress fabric itself. I wore this for a formal school event and received several compliments, including two from my VPs.

[Andrew: I really do like this piece very much too! It’s artistic without being too ostentatious.]

My other necklace is this dinosaur one by Tatty Devine. Let me assure you, it’s a real attention-seeker.

IMG_9413Tyrannosaurus Fax, because it’s just a copy of the real thing

Jasmine: However, the accessory most people are likely to associate me with would be the hairband (or hair anything)…

IMG_9410

IMG_9411

[Andrew: The picture right above is a combination of 3 hair pins (one of which I bought for Dearie – from Far East) and Dearie wore this for my cousin’s wedding. I thought it was really brilliant how she put them together. They worked really well together as the colours were all rather muted, which drew more attention to the subtle ‘detail’ of the flowers like the petals or the shiny ‘beads’.]

Jasmine: My favourite, however, is from Camden Market in London.

[Andrew: This hairband drew quite mixed reactions from many. I remember Dearie wearing it for a pre-mission trip meeting and our pastor asking her, “Jasmine, what’s that on your head?” Heh. I think her family members asked a similar question too. I can’t say I truly appreciated it initially, but I guess if we’re going for something statement, then this is it!]

Jasmine: So there we have it!

My style signature for work:

Korean dresses + Statement Accessory + Nude Shoes

Look out for the next post on Andrew’s signature look for work!

Advertisements

Style File: The CHECK List

Jasmine: After much trial and error in the changing-room, we’ve accidentally discovered that Andrew looks really good in checked shirts. Over the past year, Mr Chong’s amassed quite a collection of checked shirts! Of course, he has his beloved black-and-white checked shirt from Domanchi that he’s worn on a number of special occasions (a staff dinner at Sentosa, our very first birthday celebration, at the Peak in Hong Kong) as well as casual weekends. We present to you some of our new favourites:

1.  Blue checked shirt from P.O.A.

Jasmine: I normally don’t push Andrew into making a purchase decision, but I’ve to confess that it was only after much cajoling on my part that Andrew finally caved in and bought this shirt.

IMG_9381

Jasmine: He originally protested that it was too “metrosexual” to wear to the office. I liked that the checks were diagonally placed, which made him look taller. The light blue hue also complemented his tanned skin.

[Andrew: I must admit that I was very uncertain about buying this shirt. After wearing it to a friend’s wedding, many friends complemented it and said it was a nice shirt! I guess Jasmine’s fashion sense is always a step ahead. While Dearie has commented extensively on the checks, what I also like about the shirt very much are the lines (which you can’t really see from the picture above) that enhance the ‘top’ of my frame and slims the waist area. I have another POA shirt (which I’m equally uncomfortable wearing) which has a similar effect and it does so in a similar way. Korean-cut shirts are great!]

2. Red-and-blue shirt from Topman

Jasmine: The bright colours are a refreshing change from the myriad of blacks and blues that typically predominate a man’s wardrobe. The checks are also not too large- this would be too overwhelming since red and blue are both strong primary hues. I remember seeing a similar shirt retail at Paragon for quadruple the price. The best part is that when Andrew tires of this shirt, we can re-purpose it as a picnic mat!

IMG_9347

Andrew: This shirt is otherwise known by my colleagues as the “Pizzaman shirt”. Heh.  My initial reservation about this shirt was that I thought it would be too casual for work. Dearie suggested doing some slight alterations to add some ‘darts’ behind to make the shirt slimmer and it really did help give it a more ‘formal’ look. This shirt has become another one of my unexpectedly good buys, purchased from Topman at 50% off!

3. Pink gingham shirt from Raoul

Jasmine: We got a really good deal on this shirt. After Andrew spent an hour deliberating whether to buy his Raoul briefcase, he spied this shirt on the sale rack and got it in five minutes. It was 50% off!

IMG_9397

IMG_9462 I think Andrew looks rather good in pink and this pink in particular, is a more sophisticated, deeper hue than the baby pinks that we normally see at G200o or horror, Goldlion.

[Andrew: Interestingly enough, my dad also likes to wear pink shirts and they do look quite good on him. In my first few months of teaching, a colleague of mine put up this skit in which we pretended to argue to illustrate the concept of argumentative essays. I had to wear pink shirts consecutively for 3 days (I only had 2) because he would make fun of my pink shirts by calling me a ‘pink cow’. Heh. That earned me a reputation amongst my students for wearing pink shirts. I do realise that deeper hue of pink (and not any other hue)! ]

In short, these are our tips when it comes to buying checked shirts for men

  • Print: Ensure that the size of the check/ plaid is right for you (or your man, if you’re a girl reading this). We’d advise against extremely tiny checks, especially for very buff or heavyset men, because they can make guys look larger. Actually, we’d advise against checks for heavyset men in general.
  • Colour combis: Choose interesting colour pairings but don’t go overboard. Sticking with two, maximum three, colours is a safe bet. When in doubt, go with a traditional manly check in red, blue or black, such as this one from the Gap:
  • Fit: Never too baggy, unless the look you are going for is lumberjack! For a modern update, try a checked shirt with a narrower collar, also from the Gap:
  • Hint: I don’t particularly like this oversized plaid (its proportions are too overwhelming for guys of average build) but I do like the touch of teal, which makes an otherwise staid monochromatic ensemble surprising.
  • Sleeve-length: If you are considering short sleeves for work, plaid or gingham is respectable, yet classically stylish. In fact, I think that short-sleeved shirts look best in a checked print. For added Italian flair (and if your stomach is reasonably flat), select a shirt that’s snug (but not too snug) around the midsection.

And of course, who says girls can’t do checks too?

IMG_9427

(Shirt: M&S, tutu skirt: H&M Kids)

The Way to a Man’s Heart

Andrew: When Jasmine and I first started dating, I told her that one thing I admired about her was how she always shared about cooking for her family and that was rare amongst girls today. Heh. When she told her family that, they laughed in disbelief and her brother, Gabriel, shared with me tales of the ‘instant noodle’ ball she cooked in Edinburgh and later on, her sister couldn’t stop talking about Jasmine’s ‘burnt eggs’ episode. (Will we ever have the chance to share this tale on the blog?) (Jasmine: NO!)

They were once eggs

Andrew: Knowing that I’m a food person who enjoys home-cooked meals, Jasmine has frequently surprised me over the past year with many special breakfasts and desserts, some of which I’ve blogged about before! (Jasmine: Maybe Andrew’s just surprised that my food’s edible!)

Andrew: Last Thursday was an especially long day for me in school and a tiring one as we had an expectedly huge crowd for our School Tours. As we had to go for a church meeting that evening, Dearie decided then to cook up a special meal for her family and I that day. She made:

IMG_9362Orange chicken (marinated overnight with freshly squeezed oranges, pepper, salt, sugar and soy sauce)

and

IMG_9363

Steamed soya milk egg, topped with minced pork

Andrew: Both dishes were excellent! Although all of us agreed that the gravy for the orange chicken could have been thicker, I found the flavour rather refreshing. The citrusy flavours blended surprisingly well with the soya sauce and the juices of the chicken. The gravy went very well with rice too!

The steamed soy-milk with egg was a recipe adapted from a TV show that Jasmine and her mum had watched a day before. Although both Jasmine and her mum found it a bit too ‘soy-milk-ish’ (i.e  too sweet), I thought it worked quite well with the minced meat on top. The soy-milk egg alone tasted a bit like a more salty-version of tau huey which I do like!

(Jasmine: I like playing flavours off each other i.e. sweet/ salty… You often yield unexpected, and hopefully, unexpectedly yummy, results!)

Andrew: It was a great meal, exactly what I needed to recharge me after a tiring day at work! Thanks a lot, Dearie – you’re the best! 🙂

Style File: Dressing to Match while Still Being You

Jasmine: Couple dressing has earned itself a (deservedly) bad rep thanks to those clingy types who wear identical T-shirts with horrendously cheesy slogans i.e. We Belong Together or I’m With Stupid (which I never quite got- why would anyone want to advertise his own bad taste?).

We offer you a few interesting colour combinations for unexpected couple dressing.

White + Navy Blue + Emerald Green

IMG_9339

(On Andrew: shirt from Topman, jeans from Levi’s, sneakers from Fred Perry; on Jasmine: blouse from Far East Plaza, skirt from Southaven, shoes from H&M)

Jasmine: When Andrew saw me emerge from the room in this ensemble, he was surprised that I had not gone with one of my blue-and-white printed dresses. White and blue can be a little austere, so I thought I would inject a shock of colour to our outfits. My paperbag skirt, however, is navy blue. The bow blouse is quite attention-seeking on its own (it’s got a huge bow on the chest, comes in a bright-coloured fabric and has a slight satin sheen), so I thought that a simple skirt with minimal detail would help tone it down. And more nude shoes, this time from H&M Hong Kong.

Another variant on this would be:

White + Grey + (Your choice of bold print/ colour)

IMG_9317

(On Andrew: shirt from Raoul; on Jasmine: dress from Roxy Square, belt taken from another dress)

Jasmine: Grey is not a fantastic colour alone, but it provides a great background for experimenting with primary colours and prints (or in this case, both).

Purple + Pink

IMG_9326

(On Andrew: shirt from Raoul; on Jasmine: custom dress from Etsy, elt from another dress, shoes from Far East Plaza)

Jasmine: For high-profile occasions where there’s bound to be a great deal of trigger-happy relatives, go for jewel tones in solid hues, such as fuchsia pink or royal purple, which photograph very well. Forget black. Black is dead!

Another misconception about couple dressing is that couples have to dress exactly alike, in gender-ambiguous kit such as polo tees and bermudas. (Involuntary shudder.) However, we say that the best thing about couple dressing is that we get to play up opposites i.e. masculinity/ femininity, neutrals/ vivid hues, structured/ unstructured. Don’t be afraid to take risks- should you fail, just walk three metres apart from each other at all times.

Oh, and a close-up of my current necklace du jour (a present from the Lims).

IMG_9328

Toast and Jam: Best Friends Forever (BFF)

P.S. Our more discerning readers may notice that this is actually a spin-off of our previous Style File post on some of Andrew’s favourite shirt brands. Not wanting to be left out of the photoshoot fun, I decided that I would act as the living backdrop to Andrew by choosing outfits that would complement his!

Latest Update: Purple + Green

Jasmine: While purple and green are more typically associated with Barney the dinosaur, I like how our shades of pistachio green and electric purple (yes, I actually checked Wikipedia for the name of this shade) are complementary rather than clashing hues.

(On Andrew: Tee from Animal, jeans from Levi’s; on Jasmine: dress from Far East Plaza, bag from Femme X, necklace from Bondi Beach Market, Sydney)

Andrew: Finally I have a say. We took this picture today after we had published this post. When it comes to couple dressing, Jasmine still has the best instinct of all. I didn’t even realise that our outfits were ‘coordinated’ until Jasmine pointed out today that we were wearing ‘contrasting colours’. Upon which, I just nodded and said, “Mm..”.

Sharing a giggle


Andrew: I’ll comment more on my own outfit then. This pair of grey jeans has indeed been very useful for both smart casual and casual days. I wore it yesterday for my aunt’s dinner with a white Springfield shirt and today with the ANIMAL t-shirt and the jeans complemented both well!

Open House 2011

Andrew: Jasmine and I always have this mock-argument about whether Toa Payoh or Katong is better. (Jasmine: What do you mean "mock argument"? I’m dead serious…) I argue that Toa Payoh is infinitely more convenient than Katong. It is even nearer to Orchard Road – Dearie’s ‘second home’. Yet, Jasmine remains firm that Katong is much better because it has so much character and history – which I, unfortunately, can’t deny. It has so much history and character that it was the choice of this year’s Open House Exhibition 2011, an art exhibition that brings art out of the museum and into people’s homes.

Jasmine and I were rather disappointed with the first installation of OH last year (which we wrote about here), but I must say that the both of us did enjoy this year’s OH. As with most art exhibitions, there were the usual hits and misses, but it was overall an enriching, fascinating experience that made me feel that I was temporarily transported into another world.

Our tickets entitled us to a free scoop of bandung ice-cream with every scoop we bought at Scoop of Art, so we sat down and had some ice-cream since we had time to spare before our tour began.

DSC_0801Sea-salt Caramel with Mars Bars & Bandung Ice-Cream with Atap Chee

We began our tour at 5.15 p.m. and made our way to the first stop…

Blk 32 – Kei’s apartment

We didn’t take any photos in Kei’s apartment, but the exhibit in this place was a series of Zhao Renhui’s photographs of dolphin sightings in East Coast in the past. I’ve never really been able to appreciate Zhao Renhui’s works, but this series did capture my attention as I initially could not believe that the photographs were Singapore. Yet, undeniably, the pictures were so alluring and ‘romantic’ with the warm glow of them that I just started to imagine a more idyllic, scenic Singapore in the past, much like New Zealand. When the intention of the photos were eventually explained to us, I was even more interested to go back and look at the photos again.

Blk 32- Anthea’s apartment

DSC_0805

Andrew: I can’t remember who did this, but it was meant to recreate how the view from the window would look like at night with the holes mimicking the ‘patterns’ of windows from the flats at night.

(Jasmine: I felt that this "curtain" –for lack of a better word– should have been installed in the first home to convey the sense of someone from the inside looking out. That would have brought the entire exhibition full circle upon reaching the installation at the last home, which toys with the notion of someone from the outside looking in.)

DSC_0807

‘Untitled’ by Willy Lee – We were told that this piece of art was also used to cover up the cracks in the wall of the flat.

(Jasmine: The cracks were caused by seismic shock, and the abstract paintings, with its hurriedly filled-in lines captured the artist’s response to the tremors. )

DSC_0808

Jes Brinch’s installation which literally turned the room upside down.

One gripe I have with the overall Open House experience was with the issue of time. There were points at the exhibition which I felt I really wanted to stay and appreciate what the artist was doing, but due to time constraints, we could only spend at most 5 minutes in each place.

I really enjoyed the experience of being in Anthea’s house and appreciating the various art pieces. It was evident from the decor of the place that this was an intensely privately individual who had clearly defined her home as a space for only one person and nobody else. There were some of her own art pieces in the house and they were rather shocking pieces, which I felt ‘pushed’ me away from the home.

However, the art pieces chosen told a different story, revealing a person who still wanted to be attached to the world while being private, like the curtain which replicated the window view without having to actually draw the curtain. The upside down room was just so fascinating that I really wanted to enter, but it was so interesting that the moment I stepped in, the guide immediately told me, “NO, Don’t STEP IN, it will break!” She had a very panicky tone which just reinforced that tension between drawing in and keeping away which I felt throughout this home. I’m not saying that this is what the home-owner is like, but this is my interpretation of it based on the dialogue between her home and the art pieces.

1st Bengawan Solo

DSC_0814Before we went up Blk 58, our tour guide informed us that this was the first ever Bengawan Solo in Singapore!

Blk 58 – Lift Landing

Andrew: The most fun piece of the whole Open House has to be Yen Lin Teng’s installation. She created images of bicycles, lifts and bird cages using black tape and these images could only be viewed if you stood at certain points. We really had a lot of fun with this piece!

DSC_0817Andrew waits for the lift

DSC_0815 DSC_0818

DSC_0821

Can you tell which railing is real and which is made of duct tape?

DSC_0819

What I found extremely fascinating was how Yen merged her ‘tape drawings’ with the existing furnishings of the space (like the picture above). She even added black-tape on the existing lamps and lights to ‘include’ them in her art piece. This was a piece that was so distinctly site-specific that you could never imagine it existing in a gallery or museum. This piece challenged my notion of art as being decorative and aesthetic. What her piece did with the space went beyond merely decorating it to creating so much more that people could do and enjoy about the space. I liked it!

(Jasmine: I too found this extremely successful because it was so accessible.  It was not what one would call highbrow art, but anyone, from a seasoned museum-goer to a random passer-by , would have fun interacting with this whimsical work . Its out-in-the-open location also took the concept of Open House one step further, by creating public art meant for the masses to enjoy.)

Blk 58- Mel and Marcel’s apartment

DSC_0822

A sculpture made of clay by an Indonesian artist, which was meant to contrast hardness and softness. Every other clay "house" was inscribed with the silhouette of a withering tree, which made me wonder if the artist was commenting on the state of the modern family.

DSC_0823 More works from the owners’ private collectionDSC_0825

Andrew: Mel and Marcel are art collectors themselves and all of the piece shown above belong to them. I admit that I was more fascinated by their book collection in their study than the art pieces above. The art pieces were interesting individually, especially one piece done by a Vietnamese artist which had chairs swept away by a flood with a pop song faintly inscribed in the background.

It was rather obvious from what our guide told us that Mel and Marcel were collectors of Asian contemporary art. I heard a radio programme a week ago on Asian contemporary art and the artist was commenting on how artists in Asia lack the infrastructural support that artists in the West have. Hence, while there may be just as many budding artists in Asia, they do not have as many exhibition spaces where they can really showcase their work prominently. Perhaps they can really consider bringing this Open House concept overseas then as I can immediately imagine how some of these pieces would be greatly enhanced in an Indonesian/Vietnamese residence as opposed to a rather ubiquitous exhibition space which will suppress rather than bring out the meanings of the piece.

Blk 54 – Josephine’s apartment

DSC_0830

Andrew: Every house has an art piece like the one above which is meant to be a eulogy written by the owner(s) of the residences.

(Jasmine: A good attempt to provide a connecting thread amongst all five houses through the "Eulogist" pieces. However, while they were useful in providing some background on the owners, the "Eulogist" pieces seemed more like a display of stylish topography rather than actual art. It seemed to be the home decor version of those little white cards in museums  that explain art pieces.

If Open House had a souvenir store, they might do good business selling customised Eulogist photo frames and postcards.)

DSC_0831

Andrew: There were many art pieces of gymnasts training and a video installation (which was a compilation of these paintings) in one of the smaller rooms.

DSC_0832

Andrew: In the middle of the kitchen was this installation titled ‘Tremor’, which would vibrate every few minutes and we would hear the glasses rattling against each other. This was meant to replicate the tremors that residents in Marine Parade experience from time to time.

What photographs cannot capture was the accompanying sound-scape that was being looped in this house, which I thought was more effective than the art works themselves. I can’t say these pieces really worked for me. If the intention was to create a sense of sympathy towards for these gymnasts, then I felt it didn’t quite work as I felt rather distant from them. The ‘tremor’ piece was interesting, but rather oddly placed in this residence and didn’t seem to cohere with the theme that the other paintings were conveying.

(Jasmine: I also took issue with the lack of polish in its presentation.  It looked like an amateur cocktail bar or school music project.)

DSC_0829

Our only (but failed) attempt to get a shot of ourselves

Blk 5 – Angeline’s apartment

Andrew: As the tour guide pointed out, this installation was rather well-placed as the final piece of this tour as it really brought to the forefront the theme of voyeurism, which was actually what we had been doing throughout the tour.

When we entered the house, there was actually a dropcloth draped to cover up the living room, with only small little peepholes throughout the cloth. There were even peepholes that required us to climb up a small ladder to look in. On the other side of the cloth was the installation composed of items which were Angeline’s. There was also a woman, who was supposed to be ‘playing’ Angeline, living her life as per normal on the other side. She would sit down, walk around, play the piano while we peeked in on her through the peep-holes.

We tried taking photos through the peep-hole and the result was rather eerie:

DSC_0833 DSC_0834 DSC_0835

DSC_0838

This was another piece I felt I wanted more time to just admire and experience. We spent way too little time here for me to fully take in what the piece was trying to convey. All I got from the piece was that it was an attempt to make more obvious the voyeurism that we had been engaging in throughout the entire tour.

(Jasmine: This site-specific installation was created using Angeline’s belongings.  I thought that this was one of the best pieces because its amplification of our voyeurism (going to strangers’ homes) forced us to confront rather difficult ideas such as intrusion, privacy and personal space.  I felt guilty (for eavesdropping on what seemed like an intensely personal moment) but at the same time fascinated to see more. Being made to crouch or climb to see through the peepholes reinforced that sense that we as voyeurs are not just accidental consumers but active seekers too. )

Andrew: Coincidentally, Angeline – the owner of the place – was home when we were there too and she was dressed almost like the woman who was supposed to play her!

So, all in all, OH 2011 was indeed a fulfilling, though admittedly rather rushed experience. Overall, I think visitors would benefit from a more flexible tour arrangement which allows them to choose how long they want to dwell at each pace, though I understand the space and time constraints. Nonetheless, we still enjoyed the experience a lot and are looking forward to OH 2012!

(Jasmine: We encountered a couple of homes where the various pieces of art seemed disjointed, so perhaps the curators could consider commissioning art along a broad theme for next year’s OH?)

DSC_0839

Style File: The Shirt Directory

"We always hold hands. If I let go, he shops."

Jasmine: When we first started dating, Andrew told me that he was slightly disappointed that I didn’t try to make him over. After one and a half years of shopping together, Andrew and I have discovered a few brands that suit his body type well. Our search criteria consist of affordability, versatility, uniqueness (sounds like it contradicts the previous criterion but it doesn’t) and fit.

Under $150: Raoul

Jasmine: Though he probably does not care to admit it, Raoul is the fashion equivalent of comfort food for Andrew. He has dragged me into Raoul on several occasions, and just last Sunday, we spent close to an hour there while he agonised over whether to buy a camel or coffee-coloured briefcase (light brown and dark brown, in manspeak). He even threw in a shirt at the last minute because it was 50% off for 2 items.

[Andrew: I waited 6 months to buy that bag! And a few days ago, we went to the Raoul Outlet at Raffles Place and they told us the colour we wanted was sold out already. Imagine how glad I was when we finally found the same bag, in an even more unique colour and at half price!

IMG_9342  
One of my favourite Raoul shirts:

IMG_9310
IMG_9315

Jasmine: I must say, he’s a changed man (no pun intended). At last count, Andrew has five shirts from here, a reversible leather belt (my Christmas gift to him) and said briefcase.

IMG_9341Reversible belt 

More pics of Raoul shirts:

IMG_9320

IMG_9321

Under $100: P.O.A/ Domanchi

Jasmine: P.O.A/ Domanchi has that Korean fit, which is slim without being tight. Their fabric selection is also more adventurous than Raoul’s and are perfect for casual Fridays at the office.

IMG_8123

IMG_8129

Andrew: My colleague says this shirt has a cow-boy look to it. Heh. I do like this shirt very much as it is very comfortable and cooling and all the subtle touches like the buttons and interesting lines give this shirt a nice frame which makes it look equally smart and casual.

Under $60: Topman

Jasmine: Andrew bought two shirts from Topman which have been garnering rave reviews from his colleagues and students.

IMG_9333

We like how the vertical placket makes the torso look long and lean. Also, navy blue, even in small doses, effectively counteracts the yellow undertones of Asian skin.

Andrew: One of my students told me he has the exact same shirt as me! One of the ‘perils’ of shopping at Topshop is that my students shop there too. A student even told me once that a Topman shirt I wore was from a collection 2 years ago (implying I was outdated). Heh. Everyone loves the shirt above. I wore it just last week and it got praises from 3 people throughout the day.

Jazzy’s tip: It doesn’t matter how small your budget is. You can achieve an expensive, bespoke look by altering your shirt to fit you perfectly. I introduced Andrew to my seamstress at Roxy Square: though she’s protested that "no need to take in lah", she’s done a great job tucking in seams and adding darts in a way that complements Andrew’s physique.

The Burger Bash

Andrew: It used to be the case where you could only find burgers at Fast Food restaurants, but this is increasingly not the case as burger joints are appearing all over Singapore now. More interestingly, these new burger joints tailor their burgers to meet your various dietary requirements. These are the few places that Dearie and I have managed to visit over the past few months and we’ve categorized them according to what kind of meal you’ve looking for:

A Healthy, Guilt-Free Meal

If you want to enjoy the hearty goodness of a burger without the accompanying grease and calories, then the latest burger joint VeganBurg (located along Still Road, just before Eunos MRT) is the place for you.

CSC_0785

Much thought has been put into the concept and deco of Veganburg and you immediately feel like you’re going to have a healthy meal upon entering the restaurant. Their tables have neat little cubicles in them to store magazines and we found a past issue of Augustman to tide us through until the food arrived.

DSC_0788

Dearie ordered a Smoky BBQ burger (above) and an organic ginger beer, which she quite enjoyed due to its spiciness and healthy patty. I took a bite of it and thought it was just ok.

DSC_0790

I ordered the Cracked Pepper Mayo set and was rather underwhelmed, though I guess if this is probably the best that a vegetarian burger can be. I read reviews on the web which said that these burgers tasted like the real thing in spite of them being vegetarian. I beg to differ. These burgers really lack the shiokness of biting into a juicy burger patty with all the meaty juices oozing out (think Carl’s Jr – which we will come to in a while). I found the vegetarian patty rather flat and unsatisfying, plus there was way too much mayo in this burger. This was a healthier option, but not exactly healthy too, given that there’s lots of mayo and fries. I must say though that their fries and deep fried spinach potato balls (in the background) are comparatively less greasy than what you get for your usual fast-food fare.

Conclusion – It’s indeed a healthy alternative and the food doesn’t taste bad, but for meat-lovers out there, this place will not satisfy your burger craving. However, Dearie really enjoyed her burger. This is one of the few restaurants where our opinion of the food really differed, so you’ll have to judge for yourself.

Jasmine: Actually, I’d only give the burgers a 6.5 to 7/10. My patty was rather limp, and I thought the helping of spinach potato balls was rather meagre, propped up only by some yellowing lettuce. I was however impressed with the promotional materials: the signages, menus were thoughtfully and clearly-designed and really upgraded this burger joint into something more upmarket and fashionable.

Andrew: Speaking of Carl’s Junior, Jasmine and I have been trying to find a compromise between her love of fast food and my agenda to eat healthy. Hence, while at Carl’s, I’ve been trying out their healthier options. I tried the Charboiled Chicken Club Burger with wholemeal burger bread a while back and didn’t like it at all. In order for this to be healthy, you have to remove the bacon in it, which basically leaves you with a charboiled piece of chicken fillet flavoured only by Mayo – not the most tasty combinations of all.

Then, two weeks ago, I tried the Low-carb thick burger, which is basically a Angus Beef Thickburger with lettuce instead of burger bread holding it together. This is how it looks like:

Menu_LowCarbSixDollarBurger

Image courtesy of greenburito.com

It was alright for the first few bites, but the lettuce obviously was too slippery to hold all those ingredients in and the whole meal descended into an extremely messy affair with the sauce dripping all over and me trying to keep the lettuce and burger together. It was nice while it lasted, but they must find a way to make the burger hold together better. (Jasmine: I suggested packing the burger like a wrap! KFC does a pretty decent job with its Banditto Pocket!)

My conclusion – there’s no point trying to find a healthy burger!

A Unique Dining Experience

If you’re more adventurous and want to try new, refreshing burger combinations, then Chef Willin Low’s Relish is definitely the place for you. We visited Relish based on recommendations from Appetite (a food magazine I often read) and we were not disappointed. I must add too that the service is extremely good here. We came for brunch, during which most of the burgers we wanted were unavailable on the menu, but the waiter checked with the kitchen and they were willing to prepare these burgers for us.

26092010044Jasmine had the seafood burger, which was amazing. The patty had generous portions of crab, fish, prawn and squid and the flavours were held together well by the orange mayo which we never tried before. The flavours are amazing and like no burger you’ve ever tried before.

Jasmine: It was one of the best burgers I’ve tried, with a very satisfying crunch when you bit into it. Totally justified the somewhat hefty price tag!

26092010045

(Me trying to pose like Dearie, obviously putting my chin down too much!)

26092010047

Andrew: I had the signature Wild Rocket burger with salad. The beef patty was well done and I did enjoy the burger, but you shouldn’t have this if you come to Relish. Be more adventurous and try the other burgers. I want to try their char-siew burger, ram-lee burger and other interesting combinations next!

A Classic Back-to-Basics Burger

Andrew: If you just want a classic burger with a freshly ground beef patty with the usual lettuce and tomatoes, then the Seah Street Burger at Seah Street Deli (Raffles Hotel) will satisfy your craving. I have no photos here because we forgot to bring a camera, but you can check out ladyironchef’s entry on it just to see how the burger looks like. I actually didn’t find the burger that big when I was there and was able to finish it comfortably. Considering that it costs $14.95 (just $3 more than your usual Carl’s Jr. meal), it is extremely worth it as you can choose how well done you want your patty to be and you know that all the ingredients are fresh. You are also paying more for the rather well-replicated American diner atmosphere complete with jukebox and black-and-white tiles on the floor.

Dearie ordered the Mac & Cheese here and we really loved it! The cheese was not sticky and chewy, but more like a ‘cheesy’ thick sauce. We must also commend the service here. The Mac & Cheese became cold after a while and we asked them to heat it up for us. They did so willingly and even offered to add in more cheese for us when heating it up as they saw that our portion had no more cheese left! We loved the cheese sauce so much that we tried to recreate it, but with rather disastrous results – a story which we might tell another time. Heh. (Jasmine: Hey! So mean!)

Oh yes, this was also a treat by Dearie after I had a stressful week at work and I was extremely thankful to her for this wonderful meal!

There are still so many other burger places that we haven’t checked out, but I think we’re going to take a break from burgers for a while as I feel most other joints like Burger Bench or Hand Burger are mere variations of the usual Whopper burger in BK. Unless another Relish-like joint comes up, I probably won’t be exploring another burger place anytime soon.

The Andrew and Jazzy Style File 1

Andrew: The blog title states that ‘she’s changed my life’ and indeed one of the more significant ways in which I’ve been changed over the past year and a half is my fashion sense! A friend even mentioned once at a friend’s wedding that my dressing has gone up a notch – all thanks to Jasmine’s recommendations. In addition to food and art entries on this blog, we have thus decided to introduce a new section on fashion and we bring you our first entry photographed at Singapore’s current premiere attraction – the SkyPark:

IMG_9282

IMG_9285(Okay, so I can’t quite pose as stylishly as the Style Blogger.)

Dearie reminded me yesterday that this entire outfit was purchased just a week before and she was right!

Joshua recommended the Fred Perry online sale to me and the moment went into the website, I was hooked! Indeed, the Great Singapore Sale is nothing compared to the post Christmas sale in UK. There were very decent and stylish shoes, tops, bags all going for a very good discount, or at least much cheaper than Singapore prices.

Top – Twin Tipped Fred Perry Shirt (Inky Pool)

IMG_9287

I had been looking for decent polo T-shirts that don’t look too overtly garish (think Topshop or random Far East Plaza ones) or too ‘uncle’/boring (e.g. Hush Puppies etc.), and we found Fred Perry to be a good mix of modern and preppy style. What we like about this polo T is the lime green stripes (or ‘tips’) at both the collar and sleeves which add a lively hint of colour to it.

Jasmine: Andrew and I actually went back to my place early so that we could shop online. What I like about this Fred Perry polo is its slightly subversive pairing of lime green and navy blue. Andrew has a couple of Ralph Lauren polos too but the colorways are not quite as intriguing as Fred Perry’s.

Bottom – Slim Fit Jeans from Levi’s.

Andrew: Took advantage of the trade-in your jeans for $50 offer and bought this new pair of jeans. I traded in a pair of boot-cut faded blue jeans, which Jasmine has been persuading me to throw away for almost a year, for this new pair and I must say that was quite a good deal. The fit of the jeans is almost perfect, without any alternations needed and the colour makes it very versatile. I was never someone who cared about the fit/ colour/ style of  jeans, but after buying some better pairs of jeans, I realised that getting a good fit really makes a big difference. If you’re keen to read up more on jeans, you can check out Stylebeans which has a guide on how to choose jeans based on your bodytype.

Jasmine: In my opinion, most men often wear clothing that is a size too large for them. These jeans are not drainpipe-skinny (which wouldn’t work for any guy over 13) but they fit nicely through the thigh and calf.  For a slightly cheaper option, Uniqlo also offers slim fit jeans under $80- their selection is more limited but should suffice if you’re just looking for a basic, everyday pair.

Shoes – Reprise Cuff Leather shoes from Fred Perry (with Limestone cuffs)

IMG_9289

Andrew: Another great deal from Fred Perry – 50% off!

I was lazy and didn’t bother to try out sizes at Ion’s Fred Perry so the shoe was a size too large when I got it. This was easily fixed with a pair of insoles from Ecco, which really made the shoe much more comfortable as the original sole was way too thin and my feet ached after just half a day of shopping. The green on the shoe nicely complements the green tips of the polo T-shirt and it has a nice preppy feel to it too. I really like this pair of shoes!

IMG_9291

Dearie is always telling me the importance of socks. I was initially unconvinced, but I guess I’m slowly understanding what she means and my socks have gone from the usual grey, black, dark blue to a mix now of multi-coloured stripes (from Springfield), polka dots (from Fred Perry) and argyle (a gift from Jasmine’s mum). For more on sock pairings, you can check out Stylebeans again.

Jasmine: Eclectic socks is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to make an outfit one’s own. It is also one of the most often-overlooked. For socks, we shop anywhere and everywhere. Paul Smith stocks some of the quirkiest patterns but who can justify paying 43 pounds for socks?

Bag – Quilted Shoulder Bag (Fred Perry)

IMG_9288My gripe with this bag is that it is a bit too ‘formless’, but that’s exactly what Jasmine likes about it. Heh. (Jasmine: Let’s put it this way- anything’s better than that dowdy Nike bag with the humongous green logo. Shudder.) This was a fantastic deal on Fred Perry.com too and a long overdue replacement for my NIKE bag which I admit looks extremely worn out. The material’s great and it has a lot of storage space.

Jasmine: To give credit to Andrew, he actually picked out this bag and sneakers himself. I merely endorsed his choice:) I like that the bag is well-made and not trend-driven at all. It feels like faux suede, is edged with black leather and the quilting is subtle but imparts a more interesting texture. Points also for how unobtrusive the Fred Perry laurel is- I hate ostentatious labels.

I mentioned earlier that the attire was 75% Fred Perry, but I must mention now that it is also 100% Jasmine! She recommended everything from the top to the watch, and even the socks and insoles (heh.). What would I do without her always astute fashion advice! Thanks Dearie!

By the way, for those who are keen, the Fred Perry Winter Sale is still on. Simply go to fredperry.com and click on ‘Winter Sale’ to see the full range of items they are offering. Sizes and colours are running out fast, so make your purchases fast. The Quilted Shoulder Bag is no longer in stock. Delivery charge is 14 pounds, so it’s more worth it if you buy in bulk, but they are very efficient and you get your items in less than a week. If you want to buy shoes, Joshua recommends that you go to Fred Perry at Ion to try out the sizes first. While you’re at it, you can check out Top Shop UK’s online site too which is offering crazy discounts, but I’m done with clothes shopping for now.

Now it’s Jasmine’s turn:IMG_9284

Top (Topshop)

Andrew: I love the artsy yet ‘controlled’ feel of this top very much. It fits in very nicely with Dearie’s usual ‘unconventional’ style yet looks very work-decent.

I’m quite impressed by the women’s range at Topshop and can see how this brand is trend setting, but rather disappointed by the men’s range which is either too convention and plain or way too ‘funky’ for me to carry off.

Jasmine: There was a period of time when I completely abandoned Topshop, but this season’s offerings are surprisingly wearable. They’re Art Deco-inspired, use fairly luxurious materials (think crushed velvet, silk chiffon and beading as opposed to their usual Made in China cotton tees which fall apart after three washes) and borrow unapologetically from several fashion houses such as Chloe and Celine who showed key F/W collections.

Fashion is changing too, and silhouettes for men and women are becoming increasingly androgynous. Menswear is becoming more shrunken and womenswear is beginning to embrace looser fits. I was attracted to the strong Pop Art lines of this knotted top, and thought it a refreshing change to all those shades of nude and beige that are so au courant.

Satin bandage skirt (GG>5)

Andrew: This GG5 pencil skirt was a gift from me. I had forgotten all about it until Dearie reminded me, which is a bad sign for me and a good sign for her. Dearie looks good in it!

Jasmine: Jazzy’s Law of Contrasts. If the top is shapeless, the bottom should be fitted. If the top covers much, the bottom can reveal a little more (but do remember that showing less is always more tasteful!).

Shoes (Far East Plaza)

Andrew: Dearie was looking for a nice pair of slip-in sandals to replace her Birkenstocks (which her mum and sis have been persuading her for ages to just throw away).

Jasmine: Aah, Birkies. My one fashion vice and I grudgingly admit that it single-handedly ruins pretty much every outfit I put on… But how else can I endure walking for 10-12 hours a day when I travel?

IMG_9293

Andrew: We saw a pair at the basement of Far East Plaza, but they didn’t have her size, so Dearie set herself the target of not leaving Far East until she found that pair and (thankfully) we managed to find it after combing two floors of shoe shops! After we found the one that Jasmine was looking for, she suddenly set her eyes on another pair of sandals and spent a long time debating which pair to get. I am quite proud to say that it was my advice on the support and design that helped her to finally decide on this pair of sandals. My fashion advice is gradually becoming more helpful. Heh.

Jasmine: I’ve always admired the versatility of a nude shoe and fortunately for me, the shops are practically exploding with flesh-toned options this season. (As a matter of fact, I have three pairs of nude shoes in different styles and shades!) This pair is cheap (under $30), has a borderline tacky vibe (which offsets all my girly dresses well) and is almost as comfy as my beloved Birkenstocks, so no complaints from me.