The Confused Dasher is off to Taiwan

the art of packing, confused dasher goes to taiwan, traveling light, pierre hardy orange men sandals, muji pastel tshirts men, tommy hilfiger duffle bag, nike orange sneakersAfter almost 7 months of staying put, The Confused Dasher will be back on the road again. In just a few hours, to be exact. This time, that road is a beautiful island called Taiwan.

The funny thing is Taiwan was never on my places-to-go list. I had nothing against the country; it was just that I knew too little about it to even think of a visit. And I have realized I’m not the only one. “Why?” has been the unanimous question since I told my family, friends and colleagues about my trip.

So why Taiwan? 

The answer goes back to my Europe trip at the beginning of this year because if it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t be going now. The vast majority of you guys come from developed countries so you guys don’t have this problem and thus might not know that as a holder of a third-world passport, I have to jump through hoops whenever I want to visit countries like the US, UK, EU or Japan. (I only have my fellow countrymen to blame, since many really harbor the evil intention of coming and never leaving.) Luckily, of all the countries that require us to apply for visit visas, some are more lenient than others. For example, if we have a valid visa from one of the first-world countries, we can visit Taiwan and stay for a month whenever we want. Earlier this year when I applied for my Schengen visa, the French embassy was so freaking generous and granted me a long-term, multiple-entry tourist visa. Which was absolutely unexpected because I didn’t (dare to) ask for it in my application. My trip was long over, but my visa is not. Taiwan becomes feasible as a result. French embassy, je t’aime and french kiss to you. LOL.

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Donatella Versace Is Everything. Period.

Donatella Versace Accepted ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I know that there is nothing to laugh about what ALS Group is trying to do, and its Ice Bucket Challenge is not a contest to see who donates most or who does it best. But still, Donatella Versace deserves an award for having the most epic video.

YOU GUYS!!! I laughed so freaking hard watching the video (already dozens of times by now) that I have had enough abs workout for the rest of the week. It’s just too fabulous for words.

The business lesson here is: when you lead a fashion house that is known world-wide for its provocative and sexed-up images, you gotta be provocative and sexed-up 24/7.

All joking and laughing aside, it’s worth reiterating that the real purpose of all this hupla is to spread awareness about this wicked disease. So, donate to this good cause if you can.  [Read more...]

The facade of Lisbon

It’s been almost 7 months since my visit to Lisbon, but I still can’t make up my mind about how I feel about it. Trust me, I raise my own eyebrows whenever I have to say that aloud. Not just because of the melodramatic nature of the statement but also because of the fact that I’m sort of the only person I know who doesn’t fall head over heels in love with the city.

I know for certain that I don’t love Lisbon because a lot of my expectations about its old-world charms and affordability weren’t fully met. I can’t say that I hate it either because I was impressed with the relaxing attitude and English proficiency of Lisboêtas. I don’t feel neutral when talking about Lisbon either because all the encounters and conversations I had there were more profound than anything I experienced in my favorite cities like Paris, Rome or Barcelona. So if love, hate and neutral are not how you feel about a place, what do you actually feel then?

While I haven’t been able to verbalize my relationship with Lisbon, I can tell you guys how it looks in 4 adjectives. Colorful and edgy at its best, derelict and shady at its worst…

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Style Inspiration #7: Milan Vukmirovic

Hey guys,

I know that it has been silent, like dead silence, in the style inspiration corner of the blog. Sure, my laziness played a part. But what really happened was: for a long time, I didn’t find any public figure whose sense of style is truly original and consistently manages to bowl me over. I hope what I just said doesn’t make me come off as being pretentious. I swear on fashion God that I’m one of the least pretentious people in this whole wide world.

It’s funny how the more I blog about fashion, the more ambivalent I feel towards this whole notion of fashion and styles. For the last six months or so, I have unsubscribed from almost all of the big-league fashion blogs that I used to follow religiously. As a blog junkie, I read blogs from a wide range of industries from fashion, travels, photography to personal developments and online marketing. Strangely enough, fashion seems to be among the few industries in which the more a blog grows, the more its quality of content regresses. Images get sharper, clothes get more editorialized, but personality doesn’t show anymore. Which is kind of sad, isn’t it? More often than not, I was jaded instead of inspired after reading those blogs because the so-called personal styles felt forced and indistinguishable. I figured if I wanted to look at well-thought-out ensembles done in the most proper way, my time would be better spent going through fashion magazines. The models always look better, after all.

All that being said, I have found someone to rescue me from this dry spell. Depending on how frequently you browse street-style blogs, you might, or you might not, know him. If you don’t know him, no problem because you are going to today. And you’re going to love his impeccable sense of style just as much as I do.

The man of the hour is Milan Vukmirovic. Unlike some other men we have talked about, Vukmirovic has always worked in fashion. His resume lists some seriously enviable positions such as co-founder of the super cool store Colette in Paris, designer at Jil Sander, Trussardi and now Ports 1961, and photographer for brands such as Armani and Hugo Boss.

I’m completely enchanted with Vukmirovic’s personal style because it’s spot-on, effortless and fan-friendly. Since he works in high fashion, most of what he wears come from the likes of Balmain, Celine, Gucci, and Valentino and thus are inherently good-looking. However, never have I once felt scared away when looking at his street-style photos. And that really is the beauty of it.

Here is the thing, though: I have never talked to Vukmirovic in person (and doubt if I ever will get to) to ask for his secrets. But after studying all that is available on the internet, I think I can give you guys six pointers on how to steal his incredible style for less.

1. You want a hot body? You better work bitch!!!

Scrolling through Vukmirovic’s Instagram account makes me feel so many emotions. At first, I’m like: OMG, how can he be so narcissistic? Taking a bajillion pictures of himself in a state of near nudity? Is he the male version of Kim Kardashian or what? Then, I’m like: Actually, you know what? I want my body to look like his. Time to get to work bitch. And the next thing I tell myself: I’m so freaking inspired right now. I definitely don’t want to miss a thing from now on.  

Luckily, thanks to his talents in fashion and photography, his selflies always appear more artsy than vulgar. Upon closer inspection, you would realize that his account is quite motivational in that it promotes healthy living habits like working out, enjoying nature, and capturing beauty everywhere you go. You need to follow his Instagram immediately if you haven’t done so already.

The key take-away here is: If you want to have killer style, work on your body first. Have you ever seen unfit fashion icons? 

By the way, below are some samples from his account. Some are NSFW materials, so if you’re at your office job right now, proceed with caution :)

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2. We all need several truly fantastic-looking sweaters and cardigans in our life 

It’s worth reiterating that truly fantastic-looking sweaters and cardigan don’t automatically make you look great. Get your upper body in tip-top shape first.

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3. Color up like it’s nobody business

I have said it before and I will say it again: If you want to look fashionable, you need to wear colors. End of story.

 Milan Vukmirovic style

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Is this the most colorful street in Paris or what?

rue cremieux 12th arrondissement paris, confused dasher, off the beaten path attractions in parisI’m going to get ahead of myself today and talk about Paris instead of Lisbon because I want to brighten up your Monday.

You all know I adore Paris. So much so that I had to run back to it six months after my first visit despite all the trial and tribulations of getting there. If you have ever been to Paris, you’d know exactly how I feel. However, if you ask me, I wouldn’t describe Paris as vibrantly colorful at least by European standards. The city is impossibly beautiful and charming, but its color is a bit more tame compared to that of Rome, Venice or Lisbon. Except for Rue Cremieux in the 12 arrondissement. 

The entire street doesn’t cost much time to visit simply because there’s nothing of significance to explore. But if you’re into free-of-charge attractions and streets where no two homes are painted in the same colors, then Rue Cremieux is undoubtedly the place to be.

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Goodbye July. Hello August.

Milan in JulyIsn’t my daughter, Milano Nguyen, adorable? 

Hi guys,

I’m well aware that I didn’t blog much in July. And it wasn’t because I went on an extended vacation or I was too preoccupied with my day jobs or I ran out of ideas to write about. I purposely took a short break from looking at, drooling over, thinking about and blogging about fashion. I figured I would benefit from some time away from it all. And I seriously did.

I miss talking to you guys.

It’s officially August. Here’s what I have in store for you this month:

- More about my trips to France and Portugal earlier this year. Crazy, I know. I feel terribly embarrassed at my procrastination.

- More about style inspiration, which I haven’t done since last year. Partly because I was lazy. Partly because there really wasn’t any celebrity whose style truly bowled me over. However, I have found a few, and I’m quite smitten with them. You guys are going to love it, I guarantee.

- More about fall/winter 14 shoes, which have started trickling in online and in store.

- And lastly, more rumination on life. So many terrible things have happened around the world for the last few months.

OK, that’s about it for a quick housekeeping post. Thanks guys for sticking around. Guess I’ll see you during the weekend.

Sintra, It’s About Both You and Me…

Spectacular panoramic view of the town of Sintra. Most likely the highest vantage point I have ever hiked to. 

I feel utterly awful saying this, but I do not recall most of the economic knowledge I learned in college. And I was an Economics major. (Shhhh! Do NOT tell my parents that. They would have a heart attack if they knew the money they had spent on me has gone down the toilet.) However, there is this one economic principle called the law of diminishing marginal productivity that I vaguely remember. In economic terms, it has something to do with increased production and decreased profitability. Or something along the line. ECON 101 Professor, if you ever read this, I am truly sorry!

In layman’s terms, though, it means going more places does not always guarantee more satisfaction.

A common pitfall among most travelers is trying to see as much as humanely possible with a limited amount of time. It is understandable, right? Because our time and money are limited while the world is not. But when I really think about it, I wonder what the point is if I fail to truly appreciate a place because I am too pooped to do that while I’m there? Or what the point is if I visit a place just because it is a supposedly must-see only to find it not all it is cracked up to be? Yeah sure, it will count toward the number of places I have been to and thus give me some bragging right, but really when all is said and done, what do I do with some random blurred memories?

Not bad, I have to admit.

I learned the lesson on my day trip to Sintra, which is approximately 40 minutes by train from Lisbon. I should have known that my body and mind deserved a good rest after 7 hours sitting up straight on the Seville-Lisbon overnight bus, 2 hours napping on a very uncomfortable bench at Lisbon Oriente Station, 30 minutes holding very tightly to the pole next to the bus’s main door to avoid being thrown off balance and to the belief that the non-English speaking driver fully understood what I had told him about where I needed to get off, and another 30 minutes literally climbing the crazy hilly streets of Lisbon with a suitcase and 25 pounds on my shoulders. In reality, I overestimated myself and marched on to Sintra without even having a proper breakfast. The next 12 hours in a nutshell revolved around climbing and climbing some more in a state of starvation and thirst. Oh and with two feet full of blisters!

Apparently, I was still alert enough to notice and capture this beautiful mid-morning light in Sintra.

Yeah I was super awake when taking this photo. I mean, at this height I had to be whether I wanted to or not. Here is one of the inner walls of Castle of the Moors, perched on top of the Sintra Mountains. I could have captured something more magnificent, but naturally scared of height, I climbed down rather than climbed up. Far on the horizon is the Atlantic Ocean, I think. 

In close proximity to Lisbon, Sintra is the ideal day-trip destination. If you are into history and ruins, Royal Palace, Castle of the Moors, Pena Palace and some other sites will surely quench your thirst for knowledge. If nature is your thing, then you will get physical thanks to the mountains, hills and forests. It is a UNESCO heritage site for a reason, after all. That is why it took me a while to shake off the feeling that there was something inherently wrong with me when I described the whole experience as relatively underwhelming to the Lisbon residents at my hotel. In their words, I was the very first one in history who was not bowled over by Sintra. Lucky for me, I felt no trace of contempt in the way they said it.

So if, for whatever reason, I had to single out the highlight of my time in Sintra, it would be the two lovely couples from Italy and England respectively I met. I came to Sintra with the expectation that I would explore the place by myself. But interestingly enough, I was accompanied by fellow travelers from the moment I arrived til the moment I left.

An impossibly nice and lovely Italian couple who gave me a ride to Pena Palace and so helped me save 4 euros. English couple not pictured. 

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Should You Wear Your Summer Linen Sport Coats?

Living in a South East Asia country has made me realize that the only two redeeming qualities of summer are the daily copious amount of vitamin D and the opportunities to wear linen. Sounds foolish and unappreciative, but it’s true. To me, summer has never ever been synonymous with things like #vacations, #fun, #tan, #lookinggood or #lifeisgood. What it has always involved, instead, are nauseating heat, humidity, sweat and unreciprocal feelings.

That’s why I always feel baffled and envious when I see street-style photos of guys who look so clean and suave in the middle of summer. How on earth are they able to pull off a suit when it’s not less than 60 degrees out? I have been to Europe, so I can see that summer there is usually more pleasant than it’s in New York and Asia. But it’s certainly not even remotely close to the suit kind of temperature.

What I noticed after hundreds of photos is that many of those guys were wearing linen suits.

Now, there’s nothing new about linen being an essential summer fabric. WSJ loves it. NYTimes is all for it, too. Even I have talked about it over and over again on the site, but wearing a lot of linen at the same time when summer is in full swing is an entirely different story.

Curious, I decided to recreate the look to see if I’d be drenched in sweat and look like the ultimate trainwreck. I figured if wearing a linen blazer were doable in the almost repulsive 95 degrees, it would be cake in Milan and Paris especially when the quality of those guys’ linen is probably higher and more expensive than that of mine. So, I pulled my favorite linen items in the closet out.

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All Hail the Peacocks (Part 2)

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OH MY GOD, INTERNET AT HOME IS FINALLY RESUMED. I’M ON CLOUD NINE!!!

As you guys already know, I was internet-deprived for almost 12 days. I don’t want to sound melodramatic or make it sound like my entire life depends on the internet, but those 12 days were absolutely agonizing, emotionally and financially. To get my online work done, I had to stay late at the office or go there much more frequently than I’d have liked to. Which made me feel a bit sick to my stomach. And then when it was close, I had to go to coffee shops, all of which of course cost money. The economic damage was real.

So, the fact that internet is back on again deserves a celebration. And I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to look at good clothes on good-looking men during this season’s fashion weeks. When I celebrate something, I don’t want to go small or intimate. So below I serve you with 40-plus photos culled from various sites. You’re more than welcome!

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All Hail the Peacocks (Part 1)

I’m not going to apologize for intermittent posting schedule today because I’m so fucking tired of saying sorry. If anything, I’m the one who deserves an apology here. Not from you my beloved readers because you have done nothing wrong. But from the fucking internet provider who has cut off my internet for the past 10 days for the purpose of “maintenance”. I called over and over and over again, and they apologized over and over and over and over again but still no fucking internet, and worse no exact date of when the process will be complete.

(In case you’re wondering, I’m typing this from the office on Saturday morning. I’m feeling quite pathetic right now.)

OK, enough whining. Let’s get back to business.

Somebody I follow on Twitter tweeted the following the other day:

“All the peacocks have descended upon Florence…”

I regret not having tweeted a reply immediately to that person, thanking him (or maybe her) for making me laugh so hard that my abs got a solid workout. Isn’t it ridiculously hilarious that pea-cocks (pun intended) now mean well-dressed men? Haha.

However, there’s no denying that all these peacocks have made fashion weeks much more exciting and inspiring.

Before you proceed, pull the lap bar down because seeing all these photos is going to be one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. First, you will be in awe of these men, wondering how they dress so well.

Then, you will inevitably feel inferior, questioning why you don’t look half as good and when, if ever, you will be able to afford that Prada coat and Vuitton bag, and even then whether you really have the knack for putting together an eye-capturing outfit.

Then, you mumble to yourself: OK, maybe they are attention-whores. They want to get photographed, so they go an extra mile for their outfits. You’re not one of them so if you ever found yourself going to fashion weeks, it would be all about appreciating the collections.

Eventually, you realize that you’re just being jelly and that these men know how to make what they wear work for them. And you can really learn a thing or two from them.

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