My First Black & White Portrait Shoot

My friend asked, Who is this pensive thinker? LOL.

Near the end of 2015, I did something that I hadn’t done before. Which was to ask someone take photos of me.

Oh don’t get me wrong; I have asked people to take photos of me a million times. But those people are always family members and friends who have cameras and take photos for fun. I never asked someone who is serious about photography and treats it like an art form.

Anyway, my narcissism level was off the chart last December so I wanted to take a few good portrait photos just for the heck of…having a few good portrait photos. At the suggestion of my sister, I contacted Do, a very young photographer in Hanoi known for his B&W photos. His distinctive style and skill and maturity really belie his age; I could hardly believe he’s only 19.

For me, the experience was enjoyable and educational in a way. I mostly do travel and nature photography, which, I feel like, is somewhat easier because you know, everything is right in front of you. You don’t have to manipulate light like you do in a studio. And capturing the essence of another human being and conveying it in photos…tough job!

We took a fair share of photos, but picked only a handful of them for the final edit. And I want to share some of them with you guys today ūüôā

Okay, it sounds exactly like I’m blowing my own horns, but I personally really like this one.

IMG_1591This one, I feel like, could be Saint Laurent Fall/Winter 2050. HAHAHAHA!!!

IMG_1708What do you think about the lighting here?

This was my Instagram profile photo until yesterday. Haha.

[Read more…]

Dog Day Afternoon

IMG_4728It’s been quite a while since my last outfit post. But this time I’m not going to apologize ūüėÄ

I have been thinking a lot about what I want to do with my website, and even though I haven’t been able to decide on a definite direction yet, I know I want to steer clear of the personal outfit route.

Here’s why: I don’t have a huge wardrobe and a personal photographer tailing me, so I can’t keep up with creating regular outfit content. The thing is I don’t even have a desire to keep up because I have better things to do with my hard-earned cash than to spend it hoarding more clothes. My closet is already brimming with unused stuff, and it’s time to stop this consumerist madness.

Also, when I put myself in YOUR shoes, I’m just like, “Why the fuck should I care about what he wears?”. If that is what you really think, rest assured that I’m not mad at you in the least. It’s totally legit. I’m no celebrity or menswear icon, so there’s no reason for you to be interested in what I wear. In fact, I’d think that something is inherently wrong with you if you were curious. Ha!

So, bottom line is outfit posts will be few and far between. I’ll post only when I have something to share!

Like yesterday, for instance ūüôā

It was Sunday and the weather was kind and I thought why not turning our walk into a fun photo session. So I dressed up a little bit nicer (actually, much nicer) than I normally do on our daily walks and asked a friend to help out. Here go a few photos of Mr. Bun, Ms. Milan and me.

That’s simply it. No prep talk or bullshit about what you have to wear for fall or the essential fall items. Just a few photos of Mr. Bun, Ms. Milan and me.

Hope my babies’ cuteness and nature’s greenness help ease your Monday anxiety.

[Read more…]

The Best $60 I Have Ever Spent

Wearing

I have noticed that camel, though overused on the runaway, is woefully underused in real life. I wish I could tell you guys why. I think it’s a combination of¬†people being generally¬†oblivious to its beauty and versatility and the serious lack of camel¬†items on the market. For some strange reason, items that come in¬†camel usually come with a hefty price tag as well.

That should make us appreciate UNIQLO even more.

The sweater I am wearing in these photos is my most expensive and favorite one, from no other than UNIQLO. Other than the fact that it is in camel, it is also made entirely of cashmere, which I can only dream of at this point in my life.

According to the brand, its cashmere sweaters are 100% cashmere, made from the rare wool of cashmere goats, and thus are really soft, light and warm. While I cannot verify the “100% cashmere, rare wool” part (I mean, who can except for the production people?), I can attest to its softness, warmth and comfort.

But you know what the best part is? It only cost me around $60. Before UNIQLO came into my life, I never thought camel and cashmere could be that affordable.

The bad news is this color no longer seems to be available on its website. But the good news is the cashmere line is still available, meaning¬†you still can stock up some cashmere sweaters for you and your loved ones. I personally can’t recommend them enough!

IMG_5941 IMG_5934 IMG_5927 IMG_6070

[Read more…]

Absolute Winter Wardrobe Essential: The Parka Coat

 Wearing

With the non-stop award season and fashion weeks, I have been woefully negligent in shooting and posting outfits. But I seriously don’t know what more I can do. Two jobs, two dogs, and one blog are just overwhelming¬†for my two eyes, two hands and slow-processing brain. I’m leaving for Burma and Thailand in three weeks, and I have NOT¬†booked anything. You guys just bear with me, okay? ūüôĀ

Enough¬†of preface. Let’s continue our conversation about coats. Because the only house rule of The Confused Dasher is that we love glorious coats no matter what happens.

(If you live in the western hemisphere, I think you will love the timing of this post. A huge blizzard is coming to the East Coast, and you need to stay warm and safe.)

Here is the thing about glorious coats: They don’t come cheap. A decent¬†one already sets¬†us back at least a few hundred bucks. And since 98 percent of us are not trust fund babies, we have to make choices. We can only buy what we get most mileage out of.

IMG_5341You can bet your bottom dollar that I¬†get a hell lot of mileage out of these ūüôā

Of the numerous tempting coat offers in the market, the three must-haves are a knee-length coat, a peacoat and a faux-fur trim hooded parka. 

[Read more…]

New Year. New Shoes. New Look

In which the backwater in Hanoi looks uncannily similar to Arno River in Firenze.

Wearing: All Saints Steeple 3/4 Crew (similar on sale,¬†AllSaints¬†Dex Crew Sweater),¬†Marc by Marc Jacobs Ink Blazer (similar on sale,¬†AllSaints¬†Estate Blazer),¬†All Saints Idaho Chino (similar on sale,¬†AllSaints¬†Darwell Cord Cigarette Jeans) and¬†OPENING CEREMONY ‘M1’ desert boot.

When my friend asked me two days ago¬†what my resolutions for 2015 are, I wasn’t able to give her a conclusive¬†list. And no, that wasn’t¬†because 2014 was such a success, or my life was already full on all fronts that I could afford to rest on my laurels this year. The real reason is that I personally believe goals like getting fit and healthy, spending more quality time with family and friends, and making more money among a few other things are quotidian. Which means we should try to achieve them every single day rather than wait until a new year to start.

For me, new year resolutions never have to be grand. I only want them to be small, specific, actionable and able to make my life different and interesting in a way compared to that of previous year. I have the brain power and attention span of a 15-year old, so I can only do a few things each year.

I have yet to finalize my list, but two things I’m quite determined to achieve this year are getting more productive and doing at least¬†10 things that I have never done in the past. By getting more productive, I mean limiting my surfing the internet aimlessly to less than 1 hour per day. However, I will NOT compromise on the amount of time spent ogling¬†the Beckhams¬†or¬†Eddie’s style. Never, ever, no matter it is 2015 or 2050! I tried in the past, and it was horrible. I completely lost sense of who I was as a person.

As for the goal of doing more new things, I’m¬†off to an auspicious start if we all agree to count wearing something for the first time in ūüėÄ

YOU GUYS. Happy New Year!!!

On the first day of ’15, I wore my very first pair of leopard boots for the very first time. Before then, I had never bought leopard-print anything¬†on the grounds that it was too in-your-face, too impractical. But¬†when I saw these Opening Ceremony shoes on sales at the beginning of December, I was literally like, ‘to hell with practicality and¬†versatility. I have had enough.’ and ordered them immediately. Three weeks later when I finally got to put them on¬†(originally shipped to my cousin’s place in Singapore who then brought them back to the backwater Hanoi), I experienced¬†what had to be one of the most intense shoegasms of my life. LOL.

(I swear I’m not shitting you guys. I screamed, I shivered, I jumped up and down because they are so soft and lightweight and comfy and fit so freaking perfectly.)

And since these boots came home, all the doubts I used to harbor about leopard shoes being too tacky have dispelled. My conclusion is as long as we pare down when getting dressed, leopard shoes will add a pretty amazing finishing touch to our outfit.

Actually, you know what? Forget what I just said.

The only rule you need to remember when wearing leopard is¬†DON’T DO IT THE LENNY KRAVITZ WAY.

Just that, and you will be fine ūüėČ

[Read more…]

The Earthy, Sophisticated Color Peacoat

_DSC0533Wearing

I seriously believe that coat is the most powerful item of clothing in our wardrobe. It keeps us warm during the dark, cold days of winter and, at the same time, has the unparalleled ability to transform the most ordinary outfit into something extraordinary. Once you have a great-looking coat on, nothing else really matters. You sure have seen both men and women wearing little to nothing underneath a beautiful coat, right?

But just in case you have not, here is what I am talking:

How to wear a coat¬†if you have¬†a V-shaped torso or legs that go on for days ūüôā

When it comes to coats, there are trench, duffle, parka and a few¬†other types. I promise we will discuss them on another day. Today, let’s just talk¬†about the one peacoat color¬†you should have this winter, alright?

This All Saints peacoat in a subtle mix of purple and dark red hues- its fashion name is oxblood, by the way- is really among the most treasured items in my wardrobe right now. The more I wear it, the more I realize how versatile it is in terms of color combinations. After testing it with my bright camel pants, I have come the conclusion that the complementary factor of this understated yet striking and luxe color is very much on par with that of the hackneyed black or navy. Which makes it an excellent addition to your trove of winter coats.

So, try this stunning color if you are in the market for a new peacoat.¬†100% satisfaction guaranteed ūüėČ

Don’t even ask what the hell I am doing here because I have no clue myself. Perhaps offering up the Ted Baker iPad holder to some kind of fashion god? LOL.

Prisoner of pretty much all things camel, orange and deep, understated shades of red ūüôā

Up close: a study in the art of color blocking.

_DSC0547

Oh, and if you are still in two minds, here is the go-ahead from the one and only, the inimitable Pharrell.

How to dress like Pharrell Williams [Read more…]

We All Need To Get Loose Sometimes

Wearing: Marc by Marc Jacobs Pink Checked Shirt (similar, Checked cotton shirt from Brioni), Closed Corduroy Pants in Teal (similar, Maison Martin Margiela Petrol Blue Corduroy Trousers on sale), Paul Smith Black Otter Runway Boots (similar, PAUL SMITH classic ankle boots on sale) 

And no, I do not mean it sexually.

(Promiscuity turns me off, I have to be honest with you guys. Like, seriously, how can you press your skin against that of a stranger and zig zag your way into every nook and cranny of said person whose history you know next to nothing about? To me, it is gross because a) I am a control freak-cum-germaphobe, b) it is a fact that many people do not keep up a good personal hygiene, and c) let’s be real: hot and steamy hook-ups only happen in Hollywood movies. Impossible to reenact in real life, so no need trying. The bottom line is no inadvertent penetration for me please. Thank you very much, though. HAHA)

What I actually mean here is that sometimes we all have to cut ourselves some slack and stop sweating over small stuff when it comes to what we wear. If we want some peace of mind.

Otherwise, you would most likely just feel like this:There have been days lately when I have felt like burning down my entire current wardrobe and building a new one from scratch. Thanks to my fat-melting efforts, my body is no longer what it used to be. Which means a big chunk of what I bought back in the dark age did not fit me anymore. And then, things that I bought in the new age have became either a wee bit looser or tighter here or there because my physique is now in an indescribably awkward phase. For instance, my waist size is somewhere between 31 and 32. As far as I am concerned, there is no size 31.25 or 31.5 yet. Sound off if you are in similar predicament!

Anyway, as my momma has taught me since day one not to be wasteful, I have had all of them altered.

Sure, they fit better than if they were left intact but still are nowhere near how I want them to fit. I want every single piece to fit me in the snuggest, most perfect way.

And since they do not, I occasionally feel uneasy and pissed. I let those negative thoughts hang out in the back of my mind. Now, I feel worse- instead of better- because of fashion. Its purpose is defeated, isn’t it?¬†This anxiety exists in part because I, like 85% of the population, have the princess syndrome. You know, anything less than perfect is not acceptable. Also, I believe¬†I have internalized way too much of what I read and see in fashion magazines. Clothes have to be perfectly fitted to be good clothes, and every part of your body has to be flattered by what you wear.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not walk around feeling self-conscious all the time. But when I do, it is exhausting.

Thanks goodness, a big epiphany hit me when I was taking these photos, wearing my favorite casual shirt and corduroy pants. Instead of thinking about¬†how much I love their beautiful colors as well as their soft, lightweight fabrics, I paid too much attention to the pants’ waist, which is a tiny bit loose these days but feels absolutely fine with the help of a belt, and the shirt’s slight billowiness, which actually is¬†a blessing in disguise because¬†it makes me very comfortable. When I chose to focus on such negatives, it was inevitable that I felt out of my element the whole day.

But this what my 17-year-old sissy said to me when I complained to her:

– I, for one, think they fit you well enough. Stop being a nit-picker, you are acting¬†like a slave to your clothes. Nobody cares. [Read more…]

Let’s Have Some Fun in Sunny Yellow

_DSC0519Wearing: Polo Ralph Lauren Regent Dress Shirt, Club Monaco Merino V-neck Sweater (similar, Silk/Cashmere/Cotton Trimmed Sweater from Saks Fifth Avenue Collection. Great value, guys), REISS Classic Straight-Fit Chinos in Yellow (similar, BALENCIAGA straight leg trouser on sale), Adidas with 3S Stripes Sneakers (kinda sorta similar, Ami Alexandre Mattiussi Blue And Red Suede Sneakers)

This post feels like a sequel to this one I wrote ages ago about how to wear yellow pants and this one I just wrote last week about the abnormally pleasant temperature in the third world. Except it is more vibrant, more blasphemous (you will see), much better in (photo) quality and contains some real weird poses. Hopefully the good will make up for the weird.

As I have not worn anything extremely loud in a while, I thought it would be fun to take my yellow chinos out and figure out a new way to wear them. When you decide to wear a bright colored article of clothing, the conventional wisdom is that you should go easy with the rest of your outfit. Since yellow is already too bright, your shirt, sweater, jacket or whatever it is that you put up top should be light and simple. One of the fool-proof color combinations is yellow and white and black.

You can see that I tried it in the past, and yeah it surely worked. However, I wanted something different this time because how boring it would be if yellow and white or yellow and black were the default option. So, I rummaged through my wardrobe and below is how much fun I had.

Disclaimer: A lot of head-shakes and dirty looks were thrown at The Confused Dasher¬†in the making of these photos. But The Confused Dasher¬†listened to the advice of Miss Tay Tay and totally did shake, shake, shake, shake it off¬†ūüėÄ

Who wore judging eyes better? The most powerful woman in fashion versus The Confused Dasher, MUAHAHAHAHAHA.

Just kidding, guys ūüėÄ Who the hell do I think I am. I might be silly, but I am not delusional.¬†

[Read more…]

You Are Allowed To Wear White Anytime You Want

Wearing: All Saints Emmons Shirt (similar, Chambray cotton button-down shirt by A.P.C), COS White Chinos (similar, CANALI tailored trousers, on sale for $145), Hugo Boss Suede Desert Boots (similar, Suede desert boots by Fendi) & Warby Parker Glasses. 

I do not want to become that next-door blogger who talks about weather in every single outfit post, but I will just have to today. Maybe also tomorrow. And maybe the day after tomorrow as well. And maybe until this is all over.

The past two weeks or so have been shockingly glorious. Mildly¬†chilly in the morning and evening, pleasantly warm and sunny the rest of the day.¬†If you reside¬†in the western hemisphere, sorry you simply will have to suck it up ūüėõ

Now, you might be wondering what is so special about that. Isn’t that, like, normal? Nope, it actually is very weird. Neither I nor anyone can explain why it is happening, but I do not bother trying to because I am too busy celebrating this personal milestone.

YOU GUYS. I could not believe it! The day when I am able to say without much reservation that I love the weather in my third-world country has finally come. Admittedly late but surely better than never. I have hated it here for so long that I am sick of hating it. Ridiculous, I know! But how do you manage to NOT feel that way when reality is so wildly different from theory?

Our climate is categorized as sub-tropical, which is code for four seasons. But the reality is we only have crazy stupid hot summers and crazy stupid cold winters. Throw in pollution and you are susceptible to all sorts of health-related issues. There are no beautiful transitional seasons that make sub-tropical climate great to live in in the first place.

Mother Nature, don’t you remember? Those seasons are our birthrights; we are supposed to have them. Give them to us more often, okay?

ANYHOO: Beautiful weather calls for an easy-breezy outfit (I wanted to write¬†‘beautiful’, but that sounded nauseatingly vain so I stopped myself short, hehe). In my style book, the foolproof, easy formula entails¬†a light blue shirt and either a dark or white pair of pants. This color combo¬†is versatile enough that¬†we can pretty much team it with shoes of almost any color. When the temperature drops, you can put on a jacket or coat of almost any color as well. In these photos, I am wearing brown suede chukka, but if you promise to be good to me, I will show you how it looks when paired with, say, light blue boots, charcoal loafers, and orange/yellow trainers ūüôā

Seriously, try this combo even if it is winter now in where you live. It works, guaranteed. 

P/S: I know it is not easy, but can you forgive the porcupine quills on my head? I swear I looked in the mirror before heading out. I was thoroughly mortified, but I really did not know what to do. I was powerless!

_DSC0593 _DSC0616

[Read more…]

Only Dress For Yourself & Mother Weather

Wearing: Uniqlo White Button-Down Shirt, Closed Laguna Blue Chinos (similar, Kenzo Skinny-leg chinos) & Nike Free 4.0 V3 Running Shoes in Laser Orange (similar, Raf Simons Orange Stan Smith Adidas Edition Sneakers)

I have completely given up on telling people around me that I ride bicycle almost everywhere. I simply could not do it anymore! I wish it did not pan out like this, but it’s absurd¬†when they all give me the what-the-fuck-is-wrong-with-you look whenever I share with them that I prefer bicycles to motorbikes and cars. According to them, I’m regressing. Bicycles (and buses for that matter) are for those who cannot afford the other options. With my western education, I should be on my way to become a big shot by working in a bank or some conglomerate instead of being on a¬†bike.

Whichever way you slice it, it really is a lost cause. I only can¬†hope that they don’t use me as a poster child for failure at home to teach their kids because holy hell they would be ruining the next generation of this third-world country. Scary thought!

(And for the record, I can afford more expensive modes of transportation. I love biking around because it makes me feel healthy and happy, and that I’m doing something good in my capacity to¬†the environment.)

Similarly, I¬†have stopped explaining my fashion choices (and poses, hehehe) to people. I got my fair share of looks and head-shakes when I took these photos wearing one of my all-time favorite Closed chinos and a severely underused pair of Nike’s. In this land of deep-seated conformity, this color combination is too flashy, too strange, too everything. You are, in short, not supposed to dress this way; people do not expect or like to see it. Guess what people? It is your business whether you like what¬†I dress or not; I am neither¬†rebelling against anything nor convincing you to change. I only have two persons in mind when I decide what to wear every morning:¬†me & Mother Nature.

And that, beloved readers, is precisely how you should approach fashion. 

[Read more…]