& Other Stories Amsterdam store opening

Have you heard of & Other Stories? Ever since I stepped into their Berlin store two years ago, I’ve been a big fan of this brand, which is part of the H&M Group. I longed for the day they would open a store in Amsterdam… and they finally did! So you can imagine how thrilled I was to be invited to the store opening of & Other Stories Amsterdam.

& Other Stories Amsterdam opening night

One of my favorite things about blogging is the opportunity to meet wonderful people who become your friends online as well as off. The invitation was the sweetest birthday surprise from my blog reader Angel, a fellow Pinay and travel magazine editor living in Arnhem. We’d been emailing each other about meeting up for a while, and it finally happened. Meeting an online friend in person is a bit like going on a blind date, but Angel and I hit it off right away.

Me and Angel at & Other Stories Amsterdam opening

I had been craving for a girly night out and the & Other Stories store opening provided just that. I thought I’d only stay an hour or two, but I couldn’t tear myself away. How could I? For starters, there were hunky men walking around wearing trays of jewelry…

& Other Stories Amsterdam treat tray

and scribbling cute little notes on bottle after bottle of champagne.

& Other Stories Amsterdam champagne with notes

Funny thing: after posting this picture on Instagram, I bumped into this exact same waiter on the tram the very next day! Sometimes I feel like Amsterdam really is a village. I showed him his picture and all the likes he had gotten, and we had a nice laugh about it.

See more from the & Other Stories Amsterdam store opening after the jump.

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Winter uniform: Isabel Marant for H&M

As a Catholic school girl, the word “uniform” always brings me back to years of white starched blouses and strictly monitored hemlines. I couldn’t wait to break free of my school uniform and was happy to leave that word behind. Well, here I am using “uniform” to refer to my personal style for the first time in years.

Confession time: I’ve fallen into the habit of wearing tight bottoms with oversized tops. Honestly, it took me a few months to realize I was dressing as if I was still pregnant! Once I discovered I didn’t need to be in an Outfit to drop off Tala at the gastouder or to swing by the Kruidvat for a pack of diapers, it was easy to succumb to the warm, forgiving embrace of sweatshirts and leggings. Winter, when it seems pointless to dress up because it all gets covered up by a coat anyway, has simply reinforced that attitude.

But wait! I haven’t given up just yet. Comfort and style don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I figure if I’m going to stick to the basics, those basics ought to look good. If I’m going to just throw on a sweatshirt to pick Tala up from daycare, it might as well be a cool one, right?

This was how I justified the madness of queuing up for the Isabel Marant for H&M collection last November. It turned out to be a logical decision, because I’ve been living in my Isabel Marant loot all season long.

Mom style Isabel Marant for H&M Balenciaga

In the earlier half of winter, I could get away with just a warm angora cardigan over this black-and-white linen t-shirt—which is, by the way, from the men’s collection. Seeing the clothes-crazed violence in the women’s department forced me to sneak up to the men’s floor as both a shopping and survival strategy. I barely escaped with my life, plus a few good buys!

Mom style Isabel Marant for H&M duffle coat

This is the coat I throw over everything: my navy wool blend duffel coat from Uniqlo. I love how roomy it is, although I wish it was more resistant to pilling.

Mom style Isabel Marant for H&M

I thought I would swear off roundneck t-shirts after turning 30, but I couldn’t resist this cute feather-printed linen tee. With a pop of fuschia stretch velvet and SuperCosy fleece tights from Primark, it’s one of my more dressy errand outfits that’s surprisingly comfy.

Mom style Isabel Marant for H&M red sweatshirt

Another menswear score: my favorite sweatshirt of the season! This sold out almost instantly, and I wasn’t prepared to inflict bodily harm on anyone to grab the last piece in the women’s department. I just love the combination of color and comfort, print and practicality.

Mom style Indian silver and lapis lazuli necklace

Isabel Marant’s modern spin on bohemian chic inspired me to dig out some of my favorite pieces of ethnic jewelry, like this silver and lapis lazuli necklace I bought while on honeymoon in Jodhpur. I thought it was a bit much for laid-back Amsterdam, but somehow it works with the casual ease of a sweatshirt and boots. I’m glad to get a little more use out of it!

Do you have a “uniform” too? What are your go-to outfits, and how do you keep them fun and fresh?

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Manila shopping: The new & improved Bleach

I may have been adventurous with dining out on my recent trip home, but when it comes to shopping I’m completely a creature of habit. I have a roster of favorite shops in Manila that I hit for what I’ve come to think of as a kind of annual restocking.

My shopping list might not all be the stuff of Pinterest-worthy blog posts (plastic file folders and Japan-made pens at National Bookstore, for example), but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the store that’s consistently at the top of my list got a major makeover. I’m talking about Bleach, formerly known as Bleach Catastrophe.

Bleach Greenbelt new look

In the six years I’ve lived away from home, my yearly trips home are never complete without a few new goodies from this store. Some of my favorite shirts of Marlon’s are from here, and I wore Bleach all throughout my pregnancy (which says a lot about their roomy yet flattering cuts).

Bleach Greenbelt menswear

Alongside the launch of an updated look for her store, Bleach owner Tinay Villamiel also expanded into home and interior items with a pared-down, modern sensibility.

Bleach Greenbelt new interior

I love that these are designed and made in the Philippines, using natural materials (linen, canvas and cotton), but offer a younger, hipper alternative to the usual Asian-Filipiniana fare.

Bleach Greenbelt new home items

Bleach Greenbelt banquet placemat

Bleach Greenbelt eggs and bacon tote

Maybe I’ve just gotten used to seeing a lot of gray, but after the sensory overload that is Manila, Bleach was a welcome visual break with its subtle palette. It’s refreshing to see something a little bit different, like these French- and Scandinavian-inspired details tucked into Bleach’s clothing, homeware and interiors. We all crave a little something that will transport us elsewhere, which also explains the proliferation of Buddha heads in homes across Europe.

Bleach Greenbelt merci dress

Bleach Greenbelt oui pillow

Bleach Greenbelt French inspired details

I like the new home items, but I do miss the wider clothing selection of the old store. I’ve always loved Bleach’s comfy basics with a twist—although every time I visit the store, there always happens to be some kind of pearl-earring-and-Lacoste-wearing preppy girl who’s walking out looking like she doesn’t get it. Haha.

Naturally I couldn’t leave without picking up a couple of things for myself: this cozy charcoal gray graphic sweatshirt…

Bleach Greenbelt gray sweatshirt

and this little black dress with an asymmetrical hemline for just Php 495, or €7. Ridiculously affordable, even if you’re not converting to Euros!

Bleach Greenbelt little black dress

Looks like this LBD will have to stay hidden for a few more months before it makes a debut. Can it be spring now, please?

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The cardigan that (almost) got away

We’ve all heard of buyer’s remorse, but you ever been haunted by something you didn’t buy?

It rarely happens to me, but when it does, I’m capable of obsessing for a ridiculously long time. I’m still haunted by purchases I passed in 2006 (gorgeous silk Persian carpet in Mumbai, way out of my budget as a copywriter); Marlon and I still talk about the black, silver and gray pashmina bedspread we didn’t buy on our honeymoon.

When I passed up the chance to buy this outfit in Santorini, I immediately regretted it.

It’s from Heel Athens Lab, a Greek label that makes fun, artistic clothing with a sense of whimsy. I was drawn to Heel’s colorful, chic boutique, which stood out by leaps and bounds from all the tourist shlock in the center of Fira, and fell in love with this backless halter dress and Greek toga-inspired cardigan. But with the prospect of fall and winter in Amsterdam, I felt I had to be practical and let the outfit go.

It began to haunt me almost immediately. I  took the bus back to Fira from Imerovigli (twice!) but was never able to catch the boutique open again before we left. Then I begged a friend who was traveling to Santorini to buy it for me. Finally, two months later, Heel put up the cardigan on their online shop.

Here I am, happily reunited with the cardigan that got away! Well, almost.

Heel Athens Lab polymorphic cardigan

What I love about this cardigan is how it can be worn in different ways. You may be familiar with that staple of late-night home TV shopping, the infinity dress; this is a cooler version of that dress.

By the way, thanks to Heel Athens Lab, I don’t have to ever utter the embarrassing and slightly awkward phrase “infinity cardigan.” I can use the far cooler term “polymorphic” instead.

Heel Athens Lab polymorphic cardigan front

Call me crazy, but I just love me some clothing that needs its own instructional video!

Heel Athens Lab polymorphic cardigan back

Even after watching the video, I spent so much time swishing around and entangling myself in this cardigan that Tala was able to take a snooze during our little photo shoot.

Behind the scenes outfit shot

But I guess getting lost in your own cardigan is all part of the fun of dressing up. It is fun, Tala, I promise! Just wait a few years, you’ll see.

Do you have a fashion equivalent of the one that got away? Were you ever reunited with it? And have you, like me, spent too many late nights watching the home TV shopping channel? Hit the comments and let me know I’m not alone!

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Atlantis Books in Oia, Santorini

What’s with this year and awesome bookstores? First there was the Stedelijk Museum bookshop, where I scored a really cool alphabet book for Tala. Then there was our visit to Selexyz Dominicanen, a 12th century church-turned-bookstore in Maastricht. Good things must come in threes, because this is the third fantastic bookstore of the year: Atlantis Books in Oia, Santorini.

Atlantis Books Oia Santorini

I was first drawn in by the palm-sized, beautifully printed books displayed out front. They’re published by Paravion Press and are designed to be sent by mail. I’d be thrilled to receive one of these from Santorini… better than a postcard, indeed!

Atlantis Books Oia handmade books

Then I saw this and just had to laughed. For €5, which do you think would be a better companion: a cat or a book? I’d have a hard time choosing, although if it was our cranky black cat for rent, I’d probably advise someone to take a book.

Atlantis Books Oia rent-a-cat

It’s hard to resist something that makes you laugh out loud, and Atlantis Books did just that with this adorable display. How could I not step inside?

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