A coworker had a new black and white scarf on during a staff meeting, which I admired from afar. I immediately knew it was Madewell and that it was going on my wishlist! The Cityguide Scarf reminds me of my Tokyo storyteller scarf, but set in NYC with food highlights and longer length. I don’t need much convincing with ‘taco taco taco’ and ‘yum ramen’.

This goes well with my Madewell Amex offer

Image source: Madewell

Image source: Mansur Gavriel

How Mansur Gavriel Created the First Post-Recession It Bag
Revenge of the Anti-It Bag
The Making of the Largest Mansur Gavriel Bag Standing
Happy Bags Happy Girls

I’m exploring the bucket bag — not totally convinced yet. Of course, it’s Mansur Gavriel’s signature/coveted bag but after a few days of stalking the sites below, I have in hand a coated large bucket bag in sand/sand. There are many color, leather, and size variations (mini mini, mini, and large), which breaks down the ubiquitousness of the bag. While the vegetable tanned leather is more delicate, it is great for breaking in and developing a patina if you’re looking for character. There are a ton of reselling sites that have these bags already broken in and for under retail too, if you’d like: eBay, Poshmark, Tradesy, and TheRealReal. These sites also give you a sense of how these bags wear. The coated leather appears to be durable (TPF review) and lightweight and I really like the sand color. As an anti-bag zipper, it can be worn close enough to the body and deep enough to carry whatever I may want to carry.

The tote comes in two sizes: small and large. The small is indeed very small but easy for navigating the city. The large isn’t as big as I expected (smaller than Cuyana smooth leather totes, similar to Longchamp large), but its stiffness makes it feel larger and less practical to me. I commute daily in the city where there’s heavy tourist and foot traffic — defensive walking with my purses is a must. The large is easier to find.

Inventory does update quite frequently, so if you’re interested, check these retailers often and/or call. Aside from MG’s own site, I do not believe any one retailer got a very large selection. (Update: MG will be restocking their own store in October. Sign up for their mailing list!) Note: some of them may be final sale or pre-order. If you want someone else to do the legwork for you with a minimal fee, check out PS Dept.

It’s about time HAY brought their mini market stateside. I rarely go to Soho and since the HAY mini market was launching on Monday at the MOMA store, I dropped by to press my luck on the preceding Friday when I was in the area. I was elated to find that the market was already set up. Some of it is also online, but I recommend stopping by the store if you can. As a recovering stationary addict, I only picked up the medium and large wooden hand (which I looked for at the Le Bon Marche mini market in Paris a few weeks ago to no avail).

Curbed has a nice interview with the HAY co-founder here. The market is slated to go through January 2016.

Image source: Flight 001

As a bagaholic, I like compartmentalizing everything in my suitcase. It prevents or minimizes accidents. This Flight 001 set is the second packing cube set I’ve owned and definitely the prettiest. (In case you were wondering, this was the first set and served its purpose many summers ago for a 7 week trip.) Flight 001 is very well made, but a bit pricey.

I got this colored Spacepak set for 50% off thanks to Lucky Breaks (they still exist!) and brought it on a recent 10 day trip. (Note: There are videos on some of the product pages.)

  • Spacepak Clothes (blue) fit all of my clothes and could’ve fit some more. It boasts that it can fit two weeks of clothing, but reminder: it compresses volume, not weight. I had a separate Baggu flat zipper bag for undies and slips. I appreciated how well organized my wardrobe was during the trip across three destinations. It didn’t prevent wrinkles to some items but they fell out after I hung it up and wore it. I didn’t use the “laundry” side – there was another Baggu for that! It would be a challenge to pack for two weeks during cold weather.
  • Spacepak Shoe (green) fit a pair of heels, a pair of wedges, and two pairs of sandals. Did I bring more shoes than that? Yes, but I used a Baggu zippered bag.
  • Spacepak Mini Toiletry (orange) fit half of my toiletries. At the time of packing I was in the mood to bring multiple moisturizers, lip products, hair products, masks, etc. And since I was packing last minute, I didn’t want to spend time scooping and squeezing things into travel containers. I have no regrets, but did have second thoughts after a trip to City Pharma in Paris since I wasn’t flying on my prefered airline with more baggage allowance. However, don’t be fooled by the word “mini”. I think it works well for the typical non-product junkie individual.

All above bags come in one larger pouch. I packed all of these in my check-in Bric’s (similar) luggage. It would be a much tighter squeeze in a carryon suitcase.

Since Gilt City has a good promotion and I had an additional 30% off code, I got the Mister two items:

  • Spacepak Suiter garment bag folds very compactly and is soft so it doesn’t count as a carryon item. It’s ideal if you’re traveling and need a suit and 2 shirts, or a few dresses. Beyond that, you’ll need something larger.
  • Spacepak Toiletry is indeed much more spacious than my mini toiletry bag and comes with a hanger that folds in when not in use.

Gilt City‘s sale runs through next Tuesday, August 25 and the actual code expires in a few months. For $50, you get $100 worth of credit at Flight 001 for Flight 001 branded merchandise. $80 gets you $160. If you have any codes from Gilt City it would stack on top of that. I got my code 75 minutes after I placed my order. If you want the items in the Spacepak set above, the set makes the most economical sense. I considered other Spacepak items in addition to the set but decided not to get them because I have bags and pouches for those purposes. (Sadly the Baggu style I commonly use for traveling is discontinued. This large flat zip bag is the closest thing I can find… good thing I have many.)

Flight 001 products can also be found at Nordstrom, Shopbop/East Dane, and Amazon third party sellers.

Facial sunscreens (l to r, clockwise):

  • Mizon Ultra Wonder Power Jelly Sun SPF 35 PA++. 100 ml (3.38 fl oz) tube. Purchased from the Peach and Lily sample sale. The sale was chaotic and skincare sold out really fast. I managed to find 3 tubes of these after walking around and looking for cast-offs. After finding out that it was $10/per tube at the cashier, I left with 2 of the 3 since I was buying sight unseen with no reviews. Overall, I like it. It has a light gel consistency, is moisturizing (hyaluronic acid and trehalose), but you have to be careful not to use too much or it leaves your face super shiney and is harder to absorb fully. Despite it being a physical sunscreen (titanium dioxide), there is no white cast. I also use it on my neck, hands, and arms. The PA rating system is from Japan and addresses UVA only. The PA++ rating indicates that this has moderate UVA protection. I’m not sure if I would go out of my way to find this, but it’s a nice size/consistency for $10.
    • Retail is $28-32. MizonWorld sells it and they apparently ship within the US but I’ve never purchased from them before. An Amazon third-party seller has it for less. I’m not sure if Peach and Lily will be carrying it in the future but Urban Outfitters did at some point. I think P&L distributes to UO. I prefer to buy skincare from a reputable seller.
  • EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46. 1.7 fl oz airless pump. The newest addition to my skincare routine and the only American one. This sunscreen is a physical (zinc oxide) and chemical (octinoxate) sunscreen. It is a lightweight white fluid, moisturizing (hyaluronic acid), and helps with blemishes (niacinamide/lactic acid). I’ve been looking for a physical sunscreen, so I’ll have to see how this physical/chemical combo fares. I would’ve tried it earlier but it’s pricey.
    • Retails for $32. Typically EltaMD is only available through a derm, but you’ll find it in other places such as Amazon (sold by Amazon and third-party sellers) and Dermstore (EltaMD is excluded from promos). I was lucky and got 2 for $40 from Costco.com last week before it sold out.
  • Mentholatum Skin Aqua UV super watery gel SPF 50+ PA+++. 80g (2.8 oz). I always spend hours in Watsons when I visit family in Taipei. Mentholatum is an American company that was bought by a Japanese company. Similar to many other Western brands, the selection in the US vastly differs from the selection in Asia. Mentholatum is very popular in Taiwan. This gel has 4 types of chemical sunscreen: Octinoxate, Tinosorb S, Uvinul T 150, and Uvinul A Plus. With a rating of PA+++, it has high UVA protection. The consistency is slightly thicker than water and a little goes a long way. It also has hyaluronic acid, collagen, and amino acids so I did not need another moisturizer. My pale skin is very sensitive to direct and indirect heat. After using it through the early summer months, I realized I need to steer away from chemical sunscreens because they overheat my face. Unlike physical sunscreens that sit on top of your skin and block off sun, chemical sunscreens absorb or scatter the rays. Maybe I’ll try it again in the winter months on the face, but good thing I didn’t hoard too many of these. In the meantime, I will use it my arms and hands. Despite aggressive use from May-July, there is still a lot left.
    • Retails for a little less than $10 USD. If you or a friend is heading to Asia, this should be easily found in Taiwan, Japan, and HK drugstores. It also comes in a larger size. I prefer Watsons because they have nice sales, e.g. buy 2 skincare items and get another free. You can find it on Amazon through a third-party seller for twice the price.
  • Dr. Wu UV Hydrating Lotion with Hyaluronic Acid. Dr. Wu is a Taiwanese reasonably priced skincare line by a Dr. Wu. I’d visited his clinic before — healthcare in Taiwan is affordable, easily accessible, and fast compared to the US (and he speaks English). He’s expanded his product lines a lot in the last few years and the sales don’t lie (a LVMH PE fund is an investor). This sunscreen is a chemical one, MBBT, that absorbs, scatters, and reflects. It looks chalky and moisturizing and needs to be spread well. I’m still experimenting with this. E.g. a layered skincare approach doesn’t go well with it (or maybe it’s because I don’t have enough time in the morning to allow the toner/essence/serum layers to fully absorb). I got it for a good price through a Watsons promo (see above) but wouldn’t rebuy. I wouldn’t say Dr. Wu is known for its sunscreen products.
    • If you’re visiting Taiwan and looking for good skincare, I highly suggest researching this line (e.g., mandelic acid). There are two counters in the Taipei 101 area. Otherwise, I’ve found that you have to hunt and peck a bit to find which Watsons has the best selection.
    • Retails for a little over $20 and is available directly from Dr. Wu. There’s other items available through third-party sellers on Amazon.

Previously I really loved the Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair moisturizer but stopped because I no longer want retinol applied on the entire face.


I recently setup my Costco.com account and noticed an impressive roster of brands in their beauty section with frequent updates. Don’t have a membership or know someone who does? There’s a 5% non-member surcharge to shop on Costco.com. Inventory comes and goes. Shipping and handling also varies. If an item is available in their warehouse, the price may be lower and selection may be different, e.g. SK-II was sighted in the warehouse.

I’ve been looking for a new daily sunscreen and even though I found a good one at the Peach and Lily sample sale a few days ago, the price on the EltaMD clear sunscreen and the fact that it is FSA eligible was too hard to pass up.

Highlights (retail in parentheses):

  • Various Kerastase 34 oz shampoo or conditioner $49.99 ($75)
  • Eyeko Black Magic mascara (2 pack) $29.99 ($48)
  • Dr. Jart + Black Label Detox BB Beauty Balm SPF 25 $26.99 ($36)
  • Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer $26.99 ($36)
  • Shiseido Perfect Hydrating BB Cream for Face SPF 35 $24.99 ($35)
  • Shiseido Urban Environment UV Protection Cream SPF 40 $24.99 ($32)
  • Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion SPF 50+ $28.99 ($40)
  • Various Glamglow treatments $44-46.99 ($69)
  • Chanel Hydra Beauty Creme $59.99 ($87)
  • Clarins Shaping Facial Lift Total V Contouring Serum $49.99 ($80)
  • Sisley Ecological Compound $144.99 ($250)
  • Philosophy Hope in a Jar Moisturizer $24.99 ($44)
  • Eve Lom Cleanser 6.8oz $99.99 ($135)
  • EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 (2 pack) $39.99 ($64) (FSA eligible)
  • Egyptian Magic (4 oz & 2 oz) $39.99 ($65)
  • Clarisonic Mia 2 $119.99 ($149) (Costco’s return policy is a no brainer!)
  • SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel $59.99 ($78)

I haven’t felt like / had time to blog much lately, but here’s an update!

(1) Hangers. I never thought I’d be a fancy hanger snob. My mainstay are Joy Mangano Huggable Hangers (I have two shades in my closets, HSN has the best color range). My current squeezes, aluminum hangers, found their way into my check-in luggage and are super lightweight and aesthetically pleasing. You can find them at Muji (I think they are roughly 1.5x in the US > Asia and less variety) and at Zara Home in gold (much cheaper in Spain/Portugal, thanks to the weak Euro and home country advantage, but currently on sale in the US).

Sidenote: ZH was one of the few places I actually spent money at in Barcelona – definitely worth a browse but this online shopper cautions against buying sight unseen – their tableware, vases, etc. were extremely heavy. I’m also really confused why many vases cannot be filled with water?!? 

(2) Brooks Brothers. My male coworkers always wore a ton of BB, but I never gravitated toward it because I’m not an avid button down shirt wearer and it always seemed pricey. It is still pricey but I just discovered their Red Fleece line (a prepster’s dream) and their wonderful sale prices (70% is the peak I’ve seen). I ordered a ton during their last sale to check out (a lot of it is going back). I’m not inclined to venture into a store — reviews of their service are horrible.

  • Here’s a big thumbs up to their blazers.The cut and quality of their Milano fit navy blazer beats Ann Taylor and J.Crew, in my opinion right now. There is a lot of negative press for J.Crew at the moment and it’s merited. Do you want a stylish, classic blazer cut or a trendy one?
  • If you are a button down shirt wearer, they have a lot of cute styles in the Red Fleece department. Reviews said that Red Fleece was sized smaller, but I found it fit the same as the regular collection, TTS.
  • For the Loro Piana junkies, there are some styles on sale with Loro Piana wool (don’t trust the search box). BB is also on ShopRunner. So, if you like anything, sign up for their mailing list and wait for the extra sale on sale!

(3) Books. I still need to figure out where to go in Provence. I browsed through Janelle McCulloch‘s gorgeous Provence book yesterday while I was at Anthropologie. It provided a good high-level of the region. I’m also very intrigued at Monocle’s new travel guides. London has launched and New York follows in a few days.

(4) Lucky Magazine. If you haven’t heard, Lucky Magazine is no longer going to be in print. I’m waiting to see what this means for my print subscription…

(5) Returns. I ordered some vegan leather weekend bags from Sole Society (because it was featured multiple times on a popular blogger). The smell of it was nauseating. It immediately went back. I still much prefer a Longchamp that is lightweight and foldable. I also ordered some leather shopper totes from Cuyana. They are beautiful but too big. I really hope they make smaller sizes of the smooth leather tote. A recent J.Crew order didn’t go well – everything’s going back and I can’t say I was pleased with their service. Ann Taylor was worse than J.Crew though.


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