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I’ve been taking R&R in Taipei and didn’t bring a laptop with me. After a week of detoxing from a computer, I itched to write real emails and keyboard shortcut my way through my inbox.

  • I’ve been indulging in super affordable tui na and acupuncture and will be sad to give them up once I return home.
  • I’ve come to the conclusion that most food in Taipei is good – no matter where you go. I’m not as diligent in exploring Taipei food options because there are family obligations and because I’m content.
  • Yelp just launched in Taiwan. It’s too new to be of substantial value though. Foursquare was in use.
  • I’ve been thinking of purging (and I’ve been talking about it for years but time has always been a deterrent) and browsed through Marie Kondo’s much talked about book. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten wiser about purchases so there is a lot less to buy in Hong Kong and Taipei. So far.
  • If you have any recommendations for items to buy from Taipei (or Narita airport), let me know! I always end up in Muji and Watson’s for hours. Even though I can read traditional Chinese, it is more tiring. Thus, it’s harder to find reviews on products.

I. Shopping

  • Get $10 off your first $50+ order at Peach and Lily!
  • I always stop at the original Sogo department store in Taipei and did a walkthrough of the first floor, which I usually do not do. They have a HUGE selection of Repetto ballet flats — I think it rivaled the flagship in Paris and definitely beat any US retail outlet. Retail pricing is hefty but there were a bunch of styles that were 40% off.
    • I tried on the new pointed ‘Brigitte’ style (currently 25% off through link). It runs TTS and I never realized before the bow could be tightened. If feels different than the Cendrillon ballet flat due to the lack of curve. It’s currently online at:
    • I also saw a black rubber version of the popular Cendrillon style — perfect for drizzly weather — but I can’t seem to find it online.
    • A Repetto store is rumored to be opening in Soho, NYC this year…
  • Petit Bateau private sale up to 70% off. 3 days left. Sizes are limited.
  • Two thumbs up to the Better Business Bureau! I’d purchased something from a popular home decor e-tailer. I got tired after waiting an year for a backorder and they didn’t respond to my emails. It was too far back for me to contest with my credit card. I filed a case on BBB, who then forwarded it to the local BBB. The e-tailer took immediate action. The e-tailer has similar bad reviews on BBB, so buyer beware.

II. Other

I am not categorizing for the sake of time. I will say that I really wish more RSS feeds didn’t force me to click to their site to read because now I have an exorbitant amount of saved items. I spent a good deal of time bookmarking instead of reading on my flight here. Or is there a way to easily bookmark into folders, on the iPhone, while offline?

III. Watching

  • I detest inefficient browsing. Enter Netflix God Mode. I usually add to my queue on the desktop. (PSFK)
  • How long it takes to binge watch a show. (via Apartment Therapy)
  • I’ve also been on a TV detox, but can’t wait to dig into:
    • Mad Men, last season (AMC)
    • Orphan Black, starting April 18 (BBC US)
    • Grimm, returns (NBC)
    • Call the Midwife, Mr. Selfridge, Wolf Hall (PBS)
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In general, I prefer plastic, oversized sunglasses over aviators. The weight is more evenly distributed and the more oversized they are, the more sun protection for the eye area! They’re also great for sleeping on a plane. In my opinion, sunglasses are one of the worst things to forget on a trip.

I’ve been into tortoise rimmed shades of late. During the fall, I got these Marc by Marc Jacobs sunglasses in “Havana” brown (style 213/S) when Shopbop had a sitewide promotion. I have a typical Asian face and Marc by Marc Jacobs (as well as Michael Kors and Forever 21) typically do not disappoint. MBMJ is extremely reasonably priced for the quality.

This style has been out for a while. They are currently sold out at Shopbop and Saks (but I have seen them popback on Shopbop), but available through third party sellers at Amazon.

A funkier rendition is available from Australian designer, Karen Walker (no, not the character from Will & Grace) and made very popular by Blair of Atlantic-Pacific.

Number One ($250), Harvest ($280)

Eaton Trading Company currently has 30% off sitewide including Karen Walker (limited styles), Clare Vivier, and Illesteva.

For more wallet friendly styles, check out Forever 21 (and I snuck another MBMJ in). Although I don’t expect them to last forever, they often do. They’re an easy and cheap way to get through a trend.

F7828 Oversized Round Sunglasses ($5.80), F0365 Round Frame Sunglasses ($5.80)

F6267 Cat-Eye Sunglasses ($5.80), F0339 Round Frame Sunglasses ($5.80)

F3891 Round Sunglasses ($5.80), MBMJ 57mm Sunglasses ($110)

Images from Forever 21, Nordstrom, Karen Walker, and Shopbop.

Celine, Proenza Schouler, and Louis Vuitton (non-monogram or patent lines) are on my non-existent bag wishlist. Out of the three, PS is the most affordable and easy to find. I liked the PS1, but when the PS11 came out, I quickly changed my mind.

Yoox’s thecorner currently has a 30% off code (THECORNERPRIVATE@SS12). Expiration unknown. There is a great selection of PS bags and Marc by Marc Jacobs shoes. I can’t remember the last time I saw a blanket 30% discount for PS!

I write about ballet flats often. While I love Repetto, it’s Marc by Marc Jacobs that gets me through most of the days of the year. I do a lot of walking every day in NYC, so my requirements for a good pair of shoes is higher than the typical person.

Observations:

  • MBMJ shoes are thicker and have more structure than many other ballet flats, which translates into better support. I’ve seen shoes made with noten (textured leather), nappa (super soft, but still structured), and calf leather (in between the two).
  • Width is on the wider side. I have wider feet and while I’ve never had to buy wide width shoes, these don’t hit the wrong spots. For other ladies with wider feet, Prada flats are also great.
  • I’ve been complaining that MBMJ doesn’t have enough styles with hardware, but it looks like my prayer has been answered!
  • I’m not sure how many styles they come out with each season, but it seems like they have many variations on one style. I’ve been seeing this less and less throughout the years though.
  • Sizing has been changing. Newer models run true to size or sometimes even 1/2 size too big. Older models are 1/2 size smaller, so size up 1/2 size.
  • Most shoes come with a rubber sole, but not all of their rubber soles are created equal. Some of them need a replacement sole sooner than others.
  • eBay is a trove for older styles. I just bid adieu to a pair that I acquired in 2007. I got them resoled once, but their time was up. I think 4 years is a good life for a pair of ballet flats I wore for at least 33% of the years! After stalking eBay for AGES (I’ll go into stalkin tips in a future post), I found a barely worn pair of the kitten wedge version of my 2007 shoes. They’re at the cobblers right now.
  • I’ve decided that I don’t really care for the Marc Jacobs line yet – I tried a pair on and while they were my favorite look of nude and black, the width was too narrow, massively slipperly soles, and had an elastic backing.

Here are some of the best styles on sale that are currently on the market. They typically retail for $200, so I consider anything $100ish to be a good deal.

  • MBMJ Noten Printed Lizard Flat / 615187 ($80) (previously mentioned here and pictured below in red). This one was available in red or green and is the sleekest style I’ve found to date. It’s currently available in green … not sure why they annihilated the red stock all of a sudden one day (and I’m too lazy to call and ask). It runs TTS to even a full size large. This is an excellent price for MBMJ and I often get compliments when I wear them out with an all black outfit or with stripes. Find them here


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I love Marc by Marc Jacobs flats, but it’s hard to find good ones since many styles have too much hardware, just aren’t classic enough, or resemble mice. One surprising thing to note is that their sizing has changed as of Fall 2011. MBMJ flats used to run half a size small. Now they are true to size. I can’t speak for Marc Jacobs yet.

These are my newest MBMJs, style 615187 in red leather. I love the polka dot lining. MBMJs are also usually soled in rubber already so you can get some wear out of them before you have to visit the cobbler. Buy here.

The best sources of MBMJ and MJ(*) flats, on sale:

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Everyone close to me knows that I looooove lace and eyelet. And prints by Orla Kiely, Marimekko, or Liberty of London. Some current faves:

(Clockwise from the top left. Photo credit: Saks.com, Urbanoutfitters.com, Aritzia.com, and Madewell.com.)

1. Marc by Marc Jacobs Edith Eyelet Top from the Spring 2011 collection. I had my eyes on this top for a long time and it took Saks long enough to add it to the markdowns. I strategically redeemed some American Express Membership Reward points in advance of the sale and snagged the last one, which happened to be in my size. (Tip: You can return gift cards and get your reward points rebanked. You can’t beat Amex service!) The eyelet is intricate and the construction is impeccable. I got a few eyelet tops made in Shanghai in 2007 and this is one of those items where you really need source the eyelet from the right place. The dress version is also gorgeous.

2. Urban Outfitters Staring at Stars Eyelet Blouse. Their product styling needs major help. I rarely scour Urban Outfitter and came across this top when I was going through their boutique, where it’s styled much more attractively. I love the neckline! I haven’t seen it in person yet, but the reviews are favorable. Not on sale yet.

3. Sessun Riverside Dress. Sessun is a great French label that can be lumped with A.P.C, Comptoir des Cotonniers, etc. Buried in the details is the Liberty fabric. I adore Liberty prints and fabrics, which have been made popular in recent years by J.Crew, Cacharel, and the Target collab. The prints are so cheerful. This dress is currently 50% off.
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I’ve been spending more than I want on shoes lately. I live in flats and some have been dying slowly after 3+ years of abuse on New York City streets, so I’ve been searching high and low for suitable replacements. I learned my lesson with flip flops and regret not listening to my mother, not to mention the germs. Life is too short to spend in uncomfortable shoes. I’ve been living in:

  • Gap ballet flats (Spring 2010) that are knock-offs of Repetto, except with a sturdier rubber bottom. I was in Boston for work, wandered to a Gap, and discovered that I totally missed out of this gem because I’d been out of the country. To further complicate things, it was on sale. I went into a frenzy mode and promptly located 4 pairs and had them shipped (for free). I got a pair in black, poppy red (pictured below), and metallic blue. I sold the metallic blue (just not my color scheme) and a pair of the blacks that was masquerading as a half size smaller (a nasty, old Gap habit). They have yet to have another ballet flat as great as this one – their current foldable city flat has no arch support and I limit it to airplane use. Sadly, my poppy red ballet flats from Zara are not as comfy as these and I’m still debating whether I want to break the Gap cap toe flats in.
  • Butter nude patent bow flats. So comfy. I got them zipsoled at the cobbler when they were brand new. They should last a while.
  • Two pairs of Marc by Marc Jacob ballet flats. I pulled a Jackie O at a post-Christmas sale at a now-defunct e-tailer and bought the same pair in two colors – black and a peachy ballet pink. I love MBMJ ballet flats (minus the mouse styles that I will never comprehend). They run half a size small. Sadly, their more recent styles have been too hardware-friendly and these two pairs are dying. I don’t think I’ll ever find a ballet flat in this shade of pink again!

  • Repettos – I have one pair that got caught in a torrential downpour that needs some TLC and a few new pairs to mull over (it takes me months to decide whether to keep and sole or to eBay).

Contenders
Good shoes are not easy to find. I’m not afraid to buy/return or buy/eBay.

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I haven’t spent much time in heels since I moved to NYC 3+ years ago. Comfortable shoes are a must, since walking is a necessity and I’m not a huge fan of the commuting sneaker look. I’m sharing additional research from my recent window shopping, covering Gap, Bloch, Sue London, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and Vera Wang Lavender Label.

1) Gap (http://www.gap.com)
Gap has been a hit and miss over the years. I think my last favorite years were 2004/2005 for clothing. I never batted an eye at their shoes until Spring 2010 when they came out with Repetto lookalikes. I bought them on sale, so they are cheap commuting/office shoes. I ran an office door over my foot the other day and scratched a pair. I’m glad I wasn’t wearing something better. It’s hard to get upset over cheap shoes!

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