China and in fact most of Asia don’t have a long history for celebrating the familiar holidays from the western world. I don’t share the common memories that my husband and most of the people I know here in America have. It’s kind of funny when someone’s talking and says something like “remember when we were kids and we’d try to spy on Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy?” They forget that where I grew up we had none of these stories or characters so the answer is no, I don’t remember! But I’m happy to say that I’ve been building new memories over the last 10 years since I met my future husband. I love the holiday season now and enjoy the decorations, food, gift giving and the family time that goes along with it. Even in China now they go all out for many of the traditional western holidays. If you go to any shopping mall in Shanghai or any other big city in December you’ll be hearing “Jingle Bells” and seeing trees lit up with lights and weighed down with ornaments. It’s the same now with Valentine’s Day in China. If you haven’t made reservations at the more popular restaurants at least a few weeks ahead of time you may find your big dinner date being moved to KFC! That’s the best thing about having ties with a couple different cultures. I get to celebrate Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day AND Chinese New Year! I have an excuse to overeat, pop a cork and open a present all year round!
I should have been a Gemini because I’m kind of 2 people in one. A bit of a workaholic but also kind of lazy! I’m too busy to spend tons of time getting ready for every meal out so try to use some tips and tricks I’ve picked up to get me out the door and to the restaurant a bit quicker. If you’re “motivationally challenged” like me you may like this idea. For an instant Valentine’s Day dinner date outfit, a dress is my go-to choice. This one stop shopping piece is a good option because you don’t have to work at matching tops and bottoms. A stylish dress is not only easy to put on but it always creates a chic look for date night. Here, I’m wearing a sweater dress that pulls double duty by keeping me warm while it keeps me in fashion!
I never want to show too much skin or feature a very loud color for these occasions. I’ve already got someone so try not to look like I’m “in the market.” And my husband is a full supporter on this! Too revealing or too much flash can not only be a bit gaudy but I don’t want to send any wrong signals. My dress already has a very interesting and frilly pattern so I can just let it make its own statement. I added just the right amount of color with my multi-hued pearl necklace for a soft feminine touch. Some bright red splashes of lipstick, nail polish and my leather clutch and the more subtle wine color heels added those necessary accent colors that I can’t seem to do without. Last time I checked, Valentine’s Day is still in February so here in Michigan you will want to keep warm while your date night heats up! I like to choose a brightly colored but cozy wool coat. This will guarantee when making your entrance you’ll also be making some heads turn!
Orange Wool Coat @Wilson’s Leather
Dress @TJ Maxx
Necklace gift from BFF
Bag @Michael Kors
Shoes @Nordstrom Rack
We Chinese are in general a superstitious people. It’s not at all uncommon to plan your life around something a fortune teller predicted. At the very least you always remembered what was foretold and if it happens, you wonder how they knew! I remember hearing that I would do a lot of traveling when I got older. I thought to myself, well maybe one day I’d make the 1000km trip to Shanghai but that was about it. When I met the American man I would later marry it soon became clear that my travels would be a bit more far flung than I thought! Since then I’ve been to some other Asian countries, the USA and Canada, a few sunny destinations in the Caribbean and several countries in Europe! Somewhere in northeast China is an old fortune teller that owes me a good “I told you so!” I guess I really got my money’s worth on that one!
Another trait we Chinese share is that our cultural traditions run deep. As an example, the color red is very important. For Chinese it signifies good luck. It’s the color of the envelopes that carry our money gift on Chinese New Year and it dominates weddings and festivals. It also happens to be one of my favorites! I try to include in my wardrobe pieces that can stand the test of time. A good example of that is my bright red cashmere coat. After all it’s not just the British that look good in red coats! I’ve had this warm and classic pea coat for more than 10 years and it’s never failed me! I love the vibrant color and soft fabric. A good fitting pea coat is a must have for anyone living somewhere that requires they own a snow shovel! The shape is very flattering to a girl and of course you can’t beat cashmere for classic comfort. If you have a focus piece in such an attention getting color you want to take steps to not let it overwhelm your outfit. To tone things down just a bit I limited the rest of my outfit to the tasteful combination of black and gold.
I could easily have gone with a pair of tall black boots but I was aiming for a cleaner look so went with my oh-so-useful leather skinnies and wedge booties. If you’ve been reading my posts (THANK YOU!!!) you will have seen these skinnies before. You can check out other appearances here, here, here, here, and here. A bright red statement piece is a natural when paired with classic black & white. I don’t always like to fight tradition so brought out my black & white scarf featuring and oversized hounds tooth pattern. This piece is yet another of my long time closet residents that is never out of fashion or trend. I kept the theme going with my small black cross body purse to add a bit of contrast, interest and texture to the look. I love how the metal chain strap and shiny accent on the bag combine to bring a tough modern vibe to the classic red, black & white combination. With the bright red of the coat and bling on the bag I needed some eye protection. I not only got plenty of that but also finished strong with my crisp clean white sunnies.
Coat & Scarf @Old friends from China
Purse @Saks 5th Avenue
Leather skinnies and @Calvin Klein Wedge Booties @Nordstrom Rack