Archives for May 2015

Style Story 17: Crop Tops Over 40

Crop Tops Over 40
Crop tops over 40?! Really?! Yes, I totally think crop tops are an option for any age. Granted, at any age I think there are a couple of tricks and tips to wearing this trend– unless you have a completely rock solid set of abs. JLo, my amazingly sexy same aged sister can choose to wear crop tops in any way she wants! (I bet she’s holding the ice cream for her child or something…) But for more modest attempts at wearing a crop top, stick with simple colors, choose a boxy style, or wear crop tops with a high waist. The last time I tried out the crop top trend was back in 2013 when the trend was just hitting the stores. I didn’t last long with that one; it was too cropped.

In my opinion, the secret to wearing crop tops over 40 is in the sneak peek. Just a sliver of skin exposure alludes to the style. I guess for the most part, I like wearing the modest version that hints at skin but is not in any way overt. Well…for the most part anyway. I have one exception but you’ll see it down below! ;P

Wear Crop Tops in Simple Colors

Crop Tops Over 40
There’s nothing too flashy with this look: it’s just black and grey. By keeping the colors simple, you won’t feel like you’re drawing more attention to your outfit with any other boldness. Let the cropped top be the bold of this outfit.

Wear Crop Tops in Boxy Shapes

Crop Tops Over 40
The boxiness of this crop top actually hides the tummy. The waist is visible which is good, but because a boxy cut falls from the breasts, the tummy actually gets shaded. It’s the glimpse of the top that might create the allure…. (This style works well for larger chested women since the top falls from there.)

Wear Crop Tops with High Waists

Crop Tops Over 40
Wearing a high waisted pant or skirt meets the crop top just about where it ends. This is a very safe way of wearing a crop top. Only movement of the arms reaching out will give a glimpse of the stomach. With a high waist there is minimal exposure from the crop top, but again, just enough. A little peak here and there is a good thing with a crop top.

My Exception with Crop Tops

Crop Tops Over 40
There’s one occasion when I will bare more midriff while wearing a crop top and that’s when a swimsuit is involved. If I’m headed to the beach or swimming pool even a boat ride, I find it totally appropriate to bare more skin. There’s usually a two piece on underneath, so for me the crop top is just an extension of my top. I’m usually in my high waisted denim cutoffs too, so I’ve got that pooch area covered. I don’t think I’d ever wear this same top with a pair of low waisted cutoff denim shorts. I would then be too self conscious. Funny huh? But with high waisted bottoms, I feel just fine in wearing a shorter top that shows off my middle.

Crop Tops for You:

I went out to three of my favorite online stores to shop for crop tops: Forever 21, ASOS, and Revolve Clothing. Each of these shopping destinations offer excellent options at various price points. If you want to just try this trend out with basics, go with Forever 21 or ASOS. If you interested in high quality and a more unique cut, shop at Revolve Clothing. Either way, for crop tops over 40, there are plenty of super cute options out there! Don’t be shy. Go for it!!

*This post has been linked up with Feature Friday, Fab Favorites, Fashion Friday, What I Wore, and Passion 4 Fashion.

Rebel in Arabia

It’s true: I was a Rebel in Arabia. Recently I was interviewed by a student since she was interested in the time that I had spend in Saudi Arabia. I love telling stories, and in talking with Rachel a ton of memories were sparked. Following is her lovely article about me–it actually brought tears to my eyes because she described this period of my life so well.


Rebel in Arabia

By Rachel Chiu

“I had times when I was chased by the muttawa,” said Ms. Krembs, with a rebellious glint in her eyes. She laughed as she recalled the epic chase with the religious police, sparked by the black tunic that she was wearing. In Saudi Arabia, women have to wear the black abaya at all times.

“I was with my husband and we were running through this really maze-like mall with crazy escalators and we ran into a restaurant to hide,” she reminisced. “We lost them in the restaurant. The restaurants always shut down during prayer time.”

Having lived in Hong Kong my entire life, I couldn’t imagine living in a place with a religious police. A place where restaurants and stores locked their doors and pulled the shutters five times a day during the call to prayer. A place where women had to cover themselves head to toe in a black abaya. I couldn’t imagine it, but Ann Krembs, our very own librarian, lived through it.

Mrs. Krembs and her husband moved to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in 1999 for a two year post at an international school there. It was the second international post that the couple had embarked on, the first being a stint in El Salvador. They would go on to live in Venezuela, Mumbai, India, and Beijing, before becoming our librarian here in Hong Kong. The couple taught at an international school owned by Saudia, the flag carrier airline of Saudi Arabia.

“I had no idea what I was getting into,” she said. “I was just so excited to continue this international career.”

Living in Jedda was a huge change from growing up in the small town of Spokane, Washington.

“I was very naive about the world,” she said. “I just knew that I was moving to the middle east. My dad was so scared for me but I had no idea why. I just pictured these grand palaces…”

Rebel in Arabia 3

Her visions of grand palaces and decadence were certainly accurate. Saudi Arabia is one of the richest countries in the world. The land is rich in oil and at the time the rich in Saudi Arabia were just getting richer.

“I’d never seen that much wealth,” she said.

Although we as Hong Kongers can relate to the side of Saudi Arabia to do with luxury cars and designer goods, it is harder to relate to the religious side of this absolute monarchy. Women do not have equal rights to men in the kingdom. Under Saudi law, female adults must live under the guidance of a “guardian,” a male relative. Saudi women face discrimination in court and are required to wear a black abaya that covers their hair and body.

“Did you know that women aren’t allowed to drive there?” she asked. “I had short hair back then and sometimes I would put on a baseball cap and drive around my compound just to be a bit of a rebel.”

Although Ms. Krembs taught at an international school and lived in an international compound, she still had to abide by all Saudi customs. Now, Ms. Krembs is known for her vibrant style and love of fashion, but in Saudi all her colorful outfits were swallowed by the black abaya.

Rebel in Arabia 1
“I don’t march in protests, I’m not a campaigner, I’m not an activist. But I found that my rebellious spirit came out under all the restrictions. I just didn’t find it right that I couldn’t drive – couldn’t wear what I wanted.”

“In restaurants, there were doors for men and doors for women,” she explained. “There was a partition between the two sides of the restaurant and I could see the other side but I was never allowed to sit there. I had never felt discrimination like that before.”

It was difficult living in Jeddah for Ms. Krembs and her husband. She had to struggle between feeling oppressed and respecting the traditions and cultures of her host country.

“One time we couldn’t get in a restaurant because of prayer time and I just had a mental breakdown in the backseat of our jeep. So much emotion was built up and I couldn’t stop crying,” she remembered.

Her husband was her greatest support during their stay.

“He always said to me, ‘Anne, you don’t have to accept it, you just have to tolerate it,” she said. She told me about how she didn’t feel like it was her fight. How she felt like it wasn’t fair for her to be angry at the restrictions because it’s an inherent part of Saudi culture.

Living in a culture so different from her upbringing was very difficult, but the difficult living situation brought Ms. Krembs closer to her fellow teachers. She described her network of friends in Saudi Arabia to be one of the closest and most tight-knit communities that she has ever been a part of. She met one of her best friends, Shannon Coin, a librarian, while she was in Saudi. She wears a silver bracelet, a gift from Shannon, everyday as a reminder of their strong friendship and of Shannon’s classy spirit.

“We relied on each other,” she said. “We all appreciated how different the culture was and supported each other through the transition.”

Looking back on her time in Saudi, Ms. Krembs has fond memories of strong friendships, shopping for carpets and jewellery, and kind hearted locals. She left the country and moved to Mumbai in 2001 with a new found appreciation for freedom of expression and a greater understanding of world culture.

“I realized that I have to be a guest in these countries,” she said reflectively. “I can’t go about changing anything. I need to embrace where I live and push myself out of my comfort zone.”

Rebel in Arabia 4

Rainy Weekend Wear

Rainy Weekend Wear 4The weather in Hong Kong has been very, very temperamental. In fact on Saturday the storms were so intense we stayed in all day! Part of it was due to intense bouts of rain, thunder, and lightening; some of it was due to the migraine that I believe was induced by such crazy weather. On Sunday, it was still stormy, but at least we were able to leave the house and even head to the mall to see a movie. (We went to see slapstick Madame Spy and laughed out loud!) It is very, very tricky to dress for the rain. It is sometimes quite chilly because of intense rain and winds, but then the humidity might go up making it sticky. Follow this by the AC blasting indoors, and it’s hard to know how to dress. Oh, and I forgot to mention wet shoes! Here’s my solution: I go with a black, long sleeve, off-the-shoulder top and a DIY denim skirt. I picked this denim number up at secondhand shop Me & George in Central. They measure my waist, and we match it to the skirt. When I got home, it fit perfectly (you can’t try on in this little shop–unless you sneak upstairs and slip something on under your skirt)> Once home I cut it off evenly at the slit in the back which took off about 4-5 inches of the skirt. Presto, I have my new cutoff jean skirt. For shoes, I go with plastic: these lace up gladiators are actually plastic. It’s worth looking around the wet markets in China or Hong Kong to find interesting plastic shoes.

Rainy Weekend Wear 5

Rainy Weekend Wear 2

Rainy Weekend Wear 3

Some Outfit Details:

Daisy Umbrella: Forever 21
Off-the-Shoulder Top: Zara
Cutoff Jean Skirt: DIY from Me & George
Plastic Shoes: Beijing wet market
And Fake Tan! L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Mousse (After all the rain, I felt desperate for something!)

Similar Black Long Sleeve Off-the-Shoulder Top:

Similar Cutoff Denim Skirt:

Similar Plastic Lace Sandals:

Style Story 16: Red Lipstick

It’s no hidden secret that I love red lipstick. I’m always looking for the best red in the best formula. I have quite the collection of red lippies, so I thought I’d share with you my top five. The following list is in no particular order. I choose my reds according to the type I need–yes, there are many different factors to red lipstick

Bourjois Rouge Edition in Hot Pepper

Bourjois Hot Pepper
Bourjois Rouge Edition in Hot Pepper is my newest lippy to my red lipstick collection, and it’s quite possibly my most used. It’s on the orange side of red, so it’s similar to NARS Heat Wave, but the formula is so much better. It glides on with a wand applicator, and it seriously lasts all day long. In fact, my lips are a bit stained after wearing this red lipstick. (I said I didn’t have a favorite, BUT this line of Bourjois called Rouge Edition rocks in ALL colors!)

Wet n Wild Mega Megalast in Red Velvet

Wet n Wild Red Velvet
I stumbled upon Wet n Wild MegaLast in Red Velvet last summer at my local Walgreens in Seattle. I went to my trusty Wet n Wild little stand in the local drugstore and gave the $2 lippy a try. Well, this bright red did not disappoint. It’s on the blue side of red, so it’s actually got a great pink undertone to it. The consistency goes on quite smooth and then turns to a matte. Definitely a stain is left which always indicates to me a great lippy. This means I don’t have to reapply all that often. This red lipstick is very strong, super bright, and utterly long lasting.

MAC’s Famous Ruby Woo

MAC Ruby Woo
MAC Ruby Woo is the classic red lipstick of all reds. I find my tube terribly drying, so the only way I can apply it is with MAC Lip Primer. I believe Ruby Woo is considered the classic red lipstick because it is neither orange red or blue red–it’s like it has the perfect amount of orange and blue equaling it out to the red the suits all women.

NARS Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl

NARS Dragon Girl
NARS Drgaon Girl is very similar to MAC Ruby Woo, yet it’s not as intense. It’s applied by a pencil, so sometimes I’ll double Dragon Girl and Ruby Woo together. If I want a very simple red lip, I’ll go with this. It’s light and lasting and not too bold. It’s my simple red lip.

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Lip Balm in Standout

Revlon StandoutSometimes I want a red lipstick that’s more on the brick side of red. If this is the case, I go for Revlon’s Standout. The consistency of these Matte Lip Balms is so creamy–creamier than any lipstick I’ve seen. The wear is also long lasting. I use all of Revlon’s Lip Balms in either stains or mattes while traveling. I can pack three in my makeup bag or carry on and be set for an entire trip.

Get My Favorite Red Lipstick

Now that I’ve shared my five go-to red lipsticks, it’s time for you to share. What’s your favorite red lipstick?

The Shopbop Sale Continues! And Shopbop Has Great Swimsuits–On Sale!


The suit from this beach poncho post definitely needs replacing–that’s why I’m planning to take advantage of Shopbop’s super sale!

Yesterday I did some (Internet–I must find what the term for this is….) window shopping on Shopbop’s major sale looking for updates to my LBD (little black dress). Well, then, I returned! There’s so much more that I want to window shop for–like take for example swimsuits. Swimsuits are a very difficult item to shop for–in general I think most women detest entering into the dressing room to try on swimsuits. But! With Internet shopping such a convenient way to shop these days, the dressing room can be your own bedroom. Ahhh, sigh of relief! Especially when it comes to trying on said swimsuits. Luckily, Shopbop offers free shipping, so it feels like a little less of a hit when mailing items all the way to Hong Kong.

Personally, like all other items of clothing, I want to feel confident in the swimsuit I wear. I mean, it’s going to expose some skin, so if I can find swimsuits and cover ups that make me feel sexy, well, I’m all about it. In my opinion there’s definitely a bit of blindness that HAS to accompany the swimsuit: I have some of those wrinkly dimples around my hips and such. But then I also have nice legs. I need to focus on the legs. I’m super heavy on top–which could be a good thing if played up right, but make sure I feel supported. I have a nice tummy but along with muscles that show are some of those wrinkly dimples. I could go and hide, OR I can try to find pieces that are just sexy enough to highlight my good bits to compensate for any of the others. Does this make sense? No, I’m not a VS model, and I’m sorry to say, but most likely neither are you. BUT, the moment I find something worth celebrating on my body, the better I’m going to feel in a swimsuit. So ladies, you have it, find it, and then FLAUNT it! I know you’ve got it!

I’ve done the pre-shopping on Shopbop. Many of these styles are going to look so great–if given a try. Below I’ve created three different shopping windows: bikinis or two pieces, one pieces, and cover ups (plus bonus: a couple of really cool rash guards!).

Bikinis and Two Pieces from Shopbop

One Pieces from Shopbop

Cover Ups from Shopbop

And Surpirse! A Couple of Rash Guards from Shopbop

What do you prefer to wear on the beach? Bikini? Two piece? One piece? Or really hot cover up? I like to wear a two piece and I love either a flowy, see through cover up OR a pair of cut off jean shorts.

Shopbop is Having a Huge Sale! Time to update Your LBD!


This LDB is from #flashback from September of 2014 when I used to have really long hair! Wow, is it already time to start growing it long again!?

For those of us in Hong Kong, there are only a couple of places that offer us free shipping, and Shopbop is one of these online boutiques that does! Usually, it’s a little too expensive for my wallet, BUT when there’s a sale on, I can’t resist. Right now Shopbop is offering up 70% off! That’s a ton–especially if you’re looking at the likes of Alexander Wang or Donna Karan (which I found while shopping!).

While there is a ton on sale right now, I focused my attention to the little black dress (LBD). The LBD is an essential item for every woman’s wardrobe. The think is though….sometimes we (well, I’m talking from experience) keep one in there for too long. While many styles of the LBD are classics, sometimes it’s necessary to update this classic dress. I’ve gone ahead and done the preliminary search. All the dresses I shopped for are 70% off! I didn’t even check less but I know there are more!

Shop for your LBD on Shopbop!

If none of these struck your fancy, there’s a ton more. Shop Shopbop’s super sale just in time for summer!

The Fab 40s in Gingham

The Fab 40s are back at it!! This month we all pulled off the very popular spring trend gingham in some way or another. Ironically, four out of the five of us had some sort of gingham shirt, so in this post, you can see four very different ways to style the gingham shirt that is probably already in your closet–including an attempt to turn a shirt into a skirt–say what!? Finally, we could count on one of all gals to rock a pair of out-of-this-world gingham heels–maybe not so frequent in everyone’s closet but still totally rock-able! The Fab 40s–Jane, Dixie, Dawn, Sheela, and myself–bring you a hot trend each month and show you five different (fabulous) ways to style the look. Here’s our March take with the marsala, the color of the year, April’s look with jumpsuits, and now this May with gingham. Enjoy!


Jane’s Outfit Details:

My Midlife Fashion

Shirt–Zara (borrowed from mum!)
Necklace–bought at antique fair


Dixie’s Outfit Details:

Inside Outer Style

Shirt and Jeans–H&M
Jacket–Free People
Rain Boots–Le Chameau


Dawn Lucy’s Outfit details:

Fashion Should Be Fun

Gingham shirt–Loft
Tote–Lilly Pulitzer for Target
Gladiator sandals–Seychelles
Jeans & Tank–Old Navy


Sheela’s Outfit Details:

Sheela Writes

Dress & Gingham Heels–Indie labels
Gold Floral Ring–Kate Spade New York

Ann Gingham 8For my outfit, I was determined not to add anymore gingham to my closet. I did look, but then when I shopped in my own closet I saw that I already owned two gingham shirts. I’ve been fascinated lately by an idea with a men’s shirt that kept popping up: wearing a men’s shirt as a dress. That inspired me to play around with what I already owned. Presto! A new skirt (and idea for turning my shirts into skirts) was born. I simply just buttoned the shirt lower at my waist until it wouldn’t button any further. Then, I tucked in the collar and simply tied. A skirt was born! Will you give this look a try? I might do it again…

Gingham 9

Ann Gingham 4

Ann Gingham 2

Ann’s Outfit Details

Kremb de la Kremb

Red Sunnies–market in Shenzhen
Lippy–Bourjois Rouge Edition Hot Pepper (my favorite!)
Earrings and Necklace–Ben (stall 4 on the left) at Jardine’s Bazaar, Hong Kong
Blue Gingham Shirt–Forever 21
Red Gingham Shirt worn as a Skirt–Forever 21
Guatemalan Bag–Precious Hands (bag #1307)
White Clogs–kiosk at Pondok Indah Mall, Jakarta

Prom Date Memories But More Importantly, Prom Dresses!

Prom_Prom at the school I work at is just around the corner, like this Friday. As the Prom Committee’s sponsor, I’ve been working with about 15 students all year to create a special night for the upperclassman at our school. I think it will be a great night for all; they’ve been working hard and have created some fantastic highlights for the casino themed event.

With this anticipation of prom, memories flood back to me. My first prom came about because of my best big brother cousin David. He’s a year older, and I was friends with all of his friends. I was actually more than a little disheartened to be considered the “guy with tits.” Well, when one of David’s friends was in need of a date, David recommended me. A week before his senior prom, I got a very random phone call from this guy–I’ll name him Tim Lee to keep his identity safe. (The false name is given by no means because he was a bad date–he was a very nice young man.) I didn’t know Tim. I’d never met him before. He introduced himself on the phone as David’s friend. No problem. I played cool. After the quick introduction, Tim went straight into what is now called the “promposal” (although there was nothing remotely romantic about his question). It was just, “I know this is late notice, but do you want to go to prom? I can help you with the dress.” I thought quickly, had no idea who he was, knew I didn’t know how I was going to get a dress in a week, and said, “Sure!” What the heck. I’ve always been one to just go for it. I also told him it was ok about the dress–I’d figure something out.

The reason I said yes is pretty obvious….even at 16 I was all about the dress! I didn’t know how or where I’d get one, but the very idea of getting dressed up appealed to me. Luckily all the aunties were involved in this promposal–Annie’s going to the Prom! And ever more fortunate for me, my cousin David’s best friend’s mother was an excellent seamstress. Mom and I headed to the fabric store immediately.

Oh, I do love a fabric store. My imagination goes crazy dreaming up amazing dresses. It did just that for this prom*. Mom and I found a gorgeous black silk with very vibrant, colorful palm sized flowers strewn everywhere. We found one of those flamenco type patterns with a high-low hem line. Then, we found the inner lining: a bright satiny red! Oh, wow! We created the perfect version of a flamenco dancer dress. It was, to put it mildly, completely over-the-top. And, no, I have never lived that dress down. David started calling me Rosarita for a while….

Prom itself, well, meh. I much preferred that frantic week ahead designing the dress, picking out the fabric, heading to Mrs. Zimmerman’s for fittings. Then, getting ready, applying red lippy, wearing my head in a low side bun, oh those are the wonderful memories I have of prom. Dinner with Tim Lee, dancing, the actual event… I can’t recall a single memory. But that prom dress! Oh, it’s in there. It’s in there for good!

*Side note: Keep in mind I wanted to live and study so badly in Mexico at this time, so I was heavily influenced by Latina flare.

Recipe: Kevin’s Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

Is there a cake in your family that always gets requested? For us it’s Kevin’s Carrot Cake (which isn’t even his!). Everyone, including non family members, seems to request this delicious cake. Maybe Kevin adds a secret ingredient–like love or care? I’m not sure because he has always simply used the Better Homes and Garden recipe. It’s an easy, straight forward recipe that always gets rave reviews. Now Kevin finds it online, but years before when we just got married, he used that popular BHG mammoth tomb that was our newlywed recipe bible. I need to replace that cookbook–it’s an oldie but a goodie that got destroyed by some weird substance in one of our moves. For Vincent’s most recent 13th birthday celebration he chose Kevin’s carrot cake, and none of us were disappointed his Vincent’s choice! In fact, Vincent helped out in the kitchen; maybe soon we’ll be able to request Vinnie’s carrot cake too!

Carrot Cake

(I don’t think the orange shirt was intentional.;)

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

Recipe from Better Homes and Garden

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups finely shredded carrots
1 cup cooking oil
4 eggs
1 Cream Cheese Frosting (see recipe below)

Grease and lightly flour two 9×1-1/2-inch round baking pans or grease one 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set pan(s) aside.
In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add carrots, oil, and eggs. Beat with an electric mixer till combined. Pour batter into the prepared pan(s).
Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 30 to 35 minutes for round pans or 35 to 40 minutes for 13×9-inch pan or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool layer cakes on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool thoroughly on wire racks. Or, place 13×9-inch cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting. Cover and store in refrigerator. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Cream Cheese Frosting
2 ounce of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup of butter or margarine, softened
2 teaspoons of vanilla
4 1/2 cups of sifted powdered sugar

Beat together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Gradually beat in enough of the remaining powdered sugar to reach spreading consistency.

My Design Fit Me!

DressThe first design I made for the fashion show I just participated in actually fit me! I don’t know how this design fit me since it was made for someone else much smaller than me, but it did. (Must be the stretchy black velvet top!) When we got invited to the PFO ball at school, I was planning on purchasing a dress or wearing this purple sparkly number, but then when I got my dresses back, I gave this design a try. When it fit, I thought why not! It’s a fun and flirty dress–I felt straight out of the 1950s! I am not sure what I will do with all these five dresses, but I have an idea: I could reuse the fabric from the five dresses next year for a whole other line of designs. For sure I want to try designing out again for next year’s fashion show. It was such fun. I might even try to do the actually sewing…We’ll see! Until then, this whole experience of playing fashion designer has been super fun. I’m still waiting for the students to finish editing the pictures from the event. Once they’re published I will for sure share all the designs.