2015 Holiday gift guide

Fashion, Lifestyle, Wishlist

It’s that time of the year again when we all take a pause and say, “I can’t believe it’s December already!” And if you’re like me, then it’s also that time when you scramble for gift ideas. Thankfully, the people in my life are relatively easy to shop for. But still, I still needed some ideas.

Search for “gift ideas” and the results can be quite daunting. But fear not, I’ve narrowed those results down a tiny bit to keep for future reference and hopefully this will help you too. If you’re celebrating Christmas, most of these can be ordered right up to Dec. 21.

Holiday gift ideas

Art

1.Minted.com. Choose from hundreds (maybe even thousands) of independent artists and designers at several size/framing options with reasonable prices.

2.Beautiful hardcover books. Juniper Books have different jacket styles for the Harry Potter series – Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin and Hufflepuff. There are also the usual classics covered in beautiful designs. Speaking of classics, Rifle Paper & Co. has the 150th anniversary edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with a beautiful cover and full-color interior illustrations.

3.Digital download + framing. If you want to customize further, look into digital downloads available at Etsy. You can then upload it to Framebridge for custom frames.

Customized gifts

4.Custom portrait. Send in some photos for a custom portrait illustration that you can use for notes and calling cards.

5.Metallic silhouette. Also from Minted comes custom silhouette foil art in different sizes and frames.

6.Custom shoes. Gift these for women who obsess over those shoes that got away or love styles that may no longer be available.

7&8.Personalized style. The Trunk Club is a premium service where you get to connect with a stylist, preview a handpicked selection and pay for clothes that you keep. It’s available for men and women. Stitch Fix is similar but it’s more automated in that you only answer a style quiz. Right now, it’s only available for women. Start your loved-one off with gift cards.

Subscriptions

9.Philz Coffee. I don’t think that you can fully recreate the drip coffee at Philz cafes in San Francisco but this is probably a good start. I still fantasize about that coffee, by the way.

10.Beauty box subscription. Available for men and women, a monthly box features a range of grooming and beauty samples for those who love to try new products but don’t want the commitment of full-sized products.

11.Floral arrangements. Make it weekly, monthly or reserve it for special occasions. It’s a way to ensure you don’t forget future special dates.

Toasty gifts

12.Cashmere-lined leather smartphone gloves. Cashmere, leather and you can use your smartphone without freezing.

13.Cozy slippers. I live in perpetual summer Florida so winter-y stuff are not in my radar but these would have been amazing living in Boston or Montreal.

Just because you can

14.Travel with a personal photographer. Pick from curated travel experiences to South America with a personal photographer. Because, you know, you need to ‘gram it and still enjoy the moment.

15.Hermés Apple Watch. Or is it the Apple Hermés Watch? Anyway, it’s available only in certain Apple and Hermés stores starting at $1,100.

Tech Gifts (of course)

16.Pencil by FiftyThree digital stylus. If you’re one of many still waiting for the Apple Pencil for the iPad Pro, this works just as well at half the price without the waiting list.

17.Amazon Echo. This is Amazon’s answer to Siri and Google Now, except it lives in your home, can play your music and can even control some home automation devices.

18.RIF6 Cube. It’s a 2-inch high resolution mobile projector that works with smartphones, tablets or laptops and projects a 120” inch display on any wall or ceiling.

19.Google Cardboard. No, this is not a joke. It’s the least expensive way to experience virtual reality. It’s compatible with thousands of VR apps on Android and iOS and can support screens up to 6 inches.

20.Samsung Gear VR. But if you’re willing to spend the dollars and the lucky recipient happen to have a Galaxy smartphone, then this VR headset powered by Oculus Rift would be quite a treat.

Kids (or the kid in you)

And since I’ve been thinking of this a lot, I can’t really leave this post without doing a (quick) gift guide for kids as well.

Gifts for Kids (or the kid in you)

1.Ruby’s Sky-high cable car (Ages 6+). From Goldie Blox, the company that sets out to introduce engineering to girls at a young age, one toy at a time.

2.Personalized book from Lost My Name (Ages 0+). This London-based company just received $9M in Series A round led by Google Ventures. But forget about that, the book is beautifully illustrated and the company delivers in less than a week.

3.Electronics Discovery Kit (Ages 8+) – This has 3,300 customer reviews (as of this writing) and has a 5 star rating at Amazon. I’m completely sold.

4.BB-8 Droid by Sphero (Ages 8+). Just in time for the new Star Wars to be released on December 8, it can listen, recognize and respond to you or your child’s voice and you can even record/view holographic videos.

5.Puzzlets Starter Pack (Ages 6+). Puzzlets is a game that can teach a child think like a programmer through hands-on-play and interactive gaming.

Happy Holidays!

 

Guide to summer trends 2015

Fashion, Trends

All other seasons in Florida are quite pleasant but summer is H-O-T. With a rapidly growing pregnant belly, it is even sweatier and hotter than normal. So truth be told, I have been living in shorts, t-shirts and white Birkenstocks (hard to bend down to tie those gladiator straps with a belly on the way). But for the rest of you passing the summer in a “this-is-amazing-weather” attitude, these summer trends would be so much fun to try.

1. It’s all about the ties. Gladiators are just so much fun and after almost a decade, the trend has come roaring back and is edgier than before, with leather straps up to the knees. For the bashful among us, espadrilles are the other shoes for summer (besides, all those leather ties up the legs could get sweaty), updated with hardware and wrap-around ties. Even flats are getting the ties update. Now, if only I can bend down to put these shoes on.

2. White lace. I know I’ve been touting white and lace since last year but both of these elements combined are just perfect for this summer. Probably because of gladiators sandals, white lace is rendered a little tougher and less frothy. Seen on Chloé’s ready to wear summer 2015 collection, other designers such as rising star Self Portrait have followed suit. Even better is that you can also find less expensive versions via fast fashion brands. Update lace for later seasons in moodier and darker colors.

3. Off the shoulder. It’s hot and it’s time to bare those shoulders while the weather allows for it. Pair it with shorts for now and with skinny jeans for when it gets a little cooler. Dress down with espadrilles or dress it up with heels, it’s all up to you.

Guide to summer trends 2015

H M dress
$93 – hm.com

Self portrait purple summer dress
$405 – net-a-porter.com

TIBI satin top
tibi.com

Candela elastic waist shorts
shop.harpersbazaar.com

Navy blue flat
figue.com

Flat
barneys.com

Pumps
forwardforward.com

J.Crew french hook earrings
$110 – jcrew.com

Figue MATCHESFASHION.COM
matchesfashion.com

Necklace
cjlaingshop.com

4. Culottes. I know that this is not for everyone but think about it – you get the flowy silhouette of a skirt without fear of said skirt blowing up when it’s windy. Plus, the new culottes come in so many options in volume and in length. If I wasn’t so pregnant, I would seriously consider this – stylish and practical.

5. Pom-poms and tassels. Bohemian style abounds and for accessories, what could be more fun than pom-poms and tassels? Since I’ve been researching/buying a lot of stuff for the house, I even found pom-poms on bedding. Then reality set in and thought of my toddler picking at the pom-poms. And seriously, who could resist these things?

 

Smartphone apps to organize your life

Lifestyle, Technology

My first smartphone was the 1st generation iPhone in 2007. Back then, it was just a really cool and beautiful machine that you can use sometimes to browse the web or look up an address via Google maps. Everything was so slow probably because mobile network providers couldn’t really handle the load yet. Apps were still a new concept and app makers came and went so that an app that you liked one day could lose support the next.

Fast forward to today and this is what you get:

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 12.43.02 PM

With all that noise, we sometimes end up downloading apps that we use once or never. Over time, here are the apps that continually occupy my home screen and that I have found the most useful. I use an Android phone these days, the Nexus 6, so functionalities for Google’s suite of apps might be a little ornery on iOS and other mobile OS. But the rest of the apps I’ve outlined here should work just as beautifully and maybe even better on iOS since most of them were developed first for iOS. I hope these apps help you as much as they have helped me over the years. Remember, your smartphone is more than just for calling, it’s your mini-computer. Now, put that awesome and expensive device to work.

  1. Google apps
    • Gmail.This is a no-brainer. Even if you have an iPhone with a Mail app and use GMail extensively, nothing parses through Gmail better than the Gmail app itself. I don’t even have the Mail apps activated in my Macbook Pro and iPad. The last time I used the Mail app on my Macbook was in 2009.
    • Maps. Again, there’s not much to say except that Maps is a game-changer. I don’t mind driving but I really don’t like knowing where to go or how long it will take for me to get there. The longevity of Maps means that you have the best data available (for traffic, new routes, public transit/walking/biking directions). Plus, Maps now has data on major shopping centers and airports as well. Back when I used to have the iPhone, I refused to update my iOS (when Apple replaced Google Maps with its own Maps app) until I was sure that Google Maps was available for the iPhone.
    • Calendar. If you have an Android with the latest OS (Lollipop in this case), Calendar’s integration with other Google apps is amazing. If you received some sort of invitation via Gmail, Calendar automatically adds it as an event with all the details: location, time, date, phone number of organizer. On the day of the appointment (if the event has a location in it), it will appear as a Google Now card which tells you what time to leave for the appointment based on your current location. From what I can understand, a similar feature exists on the iPhone but you have to manually turn the settings on. Here’s a guide on how to do that.
    • Drive. This is probably not well understood by most people because of Google’s iterations over the years. Used to be simply called Docs, it became Drive. Within Drive, files can be opened/edited in 2 apps: Sheets (for spreadsheets) and Docs (similar to Word documents). But you don’t even have to think about that. Opening a file within Drive automatically opens it in those respective apps. If Sheets/Docs are not installed, Drive will simply ask you to install them. I used Drive for any document that I want to share and co-edit. If push comes to shove and I want some fancy formatting, then I simply do the final edits on Word or Excel but I hardly do that. I’ve submitted plenty of my MBA assignments formatted in Docs or Sheets.
    • Translate. If you’re planning to travel to a country where you don’t know the language, this is a must-have. For more on my thoughts about Translate, I talked about it and some of its new features here.
    • Wallet. I know, I know, Apple Pay is the bomb. But for Android users, Google Wallet has been around much longer and it does get handy (at least for online retailers where it’s accepted). I hope that Google’s latest moves of partnering with wireless carriers and acquiring of mobile payments systems Softcard will lead to Wallet’s widespread adoption. For now though, I use Wallet to keep track of my loyalty cards. You know those loyalty cards that you either clutter your wallet with or your key ring? Input or scan the barcode into the app and you can just use your phone to scan it at the store. Wallet can also keep track of gift cards via barcodes as well. For an alternative (before this Wallet feature), I’ve used the Cardstar app over the years as well.
    • Hangouts. There’s a lot of complaints about the replacement of the Voice app with Hangouts but I really can’t complain. I’ve moved 5 times in the past 5 years to different cities/countries. I’ve used numerous SIM cards/phone numbers but my friends/family only has one number to contact me by, which is my Google Voice number. No matter where I am in the world, I can forward phone calls to Hangouts and receive them. For US or Canada-based callers, the call stays free. The road has not been completely smooth on my phone because some network providers block Google from bypassing the default Phone dialer. For example, I want to use my Google voice number to call internationally which bills my Google account (at competitive rates) but my T-Mobile won’t allow it. With the release of Hangouts dialer though, I can now make those international phone calls using my Google Voice account. I would also mainly use the app for messaging but internationally, WhatsApp is still the leader.
    • Google Plus. G+ might be a joke for some people but it is my main photo storage provider. All my photos are automatically backed up in Google+. Only photos over 2048×2048 pixels and videos longer than 15 minutes count toward my free storage limit of 15GB. Any pictures/videos than these have unlimited storage in G+. When I’m ready, I can easily share them with families and friends via G+ or by sending a private link. As with any photo sharing feature, you can tweak the settings of each photo/album if you wan to make sure that photos/albums can or can’t be re-shared. Furthermore, G+ AutoAwesome automatically enhances some pictures or even transform series of photos into GIFs. Another great feature is “Stories” which automatically sifts through a series of photos, picks the best ones and give you travelogues that you can share or just keep.
  2. Flipboard. I’ve tried to look for alternative reading apps that curate the news for me but so far, this is the one that I keep going back to. It’s simply well-built and beautiful to boot. If you like to follow current events in any field (world news, tech, fashion, etc.), this app delivers in a beautiful format.
  3. Mint by Intuit. Other companies have tried and are trying to topple Mint’s dominance in personal finance but you can’t beat Mint’s integration with other products – most importantly Intuit’s TurboTax. Over the years, Mint has proven its worth – easy to navigate, easily integrated with banks/credit cards, great support.
  4. CamScanner. If you’re like me and don’t own a scanner but find yourself needing to scan something every once in a while all the time, then this app is for you. Via the app, you take a picture of the document, and the app transforms the picture into a PDF or JPG file that you can easily share via mail, upload to any cloud storage app on your phone or even over Bluetooth. On the iPhone, sharing options might be limited to Mail, iCloud and Bluetooth but on the Android, you can send it via messaging apps (doc link only), email, and any storage app you’ve installed on the phone.
  5. Trello. I’ve used other to-do-list apps such as Asana, but have since switched to Trello for its simplicity. You can organize to-dos based on timeline such as: To do this month, this week or Doing today. You can also organize it based on the person responsible if you’re sharing the lists with other people.
  6. Baby Connect. As a new mom, I needed a way to track my daughter’s sleep and feeding times. Even for parents, this may not be something that you will find useful. In fact, my doctor once told me to stop tracking the times and instead pay attention to visual cues from my daughter. Still, I find it fun to have all these data because I’ve learned to predict whether my daughter will be more or less resistant to naps based on the number of her sleep hours from previous days. You can also track milestones (first steps, first smile, etc.) which can also be exciting to do.
  7. SeatGuru. When I first traveled with my daughter, especially on airlines where we didn’t have any status, I wanted to avoid the most uncomfortable seats. I also needed to know where the bassinets can be attached or if they’re available at all. SeatGuru helped me figure this out because airline websites are not always reliable/transparent on seat information. Browsing seating maps also show specific notes for certain seats. Example: “Seat 17F (Economy, Standard, AC Power, Seatback, TV). Seat 17F is a standard Economy seat, however, this seat has extra space around it due to the blocking out of the middle seat… the armrests are still immovable which some may find uncomfortable.”
  8. Uber. You can use the same payment information in different countries, be able to track your driver, know the wait times and pay less compared to taxis. Enough said.
  9. Life360. I used to have Google Latitude to track my husband’s location or allow my husband to track mine. And no, it wasn’t that we wanted to control each other’s movements but every once in a while when I had to pick him up or vice versa, then we knew exactly where to go instead of getting frustrated with trying to describe a place (especially when traveling). Unfortunately, the app was retired in 2013 and I had to find a replacement. Life360 is a great alternative and can be shared with the whole family – especially useful for a growing family like mine.
  10. If this, then that (IFTT). To be honest, I have yet to set this up on my phone because it will require some planning on exactly how I want my activities to be organized. Furthermore, I find Google’s default actions (see Google apps above) to be more than sufficient for my needs. IFFT sets up of corresponding responses to certain actions. An example: if I post a photo on Instagram, upload that photo on a specific file on my Dropbox. If you’re very prolific and a power-power user, then IFFT can be very useful. IFFT users come up with different recipes all the time so you also don’t need to come up with your own recipes if you don’t feel like it.

Last minute tech gift ideas

News and commentaries, Technology

We’ve all been there: waiting for the last minute to find that perfect holiday gift. Here’s a gift guide for that techie in your life with mostly free express shipping to make it in time. Of course, you can always buy e-books, e-gift cards, etc. This is for when you really want to impress. Happy gifting!

 Last minute tech gifts

  1. Beats PowerBeats2 Wireless In-Ear Headphones, $179.95 (originally $199.95), free 2-day shipping
  2. GoPro Hero, $129.99, free 2-day shipping
  3. Nest learning thermostat, $249.00, free ground shipping
  4. Zero Gravity Phoenix iPhone 6 case, 32.00, free 3-day shipping
  5. iRobot Roomba 650, $399.99, free ground shipping (until 12/21 in time for Christmas)
  6. 1-year Amazon Prime membership, $99, right after sign-up
  7. toryBurch for Fitbit, $195.00, free express shipping for Paypal and ShopRunner orders (must order today)
  8. Poweradd Pilot Pro portable charger, $129.99 (originally $349,99), free standard shipping for Dec. 24 (must order today), free 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime
  9. Selfie on a stick + bluetooth remote shutter, $25.00 (originally $29.99), free shipping on orders over $50 with code SHIPFREE (order by 12/20)
  10. Apple TV, $99.00, free 2-day shipping, HDMI cable sold separately or Google Chromecast HDMI streaming media player, $29.99 (originally $35.00), free 2-day shipping on select orders

Guide to winter trends

Fashion, Trends

Compared to my guide to fall trends, I have to admit, I was a little lost with winter trends. For one thing, being in Miami means that winter is the furthest from my mind. Plus, do we still care about fashion when it’s freezing cold outside? I remember when I used to live in Montreal and Boston, I only had one good Burberry coat (a Black Friday find at the outlet mall – the ONLY time I shopped on Black Friday), black boots, thermal sweaters, a leopard print beanie and that was all I could be bothered with. I have to admit though that I wish I had some of the items below just to break up the monotony that winter frequently brings.

Side-note: if you want to stay stylish *and* warm, invest in a Burberry coat that can carry you through several years (mine is 5 years old). I always get compliments on it and I was toasty; no other coat came close.

1. Statement sweater. There is a fine line between an ugly sweater and a statement sweater so tread carefully. Because your top half already grabs all the attention, keep the rest minimal and slim to counteract the inevitable volume of any statement-making elements on the sweater.

Statement sweater

2. Camel topcoat. Not only is this a very hot item right now, it’s also a classic so there’s no need to overthink it. If I have to get another coat, I would get this color.

The camel coat

3. The embellished boots. This has been around since 2008 – at least for designers Chloé (Suzanna) and Balenciaga (cutout boots). But, it has taken several seasons for mall brands and indie designers to follow suit with their own versions. These days, embellished booties abound and you can finally take part in a more wallet-friendly fashion. Styling this is about contrast – a floaty dress (mini, midi, maxi) and delicate jewelry balance the toughness of the boots.

Embellished booties

4. Winter florals. Who doesn’t love florals? This winter, look for darker tones and pair it with a moto leather jacket and oxfords. Or, if you want to keep florals on your feet, keep the rest simple.

Winter florals

5. Feathers. Okay, this one is *not* a classic but who can resist the glamor of feathers, especially for those holiday parties? And style icon, Jenna Lyons, once again shows how this trend is done.

Feathers

A guide to sustainable and clutterless fashion

Fashion

Every quarter, I publish a guide to the season’s trends. I also publish “lists” as shopping lists related to trends. As much as I want to build my wardrobe to remain season- and trend-relevant , I am more of an editor – meaning, I curate my wardrobe at least twice a year.  I also tend to stick to classics and maintain the same clothing size (well, except for pregnancy) because changing sizes means more clothing expenses. Being an editor was not exactly a conscious choice. It was more a result of circumstance – over the past 4 years, I have moved 5 times in 5 cities scattered in 4 countries. Prior to that, I had a closet the size of 2 (maybe 3) big suitcases – I should know since I also had to haul said belongings to several places.

There are advantages to constantly editing your closet
Still, as someone who enjoys fashion, it’s difficult to not be tempted by the shiny and the new. I follow several bloggers on my Instagram feed and I am as susceptible as anyone to have closet envy. But, there are several advantages to being an editor and sticking to classics:

  • Unlike the average woman who owns over $500 worth of unworn clothing, I can honestly say that within the past 5 years, all my clothes have been worn and more than once. I chalk the earlier years to not knowing my style completely and buying some items on impulse.
  • I seldom, if ever, have moments of “I have nothing to wear”; those moments being only when I was hugely pregnant. When you have fewer clothes, you take a lot of the guesswork out of dressing. It’s the paradox of choice – more options don’t necessarily mean it’s better.
  • As I get better at being an editor, packing for travel or for a move becomes less and less agonizing. It’s not just the lesser volume of clothes that I have to carry during a move. Again it’s also the fact that I have fewer choices when it comes to assembling my luggage for travel.

Having these in mind, I decided to write a piece on sustainable and clutterless fashion. I hope that you will also find it useful.

What is sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion is a sub-trend of sustainable design,

where a product is created and produced with consideration to the environmental and social impact it may have throughout its total life span, including its “carbon footprint” (emphasis added).

The total life span of a plain white t-shirt for example starts from the cotton fields – how those fields are managed, whether it’s environmental (water management, land management) or social (farmers’ rights and wages) – to the store where it is sold to the end consumer. Because every aspect of the supply chain must be rendered sustainable, eco-fashion usually ends up with a relatively high price tag. Scale is difficult to achieve. In fact, it would be antithetical to the notion of eco-fashion, where minimum consumption is encouraged. It must also be high quality if the item is supposed to be for long-term use. For a great case study of sustainable fashion, read more on one of the best and pioneers of eco-fashion, Patagonia.

Fast fashion is the opposite of sustainable fashion. Inditex’ Zara and H&M’s value proposition is that they can rapidly respond to trends and produce it in massive scale – regardless of the source – and deliver it for low prices. As scrutiny grows, companies like these are learning to be more transparent about their supply chain but the fact remains that most of the clothes they produce are disposable.

How you can shop sustainably:
Personally, I have trouble paying a high premium for eco-fashion but I do believe in and aspire to sustainable design. I believe in consuming just the right amount and I absolutely hate waste. Instead of telling you what fabrics to look for (regular cotton vs. organic cotton), I find the following to be an adequate guide:

  1. Do you really “need” it? As in, do you still think about it the next day or several days after? Does it fill a hole in your wardrobe, i.e. you “need” a coat because your old one is showing its age? If not, then it would have been an impulse buy. Impulse buys are fine if you can easily return it but most people end up keeping such purchases, either because they simply forgot or it would have been inconvenient to return.
  2. Can you wear it at least 5 different ways with items that you already own? Or if you want to be more existential, does the item fit your life?
  3. Can you wear it at least 30 times? Classics, such as a button down shirt, are great because they can withstand several seasons and trends. If you go for a trendy piece, the question to ask is if it’s something that can be reworked or reframed back into an outfit even when the trend has passed. Finally, the quality should be good enough to withstand washings or normal wear and tear.

I find the second and third question to be great ways to weed out a lot of potential purchases. I have a weakness for unique and embellished pieces – what I call the precious (and expensive). But, let’s get real. I am a full time mom who works from home. Chances are, if I get that beautiful suede shoes with gold accents, I will likely wear it three times in a year with one or two outfits. Or, if I get that soft and silky shirt with gold studs, my baby will most likely burp on it or gnaw on the studs – you get the idea.

If you’re also interested in the kind of fabrics that are considered sustainable, you can read a comprehensive guide here.

De-cluttering your closet
But, I do understand that even after warding off temptations, you might still end up with a closet that is cluttered with amassed random pieces. So, how do you deal with it?

  1. If you haven’t worn something in a year (and you actually forgot about it), chances are, you will never wear it. Look to your circle of friends for potential clothes-swapping or if you’re tech-savvy and don’t mind the time investment, you can always go to eBay or apps like Vinted and Poshmark to get rid of unwanted clothes. For higher end items, go to your local consignment shop or use the website Vaunte. Otherwise, you can drop off used clothes to the local Salvation Army store. Be mindful though, that clothes have to be usable. Plus, secondhand clothes don’t always go to the needy.
  2. Organize your closet. This is probably something we all want/plan then forget to do. If you do get around to doing it, try organizing in terms of outfits instead of categories. If you have the space, use a garment rack to display outfits. Not only will it take the stress of dressing in the morning, it can also help you get an idea of the things you already own vs. the things you think you still need. You can also try using open shelves/cupboards to avoid stashing clothes in the back of the closet. There are also smartphone apps to organize your closet if you really want to get into it.

A garment rack is a great way to organize outfits

Your closet should fit your life and not the other way around
The thing with fashion is that it can either be something you aspire to be (experimenting) or represent who/what you are. Yes, the latter sounds superficial but unless you’re a hacker whose mind is completely absorbed by problem solving, most of us really do think about how our clothes can represent us. Experimenting is well and good – especially if you’re young or have been through a major life change. In the end, though, your closet should fit you, which means purchasing things that you will actually wear and not things that you think you will eventually wear.

A handy guide to the iOS 8 upgrade

News and commentaries, Technology

Yesterday, Apple released iOS 8 and Twitter exploded in what could only be a first world problem with a multitude of complaints. As of this writing, #iOS8 is still trending, which begs the question, should you or shouldn’t you? If you want to join the modern age of Android users where you can use Swype keyboard, act on notifications *within* the notifications window, instantly edit/share pics “in seconds”, send messages by voice, project your device screen on TV, use a camera timer – then you need to upgrade. To be fair, iOS 8 offers other nifty features which I will outline below.

But first, you need 5 GB of available storage
This is probably the loudest complaint. You will not be able to download iOS 8 unless you have 5 GB sitting free on your device. You can start deleting those baby videos and awesome selfies, which I found to be the fastest path to free storage or you can go the roundabout way and download the update through your computer. By the way, this doesn’t mean that the upgrade will take up all the space, the iOS itself is ~900 MB (on the iPad) but it needs that much free space in order to download.

iOS 8 is compatible with the following devices
Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 10.14.52 AM

Most exciting features so far
Other than the ones I mentioned above, here are some notable features, some of which Android users will be salivating over (features can be had through third-party apps and not built in to Android):

  • The new Health app which will probably make your Fitbit redundant
  • Searchable photo library by date, location (geo-taggging has to be enabled), album name (I tried the same feature on my Nexus and was also able to search for “sunglasses”, “baby” – a little eerie)
  • Revamped iCloud Drive allows for seamless editing between devices
  • iOS users already shop more than their Android counterparts (I do shop more in my iPad because there’s a lack of shopping apps for Android) and this feature will drive that even more – scanning your credit card within Safari:

IMG_0136

  • Time-lapse video mode to capture “the experience of the sun setting” (similar to Instagram’s Hyperlapse)
  • Family Sharing allows for up to 6 people to share purchases from iTunes, iBooks and the App store – you can set it up via Settings>iCloud>Set up Family Sharing
  • HomeKit programming protocol for developers will allow for third-party devices to connect with your Apple device

The kinks so far and miscellaneous notes
Before you upgrade, consider the following:

Guide to fall trends

Fashion, Trends

Compared to my guides to spring and summer trends, I’m finding it harder to encapsulate a guide to fall trends. Most likely because it’s my favorite time of the year and I find myself excited to try almost everything. Fall conjures cozy evenings with a lingering glow from summer – not just the atmosphere but in terms of how one feels inside out. Fall is the most visible sign of changing seasons with the explosion of color – well, unless you live in Miami like I do, then it’s a season like any other. But, you can see that I can truly go on and on about how much I enjoy the fall season. But I will have to restrain myself and stick to a few key trends that can also be worn together. Pardon me if I also sprinkle some accessories trends into the mix: pearls, the bucket bag, booties and ear cuffs/ear jackets.

Guide to fall trends
  1. Cobalt blue and cream. It’s such a rich color combination, yet so classic that anyone can wear this. The possibilities are almost endless (possibilities as applied to combinations of top, bottom, shoes, accessories are not truly endless, are they?).
  2. Chunky knit and leopard. We can all thank Phoebe Philo of Céline for making cozy knits so on-trend – her Fall 2014 collection were full of them. You can unearth some of these from your closet or update the look with on-trend colors such as pink, pale blue and grey. And how about them, leopard prints? Dress in head to toe (on second thought, maybe not) or use as an accent, it’s up to you.
  3. Stripes and relaxed denim. I mentioned nautical dressing in my guide to summer trends, but stripes still reign supreme. Paired with relaxed denim (stash those skinny jeans for now) and you’re ready for the weekend. These are your new closet staples.
  4. Checks and plaid. Did you know that there is an Instagram account dedicated to J. Crew’s gingham shirt? Now you do and right on time too because checks and plaids are in. Dress it up with some gold accents and a structured bag so you won’t feel like you’re going to a camp in the woods.

The overarching theme: dress for comfort. Bodycons, skinny jeans and stilettos look a little dated these days – let’s all say “hurray.”

Guide to summer trends

Fashion, Trends

June 21 may be the official start of summer but the Fourth of July weekend for me is a much better marker. And as we all navigate the heat even all the way up to Canada, stay cool and refreshed in this guide to summer dressing.

1. White on white. It’s a bold trend to pull off but the rewards can be… rewarding. I am slowly working my way in to an all white outfit but I have to admit, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Too little contrast in accessories, and you’ll end up like a ghost. Too much contrast and you’ll end up trying too hard. The key is to play with shades and texture. Plus, wear it like you own it.

White on White

Être Cécile print top
$62 – thecorner.com

Cameo short shorts
$120 – eluxe.ca

Mango
mango.com

Melissa Odabash beach hat
net-a-porter.com

 

2. Denim shorts. In the wake of the #iwokeuplikethis trend, denim shorts, the epitome of I-don’t-care attitude are working their way into the summer wardrobe (good old denim in general). The more distressed they are, the better. Again, the key is contrast because you may humble-brag about “waking up like this” but do you really want to look like you just rolled off of bed?

Denim shorts

Sophie Hulme white top
$310 – net-a-porter.com

Stuart weitzman shoes
revolveclothing.com

Jade ring
ruegembon.com

3. The shirtdress. You have the option of going to the extreme end of dishevelment and just wear a man’s shirt as a dress or you can look for more refined options. The choice is entirely up to you.

 

Shirtdress

 

4. Nautical dressing. This is probably one of my favorites because you can have nautical elements all over and not look like a fool, though you might want to leave the captain’s hat at home. Trust me, I’m a captain. No, seriously, I do have a captain’s license and even captains leave their hats at home unless it’s a formal occasion.

Nautical style

 

Rag Bone t shirt
rag-bone.com

Vince wedge sandals
$430 – harveynichols.com

Tory Burch leather handbag
bloomingdales.com

Madewell hat
madewell.com

 

5. Summer slides. Started by Phoebe Philo of Celine for the Spring 2013 collection, it’s possible this trend may be played out by the end of summer (people may have too many bad memories of those Adidas slides and Birks?) but if you want to jump on, now is the time. Besides, they are comfortable, right?

 

Summer slides

Zara dress
zara.com

J Crew elbow sleeve sweater
factory.jcrew.com

Birkenstock strap sandals
lordandtaylor.com

Zara sandals
zara.com

Monsoon white sandals
monsoon.co.uk

Guide to spring trends

Fashion, Trends

With the fashion round culminating in Paris Fashion Week on March 2014 and as spring starts, here’s a guide to the trends that you can wear for now and later.

1. Fringe. I have never been a fan of fringes but I’m seeing them a lot especially on designer bags. If you don’t want to go full on fringe, you can start small with tassels instead in this Gucci Soho bag.

Fringe

2. Oxfords. This has been around for awhile since 2012 and has stuck around, updated with metallic accents. No wonder, since it is a fitting replacement to slippers and ballet flats – comfort with a bit of edge.

Oxfords

3. Florals. Florals almost always show up for spring and this year is no different. They just seem more gorgeous every year especially with digital prints that looks like you’re wearing a bouquet.

Florals

4. Cropped. In order for this style to work, opt for structured crop tops instead of t-shirts. Paired with full skirt or high waisted trousers, crop tops can certainly be office-appropriate.

Cropped

5. Comfort. It’s hard to believe but on top of sneakers and sweatshirts, the trusty Birkenstock is back, along with Tevas. This is a silhouette that will certainly extend beyond spring and even beyond the year 2014 to replace skinny jeans and stilettos.

Comfort dressing