The New Neutrals That Actually Werk at Work

Who says that workwear is boring? Or in this case, can anyone BEG to disagree that wearing neutral lip colors in office is fun? (Side note: is Mercury retrograde pushing me to see things differently? :P)

For me, I am the type of girl that LOVES LURRRVES to wear a fun lip color! Whether it be a ravishing red, punchy pink, bold black, va-va-voom violet, nice nude or basic brown, my lips do not lie as they currently portray my emotions. The one thing that works well in office environments from day to night or even a post-work cocktail is a neutral lip. Usually pawing at the “nude” or beige spectrum, the beauty industry’s definition of neutral is dated.

Rather than sticking to beige shades that don’t look on people darker or lighter than Snow White, the type of neutral that actually looks hot on all skin tones usually has reddish undertones. Since all of us are embedded with red tones underneath our skin, this classic primary color gives us a flush of instant energy that a cup of coffee can’t do.

On another thought, I’ve been putting my matte liquid lipsticks (a.k.a. Instagram’s go-to staple for your #faceoftheday posts) aside as I absolutely hate having extremely dry lips. Also, Galore called the shots that the matte Instagram lip is dead. (No shade Huda, Kat and Jeffree, but I still love your products!) Depsite my love affair with liquid lipstick, I feel that it’s finally time to shake up my beauty routine!

First things first, one of the hottest new neutrals that flashes across my mind is anything with a orange base. Rather than the bright Sunkist oranges you see at your local supermarket, this type of orange that’s super work-appropriate is a bit more muted. Enter Trope Cosmetics. I normally don’t ever repeat the same product, but you seriously NEED to try it as it’s pink-based orange that is reminiscent of the hue from a flamingo’s neck. The pinkish brick undertones don’t turn your teeth into a habitual chain smoker’s, which is nice as most yellow-based oranges are guilty of doing this. As an Asian, I honestly have a HARD time finding the *right* shade orange as it’s either too pale, yellow or red. So, this is the first orange that’s actually truly neutral on my skin.

Even if you are not Asian, you will still LOVE this shade as it will flatter your skin beautifully! (Seriously, I am a firm believer that this will be a universally flattering color!)

Oh, and if you are a matte lipstick lover, then this is the look for you as Flamingo dries off with a beautiful velvety finish.


trope flamingo.jpg


DUPE: Melt’s Mural Milani’s Orange Gina 

To all my ladies who love a nude lip, I swear by Layn’s Mona. Named after the Mona Lisa, this shade is as enigmatic as Italy’s most famous smile. In natural sunlight, it appears more like a soft semi-matte terracotta coral whereas on video, it appears more metallic (according to my friend!). The truth is that it’s a hybrid between nude and coral. While most coral shades in the beauty counter run towards the bright spectrum, this one is more of a muted retro coral that you barely see in today’s department store counters or Sephora. In fact, that shade looks EXACTLY like the lipstick Playmates wore on the pages of Playboy in the 1970s (side note: this is slightly NSFW, but look at her lipstick color!). If you want to go for a slightly sexier look, then this is the shade for you.

layn mona.jpg


DUPES: Kat von D’s Lolita II; Fenty Beauty’s Freckle Fiesta;  Revlon’s Rum Raisin 


Last but not least, let’s not overlook the power of a red lip at the boardroom. Red lipstick usually screams cocktail hour, but you can still work it inside more creative environments. While most reds tend to lean towards warm or blue-based, Rose All Day’s Boujee is a darkened true red. To me, a true red is the ideal red as it’s neither blue nor yellow. In fact, this shade feels freshly contemporary as more true reds I see are brighter and have a retro-tinged feel. It might read differently on your lips, but seriously, you will never regret getting Boujee because it’s the baddest in the game. (Side note: Love and Flair said that it’s a rich English red mahogany!)

While most office environments are conservative, you can secretly violate the “no red lip” rule by sneaking in a subtle stain. If you want to wear it as a bold opaque shade, it’s more of a satiny cream finish that can flawlessly hide AC-dried lip lines.

Rose All Day:



DUPE: Colourpop’s Goldie; Pat McGrath’s Strange



The 8 Women-led Brands You NEED to Shop to Ring in Women’s History Month

Ladies (sorry, gentlemen!), this is our month. This is the month that we celebrate our collective history as women for the countless achievements in many industries whether it be politics, science, entertainment and fashion. As a woman, I feel that we have came a long way since the beginning of time. However, I feel that not many women designers or entrepreneurs are revered in the same eyes as male entrepreneurs and designers as the latter generally scores more magazine features, press and clout in the fashion industry. (This is based on my personal observation of poring through the pages of Vogue, New York Times‘ Style section, T, NYLON and what not over the years!)

I don’t want to sit here and tell you to support women-led brands just because it’s Women’s History Month or their sex. Instead, the reason *you* need to support women-led brands is because these ladies started their brand without the backing of a big company. In fact, not many of them went to fashion school to pave their way to success. By using their talent to create genuinely amazing products, every single item I’ve had from them became a closet staple that I wear almost every single day. Although there are some brands that I have yet to shop, I feel that it’ll be cool to share a little slice of my brand crushes. 😉

Here are the brands you need to shop:

  1. Stella & Bow

image002 (1).jpg

Founded by Lauren Brokaw, Stella & Bow is an LA-based jewelry line whose adorably cute charm bracelets and delicate earrings are perfect for everyday wear. Last year, they’ve grabbed headlines for making the “Nasty” alphabet bracelet to support Hillary Clinton. Although the election is over, you can still rock it to show off your unapologetic, badass self.


2. Rose All Day

milkshake rose all day.jpg

Grace, one of my really good friends who blogs on, introduced this brand to me as she applied makeup on me last spring. As a fellow Jakarta girl, Rose All Day is one of the best Indonesian makeup brands to ever exist! Locally produced and designed in Jakarta, Rose All Day delivers quality products and a whole chock of genius in the guise of a pink lipstick tube. Also, it recently teamed up with Love and Flair, an Indonesian online boutique (think Revolve, but more of a super hot trendy cousin of Phoebe Philo’s Celine-esque minimal luxe), to create three classic shades. Seriously, YOU need to get ’em because you don’t need to buy another piece of powdered blush or eyeshadow as you can it anywhere on your face! Trust me, their formula is as creamy as MAC’s, but hey, at least it’s cruelty-free! (Sorry to throw some shade in there, MAC.)


3. Creepy Yeha

uri belt.jpg

Need to find something to jazz up your outfit? Look no further than Yeha Leung’s line, Creepy Yeha. Her accessories and lingerie are crafted from the finest leather and hardware. If you are vegan, you can also go for her vinyl pieces, which are equally stunning, too! You can either go big with a harness or play it safe with a choker. Either way, everyone will turn heads when they see you.


4. Pop and Suki


If you haven’t caught wind of my Pop and Suki post I made previously, now’s the time to get acquainted. As a go-to handbag brand for myself and many famous faces, their bags are compact, but extremely spacious. Apart from bags, they’ve expanded into jewelry, clothing and desk side accessories. While it’s got a girlish aesthetic, it is so versatile: you can wear it to the office, beach, room, classroom and literally, just about anywhere in the world. Given that celebrity-backed brands swim in their own hype, this one does NOT play! In fact, it is here to stay.

(P.S. If you ever plan to shop there, put in “MICHELLEVARINATA15” for a 15% discount at checkout!)


5. SkinFood by AB

fig and rosemary soap.jpg

Whenever I trawl on Etsy, I always love to find vintage clothes and artisan-made beauty products from small businesses. As much as I love natural skincare, I feel so happy to stumble upon SkinFood by AB. Founded by Aubrey B, all of her products are natural, vegan and organic. From lip balm to soap, everything is made in small batches. If you have yet to try natural skincare, this is truly all natural without any synthetic stuff that you find in “all natural” products on occasion.


6. Choked by a Thread

o ring choker.jpg

Chokers are now a timeless staple all thanks to this brand, Choked by a Thread. Inspired by chokers, founder/designer Lorraine Zalta makes them in NYC. Spotted on the necks of Hailey Baldwin, Morgan Stewart of Rich Kids of Beverly Hills and blogger Danielle Bernstein of We Wore What, this is the brand you need to splurge on for the perfect necklaces. Although it’s more well-known for their chokers, they’ve expanded into earrings, swimwear, tees and mugs.


7. Matte

matte denim skirt.jpg

As one of the hottest under the radar brands, Matte is often imitated by bigger names (e.g. Kylie Jenner) due to their simple, yet extremely sexy designs. If you are the type of girl who is looking for hot going out clothes, then this is the brand for you. Briana Wilson, the founder of Matte, draws upon the ’80s and ’90s with a dash of Y2K for a modern retro feel. What I also like about the brand is that their cuts are made for girls who are not a size 0. So, hands up for body positivity!


8. Amelie Pichard


This French shoe designer is one of the my go-to favorites for inspiration. In fact, I love how her retro campy aesthetic feels so fresh right now. When I first read about the brand, it was because she collaborated with Pamela Anderson for a vegan shoe collection. Although Amelie’s brand is not 100% vegan, I just love how she makes cruelty-free shoes go beyond its granola image. Apart from veganism, Amelie decided not to do any sales on her products as she feels that it is “killing fashion and creativity” (her words, not mine!). Unlike most Paris-based big guns, Amelie’s designs are truly worth paying for.



How to Shop Vintage: A Tell-All Guide on How Your Favorite Style Icons Do It

Spring cleaning is at peak season and I know that more than a handful of you are looking to find some new clothes/accessories to fit into your closet. If I have to find something unique, the only method I swear by is by shopping vintage!

Growing up in Asia, vintage shopping was seen as a stigma as it was associated with people who couldn’t afford much to buy new clothes. Also, it was deemed unhygienic as the garment was previously used. It wasn’t until I started reading Mary-Kate and Ashley’s Two of a Kind series that I learned what vintage clothing was since a character wore secondhand clothing from two decades ago. I was desperate to emulate the “cool girl” look by shopping vintage. As a diehard fangirl of the Olsen twins, I learned that their famous semi-homeless chic bobo style mainly included vintage clothing as their base. I mean, even Kate Moss’ style was deeply rooted in vintage clothes she scored at flea markets and thrift stores! Deeply incentivized by the urge to try vintage shopping, I walked inside What Comes Around Goes Around during a summer vacation in NYC when I was 12. Despite walking out empty-handed, I felt inspired to find vintage clothing and accessories whether it be from a boutique to my late grandmother’s closet.

Ever since I went to college, I treated myself to vintage goodies and based on the five years I’ve shopped secondhand, I feel like it’s time for me to (finally) give away my secrets. Gear up and take notes, ladies! (Gentlemen, you are included, too!)

  1. Study the popular silhouettes/trend of a decade

As history buff, I endlessly scroll through Google, pore through my mom’s fashion history books and hit up museums that display antique clothing. When I look at more than two garments, I begin to picture the silhouette on me.

If you are a beginner, try sticking to one silhouette that matches with your current wardrobe. It helps you identify what will flatter your body as vintage cuts are generally smaller than contemporary sizing. Also, the majority of vintage garments are built to be fitted to one dominant body type of an era.

2. Look carefully at the label or date on a garment

Carbon-dating sounds extremely tedious, but you can save yourself some time by investigating carefully at the labels. If you ever go shopping in the US, there’s a label “ILGWU“, which stands for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union. This label was common in the ’60s to the ’90s, when it disbanded. Shall you encounter it anywhere at a vintage store, snap it up immediately as you can never find it again.

Also, labels help you indicate the era a garment was made. However, this issue of finding an era doesn’t stop there. In fact, dates on garment’s label or drawing are common as it will tell you when it was produced. But finding a date on the shirt doesn’t stop here…

3. Zoom closer on vintage tees

If you pop into a vintage store and run through the racks for vintage concert shirts, every single design will indicate the date. In fact, dates are a matter of life and death. As so many vintage band tees are being reproduced by fast fashion companies (ew!), it will basically give out the year when an old design is recently licensed for the company to produce it. For example, if you are looking at a Led Zeppelin tee, but the date is from 2006, it’s most likely to be a licensed repro than the real deal. (This happened to me once as I didn’t look at the date carefully!) For tours or events that are well known (e.g. Rock for Choice or Guns ‘n Roses and Metallica’s co-headlining Use Your Illusion Tour), these tees are super duper RARE! Rule of thumb: The rarer the shirt, the better.

4. Condition

Ideally, every single vintage item should be in pristine condition. In that case, it means no tears, smells, stains and other flaws your local dry cleaner can clean out. But in vintage terminology, these are the terms you need to know:

A) Deadstock – new unworn old stock. Sounds confusing, but it’s basically unworn old inventory that has been lying around in storage for YEARS! In fact, some of deadstock items you find will have a price tag attached.

B) Excellent – the garment has been worn multiple times, but there are tiny, yet extremely fixable flaws that aren’t that terribly noticeable from afar.

C) Good – a bit more worse for wear than an “excellent” vintage garment, but there are more flaws. This is where rips and tears or pilling fall in.

D) Fair – a bit average above poor, but the garment is super distressed and a LOT of repairs need to happen. If ultra distressed is your thing, then you got the best beaten up vintage treasure that a lot of fast fashion retail stores try so hard to achieve with heavy chemical processing and labor.

5. Types of vintage pieces you must invest in

In case you are wondering why some vintage pieces cost as much as your rent or year’s paycheck, it’s because the quality from eons ago was better. Not to mention, fast fashion wasn’t so prevalent; hence, the superiority in durability. No matter if the item is branded or unbranded, some things are worth saving up for. Here is what you need to start out with:

  1. Concert, TV show or movie tees – owning a piece of history feels so great and as a pop culture fiend, it rings a bell as I want people to notice my interests. Showing your passion for a band, TV show, solo artist or movie you love is best done via a graphic tee. It’s the type of understated statement piece that all of you must have! But only buy it if you TRULY like the topic. (No posers, please.)
  2. Leather jackets – details are king. In case you are wondering why Kate Moss’ leather jackets look so comfy, it’s because all of her pieces are vintage! Leather jackets from the ’50s to ’80s have drastically changed their silhouette to suit the popular fashions of each time. Despite the dramatic changes in style, I’ve noticed that all of my vintage leather jackets (from my Kate Moss Roncelli trucker jacket from the ’70s to the ’80s cropped studded leather biker jacket) end at the waist for a flattering, figure-friendly look. Whether it’s oversized, slightly long or shrunken, go for one that plays well with your proportions! Although buying jackets seem so tricky, it’s actually one of the easiest things to buy.
  3. Bags – no outfit can be complete without one. If you want quality purses, go for designer vintage pieces whether it be Dior, Fendi, Gucci or Chanel. Each piece from these designers never repeats the same design seasonally every year. Most importantly, treat your bag like it’s your ride or die as you want it to match with at least 75% of your closet.
  4. Dress – I LOVE dresses. I always swear by it whenever I feel too lazy to put on a pair of pants. Given that each of us are built differently, you MUST get one for at least 3 separate occasions: everyday, work and cocktail/party.

As easy as vintage shopping sounds, here are some gems I’ve picked up along the way:

  1. Try on things you can’t return at the (physical) store – I’ve had moments when I wanted to return things because they couldn’t fit. Mainly those things are button down tops and jeans. As vintage sizing for jeans is absolutely the trickiest, it’s best to try it on in store before you order it online.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask – if you shop online like I do, the first thing I do before I buy is to ask the owner. They will go out of their way to help you at all cost. At the end of the day, what you purchase is what you MUST KEEP as most vintage stores don’t accept returns. (True story, guys!!) This rule applies best for shoes as I’ve made the mistake of NOT asking if the chic leopard print furry Mary-Jane platforms were gonna crumble after wearing them for 2 years (RIP furry shoes! :’/).
  3. Measure yourself before you shop – one of my late granny’s go-to methods for shopping always included a roll of measuring tape. As strange as it sounded to me, it was purely handy. Size measurements are never ever wrong it can help you determine the fit of the garment. As each era has different cuts, pattern and styles, you always need to know if your body suits the shape of the actual garment no matter how trendy an item was 20-60 years ago.

Here are my top vintage picks for you:

  1. The Kickstart My Heart Jacketheavy metal hottie jacket.jpg

I am wild at heart and I also love how ’80s heavy metal reflected the energy of the artist’s super turbulent lives. While thrills are sexy, living the junkie lifestyle ain’t that hot. However, you can get a dose of ’80s rock ‘n roll from Dr. Feelgood with this super duper cool Motley Crue-esque jacket (Go find photo #17 on this Buzzfeed listicle –  it’s the closest you can get to Tommy Lee’s version!).

Like a true ’80s child, pair it with high-waisted jeans (or leather pants!) and a crop top. Or a band tee and high-waisted shorts with white ankle boots and matching socks! Aquanet hairspray optional.


2. The Cadet Kelly Crop Top


Remember the Hilary Duff teen movie, Cadet Kelly? Her uniform looked extremely similar to this super adorable vintage Boy Scout crop top from the ’80s! Shorn, sexy and with a touch of innocence, you can run wild with your imagination. Whether it be casual with mom jeans or music festival-friendly with faux leather shorts, you can take this top anywhere with you. Don’t be surprised if all the designers want to copy it on the runway. 😉


3. The Around the World in 80 Days Skirt

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 8.50.07 PM

Instagram photos may be the new postcards, but this skirt takes it a notch. With so many countries’ flags plastered all over the skirt, it adds such an interesting statement piece that adds color and character. If you are to pair this with anything, it can be ultra femme with a slip camisole or laid back cool with a white tee. Seriously, this masterpiece from Galliano-era Dior is not to be overlooked.


4. The Survivor Onesie

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 9.49.46 PM

I can’t let go of Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” music video, where all Beyoncé, Kelly and Michelle wore camo from head to toe. A camo onesie might seem super duper extra, but I like how this roomy design can look fierce with boots or a pair of high-heeled strappy sandals.


5. The VIP Mini Backpack

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 10.06.06 PM.png

Buckled details are a tale as old as time; however, they’ve always remained fresh. In case you missed it, one of the greatest examples of multi-buckled garments was in Pamela Anderson’s show VIP. (FYI, it’s on the first episode where Pamela tries on clothes with her friend, who wore a bondage-style multi-buckled top!) Multi-buckled bags are seriously one of the most underrated and overlooked trends of the ’00s, but once you see them on the street, always think about who wore them first. 😉


6. The Boho Babe Dress

anna sui dress

Part Seattle grunge (look up Bridget Fonda in Singles), part boho, this Anna Sui dress is pure ’90s dreams. Causal in a denim jacket or dressy in a PVC clear trenchcoat, you can style this dress anyhow you want. That’s why Anna Sui is one of my favorite designers: her pieces can be easily worn to dress up an outfit, even if it’s a simple clean white sneaker with denim or delicate gold jewelry!


7. The Cool Cat Sunglasses

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 12.40.45 AM

I love a cat eye and it’s a big part in my personal style as I like all things retro. Personally, this silhouette is SUPER flattering as it lets your eyebrows stand out and softens the most masculine features of your jawline. (FYI: my paternal grandpa thought that I look SO manly because of my jawline lol!) Whether you have a pixie cut, a Christina Aguilera-style ponytail or a fierce lob, go for it!


8. The Shoes Ariel Would Walk In


If Ariel and Drew Barrymore walk into a bar, then this killer pair of metallic blue boots is a cocktail you must sip. Part grunge, part mermaid and a whole chock of young Brittany Murphy in Clueless, the metallic hue helps to make an outfit pop! While most girls back in the day would wear this with coordinating pastel blues, you can work the millenial blue look by pairing it with a floral dress (with some bit of blue flowers!), small cross body bag and a suede miniskirt. It’s flirty, yet it can get great conversations to come out from it.


Will you try vintage shopping? If you plan to, what are the top 3 things you want to buy?

Photo by Hallie Geller

Clinking up with Pop & Suki

A few days ago, I was checking through my DMs in the morning before I headed out of my bed to get ready for work. Usually, I’d be expecting one from my friend as it’s one of the most convenient ways to keep in touch. However, one message surprised me.

In the message, it was asking me to be an ambassador, which means that I get to promote the brand and provide a special link to my readers/followers. The sender was Pop & Suki, an LA-based handbag brand. For the past two years since I followed them on Instagram, they just asked me to be a brand ambassador.

For those of you who are new to Pop & Suki, it was founded in 2016 by TV presenter Poppy Jamie and model/actress Suki Waterhouse. I discovered them through Suki’s Instagram, which I follow to keep up with her Marianne Faithfull meets L.A. girl sense of style. It’s also the brand whose famous versatile camera bag was spotted on so many celebrities from Pippa Middleton, Paris Hilton, Cara Delevingne to Lady Gaga. Given that more than a handful of you saw me wearing my trusty buttery smooth Pop & Suki camera bag over the past year, I really thank God so so much for opening up a door to let Pop & Suki give me the opportunity to be an ambassador.

As my treat, please type in “MICHELLEVARINATA15” to score a 15% discount when you shop on Pop & Suki!

Before I forget, all of you need to hit this link ( to score your perks!

Nothing means more to me than your support for women-led small businesses.