The Versatile Blogger Award

Earth, Wind & Style has been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award!  I am very honoured.  Many thanks to Fashion & Style Guru for the nomination!

The rules of the Versatile Blogger Award are:

1. Add the award to your blog.

2. Thank the blogger who gave it to you.

3. Mention 7 random things about yourself.

4. List the rules.

5. Award to 15 or more bloggers.

Seven Random Things about Me:

1. I love to travel, but hate to pack.  With a passion.

2. My favourite beer in the whole world is Maluti, brewed in Lesotho.

3. I secretly want to be a back-up singer in a rock band.  Even more secretly, I want to be the Lead singer in a rock band.

4. I have a tendency to play my favourite new music purchases ad-nauseam (well, my husband thinks so at least!).  Steel Magnolia‘s Ooh La La is the latest continually repeated song. Yup, I’m a little bit country (only a little bit) and a little bit rock n roll!

Steel Magnolia (album)

Steel Magnolia (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5. I resist using a telephone whenever possible and much prefer texting, emailing or facebooking.

6. I love giraffes.

7. I wish we (us people of the world) could all learn to get along.

Now for my nominations for the Versatile Blogger Award in no particular order:

1. The Pioneer Woman

2. Style Theories

3. I get a kick out of you

4. A Detailed House

5. Print and Pattern

6. Yoga With Nicci

7. DESIGNCHICKEE

8. Leen’s Trendy Box

9. The View From My Mat

10. The Style Diaries

I hope I will be forgiven for not nominating all 15 since I am so new to this blogging thing and don’t seem to be following so many wordpress blogs yet.  Thanks again for the award!

If you have any suggestions for blogs you think I might like, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

Steamy style in Laos

As I type this entry it is about 40 degrees and crazy humid in Luang Prabang, Laos. It makes me realise that I am seriously lacking in appropriate summer clothes (particularly ridiculous considering I live in the perpetual heat!), however I’ll save that for another post.

Luang Prabang is a laid-back town full of shiny gold temples (thirty-something the last I heard from a well studied Monk) and Monks who are spotted and dotted throughout the city in their saffron coloured robes.

There is no question that Laos maintains a culture of deep traditions, but it is this along with the mix of Colonial heritage and an obviously blossoming tourism industry that really makes the country so great to visit. It’s chilled. Relaxed. And cool – despite the immense amount of heat being pumped out of the sky on a continual basis. It’s easy to get around and the people are very friendly.

There is an abundance of eating establishments serving a selection of food covering the Laos and European spectrum, with French food playing a key roll – mostly in the form of crepes, though there a few fancy French restaurants too.

But Luang Prabang also boasts a fantastic number of shops and shopping opportunities. Boutiques, markets, stalls and kiosks will sell you handicrafts from small local villages, beautifully designed textiles, silver jewelry, Buddha images and Laos coffee to name but a few of the eclectic items on offer.

There is something really special about buying a silk scarf from the woman who not only dyed the thread with which it is made, but who also spent two or three days weaving it.

I find myself repeatedly trolling the night market stalls looking for interesting items (I’ve always loved a good market!). I’ve purchase some squares of fabric that are hand stitched and embroidered. I have big plans for these so stay tuned.

Below are some snaps of my few days in LP. It has turned out to be one of my favourite holiday destinations.

20120501-000644.jpg Weaver in a small village outside Phonsavan, Laos

20120501-000813.jpg Satri Lounge, one of many shops along the main strip in Luang Prabang

20120502-083429.jpg Anakha boutique selling high quality clothing

20120502-083005.jpg Pack Luck, an elegant wine bar serving the most delicious complimentary peanuts with fabulously cold wine.

20120501-000835.jpg Luang Prabang’s night market on Sisavangvong Street

20120502-084305.jpg Luang Prabang at night

Where was your favourite holiday spot?

Ralph Lauren Spring Summer 2012

Spring has arrived in the northern hemisphere and I’m absolutely loving the spring summer 2012 collection from Ralph Lauren. Gorgeous flapper hats, white on white, Easter egg colours, menswear-inspired suits, sleek ponytails and feathers, feathers, feathers.

What are your favourite looks and designers for this season?

Black & Yellow. The More I See The More I Love

There is something about this combination of black and yellow that’s been on the runways, in the shops and on the streets recently.  Maybe it’s because yellow is such an enthusiastic, friendly colour and black is sophisticated that it works so well together.  Whatever it is, it works and it works particularly well with sunny, bold yellows.

This Valentino gown is gorgeous.  The black bow is the finishing touch.

Great vintage-inspired black and yellow graphic dress.

Nice casual look with that yellow top adding the extra cool factor.

This yellow coat elevates this black outfit to new heights.

Look how Jackie Kennedy wore this colour scheme so beautifully back in 1961.

Our own Earth, Wind & Style black and yellow convertible boots.

This Jenna Lyons living room pops with the yellow sofa, while the black chairs keep the space grounded.

This is a beautiful sunny kitchen with the yellow cabinets and accessories. The black anchors the space and keeps it from feeling too cute.

The use of the yellow accessories above is perfect if you’d like to add a splash of yellow to your scheme without committing to an expensive piece of furniture. Painting a wall is also an inexpensive way to bring your space up to date.  The black wall here adds a lot of depth to the space.

What is your favourite colour scheme?  Do you go in for the black and yellow?

Organising and Storing Boots

If you are anything like me and have a few pairs of boots (let’s face it, boots make the outfit!), you may also struggle with a good storage solution for them.  There never seems to be enough storage space in any house or apartment we’ve lived in, particularly for large, awkard items like boots.

Lately I’ve been keeping mine in a couple of vintage suitcases, which works really well.  The boots are protected and kept dust-free and the suitcases multi-task as a coffee table in our bedroom.  I keep the little silicon packs that come with new shoes (among many other things) and throw those into the suitcases to keep mildew from attacking my precious boots, which is a must in hot and humid climates like ours.

Vintage is hip at the moment, of course, and vintage suitcases can be found all over the place.  But, if vintage isn’t your thing, here are a few other ideas:

Lovely for a mud room or entrance hall, this storage is tidy and a great use of space.

This is a excellent idea for storing boots in a chest or bench. Tuck it anywhere you have extra space; under a console table, use it as a coffee table, as seating in a hallway or in a bedroom.

Loving Miley Cyrus’ shoe and boot display in this photo.  I think she’s onto something here.  I’ve seen a version of these shelves in several shops and I’m betting a funky ladder might even do the job when you hook the heels over the step.

Here is a good boot organising technique if you can afford to give up the required closet space.

This is another nice storage solution that looks pretty too.  You could even configure an existing hutch or cabinet to suit your needs by adding shelves to fit your own boot and shoe collection.

This is a pretty good option for storage for a spare wall in a walk in closet or could probably even be configured to fit into a narrow hall cabinet or closet.

And of course, there is always the wall to wall shelves for your boots and shoes…

 Or the whole dedicated shoe closet like that of Miss Mariah.  Well, girl can dream!

How do you keep your boots and shoes?  Is it a glamourous storage solution or merely functional?

For Fear of the Polka Dot

I confess I am a little frightened of the latest polka dot trend that seems to be reaching its fat, round arms across the globe.  What scares me about it are the itsy-bitsy, teenie-weanie kind of polka dots – a la the yellow polka dot bikini of the famed song (there’s a reason she didn’t want to come out of that locker and I’m convinced it wasn’t because the bikini was yellow or because it was too small!).

Top to bottom tiny dots are, well, they just seem too girlie, too cutesy, too… much.  Though there are evidently those who can pull the look off (most of them probably 12 years old). I do, however, love a splash of the polka dot or a take on them that makes the old classic fresh and new.  Big dots?  Bring ’em on!

Michael Kors big, bold polka dots

It is becoming clearer to me that Michael Kors and I see eye to eye where fashion and accessories are concerned as noted here. Even his yellow polka dot number above is chic since the dots are a nice comfortable, grown-up size.

Raul Melgoza's on trend jewel colour polka dots

Raul Melgoza’s rich polka pattern above is classy, stylish and hip. And a fantastic colour scheme.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate little polka dot patterns.  They’re happy and cheerful.  I just believe they should be applied to grown up bodies with restraint.  Accessories, boots and shoes are the perfect way to incorporate the trend without leaning toward the over-sweet side of fashion.

These pairs of Earth, Wind & Style’s boots below add a dash of the polka dot trend in a fun and funky way.

One of a kind polka dot boot

Earth, Wind & Style's unique polka dot boot

One of a kind polka dot footwear

One of Earth, Wind & Style's one of a kind polka dot boots

Jason Wu adds subtle polka dots

Jason Wu adds a touch of polka dot to this sophisticated look above with sexy hosiery.

Three Bird Nest's infinity scarf

An easy way to incorporate the polka dot trend is by adding a scarf or belt to your outfit. Or even a fun umbrella.

Fifi Lapin shows us this gorgeous combo of black & white stripes and polka dots by Moschino

An elegant spotted accessory from Marimekko

Of course runway fashions will always find their way into the home.  Here are a few ways to mix the polka dot into your interiors:

Lovely pairing of cheerful polka dots with the classic chair

The graphic punch in the polka dot carpet adds impact in this room

A cheerful mix of different sized and different coloured polka dot patterns adds interest to this bedroom

And lastly, just in case you need a refresher on the Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie song…

Look alike bag appears in the Michael Kors Spring Summer 2012 collection.

Check out our look-alike Springbok Postman handbag in the Michael Kors Spring Summer 2012 collection. Michael clearly has good taste!

And our almost identical (and likely much less expensive version!) can be found here:

Earth, Wind & Style's very own Springbok bag

Inspired by the Year of the Dragon

Things are hotting up in Miri, Malaysia as Chinese New Year approaches.  There is a large Chinese population here and it is interesting to watch a culture so different from my own prepare for their traditions in a way that is not so dissimilar to how us westerners prepare for Christmas.

The malls and stores are bursting with shoppers purchasing gifts and decorations – anything and everything red to symbolise joy, good fortune and happiness – from strings of lights to paper lanterns to stuffed red dragons and the markets are loud with the chaos of people buying the customary foods they will enjoy in celebration of the coming Year of the Dragon.

If you are a women in need of primping or pampering here in Miri, you will be out of luck unless you have planned ahead, much like at home during the holidays.  Hair and nail salons are abuzz with beauty preparations. On my most recent trip to the nail salon (I planned ahead), a fellow receiver of a pedicure was outdoing me by having her toes decked out in OPI’s ‘Getting Miss Piggy With It’ red glitter nail polish. On her big toes she also applied a large sparkly crystal jewel surrounded by smaller crystals in a sort of floral shape. It was beautiful and so festive (in an open-toed-shoe-only kind of way).

Of course, the symbolism differs between this Chinese celebration and that of our own holidays.  The Chinese New Year is represented by one of 12 rotating animal symbols and is tightly tied to the lunar cycle.  The Dragon represents good luck and power, while those born under this sign are said to possess a gift for style, among other things.

So as the firecrackers begin to explode in their enthusiasm to keep the evil spirits out of the Year of the Dragon, look to your Dragon friends if you need to add a little spark to your wardrobe. Embrace the cultural differences between East and West and add a little zest to your home or adorn your body with some of these Dragon inspired items:

Ruth Tarvydas gorgeous Dragon inspired dress

One of 210 Versace Year of the Dragon bags

Limited edition dragon bag by Salvatore Ferragamo

Chiang Mai Dragon

Big feet. New business.

As a consumer I have often found it difficult to shop.  Unlike many of my amazed fellow-females, I have never really enjoyed clothes shopping as a recreational activity.  The thought of trying on piles of clothes sends shudders down my spine.  I blame my genes for this as I’m quite sure it has something to do with the fact that I’ve always been tall and have big feet.

For plenty of my growing up years, my social life was crippled by the flood pants I had to wear.  And hip shoes in my size were simply unavailable.  My youth was marred by the shudder-inducing piles of clothes I took into fitting rooms in hopes that maybe, just maybe, some designer somewhere had heard my plight and lengthened those super cool stirrup pants so it wouldn’t look like my crotch was located somewhere down around my knees.

Perhaps the whole teen shopping experience scarred me.  But I came from good shopping stock (my mother) and have persevered and I now find it a reasonably pleasant experience given the right set of circumstances.

Enter the blissful creation of the online store – no messy fitting rooms, no crowds during the holidays, no line ups at the till.  One of my favourite ways to shop, and all from the comfort of my desk.  This came about out of necessity since we have travelled extensively and lived overseas for a number of years.  It has allowed our favourite products to be delivered right into our hands (local post office willing), making our lives much more comfortable and enjoyable.  All praise the world wide web and co-operating mail men!  And a special hallelujah for a good return policy.

So I suppose it is fitting that I launch a web based business selling boots in generous sizes (read size 11‘s!), as well as for those with feet in more common proportions, and women’ handbags.  It is important to me that buyers can be assured of quality products and their deliver-ability directly into their post boxes when they purchase through our website.

One of our many unique pairs of boots

Hawkboot for women

Currently the Earth, Wind & Style team consists of Joyce, who is living in Canada and doing the shipping bits as well as some marketing, and myself.  I’m in Malaysia.  Our beautiful products are designed and created in South Africa.  It’s kind of a long story, but it works. We’re new to this, so we won’t be perfect at it, but we hope to make people happy with both our service as well as our gorgeous and unique boots and African game skin bags.

The Chelsea Springbok handbag

So coming to you from Malaysia via this blogging venue, I aim to provide a few fashion and design bits and pieces that will hopefully act as inspiration to you, my fellow consumer and wearer of fashion.  Fashion and design after all is about expressing our individuality and unique way of living, dressing and being – no matter what our shoe size happens to be.