Category Archives: Travel Essentials

#CSMTravels for the month of April part 1!

The month of April seems like a total blur now that I’m finally back after spending the last 2.5 weeks in Hong  Kong, China for my ‘9 to 5’.  Being on the apparel production side of the business, the best part of my job is working directly with my vendors and mills hammering out all of the details for each season’s line.  This trip was all about the upcoming Fall/Winter assortment and like the rest of the retail industry a huge chunk of our annual sales are done in those few months so naturally it’s my biggest assortment and buy of the year.

Even though it was all about work I did manage to squeeze in a lot of retail therapy, noshed on a number of amazing meals, naturally attended a fashion event or two, played tourist and all while wearing chic’ified ensembles that ooze my style mantra: Edgy, Comfy, Chic!

Check out part 1 of my April Hong Kong Photo Diary:

[Personal Style] #CSM NYFW Photo Diary F/W 2013 Shows!

My Fall/Winter 2013 New York Fashion Week agenda was scheduled to be a busy whirlwind with a total of 7 fashion shows and 2 showroom visits to be completed in a matter of 2 days.  But alas, thanks to Nemo shows and visits were missed and my 2 day trip turned into 1 day.  Only saving grace?  Snapping pics on my handy iPhone.

Although I was attending the Fall/Winter 2013 fashion presentations and knowing that I would be there during the aftermath of a snowy blizzard, my brain would not turn off my spring obsessions & inspirations.  So for my NYFW ensemble I incorporated two spring trends I just couldn’t wait to do now: Art of Contrast and Statement Jewelry.

What I’m wearing: Carhartt Beanie/ Concert Sweatshirt (Similar)/ Rag & Bone Grandpa Sweater/ ASOS Mono Stripe Jeans/ Rebecca Minkoff Heels/ASOS Book Clutch (similar)/ Vivenne Westwood Leather Gloves/ BaubleBar Necklaces/ VT Luxe Faux Fur Infinity Scarf

Catch up on the rest of my whirlwind NYFW journey via my photo diary:

#CSMTravels for the month of January!

The month of January so far has been such a whirlwind.  I toasted in the new year with a few glasses of champagne, made a few resolutions for myself personally and of course for CSM and then jetsetted off on a work trip to Hong Kong.  While I was there for the 9 to 5′ I still managed to enjoy some sinfully delectable eats, scored a few man repelling pieces, accomplished a few personal fitness goals and even squeezed in some time to play tourist.

Check out my photo review of my trip abroad to Hong Kong and to Shen Zhen in mainland China.  Enjoy! xoxo

Where is CSM at? She’s been MIA for a whole week!?!!

Last week I took the week off from blogging, social media and social networking to enjoy some much needed R&R for my birthday.  My better half planned a fun filled trip that included visits to New Orleans, Progreso, Yucatan Mexico and Cozumel Mexico.

Now I’m back refreshed, tan & with a liver in dire need of an alcohol detox but most importantly ready to get back into the swing of all fashion/style/trend musings.

Check out some of my pics from my week long excursion (and yes, I’ve been day dreaming all day long about being back on the beach sipping rum punch):

*Photos taken on iPhone (you read it correctly I’ve upgraded and now have an iPhone!) 


Market Shopping 101 in Hong Kong!

In every travel handbook, website, guide, etc the most highly recommended street market in Hong Kong to visit is the Ladies Market located in Mong Kok.  As luck may have it, the hotel I stay it for the 4 trips I make to Hong Kong for work is located in the heart of Mong Kok.  This infamous market is literally steps away from the hotel and once you enter you are whisked away to endless booths selling everything from tricked out iPhone phone covers, knock-off handbags, kids’ toys, to apparel and footwear.  You name it, 9 times out of 10 they’ve got it.

My first trip here was seriously one of the most overwhelming shopping experiences of my life.  Not only is it visually over-stimulating with all of the various product, but then you have the different sellers approaching you with enticing discounts and deals to enter their booth and to bottom line buy something.

This is now my official fourth trip to Hong Kong, so I am feeling more like a veteran.  Not just because negotiating large buys is what I do for a living and the sole reason why I am here in Hong Kong, but because I’ve learned how to be more a savvy street market negotiator.  I strongly believe that these skills are what have made me a pro at negotiating at the Chicago Randolph Street Market and what ensure that I always pay what I deem fit (and probably why I love the Auction Hunters-but that’s for another post).

Check out my tips based of my learnings and use them in your future ventures to your local flea/street markets:


  1. Always wear a comfortable ensemble that can be described by: comfort, functional, easy, but most importantly chic.  See my outfit post as inspiration: here
  2. Go prepared with a clear list of what you are looking for.  Don’t under estimate the power of a list.  It will prevent you from deviating for a central goal especially if you are only there for a handful of items.
  3. Never accept the first price given. One thing I’ve learned you can always, always get to the price you want to pay by staying strong to your price.  If they don’t seem to waver, start to walk-away and they will always immediately reconsider.  Any flea/street market seller’s number one goal is to sell all their items. You as the buyer will always have the upper hand, never forget that.
  4. Stay hydrated.  Having a bottle of water handy will keep you from becoming dehydrated. 
  5. Have Fun! I always meet the most interesting people and find some of the most unique accessories and trinkets at flea/street markets.

Check out some of my pics from my latest visit to the Ladies Market!

My Lazy Sunday in Hong Kong in Photos…

I’ve been inspired to document one of my Sundays because of a great blog post I’d seen by one my Chicago blogger buddies, Tabitha Green.  At first I wondered if my Sundays were really interesting enough to document and then thought of the bigger picture: shaping and defining who Chi-Style Maven is.  Through a number of different blog posts you’ve only gotten hints and glimpses into my world & have been exposed to some of my passions. 

Now, I want to take this opportunity and invite you to experience a “Lazy Sunday” with me in Hong Kong, enjoy!

Sunday, March 25th:

8:30am: Good Morning! First thing I do every morning is check my social networks (Twitter & Facebook) and email.  As you can see, being on a plane for 15hrs yesterday travelling coupled with jet-lag I had a lot to catch up on.

9:45am: Time to head down for breakfast & also a great time to catch up on current events happening here in Hong Kong, China.  I was a little bummed at first that I had missed the Rugby Sevens tourny that was out here in Hong Kong, but then heard news that the Tonga Rugby team had a pretty major loss quickly cured me of feeling down about missing the game.

12 (noon): Breakfast/brunch is now over and now on to my favorite activity in Hong Kong: Shopping! (Let’s just be honest it’s my favorite activity no matter what continent I’m on)  What I see as an amazing coincidence (but ask my husband and he might have a different opinion) is the fact that my hotel is connected to one of Hong Kong’s largest shopping malls. Total score right? My first stop always at the mall is H&M.

1:00pm: My next stop is Monki. This shop only has locations in Hong Kong & the UK.  So exclusivity plus unique pieces puts this on my ‘must visit’ list. I’m always able to snag unique pieces that are fashion forward exude the Hong Kong style aesthetic of drapey silhouettes & daring prints.

2:00pm: Blog Time! On the weekend it’s my time to actually focus and plan out my blogging creative calendar for the week.  Like most bloggers I have a “9 to 5” M-F, so my only real time to blog are in the evenings during the week.  So when the weekend hits, it’s blogging time.

3:00pm: Time to get a work-out in and feel the burn! I’m training right now for the United Run for the Zoo 10K race this June.  I’ve done this race now for the last 3 years and have used it as my training prep for the upcoming warm weather season (although with the recent Chicago heatwave I’m a little late in getting swimsuit ready for the beach).

5:00pm: It’s a gorgeous day in Hong Kong, so why not have drinks outside.  After an amazing work-out nothing sounded better than enjoying a refreshing cocktail at the outdoor bar of my hotel. P.S. How insanely high-tech & green is Hong Kong? That menu is an iPad and it’s not an uncommon practice to go to a restaurant/bar and recieve it as the menu.

6:30pm: I always love the busy streets of Hong Kong.  So much vibrant life & energy! Decided to go to dinner outside of the hotel just to take a stroll outside and get a buzz of energy from these electric streets.

 7:30pm: Dinner time! One of my favorite things to get here in Hong Kong is fresh seafood and what better way to kick of my fresh seafood love affair but with sushi! I ate at Tokoro-Robatayaki & Whisky Bar & loved it’s quarky modern theatre style seating.  Don’t know if I will go back again, but I will say that I was happy I at least tried it.
 10:00pm: Time for bed!  Today was the best day because I took full advantage of the opportunity to make this a “me” day and it was a total success. Everyone needs a Lazy Sunday and I’m happy that I was able to have one in Hong Kong.
What did you think of my Sunday? How did your Sunday stack up? Hopefully you enjoyed taking a peek into my life and enjoying this “Lazy Sunday” with me!
Chi-Style Maven xo 😉

Hong Kong: Who’s Real and Who’s Fake?

Prior to my first visit to Hong Kong, China last October everyone I spoke to who has had the opportunity to visit this enchanting city all described it as “a giant shopping mall”.  This description definitely peaked my interest, but also left me begging the question “What’s bigger than shopping in NYC?”

Little did I know! The first thing you notice upon arriving in Hong Kong is the number of shopping centres, shopping districts, and street markets per square footage is insane.  The city is only 427 square miles, but manages to pack 84+ shopping centres, 3 large street markets, etc. 

With all of these various facets and avenues for shopping, one can not help but notice all of the logos that swarm you on a daily basis.  It is literally a sensory overload of designer logos from LouisVuitton, Gucci, Burberry, etc  Seeing so many women carrying handbags that normally retail for thousands, while wearing $10 dollar shoes I couldn’t help but wonder: where is everyone getting their fakes and if everyone that I seen carrying a designer handbag was carrying a fake.

After a little bit of poking around and research I discovered that Hong Kong has it’s fair share of counterfeit handbags, but there was a unique anomaly of a large number of retail locations dedicated to the re-sale of designer handbags.  Here for my second visit to Hong Kong, I decided I need to visit one of these re-sale shops. Yesterday I went to one in Mong Kok and was amazed at the large selection of Hermes handbags, but was even more floored by the price ticket.  Many were priced at around HK$16,800 (equivalent to approx. $2,100 USD).  The craftsmanship on these bags were impeccable.  The shape and hardware was spot on.  Yet, the key giveaway that made me begin to hestitate was the stitching. Although the thought of snagging a heavily discounted priced Birkin was very enticing, I couldn’t seem to shake the nagging feeling of “is this real?”. 

In the end I left with nothing.  I remembered what an amazing feeling it is to actually go into a designer boutique and have the pom & royal treatment that you are given when you purchase a designer handbag.  But the most important thing to remember is that you have the great feeling of reassurance and security that you purchased your designer hangbag from a legit source and know that it’s real!