Cheongsam for the occasion

The Happy Cheongsam launched their 4th collection two Thursdays ago and Our Bitsy Prints launched their 15th collection last Thursday. But this time I am not reviewng their cheongsams, instead I am going to highlight the pretty dresses for the special occasions, together with those from the new collections of other brands.

The latest launch from THC comes in candy colored Shantung silk, and this sweet-looking pastel yellow dress has the tulip bottom fit that I like. In fact it is the same design as the Tiffany blue dress from the first collection except that the collar is 4cm high. If you are looking for a pretty dress to wear for a meeting with the to-be in-laws, this will do the trick to present a positive first impression.
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A neon pink dress, also from THC, that features a bow on the waist. This is perfect for a bride at an afternoon tea reception or marriage registry. This will also look great during Chinese New Year, which will set you apart from the rest of the boring red.
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Both dresses from THC are also good for first dates. He won’t be able to take his eyes away from you.

I really like this pretty perankan print from OBP, which is inspired by the unique peranakan tiles that OBP founders discovered in the old houses located at Joo Chiat. I love that it is paired with a bright teal green color. This dress is an eye turner wherever you go.
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The fabric is made from organic cotton. I was wondering if there is a difference in feel between the organic and non-organic cotton. It turns out not. Melanie from OBP explained:
“The normal cotton that we use for day-to-day purposes on our regular tee shirts etc is actually genetically modified so that the produce can meet the world’s demand. However, when harvesting “normal” cotton, there will be some harm to the environment; especially to some vital insects. 

Organic cotton does not have any visible/physical differences from normal cotton though, so you won’t be able to tell, but it’s just that they are harvested in a less harmful manner to the environment. This fabric is also made with eco-responsible, low impact dyes for printing and dying of the prints.”

So you are helping to protect the environment by using organic cotton.

OBP also launched a bright yellow dress (fabric is organic cotton as well) with sapphire-colored piping and detachable belt. I like this design with its high collar (reminds me of the Mongolian traditional wear), and the cheery print and color combination is a standout.
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I was hoping to get my hands on either one of the above dresses but unfortunately I was too slow. I must say OBP’s latest launch has a number of interesting and pretty prints. Good work, ladies!

I haven’t checked out Sissae’s new collections til now. Their dresses have gone bold and sexy!

This va-va-voom sultry black dress titillates with its peekaboo design. It is a stunner for an evening at a fine restaurant. If you are dressed to impress on a first date, this is a knock-out!
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The below cheongsam with a midi skirt may seem conservative, but I think the fabrics of crepe and organza silk make it look really graceful. The print on the skirt gives it a contemporary feel as well. It is the perfect follow-up date dress to the one above, showing you are not all sultry but capable of channelling elegance.
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The following Shanghai Tang red wool dress has an ultra short collar. I’m usually not one to go for it but the fabric and cut drape so beautifully on the bodice and makes it irresistibly. It is simple and yet sophisticated, that I can’t help myself from droolng over the design. I have to make an exception to this ultra modern look.
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Finally I found a dress from Lark and Peony that I like: a beautiful sapphire blue dress with obi belt. Though it’s a classic cut with high collar, it comes with short puff sleeves. I like how the obi belt complements the dress, adding a touch of elegance. The dress is named after a warrior princess, and indeed the beautiful royal color is fit for one. (I wish there is a description of the fabric though.)
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This is an interesting print from Elegente: dramatic red coral on white silk, a statement piece.
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When a child gets hurt

The other day when I was checking out updates on Facebook, I saw a friend had commented on a post about a baby girl gotten hurt in a daycare (in Singapore). There was a picture of the baby with lacerations around her left eye. I am not sure how old the baby girl is because only her face was shown and there was no mention of her age, but I am guessing she may be between 12 to 16 months old.

According to the mother who put up the post, she got a call from the daycare in the late afternoon that her baby girl was hurt. Apparently the baby was on a high chair, and a two years old toddler jumped onto the back of the chair which caused it to fall over. The poor baby knocked her face against a table. The teacher told the mother that the baby was bleeding from the cut and she would take her to the nearest clinic.
When the parents arrived at the daycare, they were shocked to see the teacher with their still bleeding baby in her arm, and there was a rather deep wound close to her left eye. The teacher explained that the clinic was closed and so the child couldn’t receive any medical attention. 

The parents then decided to take the baby to the private hospital, Gleneagles, which was where the girl was born, with the teacher following them. The nurses there told them the baby needed to see an eye specialist before they could administer any treatment. The doctor came and remarked that the cut was close to the eye and might require surgery, and the baby had to stay overnight for observation. Eye drops were then applied into her eye.

The parents spoke to the daycare supervisor about payment for the medical costs and the latter told them to get the treatment first and the daycare would pay for it.  The bill came up to more than S $7500, and when approached, the day care refused to pay the full amount, claiming that the parents could have gone to the nearest hospital instead of Gleneagles, and they would only pay for the treatment cost of S$1600, and not the doctor’s fee which amounted to S $5000. The parents were wondering what recourse they have other than hiring a lawyer which would be another big sum of money.

I really hope the baby girl will recover fully and get well soon. To be honest, I don’t think there is anything the parents can do to get full reimbursement from the daycare. I do hope the baby has medical insurance. But judging from what the mother wrote about how they tried wrangling with the supervisor and how resistant the daycare is, it doesn’t seem like the baby is insured.

Based on the descriptions provided by the mother, I seriously doubt if this particular daycare is professionally run.  Firstly why is the baby placed on a high chair? This should only be used under constant adult supervision. I also want to know why are the babies and toddlers put together? Babies require special attention and they should be separated from the older children, even toddlers. And I don’t think there are  enough teachers at the daycare to handle both babies and toddlers.

In Buddy’s daycare, the infant care is in a separate area with dedicated teachers. There is no baby high chair. Instead there are small chairs with straps and a table for older babies who can sit up and feed on their own. Usually the teachers will put these babies on the chair during snack times and when they are read to. In fact it looks to us that the chairs seem pretty comfy because the babies would sit quietly on them, even Buddy didn’t fidget. My husband once joked that seeing those babies on the chairs reminded him of a scene in the movie “Cowboys versus Aliens”, when a bunch of humans were mesmerized as they stared at an alien light.  Well, at least no toddler will clamber up the chair and cause it to fall.

Apparently the daycare in question has no CCTV installed which is a big no no since it’s hard to investigate what really happened.  This is a must have and the center must keep the record for a couple of months, which is what Buddy’s daycare does. Seriously, the safety and development of a child should be of utmost priority for a daycare. And I wonder what exactly is the priority for this particular one.

Also on the topic of daycare, many parents tend to be dazzled by fancy names or association  with some fancy childcare expert. The daycare where this accident happened is one with the fancy name. Whether such daycare follows the guidelines of the so-called childcare expertise is another question altogether. What parents should do before deciding on a daycare for their babies or kids is to conduct interviews and visits to various centers. Yes you have to spend time doing this in order to see for yourself how it is run, how the kids behave, the environment, and security etc.

Before we put Buddy in a daycare, we visited a number of locations which I penned down in an earlier post “And the competition starts now” dated 5 November 2012. Basically you have to prepare a list of questions before the visit, and arrange with the supervisor a time to observe the classes. From the visits and the conversations you will then be able to make an informed decision.

I’m also surprised that the teacher taking care of the injured baby didn’t even call an ambulance to take her to the hospital though she was bleeding.  But I’m even more surprised that the parents took her to a private hospital. For God’s sake, it doesn’t matter where the baby was born, for any emergencies involving babies and children, send them to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) because it is best equipped and trained to handle them. In fact, other hospitals will refer emergency or tough cases of young patients to KKH.  Not only is the hospital a dedicated one for children, but it also provides affordable care because it is a public hospital.

I might sound like I’m promoting KKH, but this is based on my experience with Buddy falling ill. We had sent Buddy to the ER at Changi General Hospital in the middle of night because we didn’t want to make the longer trip to KKH.  The ER doctor advised us that KKH is actually a better place for Buddy to seek treatments. Since then we had been to KKH numerous times when Buddy had very high fever and when he had breathlessness. In fact he was hospitalized for bronchiolitis when he was 13 months old. We had generally good experience with the doctors and nurses there, and the costs are not exorbitant.

Unlike the public hospital, private ones in Singapore are either listed or owned by private investors. Naturally, profit is of priority to the shareholders, and so how do you think the medical costs will be? Even though public hospitals have KPIs but they have huge economy of scale and also partially subsidized by the Ministry of Health.  I don’t think the level of service or available equipment there is any worse off than those in private hospitals.

The abovementioned mother found out too late that Gleneagles hospital is owned by the Parkway group. Actually, she hasn’t got the full picture. It’s owned by Parkway Pantai, a holding company for all the health care services assets in Singapore and Malaysia. And PP is 100% owned by IHH Healthcare, a company that was set up by Khazanah (Malaysian sovereign wealth fund), and has been listed since 2012. When SWF gets onto businesses, the aim is not noble.

Parents should also make sure their babies have hospitalization insurance, which for Singapore’s situation, that will be the MediShield. I also encourage parents to get the extra coverage for co-payment and deductibles, because they can amount to a couple of thousand dollars. In fact before the baby is born, contact your insurance agent to make the request, and the agent will prepare the documentations for you when baby turns a month old. (I’m not sure whether insurance companies will now cover babies right from birth but that was the case 2 years ago.) It especially makes sense to have medical Insurance now when  the Ministry of Health has very recently announced the launch of MediShield Life, which basically covers you for life and for all congenital illnesses. And by the way, getting medical coverage for the baby is far more important than  paying for private cord blood banking.

The love for reading

A couple of Saturdays ago, we attended the parent-teacher meeting at the day care, where we met with two of Buddy’s teachers to discuss his progress. Typical of me, I wanted to prepare a list of questions for the teachers. Well I actually only had a couple but I had to put them down in case I forgot.

During the meeting, I whipped out my phone and started to rattle the questions: “what specific interests/activities does he display in school?…” My husband joked, “do you want to table a list of parliamentary questions and have the teachers submit written answers?” He also remarked to me later that I acted like a tiger mom. I was insulted, yes I think this term has a negative connotation. But I’ve to admit that my expectations of Alex may have been a little unrealistic.

I think Buddy was a year old when I bought his first book. Before that I tried to read him the story apps on the ipad, like “Dr Suess’ ABC “,  or played the musical stories from Pink Fong to him.
Over the next several months, I got more books for Buddy, lift-the-flap books, touch and feel books, and a counting book. But he didn’t have the patience for me to read to him,  and instead wanted to turn the page or lift the flap before I finished. Though strangely, the infant care teachers told us he loved to read and be read to.

Until recently we didn’t develop a reading schedule for Buddy. Though my husband felt we should read to him everyday, we didn’t, and any reading was done on an adhoc basis.  But we showed him flash cards on alphabets, first words, numbers and shapes/colors regularly. Buddy picked up the alphabets and words fairly quickly; he can recite 1 to 10 rather well but still can’t count. And I wondered when he would pick up spelling, or able to pronounce a word when he sees one.

I told the teachers of Buddy’s inability to count, and they assured me that it is still early for him. I thought Buddy’s knowledge of numbers is lacking and told my husband we had to teach him at least up to 20. But my husband disagrees; to him knowing numbers from one to a hundred or even a million is not important. Buddy knows one to ten, the rest is just an extension. What matters to my husband is that Buddy understands the concept of numbers. In fact my husband is rather dismissive of memorization, “even Mr Ed (the horse) can count”, and prides analysis and critical thinking above all. “Sure there are some stuff that require memorizing, like multiplication table, but as much as possible, he should go by first principle.”

Anyway a few weeks ago, we went to pick up Buddy, and one of his teachers told me she had borrowed some books on his behalf from the mobile library. In fact she had applied for a library card for him. She got him six books, two in Chinese and four in English. When we were home, I read to Buddy and he was very enthusiastic.

Since then, we have been to the library a few times to get more books for Buddy, though my husband assured me that it was alright to repeat them. The books started the bedtime story routine. Buddy’s appetite for them is voracious. I have to read him three books a night, and I make sure one is in Chinese. He sometimes try to turn the page before I finish, but mostly he will repeat some of the words I told him or point out objects he recognizes.

Even since we stepped into the library (after an absence of donkey years), We realize that it is really unnecessary for us to buy any books for Buddy. The amount of resources in the library is amazing! No one can match the sheer numbers and types of books available, and best of all, they are free (for basic membership). Right now, till the end of July, the library is having a reading promotion and each member can borrow up to 16 items (up from the usual six for basic member). So we took advantage of that and got hell of a lot of books for Buddy. That will save us frequent trips to the library. And when the promo ends, I will combine mine with Buddy’s card.

I do encourage parents to take their kids to the library, and try to make bedtime story a habit for the young kids. It’s also a very good bonding session with the child. Buddy will cuddle up to me when I read to him. Many times, he enjoys the reading and binding session so much that he would ask, “more, more!”.

His love for books and reading was most apparent last night. I thought he was being naughty when he wanted to ride on the micro scooter instead of going for his bath. I told him “no bath, no books!”, but he refused to comply. It was getting late and bed time, which follows bath time, got pushed back. My husband talked to him that if he took his bath he would get books, and eventually he agreed. But I felt he should be punished for the delay and wanted to put him in his cot straight after bath. He wailed, and my husband persuaded me to relent since he had complied, and we didn’t have to drag him into the bathroom. So I read him one Chinese book. He wanted the book with him when he slept.

Later, my husband told me that we could withhold toys, scooter, and ipad from Buddy, but we should never withhold books. In fact we should thank our lucky stars that he has a love for books. He was able to reason with Buddy when given time, and so I should cut our son some slack. Yes I admit I was harsh on Buddy, and was being petulant myself when he refused to say “sorry, mama” to me, though he tried to make amend in his own way by caressing me. (That’s what he does when he realizes he has upset us.) I do realize I should be more mindful that he is only 2, and I should be more patient with him. well I am learning and hopefully able to handle Buddy better going forward.

A view on the cheongsam

There were a number of comments on my last post “A jolly and pretty cheongsam”, mainly on the collar length. The mandarin collar is a signature feature of the cheongsam, and in the traditional form, it is rather high. There are old advertisement posters showing dresses with collars that literally wrapped round the neck. Anyway I decided that for this post, instead of the usual review, I will provide a follow-up view on the iconic dress from my first post “I love Cheongsam” dated 9 March 2011.

In that post, I mentioned I was biased towards the traditional cheongsam form. Though now, I am open to the modern cheongsam and do find that the dress with flared or pleated bottom more convenient to move around, especially when I have to carry my son. But I still have a preference for higher collar, partly because I think it looks good (on me), and partly because I find the high collar rather regal. Besides I have no problem wearing it since I have a long neck, and never experienced my neck sweating in humid Singapore. But I do understand that I am in the minority.

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A high-collared cheongsam from Haha

Like what a regular reader, Vincent, mentioned in his comment, the high collar is like having a scarf wrapped round the neck. Well, guess what? I wore a scarf with my suit/jacket when I used to embrace the office dress code. So yes, I am absolutely used to something wrapped around my neck. Though now those scarves are gathering dust inside the wardrobe.

Many modern cheongsams, particularly those for everyday wear, come with shorter collars. Melanie of OBP stated that they are not designing high-collared cheongsams because their dresses are made for everyday wear. Actually, even with higher collar at 5cm, like those cheongsams from Blum, the dress doesn’t have to be worn only for special occasions. They can be work wear which is what I use them for. To me, the below simple pink dress from Shanghai Tang with its high collar wouldn’t be considered for a special occasion. I see this as a work dress or a Friday dress.
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Besides, what constitutes everyday wear or special occasion wear is more than just collar length, but also the fabric and design of the dress. The Hana dress above with the red lace on white lining is for special occasion, because of the intricate lace material. The same goes for fabric which is embroidered or comes with sparkles.

The below Blum cheongsam has a shorter collar than previous collections. It can certainly pass off as a typical work dress.
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I think there should at least be a minimum length for the collar. Otherwise, a short collar has a stunted look to it. Besides I also feel that a short collar dilutes the distinctive essence of the cheongsam. OBP’s flared bottom dress has collar length of 4.5cm, and the A-line sleeveless dress (the like of Abstract Art Berry) has length of about 4cm. This casual Miz Apparels denim cheongsam below has collar length of 4cm. So I think that perhaps a happy median is a length of between 4-5cm.
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According to the book “In The Mood For Cheongsam “, the dress was commonly worn in the 1960s’ in Singapore. A number of Chinese women had cheongsams for work wear and special occasions. The iconic dress sets them apart from other women in western frocks, and it made them felt special. I can certainly understand that feeling, particularly in this age when far fewer women wear cheongsam.

Considering that women in the past had to tailor make their cheongsams, it is even more remarkable that they embraced the dress, high collar, straight cut fit and all. In fact you would think that with the multiple variations of modern cheongsam available now, women may be more inclined, but that is not the case. Still with the proliferation of more online boutiques offering easy-to-wear cheongsam, I believe we will see a comeback of the dress.

I will also recommend to those ladies who love Cheongsams that, if possible, have one tailor-made. Wearing a dress that fits you beautifully is amazing. Of course you have to find a master tailor (师父) who can create gorgeous dresses, though they don’t come cheap. There is also no point getting one done online. It is very important for the master to take measurements from you directly, and he can then make the appropriate recommendations. (As far as I know, the master tailors are mostly males, just likes most Michelin-starred chefs are men.)

I had tried a few tailoring services, and the most impressive is Gary Lau from Kang’s Boutique. He made a wedding cheongsam and one for everyday wear for me. Unfortunately I don’t have the simple cheongsam now, as it had a tear and I dumped it without checking if it could be repaired. Yes, such a pity! I only have the wedding cheongsam, which I had only worn twice, since it was made almost 14 years ago. I looked through my wedding pictures and unfortunately, because the pictures were so old (there was no digital camera then), they don’t do justice to its beauty. So I took it out of the vacuum wrap and took pictures of it (pardon the wrinkled look).
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The dress has 8 pairs of flower buttons, because I wanted them to run alongside the bodice. When I went for the fitting, Gary complained that his fingers were so sore, and he swore off making so many buttons for a dress. But the buttons are beautiful!
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I picked the fabric at the boutique, and it is a beautiful embroidered organza from India. Initially I wondered if the color was a little too pale, but I love the embroidery too much and accepted it. Because the organza is light, it has a backing made from a stiffer fabric, likely Tussah silk (I checked my silk fabric guidebook), to give it structure, and held together by the piping. Underneath that is China silk lining. By the way the collar length is about 5.8cm.

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At that time, the tailoring cost was slightly less than S$500, the cost of each pair of buttons was S $10, and plus the fabric cost, the total cost of the dress came up to more than S $800. I guess compared to what Gary charges now, that was really a bargain. I only found out, a couple a days ago, when I checked out the boutique website that the starting price for his bespoke service is S $1,500! But I have to say that Gary’s tailoring skill is fantastic, and you may have to pay for that level of workmanship.

I have also had a dress made at Hana, using my own fabric, several years ago. I paid S $800 just for workmanship, and it didn’t even include piping or buttons. I wanted something like the cheongsam worn by Maggie Cheung in “In The Mood for Love” and so the dress has ultra high collar of 7cm.

This dress is first featured in my first cheongsam post “I love Cheongsam” dated 9 March 2011. The workmanship is pretty good, but because it is a basic dress, I can’t say for sure how it will compare to Gary’s. Anyway I won’t be surprised if the tailoring cost is higher now.
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A few years ago, I tried out another boutique with tailoring service, Lady Xiang, and had a dress made in the same design as a cheongsam clad beauty printed on Tung Lok moon cake box. The collar length is about 6cm. (This is also featured in the same post.)
The cost was about S $470 that includes fabric, piping and buttons. Again the price may be higher now. The workmanship is quite good, but not quite that of Hana’s and definitely not Gary’s.
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Several years ago, I tried out the tailoring service of My Mandarin Collar, a boutique that offers modern cheongsams. I had a short halter neck dress made, and if I recall correctly, it was around S$350.
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To be honest, I didn’t have a good impression of the service. Despite a few fittings, the dress still didn’t fit me well. The owner then arranged for me to go to an alteration shop to fix the problem. Even then I still had to return a few times to get the fit right.

Moral of the story when you decide to have a tailor-made cheongsam is that you cannot go for cheap service. You do get what you pay for. However you also have to be careful of over paying, especially if you are in cities like London or New York. You might be seen as a lamb for slaughter. Make sure that the workmanship and fabric are worth the price you pay for, and more importantly, shop around for tailors.

(Note. Apologies for this rambling post. I worked past midnight to meet the posting deadline, despite being sleepy, as well as keeping tab on the score between the German and French world cup match. So might be incoherent in certain sections. )

The jolly and pretty cheongsam

A few days ago, I received a message from this lady, Ann, who has just set up an online cheongsam store with her sister. They launched their first collection on Wednesday past, 25 June, and asked if I could review the designs. I am happy to do that since I am always interested to see what is new out there.

Ann explained that both she and her sister got the idea to start the store when they had difficulty finding pretty cotton cheongsams for themselves and Ann’s 2.5 years old daughter for Chinese New Year.The online boutique is called Joli Pretty, and for their first collection there are eight dresses available (for grown ups only). I guess they will design for little girls when their dresses gain popularity.

To be honest, my impression of the designs is “seen that, nothing new”, though the fabrics seem to be of higher quality (judging from the pictures). The description states premium cotton fabric, and Ann told me they sourced the materials from various countries, and vetted several seamstresses during the past year to find those skillful enough to meet their requirements. (I guess they can exchange notes with the founders of other online boutiques.)

Of the cheongsams available, most are sleeveless dresses with pleated bottom. Like this below, which has a netting petticoat (called ‘can-can insert’ in the description), the only unique feature as far as I can see. I presume that is to give the skirt a full look, and it is the only dress with the petticoat in this collection.
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There are two dresses with the straight cut design. The one below looks like the traditional form but not; there is a seam along the waist, unlike the traditional dress which has long panels down the front and back. Because of this, the fabric will not drape as well on the bodice, but you get side pockets in the dress.
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By the way, I don’t like the pink hibiscus print, which I find pedestrian.

This other straight cut dress has a more interesting print.
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Then there are the common pleated bottom cheongsams, where there is the same print for the entire dress.
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And there are those with print on the top and block color for skirt. This comes with a bow at the right waist. What I don’t understand is why are some of this design come with side pockets but not others.
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The only short sleeved cheongsam in the mix. It seems popular because there is limited quantity left. Personally I find the design uninspiring.
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I also feel that the collar of these dresses is on the short side. I would prefer it to be at least half an inch higher.

So there you have it, a modest first collection which is, unfortunately, not very exciting. I hope to see interesting designs and higher collar in the next one, or at least some designs with higher collar.

On a separate note, if you are wondering what constitutes a high collar, well, using my cheongsams as a gauge, I have a tailor-made dress with really high collar at 7cm. But I understand that may be too much, so there are others like the Blum cheongsams with relatively high, but not uncomfortable, collar length of 5cm. The OBP batik dress has collar of 4.5cm which is fine as well. So the sweet spot for collar (for me at least) is either 4.5cm or 5cm high.

A cheongsam medley – part 2

I was informed by Elaine of The Lady General online cheongsam store, a couple of weeks ago, that she had a new collection launched with higher collar. (The previous collection, using vintage kimono fabric, has short collar which doesn’t make the dresses look good.) I checked it out, and yes the collar is slightly higher but what’s with the boring, matronly-looking prints and colors?

TLG offers three dresses and three tops this time. There are two dresses with flared bottom: like the one below has an A-line skirt and comes with a waist band.
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Whereas the following dress has a more defined pleated skirt.
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Then there is the fitted look with draped details and a waist band.
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The problems with the dresses are the conservative prints and boring colors. And the white waist band is ugly. Like the draped dress in cafe au lait color (described as pale beige in the website), it would look more sophisticated with a shimmery pale gold fabric with a wider leather woven belt. The shoes are also too clunky for the dress, and the bag is redundant.

As for the tops, it’s a mixed bag. For the one below, all I can say is that thank God for the pretty model who carries the top. The print is oldish looking!
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This top is better, and the different colors (white with colored circles in front and wintry green behind) makes it interesting. Though I prefer a slightly higher collar.
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I don’t really like this print for the relaxed fit look. Coupled with the three-quarter sleeves, it aged the wearer, like something grandma would wear.
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I understand from Elaine that the next collection will feature even higher collar. I hope the designs are better.

Separately Our Bitsy Prints launched their 14th collection called “This Concrete Jungle” last Thursday in conjunction with Racial Harmony Day in mid July (which I had no idea until I read about it), and in anticipation of Singapore’s National Day on 8 August. This is really a mini launch because there are only three dresses available. There is nothing new to the designs, which are taken from past collections,
though the prints feature the cultural motif of Singapore. (Well, only one which is distinctively Singapore.)

The first is the usual flare bottom cheongsam dress, where the top has print of the national flower (an orchid by the name of Vanda Miss Joachim) against the backdrop of voronoi pattern.
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The second dress is also the same design with batik printed trimming and belt. To be honest, the batik is also a part of the Malaysian and Indonesian culture, so there is nothing unique to Singapore here.
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The third is an asymmetrical blue batik A-line dress. I don’t like the print and the dress reminds me of maternity wear, maybe because it looks a little too big on the model, like she has a tummy to cover. But God forbids anyone treating this as maternity wear and pairs it with tights, because that constitutes a fashion crime!
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So there you have, unfortunately nothing interesting from OBP.

Anyway just before Easter, Melanie and Grace from OBP sent me an Easter gift, a new design from collection 12, called “Abstract Art Berries”. It took several weeks before i could wear it, after a few alterations and dry cleaning. So here is the dress, which I find pretty comfortable and easy to wear, a modern cheongsam suitable for busy moms. My only beef is that the collar is a little short for me; would be great if it is half an inch higher. Here’a thought: what about a variation of this design like an empire waist?

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Pardon the stiff posture, I'm not good at having my picture taken.

A cheongsam medley – part 1 (Updated)

For those looking for cheongsam at Raffles Place, the usual boutiques are now back at the newly refurbished One Raffles Place. (The retail cum commercial building is not fully completed yet, but 80% of the retail shops have opened.) Both Vourgeois and Miz Apparels are located on the 4th level.

Yesterday was MA’s opening and the boutique had engaged a lion dance troupe for the occasion. I managed to wait out the loud performance, and snucked to the window display to check out the new dresses. Unfortunately no cheongsam was on display. I do not know if there is any available inside the store, since I didn’t have a chance to go in. I will find time to check out what is available, thought it is possible the cheongsam collection is only available during the Chinese New year period.

As for Vourgeois, only one cheongsam is on display. Though a modern design, there is nothing exciting about it.
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Hana has the usual straight cut cheongsams which still look matronly. Seriously I don’t know why the dress length is tailored below the knees.
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This is a emerald green lace overlay on silk lining of the same color.
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A geometric print dress from Hana, which might mistaken the wearer for zigzag lines on the road.
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Lately, I have been receiving photos of cheongsam from this profile ‘Qipao’ via Google+. The dresses are in the traditional straight cut design with really high collar. The one below goes by the name ‘ The Rain of Night’, which, I admit, I don’t get it. Even the short sleeves and the print are so traditional that they make the cheongsam look dated.
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The cheongsam below, called ‘Paints’, has at least a more modern print, but still in the traditional design. Yes it ticks all the boxes for an elegant cheongsam, but  we should be looking for sophistication in this age.

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I have to use Shanghai Tang as an example of sophistication again. Take for instance, the below triacetate black cheongsam. It is simple and yet oozes sex appeal, and this is because the fabric and the cut hug the body beautifully. In fact I think even though the model ha nude makeup on, she still looks outstanding because of the dress.

Shanghai Tang Triacetate Qipao

Shanghai Tang qipao 2

(Updated on 19 June)
A regular reader, Vincent, alerted me that ‘Qipao’ is the ID of the online cheongsam boutique, Elegente. I had previously reviewed their dresses in my post ‘More Cheongsam Reviews’ dated 9 April. Elegente provides mainly traditional designs, with a few modern pieces.

Now I’m not against the traditional straight cut cheongsams. After all, not too long ago, it was my preference. But even with the straight cut, it has to be updated, and I find Elegente dresses stuck in the 1930s mold. If you are looking for a vintage look, you can check out Maggie Cheung in the iconic movie “In The Mood For Love”. She showcased the 1960s cheongsam style, which was in the rage then: below knee length (it was still rather conservative), tight fitting form with wasp-thin waist, high collar, and paired with heels. According to the book “In The Mood For Cheongsam”, the dress was considered modern then because it incorporated the western form-fitting silhouette. But because it is distinctively Chinoiserie, the Chinese women loved it for being different from the western flocks. The dress allowed women to show off their hourglass figure as well (with the help of corset undergarment). But when you think about it, it’s rather impractical in today’s age. Still I have to admit the women looked really sexy in this constricting form, and it doesn’t have the dated look of the 1930s.
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Weaning off the paci

For the longest time, I’ve been thinking of how to wean Buddy off the pacifier (paci for short). When Buddy was a wee baby, Dr OK suggested to do so by the time he was six months old. She had a reason for that since the younger the baby is, the easier the weaning. I know some parents had resisted giving the baby the paci because of the risk of addiction. When my husband and I attended the childbirth education course, the instructor had advised the would-be parents not do use it. Initially, for the first week or so, we followed the advice and we didn’t even get one. But Buddy was rather cranky when he was a newborn; probably because he had a serious case of  jaundice when he was only a few days old, and needed a lot of soothing. My mother told us that it was alright to sooth him with the paci, and even bought one for him. We relented, and as the saying goes, the rest was history.
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However, the sixth-month timeline passed and Buddy was still holding on to the paci. I have to admit I didn’t put in much effort to try to wean him off, partly because my husband didn’t think there was an urgency to do so. So here he was at about nine months old, still wouldn’t give it up.
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After Buddy celebrated his one year old birthday, I told my husband that we should target the weaning to be done by the time he turned two. I had read somewhere that that was the age recommended by the Academy of American Pediatricians. Well, I thought I had one year and plenty of time to do so. My husband didn’t think we should try in the weekdays when Buddy might be wailing for hours, and that would keep us up. He proposed that I (yes I would be the bad guy) to do so during the weekends instead. I agreed, but somehow I never managed to succeed in even trying. Every time when Buddy asked for the paci, my husband gave it to him. Even for me, when I tried to get him to sleep, I popped the paci into his mouth. It also came in useful in church, when Buddy doesn’t fully understand what is going on, and will sing loudly or recite the alphabets. Out came the paci to keep him quiet.

As Buddy’s second birthday approached, I was keenly aware of the deadline and felt a little pressured. I admit I was a little paranoid over things like this. It’s like once Buddy hit 2 years old and he wasn’t weaned off the paci, something bad might happen. My husband certainly thought I was too dogmatic, and asked for reasons why it had to be by that age. I cited dental development, speech development as reasons, but they seemed rather flimsy considering that Buddy has got a nice set of teeth and he is able to articulate words. Besides he didn’t have the paci in his mouth the whole day.

In day care, Buddy was only given the paci during nap time; however at home, it was a little more liberal. Especially during the last few weeks when Buddy wanted the paci more often. It was like a security blanket for him; or maybe he suspected I wanted to wean him off it. Still l told my husband that we should at least try to do so by the time he was 3. (Yes, the goal post kept changing.) After all, we wouldn’t want him to have the paci in his mouth when he is 5. We had once seen a little girl, aged about 6, sucking on a paci in church, and that really turned us off.

Still Buddy’s second birthday came and gone, and he still had his paci on. I decided that I had to act, and read up on forum discussions among mothers on weaning methods. Going cold turkey was one, making the paci undesirable was another. One mother wrote she sniped off the end of the paci so that the child didn’t find it pleasant to suck anymore. I thought that was worth trying, and did that to one paci first.
Buddy put it into his mouth, then took it out and looked at it quizzically a couple of times. But he seemed undeterred, and continued sucking at it.

I decided to snip off the other bedtime paci so that Buddy didn’t have a choice. He still wouldn’t give it up. I was wondering whether I should dip it into something bitter but harmless, which would put him off. Anyway I snipped off the first one shorter again, which was also suggested by the mother, to make it more difficult to suck. And in the night when Buddy was deep asleep, I removed the paci from his mouth.

These went on for a couple of nights, and then a few nights ago, Buddy woke up crying. I gave him the paci but after he put it in his mouth, he took it out immediately and said “no!” and continued to wail. It was 4.30 in the morning, and I had no choice but to give him a good paci. But he refused to go back to sleep on his cot, and insisted on being with us on our bed. We have learned not to give in, not in the middle of the night, because Buddy will end up rolling around and executing gymnastic moves, which was what happened the night before. He bounced around a little too much and got thrown out of the bed, and knocked his head against the wall. That expectedly triggered a wail.

Anyway back to that night when he threw his tantrum, my husband ignored his crying and put him in the cot. He didn’t stop crying after 5 minutes, instead he was very stubborn and persisted for more than 15 minutes. At almost 5 am, my husband’s patience was running very thin. He took him from the cot and smacked his diaper covered bottoms. Buddy was stunned. I took him over and gave him a bottle of milk to settle down, which he did immediately. In fact he was rather subdued after that.

I realized, since then, Buddy hasn’t asked for the paci, not even during bed time. I don’t know why since the spanking wasn’t related to it. As for daycare, I told the teacher a few days ago not to give him the paci during nap unless he cries persistently. I found out yesterday that he has been fine without it, and able to nap without any fuss. So far so good, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s truly weaned off the paci.

Checking out the latest cheongsam collections

Last week, two online cheongsam stores launched their latest designs. Our Bitsy Prints are going strong with their 13th collection, while The Happy Cheongsam is gaining momentum with a 3rd one. The other similarity is that both have included cheongsam tops this time.

As usual, OBP’s launch called “Summer Wanderlust” is a sell-out; I think within half an hour from the start, everything was snapped up. There are six tops with hidden back zip, featuring prints like the usual floral…
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The cutesy …
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And the whimsical.
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One thing I don’t understand is why the top is paired with tattered jean shorts. The combination looks really wierd and inappropriate. You can wear it with miniskirt, even denim is alright, but make sure the bottom doesn’t make you look like you are a regular recipient of handouts. (Yes, I’m not a fan of the tattered jeans look; it just doesn’t look decent to me.)

OBP’s focus is on tops  this time, and so there is nothing new to the dress designs, which are the same as past collections.

The drop-waist denim bottom cheongsam features camera print. It may be a ‘retro’ for some, but I don’t like the “electronic” look.
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The A-line dress, first featured in the 12th collection, is a pretty summer wear.
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Then there are two cheongsam dresses with pleated bottom, one of which is this cheery lemon color with detachable belt. I tried to order this since I don’t have a dress in yellow, but I was too slow.
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Admittedly the designs of OBP dresses are getting a little stale since I can’t help but expect something new each time. So in this respect, THC designs are interesting because Min has come out with something different again, with the theme ‘Let’s go to the movies”. THC launched only one cheongsam top, but unlike the usual design with back zip, this one is like a cheongsam with buttons along the front.  The pairing with the pleated miniskirt imbues sexiness to the outfit. But as with the rest of the designs, my beef is the short collar.
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A new design from THC is the cheongsam romper, which comes in two prints. This is not the first time I have seen a romper style, but the first where the zip is in front, which according to Min, is to make it easier in the bathroom. I applaud the new design, though I’m not a fan of the romper. Whether front or back opening, it’s still a pain in the bathroom.
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I really like the design of this pretty pastel blue gingham cheongsam which is sweet yet alluring, and I love the front pockets as well. Too bad about the short collar.
 
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This green dress is the average of the lot. It almost doesn’t look like a cheongsam.
 
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Though only 5 designs, THC has demonstrated some rather interesting styles which are better than the previous collection. I understand from Min that the next collection will showcase higher collar, which I’m eagerly waiting to check out. Anyway I also found out from Min that The Lady General had launched a new collection after a long hiatus. I checked out the web store and found that the launch was in early May, apparently an exclusive for the blogger “Walking In May”.

This time TLG used a real model to showcase their dresses. There are only four designs, and mostly in the same sleeveless pleated skirt look. The only exciting thing is the kimono fabric and print used. Also, like the collection from THC, the collar is too short and as a result, the top looks stunted.

This below dress is made using vintage kimono fabric which is beautiful. I don’t know whether it is the way the dress is sewn, but this picture and others of the same show creases on the top front and even the back. It could be a case that the fabric, maybe a stiff silk kimono material, doesn’t drape well, and you need precise cutting to make it fit, particularly since we are talking cheongsam here.
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This yellow kimono print cheongsam doesn’t have the obvious creases and it looks much better.
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This pink dress shows obvious bulges below the arm pit which spoil the look. Again I wonder if it is a problem with the cutting and fit.
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To me, this beautiful blue cheongsam with gathered skirt is the best design of the lot. In fact this is a new modern look that I don’t recall seeing before. It would have been perfect with a higher collar.
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Personally I feel that, granted some women prefer a short collar, there should be designs with a higher one because l think it adds a touch of elegance to the dress. Also, I know that the dresses would not fit all body shapes, but when they are worn on the model, they should at least look fitted. You will never see a model wearing an ill-fitting Chanel or Prada, so that should be the benchmark.