H&M'S SPRING 2012 CONSCIOUS COLLECTION

I have owned several pieces of H&M's Conscious Collections in the past. I have my favourite red blazer that I purchased off eBay, a water colour kimono that I'm actually selling [though these are called their Garden Collection. Even though they're made from recycled PET bottles and I believe that was their first eco-friendly range] and a lace pencil skirt from the last Conscious Collection in Fall 2011. After I gave my boyfriend a wakeup call at 6.30 this morning, I started plowing through my emails, press clippings, amongst other things and left home to make sure I get to H&M just as they open. And I did! I picked up several pieces of the Conscious Collection, and I love the collection on the racks as much as I did in the campaign. I tried several pieces, one of which I fell in love with when I saw it in the campaign photos.

Yes, this big, fluffy frock:

Unfortunately, it is also S$549, which I'd really rather blow on more shoes when I head to the US this summer. I did, however, bring home this baby, which was far kinder on the pocket [at S$159] and I'd get more wear out of this one too. I have, however, left the tag on and kept the receipt just in case I decide overnight that I don't love it as much. What do you reckon?

Keep or return?

SHOPPING WITH MY AMERICAN BOY WITH MY AMERICAN EXPRESS

I've always wanted to do that - make a reference to Estelle's American Boy song, to my boyfriend, and I finally have. Mission accomplished; but moving on to this post.

Here's a typical conversation that J and I have about shopping; J: So I bought a shirt the other day... Me: [interrupting] You always go shopping without me! You know I like shopping! J: It's the spur of the moment thing. I don't plan to go shopping, I just happen to have time to kill and think I need something. Me: What do you need? Let's go shopping now. J: I don't need anything.

Despite the fact that I love men's clothes [possibly more than I do women's], and J constantly asks me whether "You would wear something like that? It's sexy." [his way of subtly telling me to get something like that, of course], we have never ever gone shopping together.

I have, of course, in the almost one-and-a-half-years that we've been dating, being the loving, doting girlfriend that I am, been populating his wardrobe with things I think he needs. He hasn't worn a lot of them, but when he does - like today, when he had on a bright blue shirt I got him - I feel like high-fiving myself.

So when the good people at American Express asked me whether I would go shopping with some dough that they'd give me, I couldn't say no. But who would? Shopping for myself would be too easy, and honestly, it's not fun when you can't share the fun with people you love. So I roped J in.

I have a lot of love for my American Express card, particularly because I rake up frequent flyer miles every time I use it. But it's come to my attention, after bragging about the shopping experience I'm about to have with my friends, that there are some misconceptions about Amex! The horror.

Myth 1: American Express cards are not widely accepted. Nonsense. American Express focuses on fashion, dining and travel merchants to allow their Cardmembers to enjoy the finer things in life. Merchants who accept American Express cards include Club 21, brands under Wing Tai Asia, Tung Lok Group, The Straits Wine Company, The Prive Group, Tiffany and Dom Perignon, amongst many others.

Cardmembers can even choose their own merchants with the Rewards card!

Myth 2: American Express cards are only for individuals with a higher income ceiling Individuals with a monthly salary of $2,500 are eligible for the American Express Rewards card.

Myth 3: American Express has a poor rewards programme American Express provides a very well-received cashback system.

Rewards include shopping and hotel vouchers from Miss Selfridge, Topshop, Resorts World Sentosa, Bebe, Ted Baker, Mercure Krabi and Novotel Bali.

Our task? We have to find outfits for J's graduation from New York University this May! And armed with our American Express cards we will!

Should I put it on video? What do you think?

ONE SITE TO RULE 'EM ALL: ERIIN.COM

There is a time when the world would turn to Asia to be leaders, to be the forefront of innovation, to be the brains behind creative powerhouses, to be invincible. And the time is now. Recognizing this change of dynamics in the world is brand new retail site, ERIIN.com.

Launched only last week, this Asia Pacific version of Net-a-porter, ERIIN reps carefully-curated designers from the region. The designers list is extensive, from the likes of Talulah (Australia), to Desti Saint Handbags (Singapore) to Hanalie (Hong Kong) the products are well-curated, and perfect for the sassy girl-about-town.

I love that ERIIN decided to use an Asian face for their first editorial - here's hoping a dark-skinned girl will grace their website soon too.

I have the silver version of the Desti Saint Long Happiness Tassel Bag (SGD$458) and I'm amazed at how many things that dainty little bag can accomodate, and I'm lusting over their Hanalie Liza Biker Jacket.

The brains behind ERIIN.com has taken entrepreneurship, dedication and a lot of blood, sweat and tears to create one kickass site to satiate your shopping needs. If fab clothes from wicked designers is not enough, they have fresh new arrivals weekly and they provide free international shipping.

Go forth and shop, fashion mavens. You know you want to!

ROADTRIP: JOHOR PREMIUM OUTLETS

I've been to several outlet malls in my life: in Madrid, in New York, in Texas; and while the one in Madrid was not much of a shopping hoopla, the ones in the States are outta this world. So unsurprisingly, when I learnt that Premium Outlets decided to open a mall of the same kind in Johor and that they were organising one-day press trips there, I wanted to go!

The PR company filled a bus chockfull with media today and we set off for Johor Premium Outlets. It took us about an hour from the time we left Fullerton Bay Hotel, where we met, to us getting off the bus. If you need driving or public transport information, you can look it up here; alternatively, if you want to travel in a group of 15 or more, you can have them arrange a group tour for you.

First things first - the outlet mall does look like the malls I've been to in other parts of the world, unfortunately, despite the large land area that Malaysia has, the outlet mall is pretty minuscule.

The following are some of the brands that have retail spaces at JPO.

  • Adidas - A Climacool sportsbra would've cost about SGD$50+. I was looking for running shoes, but it actually would be cheaper for me to get it here with a media discount.
  • Burberry - Jeremy was contemplating of getting a Burberry trenchcoat which would've cost him about SGD$1,600. I'm not sure how much it retails for in Singapore, but I'm not a big fan of Burberry so I didn't spend too much time in there.
  • ck Calvin Klein - selections were limited. If you looked enough, the discounts could get up to 60%, but I still thought you could get cheaper things at the Club 21 bazaar.
  • DKNY - I bought J a pair of sneakers because we were given some Club 21 vouchers and I wanted to use them. I'm not sure if it's because the FW season is out on the racks, but nothing really caught my eye. And I usually like one or two pieces from DKNY. Maybe people have already bought them out!
  • Lacoste Outlet - Dead town. Don't even bother.
  • La Senza Lingerie - Undies at 10 for RM50, bras at 2 for RM100. La Senza's lingerie doesn't fit me as well as Victoria's Secret does, so I'm not sure about how that discount compares to their semi-annual sale here.
  • Rip Curl - I actually found a surf top I wanted to get for my coming beach vacay BUT their credit card machine was faulty. Seriously?!
  • Salvatore Ferragamo - My eyes started stinging and tearing the moment I stepped into the store from the fresh paint fumes! But apparently, if you look hard enough, you can find heels that "usually sell for S$790 in Singapore, that now cost around S$430 (RM1,040)."
  • Michael Kors - I checked out a watch for myself that was SGD$299 after 40% discount. You can see for yourself how much their watches retail for before discount here.
  • Pedro - Men's shoes started from RM49, but on average, nicer pieces were RM149 and above
  • Charles & Keith - War zone. I was scared.
  • Coach - No outlet mall is complete without Coach. There was a line outside Coach. Of course.

The Johor Premium Outlet still has yet to open some stores including Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren and Versace, which they hope will be opened by the official launch, which is slated to be this Sunday, 11 Dec.

My verdict on it? Go, if you've never had an outlet shopping experience before. If you have shopped at outlet malls, check it out if you're keeling over and dying from curiosity but don't say I didn't warn ya. Maybe make plans after to find the nearest pit stop for a Ramly Burger!

At the end of the day, I bought a pair of DKNY high top sneakers for J, and four pairs of PJ bottoms and a hoodie from Cotton On Body [which added to about SGD$24]. And then I went online and bought a dress and a pair of bathers from ASOS. Score!

SOME THINGS NEW

Welcome to the newly revamped thedramadiaries. I wanted my site to be less cluttered, so navigation is at the top and bottom - easy peasy, and you get nothing but oodles of awesome content in this one-column blog. The site redesign was thanks to the tech ingenuity of Renee, and the illustration was commissioned by me specially by an Indonesian designer that I will profile very soon. My Wanderlust & Connect pages aren't up and running yet, but I know you've missed me [as I have missed you!], so I wanted my site up and runnin' once more! I haven't blogged as much since I've been back from New York not just because I've been bloody busy, but I also wanted to keep and have heaps of content to blog about regularly when thedramadiaries has been relaunched. Anyhow, in the spirit of newness, I thought I'd take you through the latest additions of my wardrobe.

1. Hot Pink Balenciaga - This was my big purchase in New York - and it's my first designer bag. I've never felt the need to max out my cards collecting designer bags as a lot of people do, but I figured since I can afford this one and it's in such a ridunkulously awesome shade of pink, why the hell not?!

2. Lulu Guinness Ice Cream Hut Bag I eyed this from the moment I saw the order line sheet for Spring Summer 2011 last year. Thanks to my lovely colleague Jessica who kept one for me, and thanks to my awesome staff discount at SOLE 2 SOLE, this baby is finally mine. I mean, seriously, it's a bag in the shape of an ICE CREAM HUT. How adorable. I die, I die.

3. Red Dorothy shoes Because every girl need a pair of red patent shoes, and mine died on me. These aren't necessarily the most comfortable shoes I own, but they're so damn pretty. And with feet the size of canoes like mine, you can't be too choosy when you're on the hunt for something quite specific.