In the wilderness of life we can never be too prepared…or too well dressed. Consider this the wilderness handbook to earning your shopping patch.

Where did the name for your blog come from?
The inspiration for the name of this blog is the 1980s cult classic Troop Beverly Hills, it’s one of those fashion forward, over the top, satirically fabulous movies that is an instant favorite amongst “fashion girls.” In the movie, the troop earns patches for avant-garde things like sushi appreciation, jewelry appraisal, and of course shopping, hence The Shopping Patch.

Where do you live and what do you do for work?
Although I grew up in California, I have called New York City home for the past nine years, so I couldn’t be further from the film’s namesake location. I am the host and producer of a travel show on where to go in NYC. You can always find new episodes of Best of New York on my YouTube channel and, if you’re interested, you can read more about my job and where my show airs here: My personal style, which The Shopping Patch is dedicated to, varies greatly from my on-camera styling. As a host and producer you have to think about things like microphone placement and framing, oftentimes what works as a complete outfit reads very differently in a waist up interview. On the show I will often try new things, like learn to cook or skateboard, so the clothes need to be functional as well.

Why did you start a blog?
I fell in love with fashion at a very young age, while visiting my grandparents and cleaning out my mom’s childhood bedroom I discovered her collection of fashion magazines from the 1960s. I carted my vintage find across the country and poured over every issue, ripping out pages of outfits I liked, an O.G. Pinterest of sorts. I still gravitate towards 60s fashion; the long hair, short skirts, tall boots; what’s not to love. I actually keep all of my fashion magazines (something I have done since the 90s, including dELIA*s catalogues) to give to my own daughter some day. I’ll inevitably end up having a son for this very reason but he’ll be fabulous and have a refined palate for inflatable furniture and chokers. Some would consider this hoarding (or a fire hazard) but I will remain in denial on that front. When I moved to New York, the first fashion show I attended was Calvin Klein on Valentine’s Day, and I remember saying I was spending Valentine’s Day with my first love, fashion (I know, lame). I always had dreams of becoming a fashion writer but not everything works out, especially when you graduate college at the beginning of a recession (Class of 08’). Luckily, thanks to the internet, anyone can be a fashion writer (I didn’t say a good one) so I’ll be living out my childhood dreams here on The Shopping Patch.

Who the F is Norma?
Not everyone in my life has a blog, wants a blog, or has agreed to be on my blog so I give them nicknames. This also gives me plausible deniability with the aforementioned individuals. My husband doesn’t have a choice because of a little thing called marriage, so I’m just going to use his name, Stephen, from here on out.

The two questions I get asked almost daily are: “is that your real hair?” and “what nationality are you?” The answer is yes, this is all my real hair, no extensions. Believe it or not I’ve never worn extensions or dyed my hair (I usually kill at Never Have I Ever with this fact), but now that I’ve hit 30 I’m sure some gray coverage will eventually become inevitable. Ironically, when I was younger, I wanted to dye my hair so badly; chunky blonde highlights were in, it was the 90s, and Cady Heron was wearing cargo pants with flip flops so I had to have cargo pants with flip flops; my mom wouldn’t let me and I insisted she was ruining my life. Turns out chunky blonde highlights in black hair isn’t such a good look. Thanks to my mom, a phrase I rarely use, I made it out of the 90s unscathed.

To answer the second question, I am half Chinese and half Italian. Sometimes people stop me on the street and say “where are you from?” I say California and then predictably they say “no where are you frooommm?” the answer is still California.

What are some of your style setbacks?
I used to set my look apart with accessories, and was big into statement costume jewelry, unfortunately I have a metal allergy and can only wear precious metals: platinum, gold, and 925 silver (can’t even handle white gold).  Norma says it means I was born with “expensive taste” (she doesn’t mean this as a compliment, more in a “of course you would have a high maintenance allergy” sort of way). I used to be able to tolerate it for shorter wears but overtime I had to cut out costume jewelry all together. I re-purposed most of those pieces as belts and due to budgetary constraints only have a few statement pieces in the precious metal category. My favorite is a vintage Chanel piece my husband gave me for birthday that I pretty much wear with everything, it’s my version of the Carrie nameplate necklace, or Flava Flav’s clock, and very on trend with the 90s resurgence. The metal thing comes into play more often than you would think; rivets, overalls, belts, zippers, etc. I’ve figured out some ways to combat this issue and survive in the free world. I’ll share these tips as they come up for other “high maintenance” individuals like myself.

I also have a very small foot, I wear a 4.5 so finding shoes can be a problem…and expensive. So far I’ve found that Roger Vivier, Salvatore Ferragamo, Christian Louboutin and Stuart Weitzman all carry a 4.5 in every style but from my experience they have only a couple pairs in this size, so you’ll rarely find them on sale. Sam Edelman recently started carrying a 4.5 in select styles, this has proved to be a promising discovery. I’ve already purchased the Hazel pump in 3 colors (velvet, suede, and calf hair) and the quality is on par with my Stuart Weitzman Heist pump. Ironically, my friends used to be jealous I could try on the display shoe in a store and I was always jealous the store would actually have their size in stock. I guess we always want what we don’t have.