Celebrating Lunar New Year: Traditions, Outfits, & Gift Ideas

Chinese New Year V2

With Lunar New Year just around the corner, I’ve teamed up with CF Markville Mall to share some of my favourite ways to celebrate, as well as my personal connection to the holiday! As a second generation Chinese-Canadian (born and raised in Canada by my English-speaking parents), I was never fully immersed in Chinese culture growing up. Unlike most of the other Chinese kids I knew, I never learned to speak or write Chinese, and definitely identified as “Canadian” more than anything else.

Despite this, I could always count on my grandmother to keep some Chinese traditions alive for our family – Lunar New Year included. This was one time in the year where I felt truly connected to my Chinese culture: happily dressing up in red, having dinner with family, and exchanging lucky red pockets and candies. Lunar New Year marks the beginning of spring for many in various Asian cultures, and is all about bringing good luck and good fortune for the coming year. The multi-day long festival is based on the Chinese lunar calendar, and will begin this year on February 16th – the Year of the Dog.

My Lunar New Year Traditions

To celebrate, my family usually gets together on Lunar New Year’s Eve at my grandmother’s house for a traditional home cooked meal. This typically includes fish and dumplings, which signify prosperity. My grandma happens to be quite a superstitious lady, and I’ve adopted these Lunar New Year traditions over the years from her:

  • Wear red and gold to symbolize good fortune
  • Don’t sweep, clean or wash your hair on New Years Day, or you’ll sweep and wash away your good luck and fortune for the year!
  • Mandarin oranges are a food that brings good fortune – having the stem and leaves attached also represents long life

Lucky red pockets containing money are also given during Lunar New Year, typically from adults and married couples to the children in the family.

What I’m Wearing for Lunar New Year

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As I mentioned, red is a colour that symbolizes good luck in Chinese culture. Wearing a new outfit is also a popular tradition, as it represents the start of a new year (and a great excuse to go shopping!). I headed to CF Markville Mall to pick up a new lucky red outfit, and stumbled on this gorgeous dress from Zara.

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I’m actually not one to have a lot of bright red in my wardrobe (despite its popularity in fashion as of late) and opted for a darker burgundy shade for my outfit. I love the pretty ruffle details, as well as the touch of gold in the embroidered flowers – a colour that’s also considered to bring good luck.

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To add a pop of true red, I used a bright red polish and matte red lippie to finish the look.

My Lunar New Year Outfit and Gift Guide

Lunar New Year Gift Guide

  1. Aritzia Vivienne Dress in Lillooet

I love the simplicity of this little slip dress, and the bright, crimson colour. Pair it with a leather moto jacket, or over a t-shirt for an effortlessly cool vibe.

  1. Forever 21 Beaded Tassel Drop Earrings

These earrings definitely make a statement and are an easy way to instantly dress up any look. I love that the red tassels almost mimic the look of the decorative tassels on traditional Chinese lanterns.

  1. Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Beso

My all-time favourite red lippie, which I’m wearing it in the photos above. It’s a bold, flattering shade of red that works well on any skin tone – and the cool undertone makes teeth look super white.

  1. Essie Nail Polish in Ole Caliente

This is the nail polish equivalent to the lipstick above – a bold and flattering true red. I don’t usually rock a red polish, but when I do, it’s this one! Make sure to finish with a topcoat for a chip-free shine.

  1. Pandora Chinese New Year Charms

Pandora has released an entire collection in celebration of Lunar New Year, which includes these adorable Lantern, Ingot, and Lion Dance charms. I’m obsessed!

  1. Aldo Stessy Gold Pumps

I love the almost mirrored finish of these super-reflective gold heels! The pretty metallic hue is the perfect way to add a prosperous pop to your Lunar New Year look (or to any outfit!).

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If you’re looking for a fun way to celebrate (or you’re inspired to shop for any of these items), CF Markville will be holding a Lunar New Year celebration on Sunday, February 17th that will include exciting performances, live music, and a traditional lion dance!

I’m also holding a giveaway on my Instagram to help you celebrate – head to my page to enter for your chance to win a $500 Roots gift card + three Pandora charms! I’ll be at the mall on the 17th checking out all the festivities myself. Happy Lunar New Year and hope to see you there!

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Fall Style with CF Eaton Centre

CF Eaton Centre Header

It’s that time of year again! We’re breaking out the layers, leather jackets and booties and preparing for the short (but oh-so-sweet) fall weather in Toronto. I have to admit while I know this is a favourite time for fashion for many, I’ve always struggled to dress for this season. As soon as the temperatures drop you’ll typically find me in my sweats and Uggs, as much as I’m embarrassed to admit! I find it a bit of challenge to put together outfits that are cute, but also practical and weather appropriate.

So when CF Toronto Eaton Centre approached me to collaborate with them on their fall campaign, I thought it was the perfect time to step up my style for the new season. What better way to prep for fall than a visit to one of the city’s largest malls? I stopped by early on Saturday morning to beat the crowds and was invited to visit the property’s Fall Inspiration Station, which is running on weekends (Friday – Sunday) until September 17th.

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Fall Inspiration Station

The CF Inspiration Stations, which are running in all Cadillac Fairview shopping centres including CF Toronto Eaton Centre, are interactive installations that help shoppers freshen up their style for fall. Fall is a time for transformation – the leaves are changing, students head back to school, and closets are refreshed. To celebrate the change in seasons, CF is offering shoppers an adorable complimentary tote bag that can be personalized with one of six inspirational quotes that capture different intentions for the new season, from self-improvement to giving back to others.

The totes are screen printed on site, making them totally custom. After scrolling through the different designs available on the touch screen display provided, I settled on “Throw Kindness Like Confetti” as my personal motto for fall. I think this is a fitting phrase given the current state of some parts of the world, and it’s just an awesome, positive outlook to have on life.

Fall Inspiration Station

Fall Inspiration Station 3

To complement the Inspiration Station, word art installations can be found around the mall until October 8th – the perfect photo opp to spread positivity with friends and family to mark the start of fall. What I love most about this installation are the super positive vibes it communicates! It put a smile on my face to see others snapping photos with the quotes, and to see the excitement of shoppers personalizing their own tote bags.

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My Fall Style Haul

I was also lucky enough to receive a CF Shop! card to help build my fall wardrobe, and picked up some key pieces that I know will be staples in my closet this fall:

Fall Style Haul

  1. Uniqlo Teddy Bear Coat

The teddy bear trend is definitely not over for me yet, and at only $50, this adorable coat from Uniqlo grabbed me immediately. Not only is the outside super soft and cozy, the inside is lined with fleece for that uber-comfy, warm feeling that automatically makes you want to fall asleep.

  1. Free People Denim Button Up*

I think sticking to some good, neutral basics is key to building a stylish, yet wearable fall wardrobe. This simple denim shirt by Free People checked all the boxes for me, and will be super easy to throw on with leggings or jeans for an easy, put together look. It has the perfect slouchy silhouette and looks super cute with the sleeves rolled up!

*Unfortunately I found this on clearance at The Bay, and it seems to be sold out everywhere online 😦

  1. Topshop Tote

I love seeing colour in my closet, so switching to more subdued tones in the fall is challenging for me. Adding a pop of colour with a handbag is a great way to add some personality to an outfit, and I loved the pretty blush tone of this bag.

  1. Zara Super Soft Coat

I’ve been desperately searching for a coat like this for years – a timeless grey coat with enough structure to look chic when dressed up, but comfortable enough to wear with casual outfits as well. This was another steal at only $70 from Zara.

  1. Steve Madden Chelsea Booties

I’ve finally found the perfect black leather booties! Every year I buy a new pair, hoping I’ll fall in love with them, but end up with pinched toes, the wrong heel height, or boots that fall apart with only a few wears. These were a bit pricier then I’m used to, but I think they’ll serve me well over the colder months.

This is the last weekend the Inspiration Stations will be running at CF properties across the country. Make sure you stop by to pick up your complimentary tote and to reflect on your personal goals (and closet goals) for the new season! Which fall staples are you planning to invest in this year? Let me know in the comments below.

CF Hello Spring!

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Spring is one of my favourite times of the year – after a seemingly never-ending winter, the sunlight and warmer weather are a huge breath of fresh air! I recently teamed up with CF Fairview Mall for a fun little video shoot featuring the stunning “Garden of Light” display they currently have featured at the mall.

The whole experience was pretty surreal for me, having worked a not-so-glamorous retail job at Fairview Mall myself in high school. Having the opportunity to film a video with them was beyond exciting (if not a little nerve wracking) and I had such an amazing time!

Check out the video below:

The Garden of Light

The interactive display features 1,600 LED flowers that light up to music, spreading the spirit of spring! The installation currently features light shows set to an upbeat soundtrack and the soothing sounds of nature. Shoppers can also activate the display with the touch pads featured in the video, or by using the hashtag #CFHelloSpring (this blew my mind!).

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CF - Fairview Mall - Garden of Light-11

I think what I miss most in the winter is colour – I love the beautiful flowers, green grass and bright shades I can inject into my wardrobe during the springtime! The Garden of Light does an amazing job capturing the colours, sounds and feeling of spring, and I love how it has the power to instantly brighten someone’s day. I saw so many people, families and children having a blast interacting with the installation, which made me smile!

The Outfit

To celebrate the season, I picked out a new outfit to channel my inner springtime goddess. Naturally, I gravitated towards a floral piece – this beautiful cold shoulder fit and flare dress from Dynamite with adorable shoulder cutouts. I paired the dress with a simple gold choker also from Dynamite, little rose gold hoops from Aldo, and a pair of chunky heeled sandals from Call it Spring.

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It felt SO good to release my legs from my winter uniform of sweats and Uggs! I feel like my closet comes alive in the spring, and this outfit made me so excited to start wearing cute dresses and skirts again for the warmer weather!

If you’re a spring lover like myself, definitely make time to head to CF Fairview Mall to check out the Garden of Light for yourself – I promise it’ll get you into the spring spirit and you won’t be disappointed!