My Amsterdam Heart!

I was recently speaking with a friend about isostilo.  What sparked the idea?A very convincing and supportive Dutch friend  encouraged me to start isostilo with the intention to define it as it evolves.  Part style, fashion, travel, lifestyle, and everything in between.  What I know is that I needed a push to just begin something and to see where it goes.  A large part of my inspiration draws from my four years living in Amsterdam and the many return visits. 

Amsterdam is a chapter in my life that opened my eyes.  The wonderful part of my relationship with this city is that every return visit my connection becomes deeper.  Spending time in Amsterdam gives me a gift that continues to grace me with love, appreciation, and curiosity.  It continues to shape my thoughts, perspective, and personal style.

In a nutshell.  My husband and I, along with our sweet dog Senna, moved to Amsterdam as expats three weeks after we married in 2004.  Working for me was not option since I was not sponsored for a work visa.  I explored every day by foot, by bike, made friends, took cooking classes, failed miserably at Dutch lessons (except for befriending the most amazing girl friends), joined a Bikram studio, spotted interesting designers, soaked up the culture, and drank up the city one coffee at a time.  Two years into our stay, I became pregnant and gave birth to our son.  I had a home birth and embraced the norm of not going to the hospital.  It was magical.  If you want to know more about this then you can read about my birth in Ricki Lake’s book, Your Best Birth.  We built friendships that became our family.  It was four amazing years before returning back to Boston.  I have managed to visit once a year since our return in 2008.

It is the friendships that we cultivated during those years that I hold so dear to my heart.  These friendships draw us back.  Friendships that make me tick in a way I can’t fully explain but will try.  I feel more grounded, more connected, and my life becomes simpler in a way.  There is honesty and truthfulness from these friends (which is what led me to lobbing off my hair and bleaching it blonde a year ago).  I can laugh at myself.  My beat is smoother.

I have a true appreciation for the qualities that I admire from my Dutchies.  What I see are non-followers who have a true sense of themselves.  There is a sense of strength and confidence while being kind-hearted.  They are not over thinkers.  Straight forwardness is admirable.  You want to do something, you just do it (I am trying to practice this) and not worry about what anybody else thinks.  Hence isostilo!  Beating to your own drum is a good thing.  Traveling and experiencing the world around you is a given for them.  Your perspective shifts when you leave your comfort zone.  Mine certainly have.  

For me there is something comforting about leaving my Cambridge life that is also full of wonderful friends and family.  Flying across the pond to slide into another life that is equally familiar but completely different.  Catching up with friends, embracing a different environment, and conversations helps me gain a fresh perspective that is so good for my soul.  I can walk Amsterdam all day and never get bored.  This recent visit, I walked over 150 city miles during the month of August (crazy indeed but I also didn’t do any other exercise).   I love the cobbled streets, the bikes, the lifestyle, the charming homes, the history, and the apple cake.  It is easy.  I also love the personal style of this city.  It feels like anything is possible with no restrictions.  It is all accepting.  Be who you are.  A denim and kicks kinda crowd.  I find it all inspiring.  Sneaking in a little shopping where I score a few lifers for my closet is an added bonus.

Secretly (well at times I am pretty outspoken about this) I have always hoped that my family and I would return just for a year or two.  If you think I love Amsterdam then you should talk with my son.  His love runs just as deep.  He is building his own connection through friendships and memories.  In the mean time, I am thankful for all the time I have been able to spend in this city.  For the gifts it has graced me with and the new friendships it inspires.  The most precious gift being my son.  I am so appreciative of my husband who understands my deep connection and encourages me to visit as long as I return!  Hugs and kisses to those friends that have moved on from Amsterdam to other exciting places for me to visit.  The world is full of beautiful places but it is the people you meet along the way that truly make it so special and so memorable. 

isostilo is not just about fashion.  Sharing new finds, designers, ways to wear your closet is part of it.  Trends are fun but come and go.  I’m really not into big labels.  They are not terribly interesting to me but I do appreciate them and have a few pieces that I have collected over the years.  I love classic, timeless pieces that go the distance.  I respect craftsmanship.  I tend to hunt for designers with a clean modern aesthetic.  Denim, t shirt, blazer and sneakers is my uniform of choice.  At the moment there is so much stuff out there, that it is difficult to know what you like.  It feels excessive and not very special.  The art of buying to just buy is very off putting to me.  Buy it because it means something to you not because everyone else is wearing it.  I don’t practice retail therapy but would rather go for a walk or catch up with a friend.  

When you find your own personal style, now that is interesting, label or no label.  Style to me encompasses it all.  When it is not a focus and it’s your own look and it doesn’t wear you, that is far more intriguing.  I love when authentic and personality is what you notice.  I believe you are shaped by exposure, life, exploring, and the people you meet.  This is where isostilo lives. 

Practicing to be healthy and respecting your body is so very important.  Over all fitness is a focus of mine.  Now in my forties, I feel stronger and more committed than ever to keep embracing the changes that come with age.  I have found a very healthy balance for myself.  When you shift from just focusing on your external that is when the magic happens.  To feel good in a pair of jeans and tee, I am happy.  Keeping up with my 12 year old keeps me motivated.  Health is everything.  So, yes, isostilo goes beyond clothing.  But rather just trying to keep everything in balance.  Not being afraid to change the course when needed as life evolves.  Sometimes it is messy and sometimes it is great.  

Who knows where isostilo will go but for now it is a journey.  It is an outlet that I enjoy and hope you take something away from what I share.  I will say that the past year and half plus has taught me a lot about myself.  At the beginning the writing, grammar, technology, and self-doubt really challenged me.  The question “what is your goal” really annoyed me.  Not anymore.  You like it or you don’t.  I am ok with either.  When I don’t feel inspired, I simply don’t post.  I have nothing to lose and a ton to gain.  I am finding my way around all this and I am forever thankful to my husband and son who give every long post a glance over.  I love the fact they are both encouraging and curious about what I am interested in or questioning my latest read.  Grammar will forever challenge me (bear with me)!  I am ok with not being perfect. Hopefully we all are.

Forever in my heart, Amsterdam

A side note:  This most recent trip has me looking at my life and the influence of my friendships.  How fortunate I am to have wonderful friendships near and far.  Each friend is so very different from the next.  Put everyone in one space, well it is a bit like the United Nations.  They all have one trait in common, genuine and honest with a whole lot of humor.  There is always a different way to look at something and you can agree to disagree but understanding where they are coming from is so very important.  A diverse group of friends is pure gold!  Forever evolving is key.  Taking the time to chill is important.  Having fun is a must.  Being yourself is beyond cool.  Sitting still in comfort needs to be shaken up a bit.  I’m in my forties with something to do is the new goal.  I hope to make a difference, small or big.

 

Guest Post: Amsterdam’s Tropenmuseum

Let’s see what is happening at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam via Solidliquids. Solidliquids never stops exploring what is around her. She is based in Amsterdam and always has a pulse on what is happening in the city. Enjoy! 

The Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk , and the Van Gogh Museum are some of Amsterdam’s most recognised museums.  Less famous but not less interesting is the Tropenmuseum (The Tropical Museum). This museum shares insightful stories about the huge cultural diversity to be found around the world.  It is a museum about people.

Currently the Tropenmuseum has three special exhibitions alongside their permanent collection that are worth checking out:  Cool Japan, The Bitter Chocolate, and Africa Fashion Cities (sadly ending Jan 6th). 

The Cool Japan exhibition is all about the world’s fascination with everything associated with Japan.  This particular exhibit is broken into small installations.  Two highlights are Kawaii and Otaku.  The Kawaii installation focuses on the growing protest among girls rebelling against the pressure to growing up, working hard, and conforming to the strict demands of society.  Hello Kitty known throughout the world and one you are most likely familiar with represents the commercial success that developed from this rebellion.  Now known throughout Japan as a Kawaii icon. 

The gallery of Otaku is a cozy Japanese corner that is set up for you to experience on a small-scale what it would be like if you were to attend a con.  Otaku was once a term of abuse, but now it is embraced as a nickname similar to what we refer to a “nerd” or “geek”.  The devoted fans to this culture spend hours gaming, reading, watching, and participating in the development of cultural products.   

The Bitter Chocolate exhibit reveals the ugly story of child labour on chocolate plantations.  Fifteen children share their compelling stories and it will change the way you look at chocolate forever!

Bitter Chocolate

The African Fashion Cities is an impressive exhibit told through the eyes of fashion experts from Africa and The Netherlands.  Visitors explore the lively and diverse fashion scenes that shake up the world of fashion.  Local stylists share their perspectives on what drives local styles.  Additionally there are videos of local retailers, photographers, and bloggers from different regions that share their design stories.  One example is the brother and sister team behind 2ManySiblings. They take you to a market in Nairobi where they buy and restyle second-hand designers clothes.   

The Fashion exhibition features creations by The Sartists, a multidisciplinary creative collective from Johannesburg, Said Mahrouf, a Moroccan-Dutch designer, and Maki Oh, an African based fashion label appreciated by Beyonce and Michelle Obama.  By the way did you know Maki Oh’s designer Amaka Osakwe’s inspiration for her Spring 2019 collection came from hanging out in hole-in-the-wall joints know as Bukas in Lagos, Nigeria?  It also happens to be Amaka’s hometown, where these Bukas are typically run by women.  Check out her latest collection.

Amazing! Beautiful! Inspiring!

This is just a peek into Amsterdam’s Tropenmuseum.  It is a rich and grand museum that stimulates curiosity. Just exploring the website will capture your interest.  A collection of installations that will draw you in through interaction and personal stories. The Tropenmuseum is worldly and one to experience if you find yourself in Amsterdam.  A hidden treasure!

(All images and videos are from the Tropenmuseum)

Eye on WANDLER

 

All eyes when something hails from Amsterdam and made in Italy.  Hello WANDLER!  For the past year or so isostilo has been following and admiring the cool as hell handbags you are delivering.  So refreshing to see a new spin on classic shapes and styles.  Most of all COLOR!  Hallelujah for the risk takers that crave a bit of something different and unique.  Luxury, chic, and a bit outside the box.  You are rocking my world.  Never too early to start a Christmas wish list!  All pics from WANDLER . BTW four times a year a collection is released so you are bound to fall in love with one of WANDLER’s gems.

How About Amsterdam?!

Amsterdam is full of lovely cafes, places to explore, and streets to stroll.  I have chosen a few places to share that I really enjoy.  One can spend hours if not a full day in the Museum Quarter strolling though the well-known museums of Amsterdam.  You have your choice of The Rijks Museum, Van Gogh Museum, The Stedelijk Museum, and The Moco Museum.  Each one offering a peaceful place to sit and take in the magnitude of this area.  My favorite place to meet a friend and sip a drink is at The Rijks Museum.  In the winter one can sit inside the museum or in the warmer months the outdoor garden is stunning!  I always find myself spending a small window of time in this area especially on a sunny day.  FYI, within a short stroll one can walk to fashionable PC Hoofstraat for luxury shopping.

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With a blue sky, This area just becomes electric

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Rijks Museum, pass through by bike, by foot but one must take in the beauty of this 10 year renovation project!

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Time to recharge with some mint tea and apple pie

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Inside the Rijks Museum,  a perfect cafe to meet friends with an exceptional view.

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A lovely garden outside the Rijks Museum. My favorite place to sip a drink and enjoy the peacefulness.  In the summer you will find free art classes for children and adults to join.

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Stedelijk Museum

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Moco Museum

Here is a place to linger, chill and rest in between strolling The Jordaan neighborhood and De 9 Straatjes (The 9 Streets).  Hotel bars are relatively a newish thing for Amsterdam.  I am digging the Amsterdam spin to them.  The Lotti’s at The Hoxton Hotel is a hot spot for locals and tourists located on the Herengracht.  It has a welcoming vibe that offers cozy and comfortable places to sip a drink and nibble on some food.  Honestly a place that you can find yourself hours later departing.  Love a new place to add to my long list of places to enjoy.

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How welcoming is this vibe?! Lotti’s at The Hoxton is a place to hang with the locals. I really love the casual and cozy interior.  Check out the ottomans that one can pull up to any table to join the party.

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Places to lounge and chill, solo or with friends are both optimal.  Soft lighting and moody tones create an inviting space.

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One of the many details that caught my eye.  The brick background with the cluster of hanging lights is striking upon entering.

Next is an alternative posh spot.  I am a huge fan of Dutch designer Marcel Wanders! He has designed the Andaz Amsterdam Hotel with a Alice In Wonderland theme.  There is no detail that he has not thought of or delivered.  Delft Blue is prominent and complimented by the over sized furnishings that creates a playful twist.  The Andaz is hip and modern.  It offers a cool lounge area for all to enjoy.  A perfect place for tea time or cocktail hour!  It is worth just popping in to experience this interior masterpiece and be surrounded by everything Dutch.  If you need a place to stay, I wouldn’t hesitate booking this hotel.

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Andaz Amsterdam, perfect place to relax anytime of day!

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The stunning work of Marcel Wanders

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The little details of decor

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Swivel in this over sized chair and embrace the playfulness of Marcel Wanders.

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Flower Power

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Court yard view of Alice In Amsterdam

Here are two lovely additions that I enjoyed and are in close proximity to each other.  The Secret Church, Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Soder located in the Red Light Distract of Amsterdam is a must see.  I never knew that Amsterdam at one time was filled with secret churches that were hidden in private homes and canal houses.  This occurred during a period of political and religious changes in the early 17th century.  This particular church I visited was housed in a wealthy merchant canal house.  One gets to tour the canal house and the church.  It is so amazing to travel back in time and experience how people lived back then.  The museum does a lovely job explaining the history of this canal house through an audio guide.  So many gems to explore and delighted I had the opportunity to learn more about the rich history that makes this city so special.

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The Sacred Church

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One of the many windows through out the canal house.  The old tile still in tact.

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A typical steep staircase know throughout Amsterdam. The curve of the staircase is such craftsmanship that the Dutch are know and admired.

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Interior Details

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The tiles tell a story

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Natural light given the opportunity to grace the space

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Beautiful view from the top floor

Nacarat, a city oasis located in the hustle and bustle of Dam Square.  A roof top restaurant in the new Hudson’s Bay offering a fresh take on Middle Eastern and Greek cuisine. The views of the city are stunning along with the impressive and creative use of glass.  A very Missoni feel through the play of patterns, color tones of pink, orange, and green while walking on the mosaic flooring makes the restaurant feel posh with a casual twist through the street food inspired menu.  One feels miles away from the tourist packed center but by the end of your meal you are ready to rejoin the fast-moving city.

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Natural light at the Nacarat

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Every corner has an elegant place to take in the city views

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Stunning roof top dining offering an oasis in the city. Take in the interior details of this space ( the textures, colors, patterns and use Of natural light).

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Middle Eastern street food enjoyed at Nacarat. The food is as colorful as the interior with a non fussy feel.

Amsterdam is an easy city to move around.  Walking is my preferred way to move around the city with riding a bike a close second. Walking allows you to feel the city and embrace its charm.  Biking gets you places quickly with a sense of freedom peddling from one place to another. As you quickly appreciate how Amsterdamers move along in their everyday life.  The tram is efficient and dry when it is raining.  You decide what is best for you!

Nacarat 

Lotti’s 

Andaz Amsterdam

Loods 5 , Amsterdam

Take a short drive out of Amsterdam to explore Loods 5, a massive furniture store located in a warehouse setting.  You can find everything you need for your home.  It has a similar feel to an Ikea with its grand space but with a pop up esque feel offering everything from Eames to local designers.  Loods 5 is a place to draw inspiration.  I love how they create themed spaces.  Have a coffee and a bite then stroll along to explore everything from furniture, home accessories, to your everyday lifestyle needs.  You will find something to walk away with and you will leave with fun ideas to spruce up your space!  One stop shopping baby at it’s best.

Here are a few examples of larger furnishings that speaks to the Dutch shoppers (me included!) and what is currently trending.  Loods 5 showcases many lines but here are a few recognizable designers that I explored: Eames, Hay, Muuto, Vitra, Fermob and their own in-house line, Design 5.

 

Spent hours just strolling the endless home accessories.  Why is it that when one travels you marvel at others offerings?  I always find myself saying “we just don’t have this at home!)  The truth is I really do hunt out places and stores to experience when I travel.  I welcome the opportunity to actually touch and see those finds that I have admired from a far (online).  I also like to understand the aesthetic that speaks to that culture.  I get inspired by other people and the way of life that can be so different from my day-to-day.  So I was snapping away while in Loods 5.  It doesn’t mean I have to buy or replicate it.  It just means I appreciate another lens to look through when comes style.

Having experienced Amsterdam with a new-born, I had immediately fell in love with the Dutch aesthetics for children.  I grew an appreciation for their parenting styles, family Sunday rituals of spending time in a park, to only needing the necessary gadgets to survive those young years.  I still have a soft spot for the lovely, sweet, and well designed children’s furniture, toys, and accessories that are found in Holland.  I have held on to all the Dutch treasure that I collected for my son.  They hold memories of a time and place for me.  So exploring the curated pieces of Loods 5 for children made me smile!

Check out Loods 5!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For The Guy And Gal In The Dam

The Amsterdam posts are still flowing!  Baskets, a new shop for me that I stumbled upon while exploring on foot.  Here is the deal, when I tank up on coffee it just leads to hours of exploring.  Baskets catches your eye with its garage door like entrance.  It allows you to have glimpse into a beautiful and bright environment from the street.  I love street wear and street culture and this shop showcases it in a wearable way.  This is a mens shop but has lots of unisex pieces or as my girlfriend says “snackable pieces”.  I could have easily walked out with a few elevated basics for my husband or a beanie (can’t have to many:), hoody or kicks for myself.  I will keep this place in my memory bank of places to revisit.

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Kicks, scented candles, a hoody and that’s at first glance. I’m sucker for industrial looking boutiques that are minimal

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I have a sneaker fetish

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“Snackable Pieces”

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Simple

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Beanie Time!

Check out Baskets for yourself.  It is always a fun way to gain style inspiration.

Bellerose

Welcome to the Bellerose store in Amsterdam.  A Belgian company that offers stylish, well crafted, and playful basics for the whole family.  I love that the branding is subtle and not obvious.  The store itself is worth the experience.  The environment is welcoming, warm, and encourages you to wonder around.  The store is spacious, allowing the clothing to stand out.  There is no clutter, no over packed shelves, and every garment is visible.  I enjoyed just browsing and easily could have made some purchases:) but I didn’t.

Bellerose
A Store For The Whole Family

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Beautiful And Uncluttered

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Simple Basics But Playful Yet With Feminine And Masculine Detailing

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Cozy Atmosphere With Creative Ways To Display The Merchandise

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Lightly Arranged Pieces That Play Off Each Other. Love The Raw Wall Background And Concrete Flooring

Check out Bellerose online or pop into one if you have the opportunity.