Modeling since the age of 15, Natalie Lim Suarez has been a notable figure in the fashion industry for years. Based in NYC, she is 1/2 Chinese, 1/4 Spanish, and 1/4 Mexican. With her passion for photography, creative direction, design, music, writing, modeling, and style, NATALIE OFF DUTY was born. Completely inspired by the "model off duty" on-the-go lifestyle. Sharing her stories, inspirations, and projects through her own photography and writing. Already noted for her winning fans in Harper's Bazaar UK, featured editorials in ELLE, and WWD for her "Good Taste." Along with campaigns and ambassadorships to top fashion and beauty brands from around the world. Some including COACH, DKNY, L'oreal Paris, Saks 5th Avenue, Sunglass Hut, Levis, and Nordstrom. Her eclectic, unique style has launched many successful design collaborations sold in top retailers around the world. Next to fashion, Natalie's other passion is music. Singing along with piano/guitar continue to pop up in her upcoming fashion campaigns.
Strapping into freedom is the best feeling in the world and shooting for such an iconic brand like Teva time and time again, brings me so much joy. With each project, we’re out and about, taking on a new adventure, and simply creating. That’s what I love to do most in my Teva sandals: discover and create. This time, the team and I packed up and headed to Chicago for Pitchfork Music Festival to celebrate the Teva Outpost bus and surround ourselves with like-minded individuals who have an appreciation for travel, music, fashion, freedom, and the great outdoors. We also packed up the boys! We rarely get to travel for work with the men in our life, but they were ready and excited to explore all of Chicago and really break in their must-have Teva sandals. Pitchfork is a festival for discovery. It’s super indie and right in the middle of the amazing city. As with any festival, I wore pops of color like hot pink, red, yellow, and blue. At Pitchfork, you won’t find the typical bohemian festival style. I saw a lot more cool jeans and laidback tees. I’m happy I ditched the fringe for some classic boyish blazers to tuck myself under during a light storm. My Teva Original sandals work well on a muddy, rainy day while my Flatforms sandals much preferred dancing in the sun. It’s amazing how Teva elevates and re-invents their classic sandals with new straps, buckles, and most durable and comfortable water-proof materials. Groundbreaking to say the least. They work in every situation and they go with everything and anything in my closet. I slip them on each day before hitting the festival and go “ahhh.” They just feel that good on.
My mother was born in Singapore, and all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins on my Chinese side still live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It’s no surprise that I have such a strong love for everything Southeast Asia. The delicious food in particular. My love for intensely spicy curries and laksa noodle soups began the day I was born. But the more I grow up, I’ve had this urge to learn more and more about the place my mother is from. While I’ve made many trip to Malaysia and absolutely love it, I’ve only been to Singapore once as a kid. When I had the opportunity to visit again to really enrich myself in everything this wonderful country has to offer on Singapore’s Crazy Rich Asian press trip, I jumped at it. Not only did we get to experience much of Singapore’s “crazy rich asian” indulgences from the top hotels to the best and most chic restaurants and bars (listed below), but we also went deep into Perankan history. “Perankan’ was the word of the trip. Peranakans are the descendants of Chinese immigrants who came to the area in the 15th and 17th century. You’ll notice the traditional Peranakan styled homes in my guide below. They comes in rows and rows of every color of the rainbow with a gorgeous British colonial design.
The 21 long hours of travel were well worth it. The moment we got off the plane, we were hit with that warm humidity you only get in Southeast Asia. I always feel at home when I’m on this side of the world. I get excited hearing “lah” at the end of every sentence (it’s the way my mother speaks), and I get excited knowing that I can laksa at any time of the day. We checked into our hotel for only an hour before beginning our non-stop tour of Singapore. I was so ready to indulge in the country’s rich history, colors, and innovative technology and architectural design. Sleep could wait.
My favorite part of traveling is getting to thoroughly enjoy every hotel I’ve stayed at. I recently stayed at the Ambassador Chicagoduring Pitchfork Music festival, and absolutely loved it. The moment you walk into it’s stunning lobby, you’ll get the feeling that this building has played an important role in Chicago’s history. The Ambassador has been an iconic property in the city since 1926, hosting some of the most well-respected names in film and music from the 20th and 21st centuries. I couldn’t help but stare at the black and white images of Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, and Judy Garland over at it’s famous restaurant, Booth One. The hotel stays true to it’s rich history, but with an exciting and brand new renovation. The new Ambassador Chicago now feels modern, but still has that classy and vintage feel, inspired by it’s Jazz Age heritage. You’ll notice large white pillars, sparkling chandeliers, and stunning white accents in the decor against dark wooden ceilings. The lobby is dark and cozy, perfect for a round of drinks with the team, while the rooms feel bright and airy, especially in our loft suite. Imagine extra large windows, gorgeous white shades, a super spacious living room. I think my favorite part of our lovely stay was getting to enjoy the Gold Coast area. The hotel is nestled in the most luxurious residential area, just a few short blocks to Chicago’s Michigan Avenue (yes, I couldn’t help but pop into the Chanel store). I could just walk around of hours, peeking into neighboring mansions, drooling at all of it’s beauty. I’ve been to Chicago a few times before, but this trip beats any other. I think staying at a place that tells the iconic stories of Chicago so well, made it all the more special.
Now this a side cut-out design to talk about. It’s new, elevated, and super sexy. And yes, you can still wear undies with it thank goodness! Mulberry England sure knows how to va-va-voom up a simple ribbed maroon dress. This was shot back in Cannes. I’ve spent quite some time in the South of France this summer and it’s been divine. I know exactly what to pack in about 10 minutes. My travel go-to’s have easily become giant earrings, slip-on dresses, and a good mule sandal. Forget the curling iron, and put your hair in a messy bun. That’s the beauty of summer. With the heat and the sun, you sort of become forced to be comfortable in your own skin. You suddenly want to whip out that mini skirt and bare backed tank, without anything holding your confidence back. There’s one word to describe how I feel in this dress and that is: fearless.
This year so far has been insane and sometimes I have to stop and pinch myself and think “is this real life?” A lot of what I do from traveling, meeting new people constantly, finding inspiration, and coming up with new ideas really comes from finding that fearlessness inside of me. That ability to say, “I can do this.” I think a lot of success and happiness comes from within… being secure in your own skin. It’s okay to get a little crazy and it’s okay to let your freak flag fly. I do it all the time. My latest trip to Singapore proved just that. I met a group of absolutely wonderful people and made amazing new friends. Together we laughed uncontrollably and joked at the stupidest things, and that’s what I’ll remember most (besides the delicious food of course). I was so jet lagged I nearly face planted into my food, but I didn’t care if anyone judged me. We had FUN. It’s important to let loose, drop all judgements, and have fun in an industry that sometimes feels so serious. I’ve learned everything in life comes easier when you just don’t sweat the small stuff and live a little. So I guess today’s word is fearless. Fearless in your own skin. I’m already thinking up a time I can whip out this dramatic side hip at the next party because it’s just sooooo fire.