Hello Amgios! is not a greeting you’d expect from an Abu Dhabi-based fashion blogger.
But this chipper, bi-lingual salutation perfectly suits and summarizes Soraya Pena of Chic Flavours. The Venezuelan-raised, Chicago-educated, and now Abu Dhabi-residing fashion blogger is as infectiously upbeat as she is worldly. Soraya’s bright outlook is reflected in her equally lively wardrobe: a royal purple printed midi-skirt, a cobalt blue car coat, and a hot pink plaid shift dress. To Soraya, a “pop of color” is black.
But, Soraya doesn’t just dress boldly. She is bold.
To wit: last year, Soraya said goodbye to her Chicago home and moved to Abu Dhabi with her husband. Without friends or family, in a foreign land with very different customs, Soraya set out with her usual pluck and gusto to fit into her new home.
To match the local style, Soraya added midi-skirts and breezy long-sleeve blouses—all in her trademark vivid color palette—to her closet. After settling in and brushing up her wardrobe, Soraya set out to make new friends. Attending Meetup.com events and even chatting up fellow hotel guests, Soraya boldly put herself out there to meet locals and fellow ex-pats.
Soraya is not just fantastic style inspiration, but she encourages you to follow her lead and take risks in life. Moving to a new corner of the globe is a daunting experience, enough so that one could easily be convinced to stay put. But Soraya breaks out of her comfort zone and greets every foreign adventure with a broad grin and in a brilliantly colored number.
Just after the holidays, we caught up with the world traveling Soraya before she hopped a plane from Chicago to Dubai. She shared some of her ideas for how to spice up your wardrobe—and life in turn.
When did you start your blog?
I started my blog in January 2014 as a way to showcase my love for fashion and inspire women to always add a little flavor to their lives. Chic Flavours means just that: a fun way to add flavor to your outfit, either by adding a pop of color, trying something new or mixing prints.
What influences your style?
My style is influenced by my upbringing in Venezuela and all my travels. Growing up in Venezuela taught to always be confident in myself and not be afraid to try new trends. Of course, my passion for color and desire to always add a little "flavour" to my style also comes from growing up in a South American country filled with colors, picturesque landscapes and passionate people.
Does living in Abu Dhabi influence your style choices?
Absolutely! While in Abu Dhabi I always try to dress a bit more conservative while staying true to my style. In Abu Dhabi I tend to wear a lot of maxi dresses, midi skirt and long sleeve shirts—of course always adding a pop of color to all my outfits.
What is the best style advice you’ve ever received?
My mom used to tell me, “ Variety is the spice of life.” I love to keep my readers guessing! One day I can wear a maxi dress and the next a jumpsuit or, perhaps, a shorts suit. I love trying different trends but always keep my outfits classic, colorful and stylish.
What are your top five styling and grooming tips?
1. Have go-to pieces always ready, either a black pair of skinny jeans, a white button down or nude pumps.
2. Confidence is the best accessory.
3. Before buying anything, ask yourself, “How many ways can I wear this?”
4. Always wash your face and take off your makeup before going to bed.
5. A good night sleep can really do wonders!
What advice can you share with other aspiring bloggers?
Blogging has really become an industry of its own. I think knowledge is key and learning as much about the blogging industry, attending event and conferences, networking, reading books and articles is the best way to go about starting a blog.
What is your favorite restaurant in Chicago and Abu Dhabi?
This is such a hard question! Both Chicago and Abu Dhabi are cities driven by dining out and both cities offer hundreds of options. In Chicago, I would say my favorite restaurants might be Antique Taco and Sumi Robata Bar. At Antique Taco, you can't go wrong ordering anything from their menu, but I particularly love the habanero and cheddar cheese popcorn and garlic shrimp tacos. And, at Sumi Robata, my favorite dish is Satsumaimo, a Japanesse sweet potato with the most delicious spices, and I love their king crab with spicy mayo. In Abu Dhabi, I really enjoy going to Zuma—tasty sushi and great ambiance. I always end up ordering the spicy beef tenderloin with sesame.
What are your must-see landmarks and cultural institutions in Abu Dhabi?
The Grand Mosque is the number one attraction in Abu Dhabi and perhaps the most beautiful landmark in the UAE.
What is your favorite “hidden gem” in Abu Dhabi?
One of my favorite restaurants is called the Lebanese Flower, hidden between the side streets of Abu Dhabi. The waiters don't speak English and most of the time you only see local clients. They honestly have the best hummus I have ever tried. Oh and it’s cash only too! Haha!
Fast & Furious Fashion Quiz
Bikini or one-piece?
Neutral or red lip?
Hose or bare legs in winter?
Body-con or boyfriend?
Skinnies or flares?
Wine or cocktail?
Depends on where I am in the world, but red wine is my go-to.
Night out or in?
Sweet or savory indulgence food?
Sweet, if you check my Instagram, then you know I have a big sweet tooth.
Why did you choose the Vince Camuto Frances boot?
Black high boots are a must-have in every woman’s closet each fall and winter season! I love the suede and the elastic back makes these boots so comfortable. These boots can be paired up with pretty much anything; jeans for a casual on-the-go look or perhaps a dress and tights for a night out.