Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Love Letter to the Impractical

Here's a question I'd like to throw out into the universe: does my subconscious have nothing better to do than wait, stop sign in hand, for my sartorial excitement to strike, preparing to build a literal wall between the flow of my conceptual outfit dreams and their materialization in reality?

GET A HOBBY, PLEASE. You live in my brain, a habitat complex enough by definition to entertain you for years. Spend at least 72 hours exploring the section that houses my love for One Direction. Recline and relax in my long term memory cabinet, I'm pretty sure my sleep playlist is engraved somewhere in there. Do me a favor and analyze my dreams. Repair the Math Proficiency setting which I'm almost positive is malfunctioning.

I appreciate you keeping me and my bank account in check and anchoring me towards reality, but sometimes I wish you would just let me live in the bliss of imagining an impractical yet ingeniously exciting outfit.

For instance, let me forget the fact that I've never worn cowboy boots in my life because I've fallen in love with them as of late. It's probably because of SS18 collections, but I'd like to believe it's a signal of my calling to go West and live the American dream. Allow me to forget the fact that I don't have the funds to spend over $100 on these white Topshop boots, because they would look SO GREAT with a chunky sweater, those Ganni pants I've been eyeing (I could probably afford one leg), and some fun eyewear.

Click the items below to shop:

I live by wearing whatever the heck you want because life is too short to spend more than three seconds worrying about whether or not you'll be overdressed at the party, but I don't live by purchasing whatever the heck you want. I can't. Especially when I'm unsure if I'd get tired of them or not once cowboy boots exit the hyper-trendsphere.


Cowboy Boots #1

I also have to realize that practical means different things for different people. These boots might be incredibly practical for me if I worked in fashion and could wear them to work, but I'm in high school and wear a uniform to school each day. That means my outfit opportunities are limited to weekends, and I'm not sure how often I would be able to utilize a pair of cowboy boots. I don't know.

One more, though: I WANNA WEAR ZIIISSS ON SUNNY WEEKENDS WALKING THROUGH TOWN (an activity I almost never do):

Cowboy boots #3

The impractical is important, though. Groundbreaking fashion, like all other forms of innovation, oftentimes begins with an idea that may seem crazy yet evolves into a concept that's so crazy it works. And it works beautifully. It's the impractical that makes the world go 'round. If these boots hadn't ignited a fire in my thoughts, what else would I be doing in math class right now? I rest my case that my Math Proficiency switch is most definitely flipped off. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Finding Identity in Purpose: I'm a Writer, But I'm Also...

I've had to thoroughly clean the interior of my computer and phone multiple times due to the seemingly unstoppable build-up of miscellaneous photos or screenshots that I keep for various reasons, none of which are necessarily pressing enough to qualify said photographs to hold a permanent spot in my gallery. I'm a hoarder and often fall victim to the threatening nature of the thought of needing something later only to realize I DELETED IT AND CAN NEVER FIND IT AGAIN, but I have to force myself to take the plunge sometimes. Every once in a while, you have to look inside yourself and really internalize questions like "Will I ever really buy those shoes I took a screenshot of?" and "Is this screenshot of a text message conversation necessarily relevant at this point in my life?" Feel free to admire my bravery and sacrifice. I couldn't do it without my #1 enabler, the "Not Enough Storage" notification, swooping in every now and then. My overthinking notion of feeling like too much clutter somehow reflects badly on my character comes in at a close second.

Most screenshots from Instagram, text message conversations, or Tumblr often get the boot during these clean-ups (because really, it's been 9 months and I haven't bought those shoes from Instagram), but two have endured all exterminations to date. The lucky (I guess? I mean, hanging out in a folder in my desktop isn't that much of an ideal life) two are two different quotes I saw on Tumblr, and I've kept them because they seem completely paradoxical. I saved them both at different times because I agreed with both of them yet knew they somewhat contradicted each other, and I found that confusing. 

Here's #1:

Aaaand #2, by Sally Coulter: 


I acknowledge the fact that people can have different opinions--clearly Roald Dahl's ethos differs from that of Sally Coulter--and also that people are not all-knowing. Neither of these declarations about life have to be fact, necessarily. There doesn't have to be one winner. So, I guess what I'm asking is: how is it possible that people can have such different interpretations of the best way to live life?

This is something I've been struggling with for a while. I didn't just see these photos and then launch into an existential crisis--ever since I've entered "young adulthood," I've had this infatuation with making my life count. Doing something that matters. Making a real difference; finding something I really care about and believe in and pursuing it and embracing it until I start making contributions that I find meaningful. And hopefully, as I'm doing that, I'll be positively impacting others/the common good as well as fueling my own personal bliss. In this sense, Dahl's words strike an obvious chord in me, which is why I saved the photo when I came across it on Tumblr. Holding on to this "dream" of sorts has given me something to be excited about, something to be interested in, something to pursue. And when I do things that I'm proud of, it makes me feel special, like I could actually be a step closer to being that person that I want to be.

But I think where I (and I'm sure others) have gone partially blind at times is that I've become so passionate about becoming so good at one thing that I convince myself that the only path to success, to a meaningful life, is finding something you love and excelling at it.

That's one way to fulfillment, but certainly not the only way. It's an important way--I could write an entire book on the importance of pursuing your passions--but it doesn't need to be the only (or even the main) thing that adds meaning to your life.

The fact of the matter is that life is simply too big, too complicated, too layered, and too multi-faceted to be navigated with tunnel vision. Having a specific passion and dream that you're willing to strive towards and make a huge part of your life is so fun, but that doesn't mean the other things you encounter in life are smaller pieces in the puzzle. In fact, sometimes they may be larger pieces than that goal, even if that goal is your favorite piece.

At this very moment, I want to be a writer heavily involved in creative industries, particularly the fashion industry. I think about it almost every day. It's one of the main things that is driving me to want to learn more, to see more, to experience more, and to keep going in general.

Also at this moment, though, I love to dance, whether formally in a routine or casually by myself in the car or with friends. I'm realizing that I like movies a lot--I just saw Battle of the Sexes and was awestruck by how amazing the cinematography was--and I want to make documentaries and short films to explore human feeling, aesthetics, and atmospheres. I have no idea how to sew, let alone design clothes or sketch, but the idea of creating and materializing my own clothing excites me and I would love to learn.

Dogs bring me SO. MUCH. JOY. There's this chow chow in my neighborhood that I genuinely look forward to seeing and I get so excited when I see him sitting on the top of his house's hill. I also love cats very much and roughly once per week I experience a weird craving for the sensation of holding a fat cat on my stomach/chest.

I love One Direction (certain songs of theirs still give me chills, like their Teenage Dirtbag cover) and am curious about British culture. I have a sister, and my relationship with her shapes me into a girls girl. I have a mom who I love to love and watch Project Runway with and a dad who has always been enthusiastic about my dreams. I have aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, and my experiences with them and my immediate family have shaped the mold of the person I am today. Life is loving them, helping them, and caring for them.

Music colors my life: my two favorite setups are a) blaring it while driving at night and b) listening to it through headphones while falling asleep in planes/cars/hotel rooms. There's something about The Outsiders that I absolutely love and D.C. will always feel like home to me.

I want writing and fashion to give purpose to my life, but all the other people and things I love and experience and all the emotions they have roused in me contribute to the person I am, the life I'm living, and therefore, my ultimate "meaning."

We don't have to strive to make every single puzzle piece of our lives the same size and shape. If we did that, there would be no puzzle--nothing could melt together into a larger picture. We all have puzzle pieces of different sizes and shapes, and as we go through life, we'll only keep collecting more pieces as the sizes/shapes of other pieces fluctuate and vary. The beauty of life's puzzle is that you can place different levels of value on each piece, but they'll still contribute nonetheless.

Just because you aren't zeroing in on one specific goal doesn't mean your life is "lukewarm." Similarly, devoting a huge amount of time and effort to one thing, like a career, doesn't mean you aren't also "marveling many small and large passions" and "enjoying the trees." Life is unequal and disproportionate, like a collection of puzzle pieces, but that doesn't mean it can't all fit/flow together.

I'm a writer and a fashion fan, but I'm also a sister, a daughter, a cousin, a niece, a cat lover, a dog enthusiast, a resident of the country's capital, a film watcher, and a love-giver. And that's exciting.
I'm sure the process of addressing life's puzzle pieces is different for everyone, but I think realizing how cool it is that so many diverse factors contribute to our "purpose" and life experience is a pretty awesome way to start.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Alexander Wang Cured My Party Dressing Disease

The family of intimidating gang members known as "going out clothes" manages to excite me, confuse me, frustrate me and bore me all at the same time. Dressing for nighttime is a mysteriously exhilarating experience--a new, exciting feeling seems to sweep over town like magic dust when the sun goes down--and party looks from the 90's feel like they're a product or embodiment of that nighttime fluorescence; they reflect the excitement that their wearers feel, they outwardly materialize that "going out" feeling of having a whole new world ahead of you.

But for some reason, I've recently come to know parties as places where my creativity and individuality in outfitting myself (and excitement about the outfit) go to die: none of my eccentric daytime concoctions seem right, so no matter how hard I try, I end up in some tired washing machine sequence of choosing the same silhouettes and colors (neutrals) over and over again. It's kind of like one of those rigged Impossible Mario computer games that are orchestrated to ensure you die, getting your hopes up with each new try even though it knows you'll never make it to the finish.

Every time I make plans to go out at night, I feel that magic dust of dusk infiltrating my veins and fueling me with excitement, anticipation, and mischief, and the idea of picking out an outfit that not only reflects that but empowers me to thrive in that environment excites me so much. But somehow in the outfitting process, I find myself unhappy with everything I come up with, so I resort to the typical "Going Out" uniform: a black, grey, or white top or cropped top with a black, grey, or white skirt or jeans.

I understand that I can wear whatever I want and that there's no force magnetically pulling me to my less-than-stimulating "going out" clothing, but sometimes it feels like there is. Parties seem to have a dress code--"party wear"--that my brain responds to by flipping off all creativity switches in favor of... I don't know, something that satisfies the "sexy, dressed-up but not too dressed up" imperative?

Alexander Wang's "cool girl" is perhaps one of few that has continued to capture the excitement and curiosity of the fashion industry, even years after the brand's launch. The Wang girl has historically represented the highly coveted model off-duty look, the "laid-back one with loose second-day waves, wearing hardly a stitch of makeup, and oozing downtown cool wherever she goes--a runway recreation of the unassuming bombshells that loom large in the designer's real life," according to Vogue

This NYFW, ~industry peeps~ eagerly anticipated Wang's SS 2018 collection, eyes peeled and ears opened to the next layer Wang would add to his "cool girl." However, nobody was ready for how it actually went down.

Models showed up in a party bus, and without warning, hopped out onto the streets of Nolita--no runway, no seated guests--and strutted with purpose, looking like that dust of magic was pumping through their veins, fueling their confidence in going out to party. This was the girl I wanted to be. And what was she wearing?

Whatever the heck she wanted.

Of course, she enjoyed her share of typical "party wear" with slinky dresses: 

But she equally shared in the "going out" scene with other silhouettes, which didn't strip away her party girl street creed, but rather reinforced it, flowing together with the other "typical" party looks without question or hesitation.

I want to wear baggy jeans to parties without feeling the urge to balance them out with something.

And while we're at it, let me wear some cargo pants and a fanny pack that serves absolutely zero purpose for this particular event outside making me feel like my outfit is more interesting. Yes, I'll wear heels because they beautifully contrast the slouchiness of the pants and give a major middle finger to anyone who thinks that baggy cargo pants can't be in the "going out wear" gang.

And I still love my "going out" tops. Nothing's better than a top that's bright, shining, and part of the party. But I'll wear it with gray business trousers or daytime khaki layered over a leather skirt, because LOOK:

I sometimes feel like the only leg-covering options for parties are jeans. So lets throw in a midi skirt, shall we? When did those become not nighttime, not awesome compliments to an outfit, not completely ready to take on a magic dust filled night when paired with combat boots?

And sometimes I'll just make a dress out of my own pajamas or an oversized button down or sweater. Add a jacket with that too--zip it up all the way because it makes for a silhouette I like rather than keeping it open in fear of ruining my outfit with it.

I feel most confident when I'm wearing an outfit that unapologetically portrays my most true self. Sometimes, you just gotta be as honest as possible to give you that power and confidence you need to take on the night. There's something weirdly empowering in being almost too literal in your honesty. In Alexander Wang's case, wear it on your head. Walking in to a party or club (as if I even do those things anyway--zero club lights total have shined onto my face), my head piece would say "Just Wants To Love People and Laugh."

I didn't need a fashion week extravaganza to give me permission to wear whatever I want in nighttime social settings. I needed a spark of inspiration, a flash of unapologetic fun, and a hard-working mother who moonlights as a powerful bombshell (hi Candice) in cargo pants to remind me that there's no such thing as "going out clothes."

Alexander Wang SS18 photos by Yannis Vlamos / via

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Why Do I Want to Put Feathers on Everything?

I was thinking recently about how flamingos could very well be my favorite animals. In my heart, my favorite animal to be around is Man's Best Friend, The Dog, but I feel like everyone has two categories of preferred animals, those being the animal that you truly love in a personal way and the more exotic animal whose lifestyle you admire from afar. Kinda like how you say you love your mom and you also say you love Rihanna, but the love for your mom is personal and the love for Rihanna is more hypothetical. Both important types of loves--one of our responsibilities as humans is to shower animals, our co-stewards of the Earth, with praise and validation--but different types of loves. Dogs (and maybe even cats) will always be my Category 1 favorite animals, but Category 2 switches around a lot.

My go-to for favorite animal questions (in which I always respond with my Category 2 favorite because "dogs" or "cats" is such a cheap answer) has typically been the platypus, chiefly because they bring relevancy to the otherwise overlooked monotreme family. However, I've recently adopted a weird sentiment towards feathers, and the more and more I look at flamingos the more and more I want to dress like them. 

If we're tracing the nativity story of this intrigue, I think Prada was one of the parents. Or I developed my infatuation with feathers organically and Prada's current aesthetic was standing on my shoulder saying things like "You're doing amazing, sweetie."

It all started with Prada Spring 2017 RTW:

Then Prada FW '18 showed me that flamingos live their best lives not only in the warmer months but in the colder months as well:

 AND GUESS WHAT? Resort season is in on it, too!

Prada Resort 2018:

No.21 Resort 2018:

Dior Resort 2018:

It's worth noting that brands like Chanel, Marchesa, and Elie Sab have embellished their beautiful couture ensembles with feathers for seasons upon seasons. However, in the age of streetwear's triumph over traditionally formal looks, feathers as a design element have taken on a new connotation (join the club of kids running with a new crowd, previously joined by gingham). 

Click on the images below to shop your own feathery fairytale:

Zara, $49.90:

Zara, $69.90:

Zara, $89.90:

Urban Outfitters, $179:

Zara, $129:

Emilio Pucci, $288:

Charlotte Stone, $296:

Also, Australian brand Dyspnea (faux fur only!) will make their feather-filled Resort 2018 collection available for purchase in September.

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