Tuesday, September 16, 2014

notes for september

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tommy ton for style.com

Haven't done this in a while, dedicating this one to interesting reads I came across lately:
  • "But it can sometimes feel as though there's a serious surplus of first-person writing by women who assert, often indirectly, that materialism is all right so long as its object is archival, or foreign, or handed down along the maternal line—that clothes-related joy is admissible only if it's a symptom of something more substantial: an appreciation of history, an ambition to travel, family pride...Just as Top 40 critics ascribe nonexistent intentions to the work of Katy Perry, many otherwise self-assured women seem constitutionally incapable of allowing a pretty dress to be just a pretty dress." - Alice Gregory on "Women in Clothes" (I like what I've read of the book, but I get what Alice Gregory is getting at too)
  • "Of course before you go to the very top, you may want to run it by your assistant, to make sure you haven’t lost your mind; you may want to run it by someone in sales, since they’re going to have to sell this thing to booksellers. At some houses the editor of the paperback division needs to read the submission; and why not show it to your spouse, whose judgment in other matters has been sound?" - Keith Gessun on the business of publishing in Vanity Fair (found it via Jessica Stanley when I looked up Chad Harbach)
  • "In Mississippi, he says, they don't make you redo the ultrasound. In other states, they make you point out the fetal parts to the patient. It's pure harassment. The purpose is to 'heighten the dilemma'." - Profile of Dr Willie Parker, who works in the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, in Esquire 
  • "Can everybody not give Lee any drugs?" - heartbreaking read about Isabella Blow and Alexander McQueen in Vanity Fair
  • Also, Lauren Hutton. So awesome.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

the short list

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I thought perhaps it was a good time to bring back the "what I bought so far in 2014" exercise, since losing track of what I buy makes me dangerously deluded about how much I shop.

A summary -

Sensible classic purchased for work trip:
Beige trench coat from A.P.C. (second hand)

On sale and too good to pass up:
Dusty pink suede oxfords by Margaret Howell
Navy and green shirtdress by MHL
Camel leather ankle boots from Hope

Because I should rock a crop top before I'm past 30:
Tropical print cropped top and skirt from Zara

How did I manage without these:
Navy knee-length shorts from Uniqlo
White and navy striped cotton short-sleeved tee from Muji
White cotton t-shirts from Uniqlo (x2)
Navy midi-length dress from Uniqlo
Grey cotton high-tops from Bensimon

I worked hard, dammit:
Celine Trio in burgundy leather

Psyching myself up for my holiday:
Jade green sunglasses from Massimo Dutti

Pretending I'm still on holiday (also, 40% off sale items sounded so good):
Seersucker one-piece swimsuit from J Crew

Cute but I think I'll give it to my mum (again, those promo codes):
Navy cotton blouse with sleeve cutouts from J Crew

So, what can we take away from this?
1) I love sales
2) I shop when I am stressed or tired to reward myself
3) I still occasionally can't help buying things for fun
4) Basics rock. Also, they tend to fall apart all at once and need to be replaced in bulk

Friday, August 29, 2014

maldives in mono

Oh the joys of vscocam - you can kill a lot of time messing on your phone with the various editing tools and filters, and one very free afternoon I discovered that making my underwater photos black and white revealed a lot more detail than the originals in colour. The iPhone camera is not that impressive to begin with (I am using the 4s) and the general "blueness" of being underwater tends to make photos very one-dimensional (professionals and enthusiasts often use red or magenta filters plus elaborate light set-ups to bring out the colours of the marine world). So it was a nice surprise to see how my photos transformed in black-and-white.

You might wonder what's the point of diving in a tropical paradise like the Maldives only to leach the glorious colours out of the pictures. But the marine world is about so much more than colour - light and shadow brings out the richness, the sense of drama and the depth that makes diving such a fascinating activity for me.

(Some of these are screen captures from my videos and some were taken at night.)

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

summer in the city

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via the sartorialist 

This photo was my summer inspiration before I took off for my holiday earlier this month. I'm back and a slave to work once again but I am still thinking of this image when I get dressed on weekends. It's a wonderful look that is city appropriate, yet at the same time effortlessly evoking thoughts of blue skies, wind in my hair, bare limbs warmed by the sun.

(Also, that hair. Too bad I'm allergic to hair covering my forehead.)

Happy weekend to all!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

sit. feast on your life

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"The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.”

- Love After Love, by Derek Walcott

This month, I turned 30.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

what fits

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My body has informed me in a million ways that yes, I am getting older, and there are a few things it can no longer tolerate. One of them is shoes that are even a little bit uncomfortable. I now require shoes that:

- Have reasonably thick/cushioned soles
- Have leather uppers/soles/interiors that do not rub my feet
- Have vamps that are high enough such that I do not need to grip with my toes in any way
- Are wide enough for my broad feet

Above is every single pair of shoes I own except my running shoes and my flip flops. Some I don't really wear, like the Sam Edelman low-heeled Trinas which I just cannot get into, and the leopard print loafers which I love but they pinch so badly. The kitten heels are my go-to for weddings and and other dressy occasions.

Some are on last legs - the Chucks are so filthy and worn out that I really should replace them, but I just can't let go yet. Ditto for the striped Keds - they have a hole in them but I figure they have another six months of of life in them. The white high-tops from Gram have gotten pretty thin in the sole as well but they don't make them like that any more and I haven't found a replacement. I bought a pair from Pointer in 2012 but they met an unfortunate end at a dog adoption fair (it rained, they got soaked, and splattered with mud and dirt, the canvas dried in a weird way and the glued bits came apart, clearly not made for toughing out).

This is a good shoe count for me - enough variety to keep me interested and enough in rotation to keep any one pair from wearing out too fast. I didn't replace my ballet flats when my last pair died but strangely, I don't miss them, even though they were a staple for years - compared to the sturdier shoes I have moved on to, they're not nearly as comfortable.

I still want a pair of flat ankle boots and indeed a pair is on its way to me now - I bought them online and it makes me nervous, I hope they fit. I may buy another pair of casual flat sandals when the right pair comes along - there are some days where the gold ones just don't hit the spot.

I won't throw away the Chucks even when I get a new pair - they have at least seven years of memories in them and they've travelled to really far-flung places with me. Same goes for the Gram ones. I have a pair of peeling Onizuka Tigers I feel that way about too. Sneakers almost always come with my on holidays and work trips and it's so much harder to let them go.

What's your shoe game?

Friday, June 13, 2014

knuckle down

"In the same way that some people are born with extra-bendy thumbs, there are people who are born with the will to work. As Amoruso explains in #GIRLBOSS, one theme of her wobbly adolescence was an urgent desire to be an employee somewhere, working at something, for some amount of money. Topics like friends, boys, and family get a few sentences each in the book, while a string of menial adolescent jobs gets a whole chapter. That section, “Shitty Jobs Saved My Life,” is where Amoruso itemizes her industriousness: There were stints at a hydroponic-plant store, a dry cleaner, an orthopedic-shoe store, a restaurant, a Borders, a factory-outlet mall, a landscaping outfit, and, before that, babysitting gigs and a paper route."

- The Cut profile of Nasty Gal Founder Sophia Amoruso

One thing I love about the fashion is that it is full of great stories about hardworking women with good ideas. You can read the rest of the profile here. Reading it, I was also reminded of this Business of Fashion profile of Kate Lanphear, where she said:

“I ended up living in a hostel, sharing a room with seven guys in bunk beds,” she said. “I was the only girl in the room. I would clean the disgusting hostel through the night. My roommates taught me how to hustle pool. You would drink beer for free and buy a loaf of bread and peanut butter and eat that for a whole week.

“I’m glad I did it. I don’t think I could go through it again. But it was an amazing time. I would go to work for a magazine during the day and then work through the night so they would let me live in the hostel.”

I work with a lot of young staff at the moment, and it can be pretty frustrating when people believe some tasks are beneath them and they don't pull their weight to deliver something up to mark. And they believe that just by vocalising their disagreement with something, they're entitled to reject the task. It astonishes them that they have to do something they dislike. This is bullshit (unless of course we are talking about fighting sexual harassment and other forms of exploitation, committing a crime, etc). Very often, when you're working for someone else, you accept some of the shit that comes with doing something you love. You have your days of fist-pumping awesomeness, but you also have days where you're doing what you're told, earning your keep. Is it out of fashion, to believe that every now and then you have to pay your dues in life?

As someone who logged years of humbling work while studying - waitressing, tutoring, working as a retail sales assistant, giving out flyers, even assembling furniture for a showroom - I often think lots of people can benefit from such experiences, provided they're willing to learn from them. You learn to knuckle down and take instruction, fight back your ego and be a team player. Working for a living makes you appreciate opportunities. Some people never have to go through this to become a better person. But most people, I think, need a jolt every now and then to remember that the world doesn't owe them anything.