Layer It Up, Baby

Feat. double red and double ruffles, just in time for the day after V-Day

It should come to no surprise that when it comes to layering, I am all. Over. It. This used to be the sole reason why I loved winter so much a few years ago—it's the only season of the year where layering two unrelated items on top of each other is acceptable, simply because it's too cold to wear one of them alone. Two is better than one, no? It gets even more fun when you introduce three or four items in one layering instance because even though you thought it to be impossible for a human to wear a turtleneck with a button-up finished with a denim jacket and a leather jacket to top it off, it actually is doable. Definitely a hassle to take off at the end of the day, but so worth it for those OOTD pics and cold-weather practicality.

My love of layers has stuck with me although my love of winter has not, which makes things a bit tricky—layering in the summer gets funky unless you're all about baby tees under slip dresses. This complicates my constant longing for summer when it's nearly impossible to layer in the aforementioned season. Fortunately, I've recently found a distinct personal style surrounding summer, including statement dresses, vintage jeans that hardly touch my skin, and mules. I seemed to forget the art of layering last summer, and when it got cold, I didn't take refuge in wearing far too many articles of clothing at once and instead went for chunky sweaters and heavy coats, a far easier alternative to the art of layering. My style rut didn't want to delve into this art—far too much time and effort.

But maybe the way to get out of a rut is to do what always saved you in the past. That seems feasible. Since I didn't actually intend on my layering frenzy to stop when it did, it shouldn't be too hard to get back into, right? Just go back to the basics, and it will evolve into what it used to be in no time. Fortunately, I was correct—a really cold day and a ruffled turtleneck would solve the problem.

Turtleneck by Madewell. Vintage blouse and vintage Levi's from The Break (aka my favorite vintage store in Greenpoint, Brooklyn). Shoes by Zara.

To dive back into layers, I immediately pulled out all of the turtlenecks I owned, which is a lot, if you already weren't aware of my obsession with the piece. I decided to opt for a neutral one, unlike the colorful nature of my tissue turtlenecks, so I could focus on the thing going over the turtleneck. This white one from Madewell has a lettuce-hem detail on the neck, making it the perfect layering tool to add a bit of detail to peek out from under that thing going over it. Now, what should that thing be? A short-sleeved button-up from Madewell that I own far too many of? Not really my style atm. Maybe a thick crew-neck sweater that will work extra hard to keep me warm? Not interesting enough. Maybe a bold vintage blouse that also has some ruffles to work with a potential frill theme the turtleneck began? Perfect. This top that definitely came straight from the '80s was my go-to in the summer and fall when wanting to wear vintage Levi's, but it got lost in my closet once temps dropped because the color seems to closely resemble parts of a summer sunset, something that we won't see again until at least June. I decided to bring it back into winter, because a) why the hell not and b) we love a pop of color to brighten our dull winter days! Speaking of Levi's, I brought those in to add a third piece, but new ones of a lighter wash and a longer inseam (aka me not cutting my jeans too short, as always) to change things up.

Not one but two items with ruffles made me feel fancier than usual, so I continued this trend by donning my pair of red ankle boots to complete the look. Something about this style felt v put-together. Much needed when my style (and potentially life?) is falling apart. Back in high school, I went to layering when I was stressed or felt out of control (no, really) to feel like something was going the way I wanted it to. Layering is hard! It requires a certain kind of confidence you can't get from only two items of clothing. So I dare you to go into your next layering endeavor with the same assertion as Veronica below:

But change "lick" to "layer," obviously.

Photos shot by Maddie.

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An Unchronological Evolution in Graphic Tees

The piece of fashion that is aaaallll about stories.

Shirt by Lisa Says Gah (similar LSG one here). Bandana by Madewell.

We're entering that time of the year where it's really hard to get dressed in the morning. A few months ago, when winter just began, this was also true, but we used this cold to try all of our new favorite ways to beat the cold and also look really good doing it. The tried and true turtleneck can actually get exhausted to a point where I don't want anything touching my neck for at least three months, even though my instinct in the winter is to go straight for one of my three tissue turtlenecks and work from there. So instead, we just put whatever the hell we want on, hoping it looks decent, and if not, we always have our trusty winter coats and scarves to hide our looks from the outside world.

Depressing, no?

Maybe there's a way to dress however we want and make it fashion. And when I say "however we want," no rules apply—this means you can take athleisure to the next level, only wear tees for the rest of the month, or don the same pair of jeans everyday for two weeks, to the point where they're so exhaustingly stretched out that they hardly fit anymore. So we could wear our graphic tees with our favorite pair of high-waisted vintage jeans and call it fashion. I've been doing that for the past six months, as I somehow have some new sartorial connection to graphic tees. I can't put them down, can't stop buying them. Here's some history:

A post shared by Natalie Geisel (@fracturedaesthetic) on

Exhibit A is me wearing my favorite band tee from my first time seeing Arcade Fire (one of my favorite bands) in 2014. The shirt has got some good mems attached to it, but also looks aesthetically pleasing for those of you who don't know AF (Call Me by Your Name, anyone?). I've worn this baby probably once every two weeks for the past four years in various ways—under slips, tied at the waist with Dickies, tucked into Levi's with a blazer.

Exhibit B is the first instance I wore a graphic tee that was not a band tee—this one is the first shirt I bought from Monogram, which I discovered through Man Repeller. While I wear band tees because they have a story behind them, I wear this one for only one narrow story in mind—because it looks cool! I paired it with the jeans that I wore nonstop before I discovered vintage Levi's, as one year ago I thought the only way to wear graphic tees fashionably was to do the whole denim thing.

Exhibit C, feat. my messy kitchen and my smudgy mirror, pays tribute to the band tee again, but in a different way—no dates or names are mentioned, it's just a black and white image of Angel Olsen, which most people would assume to be a trendy tee featuring some random woman, but Angel Olsen fans would notice at second glance who it is. This was in the midst of finals week, which is why I only styled it with jeans (but really cool Ref ones) and sneakers. It looked cool at the time, but now I do the whole graphic tee with sneakers and cool pants at least twice a week. As I said earlier, some things get exhausted way too quickly.

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Exhibit D, featuring the same pants from Exhibit A, is when I used my love of graphic tees for a good cause and to be proud of my queer identity. Two birds with one stone! If you happen to live under a rock, Everlane has been making their 100% Human tees very fashionable but also impactful, as they donate part of their proceeds to various organizations. This one donated to the HRC, and I wore it when I went to NYC Pride this past summer, paired with a shit ton of color, for obvious reasons.

Pants by & Other Stories. Shoes by Adidas. Socks by Urban Outfitters (similar glitter ones here).Photos shot by Lucy in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

And we finally have Exhibit E, aka current time. My 100% Human tee inspired me to continue to wear shirts associated with my identity and values, so shown here is one from Lisa Says Gah that I wanted for months and finally came back in stock for a short window (which is unfortunately gone, hopefully it comes back soon!). It's not only super colorful, which helps my New Year's resolution of incorporating more (bright) color into my wardrobe, but it also holds a lot of sartorial and feminist power. As someone who studies gender and sexuality studies, I'm really over people wearing shirts that don feminist chants without knowing its origin, or simply tees that don't really hold meaning at all. The first case mainly points out to those infamous "The Future is Female" shirts that Dior had on the runway one year ago, which actually has a deep history in the lesbian movement in the '70s and became popular after being included in a slide show titled "What the Well Dressed Dyke Will Wear." So to all the straight girls wearing these shirts: know its history! The one I'm wearing now features a term developed in the '70s by second-wave feminists, as the term "woman" is derived from "man," implying that we are a sub-category of men, or the "Other" to the dominance of men, and "womyn" makes sure to get rid of this male-dependence. Women's studies and etymology lecture over.

I wear the top to both make a shoutout to feminism, but also because it looks great with a pair of black wide-leg corduroy pants with a star-bandana and really worn-in sneakers (which I've finally replaced with these!). As I said earlier, right now it's quite impossible to put effort into what we wear, so being able to wear used-to-be-white sneakers and call it fashion is more than important. If I wore this same 'fit with a plain white tee, it would result in a boring, almost-there look, but adding a meaningful graphic tee to the mix really changes the game. It does all of the work for you! Which is maybe why they're so important to me right now, when the last thing I want to do is actually try too hard with my sartorial decisions. Anyways, fashion is a lot more fun when there's a story behind it.


What to Wear When: You Dream of Summer for 14 Months Straight

Six more months, y'all.

It's been a few weeks after spending an entire post pining over the beauty that is summer, where I constantly rewatched '80s summer gay love stories over and over again to cope, and I'm still pining over summer. When will this end?! We're in the midst of winter where going out without a knee-length (or longer) coat and blanket scarf is not feasible, or possible, for that matter, yet I still dream of open-toed mules and breezy shirts and actually having to shave my legs so I can wear that midi wrap dress or that mini dress covered in cherries. I actually want to shave my legs! Now that's really saying something, coming from someone who hasn't touched a razor in months. Waiting for six months is just depressing, watching summer flicks to cope becomes futile after watch #7, but maybe working summer details into your winter 'fit is the perfect compromise. Want summer so badly but it's only January? Why not try both!

Shirt by Urban Outfitters (I like this one better though). Pants are Dickies by Urban Outfitters. Boots by Zara. Necklace by Mejuri. Coat by Madewell.

Although it makes the most sense to do the whole transitioning between seasons thing when a transition between seasons actually exists, you can fake it 'til you make it, especially when the weather feels like a transition in itself. As I type this, it is currently below freezing with harsh winds, making this outfit impossible to work today. But only three days ago, it was just below 50 and sunny! Although I despise this erratic weather, aka climate change, it comes in handy when you want to test the waters of summer for one day. Obviously 50 degrees isn't 80, meaning I couldn't jump head-first into summer clothing. Legs had to be covered; a coat had to be involved. So how exactly did I test drive summer when a coat was involved?

Incorporating summer into a winter outfit is actually really easy. The key is to look for things you admire about summer and restructure them to work for winter. Thanks to Call Me by Your Name, I would like to wear a breezy short-sleeved button-down for the rest of my life, unbuttoned most of the way, partially tucked into cut-offs or maybe even tied at the waist. I couldn't pull off shorts in January, but I could pull off the top—I found this oversized men's button-down from Urban Outfitters, of all places, that also happens to have sketches of naked women displayed all over the shirt. Probably meant to be styled by some dude-bro, unbuttoned all the way with a white tee under paired with baggy jeans and Vans, but I continued to purchase it because I imagined all of the outfits I could create with it that did not resemble the aforementioned dude-bro look. Instead, I tied it at the waist, added my new favorite jewelry brand's layered choker for a touch of feminine, and paired them with light pink Dickies, a staple I wore all summer long in 2017.  I typically would pair them with mules, but instead I went for my favorite red boots—still perfect for winter, but something about the color and exciting style screamed summer. And voila! There you have a perfect winter/summer 'fit, which I thought was an impossible pairing until I did some experimenting. 

If you want to feel more like you belong in winter, add a coat of any flavor; I chose my favorite classic wool one from Madewell so I wouldn't take away from the summer vibes, but would still keep warm. Strip that baby off when you're indoors to show off that you did, in fact, pull off a summer 'fit when there's still two more months left of winter. Congratulate yourself! And hopefully feel a little less desperate for summer. Maybe this will make things worse; having a taste of summer but not getting the real thing makes people long for it more, no?


My Personal Guide to Skincare

Because skin is in.

A year ago from today, I would have never imagined myself to be obsessed with skincare, of all things. I would also never imagine I'd be a rep for a skincare/beauty brand, a topic I would have then considered foreign waters. Then, I was severely dwindling my makeup usage, using the bare minimum to only cover my slight acne and make myself look presentable. A pressed powder by Laura Mercier (which apparently isn't sold anymore), a brow pencil by Benefit, Glossier's Haloscope in quartz, Covergirl Clump Crusher for my lashes which I've been using since it first came out when I was 14. And that was it. As for skincare, it was even more minimal—I used a face wash that I don't even remember the name of and that probably had those now illegal micro-beads in it, "day and night," but I usually only used it once a day, if I was lucky. And that was enough for me. If I was doing minimal makeup, why should I have to spend time and money on skincare?

Although my skin is nowhere near perfect, I had been turned off from skincare since the age of 16, when traumatizing appointments to the dermatologist to fix my acne, starting from age ten (yes, I was in fifth grade) would load me with expensive products that I would be too overwhelmed to use. I would rather live with a nose constantly covered in blackheads and a forehead that would always be red and bumpy than use those products. A bit too dramatic, no? By the age of 15, I had accepted my fate and realized I may live with acne for the rest of my life. So I gave up completely and instead of fixing the problem, I just covered it by wearing makeup almost equivalent to how much one should wear for stage makeup. And magically, my skin didn't cure itself, but, as I grew out of my hormonal, adolescent self, my acne began to clear. No products necessary! Unfortunately, this turned me off from skincare even more—if I didn't use any products to clear my skin, why should I start now? But fortunately, I did begin to reduce ten steps of makeup to eight, then six, then to four (which is where I was one year ago). Which only led me to the beauty that is skincare. However, it wasn't immediate—wearing less makeup meant I somehow felt I didn't have to wash my face, my clearer skin made me worried that adding any products would just bring back my acne (moisturizer, for example), and wearing less makeup ultimately made me more lazy in the mornings. No time for makeup, so also no time for skincare. Then, not to be dramatic, but I discovered Glossier and my entire life changed. It started with the purchase of their best-selling highlighter, then the rest is history. I was obsessed. I continued to buy every single makeup product they carried, then the purchase of my first skincare product from them, aka their Milky Jelly Cleanser, was my first step in being enamored by all things skincare. Who knew skincare could be cute?! And not have all those scary acids that caused my skin to practically peel off! I continued to buy all of their skincare products as well, and now, one year later, my zero-to-one-step skincare routine has turned into an almost ten-step one. And my skin, that wasn't necessarily suffering before I started this craze but could definitely need some support, couldn't thank me any more. What exactly is my routine, you ask?

My first step is always Glossier's Milky Jelly Cleanser—first thing in the morning, first thing when I start my nighttime routine, even first thing I do when I shower. Before this cleanser, I thought face washes had to be scrubs or at least have salicylic acid in them to work, but this gentle cleanser works even better for problem skin than those over-exfoliating ones. My face has never felt so soft and clear with this baby. Who knew you could have both at the same time?

Then come the face masks, a step I won't do everyday but probably three to four times a week. My discovery of face masks came later than other skincare products, only about three months ago when I bought (you guessed it) Glossier's mask duo. The first one is a detoxifying clay mask that "balances and conditions pores while helping to calm skin," which are qualities that are found in so many Glossier products, and the second is a moisturizing mask that does exactly what it says—hydrates. After falling in love with these after my first try, I immediately bought more face masks from Origins—their charcoal mask to clear pores (so good for acne prone skin, like mine) and their rose mask to retexturize skin.

After I mask (or after I wash my face), I go straight to my serums. I discovered serums after my purchase of Glossier's Super Pure serum at the beginning of last summer, which is a niacinamide and zinc serum that is meant to "soothe redness and help calm blemishes," which was my biggest skin problem as an aftermath to almost ten years with acne. After one week using this, my skin looked so much better that I stopped using powder all together—I had nothing to cover up anymore! I then bought all three Supers (Super Bounce, which is a hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 serum that hydrates, and Super Glow, which is a magnesium and vitamin C serum that supposedly gives energy and glow to your skin). I used all three every day (Pure and Glow in the mornings, Bounce at night), realized I only loved Pure and Bounce, so I only continued to replen those two. I still love these two products, but my discovery of serums allowed me to find The Ordinary, a science-driven skincare company that sells similar serums (among others) for a super cheap price. We're talking under $10, and for double the amount you get from Glossier. Only a few weeks ago, I decided to try it out, and purchase the two serums that are identical to Pure and Bounce (niacinamide 10% + zinc 1% and hyaluronic acid 2% + B5), along with their 100% organic cold-pressed rose hip seed oil, which hydrates, brightens, and reduces scarring/dark spots, and their caffeine solution 5% + EGCG, which reduces dark circles and puffiness under the eyes. This is a lot, I know, so here's what I do: in the mornings, I first use Super Pure (I still have half a bottle left), then the caffeine solution under my eyes only, then the hyaluronic acid + B5 all over my face. At night, I use the caffeine solution again, then the hyaluronic acid + B5 again, then the rose hip seed oil (note: I use some of The Ordinary products twice a day because they're not as concentrated as Glossier's serums). Order is important, because some solutions are water-based, and some are oil-based, and messing up the order will make the molecules not as effective. After discovering all of these molecules, I realized that this was my skincare peak, and I had no idea where else I could evolve to in the world of skincare. Maybe chemical exfoliators are next.

Finally, I moisturize! Only eight months ago, I was terrified of moisturizers—if I have oily skin, why would I add more moisture? Little did I know that moisturizing daily actually reduces the amount of oil your skin naturally produces. It's similar to how washing your hair too much makes your hair oilier, as it strips its natural oils, making it produce more oil. Not allowing your skin to hydrate does exactly this, but producing the bad kind that clogs pores and causes acne. If only I had known this when I was 14. In the morning, I use Glossier's Priming Moisturizer usually mixed with a bit of Fresh's Instant Glow Luminizer to both hydrate and prep my skin before makeup and to add a bit of glow, especially when my skin is feeling dull and tired. At night, I use Glossier's Priming Moisturizer in Rich, which is like their original PM but is heavier and has lavender oil in it, making it perfect for a nighttime cream.

The rest of my routine is easy—I wear Glossier's Stretch Concealer under my eyes and on my blemishes/red spots (which have ultimately reduced due to my skincare), Glossier's Boy Brow on my brows, Glossier's Haloscope in Quartz on my cheekbones and in Topaz on my lids, Glossier's Balm Dot Com (my favs right now are rose and cherry) on my lips, then my OG Clump Crusher mascara, the only thing that has stayed a constant in my evolution of skincare and makeup, which is comforting, knowing that everything is continuously changing.

Like what you see? Feel free to ask me any questions about Glossier's products in the comments (or DM me on Instagram). Buy Glossier products through my link, and get 20% off your first order and always free shipping on 2+ items or $30+.