Granada is the City of my European Summer Dreams

Even when it's only March.

To all my travel-lovers: do you ever wonder exactly why you love traveling? Is it the cultural immersion? The history? Maybe just the food and drink aspect?

Although tapas and vino sound like the best reason to visit Spain, for me, there's a huge factor that keeps me coming back to new places like this one. Just like fashion, traveling to new cultures has transformative effects. So if you were to ask me why I would drop my entire life and responsibilities and travel, I would answer with this: living in a foreign country for just a few days has the ability to make the impossible possible. It's got powers that make dreams come true! Sounds cheesy, yes, but let me explain:

If I'm feeling a lil' blue, I always turn to fashion to up my mood and transform into something better that only style can fix. Its healing powers are why I constantly fix this one part of my life if all else is falling apart. Or simply, if I wish to embody a certain feeling that can only be performed through fashion, I do the same. Lately, this has been me with an easy breezy summer, one that is obviously nowhere to be found based on cold temps and far too many responsibilities but is surprisingly easy to produce with the clothes I put on my body. This longing for summer for 16 months straight is where travel comes in, especially Granada. Being in this town for only three days, even when it's been raining and chilly for 80% of the time, makes me feel just like I'm in summer, but particularly my '80s summer dream that I've been dreaming of nonstop ever since I watched Call Me by Your Name for the first time (then again and again for four more times, plus the book twice). Was I in Italy? Nope. Was it summer? Definitely not, as it poured rain for two out of the three days I was there, and it never reached over 55 degrees. But did I feel like I was living in that European summer dream that I immediately travel to when I hear the first notes of Hallelujah Junction, aka the opening song of the aforementioned film, which I also watched on the plane ride way there? Absolutely.

The minute I was placed in Granada I saw several orange trees on every street corner, and I immediately thought of those infamous peach trees that instantly allude to a sweet summer. Walking through the tight alleyways that acted as roads and looking at bright but faded buildings and noticing sleepy streets one minute and lively ones the next transferred me to a place of zero responsibilities, of summer siestas (which happen year-round in Spain, btw), and of a summer love that can transcend all other romances. Did I fall in love in Granada? Absolutely not, I was there for three days. But could I fall in love in the way that summer romances go if I lived there? Maybe, maybe not, but I know I did fall in love with the town. Shouldn't that be enough?

Throughout my summer fantasy, I realized it would be even more effective if I dressed the part. Sounds easy, no? Well actually, yes—as I mentioned earlier, it was raining and nowhere near summer temps. If only I could wear denim-cutoffs and breezy button-ups with espadrille slides, or maybe even ditch the shoes altogether. But the strange March weather (the friend I was visiting said it never rains) hindered on my summer dreams, making me have several fashion-related mental breakdowns. But alas, they were cured when I decided to work in summer (and CMBYN)-esque vibes into my looks that were typically covered with a rain jacket and consisted of pants instead of shorts. For exhibit A we have...

Button-down by Urban Outfitters (similar here). Strapless top (under button-down) by Tobi. Levi's are vintage, from The Break. Shoes by Veja, in collaboration with Madewell. Leather jacket and raincoat not shown, but definitely needed to keep me warm and dry when the sun wasn't out for ten minutes when this photo was taken.

I attempted to style my favorite button-down at the moment, aka one coming from the men's section and that has nude sketches, because why not, in a way I had never done before—completely unbuttoned, tied at the waist, and with a taupe tube top that I typically wear alone or under a blazer, not under button-downs. Even sans pants, I already felt like I fit into a Spanish summer, and if it were feasible, I would slip on my Levi's cutoffs and call it a day. The no shoes were intentional. But to fit with the weather, I slipped on full-length Levi's, aka the next best thing to the desired shorts, and my newest (and now deemed favorite) sneakers from Veja, which is a 100% sustainable sneaker company based in Paris. Felt like a perfect compromise with the weather, as I would still wear full-length Levi's in the summer, and these Vejas perfectly match those unmistakeable shoes Armie Hammer constantly wears in the film. Me standing under this orange tree is resembling of Elio picking a few peaches right before the scene (if you've watched the movie, you should know what I'm talking about).

Shirt bought from an Angel Olsen show last December that are (unfortunately) unavailable. Pants are vintage, also from The Break. Jacket by Madewell. Shoes by Veja. Sunglasses by Lisa Says Gah.

On this day, the sun was actually out all day long. I took this weather to my advantage and pulled on breezy trousers in the most perfect shade of dusty green with a tee displaying a photo of Angel Olsen. For a look perfect for Elio (or Yorkie from San Junipero), I used my newest denim jacket, a staple I will never stop buying more of, as my (only!) layer, and that was it. No neck scarf, no extravagant jewelry, nothing. And that's what summer should be about—straightforward and simple, accessories not needed. I felt like I had just gotten off of a bike in Crema, ready to grab a drink or bite of food, which I actually did right after these photos were taken, sitting outside on the cobble-stone streets facing the beautiful city of Granada. Surreal is an understatement.

Will I ever stop talking about Call Me by Your Name on this blog? The answer is unknown. But I do know that even when summer is full-blown come this May, I'll never be able to have this feeling unless I'm in the European summer city of my dreams. Until next time, Granada.

First photo taken by me, other photos taken by Averie and Maddie.


These Scandinavian Instagram Style Icons Are Really Onto Something

Forget about Paris and Milan.

Photo is of Nora Fazel, taken from her personal blog

Here's a poll I'd like to impose on you all:

Do you think style is meant to be completely personal, void of social and cultural influence? Or is style truly a product of the culture you're from?

Or maybe both?

As I don't have time to conduct actual research, we'll just go off of what I think: the latter, obviously. I spent years on this blog discussing personal style and how it is essential to our beings, but after some thought, isn't our style always a result of the culture we're raised in? This explains why the styles of certain regions are so vastly different: classic chic in Paris, bold and flashy trends in Seoul, dark and structured in Berlin. This can't be an isolated event; regional styles are, in fact, a product of that region. Common sense, no?

Then I think of where I'm from, a suburb north of Atlanta that holds zero personal style except for white teenagers wearing Vineyard Vines like it's defining of Southern culture even though it originates from Massachusetts. Obviously, I don't fit this culture—I wore things that would be seen in NYC or Paris when I lived in the South for 18 years. So is style a product of our culture? The answer is unknown, especially when you're not a fan of your original culture and would gladly like to disassociate from it, which I have attempted in doing by both physically leaving the area for good and dressing unlike my fellow Georgians. This distaste in my hometown's style forced me to find another home to pull style inspiration from, resulting in, as I said earlier, NYC and Parisian styles. Were these cultures ones I simply wished to belong to, making the argument that style is a cultural product even more true? Possibly. All that can be said for now is that style and culture are not isolated, and some cultures really know what they're doing.

My younger self would immediately flock to Paris or London to find style inspiration, as I assumed these were deemed the most fashionable cities in the world. Similar to how when people are looking for places to study abroad in their undergrad years, they immediately go to London, Paris, or Florence, as they seem to be the most appealing cities to people who would hate to be culturally challenged. These cities are like a grain of sand on a stretch of beach; so much more is out there. Even just in Europe. Anywhere in Germany sounds fun, maybe Amsterdam? Spain—not including Barcelona—would be exciting, at least I hope; I'll be there for Spring Break this year. Maybe that entire region of Scandinavia that people always seem to forget about is enticing.

Maybe more than enticing, maybe enticing enough for me to actually go. Which I am planning on doing! Next fall. Stockholm, Sweden. I never imagined myself deciding to study somewhere like that, just as I never imagined the region to hold a really cool style that seems to be a product of how the region is doing as a whole. More than good, actually. Apparently Norway is the happiest country in the world, which is evident in many ways, including how everyone looks damn good. My interest in this area sprouted with my addiction to the Norwegian show SKAM, which I just recently finished rewatching, one year later. People tell me I'd fit right into any city of these three countries, mostly because I look just like every white blonde who resides in them. But I think it transcends looks—something far deeper about Scandinavia was calling my name. This led me to decide to apply to study abroad in Stockholm, but also led me into an Instagram hole of Scandinavian style icons. It was never-ending. I'm pretty sure I followed about 20 new accounts, realized that Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm Fashion Week do exist, and that Pernille Teisbaek is Danish. Now that's why I was so encapsulated by her style—she's from Copenhagen! Scandinavians are immensely proud of their culture, and not in that gross American way; they actually have something to be proud of. And it really shows in their style.

Maren Schia from Oslo, Norway; photo from her Instagram

Exhibit A is Norwegian Maren Schia, a name who appears often on Who What Wear and also has the art of dressing down. She should be titled an expert, a world champ. Her 'fits are out of this world, ranging from belted Canadian tuxedoes to corduroy pantsuits to ones exploding in color and interesting layers, like the one above. She brings everything we like to see from the main four fashion weeks and heightens it to her personal taste, making everything she posts on her IG well-crafted and oh-so-intentional. She puts the personal in personal style, yet still has a style that's so similar to every fashion kween from Oslo. Remember that poll I asked you guys to answer in the beginning? She's the one that proves both answers to be true.

Nora Fazel from Stockholm, Sweden; photo from her Instagram

Swedish Nora Fazel's caption for the above photo is Always looking like a 12 y old boy who stole a cigarette from his mom and I don't really mind, do you?, and this statement describes Fazel's aesthetic entirely: one who simply does not mind how other people think of her. Yet she definitely cares to an extent, at least for herself, when she brings an effortlessly cool style to her Instagram, making Stockholm look like a place only fit for girls who know how to take cool outfit selfies while carelessly holding an almost-burnt out cigarette, while also posting things like memes and artful nudes because why not. Also, she doesn't doesn't groom her body hair like every other American seems to because she obviously transcends typical heteropatriarchal standards. Makes me way too excited to hopefully live in her town for four months later this year.

Fanny Ekstrand from Stockholm, Sweden; photo from her Instagram

Swedish Fanny Ekstrand resides from the same place as Nora but brings a completely different look to the table. While still following that same "I don't give a fuck" attitude, she goes for a more is more approach, but in a sense that doesn't copy aesthetics like Gucci and instead comes from a very personal place. She obviously likes color, so she makes sure to bring that to her 'fits. She tends to stray away from fashion norms, so instead she wears red tights with cowboy boots and calls it fashion. Most importantly, she's weird as hell and brings this essence to her sartorial choices, making her style more interesting than any Manhattan blogger. Plus, she's the founder of that company who makes those straw bags that were seen on every NYC cool girl this summer, making her one to both follow trends and stray away from them.

Rebecca Vera Stahnke from Copenhagen, Denmark; photo from her Instagram

Danish Rebecca Vera Stahnke seems to follow the lyrics of "girls just wanna have fun" very closely with her style, making sure to put a dash of her own personal touch and a load of fun to every outfit she puts on. She's a big fan of making her looks obviously match a certain color scheme, and she usually makes it clear that style isn't a job for her; it's more like a hobby that comes way too easily to her. Her candid photos make her look like she's having a blast 24/7, and maybe she really is; do Danes really have more fun? She owns a thrift shop, making her eccentric style make all the sense, and it definitely makes me want to be her even more. Dream job? To own a Danish thrift shop and to be a top blogger and stylist, just like Rebecca.

It's far too obvious that these style kweens transcend every style icon we're typically used to hearing about, making it necessary to travel a bit further North to Scandinavia to look for style inspo. And these girls really know what they're doing, but in the most personal way possible, creating outfits that are honestly too good to be true. They all seem to go with that Scandinavian culture, where their perfect lives match their perfectly crafted styles. Because we're already so obsessed with hygge, we should continue with this Scandinavian obsession and follow what they're doing with style. After we nail their styles down, maybe we can start with other parts of their culture. I'm very interested in making fika a tradition in the states.

All photos pulled from Instagram or personal blogs.

Which Scandinavian countries/cultures are you most interested in? Let me know in the comments below!


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.

A post shared by Natalie Geisel (@fracturedaesthetic) on

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.