What to Wear When: Color Isn't Your Thing

Here's a solution: ...make it your thing.

Only about two years ago, color freaked me out, even so much to the point that I didn't want to be near it. Why invest in a piece of clothing that's far too flashy if it won't match with the rest of my wardrobe? When I bought a pair of shoes, I'd immediately go for black, and when looking at the general palette of my closet, it would be a mix of neutrals, muted blues, and maybe some pastel pinks and rusty oranges. Primary colors were practically nonexistent. But, as all styles change, especially through our coming-of-age stories, bright hues soon became a staple of my sartorial life.

Was it because I was simply exhausted from making up for the lack of color in my wardrobe with bright lipstick (and frankly, pieces that just did not fit my style whatsoever)?

Or was it this new surge in obsessing over Instagram influencers who were themselves obsessing over summer and the colors that followed the trend of #lovesummerhateeverythingelse?

The second sounds convincing, as there lies a whole bunch of photographic evidence:

A post shared by Leandra (Medine) Cohen (@leandramcohen) on
You could choose to wear one color in the form of lavender pants paired with some neutrals (if you count a white button-up embellished with fruits and veggies as a neutral),

you could try TWO bright colors on top of the other, because two is better than one,

A post shared by Fanny Ekstrand (@fannyekstrand) on
or you could go with one color scheme (red in this case), but splay it across your entire 'fit.

No matter how I got here, I got here. The girl terrified of color has transformed into one who embraces it through and through. While I've resolved my fear, I know many haven't. Instead of introducing color into your wardrobe like a tsunami, it's best to do it in waves. One piece at a time! It's just like getting a haircut—if you have long locks and want to go full-on pixie, it feels a hell of a lot less scary to do it in phases (take me, for example). The same goes with color—if you slowly introduce the trend into your everyday wear, soon, you'll become the human version of a rainbow. Just in time for Pride month!

So! To show you all how to do this, I decided to revert back to my 18-year-old self and start from the beginning. I did exactly what I am telling you all to do now—start slowly.

More photographic evidence below:

Jacket and jeans are vintage (jeans from The Break). Bodysuit by American Apparel (rip). Mules by & Other Stories.

To put it simply, all you have to do to dive into the world of color is to wear color. Who knew!

In all seriousness, it only requires taking one piece that's bold (bright red, cobalt blue, gen Z yellow) and pairing it with neutrals. In a way, this makes the 'fit more interesting, as everyone's eyes go directly to that one piece. The rest hardly even matters, since people will be too busy staring at the singular piece of color. It's easier than you think!

In my case, I made sure to focus on the statement piece, which was this one bright red brocade jacket I discovered at my local thrift store (also handmade and stitched in Hong Kong in the 1950s, if you were curious). I crafted my outfit around this item, which is the trick to working with color—my favorite pair of vintage jeans, a simple black bodysuit, and my go-to summer shoes quickly fell into place. If the jacket were black, I'd be extremely bored and on my way to a business casual meeting. But instead, the red makes me look ready for anything. Isn't red the color of power? No wonder a red lip is the fastest way to immediately boost one's confidence. And the same goes for adding a touch of color to your look—I have a strong feeling it's scientifically linked to increasing your mood. 

Is it just me? 

Maybe it is. But what I do know is that you'll look a hell of a lot more exciting. That's all that really matters, no?

All photos shot by Tori.


Your Favorite Haim Sister is More Accurate than Your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Their styles say a lot about you, too.

The Myers-Briggs test led most of my high school decisions, and it still continues to do so today. I fondly remember taking the quiz multiple times a year and still being satisfied with my results. INFP, if you were curious. The dreamer! Every single characteristic of my test results seemed to speak for me, and I felt a spiritual connection with other INFPs and soon began guessing my friends' MBTIs.

Then came astrology, a more recent obsession that I used to hold a huge suspicion for but now fully believe in. Gemini, a once hated sign, soon began to dictate my life. Leo moon and Aquarius rising soon followed, then I began to self-identify as a Cancer, as I was technically supposed to be born in July. I, once again, started guessing people's signs and shaping my relationships based on what month they were born in. Maybe not a healthy decision, but nonetheless, a decision that was made.

Then another pseudo-science emerged, one that only I believe in (or as far as I know) but feel is even more defining than the psychological science behind MBTI and the astrological science that is your natal chart. Ever since fandoms became a thing, it has been commonplace to relate to a character or band member after becoming part of the fandom of said show or said band. If you've watched all of Buffy and haven't labelled yourself as a Buffy, a Willow, or a Xander, are you actually a true fan? We become part of fandoms for two reasons: to relate to characters, stars, and musicians or to be attracted to them. It's human nature to want to see your own personality be represented in the media or to see your dream girl or guy existing as an actual human being, even if it's in the form of a character. There's a reason why "Which [insert TV show] Character Are You" Buzzfeed quizzes are so damn satisfying.

This feels too relevant when thinking of the band HAIM, a musical group of three sisters I've loved since my high school days and saw a few nights ago and had the best concert experience, well, ever. Was it because their music is that good, and I've been waiting for this day for five years? Or was it because the Haim sisters are people I equally want to be best friends with, want to date, and, finally, aspire to be? I know I'm not the only one who thinks this—their one million+ followers on social media not only love their sound and ability to rock harder than any man can, but they also are most likely obsessed with the sisters themselves. All from LA, all carrying an LA look with effortless styles and 70s-esque middle parts, and all being far cooler (and funnier, and livelier, the list goes on) than any set of sisters or music group I know. Enter the pseudo-science I mentioned earlier: relating to a specific Haim sister on a spiritual level does more than just inform people of which member you like the most. Maybe you're truly only one of them, maybe you're a combo of two, or maybe you see yourself in all three. The possibilities are endless, so let me break it down. Starting from the youngest.

If you identify with Alana Haim, there's a lot to say about you. You're such a complex being! You're most likely the youngest sibling, which means many things: you love attention, using all of your energy to talk, and, most of all, selfies.

We're talking mirror selfies,

A post shared by babyhaim (@babyhaim) on

hotel bed photoshoots showing off your custom-made Dior pieces,

A post shared by HAIM (@haimtheband) on

and being this extra. But looking amazing while doing it!

A post shared by babyhaim (@babyhaim) on

But being the youngest also means being the runt of the family, aka having to talk a lot just so your family will listen to you and being made fun of quite a lot. But all in good spirit! Because you are the fun of the family, even if you don't try to be at all. Your style is a whole other field: being the youngest means you have to put more effort into everything you do, including style, but it doesn't show one bit.

A post shared by babyhaim (@babyhaim) on

Vintage Levi's are your best friend, you're a sucker for a simple tee, but you also know how to pull off patent leather pants like no one's business. You either stay classic or go all the way. No in between. Which makes her the favorite of so many—she carries so many different styles and sartorial identities that practically anyone can relate to. At the end of the day, you're the most loveable. Sometimes tough love is the best kind of love out there.

Then we have Danielle Haim, the middle sister who has a lot of hidden power, even though middle siblings usually lack this. You are soft-spoken but have the most to say, which is probably released through some type of art form, like being the lead singer of your band. You are most likely the coolest of all three sisters, and you don't even have to try—existing as your truest self is all you have to do. Many people are intimidated by you because you exude this ethereal quality that is impossible to fully understand. As for dating? You probably think you're too good for anyone out there, or you're just too good to spill all the tea on your love life. You also would be one to do something like below:

A post shared by HAIM (@haimtheband) on

And your style! Your! Style! It is the vessel that carries 90% of that inexplicable coolness, whether you're wearing Chloé trousers and practically nothing else,

A post shared by Danielle Haim (@daniellehaim) on

a gingham blazer with earrings that make an entire outfit,

A post shared by HAIM (@haimtheband) on

or a baby-blue suit with Adidas Gazelle sneakers. What a power move.

A post shared by Danielle Haim (@daniellehaim) on

Basically, you're silent but deadly. Everyone wants to be you, but you pretend like you have no idea.

Finally, we have Este Haim, the oldest of the three, and also the weirdest of the three. If Este is your fav, then you probably are an independent soul who does whatever the fuck she wants, even if that means posting this picture on all social media for your birthday

A post shared by Jizzie Mcguire (@estehaim) on

or being way too hype at all of your shows and making aggressive faces like the one below while playing the bass.

Even though all of you and your sisters are extremely real, you're real in the sense that you also show your not-so-glamorous features and aren't afraid to hide it. Being candid is so much more exciting! Posting pics like this one and this one prove to the world that maybe social media isn't a place for your most perfect self, but instead for your most authentic self. And you're so sure of yourself, maybe because you had the most amount of time to grow up. This especially shows in your fashion choices; its continuity throws the idea that style is always changing in the trash. And when I say continuity, I mean you literally do not own a single pair of pants.

Exhibit A:

A post shared by Jizzie Mcguire (@estehaim) on

Exhibit B:

and Exhibit C, where you are always the only one of the three who has to don an item that shows off those wonderfully long legs of yours:

A post shared by HAIM (@haimtheband) on

You also love doing a bold lip or a statement eye, because even those investment dresses don't speak for all the personality that's inside you.

And to sum all three up in one photo:

If you were curious as to what my HAIM chart is, here it is: I'm truly an Este (although I am the youngest of my two sisters), I aspire to be a Danielle, and I desperately want to date an Alana. What about you? Let me know in the comments below, and maybe I'll know more about you than I ever once imagined. 

All photos, except for the feature photo that is already credited, from the Instagram accounts of @haimtheband, @babyhaim, @daniellehaim, and @estehaim.


Why Queer Girl Bands Were What My 15-Year-Old Self Needed

I can easily picture my nine-year-old self, receiving my first iPod Nano and scrolling through iTunes with my dad and adding all of his top artists to my collection and fully understanding that those artists would change my life. I remember hearing "No Cars Go" by Arcade Fire for the first time in this setting and for my entire life to change in those five minutes. I remember a few years earlier listening to my first Bowie song ("Space Oddity," if you were curious) in my music class in third grade and immediately learning all of the lyrics that night. I remember my first concert that was my idol at the time, Paul McCartney, I remember taking over three years of listening to Radiohead nonstop, from age 12 to 15, to finally like the band and soon fall in love and drive for 12 hours just to see them live. I'm ten again, and I'm riding the school bus and showing my friends all my top artists on my iPod, and I say in fifth-grade lingo that I really only listen to male musicians because the female ones just "weren't that good." Now, I look back ten years later, not surprised by this statement but also curious if the ten years leading up to my sexual epiphany as a lesbian would have gone any differently if I idolized Tori Amos instead of The Beatles. Do I blame my father for only perpetrating typical white male artists into my music taste, or do I just blame the heteropatriarchal system that music typically succumbs to? 

Fortunately, a combination of simply growing up upon one semester at university and taking far too many queer studies courses forced me to step outside myself, view my past experiences, and realize how heavily they were affected by the heteropatriarchy. When I was 15, Modest Mouse, Radiohead, and Keaton Henson dictated my feelings; I played The Smiths when I was head-over-heels for some indie sad boy; I sobbed over Jeff Buckley and Band of Horses when those indie sad boys wouldn't notice me. Wonderful music, yes, but memories that only make me cringe, as I was not my real self. After my ten-year-long committed relationship with music, I've come to realize that music inherently forms identity, so instead of blaming the comfort of the closet and my conservative hometown, I could blame what I was listening to. All men, all singing about heterosexual relationships, whining about their sad boy-feelings when that one girl rejected him or, heaven forbid, broke his heart.

Most of the music I immersed myself with created this mainstream narrative of straight girl falls for boy and boy breaks her heart, or boy gets heartbroken by girl and falls into a life-long crisis, or girl and boy live happily together in the comfort of their heterosexual worlds.  My closeted self only wanted to live inside these songs, and my current self only wonders what I would have wanted if this narrative was queered. Artists like Sufjan Stevens broke these boundaries with his gay content, but never did I actually articulate this, or even worse, listen to female artists and think Gee, I can relate to this woman singing about loving other women. Did it all change when I broadened my music vocabulary to include girl bands, and (here's a shocker) queer girl* bands?

*Girl not necessarily the applicable identity for all of the artists I mention, like Stephanie Knipe of Adult Mom

No definitive realization exists in this narrative, just as the idea of a singular coming out moment is absolute bullshit for most. It may have begun with me finding out Annie Clarke of St. Vincent and Romy of The xx are both queer, or when my Riot Grrrl obsession sprouted and all I could think was that these lead gals have got to be gay, at least in some sense. Listening to female-identified artists and seeing them sing about things other than being romantically involved with men was the first step in my musical revelation, as I placed myself in these female artists' shoes and felt what life would be like without the dependence of men for the first time. Before I even discovered queer artists, I, at times, would imagine these ladies to be singing to other ladies, even if they identified as straight. Upon my first ever (and downright frightening) crush on a girl when I was 17, I took these songs and queered them to fit my own experiences. Karen O's Crush Songs was the soundtrack to this crush, btw. 

I'm grateful for finally discovering queer artists at a time when I felt pretty secure in my identity, as it legitimized my feelings through the power of other lived experiences. However, as so much of the music I listen to today now fits under this category, I can only imagine what it would have done for me if it had been there for me when I was 15 and deep in the closet, pining over that one boy and playing Damien Rice's "Delicate" on repeat when things went awry. I can only imagine what bands like Snail Mail would have done for me when I was just 15, where Lindsey proudly sings about teenage heartache in their newest song, or when Stephanie Knipe of Adult Mom sings about the scary parts of realizing that maybe, just maybe, liking girls isn't a one-time thing in "Told Ya So". I would have loved to use Waxahatchee's "Sparks Fly" to soundtrack the moments I can see myself falling for someone rather than Mac DeMarco's "Let My Baby Stay," I'd rather listen to all of The Internet's Ego Death in the highs and lows of my relationships instead of Death Cab for Cutie's Transatlanticism, and I wish I had Julien Baker's all-too-real songs on being queer to get me through the pains of being a 15-year-old girl who had no clue who she was at the time. Where queer voices typically remain unheard, these artists, among many others, make them visible, even if it is done through indie or DIY means. Even more significantly, these voices hopefully impact those teenage girls who have the struggle of being forced to question the legitimacy of their crushes and who hopefully find solace through discovering the right music for that certain time in their lives.

While I typically say how it does not necessarily matter when these moments of realization occur, as all experiences are only a product of that certain individual, having queer artists to look up to, to have crushes on, or to depend on to make some of the adolescent brain mush make a little more sense is only what I wish I had in my years of fraudulent boy crushes and attempting to fit in with typical standards of girlhood. There seems to be an understanding that our music tastes may just be a reflection of our identities, but what if our identities aren't fully formed? Do we depend on the music we already have to shape them, even if this music doesn't match our true selves? To my 15-year-old self: I wish you could see five years into the future, because maybe songs like Modest Mouse's "Little Motel" are not your anthems, and instead of diving into the worlds of straight songs about their inevitable heartbreak only because you felt that they spoke for you, dive into the worlds of queer artists. They might just speak to you and with you instead.

Listen to the playlist below for my favorite artists, all including queer women (or nonbinary folks) who love other women and sing about doing just that.


Are you interested in seeing more music-related posts on this blog, including playlists, personal essays, or concert/album reviews? If so, please let me know! I am attempting to expand my blog to other pursuits than just style, and I wanna make sure I'm doing it in a way that everyone wants to see.

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Madrid Made Me Wear My Weirdest Outfit Yet

And I truly thought I couldn't get any weirder.

It's been two weeks since I've left Spain, and I'm going through two distinct emotional whirl winds. One that is, what I like to call, PED (or Post Europe Depression), which I have witnessed every single time I've returned to America after being anywhere in Europe for over four days, which is also seen here and here. PED is really going to hit hard when I live in Stockholm for four months this fall and have to unwillingly return to the states come December. The second journey is one that is focused on style, of course, because being in a foreign country for some time that carries a completely different fashion sense than your own can challenge everything you once imagined to be true. This obviously happened when I was in France for two whole weeks last year, obviously happened when I was still trying to find myself when I was a mere 16-year-old and I went to London, Paris, and Florence in the span of 10 days. These all make sense, as those regions all carry distinctive styles that are a obviously a product of that region.

But Spain? Really??

Spain seems to nail literally everything but personal style, and also knowing how to sleep during normal hours. This isn't saying that Spain is an unfashionable country, but it's really just an observation that it's not their priority. Yes, we have beautiful Spanish clothing and shoe brands like Paloma Wool and About Arianne and the best style icons like Maria Bernad, all originating from Barcelona. But I didn't even step foot into this city, and everywhere else, including Madrid, really could care less about style. To be quite honest, the most stylish people I saw were French tourists and exchange students from Scandinavia and, not to brag, myself, only because I actually put far too much effort into the clothes I put on my body. Was it to overcompensate for the lack of style inspiration? Maybe. What I do know is that I tried a lot of things that fell outside the norm for me whilst on this trip. One being the concept of napping, which is something I will never understand as I always feel like a truck just ran into me the minute I wake up from a mid-day sleep. But that didn't stop me on this trip! The other is how I approached style—I usually try to get a general grasp of a new city's style and mold it to fit my own personal style, but that wasn't the case in Madrid. In Granada, I did tend to fall into this sleepy summer aesthetic that screams Granada and Call Me by Your Name, but in Madrid, I, to put in the simplest of terms, did whatever the fuck I wanted with my style. I didn't feel that I fit into their regional style, so instead of whining about it, I just created my own rules. And this made me go over the edge in some ways, especially with one particular outfit in mind. See below.

Dress is vintage, from Antoinette in Brooklyn. Jeans are vintage Levi's, from a (wonderful) vintage shop in Granada. Turtleneck by Madewell. Shoes by Zara (similar here).

You probably recognize that infamous dress, as I wore it practically once a week near the end of last summer, sometimes alone, sometimes with jeans, sometimes with shorts. But all in the summer. Yes, spring is already here and we should be able to don summer styles freely with zero obstacles, but the weather has obviously proven itself to be a huge one! This isn't limited to the states, it was also a hinderance in Spain. It typically gets no warmer than 50 in March in Madrid, so I was forced to somehow transform this obviously-summer dress into a winter one. When I was packing for this trip, my friend told me she was bringing a single dress, just in case. Without even thinking, I stuffed this one in my suitcase because it's actually way more versatile than it looks, and I really didn't know what to expect of a) the weather or, even more significantly, b) the style of Spain. Upon my decision to go completely off the rails with my style decisions, I pulled this baby out of my tiny suitcase and spent some time figuring out how I could create my weirdest outfit yet with what I hardly had. I would typically pair it with one of my pairs of blue vintage Levi's, but the single pair I brought was far from wearable, as sweat and wear of the past few days practically destroyed them until their next wash. So I scanned my options of pants and immediately decided to wear the pair I had just bought, which was a beige (or khaki??) pair of Levi's 501s that I couldn't say no to, because whenever I find a pair of vintage Levi's that fit me, I feel obligated to purchase them. That could've been the outfit, but I also felt obligated to wear a turtleneck under everything, as it was still too cold to go out sans layers. And to make matters even worse, I decided to finish the 'fit with the most extra pair of shoes I own, aka these red boots that make for excellent looks and loads of foot cramps if you happen to wear them all day walking around the city of Madrid.

And that, my friends, is how I managed to defy Madrid's style and also somehow end up wearing all of my strangest sartorial decisions in one outfit. They key here is, however, that although I look like a walking catastrophe, I felt like the complete opposite. Is it because it truly defines my chaotic nature? Maybe. Just maybe.

Photo taken by Maddie.