Summertime (Is Over) Sadness

Summer coming to a close is the exact reason why my blog hasn't been too active in the past few weeks. The favorite season for some is almost gone, at least for the students like me, and it actually pains me to think that I'll be going back to school in 10 days. I've been cramming summer reading, my AP art work, and the end-of-summer required dance classes into the last few weeks of summer, so I've had no time to even think of ideas for a new post, or even go outside the house to find inspiration. And on top of all of that, I have to start preparing for school. Not by going to Staples and buying school supplies (I am way past buying those things before school starts; remember, I'm going to be a senior), but by preparing in the fashion sense. I'm one of the few people at my school who actually cares about "dressing well" for school, but it's still a major problem for many of us. This is also an issue for college students because many of you would rather not show up to every class in your pajamas. With the stress of mentally preparing for school, preparing your wardrobe adds yet another stress factor. I'm one of those people who plan their outfits for the entire first week of school, and this can be tricky when I haven't even had the chance (or money) to shop. Instead of buying all the newest (and most expensive) clothes, figure out what the latest, and even better, still unknown trends are, and use your current wardrobe to satisfy these trends. There are a few staple items that are almost necessary to buy in this back to school preparation, but other than that, leave it to your seemingly outdated wardrobe and brain to create a new look, just in time for school.

Here are a few tips:

Try some DIY action. This is the oldest trick in the book when you want your old wardrobe to look newer than ever. This is especially good for warmer weather (aka the first few months of school), because it is way easier to transform cold weather items into warm weather ones rather than the other way around. Take your favorite (but outdated) pair of jeans and cut them to make a homemade pair of denim cut-offs, and even distress them yourself instead of paying way too much for a small (and destroyed) amount of denim. Cut a maxi skirt into a midi skirt because we all know that midis are taking over the skirt world. And midis are also perfect for those schools with strict dress codes -- they're definitely long enough, but they're still in style and few people who are still in school attempt to pull them off (For some reason, they think they'll look like a grandma, even if they compliment you on wearing them... I still don't get it.) DIY is the free alternative to spending money on more clothes to pile into your closet and letting old ones stay hidden in the back.

Mix and match old basics to cater to new trends. This is another old trick in the fashion book, and this is definitely one I use the most. Many people think I'm constantly shopping, but I really just know how to reuse items to make them look new. All it takes is wearing them in a different way than you did before, and this may sound tricky, but it is pretty simple. For example: last year, I always paired this black sweater with jeans and boots in the colder weather, but once it started to warm up, I began wearing the same black sweater with skirts and sandals (seen here) to both cater to the higher temperature and "light layers" trend. Then there's the new "all blue" trend, which can easily be satisfied by pairing your blue items together instead of buying a new outfit just for that trend. No one but you will truly recognize that what you're wearing isn't new if it's worn in a completely new way. Just research the new trends, and use your current wardrobe differently than you used to to have a brand new look just in time for school.

Try switching up your beauty/accessories routine. Just a simple change in your makeup or accessories will make you look like a brand new person, regardless of the clothes you wear. Buy a few new lipstick colors to transform your look, or completely stop wearing the eyeliner you wore every day last year. Stop wearing those outdated earrings, or start wearing a few bracelets with every outfit. Just the small things can make all the difference, and it is way easier and cheaper to change this than to buy a whole new wardrobe.

And finally, go out and buy the things you actually need. Sometimes, it's not possible to completely transform your look with the things you already have. Using the above tips will add a change, but getting a few new things will definitely help. However, it's best to splurge on unique items that you will use frequently. Shoes, backpacks, a few special dresses, but that's it. It's okay to save up for a new expensive pair of sneakers, especially when you don't even own a single pair of sneakers (like me!). I've wanted this pair of shoes for forever, and after saving up, this one item can completely alter my entire wardrobe. The same goes for bags or backpacks -- one look at your new and trendy bag will make people fall for your entire look. Anything like this UNIF backpack will do the trick, and it's definitely worth the money. Rather than spending all of your money on new clothes, spend some of it on the stuff that really matters.


Double Denim

Yes, the time has come for me to do some experimentation. This month's denim issue of Nylon came out a few days ago, and I read the entire thing from front cover to back. I was inspired. Maybe it was the provoking cover story on Zoe Kravitz, aka the coolest girl ever, maybe it was the excessive amounts of fashion spreads that fit every style ever imagined. Maybe it was the fact that Nylon inspires me every month I get it in the mail, but I do believe it was the concentration on denim. Every year, Nylon has a denim issue (just like how they have a music issue the month before), and the magazine manages to make almost everything in the issue about the beloved fabric. Nylon devoted some stories to how denim has changed over the decades, how Nylon staff experimented with DIY denim projects, and how the high fashion world is dealing with this fabric. They even somehow managed to incorporate denim into every photoshoot, from Kravitz's wardrobe to the fashion incorporated in "The Scenic Route" spread. All of my regular readers should know by now that I am obsessed with denim, but honestly, who isn't? Obviously I would love an issue devoted to "the magic fabric" (as Nylon says), so I wanted to make my own tribute to this issue and the wonder that is denim.

Two nights ago, I went to the 5th Harmony concert at Cobb Energy Center in Atlanta. This was the first pop concert I have ever been to, and it was either filled with middle school aged fangirls or the parents that drove them there. It was a little strange because I was probably the only one there that actually drove myself, but it ended up being a really good concert -- the girls are so talented, and they even had their own choreography. I'm used to seeing a band play instruments and just sing into a microphone, so it was a cool experience. Because it was a "girl group" concert, I decided to channel my inner cool '90s girl. And to incorporate denim into this look, I mastered the look a lot of people are too scared to pull off -- denim on denim. I don't know who decided this look was tacky because I have seen so many examples of people who really worked it. Once again, this comes down to an inner confidence (like I talked about in my jumpsuit post). If you feel great in it, you will look great. It's just that simple. However, in the fashion world, there are a few rules to follow. It'd be a bad idea to look just like Britney and Justin in their coordinating denim disaster (see here). Sure, use this iconic look (iconic does not always mean good) as an inspiration to do all things denim, but don't completely follow their looks unless you want to end up on the "what not to wear" section of every tabloid magazine. Instead of literally following the head-to-toe denim trend, start out by being more subtle. The biggest thing I achieved in this look was contrast. I took my light-wash denim skirt and paired it with something that was dark wash, which ended up being a dark chambray shirt. And yes, chambray is still considered denim if you don't want to be too drastic in your denim on denim look. The contrast between the two made the look more appealing to the eye but also less tacky to try for the first time. I could have paired the skirt with my light chambray top, but I wanted to try double denim in a subtle way. As I
continue denim on denim, I'll probably try pairing two denim items in the same wash. It is achievable, but it's definitely a reach. To make this outfit "concert appropriate" and still follow the cool 90s girl look, I only used this chambray top as a layer and wore a halter crop top. Simply tying the shirt around my waist still carried that denim on denim look. I completed the look with my grid socks peeking out of my cut-out boots and thick, winged-eyeliner. Also, if you haven't noticed, I dyed my hair lighter a week ago, which definitely fits in with the look I was trying to achieve.  

Halter top from Urban Outfitters, skirt from American Apparel, chambray top from Gap, socks from American Apparel, and boots from Asos.


City Lights Bookstore

Once again, this is not fashion related, but I still wanted to share a few things about my San Francisco trip that I wasn't able to mention in the last two posts.

Another huge passion of mine, next to fashion, is literature. I didn't really get into it until high school, unlike my twin (who has been reading Harry Potter since she was in 1st grade), but it is still in the list of "Natalie's favorite things". Literature is similar to my other passions (music, art, fashion, etc) in the way that it makes a not-so-amazing reality a beautiful one, even if it involves tragedy. This is why I'm more into the arts and aesthetics than math and science. Math and science consists of things that have already been proven in the real world, but my passions are things that must be created to make the real world even better. And books are definitely one of those factors that create a beautiful reality.

To get to my actual story: about two years ago, I was determined to read all of the excellent classics in literature before reading new books. It was not due to a longing for the past, but it was just a goal of mine to read the great books every English professor and book fanatic obsess over. With all the school work and books I have to read, I obviously haven't come anywhere close to finishing this goal (currently, I'm about to read Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, and I still have about ten books lined up on my bookshelf that are in my "book queue"). So I still live in this classic literature world, filled with the angst of living in 20th century America (see J.D. Salinger and Sylvia Plath) and the dark satire that came with the world wars and negative view of life (see Anthony Burgess and Kurt Vonnegut). Along with these authors, I've recently become obsessed with the Beat generation -- the period after World War II that brought a unique culture that included spontaneity and individualism. This included Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, among many others. The weird part about all of this is that I've become more fond of the authors themselves than their books. The only work I truly love from this generation is the poetry of Allen Ginsberg, which includes the infamous Howl and Kaddish. I am more fascinated with the authors' lives -- how they dropped everything just to travel across America, how they did things only out of spontaneity, and how they created legendary (but usually plotless...) works based on their own intricate experiences. I have basically watched every movie there is on this generation (which is far too many), and I've come to realize that if I could meet any dead author, it would be Allen Ginsberg. So this weird obsession was created, and coming across this bookstore in San Francisco definitely satisfied my nostalgic needs.

These photos are just shots I took of areas around City Lights bookstore -- I couldn't get a good photo of the actual store due to awkward angles. But as you can tell, that bookstore influenced the entire area. 

Jack Kerouac, one of the most famous authors of this era (you have probably heard of On the Road) travelled from the East coast to the West by hitchhiking with his author buddies to come all the way to San Francisco. He wrote about these travels in On the Road, but he never talked about himself in first person (he used different characters to represent him and his friends). I loved vicariously living through him by reading this book, but what was even cooler was to be able to step into the actual place he and other authors had literary meetings in. This meeting place soon became a publishing company, called City Lights. Now, City Lights bookstore is in that building. The store was filled with photos of Kerouac and other famous authors who have been published by City Lights, like Charles Bukowski. It was like a novelty bookshop -- everywhere you turned, there would be another shelf of newly discovered novels or old classics that were both of equal quality. My favorite part was going upstairs to the poetry room, which was less hectic and a quiet, spacious place to read. It included some of my favorite poets (like Ginsberg, Plath, Cummings, etc) and newly discovered poets that I had never heard of. It truly was a magical place, 
maybe even more magical than the famous bookstore in Paris called Shakespeare and Company. All my literature dreams came true in the short time we were able to spend in that store, and I can tell all my book-loving friends that I was in the same place that Kerouac had scintillating literary discussions in. To celebrate the moment, I bought Kaddish and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg, because he and Jack were definitely writing buddies before Kerouac left for his road trip. This post really makes me sound like a nerd, but I'm not kidding when I say how much I love books. Yes, the "materialistic fashion girl" loves to read. Maybe it is ironic, but the whole passion of reading does go along with my passion of writing.


After Eight Months...

To begin: I know this post is extremely long, but it's pretty important to me. It's different than every single post I've made, but it would mean a lot if you put time into reading it.

This post was going to be one showcasing my outfit from last night, but I realized that it really wasn't worth it. I'm not saying that this blog isn't worth it, but at times, I feel like I'm always saying the same thing with my posts. There's a formula: take photos of your outfit, introduce the post with a trend, explain how you showcased that trend in your outfit, and complete it with an ending statement that inspires readers to go out and try that trend. Some of my posts have been successful with this "formula", but I sometimes feel like most of it is dull and all of my views just come from people clicking on the post to just scan through the photos. They may start to read it, but maybe hardly anyone actually puts time into reading the posts I put time into writing. This may be all in my head, and maybe people love to read my blog on a daily basis, but I recently realized that [most of it] is all the same. I use the formula, and I get a few comments and the same amount of likes for each post. There's not much variety, and maybe my readers don't get bored of this consistency, but I know I do. 

What I'm trying to say is that I want to make a change. I started this whole thing because my mom and sister told me I should. I wanted to do something fashion related, and starting a club at my school was too difficult (it's a sports based school, we practically hate the arts). My mom suggested that I should start a fashion blog, so I did last November. It started as a thing I didn't really care about -- it was only on Tumblr, I only had 10 followers for two straight months, and I only took photos with my iPhone. Now that I look back at those posts and read them, all I can do is cringe, but also realize how much I've grown. I started gaining more followers on Tumblr (I now have 150), I started to take quality photos, and then I decided to move it to a more professional (and free!) domain, aka Blogger. I actually put effort into my outfits and posts, and I was feeling way more achieved after a few people at my school told me that they always read my fashion blog whenever I update it. I did feel successful. But for about three months, nothing changed. I may have gained only five followers on here in that time span, and hardly no one is recognizing the work I put into this. After reading the several stories of people starting a blog just for fun that soon turn into careers, I felt inspired to do the same. And just today, I realized that I was not on that path. Some famous bloggers get recognized in the first month that they start blogging. Some have thousands of followers, even hundreds of thousands, and it seems like they just have a natural talent with gaining connections and getting attention from the blogging world and the general public. I then realized that it's almost impossible to make it in the blogging world. You need to have a unique voice, a good eye for how to get viewers and fans, and hell, you even have to have a good enough physical appearance. If people don't like the way you look, they won't like your posts. It's that sad but also that simple. I like to think that my posts are worthy of views and unique enough for people to notice them, but maybe they're really not. People like to see fresh faces that write different and inspiring posts. Sadly, I may not be one of those fresh faces. They don't want to see the same thing every time. They want variety, but also more than that. They want posts that they've never seen before, and not just by the same blogger. The blogging world is huge, and 80% of this world may be writing the exact same thing. I may be part of that 80%.

After reading the hundreds of articles in magazines like Nylon and Teen Vogue about the new, up and coming fashion bloggers that already have the hearts of important people and companies, I noticed something. None of them say that they are strictly a fashion blog. One blogger I just discovered, that goes by the blog name Shine By Three (her name is Margaret Zhang), does exactly this. She combines her thoughts on fashion with her own experiences, which I believe is what makes them unique. People can dress the same way, but people cannot have the same experiences. This is what makes bloggers stand out, and this is what my posts are lacking. So I'm going to make a change. I'm going to make every post meaningful by connecting it to my own life, or even just the lives of others. Even changing my backdrop can make all the difference (I know no one is inspired by the same window in my room or the same car in my driveway). Instead of just talking about fashion, I'm going to discuss my own personal inspirations, revelations, and experiences that I want to be heard. I might even change my domain to Squarespace, which is expensive, but I believe that it's worth it. Making it in this world requires effort. 

But then I also realized something else, something completely contradicting to what I just said above. Today, I was reading Rookie Mag online, and I stumbled upon this one article that is specifically about getting your writing/art published (which you can read here). It did pertain to me because I have tried to get my poetry published (which I have failed miserably at, I literally submitted my work to 20+ places), and I have also gotten my photography published in two journals. Right after I finished the article, I also realized that it pertains to this blog as well. The article explains how it takes time to get your work published, or even noticed after it's published. It says how it's okay if people do not notice your talent at first, because the feeling of self-achievement by knowing that you wrote an excellent piece is just enough in the beginning. It quotes Ira Glass, who says, "For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not [...] If you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions." This is the best advice I've heard in years. I realized that I need to keep writing for me, and that's the entire reason I started this blog. I'm only 17. I don't need money or a career just yet. I write these posts because I love writing about fashion. Writing for this blog made me realize that I want to major in journalism. It's one of the few things I absolutely love doing, and I may realize that some of my work sucks. But I'm going to keep doing it, because I know it will get better, just as Glass says. But that doesn't change my plan -- I'm still going to make a change. But that change is mainly for me. Writing about the things that interest me instead of following a silly formula will make me feel better as a writer, and maybe a few extra followers and recognitions from important people will come along. It's a tough time for me to gain blogger fame -- I'm still in high school, and I have to start applying to colleges soon and worrying about AP classes. I'm not a superwoman like Tavi Gevinson, who already had three Rookie Magazines published by the time she was 18. I have a normal teenage life, but I also happen to write for this blog. I wish it was my entire life, but sadly it can't be. I know that the time to make it in this world is not now, but I know it's coming. I know that if I keep writing, I will get better, and that someone will notice the talent that I have. For now, I'm going to write for me. And I hope you guys enjoy that just as much as what I've been writing before.


California: Day 4

I spent the last three days in San Francisco, but because my dad had a skating race in Napa, my family and I went up to Napa for a few days. Napa is so beautiful that it could be mistaken for a small town in Italy, like Tuscany, just by looking at its rolling hills and hundreds of wineries. However, it's really not the place for people under 21. People literally come up here just to drink wine at the famous wineries Napa is known for. Other than that, there's not much to do, so you can probably assume that it's not the best place for me because I'm only 17. However, I still wanted to make the best of it with fashion. The only fashion up here is the looks of the thousands of "wine moms" (as I like to call them) and the swanky 20/30-somethings that travel up here just for the famous French Laundry restaurant. But because we were going out to dinner at this nice Italian restaurant, I wanted to look my best and use this as an excuse for a blog post.

(First off, I apologize for the low quality pictures -- I didn't have my camera with me)

While I was still in San Francisco, I was walking around in the famous Haight Ashbury neighborhood that is known for its "hippie culture" (The Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin lived there), quirky shops, and vibrant street art. The only downside is that it's filled with "gutterpunks", aka the people who choose to live on the streets and be homeless even though they come from decent home lives. They are basically the white people with dreads who are "homeless" but wear Birkenstocks, so they're not the kind of people I want to be around. However, the shopping was pretty awesome, and I got the shoes I'm wearing in the above pictures for half off in one of the shops there. 
To continue back to my Napa outfit, I noticed that the weather was way warmer here than in San Francisco. SF is a little bubble of cool air, and almost everything around it is at least 10 degrees warmer. However, it wasn't boiling hot, so I could wear a light sweater without being uncomfortable. To meet these 75 degree weather expectations, I wore my favorite green skirt from Urban Outfitters to let my legs breathe, but layered my black sweater from Madewell over it due to the slight breeze in the area. I finished the outfit with the new metallic shoes I bought, which completely contrast with the sweater due to its summer vibe. However, I really liked the balance between the fall/winter sweater and the summer shoes because it definitely fit in with the weather here in California.

With my makeup, I went for a natural look again by just using a rose eyeshadow. I noticed that in San Francisco (and in Napa), people wear way less makeup, especially eye makeup, so I wanted to fit in by lacking the bold eyeliner I usually wear. However, I still wanted to make a statement with my makeup, so I completed the look by using a deep red Nars lip pencil, which, by the way, is definitely worth the money.


San Francisco: Day 1

I forgot to tell you guys, but yesterday I flew out to San Francisco with my family. This is my first time on the west coast, and all I have to say so far is that I'm absolutely in love. Maybe not with all of California (I haven't heard the best things about LA), but at least with San Francisco. I'm staying near the Castro, which is the famous LGBT neighborhood, and it's filled with interesting people, the coolest-looking houses, tons of organic coffee shops (and any type of food), and this vibrant culture that you can't find anywhere else. So basically, if my dream wasn't to live in NYC, this is my second one. And I haven't even been outside this little area of SF, so I know it's going to get even better. However, what I've noticed is that they don't have that big of a fashion scene. It does have the shops with the expensive labels (like Prada, Louis Vuitton, Betsey Johnson, etc) in Union Square and Fillmore Street, but that's about as far as it goes. There have been few instances of really cool street style, but most people in this city just dress the way they want to dress, even if it means leggings and t-shirts every day. I'm all for that mentality, but it is definitely not the same in NYC, London, or even places like Chicago (if only SF had something like Michigan Avenue). However, the lack of a huge fashion scene does not stop me from loving it. I made the best of this fashion-lacking city by being one of the few people who actually try with their outfits. This place has really cool weather that is perfect for experimenting with fashion. It's July, but the high gets to be around 65 degrees, and it may drop to 50 at night. I'm definitely a huge fan of this climate, but it definitely calls for some different summer fashion choices. During the day, I was wearing my ripped jeans with a tank top and sandals. The jeans ended up being the only thing I needed to keep warm, but then the sun came out, and everything changed. I had to change into shorts, but then I grabbed a sweater just in case the weather dropped again. The weather here is always changing, so that's the biggest fashion choice you need to make -- be prepared. In my mind, this means layers.

This is what I wore at around 7 when my family and I went out to a delicious seafood restaurant. I started with a sleeveless, turtleneck dress, then I added thigh-highs to keep my legs warm. I finished the outfit by tying my blue striped shirt around my waist. This added color to a black-and-white outfit, but it also served as an extra layer when it got to be colder. I brought a light jacket along, which I ended up wearing on our 10 minute walk there. As for makeup, I opted for a natural look by using a rose eyeshadow by Urban Decay to accentuate my eyes and a neutral lip pencil by Nars to add a touch of color. My outfit was perfect for the weather but also unique enough to make a statement, which was my goal. I can't wait to see what other outfits pop up on this trip, and I can't wait to tell you guys about them! Instead of saying that I won't be able to post for a week because of this trip, I wanted to make the most of it and use this trip to create even better posts.

Here are more photos I shot of this beautiful city:


How to Make Basics Interesting

Basics, like the plain white tee, are crucial in every fashionista's wardrobe. They simplify overly-complex outfits, and they can complement almost every item in their closet. However, these basics can get to be too simple or too boring. A simple white tank can match with almost anything, but it could make a potentially cute outfit just a disappointing look that has no charm. Basics will always be necessary, but there are ways to make these basics ten times more interesting. Instead of choosing the basics that have no detail or unique character, find the items that have a little more, but just enough to where the item is still considered a "basic". I've been struggling to find the "plain white tee" that is more interesting than the simple ones you'll find at places like Target. To satisfy my want for a basic white tee that can still bring something interesting to the outfit, I went over to J. Crew because they have the best detailed basics. Their store is filled with simple tees that are detailed with jewels, fresh patterns, or even metallic stripes (like the one in my outfit today), which is exactly what I was looking for. I ended up getting a white "muscle" tank with vertical metallic stripes running down both sides. This top is still simple enough to be paired with almost anything, but the metallic detail adds a cool, modern twist on the simple white tank. What I love about this top is that it can be dressed up or down, depending on what I wear. Because I had to dress on the nicer side last night (I was hosting at the restaurant I work at), I paired it with my maroon skirt from American Apparel and my cut-out boots. To make the outfit more edgy and to match the metallic detail on the top, I wore my new grid socks from American Apparel. I could have made the outfit even nicer by adding a statement necklace and heels. To dress down the top, I could have paired it with my ripped boyfriend jeans from Urban Outfitters and sandals. The best thing about basics is the versatility a single item of clothing can bring to your wardrobe, but your wardrobe can be even more interesting if you upgrade these basics to the more detailed and unique ones.