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.


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, no—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 it truly a product of the culture you're from?

As I don't have time to conduct actual research, we'll just go off of what I think: the latter, obviously. I constantly say how personal style 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 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 blurry, especially when you're not a fan of your original culture and would gladly like to disassociate from it, which I have attempted 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 truer? 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. But these cities are like a grain of sand on a stretch of beach; so much more is out there. Even just in Europe. 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. 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 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. Apart from study abroad, this led me into an Instagram hole of Scandinavian style icons. 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. Scandinavians are immensely proud of their culture, and not in that gross American way; they actually have something to be proud of. And it definitely shows in their style.

Maren Schia from Oslo, Norway; photo from her Instagram

Exhibit A is Norwegian Maren Schia, a name that 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 queen 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. Also, she doesn't groom her body hair like every other American seems to because she transcends typical heteropatriarchal standards

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 carefree 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 tends to stray away from style 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. 

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? 

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.


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 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 the band. 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. 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 way too much 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. 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+.


An '80s Summer Revival is Upon Us

All thanks to popular queer cinema.

Call Me by Your Name (2017)

Ever since November of 2016, I've been dreaming of summer. Yep. Almost 14 months of longing for a season that only lasts three months, meaning I've been thinking about summer for the span of almost five summers. Now that's depressing. But, according to popular media, the thousands of IG photos set in LA or Barcelona that praise summer, and the satisfaction most of us seem to get by wearing minimal clothing, it seems like I'm not the only one. My 16 and 17-year-old self would be laughing right now. I used to hate this season, but now, in the midst of winter, all I want is summer.

The appeal hit me in November of 2016, as I said above, when I watched "San Junipero" for the first time. If you haven't heard of it, where have you been? But I'll still explain: it's an episode of Black Mirror set in a beach town in the '80s filled with '80s music, a queer love story that doesn't end in tragedy, and summer looks that make me dream of the season for 14 months straight. First step: if you haven't already, watch this now. Go. Don't even finish reading this blog post; go watch it then return 61 minutes of cinematic genius later.

San Junipero (2016)

Did you watch it? Good. Now back to my point. You understand why all of it is so, in the simplest of words, enamoring? All I want to do is fall in love wearing breezy summer clothes, but only in the '80s. No other decade will suffice. Maybe this is why the runway is heavily pulling from this decade, bringing back the power suit and shoulder pads because nostalgia is just that powerful. Nostalgia sells! And maybe this is also why other cinematic pieces are also following this '80s summer trend—enter my other favorite queer love story, Call Me by Your Name, the film I've watched three times in the past three weeks and read twice in the past two weeks. Take everything from "San Junipero," switch genders, and amplify it all. "San Junipero" makes me want to fall in love in the summer in the '80s, but Call Me by Your Name makes me feel like I am falling in love in the summer in the '80s. Since this one's a bit longer (especially if you read the book), I'm not going to make you stop reading this post and watch it, but if you haven't yet, go buy tickets ASAP or spend the next day reading it before going out to see it.

Call Me by Your Name (2017)

It not only portrays the feelings of endless desire and selfless love in the span of one summer oh-so-perfectly, but it also holds a few of my favorite things: the scenery of Northern Italy; a mix of '80s hits, entrancing piano pieces, and heart-wrenching Sufjan Stevens songs; and a style that can be summed up by the word billowy, a term used in the novel to describe one of Oliver's (Armie Hammer) shirts. "San Junipero" made me dream of summer, but Call Me by Your Name made me long for it as I felt what summer should feel like in the 2 hours and 12 minutes it takes to watch the movie. So ever since watching the two, I've constantly been re-watching them, desiring that same bubbly feeling that I get that could only be a product of an '80s summer love story. Gay, that is (sorry, straight storylines, we've had enough of you).

Because I can't go on for years just re-watching these two pieces, I might as well find a way to make the hazy '80s summer last in some way. Finding the love of my life in the span of a short summer isn't necessarily feasible, so what about only listening to '80s music? That's a bit too much. What about moving to Northern Italy? A bit too random, at least right now. Maybe simply pull inspiration from the styles of each piece? There we go. Instead of just following typical '80s trends, these pieces seem to find the best, most refreshing ones, and while I can't wear practically nothing in below freezing weather, I can at least dream of wearing them when temps rise in the spring.

San Junipero (2016)

Bermuda shorts have never looked so good! I think I'll ditch my DIY cut-offs that I cut three inches too short and opt for some khaki bermudas. Oversized striped tee recommended, shoes optional.

San Junipero (2016).

And when the beachy breezes of the night hit, slip on a denim jacket. Fake glasses also optional.

Call Me by Your Name (2017)

Speaking of denim jackets, make double denim an '80s summer dream by pairing light-wash Levi's with a breezy striped button-down and a cuffed jean jacket.

Call Me by Your Name (2017)

And now that I mention stripes, why don't you just wear stripes 24/7? Maybe in the form of a Lacoste polo paired with denim, or instead in the form of a button-down shirt that's only buttoned twice with khakis. The key to flirting is to purposefully match with your crush but play it off like it was an accident, because stripes are so in right now.

Call Me by Your Name (2017)

Summer implies that almost-outfit-repeating is completely acceptable, making it possible to wear that same breezy button-down over and over again but this time, with even less buttons done and with a bathing suit that also acts as really short shorts. If you want a change, wear the same shorts you wore while swimming earlier that day and pair it with your favorite band tee (bonus points if your favorite band tee is a Talking Heads one, like Elio's (Timothée Chalamet)).

San Junipero (2016)

The bermudas are back! Instead of wearing a mostly undone button-down like Oliver, only leave the top button undone and tuck it into belted shorts. Pair it with a (you guessed it) denim jacket to lessen that business-professional vibe.

Call Me by Your Name (2017)

Here's billowy! Wear your best-dressed button-down with belted trousers on your first day of summer, but make sure to still leave most of the buttons undone to show off some skin or your jewelry. It's summer, remember? Also, make sure the shirt you wear when meeting your future soulmate is a good one, because...

Call Me by Your Name (2017)

...he'll ask to keep it when the summer comes to a close and decide to wear it everyday you're apart. Two birds with one stone: sustainable fashion and holding on to a lost love through their most personal possessions.

Call Me by Your Name (2017)

And when summer's gone, exchange the bathing suit for wool trousers and the summer button-down for a winter one layered over a turtleneck, because summer doesn't last forever and it just got really fucking cold.

What I've come to realize is that the sunny season is a dream-like state, which is what makes it so enticing, and these two pieces of cinema somehow translate summer to literally and figuratively feel like a never-ending dream that's fueled by love. How romantic! If only we could live in summer forever, but instead, responsibilities and negative temperatures face us. I'll be counting down the days: 161 more days until I can live in a dream again.

Call Me by Your Name (2017)