Notes from February

    Shirt, H&M.  Sweater, Lands' End.  Bag and pants, Zara. Gloves, Target (of all places).
Originally this post was titled, "On Our Way to Spring, Perhaps", but I guess not since it proceeded to snow all day since this morning and by the looks of it, unlikely to stop anytime soon. I hear we're going to have six inches of snow by tomorrow. This is what I wore just a few days ago guiding some school trustees around the museum. All the snow is really pretty don't get me wrong, but why now when we're exiting February and entering March? Speaking of which, it's crazy how fast February went by and it's already time for my monthly wrap up post.
  • My biggest discovery this month has to be Study Hack, this blog I discovered via Art of Manliness. Why haven't I heard of its existence in high school? Anyway I've been reading it non-stop everywhere using my iPad. I've been so dedicated and devoted to the blog's teachings that I bought Newport's book for college students and another recommended by him. All students should most definitely check the blog out, and for those no longer in school, he has some valuable advice regarding work, staying organized and increasing productivity.
  • Jil Sander returns to Jil Sander (yay) but it also means that Raf Simons is without a job. At first I thought he'd quit to work on a womenswear line but now it appears to be not the case. Hmmm, interesting. 
  • More fashion rumours for those wondering who will be the new head designer for Dior. I thought it would Raf Simons at first, however some pointed fingers at Stefano Pilati and Hedi Slimane and now Christopher Kane...round and round we go. Dear LVMH, can we just make up our minds and decide already? I already did.
  • I haven't written any real critical post so far and I was planning to write about the Chinese luxury consumers (along with a Chinese friend who has the insights to share) but then I saw this on Threadbared. Of course you would argue there is room for everyone on the internet but with their research skills (their PhDs to...I don't even have my BA yet) and comprehensive coverage of the topic, I can't help but feel any future attempts will be an exercise in futility. That being said, I just want to be strategic in the posts I write and invest my time in topics that haven't been covered yet. Don't worry that just because this idea has been shafted and put on the back burner that I'm out of ideas. I do – I just need the time (see below). This reminds that I should stop procrastinating on writing lest another idea escapes from me again.
  • On a less fashion-centric note, an alum won an Oscar for her work. Yippee! There are some good alums after all.
  • I absolutely adored this sweet post of an artist who did a illustrated book of missed connections on Craigslist on Hila's blog. There's something about a lost opportunity to connect with a potential soul-mate just tugs at my heartstrings yo. I've only used missed connections once with Jada and boy were the responses hilarious.
  • One of my favourite food blogs, "101 Cookbooks" interviewed Béatrice Peltre of La Tartine Gourmande. She has the most wonderful pictures and her new cookbook just came out! 
  • The new exhibit at the Met featuring Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada's work (!!!!). Hopefully I can catch it before I leave for Athens in late May. 
  • I finally watched 50/50! Quite possibly my favourite JGL movie yet. 
  • Vintage make up turtorial. So kewl.
  • Annnnnd of course what could be complete without Angelina Jolies' leg. Amirite?
Lastly I should note that I just dropped my Intro to Arch class after being so inspired by Study Hack. I was bored to tears in that class, especially when it involves being in the studio for three long hours in the afternoon! Sadly it's too late to add another class though instead I might just audit another class. I have enough credits anyway and I'm not behind even with only three classes this semester. Since I will now have substantially more free time, I can't wait to dedicate more time for personal projects (blog included). So exciting!!!
Reminder: there's only two more days before the website makeover giveaway ends. I'll announce the "winners" Friday night.

Menswear Mondays ft. Jean Dujardin

I feel like I was the only person who didn't watch the Oscars last night (hello problem sets) nonetheless I did hear the good news that Jean Dujardin won 'Best Actor' for his amazing performance in The Artist. I'm not too surprised since he pretty much won every 'Best Actor' award out there for his role as George Valentin, but damn if it's not satisfying to see him win an Oscar as the cherry on top of the award season. I acknowledge that he looked great last night, though perhaps not so terrific that is it worthy of "an inspiration post" however I think he really deserved a congratulatory post (with a picture of Uggie no less!). Maybe I should start placing bets again on the Oscars since I totally saw this one coming and I called it last year that Colin Firth would win 'Best Actor' for The King's Speech...
Side note: I thought Gary Oldman looked a-m-a-z-i-n-g in Paul Smith.

A Quiet Sunday...and a Giveaway

I can't believe it snowed yesterday of all days! Thank god the snow didn't stick because I don't want a late winter chill no matter how pretty it could be and I need warmer weather stat (terribly jealous of all those lucky people who were hitting it mid 70s to low 80s ºF last week). The roommate moved out on amicable terms (she didn't like the house community and we actually bonded over our mutual dislike of certain people snerk snerk) so the room is feeling rather stark, but also wonderfully calm, quiet and zen. The song for today is from a popular Taiwanese film You are the Apple of My Eye that I have yet to watch, albeit already listening to the OST on repeat (I prefer the Chinese title, “那些年,我們一起追的女孩女孩”, which can be loosely translated to 'The Year when We All Chased the Same Girl'; it's strangely more poetic that way. While I'm on this tangent, there's also something super popular with Taiwanese origins, yes you've guessed it: Jeremy LINNNNNN.  Does anyone want Linsanity buttons to put on their site? I can make 'em). Lemme know if you know where I can watch it because I can't find it anywhere online and I hope there is an E-book version of novel the film is based on I can buy to read over Spring Break.

I want to take this opportunity to give thanks back to the blogging community. It's only right since everybody here has given me so much warm comforting words of wisdom over the past year, and are always there in times of confused existential quandary (to a lesser degree, this as well). I don't have any fancy gifts, but as a way of saying thank you, I am going to offer three bloggers a 'website makeover'! Even though my skills are incomparable to pros like Tabitha Emma and Door Sixteen, I know a decent amount of HTML/CSS and I do have Photoshop and a huge arsenal of fonts, curves, actions etc at my disposal. For old readers of the blog, all past layouts were tweaked by me from the default Blogger templates. It doesn't even have to be a complete makeover if you just want some sprucing up on your blog – maybe a new font, change the margins, a new button for your site, etc. Whatever you want, I'll try to do it and I'll let you know if it's beyond my means (i.e. fancy Javascript stuff) via e-mail. Sorry only Blogger hosted blogs for now.
To enter, simply:
  • leave a comment (if you're going to use Open ID, then please leave your e-mail as well)
  • make sure you follow the blog via RSS, Bloglovin', Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest just kidding you don't have to do anything
This will be open until next Friday, March 2nd 2012. I'll announce the "winners" that night.
Also, an update: Imageshack is being a b*tch and decided to delete any photos hosted there over their new 500 image premium unless you pay for a pro account. Argh. Anyway if you see any old posts with broken links, that will be why. Thank god all the photos from the past several months are hosted with Blogger however I don't think I will have the time to re-upload all the photos from Imageshack.

Cashmere Coats and Pearls

The latest buzz on campus for the past two days was a letter to the editor written by an alumna who graduated in the early 80s and is currently an alumni club president of Westchester county. The reason why the letter spread like wildfire (even though no one really reads the school newspaper much anymore) was due to the intensely homophobic, xenophobic, elitist, racist language and tone of the letter, which I will refrain from posting in its entirety here because it's REALLY that bad, but here is an immortal line in which she laments:
"I can tell you that the days of white, wealthy, upper-class students from prep schools in cashmere coats and pearls who marry _____ men are over."
I omitted the name of the traditionally, in the past all male, "elite" college nearby in order to preserve some personal privacy and not stalk me and/or kill me in my sleep however essentially you can insert the name of any prestigious university/liberal arts college in the country. If you've ever watched Animal House, you get the whole Ivy men marrying all women's college students idea. So how does this relate to the blog?

As an ardent fan of the PITA (Preppy/Ivy/Trad/Americana) aesthetic, all the bad press this clearly blue-blooded WASPy old money alum has generated further deepens the kind of stylistic identity crisis I have been suffering ever since last summer. This perhaps seems all rather superfluous and superficial to tie a serious socio-economic issue of America today to the wardrobe but I do believe that what you wear is a reflection of how you choose to present yourself, and therefore by extension the kind of beliefs that you upheld. Maybe I'm reading this a little too closely and it is silly to wholeheartedly believe that a few items of clothing can single-handedly reveal all there is to know about a person. However you cannot deny that although stereotypes are stupid, certain demographics will latch onto a particular range of products (because of similarity of lifestyles among other reasons to say the least) so that all brands will have some connotations attached to them.

The PITA influence in my wardrobe stems from the fact that I attended a private, college preparatory boarding school, which I am sure this alum would most definitely approve of. Nevertheless, this does not mean that I am either a) white or b) wealthy, only that I have hardworking parents who were prudent and wise with their money and wanted the best possible education for their daughter. In this sense, I acknowledge and will never forget the fact that I am incredibly privileged to have grown up in a stable home. Even though I've come to loathe the kinds of imagery the world "preppy" now conjures, its aesthetic and appeal have themselves embedded deeply into my identity whether I like it or not. This is the kind of world I have constantly been exposed to ever since my arrival in the US as a highly impressionable thirteen year old. Of course I should never forget to mention that this particular alum is the bad apple of the lot, since I do have many school mates who fit her description and yet are also part of the highly motivated, talented and passionate lot determined and committed to fighting worldsuck. Should I follow the wise words of Orson Welles and just don't give a damn, even if my association with all things preppy never ceases to tug at my conscience? Oh dear friends and readers of the blog, what should I do?

One of my more preppier outfits: Boots, Hunter; Chinos, Lands' End; Vest, Fred Perry; Top, UNIQLO.

P.S. There will be no more future fashion week review type of posts, unless I find there is a show so spectacular that it merits an entire post dedicated to its awesomeness. Otherwise they will all be located in clearly marked boards on my Pinterest. I will use Pinterest more often in the future, so please follow me!

My Little Denim Collection

The other day a college classmate was shocked to hear that I have only three pairs of jeans. Is it really all that surprising to own so few? The reason that I own only three wasn't because I was being necessarily a "minimalist" but rather it was simple by-product of attending a school that banned the wearing of jeans (we had last Friday of the month Jeans days though!). The only acceptable type of pants were khakis or corduroys or dressy slacks for "Formal Mondays", though sometimes I got away with wearing black denim jeans since they're not too obvious and I got along with the Girls' Dean ;) With this post, you've seen all the pairs of jeans that I own.
The others include:
I guess this was kind of blessing in disguise as I never could have fallen into the denim + hoodie trap in high school even if I wanted to on lazy days. Please tell me I'm not the only one who has such a small collection despite loving wearing denim?

Menswear Mondays ft. Patti Smith

Here's another not so quite orthodox choice of Patti Smith! Words cannot describe how truly very awesome she is in all ways possible. Consider how much hype and image is used to sell music nowadays (ex. Rihanna, Lada Gaga, Lana del Rey etc.), Patti Smith's no bullshit raw authenticity comes across as amazingly refreshing since it all feels incredibly honest and true. No fancy ad campaigns or videos but plain ol' good music. To those who didn't read her autobiographical book Just Kids on her early artistic life with Robert Mapplethorpe (which you should by the way), she explains that her and Mapplethorpe never set out to live the typical "poor starving boho artist" life––they really just didn't have any money. Another reason I love her so much is her resourcefulness by making do with so little, and then to take it further by transforming something that is utterly ordinary to extraordinary. It takes great skill and taste to achieve what she is has done to what could simply have been boring sustenance. Her thrifty ways and creative spins on things is what makes her a major icon and inspirational figure to me. That and of course, her undeniable tomboy spirit.

Downton Abbey Hunting Gear

Given all the Downton Abbey obsession over on this side of the pond in recent weeks, I gather that most people have finally finished the second season in January (unlike me who could not wait and watched it all at the end of last Fall on the computer and wrote about it soon afterwards). Therefore hopefully now it is safe enough to post some stills from their Christmas Special that I found particularly inspiring. As some of you may know, I am currently in love with all things tweed that it is rather unsurprising that I would expound on just how much I am loving the hunting gear of the Christmas special.

I am not sure that I can pinpoint exactly what tickles my fancy so, but I'm sure it's a combination of the muted palette of muddy greens and browns, the textures involved and the whole tailored formality of it all. I've had some hunting experience in the past (joined my host family in boarding school in Michigan and they insisted that I should go hunting with them since it's apparently an integral part of the "American experience") and while I did not kill anything thank god, it was nowhere as glamourous I can assure you. Instead of these really pretty tweeds and riding boots, I had to wear this neon orange vest because it was hunting season and the jacket is big giant warning sign to hunters out there that I was clearly not game. Not that wearing tweeds will somehow make the whole hunting experience substantially less terrifying, but I'm sure that having these wonderful ensembles around would have made it just a tad more enjoyable. And I dare say that I wouldn't mind winter so much if there were tweed to go around. Eeek, when will Season 3 come around? I haven't got much to obsess over in nowadays with no Sherlock, Downton Abbey or Game of Thrones to keep me amused *sigh*

Can I Be More in Love

Now that NYFW is over, I thought I could maybe just talk about a few of the shows that I liked, rather than give a full blow by blow of each show like the Man Repeller's coverage of NYFW––who did a fantastic job by the way of covering all the major points of the shows succinctly (and I bet she saw them in person too, natch). However I soon stumbled upon Jil Sander Navy and I don't think anything can look better (Sorry Carven, I still love you though). It was going to be part of the highlights of NYFW post but I soon saved every photo I found and now it has to be on a post of its own.
I don't know how it managed to catch me off guard when I distinctly remember seeing the Pre-Fall collection (above) on Tumblr but hey nothing is better than the sensation of being pleasantly surprise. I love the kooky preppy vibe of the Pre-Fall but I lurved the cool school girl vibe of the Fall 2012 collection (below). Even though the info section of the site is not working, thankfully there is a small info piece on Fashionista about it. It never crossed my mind that Raf Simon was behind this (way too girly girl for him) and it's actually designed by an in-house team. Whatever, I like what I see. I just want someone to make rhinestone encrusted paperclip barrettes already.
Note: I've started to accept text ads (see right under sponsored links) however this does will not affect the integrity and content of the blog in any way. I still don't accept sponsored post and I promise full disclosure in the future should I receive any merchandise from sellers/retailers. The money's going back to the blog to buy a domain and some Pugly Pixel goodies. I hope I was transparent enough but feel free to email me anytime for more clarification if needed.

Valentine Film Special: "The Artist"

I wasn't planning to post anything special just because I'm a single sad grumpy pants nonetheless since I've been recommending The Artist left and right to everyone in real life and happens to be the perfect movie to watch on Valentine's Day, here's a Valentine feature for the film. I haven't watched too many silent films in the past (some featuring Greta Garbo or Charlie Chaplin and Nosferatu at most) however Michel Hazanavicius did a fantastic job of bringing silent films back into mainstream attention. Not that I don't there would be a spate of silent films to be produced afterwards like the way that Avatar made 3D films trendy, but it certainly did shake up the cinematic landscape with the way it's winning award everywhere. Jean Dujardin is really really really good at playing the down and out protagonist George Valentin and I swooned when I saw him on screen, not because of his good looks necessarily, but simply at how refreshingly old Hollywood looking he is. Bérénice Bejo also shines as Peppy Miller, but is still overshadowed by Dujardin's sparkling performance. Though he's not featured in the photographs, Uggie as Jack the Dog cannot be left out because he's one of the crown jewels of this film and is so adorable. Good boy.
Since this is a mini fashion-in-film post, I should mention the clothing in this period film. Quite honestly, it's just your standard '20s and '30s flapper fares though I did appreciate the clean simple silhouettes. In this regard I'm eagerly anticipating Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby and see how his film will hold up in the fashion front (though it's featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, who is urghhhh and Carey Mulligan, whom I do like but can we please give other newbie actresses a chance?).
Happy Valentine's Day to all, and thank you to my dear valentine Jada (I got your postcard!) ;)

Menswear Mondays ft. Jacques Henri Lartigue

Did I surprise anyone today by not featuring some well known old Hollywood star? Perhaps even more shocking is that Jacques Henri Lartigue is not the man in the photo but the one behind the camera. He's my new favourite photographer find of the moment and all of his pictures are equally fantastic so I urge you to check them out should you find the time. I found this photo perfectly apt in describing my current situation at school––trying to stay afloat of the flood of coursework, all the paperwork to hand in while simultaneously keeping track of the deadlines floating in my head––and still trying to look composed when I'm so not feeling 'it'. It doesn't help that the weather has taken a sharp bitter turn without the soft snow there to buoy the winter chill and lift the spirit. What makes it all the more worse is that after watching Maurice Pialat's A Nos Amours, I'm pining even harder for warmer days. I bet I can't be the only one feeling rather out of form lately, so I wish everybody a great start to a new week and look good while staying on top of their game!
Lastly, R.I.P. to Whitney Houston.

A Time to Pause and Think

Thanks F for always being so reliably well-dressed! You are a fashion blogger friend's dream. I'm hoping to conduct a closet visit + style interview of her soon even though it's so hard to get hold of this busy gal. I always appreciate the tasteful subtlety of her style––being loud and flashy simply isn't in her dictionary.

Recently I got carried away playing journalist in writing mostly about my inspirations and places that I've been to/discovered rather than talking about my wardrobe à la Miss Sophie. It's not that I have (or will be) making interesting "big" purchases anytime soon with my ongoing search for basics, however writing it out on the blog helps me to organize my thoughts, recognize where my priorities lie and being methodical in my approach to shopping really reigns in any possible impulse purchases (so far so good). So while I am on this topic (since the blog is about me me me you know *cough*), I have some news to announce: readers who thrive on novelty and trends beware, I will be on a shopping freeze. Of course this much like preaching to the choir since if you honestly cared only about the latest trends you would not be reading this blog. I do think it's important to note this since it's not motivated by lack of imagination or an abandonment of the pursuit of a certain aesthetic, at the risk of sounding superficial and pretentious because calm down people it's just clothes. There are still things that I would love to add to my wardrobe even though I am currently quite content with the items I currently have. Like Fleurette who explained so eloquently in her post, it is incredibly hard to be bored with wearing items you truly truly love. There's satisfaction and thrill in finding new ways to combine different pieces together. Call me weird. These are just some thoughts that goes along with the shopping freeze, but I do have concrete reasons to stop buying (at least for the long haul right now).

The main reason is that I have a huge seminar plus internship in Greece this summer and I will need to scrimp every penny I have to fund not only my plane tickets flying to and from Athens but also the day-to-day costs of living in a country bordering on bankruptcy for the two months of my internship. God knows what will happen to the euro by the time summer rolls around.

The second reason is that I am currently seriously impressed with the intensive culling efforts of Catssaymeow. I can't be the only one here who thinks that owning a lot of things is quite a burden, in that you feel obligated to maintain them, give them a good wear now and then etc. Despite being in a boarding school and then moving to an entirely new state for college, I still managed to accumulate a considerable amount of crap (especially of the why-do-I-still-have-this-I-don't-even-wear-it-anymore kind).

I've babbled a little too long that I intended to, nevertheless I'm so glad I finally got this off my chest. Until tomorrow's second installment of Menswear Monday!

The Best of Pitti Uomo and Milan Menswear Fall '12

Here's to more menswear love for this week before we plunge into NYFW for all things womenswear, and of course, more fashion shows at Milan, London and Paris later to last us all the way till early March. Admittedly I haven't been paying as much attention as I could have this season to Pitti Uomo due to much schoolwork. Then Milan Menswear Fall '12 came along and soon the two kinda meshed together in my brain but luckily I stumbled on this guide to help me sort which collection was at Florence or Milan. Though some of the shows were just absolutely fabulous, I have to admit much of the actions occurs outside the show on the streets than it is within the tents.  Thankfully there is the always trusty Tommy Ton––with his fabulous eye for detail––to capture it all for the folks who couldn't make it across the pond. In the past I tried to not pay too much attention to the street style (especially at Pitti) because some of the guys try SO HARD that just thinking about it makes me cringe a little. However with the introduction of the #menswear tag at Tumblr and being unable to avoid the street style photos any longer, I began to embrace them and look at them in a new light. Indeed this season was considerably less cringe-inducing and surprisingly chock-full of inspiration. I love the colour palette here and the way the accessories were incorporated into the outfit (can't beat a bag with a built in strap for the umbrella!). I cannot not mention the street style at Milan or Florence without at least taking note of the fabulous What They Wore videos episodes one and two made by Mr. Porter as well. I'll resist talking too much about my love for Mr. Porter for now since that will make for another post altogether, even though really my Mr. Porter love knows no bounds.