Friday, August 27, 2010

The New Old Frontier: Lipstick

Lipstick is definitely the best option for your lips. Maybe this has always been obvious to everybody but me but for the past year my many shades (none of which I have actually purchased by me, they are all old tubes of my mom's or free Lancome samples (some of them should probably be thrown out by now)) have become my best friends to aid in capturing a look. Why did I ever think lipgloss was so good?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bins of Three

Why don't more establishments have compost, recycling, and trash receptacles? I'm pretty sure most people these days know the difference between green, blue, and black and does it really take that much money effort to mark or label a plastic bin. I think not! I know many places I go where I live have bins of three but I notice that if all three are not all together in every location, people will just throw whatever they have into the closest bin (lazy, as I said, and perhaps slightly unaware or in dire need to dispose of something?). The easiest solution: bins of three in all locations! I know I will make the effort to search for the right bin or hold on to an empty bottle until I get home so I can recycle it, but most people aren't me.

Do you see bins of three where you live? I really think this is the easiest way to get the message across to lazy people who believe in being green but don't take the action to seek out ways to do it unless its right in front of them.

Note: Please don't take my attitude towards lazy people personally. As you can see, I have grown rather negative towards them but ever hopeful that they will change their ways if given the chance.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is My Kind of Place

This past weekend I took a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium with my family. The last time I went was about 10 years ago and I don't remember much of it. But this time, besides seeing the coolest jellyfish and seahorses (my new favorite animals), I was inspired by all the aquarium's green efforts and the way they presented the issue to their visitors.

For one thing, I could tell that everything in the aquarium was well thought out in terms of it's environmental impact. I'm not sure if this was just my perspective since this is a topic I am especially passionate about, or if it was obvious to everyone, but the efforts are important, nonetheless. These small efforts varied from toilets that flush two ways (up for liquids, down for solids!) to grass fed beef and free range chicken. They even had a pamphlet on every table at the restaurant that outlined safe fish to eat in terms of the environments they come from and those in which they are raised and caught. I loved that these were things that could easily be overlooked as non-issues but were taken into account. It really sent the message that even though these are small things, they add up to make a difference. I hope that visitors who don't make a big effort to be greener noticed and saw how easy and important it is to make the smallest difference. And that they realized that one step at a time we can achieve a healthier lifestyle and cleaner planet.

The aquarium also featured an entire exhibit on how climate change is affecting our oceans and it's inhabitants. Later in the exhibit, instead of continuing to depress you with details about the changing planet, they offer easy and simple actions and conscious choices you can make everyday at home. My favorite section was a setup of a kitchen that had different labeled and interactive areas that told you how much energy something such as a microwave used even when they are considered "off" or in the fridge where you could choose not to buy tomatoes in the winter when they are not seasonal because they use chemicals to ripen them or fly them halfway across the world producing huge amounts of pollution just in the act of bringing to your grocer. This was incredibly inspiring to me, the way they were able to create an effective message with a positive twist (something I struggle with). But, while to me, it was inspiring, my stepmom talked about how depressing the whole exhibit was. To me, she was really saying that she would rather be oblivious to the simple (I repeat, simple) changes she can make to create a healthier environment (something positive) and continue happily living as she does while putting an unnecessary cost on our environment (something negative).

In another area of the museum they held presentations on different types of animals. I went to one that described how animals around the world are inspiring more efficient inventions. Some of the ones I remember were a turbine blade for a windmill shaped like a humpback whale's flippers, a car shaped like a boxfish, and a Japanese bullet train shaped like the beak of a kingfisher. All are designed to be more aerodynamic and, therefore, more efficient because they move faster therefore making more energy (in the case of the blade) or using less gas (in the case of the car and the train). Surprisingly, I don't think I've seen any of these inventions out and about in the world. I understand that perhaps these inventions may be more expensive, but the money saved by investing in one of these will mean that you and the planet will come out ahead in the end. This is one of the key issues I have with people that don't make more of an effort to be green: it will directly benefit them financially. It is so obvious to me to make the effort that I actually have a really hard time understanding why you wouldn't (so maybe its a small margin between the cost of living greener and not, but even the smallest bit counts). If you turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth or while you soap your dishes thats less money for your water bill. If you unplug your chargers or appliances with perpetual lights on them while technically considered off, that's less money you have to pay on your electronics bill. It makes me sad that this has to be spelled out to people so plainly because it is really so simple. Honestly, it shows how lazy most people are. But if everyone just took some sort of action it would really make a difference! One of the things that really stuck with me from the aquarium was when one of the presenters said that every penny you spend is a vote and that you have power to voice your opinion with the kinds of products you buy and any efforts you make. Buy locally, unplug unused appliances and electronics, turn off your faucets if not being used, invest in an energy saving appliance or device that will eventually benefit you (and your home and mine--the earth).

Now please enjoy a selection of photos of the coolest sea creatures:

Future Halloween costume inspiration? I think yes!

This leafy looking thing, yeah, it's a seahorse!

Dress Up Doesn't Have to End

Tommy Ton (of Jak & Jil) wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about how fashion shows no longer have the same innovation and theatricality as they used to. Of course, I wasn't following fashion when he was a teenager "obsessing about fashion" but the designers that come to mind are the exact same ones that he has listed from my teenage years obsessing about fashion: John Galliano and Alexander McQueen. These are two designers that definitely inspire me to push myself to find new ways to wear clothes and express myself.

While he mentioned these two designers in the post, I wouldn't have listed them here if I didn't believe that they still have elements of theatricality and innovation to their shows, but I do agree with Ton that more designers could use these elements. Designers who really put on a show create an atmosphere for their clothes. These shows are exponentially more inspiring than others that don't include dramatic make-up, hair, and proportions. And maybe I'm just drawn to scale and a complete look that pushes the limits of normality because to me, a t-shirt and jeans should never just be a t-shirt and jeans.

A few weeks ago I went to walk my dog at the beach in just that: a black t-shirt, jeans, dirty white keds, and a orange zip-up. I said to my sister, "I look so... normal." While she took this as a stab at the way she dresses, the fact was, I didn't feel like myself. Although it works for a lot of people, practicality or normalcy is not a way I would describe the way I dress. I'm not, in any way, claiming to be a totally unique dresser, but I do strive for innovation with whatever I put on my body. Whenever there's a themed party (and even if theres not), my friends and I will take our time to scour our closets for a way we can put something together that won't be the standard night look. And during the day I tend to put together an outfit for a certain character, decade, or aesthetic. In short, I'm inspired by an idea and I work to portray that idea as wholly as possible in what I wear, how I do my makeup, and how I style my hair. This is similar to what happens in those fashion shows that are most inspiring: they instill a certain vision on the viewer that is so complete it becomes real (I hope this makes sense--I feel like I'm lacking a better explanation for what I feel about these shows). I wish there was more of this in fashion shows, but also in real life. I know not everyone is inspired by clothing but it's such an important part of my day-to-day life that I can't imagine someone not wanting to have fun with clothes, hair, and makeup. It's like dress-up but all day long! And it has the potential to change your mood, how you perceive yourself, and how others perceive you.

The best example I could find of having fun with how I present myself. From Diva Night, makeup by my friend, Nick.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

From a New Owner of Fur: Vintage, Faux, or New it Sends the Same Message

So I just bought a fur coat. But before you condemn me to hell forever, let me tell you that it's vintage. Does that make it any better? For some people, fur is fur is fur. And for me, it does bring up some ethical issues. I've already been told by my mother that it is "so not PC" and by my sister that it doesn't make a difference whether or not it's vintage. These are things that I had already considered for a good hour before returning to the store I'd spotted it at to buy it. But, suddenly I regretted my purchase; no matter how cheap it was for a coat or how good shape it was in, I couldn't help think how many rabbits it used to be. But after a half hour of mulling it over and reading about the issue, I feel a little better.

I knew when I bought the coat that I would be sending a message about wearing fur for fashion. I actually believe that faux or real, wearing fur sends that same message (even if you feel a little better if it's faux or vintage, others don't necessarily know that). One thing I'm sure about, though, is that I would never buy a new fur anything. Upon moving to New York from California for college, I refused to buy a down jacket with a fur lined hood (and that isn't that much fur). But vintage fur lasts a long time, it has the same allure (I know, superficial--cringe), and its cheaper. And the most important thing: it's not directly supporting the production of new fur even if it is sending the message that wearing fur for fashion is okay.

While I'm no member of PETA, I love animals and wholeheartedly support animal rights. I'm a still a little bit disgusted with myself that I was ever so keen on wearing vintage fur. And to tell you the truth, I still like the idea (although I'm not as excited as I was), I just don't want to offend anyone or give them the wrong idea about what kind of person I am and what I stand for. So I'm sitting here worrying that I'll be savagely criticized by students on my liberal college campus once winter rolls around. I'm not sure how loud their voices will be, but I'm positive there are strong feelings about this issue on campus. Hopefully I'll find a way to come to terms with my purchase because, right now, the only place I can imagine wearing it with no judgement is in the far reaches of Russia where my Ukrainian friend, Asya, says even peasants wear fur.

If there's anyone there, let me know what you think. I want to hear.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Right Pair of Boots

The right pair of boots will make you feel like you can conquer, dominate, and tackle whatever is standing in your way. These our mine: the perfect pair of Florentini and Bakers.

Redefining Hipster

Today my mom told me of the days that she and her friend Kelly would get let into a club called Earl's for free in '70s San Francisco for their "trend-setting style that [apparently] the club needed". She called herself a hipster and has told me that I am one as well. She obviously didn't mean this in a negative way, but at the time, I couldn't help but feel hurt by being placed in this category. While I'm not the American Apparel, '80s loving, big glasses, cigarette smoking type, I do try to wear things that are different from your everyday mall outfit. So is this what she meant by calling me a hipster? Yes, I believe so. But I can't help but think that her '70s version of hipster and our 21st century version are two very different people. I mean, no one today would admit to being a hipster--there are too many negative connotations. Yet there are so many people that are grouped into this category, myself included.

So, the question of the century (or maybe the week) is: What is a hipster, really, and is it such a negative thing? Is a hipster someone that follows fashion and wears the "hippest" clothes? Because to me, fashion and hip don't always mix. Is a hipster someone who just exudes cool? Because to me, cool is just a frame of reference for someone who is totally comfortable in their own skin and confident in their style. The people who should be embarrassed at the term used to describe them are those who wear expensive and bought distressed clothes, head-to-toe trying too hard, wearing what they think is the hippest item of late. That would be the negative definition of a hipster and the one most commonly referred to. But I feel like people also group another type of dresser into the hipster category. That would be people like me: we have fun when we get dressed, get creative with what we have, and are generally confident with the outcome. We wear vintage, thrift, designer, hand-crafted clothes, and whatever else we can find. Perhaps this is the hipster my mother was referring to. This is the hipster I would like to bring back. It's that confidence in their style that makes them seem undeniably cool (the kind of cool I described above). Those are the people I admire. Now, why is that such a bad thing?

So today is the beginning of a new era. I will no longer be insulted, I will no longer get defensive when called a hipster. Instead, I'll take it to mean that I'm the kind of person who takes pride in looking their best and feeling good about it. I'll let them believe what they may about who I am because it doesn't matter if they think I am that kind of hipster because I know who I am and I like that person.

And just so we're clear, I don't agree with any kind of labels but as long as they exist I want people to know that it doesn't matter what you are, it matters who you are. I believe Johnny Weir said it well, as brought to my attention by my friend, Hilary, here.

*all photos by Scott Schuman

Things That Should be Obvious to, Well, Everyone

  • Equality (in all senses of the word--use your imagination, broaden your mind)
  • Chemicals cause cancer
  • Chemicals are in cigarettes
  • Kindness and a smile can make someone's day that much better
  • Sunscreen protects your skin so in the future it doesn't resemble leather
  • Leaving a charger plugged in or a light on unnecessarily harms your home and mine (and I plan on living here for the rest of my life, don't you?)
  • Texting while I'm talking to you (especially in a restaurant) is rude
I hope this hasn't been too cynical or pretentious but I just thought I'd remind you of simple things you can do for yourself and others that are actually very easy and will benefit YOU and EVERYONE around you. So please, use your cigarette money to buy a bottle of sunscreen and walk those five feet to unplug that charger because your laptop is already charged. Oh, and please don't support Prop 8. Thanks!

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Formative Years: Inspiration

I didn't mean for everything on here to be about fashion, but perhaps thats where it was always headed anyways (I mean, this is only my third post so who really knows, right?). I'm trying this new thing where I write down all of my ideas (who knew that was the easiest way to remember things?) and more than half of them turn out about fashion and things that I can create. These are the formative years in which I'm trying to figure out who I am, what I want to do with myself, what I believe in. So what does it mean that I like to create? Just that, I guess.

I recently watched The Runaways. One of the things I found so inspiring about them was their fearless ability to be themselves and represent something new and different. Dakota Fanning, who played Cherie Currie, wore some wonderful outfits and just seemed to exude this desire to be her own person. In the beginning she lip-synced while dressed in an outfit inspired by David Bowie and throughout the film her costumes continued to be inspiring to me during a time when I found myself in a sort of style rut.

Its always people like Anna Dello Russo, Alexander McQueen, and the Mulleavy sisters (among many others) who remind me of why I love to create and how necessary it is to express myself that way in order to feel like myself. I realize how often I state the obvious: shouldn't I know that I should do what I like in order to feel like myself? I guess it's not always so obvious when your in the formative years. I like to think I'm pretty good at eschewing worries about what others think about me but sometimes, like everyone, I doubt my own creative eye. I wonder if it's necessary to feel this way in order to come back even better than before.