Monday, June 27, 2011

Dress Your Best Week: 1

Ever since I stumbled upon AcademiChic's Dress Your Best Week last year, I was...obsessed. I wanted to participate, but I didn't want to do it without AcademicChic's "permission" so to speak. I felt I was stealing their idea if I didn't wait until they decided to do it again.

Thanks to Already Pretty, I can now do it! In her usual links post, she mentioned that AcademiChic was doing it again! And, though a bit late, I'm jumping at the chance to be a part of this.

That said, I do believe you should dress your best every day, week, month, year. But I'll go deeper into that when I do my finishing post for Dress Your Best Week. But I'd really like to thank AcademiChic for doing this again and Already Pretty for giving the heads up.

Dress Your Best: Legs

When I was little, I didn't really pay attention to my legs. But I sure used them. Jumping off roofs, running, dancing, skating, you name it. I was a bit clumsy, but proud and happy that I had two healthy legs that could take me wherever I needed and wanted.

As time passed and I became a teenager, I grew to appreciate my legs. They were toned and athletic, probably thanks to genetic predisposition and years of running around the yard, chasing pets and crazy cousins. However, I had already received the first of several injuries that would make life a little cumbersome today. Worse, I was being harassed by the person I considered my best friend, and one of the things she did was try to demean my somewhat okay self-image.

I was overweight and sensitive about my figure. I was tall, chubby, and to make things worse for a high school kid, I looked nothing like my classmates. Years later I would learn to love my extremely mixed heritage that made me into the person I am today, but back then, it was difficult to stand out like a sore thumb. Worse, I did not want to conform to the societal beaty standards being imposed upon me. All in all, I figured that I had nice legs, a nice butt, and some pretty good shoulders. If anything, I thought that as the years passed, I would grow into my body or change it for the better. As our friendship slowly but surely spiraled into oblivion, she began to say abusive, hurtful things about my personality and my body, in addition to escalating to actual violence.

It's always easier to believe the negative. I wonder why.

For a long time, I thought my legs were horrible. I suddenly noticed all the scars from my childhood adventures. Scars that once brought me pride and happy memories now embarrassed me and pointed out my inadequacy in a teenage world. I wondered if my legs were too thin or pale. I would bite my tongue and take a deep breath whenever she would suggest helpful things, like covering up those legs. It would take a long time to realize that my "friend" was full of utter crap. And even if I was imperfect, I had working parts, and that's all that mattered. I was just the way I supposed to be.

So now, I embrace my legs. Though every once in a while I'll wonder if that girl's taunts were true (chicken stick legs, gee thanks), if they were, it doesn't matter. These legs have helped me walk for miles, run for fun, kick for defense, dance like a dervish, swim in the wondrous sea, and make my way towards those I love. And that is why I dress them to their best. And I think they look pretty darned cute, too.

Outfit details:
Cardigan: Old Navy, $3.50
Dress: Fleamarket, $00.50
Belt: garage sale, $00.25
Shoes: BCBG outlet, $29.00

Join in on the self-love fun!

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Wedding in Cape May

A long overdue post on our weekend at Cape May...

Damián and I flew over to the States to attend Zeynep and Ed's wedding. Zeynep and I have known each other for years, and I was thrilled to go their wedding. I was also thrilled to get away for the weekend. Sneaking off every once in a while does wonders for you!

We were only there for three days, but I think we did plenty for such a short time. The wedding, a visit to Atlantic City, meeting alpacas, and having some great lox on a bagel were just some of the highlights. To respect my friend's privacy, I won't be showing any pictures of the ceremony here. :) But I'll show you a bit of the boardwalk and the alpacas!

It was a lovely ceremony, and we wish nothing but the best for the happy couple. :) Thank you for having us over!

(All pictures taken by me. Please do not take or reuse without my permission.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Having a Budget = I Can't Dress Nice?

About a week or two ago, there was a big brouhaha over a post that Gwyneth Paltrow put up on her website, GOOP. It was a feature on her "essentials", and her items (a dress, sandals, cardigan, and bag) totaled around $18,000. Yes, you read right. Granted, she collaborated with Net-a-Porter. While I know that Ms. Paltrow is accustomed to such a lifestyle, it's particularly disheartening to see that the majority of fashion magazines list as essentials things that cost more that a month's salary.

I understand that most magazines are for inspiration, but they still sell the fantasy. I'm not going to lie and say that my wardrobe lacks expensive things. I love Marc Jacobs; I have a couple of his items that get much wear. However, I generally buy them second-hand through eBay or fashion communities where I can guarantee their authenticity and care. But, I'm getting sidetracked. My point is that I don't have money to burn. I like to save so I can travel and create wonderful memories, not dump all my cash on one dress that I would probably rip thanks to my fantastic agility and grace. Really, I've lost count on how many times I've hooked my clothes on grates, fences, doors, and sundry.

What bugs me even more is when fashion magazines make so-called "budget" features that have items that are well over a hundred dollars. I'm sorry, but I cannot afford to toss around that much money for jeans, much less a t-shirt. What with my bad knees, right foot, and back, I am forced to invest in good shoes that provide proper support, but even then, I make an effort to find said shoe at the lowest price. My most recent expensive buy was a BCBG dress for a friend's wedding. It is beautiful, and I love it to bits. But I cried as I handed over the credit card.

It was only $130.

Call me a miser, a cheapy, a Scrooge, but I'd rather put my money where it counts. Good jewelry that will become family heirlooms, travel, presents for my family and loved ones, money for animal charities, or crafting materials, I'd rather save for that. Whenever I buy something, I figure out the cost per wear and make damn sure that it's worth it, because otherwise, it's sitting in the closet. Doing nothing. Except maybe mocking me.

If I don't buy thrifted or make my own, most of my clothes come from regular stores like Old Navy, Gap, Ann Taylor, and Zara. Kmart and Walmart figure in frequently. I used to shop at Forever 21, but after reading up more on the company's practices, I haven't really stepped foot into the store in around 6 months. If I want something fancy, I go to eBay or the fashion selling groups. And I usually buy at the outlets. Sure, I have a Marc Jacobs, but it was bought on eBay with a steep discount.

Getting back on track, I think that my biggest gripe with the whole thing is how it affects consumers. I feel that magazines, media, everything that is shopping related, send the message that if you do not buy pricey items, then you are not fashionable. That in price point, there is class and quality. That you have class and quality. And I do not appreciate that. I do not want to be held in contempt for wearing something second hand or from an everyday store. I am not my jeans, my top, or my shoes. Clothing doesn't define me, it is simply an accessory that I use to express myself.

What do you think? Do you think magazines should tone it down and present more accessible options? Or are they just fine as is?

I want to hear what you think!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

La Isla Bonita? Bruno Mars and Joan Smalls' Vogue Spread

To view entire spread, please visit the Noir Façade LJ here.

Whenever I hear that Puerto Rico is going to be featured in a magazine, I don't really get excited. In fact, I usually dread the publication. Why? Simple. There are only a couple of ways this will go:

1) Puerto Rico is amazing! It has lots of liquor, lots of beaches! Sun! Sand! What? Did I leave the metro area? Heavens, no!

2) Puerto Rico is a terrible place. Ridden with homelessness, unemployment, drugs, and violence. Plus, everyone's lazy. Lazy, lazy! Oh, could you bring me another Piña Colada.

I know that these are very general and stereotyped points of view, but unfortunately, they are the most common. Puerto Rico is either black or white. San Juan or nothing. Romanticized or horrific. This is why I'm particularly annoyed at this new Vogue spread. It just keeps perpetuating most of these ideas.

While it is very pretty (If, perhaps, a bit contrived), it is not Puerto Rico. It is the dream that many have of Puerto Rico. It doesn't even look like it's taking place in the 2000s, it looks like the stereotypical versions of 50s PR. Of course people are disappointed when they arrive. It is nothing like what they see. Puerto Rico, often promoted as the Isle of Enchantment (Isla del Encanto), is quite a nice place, but it is not a dream. We are still a colony and we are rife with political controversy. The English language and USA are explosive topics here, so be careful where you talk and how you express yourself.

But at the same time, we are people trying to get by. We depend mostly on tourism (though we have some serious brains going on, with many engineers coming from the old alma mater and going on to NASA or government posts), but we take great pride in our island's beauty and our ability to adapt and survive to changing political and literal climates. Our yearly hurricane watches are metaphorical and factual: if a natural storm isn't coming, you can be sure that some political or security related brouhaha is.

This is another fine example of Vogue going to a place and imposing their vision. I was already ticked off with Liya Kebede's Africa spread ("From Here to Timbuktu"), and the many vogue spreads that put ordinary people alongside or in outfits/accessories that cost more than they could ever hope to make (a recent example would be a Vogue India spread).

Sure, editors argue that it's just fashion. (Or as the Vogue India Editor said, "We weren't trying to make a political statement or save the world." And that people should "lighten up". (The Fox is Black) However, I firmly believe that it's not just fashion. As magazines leading in sales, and magazines that many people buy because they covet or are inspired by what's inside, they are sending out a message. They are saying that this is what's right, what's good, what's acceptable. And I can't go with that. It sells you their dream, but what about ours?

I love my island. Despite its flaws, it can be a beautiful place. And I hate it when people don't even bother to try to know it at all because they believe what the media feeds them. San Juan is not Puerto Rico. We are not a perfectly quaint or retro land. We have homeless. We have a homeless animal problem. This year, we've had the biggest criminal wave in a long long time. But we have incredible food, an unabashed love of fun, wonderful beaches and an impressive history. Seriously. Give the island more of a chance.

There are also other questions raised by this spread: Bruno Mars is half Puerto Rican. But he is also part Filipino. Why did Vogue choose to come here? While Bruno Mars certainly does identify with the Puerto Rican part of his heritage, why did Vogue choose to follow through with that? Why not Filipino?

I am glad to read that Bruno Mars was happy to visit Puerto Rico, and I have nothing against him. I listen to his music and enjoy it. The point of this post is to discuss Vogue's utter disconnection with the general population, and it's disregard of reality in the name of fashion.

Don't believe everything you read. And read Vogue with a pinch (or more) of salt.

If you are interested in the issue wherein this spread is featured, it's American Vogue's June 2011 edition.

Works Cited and Consulted:

The Fox Is Black. "Vogue India's Fashion Spread Stirs a Controversy". < > "Vogue India Fashion Spread Stirs Controversy". < >

Noir Façade Livejournal. "La Isla Bonita | Joan Smalls & Bruno Mars by Peter Lindbergh for Vogue US June 2011"< > "Liya Kebede in Vogue's From Here to Timbuktu". < >

Versatility, Beauty, and "Vogue Controversy". < >

Friday, June 03, 2011

Hot Dog

This is me totally not distracting you with a Genghis dressed as a hot dog pic.

Really, I'm not.

I have some posts in the oven, talking about weight loss, self-esteem, and the wonderful work done by the San Francisco de Asís animal sanctuary. But right now, I leave you with a hot dog. Oh, the puns.