Fabulous

A part of me feels that fashion articles are redundant because the concept of personal style is, well, personal.  But I am the first to clamber over advice on how to dress, especially if it is being peddled by French women.  Guiding principles never hurt anybody.  Do I believe that everyone has their own fashion sense?  Yes.  Do I think they always look good?  No.  But it’s not my opinion that matters, it’s your own.

With my interest in sartorial culture I have learnt a thing or two.  So here are a couple of my strategies on defining what works for you:

1. Look

I’m always looking at fashion blogs, images and items to be purchased online.  I do this for two reasons: I love beautiful things and I want to train my eye.  I want to decisively pick items that could work in several different combinations and builds on what I currently own.  Know what’s in your closet and maximize their value by changing things up and using them again.

2. Listen…

to your gut.  Pulling off that outfit is all about how you carry yourself so if you feel like a million bucks chances are that someone will think so too.  But wear those clothes mostly for yourself and keep it real.  When I gained my freshmen 15+ during undergrad I was in denial and kept on buying the smaller sizes.  Trust, it does not help the muffin top to have your jeans be a corset.  Accept the larger number and do what feels right for you.  Do you want to be smaller?  Great.  Do you love the curves?  Perfect.  Just own it.

3.  Don’t be a fashion plate.

I buy quality items and they are classic, clean and minimal.  They are often in neutral shades because I have a high aversion to looking like a table cloth.  Simplicity never gets old.  The very worst street style images consist of individuals who have adopted every current trend in one outfit.  They’ll have the high bun, running shoes, leather tote, larger watch and fedora.  All at once.  It’s too much.  Stagger out the fabulousness.

4.  But be yourself.

This past summer I asked my husband for his opinion about an outfit and he said “well at least it doesn’t have holes in them.”  I’m lucky in that I rarely have intervene when it comes to his appearance.  He’s fashionable and having his tall, lean, strong build does not hurt either.  So I love that I have a partner in crime when it comes to these things.  Do I agree with his opinion about distressed jeans?  No, because I like them.

5. Be reflexive.

Even when it comes to personal style I ask the social motivation behind it.  Hmm, how do I say this with political correctness in mind?  Fashion often involves co-opting articles of clothing that are worn by members of a specific socio-economic status.  The fashionable part is in the contrast.  The distressed jeans paired with the crisp white dress-shirt and Louboutins.  The Madewell plaid that did not come from the thrift shop combined with the J Brand jeans.  So how is this problematic?  Is it respectful?  I don’t know.

Fashion is so easy to discredit.  Those who take themselves so seriously will probably conclude that it’s superficial and there are more important matters to concern themselves with.  Well of course there are.  But being informed about world affairs and looking presentable are not mutually exclusive.  To each his own but being kind of clueless about your physical appearance does not necessarily make you more highbrow.  Sorry.

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Cosmic

I have a photograph on my Tumblr blog that states “what if the one that got away came back?”  Ten years ago, heck three years ago, a statement like this would have made me swoon.  I keep it on my blog now to remind me not to be a fool.  He is never coming back and if he got away, well, maybe it was for the best.  Forget chasing and dodge that bullet.

I’ve smartened up because I’ve learnt the hard way that pining over something in the past is so completely useless.  It’s probably the very opposite of being productive and you end up not loving individuals around you like they so deserve.  But I see the pull.  The past is so much easier to figure out because it’s already happened, the present is what you’re working through now.  The bigger picture is mostly granted with experience but the good news is that we almost always learn to live with whatever plays out.

Don’t worry, being less naive has not made a cynic out of me.  When I say that he’s never coming back, I just mean maybe not this lifetime.  If you’re one to believe in karma like I do, you probably also subscribe to the idea that souls are somehow linked.  Now this is not soulmate with a capital S where there is only one person in the world who can make you happy.  How absurd is that, especially when you are growing everyday?  No, I believe that you only get that surge of energy when you meet someone, when your entire body reacts towards them because you’ve met before.  I believe that a couple of us circle each other lifetime after lifetime and the relationships are not always romantic.  Sometimes you’re siblings, platonic friends or enemies and because of your karma it might take a few tries to actually be together.

I’ve felt that seismic jolt a couple of times like I’m sure we all have.  There’s happiness in knowing that we’ll probably meet again no?

“See you next lifetime brother.”  If you watch Lost you’ll get the significance of that statement.  God, Desmond was my favourite.

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Bestie

For someone who says that she relates much better to women, I was one of those girls who ditched all their friends for her boyfriend.  Truth be told I’m surprised that it’s not more common.  First loves are all-consuming and I was lucky enough to gain a best friend in the process.  I ended up marrying him too.  When we spend time together we just have that kind of rapport.  We problem-solve, fight and enjoy life’s pleasures first and foremost as individuals choosing to be together.  As best buds.

It was only as I matured that I learnt the distinction between my partner and my friends.  They are different and serve distinct purposes.  The reality of it is that my husband is the person I trust the most and go to first.  No one will ever take that position, no matter the amount of love and affection I have for them.  But with a friend, the relationship is lighter though no less significant.  It’s nice to have a breather from your legally-binding teammate.

What I can say about my best friend K is that she is the very best of people.  She is considerate, generous, fun and above all very well-raised.  We work because we have the same expectations for what our friendship will entail.  Currently we are living on separate coasts but even when we were in the same city we were not in each other’s faces.  What I like about K is that she is low-maintenance.  There are no hurt feelings about not having Skype dates or questions about what we mean to each other.  The simple answer is that we love each other, are in each other’s lives but don’t need constant updates.  Nothing changes.

If I had to name what I admire about her, it is her loyalty.  K was there for me through some tough times in undergrad and beyond and she is there for me still.  That’s why she was my maid of honor and my son’s godmother.  She is so very honourable.  I can’t even list all the ways that she has been such a good friend.  I just hope that I can be the same and repay half of what she has given so unconditionally.

So if you find your bestie consider yourself lucky, because not everyone gets that privilege.

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Dear John

Amidst all of the celebrities having their nude images leaked I said to Andrew, “how many times have we done long distance and there is not a single naked photo of me?”  Where are all the photographs of all the male celebrities without their clothes on?  Trust me, they exist but would never cause such a stir so what’s the point of releasing them?  Do not even get me started on that.

Andrew and I have been in a long distance relationship so many times that I’ve lost count.  And it will happen again.  He is in a field where you go on sabbatical every six years.  If I’m not in the position to leave my job for months at a time he will be living elsewhere on his own.  Plus, after a certain age you can’t pull your kids out of educational institutions to enroll them in international schools abroad.  So there you go.

But I feel like we’ve almost mastered it.  I spoke too soon when upon returning from my year in Thailand I said that we would never be apart again.  We’re sticking to those promises as best we can because I am currently living with him in the States where his tenure-track position is located.  Not that I would have it any other way.  There are few things better than adventure.  But soon enough I will have my own obligations and be fully to committed to my career.  I’m confident that it won’t break us though and here’s why.  The secret is to live your life and have faith in each other.  The days pass and then bam, you’re together again.

The fine print is that there has to be a time-limit.  If there is no end-point in sight you do run the risk of wanting someone else.  I’ve never been particularly good at long distance and the only person I would work at it for is Andrew.  I have no desire to wait by the phone.  So eventually this may wear on you and begin to fragment what you have together.  Here’s the reality, short and sweet.  Eventually you may get tired of waiting full stop, especially when someone could be there in your everyday.  Because the best part of the distance is that it makes your relationship have urgency.  The catch-up after a lengthy time apart is always passionate and exciting.  But there is also something to be said for waking up next to each other and being able to speak to someone about your context and them actually getting it.  Of course there are exceptions but overall one of you may have to make the move to make the relationship sustainable for the long run.  Sunday brunches every weekend never gets old but jealously sure does.

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