After much reading, writing, group work, frustration, gossip, and drinking, my first year of grad school is officially done. Despite the ups and downs, it’s been a rewarding experience – not necessarily because it’s challenging work, but because I’m taking the whole thing more seriously as a grownup. Unlike my undergrad when I simply went through the motions, I’m approaching grad school with a sense of purpose and consciousness.
After a particularly draining semester, I really needed a getaway. So we took a trip to Vegas over the long weekend. The weather was just the perfect amount of hot and we had a luxurious suite overlooking the city.
Three days went by before we knew it, and I’m looking at the photos wanting to go back already.
Without intending to, I packed only inexpensive items for the trip. I suppose it’s fitting, since having our income cut in half after becoming a full time student has taken its toll on my shopping budget. But that doesn’t mean my looks have to suffer, and these outfits are a nice reminder of that.
I grew up surrounded by women wearing vibrantly colored, printed saris. Some prints were more beautiful than others, but a solid-color sari was an anomaly. Perhaps as a result, I have always been biased towards prints and patterns – be it clothes or home decor.
In recent seasons, fashion has taken a similar liking to prints, pattern and color. The explosion of visual interest had me giddy in the beginning. But now I’m feeling fatigued by all the madness. The last couple of times I went shopping, I found myself gravitating to simple, geometric styles rather than the intricate, complex graphics that I would have favored in the past.
Here are two of my recent finds. The first is a striped maxi from Papaya. I don’t know whether the photo is true to color, but the stripes are grey and navy blue. I like the simplicity of it for a hot summer day.
The second is a houndstooth dress from H&M. Another grey (visual fatigue, I tell you!) – I think this will look great with a wide belt to cinch the waist and some pointy pumps.
Both pieces have simple silhouettes, but it’s the little details like a pleated neckline or an exposed zipper that make them special.
I recently noticed that I have a disproportionate number of orange pieces in my wardrobe – see here, here and here. I have always liked the color, especially the slightly burnt variation. It exudes a warmth more complex than the obvious yellow and a femininity more evolved than the girly pink. I use it a lot as an accent around the house as well.
So I was excited to learn that Pantone has declared Tangerine Tango the 2012 color of the year. Pantone describes it as a spirited reddish orange – sophisticated, dramatic and seductive. In other words, it’s fashion’s dream.
And that dream is coming true in every department of fashion and beauty. This was a particularly difficult collage for me because I just couldn’t choose from so many beautiful orange pieces. But I finally did, and here it is.
For brunch at a friend’s place, I wanted to wear something casual chic. SoCal winter is better described as intermittent spells of cold and rain than a “season.” The latest spell has been going on too long for my liking, and I was determined not to wear jeans and a sweater on this cold morning.
Instead, I pulled on my favorite maxi dress and a faux leather jacket.
I fell in love with this maxi dress the minute I saw it at one of the stalls at Venice Beach. But Venice being Venice, the dress was overpriced at $80. I passed it up, only to have a friend spot it at a boutique in Orange County for half the price.
The outfit kept me surprisingly warm as we devoured gourmet treats at brunch.
This ensemble makes me want to pair a maxi dress with an oversized sweater. Stay tuned!
As exciting as fashion is, it can get rather predictable. Designers turn to neutrals and muted tones in fall/winter while spring/summer brings bright splashes of color to everything.
However, this year has been different. The color blocking trend of last spring worked its way into fall runways, giving us an array of toned down colors for the otherwise grey-and-black season. As if to react to that shift, the sequins and subtle sparkling accents of winter have evolved into big, unapologetic chunks of metal for spring.
Solid metallic accessories are popping up everywhere this season. Belts, shoes, jewelry – you name it. Everything has been dipped in metal and polished to perfection. Here’s a sampling of the lustrous accents. Fair warning: I like shiny things, so this may be blinding!
Moving to a bigger apartment can be both a blessing and a curse. I like having more room to spread out, but being on a budget means the spreading out must be done on the cheap. One thing I always wanted to have was a small dining area where we could have dinner. Eating at the coffee table was getting on my nerves with its inconvenient height and constantly having to pull it back and forth from the sofa. However, we are not the honey-how-was-your-day type people when it comes to dinnertime. We enjoy our TV dinners and a dining area away from the TV would have never been used. So I was thrilled to have the perfect TV-facing spot in this apartment where I could create a dining area.
So, a few months ago, I embarked on a mission to find comfortable chairs on a shoestring budget. They had to have arms and had to be upholstered – none of that wooden armless stuff. After much searching, I found the perfect pair on Craigslist for $20 apiece. They were ugly in their as-is state, but they had great potential.
I finally got them reupholstered this month, and here’s the result. I chose a reversible fabric and did a contrasting back for some added interest. I love how the geometric print and the metal studs have given the old lumpy chairs a completely modern makeover.
I even found a guy to do the upholstery for an insanely low price, including free pickup and delivery. And now I finally have a little corner bistro at home.
LA has been unseasonably warm these past few days, making it possible to step out in such ridiculously spring-y outfits as this one.
I recently picked up these orange pants from H&M during a disappointing visit to the store. It’s unusual for H&M to disappoint, but the merchandise was sub-par (tearing seams!), the sales staff was less than courteous and the discount rack was stocked with full price items, causing a rude shock at checkout.
In any case, I did come home with these pants and I’m pleased to have kept them – even at full price. At a time when I must be judicious in my shopping, they are a bright spot (literally) in my closet.
I had mentioned earlier that I keep alternating between long hair and short hair. I have been in one of my long hair phases for the last year or so, and I still haven’t grown impatient with the length. However, since we moved, I hadn’t been able to take the leap of faith and find a new stylist nearby. Finally, over semester break, I did. And I’m glad I did, because here are the results.
I found Keenan through exhaustive online searching. Because of my peculiar hair type, his specialty in “alternative” hair textures immediately struck a chord with me. During my appointment, he took his time, asked the right questions, listened to my insights and provided the kind of professional yet personalized service that one doesn’t expect in Beverly Hills establishments.
Since I kept most of the length, I opted for bangs to infuse some change into the look. It’s been less than a week, so it’s still too early to say whether I will put up with the work I know they’re going to take. But so far, I’m very pleased with the cut. I highly recommend Keenan to those of you within driving distance of his salon.
My obsession with my Oxford shoes is no secret, considering I wear them only all the time (see here, here, here etc.). They are stylish, they go with everything (or so I’ve convinced myself), they are flat and they are comfortable for long walks. If they did any more, I’d have to pay them a salary.
Although my current pair is starting to show some wear, I won’t be getting rid of it anytime soon. But if I were to get a second pair, here are a few I would consider.
Last week, we took a lovely vacation in New Orleans. It was my first time in NOLA, and it was the perfect place to relax, eat and drink during the holiday season.
I refused to let my nagging scratchy throat get in the way of the first vacation we had since 2010. With generous helpings of soup, Nyquil and Earl Grey, I managed to enjoy the Big Easy without any downtime. But as soon as we were back in LA in time for New Year’s Eve, it was as if my sinuses knew that it was party time. I started 2012 wrapped up in blankets at home, nursing a nasty sore throat-cold-fever combination.
Here are a few photos from our trip for you while I recover. Looking back, I wish I had photographed all the delicious gumbo, pecan-crusted catfish, po-boys, bread puddings, beignets and café au lait I consumed.
I’m looking forward to more eating, drinking and more vacations in the new year!