Sartorial Resolutions


It was one of those nights where, at 3 a.m., a closet cleaning seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Inspired by a few glasses of wine and a barrage of finals work that needed desperately to be done, but more importantly needed to be avoided, I started tearing through my closet and pulling out anything that caught my eye for the wrong reasons. This one hadn’t been worn in years, that one I just didn’t like, this one didn’t fit.

It was the last pile that grew the quickest. To my left, that tuxedo romper I loved, and bought even though it was only available four sizes too big, foolishly thinking to myself, I can make this work (I couldn’t).  To my right, about six pairs of pants of varying washes and wears but with one thing in common: They were inexcusably long. The wheels started to turn that maybe there was something wrong with my closet.

Cue another night, two weeks later, same time, when I found myself sitting on the floor of my apartment, methodically hemming all of my pants. The inspiration came after the recent purchase of a pair of Gap jeans that hit my ankle so perfectly that it opened my eyes to the length that pants should be. It was then that a crushing realization hit me: Have I been wearing poorly-fitting clothing my whole life?




I think it must have begun with one wrongly-sized item bought out of a lack of sizing options, and spiraled from there. The oversized clothing trend in the early 2010s certainly didn’t help. Also filed securely under “Not Helpful” was the trend amongst bloggers to recommend buying clothing from the boy’s section at J.Crew because they allegedly had way better clothing. They did, but there comes a point in every 20-something-year-old’s life when you have to admit to yourself that whatever money saved by shopping in the kids’ section is not worth the judgmental glares.

This closet situation isn’t unique to me. I’ve had a male friend lament to me on several occasions about the difficulty his god-given proportions presented him with when it came to clothes shopping. It seemed part of his torso was convinced it was a small, while the other part felt more at home in a medium.

Whether it be length, an in-between waist, or a torso that can’t quite decide its size, we all have weird workarounds we have to account for while clothes shopping. Sacrifices must be made. The aforementioned friend has created a system of buying smalls and owning the fact that his shirts, in the fit department, will always come up a bit short.




At a certain point, it becomes more about being honest about your body’s proportions. For me, this means making the shift to buying petite jeans, despite a nearly-lifelong campaign against being pegged as a petite. (Can’t we come up with a better name? Like ‘More Badass packed into a smaller size’? Petite just sounds so dainty.) It requires some extra effort, sure, but it’s probably a lot less effort, than, say, spending five hours hemming your own pants.

And so, in the spirit of New Years’ resolutions, I’m offering up my guidelines for shopping for clothing this coming year:

I admit…

  •  that a belt will not make it look better. I own very few belts and despise them all, so relying on one to make this item work is not realistic.
  • that no matter how cute the idea or fit of the garment is, an XL will always fit me like a trash bag. Always. Except at H&M, and then it fits like small.
  • if a pair of pants needs to be rolled more than twice, they are officially too long and not made for me. There are a billion pairs of pants out there, and this is 2015. Find a pair that fits.
  • regardless of chicness and general oversizedness, I am not an Olsen twin and never will be. Don’t be fooled by the similarity in stature—they were born with the genetics to make it work. You were not. Put it down.


What about you? Which guidelines have you created for shopping? Do you also find yourself buying clothing more suited for a 300 lb/6 ft tall man? Tell me, let’s commiserate.



‘F’ is for Failure


Today, we explore a topic that, eventually and like a ton of bricks, will hit everyone at some point. I’m talking failure–the fear of failure, actual failure, and learning to suck it up, and accept it, and keep trucking past it (or at least try to).

Recently, classes started again, and this marks the first semester ever, out of all 7 of them, that I’m taking courses with a defined and set-in-stone major. It’s a novel feeling, to be sure, and a little scary, considering it took two transfers, more than a handful of changes in major, and a whole lot of soul-searching to get here. As I started classes this semester however, I was, well, sucking. The effort I was putting in was nothing to be proud of, and the work that resulted was definitely nothing to write home about. Somehow, though, I managed to feel perpetually stressed.

Something needed to change. I stopped and asked myself why I wasn’t putting forth the quality or caliber of work I could be proud of, and there the answer was: fear.

It’s a big one. So big, in fact, that the Stockholm’s Berghs School of Communication recently asked a group of famous designers, including Stefan Sagmeister and Milton Glaser, to discuss their experience and offer advice on the fear of failure.

They all had unique advice, but the message was the same: You’ll always have the fear of failure, but you have to let it drive rather than suffocate you.

There comes a point when the fear of failure becomes, if not self-sabotaging, then at least self-fulfilling. And that was the issue–by all accounts, these courses are the ones I’m most scared of failing in. Failing in an environmental studies class, while certainly not on my top ten list of most fun things I’d like to accomplish, wouldn’t be the end of the world. In the courses I’m taking now, however, I feel like I have much more to lose. A failure isn’t just a mark on a transcript; it feels like a step towards admitting that I’m not good enough, that this thing that I’ve decided on as my calling isn’t what I’m cut out for, that all the work I’ve put into figuring this out was for nothing, and that maybe I’m going to have to got to start over, again, for the fourth time.

It hurts. It is a physically painful thing to admit to yourself that you may not be good at something you want so badly to be good at.

But, it’s also a strong thing. Admitting to yourself that you may not be good enough can be the single driving force towards working toward closing the gap between where your talents are, and where you want them to be.

Because here’s the thing: With few exceptions, if you are truly passionate about something and want to do it, you’ll find a way to make it happen, simply because it’s what you want to do. And that’s one of the lessons I’ve learned this past year: things that make you feel something are worth pursuing. And if it doesn’t stir something within you, it’s probably not worth wasting time on.

There’s a stigma against admitting and accepting failure. But it isn’t an embarrassing thing to admit that you’re not good enough, because it isn’t a permanent condition. You may not be good enough at the moment, but there is always room to work harder, work more, and, ultimately, improve. And fear is a beautiful thing. It’s the basis of improvement and growth. The real worrying should come in when you find you don’t care about improving, and when mediocre or subpar becomes, well, satisfactory. When you find yourself willing to settle for the satisfactory instead of above average.


Ira Glass gave a wonderful interview a while back that’s worth revisiting as often as possible. In it he says that in a creative field, there’s always a gap when you start out. You know what good work looks like, but for some reason your abilities aren’t at the level you want them to be. You know how you want your work to look and what you want it to communicate, but it’s just not quite there yet. The only way to close this gap, he says, is to do work. Do a lot of work, as much as you can, and eventually, your mind will start to connect with the medium, and you’ll close the gap. (Watch below for the full clip.)

And that’s the tricky part–learning to see failure as a good thing rather than bad. Nothing that’s succeeded did so without its fair share of failures, but unfortunately most of those failures never share the spotlight with that one anomaly that was the success.

It’s also helpful to remember that the people we all look up to and admire for their quality of work, at some point or another, produced really, really, shitty work. No one, or at least a rare few, produced top notch work from the beginning. Just because we remember them for their best pieces doesn’t mean they never had a worst. But, and here’s the difference, they ended up producing great work because they worked past their failures.

And that’s the most difficult part: starting.  First, there are all of the what-if’s: What if it doesn’t turn out the way I want it to? What if it just isn’t good? What if I spend all of this time on it, and in the end, it’s for nothing? And the big one: What if I have to finally admit that maybe I’m just never going to be good enough? It’s easy to let those paralyze you and keep you from moving forward, making the starting line seem that much more daunting.

But it’s those failures that keep you going and moving forward. Struggle propels, but success has a funny way of keeping you stagnant. If you don’t need to improve, then why would you?

In the past, my failures have led me to find creative ways to ultimately succeed, or at the very least, very creative ways to fail. Either way, it led to exploring, branching out in new directions, and, ultimately, away from taking the easy way out by standing still and learning nothing.

As someone who once easily won the title of “most risk-averse” in my high school psychology class, it’s not going to be easy. But it seems that the pay-off for failing (learning, improving, and the most appealing one–becoming proud of my work) is a lot more appealing than the pay-off for coasting by (see: the opposite of the above).

Accepting that I’m going to fail, multiple times, and probably more than I can even foresee, is scary, terrifying, and intimidating. But here’s the thing that’s easy to forget, and the key to putting it into perspective: I can’t get worse than I am now. There is literally only room for improvement. And, mercifully, failure is one of those things that does get a little bit easier the more you experience it. The first time it hurts, sure, , but eventually it begins to feel less like a personal attack, more like something guiding you in another and, honestly, probably better direction.

I had a few New Year’s resolutions, but I’m putting them on hold temporarily in favor of this one: Make mistakes. Sometimes we’re going to suck, and it’s okay. Just let it propel you forward instead of holding you back.

And with that, I’ll leave you with a video from none other than Milton Glaser for thought:

Fashion musings, Reflections

Baby Talk


Having kids has never really been part of the picture. Well, my picture at least. Although at the age of twenty one reaching the point of no return called menopause is still far off, from what I’ve gathered from my peers’ reactions, you’re supposed to have at least some kind of inclination toward them at this point. At the very least, I’ve gathered you aren’t supposed to turn and run at the mere mention of procreating.

Bearing a child is, allegedly, the most natural thing one can do, assuming one is a woman and possesses a functioning womb. However, when you get down to it, and I mean really, really sit down have a good long think about it, it just seems, I don’t know, eerie, at best. Pink and blue bibs and cutesy cartoon zoo animal blankets aside, there is an entire person slowly feeding off of your nourishment to grow and form inside of you. To anyone familiar with the alien movie genre, you’ve heard this plot before. However, whereas in the movies the unsuspecting expectant mother has the benefit of being let off the hook for whatever evil plans the thing inside of her has in store for the outside world, in real life, the parent is the first source of blame. One day this person will have thoughts, feelings, and actions. At best, this person will have a positive effect on the world, but there’s also a chance that their intentions will fall more on the alien side of the spectrum, and not the fun teletubby kind. After all, someone had to birth the dictators of the world. Although I haven’t had many conversations with my womb and so can’t say for certain which way it leans, I feel it’s best not to take the risk.

I suppose my apprehension towards children stems from the fact that as a current adult, I was once a child. Therefore, I know firsthand just how cruel and ill-behaved they can be. There’s the odd behavior, such as drooling, publicly urinating on themselves, and having a sense of timing that leads to repeating inappropriate things at really inopportune times. This behavior for some reason is totally cool for kids, but once you bring these behaviors with you into adulthood, you get some funny looks. Presented with the evidence, kids just seem like really badly behaved adults, or at the very least the cast of Jersey Shore.

For evidence of their cruelty, look no further than substitute teachers. As a student who attended preschool through 12th grade, I encountered my fair share of substitutes. Looking back, though, I remember none of them for their merits, and all of them for the weird quirks or other abnormalities that, to the keen child’s eye, became a well of material for mocking.

There was The Witch, or the woman who wore long skirts and burlap shirts who in a past decade had probably moonlighted as a hippie, but now found herself in charge of twenty to twenty-five little people, ready to judge her based on her unorthodox clothing choices alone. She never made us do unnecessary homework, and as I recall even let us skip a few of the mandated assignments and thus attached herself securely on ‘our’ side. And yet despite having no reason to hate or disrespect her, we did.

There was also Mrs.-Gagnon-rhymes-with-’canyon’ who wore eccentric sweaters, not the most eccentric of which included a sweater adorned with dancing rabbits made of genuine rabbit fur. If we were good, she said, we would be allowed to pet one of the rabbits on her arm. Tempting bait, but no one bit. Unless you count the bitingly vicious imitations of her we did at recess later that day.

It didn’t get better with age, either. In high school, there was the poor college student who came to serve out an internship in our Spanish class that, upon coming out on the other side of it, probably ended up feeling more like serving a prison sentence. We berated him mercilessly for his funny pronunciation and general nervous- and sweatiness. High schoolers are like ruthless predators–they can sense fear a mile away, and they’ll use it like cheese in a mousetrap until they’ve got you right where they want you, which is to say trapped and squirming uncomfortably as they look on with glee. This was just my experience, but by all accounts from past teachers, I was one of the good ones. I take that to mean that I was just more clever about hiding my elaborate imitations of them, but still. Would you want to become a substitute teacher after reading that?

Of course, there’s still a chance that eventually I’ll change my mind, and find myself the proud owner of shiny, brand new children. And if I do, I’ll spend time educating them on seeing the positive in people, and do my best to ensure their overall net effect on the world is a good one. But just to be safe, if the teacher calls in sick, I’m sure as hell not sending them to school. And in the meantime, I’m sticking with plants.

Fashion musings, Reflections

Love, or Lack Thereof


Today we take a break from irregularly scheduled fashion posts to explore a subject near many a twenty-something-year-old’s heart: love, or lack thereof.

And more specifically dating, as in, what the hell is going on with it?

The most recent incident involved a guy from class, with whom I shared one text message conversation. Let’s call him Class Act. To clarify, the conversation began with Class Act reassuring me he was ready for a serious relationship, which is one of those tricky things where if you feel the need to say it, it probably isn’t true. The rest was spent sharing pictures of his dog (actual dog, not a euphemism) in various states of napping accompanied by captions like “Isn’t she sooooo cute?” Copious emojis were involved. I replied “Yes” out of politeness but really meant no, that grainy picture of your cockradoodle lab-erspaniel mix in poor lighting is less Terrier, more terror inducing at best.

Then followed a month and a half of persistent calls, texts, and Facebook requests on his end, and a matched persistence in ignoring these on mine. He even resorted to the 90s and passed a few notes in class, and those I did respond to with a very serious and slightly concerned, “Wait, are we in middle school?” He wanted to know why I wasn’t interested anymore. The answer? I wasn’t interested to begin with, and I was confused as to how the complete lack of engagement on my end could have been mistaken for interest.

They say it takes half the time to get over someone that you spent dating. So what’s the grievance period allotted for one text conversation? How many forms of social media does it take to reject someone’s advances before they get the hint? The reasonable answer seems like one. One rejection should be enough to get the hint and move on.

I’ve often wished that all first dates ended not in a kiss, but in a mandatory feedback session. Both parties would assess the other’s strengths and weaknesses, possibly through a timelined mood graph of the evening and definitely through a pros and cons list. Something along the lines of, “Pro: You like dogs! Con: That your dog seems to be the only social contact you’ve had in the past year is a deal breaker for me.” There must be an app for this, right?

There’s also been a recent uptrend in feeling the need to constantly keep a conversation going in between in-person hangouts, be it through text or Facebook. Here’s the thing: I will readily admit that I am not that interesting of a person. I can offer you the occasional witty comeback, or quippy commentary, but I am not a well of sarcastic remarks and interesting stories. Some days are less interesting than others, and some days, nothing of note happens at all. Much like a 24/7 Wal-Mart, I have nothing good to offer you at 3 a.m. Putting the pressure to keep a conversation going 24/7 sacrifices quality for quantity, and while technology can be great for communication, it can also be just as destructive as one Miley Cyrus’s wrecking ball.

Dating seems to be in that awkward teenage phase right in the midst of both puberty and a growth spurt. Things have changed, and I think we’re all a little confused.  I’m not asking for much–just that we throw sanity back into the mix. Until then, I may have to reconsider Tinder, whose anonymity and rejection-proof format are looking pretty appealing right now. But this is what I’m really interested in: How are you surviving dating in a post-technologic world? Any advice to share? Let’s hashtag it, #sanedatingadvice. Horror stories are welcome, too.


What is Fashion, Anyway?


This post contains a fleshing out of ideas that were set in motion after attending Teen Vogue Fashion University, that only recently became coherent thoughts. While there, I noticed everyone was certainly fashionable–that is, they were wearing the latest trends. Asymmetrical, or mullet skirts, fur, top knots, maxi dresses, pastels and lace abounded. However, what seemed to be a bit less represented was personal style.

The internet and social media have played a fantastic role in shaping today’s world of fashion. Websites such as Pinterest, as well as personal style blogs, have allowed consumers to have greater access to trends in fashion. And because of the instant-update nature of these websites (as well as their popularity), it has allowed trends to reach a greater audience in a much shorter period of time.

Consumers that normally wouldn’t have had access to the runways can now go online an live stream the shows, and often Pin their favorite looks (as well as shop, thanks to Moda Operandi) straight from the runway. We no longer have to wait until next season for trends that appeared on the runway to appear in stores; in just a few short weeks, those trends will be available for purchase in fast fashion houses such as Zara and H&M.

All of this has, in a good sense, led to the democratization of fashion. Gone are the days when fashion editors are the only ones able to participate in the trends. However, at the other end of the spectrum, it has also led to a lack of diversity.

Because trends are so readily available for the viewing, consumers are constantly told what is in this season, and what is out. This leaves much less wiggle room, if you will, to experiment. We know what is fashionable and what looks good together because we are bombarded with images of it everywhere we click on the internet. And I’m guilty of it as well–a search of my closet will reveal plenty of mullet skirts and jackets with leather sleeves. It’s hard to ignore trends when they’re all we see, and even harder when they’re the only thing we can shop for in stores.

Although a part of me may die every time someone wears them, we do need people wearing Crocs and Uggs (or, shudder, the ubiquitous Uggs and shorts look) for the sake of diversity. Because, without technically unfashionable people, fashionable wouldn’t be able to exist. I would go so far as to argue that there is no such thing as fashionable today–rather, there are only different types of personal style. If you know what looks good on you, wear it and own it, and if maxi dresses aren’t your thing, don’t worry. There are plenty of other styles out there ready to be worn.

So, the takeaway? As difficult as it may be to go against the fashion grain, cultivate your own individual style. This may mean focusing less on what’s trendy, or it may mean wearing only trends. Find what works for you and wear it, because everyone has the ability to have their own voice in fashion today. It is a democracy, after all.