Musings

Thoughts on the Weather

I had the oddest feeling like it was summer when I woke up this morning. I could almost feel the heat from the sun. I lay in bed imagining the outfit that I could wear – bare legs were certain, sandals were likely. Then when I actually woke up and went to the kitchen to make breakfast, upon hearing the water pipes squeaking, I was hit by the cruel reminder that it is, in fact, still winter. And we’re nowhere near the end of it.

There’s something about the warm weather that makes life more pleasant. It gives you a sense of freedom. I could walk about anytime, anywhere in the summer and feel fairly safe. I have no qualms about walking after 10pm because it’s still light outside. As soon as the sun goes down, the world feels more dangerous. Perhaps the early sunsets in the winter contribute to the overall gloomy feel. You feel restricted by the daylight, and, more so, the weather.

Not only do my outfits suck in the winter (although I do wear more mini-skirts, just with tights) but often my overall demeanor is less happy. I would consider myself a happy person in general but I definitely feel less so in the winter, especially after Christmas when you’re just stuck with the cold weather and zero festivity. Snow in December can be nice but any other month of the year it’s unwelcome.

So yes, my morning was a slight disappointment when I realised that we are only in January, but then I remembered a few good things. Firstly, it’s my birthday next week & I have a few, fun celebrations planned with various different friends. Secondly, I’m going to Los Angeles next month which is so exciting to me as I’ve never been anywhere in America besides New York. I’ll finally see California and the Pacific Ocean. I’m curious to see the west coast and learn how different it is from here. From what I’ve heard, it’s a whole other way of life so that will be fun. Finally, I graduate (with my Associates) in May which means I’ll be able to work/intern/do both over the summer. The idea of finally being able to work again and gain more experience and do something that I’m genuinely interested in is so exciting to me. It’s not all bad. It never is.

PS – I know there’s so many shitty things going on politically right now. I’m trying not to talk about them on here, instead saving it for my personal social media networks. I don’t want you to think that I’m just being complacent or ignoring it or, worse, supporting it. I just don’t think this is the right platform. I hope you understand 🙂

Thoughts on Writing

How did Carrie Bradshaw think of new ideas for a column every single week? Inspiration seemed to hit her in the funniest of places. Yes, her columns (or what we heard of them) were rather vapid and meaningless, yet they always seemed humorous and, more importantly, what people would actually want to read.

I’m at a stage right now where I’m desperately seeking inspiration but I can’t find it. I want to write more but I can’t think of what to write about. I don’t know if it’s worth just sharing tales from my life because in my mind they’re not that exciting. To me, it’s just life. However, where do you find inspiration to start writing? And how do you keep being inspired and push yourself to create worthy content?

I’m always conscious that this website could end up just filled with a constant flow of aggregative posts, summarising things I’ve read elsewhere without adding any real value or input to the conversation. I’d like to change that if I can. I want to be able to weigh in on things in a thoughtful manner, whilst also keeping it interesting and fun. I’d like to learn how to do that.

I’m thinking about taking a writing class of some sort. I find that when I am pushed to do things on a deadline I will produce better work. On top of that, I could learn new techniques and also have work critiqued. That’s my biggest problem: being afraid of negativity. I don’t like to put myself out there for things that I feel are flawed, in fear that people pick them apart. However, in an educational setting this can be helpful and is actually welcomed. I don’t know if I’m going to go about this by taking a class at my school (perhaps a liberal arts elective) or if I should do it in my own time (Gotham Writers’ Workshop?). Either way I’d like to take action. Throughout my life I’ve been told that I’m a good writer and that I should do something with it. However, I hate my voice when I write. It isn’t how I’d like it to be and I can’t work out how to change it. I guess you can’t alter what flows naturally too much or it will sound phony. When attempting fiction, I find myself imitating other writers whose work I admire. I know it’s not my own natural voice and for that reason it can sound contrived. Then when I’m writing non-fiction, whether that be a more conversational, personal piece like what I’m writing now, or a more factual, article-style piece, I find myself straying into a voice that I don’t like. One that sounds uneducated and often too casual. I need to learn how to fix that.

I’d like to write on this blog more often in the coming months. I think I could write some good things if I just got struck by inspiration and sat down and did it. I know I probably sound like a broken record by now. I’m constantly saying what I’m going to do & then changing my mind. I’m someone who needs to say things aloud in order to stick to them. This is sort of like saying it, just I’m typing it to a small audience instead of telling people I actually know. I don’t know. I guess it’s more comforting to talk to strangers. We shall see what happens.

Spend More, Buy Less – Part 4

As I said in my first post on this topic, I plan to investigate the matter further. The first step that I planned to take was watching The True Cost, the documentary that has been talked about in every fast-fashion criticism of the past few years. I have also read a book on the topic Where Am I Wearing? by Kelsey Timmerman, a writer who chronicled his travels around the world to find out exactly where his clothes were made: Levi’s, the all-American icon were made in Cambodia, his flip-flops made in China. I also went to a talk by the author during my orientation week at school. I found it very interesting and it also brought up further ethical dilemmas. It so happened that I went to a talk about sustainability in Edinburgh in July which sparked another post, so here is part 4 in the Spend More, Buy Less series; a series that I hope to continue for as long as I can keep thinking up ideas on the matter.

I did actually watch The True Cost and I found it rather saddening. I hate to think that people would be dying just so I can buy a pair of jeans for £20 or a t-shirt for £3. Obviously these items should cost more but I think we have become so accustomed to paying these prices that we think nothing of it. Especially when you’re a teenager and you have a small monthly allowance, you’re unlikely to save up to get an expensive, ethically made pair of jeans or a t-shirt. For the past year I have been working full time and therefore have had a little bit more money than I did before (but I was saving for college so I didn’t have quite as much spending money as I wish I did!) so I did buy more expensive, hopefully more ethical purchases than I did before. Now I’m back to being a student without a job and therefore no income. So the small amount of money that I do have I am likely to spend on clothes from Zara. I feel slightly ashamed to even think like that now that I am fully aware of what goes into the making of these clothes but I will also not be able to afford anything better so it’s a bit of a catch-22 that I’m sure many other people are in.

On one hand, I could shop locally made. For example, since I’ll be in the USA I could buy items from American Apparel, a now-flailing brand, but they don’t have the selection that I’m looking for. They’re just basics. I could also shop vintage. I do enjoy this actually but it is definitely more difficult if you’re looking for something super specific. Since arriving in New York I’ve found a bunch of great vintage/second hand stores, although I find that they can be a little bit expensive for used clothing. Really I’m broke as hell so I’m not doing much shopping at all right now.

Since attending fashion school I’m experiencing further disdain for the fast-fashion industry and even private label brands who are ripping off the work of other designers. Yet I feel stuck because I can’t afford any better, and being at a fashion school it almost feels necessary to keep refreshing your style. It is very difficult to be around people who are constantly wearing new looks and trying new things and not wanting to be involved. It’s rather disappointing to me because when I started researching this I thought that by the end of the year I might have stopped shopping fast fashion altogether, and now here is me buying multiple pieces from Zara a month. I’ve even shopped at Forever 21 a couple of times. It’s kind of embarrassing to me, especially because I’m now ultra aware of the effects of my consumption.

It is funny reading this post from beginning to end for me because I started it in August with the best intentions and as time has passed and I’ve got less and less money and more and more urges and desires to have new things, I seem to have just lost everything that I had found over the summer. I can see my viewpoint changing throughout the post. From before I got to New York (I could shop at American Apparel) to after I’d been there a few weeks (I could go thrifting) to now (Zara, Forever 21). It is shameful and I am sorry. I really need to sit down and reevaluate things because I know that fast fashion isn’t worth it, not to me or to the people (and the environment) that are being harmed as a result of it.

To anyone out there who is reading this and wants to remain stylish but on a (very small) budget, what’s your advice? How do you will yourself away from fast fashion? And honestly, how do you shop vintage? (The experience is just stressful to me.)

Thoughts (again)

I said I was starting YouTube so I filmed a video and posted it, then decided that I actually hated it. I haven’t deleted it yet but I am thinking about it. I don’t know if it’s because I’m just not comfortable in front of the camera or if it’s because I just feel like I will never have the content exactly how I want, but either way I’m not satisfied. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I’m definitely uber critical of myself. I can always do slightly better in my mind, even if I do a really good job to begin with.

I have a couple of ideas for videos I want to film actually and I’m planning them out. I don’t know if it is even worth doing though. Will anybody watch them? Will I be happy to say they’re mine and share them with my peers? We shall see. I need to get a better camera to film stuff on. I used to have a digital camera at home but I have searched my entire apartment and it is nowhere to be found. Strange. For now I will have to stick to my phone which means it will never be anywhere near as polished as I want it to be.

Also completely unrelated but I made a Depop account. I’ve always heard about people shopping on there but I’ve never actually tried it myself. I think it could be fun though. I listed a few items today so if you want to check it out feel free! @evegardiner 

That’s just what was on my mind today. Come back again soon and hopefully I will have figured things out in a much more clear direction!

First YouTube Video – Christmas OOTD

Believe it or not, I actually followed up on what I said in my last post about maybe starting YouTube. Today I posted a video. It’s just compiled of a few random clips that I took on Christmas day of the outfit that I was wearing. Honestly, the quality isn’t great because I just filmed it spontaneously on my iPhone but it was a fun start.

The main aim of this video was just to push myself to actually put something out there. It wasn’t about creating the most polished content I could. Now that I’ve put a video out there I think I will start to plan other videos that I could make over the next semester and hopefully as I keep practicing things will improve.

I included links to shop my outfit in the description of my video 🙂

Possible YouTube Channel

I’ve been thinking about stuff. It’s Christmas Eve right now and I’ve been back home for a few days. For that reason my mind is very active. I’m reflecting on the past few months and the progress that I’d hoped to make. Honestly, I’m happy with what has happened. I’ve achieved a few good things. I got all As this semester, I helped out on a photoshoot with a website that I enjoy (and the images got published in an indie magazine), I worked a sample sale & market week, I moved into my own apartment, I made new friends, I found a great relationship. When I type it out, a lot of really amazing things occurred. However, I want more. I’d like to make progress career-wise whilst I have the time to, especially since fashion is becoming increasingly competitive and oversaturated due to the rise of social media. For that reason, I think I may throw my hat into the ring and make a YouTube channel. I’ve already made my Instagram public – that was quite a step.

Now I know what you’re thinking, that wave has passed. I agree. However, I think I’m going to use YouTube as a creative outlet. Or at least I’m intending to. Whether that actually happens is another story. I don’t want to post talking videos or anything like that. Just perhaps cool outfit shots accompanied by some music and then maybe some footage of scenery from what I did that day. I’m thinking my first video could maybe be a “week in outfits” or something along those lines. Then afterwards I’d like to make a foray into fashion films, or something more along those lines.

Recently I’ve been thinking about becoming a stylist again but often feeling stumped on how to actually do it. Maybe the best way to begin is to start styling/creative directing my own videos and then I have a portfolio of work to show to potential employers/clients. I’m sure it would help me get internships if I could show that I have an understanding of that area myself. Maybe brands could hire me to help them.

The urgency to create this channel comes from watching a Love Advent video. I thought about a really great idea for a video, based on the competition that they’re having where you could get your song played on one of their videos. My boyfriend’s group is thinking about submitting a song. After listening to their song and thinking about it in the context of a Love video I could visualize in my mind exactly what the model would be wearing, what she would look like, what she would be doing etc. I thought I could creative direct that video. That’s not the only scenario where I’ve had these thoughts either but today was the first day that I realized that if I want to have a career in styling/creative direction or if I ever want someone to hire me for a project, I need to have a visual portfolio of my work to show them. Really I’m thinking the way to do this is to just make it myself. It’s the best way I know how to.

The current plan is to spend the next couple of weeks whilst I’m home trying to learn the basics of iMovie editing plus try to find a couple of cool tracks that I could use in the background, then plan a couple of concepts that I could try to execute, probably when I get back to New York. Who knows what will even come of this but I feel like I’m someone who is more likely to do something once I’ve told someone else about it, so here I am putting these words out into the universe. Let’s see what happens.

Also, Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate!!

The Instagram Effect

Instagram has a detrimental effect on my self esteem. It has taken me so long to realise this but now I know it’s true. Seeing beautiful girls every day makes me lose sight of what’s actually important in a person. Because likes on Instagram are all about how pretty/hot someone looks in a photograph, I start to think that being beautiful is important to being successful, because on Instagram that’s true. All of the big accounts are run by hot girls (even if they all look the damn same). People’s lives revolve around likes. In a way it’s hella sad. However, I can feel myself getting sucked into that toxic mindset and I want to make a conscious effort to stop it before I get in too deep.

In real life (offline), beauty is nothing. Or maybe not nothing but beauty is secondary. Realistically, you’re not going to get a job just because you’re beautiful if you’re dumb as hell or have no education or are a really rude person. Your life probably isn’t going to be terrible if you look average because honestly most people look average (hence the word).

💕 @DIORMAKEUP LIP GLOW LOVE !! 💕

A post shared by 🦋 (@bellahadid) on

I often think about this: how often do you see a truly stunning person in real life? I can probably count the number of beautiful women I’ve seen in real life on one hand. It’s very rare. Yes there are a lot of attractive people, pretty people, hot girls, but true beauty is rare. Instagram is odd because it takes these girls and puts them onto one platform and elevates them into your sight. Normally I wouldn’t be exposed to such a high concentration of beautiful people but due to Instagram and the explore page I am. In a way I hate it. Yes it inspires me to try harder, but it also knocks me down. I wonder why I’m not that beautiful or that photogenic. I wonder why I don’t have 1k likes on every selfie I post. I wonder why I don’t look that way when I’m wearing the same clothes. I wonder why I always look slightly awkward or uncomfortable whenever someone takes a photo of me yet these girls are posed as hell and still look good.

As long as I keep a handle on things and realise that Instagram is not real life, that these girls maybe aren’t even as stunning in person (and if they are, good for them!), and that there is more to life than looks. If you derive all of your value and self-worth from your appearance, what do you have when it’s gone? What more is there than that? I am 100% confident in all areas of myself apart from my appearance. I know I’m smart. I know I’m a good person; I’m kind, I’m loyal, I’m actually nice. I’m confident in my abilities yet I still don’t find myself beautiful because to me externally I am not. So that’s why it’s good to step away from Instagram, in my opinion, or at least don’t lose sight of what’s actually important. But as I know all too well myself, it’s easier said than done.

End of Semester

It’s very strange to think that the semester is almost over. As I begin to write this, I still have all of my finals to take but I’m very much in shut-down mode. My brain has had enough. Overall I enjoyed school, even though it wasn’t at all what I expected. For one, it was a lot more work than I anticipated but I found it to be a high volume of relatively easy work. It was time consuming, more so. However, when I reflect back on this semester it’s more all of the changes in my life that I’m noticing and all of the real life lessons that I learned outside of the classroom that matter to me the most.

So, I moved to New York in August. Before I came here I was barely even excited, just because it felt like the natural next step. I knew for so long that I planned to move here so by the time it actually came around I was rather blasé about it all. That was dumb of me. It’s New York City, arguably the greatest place in the world. I feel like it may even have come off as unappreciative, although that was not the case. I remember before I moved telling people that I was going to New York and feeling like they almost didn’t believe it, perhaps because I couldn’t quite believe it myself. You know, I’ve been saying this for years and years now. For it to now be my reality is rather strange and also rather validating. I haven’t been talking shit for all this time. I’ve accomplished something.

It’s funny to me how quickly I became nonchalant in regards to the city. Perhaps when you’re doing regular day-to-day tasks the excitement begins to wear off. Getting on dirty subway late at night leaves little to the imagination, especially when you see rats running on the tracks, getting caught up in the rubble left behind by passengers. Fellow subway passengers are often less than pleasant too. I’m used to that after the whole train fiasco last winter with the Forth Road Bridge closures, but here it is just like that 24/7. It’s actually such a treat to get a seat on the train. I still love New York. Every once in a while it hits me that I live here and it’s actually a huge deal. For example, this weekend I walked back across the park with my groceries. When I say the park, I mean Central Park. As in, the park from all of the famous movies that everyone talks about. The iconic destination. And I’ve experienced the park both in the delightful sunshine in the summer and the burnt autumnal colors in the fall and the cold and rain of winter. It’s beautiful in all seasons. Furthermore, as I continued on my journey I walked by many more iconic sites – The Metropolitan Museum of Art (i.e. the lunch spot on Gossip Girl), The Dakota building (or the Bram, if you’re a fan of Rosemary’s Baby), The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (the Mormon church from Angels in America). Everywhere you look in New York, there’s a cultural reference, whether that be a pop-culture movie or tv show, a book, a piece of art, a historical story or figure. It’s easy to march on by and rush ahead with your day (something that I’m definitely guilty of), but instead I am beginning to make more of an effort to look around and appreciate it. New York is the centre of the universe. Not literally but figuratively. It’s awe-inspiring.

Before coming to FIT, I thought I knew what I wanted to do career wise. I’ve been thrown a little bit of a curveball since getting here. But I also feel a lot more relaxed. I no longer feel that I need to stick to this career plan that I had in mind and I realise that nothing has a fixed timescale. It’s all about taking things at your own pace and enjoying life as it comes as well. I don’t want to be a buyer anymore because it feels very corporate and also not particularly enjoyable. I need something more creative or at least something where I can build a direct relationship with the clothing (whether that be via wholesale, selling the collection and getting to know everything about the pieces from the seams to the fabrications). I’d also prefer a smaller team, I think.

Regardless, I feel a lot more relaxed about life in general now. On the whole I’m very happy. I have love. I have friends. I have family. I have a home (and it’s all my own, built up entirely by me). I have health. And finally, I have happiness. If you don’t have happiness what do you have? I’ve been rather down for a couple of years now because I felt that my life was on hold as I was waiting to come here. Now that I’ve finally arrived I feel like I can finally begin living. I’ve realised that I am actually so young and I have so much of life ahead of me. I have friends in their thirties. I have classmates who are returning to school for a career change or who already have children. I now know that life does not have to follow a set, rigid path and that’s ok. That’s what I needed.

Further Musings on Career/Education/Being Abroad

My stress levels are maxed out once again. I’m not even sure what the real problem is right now. School is relatively easy. I’m not falling behind on my work and the work that I’m doing isn’t too challenging to me. I have friends and I’m so in love so in terms of relationships I’m doing well. I speak to my family almost every single day. I eat right. I cook (sometimes). I go grocery shopping. I started going to the gym. But somehow I’m just feeling a little bit overwhelmed. Things are going too nicely and I’m starting to worry about the future instead.

I want to get a summer internship/job organised for next year already, just because I know it’s so important to secure one early on. I’m currently a little bit too early for most regular companies (but not big established programmes like PVH) so everything I’m looking at is purely speculative. I know what kind of internships I’d like to look for and hopefully partake in, but that all comes down to someone liking me and wanting to hire me. Furthermore, everything is slightly more complicated due to the fact that I’m on a student visa and I want to do everything by the books because I’m not looking to get deported!

Next summer, ideally, I would get a full-time paid internship but I understand that that scenario is rather unlikely. I’ve come to the realisation that you’re only going to get on one of those programmes if you have prior internship experience and whilst I have done short-term, more “volunteer” positions, I am yet to hold an internship where you go into the same company and work a couple of days a week for three months or so. Legally I’m not allowed to do that yet. I’ve heard of people (foreign students) doing this when it is against visa regulations and not getting caught, but then I would never want to risk it. Honestly it isn’t worth getting sent home over.

I don’t think I thought about the realities of not being allowed to work before I came over here. I just got caught up in the idea of New York and all of the opportunities that the city could afford me eventually that I didn’t take the time to think about what things would be like before I got to that point. I know that in a couple of years everything will make sense and it will all have been worthwhile but right now it is a bit of a struggle. I would be so much better off if I could just work part time retail. An extra $300 a month would make all the difference. But I knew this before I came here. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. But it has been slightly more difficult than I thought it would be.

Regardless of all of the struggles, I’m in New York. Honestly there is no place that I’d rather be. I want to live here for at least another five years, ideally. However, I am open to moving to other places after college too. I used to have this fixed life plan and it was very rigid. Everything had a timeframe that I wanted it completed in. Now I’m just living life. I feel very fortunate to know that I have time on my hands. I don’t feel like I need to rush and get everything done by the time I’m 30 anymore because I know I’m probably going to be working until I’m 70. I’m not worried about rapidly rising up the corporate ladder. Yes, I’m still fiercely ambitious but my priorities are beginning to shift, especially because I can see myself following a more creative career path and pursuing something where there is no fixed route to success. Wait and see what I do. I’m hoping it will be something magical.