Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Style Icon: Alexandra Golovanoff

Thought it was due time I share another one of my girl crushes/style icons with ya. Alexandra Golovanoff, the host of the French TV show La Mode, La Mode, La Mode (a name which could never be pulled off on American TV. Not punny enough/at all.)

What I like: her slightly Russian features, beachy blonde hair, and seemingly permanent smoky eye. And her style. Though I'm a fan-turned-imitator of the minimalist French way of uniform dressing, I like how Golovanoff doesn't do a strict pant-shirt-heel combo and instead mixes and matches prints, textures, and silhouettes. Although many of her outfits seem to be straight off the runway (ie. Celine Spring 2014), her choices reflect a certain boldness and creativity that isn't very typical of what you see on the heavyweights of French street style. But then again, she's a front-of-camera television star, not an editor. Whatever, food for thought below.

Doesn't she make you want to go blonde?!?

Images via: Vanessa Jackman,, Glamour Paris,

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Something to Read: The Teen Vogue Handbook

Though I've debatably aged out of the Teen Vogue readership demographic, I'm still a sucker for its content. I have a long history with the miniature-sized mag. It's the first one that truly turned me on to my love for anything fashiony and editorial, and I swear it has nothing (something) to do with The Hills. 

Here's some proof. When I was in 7th grade, I laboriously sketched ideas for a Teen Vogue tshirt design contest only to find out that my submission never made it into consideration because I had failed to put enough postage on the package containing my final design (the envelope was returned to sender, aka me. Brutal). I got my first whiff of a personal scent when I received a sample-size tube of J'adore Dior from Teen Vogue It Girls, of which I wore too much and thought was pronounced dye-or. My favorite pastime of collaging would be a fruitless hobby if it weren't for the pages of mix-and-matched prints and sayings like "best summer ever" found in Teen Vogue. And then there was the time in 11th grade when, in search of seats to a sold out Jonas Brothers tour, I wrote to the magazine and asked if I could cover one of the concerts as a member of the press. They never responded so I bought overpriced tickets on eBay.

And here's where I admit that as an avid fan of Laguna Beach and all of its spin-offs (Newport Harbor was rudely underrated), I became enthralled with the idea of the seemingly glamorous job of pushing samples down LA streets and writing emails on glossy Mac desktop computers cultivated by Teen Vogue's participation on The Hills. I wanted to work in fashion, and Teen Vogue was fashion, so I went to its website and devoured its career content. I learned that then-beauty editor Eva Chen went to Johns Hopkins and that most of its interns were city students fulfilling academic credit. I enrolled in Saturday sewing and draping classes at FIT because I found out that aspiring fashion design students needed to have something called portfolios. I wasn't sure what I wanted to be or do, but I knew it had something to do with fashion, and Teen Vogue's website helped educate me on the different paths of getting there.

I stopped trying to correspond with the magazine after my failed attempt to secure a JoBros press pass but it must've realized its career content was helping suburban high schoolers like me. In 2009, the first Teen Vogue Handbook, an all-encompassing guide to working in fashion, was published. I had found my way to the liberal arts by then but the book still quenched my thirst for anything fashion industry-related.

On Friday, an updated version of the book came out with all new content. Though it's meant as a career guide, it's a good read even if you don't harbor industry ambitions. It features interviews with designers, editors, photographers, bloggers, and anyone else who can confidently say they've made it in fashion. Like, how did Marc Jacobs get his start? Or what does a model scout do? The day in the life of a YouTube beauty star? It's all in there.

So... go buy now!!! It's like a giant Teen Vogue and comes with a one-year subscription to the magazine, which, on a parting note, is the gift that keeps on giving if you're into collaging (seriously, I've made like 20 collages in the past ten years using its pages.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Winter Coat Anxiety

Almost everyone I know, by which I mean three of my close friends, are suffering from coat anxiety. One ordered two coats online to her parents' house where her mom vetoed one of them for its close resemblance to a black bathrobe. I'm pretty sure another friend has a selfie reserve on her phone of her wearing coats in dressing rooms around the city, while the third had taken to asking strangers on the street where their coats were from before she evidently fell in love with a Burberry quilted number at Bloomingdales and started raising money from family and friends to fund it. I'm no stranger to coat anxiety either -- I'm this close to buying a fourth parka, this time from the J.Crew men's section.

It's like that study with jams. When faced with too many options, people end up not choosing anything. There are too many coats to choose from -- wool, quilted, waxed, fur, plaid, oversize, duffel, snorkel, do I need to continue? Also, prices run DEEP. In an ideal world, I would have an Isabel Marant parka, a Vince blanket coat, and a fuzzy Sandro pea coat, but I don't have the funds nor are there enough days in the winter to truly wear and love each one. I did buy this coat from the Gap last month and a lady, who I presume was suffering from bouts of coat anxiety herself, stopped me on the street to ask where I got it.

What's a gal to do? I haven't really solved my coat anxiety at all, I go each day thinking about a new winter coat I want, and when I do go to Bloomingdales in search of one, I feel simultaneously overwhelmed and discouraged and end up smelling perfumes and trying on sunglasses instead.

Below, some images to fuel your coat anxiety. All images via Pinterest.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Stovetop Cooking Challenge: Soup Edition

I haven't hit my stovetop as hard over the past couple of weeks as I did when I first moved into my oven-less apartment because of my economical culinary discovery in...(ince ince ince)...SOUP!

Furealz, soup is the bee's knees. I like soup for the same reason I like cereal, salad and frozen yogurt: a serving of each takes a long time to finish and there's variety in each bite. Will I get a noodle in this spoonful or just a piece of celery? (Poll: does celery contribute anything to soup?)

I've been trying to make a different soup every two weeks. They've gotten progressively better since the first episode because I cheated and started doing my cooking in my parents' kitchen. I haven't touched their oven though so the principle of the stovetop cooking challenge remains intact.

Here's what I've been cooking up:

Week 1 - way back in September (time flies when you're single and making soup in your spare time)

Still an amateur in the post-work grocery scene below 14th Street, I head to the Union Square Trader Joe's to buy soup makings: chicken broth, carrots, celery, and chickpeas. I could've easily found such basics at Key Food but I'm hungry for a free sample and Chelsea Market wasn't handing out the ravioli I usually stop for after work. I enter TJ's and do an initial scout for cute boys but there are none so I put my bitchy resting face on and nudge my way through the crowd. After I down a pumpkin-themed free sample, I get my veggies and scan the soup aisle for chicken stock. They're all out of chicken stock and I almost cry because I'm hangry. I settle on vegetable broth and get in line.

Two hours later, my soup looks pretty unappetizing. It lacks the jaundice of chicken stock and instead has a murkiness that can only be attributed to ... I don't even know what. It's exactly the type of soup I imagine to have been served at Soviet prisoner camps. In a Slavic spirit, I toast a slice of rye bread and use it to soak up my soup.

I add some steamed spinach the next night to give it some flavor, if not a bit of color. It resembles a bowel movement even more so than it did before.

Week 2 - October (time still flies when you're still single and making soup at night)

I've found the most cost-effective and time-saving place to grocery shop: my parents' kitchen. It even has a personal shopper service that lets you put in a request for say, almond butter a few days ahead of time, and it'll be waiting for you on the counter upon arrival. Huzzah.

I do what I always do right when I walk into my parents' apartment, which is scan the contents of the refrigerator. This time I have a mission other than snacking: to find soup ingredients. My mom has an offensive amount of kale taking over the vegetable drawer that's on the verge of going bad, so I resolve to use it in my recipe. She has more chicken stock in her pantry than Trader Joe's did (one carton), as well as cans of cannellini beans and crushed tomatoes. I combine it all with the vegetable equivalent of basic bitches, carrots and celery, in a pot and let it simmer. This soup tastes absolutely delicious compared to the first one, probably because I used a Whole Foods recipe and not one of my own imagination.

Next soups on the stovetop include curried lentil, chicken noodle, and butternut squash because who doesn't love to eat seasonal?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Opportunity Cost: Workout Clothes and Street Clothes

Image via Pinterest
I didn't come away from the three economics courses I took in college with anything except an embarrassing memory of the time Edith Piaf started playing from my phone at an ear-piercing volume during a lecture on command economies. I was really terrible at manipulating supply and demand graphs, and I once tried to dilute the economic content of a presentation with pictures of Steve Jobs and dizzying PowerPoint graphics. I did, however, grasp the notion of opportunity cost, a concept that can be applied to basically every decision you make. For instance, I gave up watching an episode of Mind of a Chef to write this blog post. And for the purpose of where this post is headed: I give up buying nice workout clothes for actual street clothes.

I never really took notice of how shitty my workout clothes were until I ran a half-marathon this weekend alongside Christy Turlington. Totally not kidding you guys. I ran the Hamptons Half-Marathon and maintained a two-stride distance from Mrs. Ed Burns for a solid two miles. While I look like Albert Einstein dying a thousand sweaty deaths when I workout, Christy Turlington looks...really pretty. Even supermodels sweat, but man, do they do it gracefully and in breathable fabric. While the rate at which my forehead shines isn't something I can change, I can buy nicer running clothes. I'm still operating in Nike shorts from 2001 and a J.Crew shirt of my mom's that she definitely had to order over the phone. It wasn't only Christy, but everyone else at the race, who was outfitted in elevated sportswear. I joked to my sister while waiting for the portapotties that given the state of my running apparel, no one would guess that I spend 95% of my disposable income on clothes.

I usually balk at the price of workout clothes, but if I'm going to run daily, I might as well do so in shirts not stained in toothpaste. Fully committed to the high ponytail-cool running girl cause, I went to the Nike store after work today. I was planning to buy these shorts and this sweatshirt but as I contemplated the total cost, visions of non-running outfits floated through my brain. I want a new striped shirt. And I still haven't given up my search for mom jeans. And what about new shoes?! Just when I think I'm satisfied with one pair of booties, another one walks through the door.

So I left Nike empty-handed. I can't. It's against my nature to spend money on workout clothes when I can just get them for free from my mom's dresser. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Style Icon: Elina Halimi

If my overconsumption of street style pictures over the last month has given me one thing, it's a new style icon: Elina Halimi, art director of the Parisian concept store Kabuki. Things she does well: curly hair, statement coats, long skirts, baggy pants, menswear, fur, chapeaux (visors included).

Images via: The CutLucky, Athens StreetstyleRefinery29Madame FigaroSophie Mhabille

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Stovetop Cooking Challenge, Week 2

Life called and since a woman's place isn't in the kitchen, I took a week-long hiatus from the stovetop cooking challenge. Not that the inner details of my life are the stuff that reality shows are made of, but I will share that I was supposed to go to a CHER concert on Friday that got rescheduled to December because the diva is ill. My concert partner, a 56 year old woman with salt and pepper hair who also happens to have birthed me, tried to get me to go deep into Queens instead to see Jason Mraz but I kindly declined and went for the second option: the senior citizen showing of the (appropriately titled) movie My Old Lady. Really living, you guys.

Tuesday September 23

Back to the stovetop because Tuesday's status as the most mediocre day of the week calls for a mediocre meal. I have a jar of curry sauce from Trader Joe's that should be used but curry sauce usually requires the chopping up and sautéing of onions and I'm weary of making my home one that incessantly smells like allium (i.e., the one I grew up in). I think I'll do something with tomatoes even though I feel as though I've ingested too much lycopene lately.

I decide to use my new julienne vegetable peeler and make zucchini noodles because I've been dying to know if noodles made of vegetables are as satisfying as those made of wheat, and of course, if they can even be called noodles. (Topic of discussion: what makes a noodle a noodle?)

It takes me a long time to figure out the right, non self-afflicting way to julienne the zucchini. Every time the peeler hits the vegetable, I wonder if this will be the time that I julienne my finger. After a few close calls, I emerge from the prep period with only a slight cut in my finger but luckily I'm cooking for one so it doesn't matter if my blood gets mixed in with the ingredients.

I heat up two pans: one for the zucchini and one for the sauce into which I throw a chopped tomato, garlic, and half a jar of Trader Giotto's marinara sauce. I also add a few frozen shrimp that thaw at lightening speed. There's a serious shindig happening on my stovetop, so much so that I remove the tea kettle from the backburner because if three burners aren't a crowd, they're definitely a fire hazard.

The finished product turns out to be ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. It's like squid ink spaghetti with shrimp minus the squid ink spaghetti plus noodles made of summer squash.

Wednesday September 24

What to make, what to do. The curry sauce has been calling my name since I mistakingly took it for peanut butter this morning. As much as I like chicken curry, I'm inspired by both a sign I saw at the People's Climate March proclaiming "What can you do? Be vegan." and the general lack of poultry in my refrigerator so I sauté an eggplant (ugh and an onion) instead. I pour the jar of curry sauce into the pan and let it simmer with the vegetables until I decide that a taste of my half-assed baingan bharta will transport me to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It actually kind of does. Not too many lessons learned from tonight's dinner except that pre-made sauces from Trader Joe's can make you feel like a boss in the kitchen. I'm a regular Anthony Bourdain, minus the heroin-ridden past.