Sunday, January 11, 2015

style blog: the first rule of style is to have fun and be yourself ♥

Since I feel like I lose a lot of people even before the introduction is over, I'll make it quick: "style" can be simple or complex, but whichever it is, it's completely personal and driven by choice. This is my take on my style, composed of my choices.

For those keeping track at home, we have long since surpassed the one-year anniversary of my moving to the bustling metropolis of Anchorage. My family and I have moved from two rentals to a place of our own. Things are falling into place as we continue to settle in, and at our own pace, which explains why I've been so slow to post anything on this blog or pretty much anywhere else, but that's beside the point.

As a recently self-realized adult crashing through my 26th year of existence and counting, in the past year or so I've grown both personally and professionally - but especially professionally, even earning the prestigious title of one of twelve Employees of the Year at my new job this year in the process. From what I've learned, one half of professionalism is through word and deed (with emphases on customer service and resourcefulness), and the other half is inevitably appearance. Considering my age and the field I transitioned to, it made sense to phase out of t-shirts, jeans and sandals (and Danskos, for my masculinity's sake) during the week. This is just one key factor of something I've learned to call my "style philosophy" - a term I've heard thrown around a few times in the realms of style, beauty/grooming and interior design alike. I used to watch a lot of TV.

I've been meaning to write a post about my "style philosophy" for a while, but the more I thought about it, the less I saw a need for it. After all, it is only clothes; as far as men's clothing goes, options are wildly limited in comparison to those of women's clothing, and really, I only hold merit to speak to my own style. This also begs questions of issues of sexism, gender roles and more in fashion, marketing, the economy and even society in general, but I'm not here for that. These are only clothes, my clothes, I'm talking about here, today.

There was a time where I was subscribed to a handful of beauty/grooming and style gurus on YouTube, and I didn't understand most of what they were doing until a few years in but found their videos hypnotic and therapeutic to watch. After a while, with YouTube videos, What Not to Wear, and brief subscriptions to both GQ and Details magazines, I saw enough to memorize how much of what goes where during what part of the year and for which skin tone and type (and I say memorize because I don't consider myself so well-versed as I am just well-rehearsed). From there, I continued learning by doing and finding what I liked and worked for me through excessive shopping (and a lot of trial and error), notoriously meticulous grooming regimens (unnecessary, some might say) and the occasional spa appointment (also unnecessary) - not to mention through Halloween, as well, but I digress.

it's amazing what you can do with a cream color palette
and a little bit of liquid latex for texture.
Like with beauty and grooming, style requires an individual approach tailored to your own needs and, most importantly, your own wants. You can certainly draw inspiration from sources like Vogue and GQ magazines, but ultimately, all they can provide are suggestions. Also like with beauty and grooming, I feel like one thing anyone gains from following anyone else for tips and tricks is simply watching that person in action. After all, clothes and grooming are just accessories; it is how everything chosen comes together to bring a person to their best that matters. There is also something to be said about how admirable it is to watch anyone talk about something that they're passionate about - it creates a positivity that's contagious. Who am I to deny that of anyone?

Most of my style philosophy can be summed up with four words: Old Navy by Gap.

button-ups, sweaters, layering/basic tees and polos
as far as the eye can see
I've been groomed for an affinity for style my whole life - and like with most people as I imagine, my mom picked out most if not all of my clothes for me growing up. It must have been in middle school where I started noticing I had favorite outfits, and most of these outfits came from Old Navy. Once I graduated high school, started a bank account and got a debit card of my own, things went downhill. Like releasing a tiger from its cage.

Realizing I could finally buy what I want is what I consider the beginning of my "style career" - if I can call it that. With the advent of online shopping, I saw the options Old Navy and eventually other stores had to offer, and I became aware of things like fit and cut shapes, patterns and prints, and material and care - i.e. not everything is machine-wash and tumble-dry, and sometimes things shrink and that's okay. It's from this awareness of possibilities I gleaned the most important aspect of my style philosophy: one of each. 

L-R: button-up shirt, cardigan, v-neck sweater,
polo, crewneck tee, v-neck tee
Shortly following this is the next key aspect of my style philosophy: in every color. 

L-R: red, orange, yellow, frog green, olive green,
kelly green, blue, light purple, dark purple

Men's clothing selections are limited virtually everywhere, so owning just one of each piece of clothing in one color each would be liveable but less than ideal. For me, at least.

After the honeymooning phase of first creating my bank account faded to a close, I also learned to ask myself two things, never in any particular order: one, do I really need this? And two, how much is too much (or how many is too many)? Always remembering what my parents tell us kids whenever we shop for ourselves (if you have to think about it, don't buy it) has also helped and continues to help cut down on time I waste trying to make decisions. Price is usually a dead lock, but versatility is another deciding factor - if I can't make more than one outfit with it, or wear it with more than one color scheme, I probably don't want it.

Outside of these four ideas is another ever-present set of other questions that nag me every time I shop: will this work with what I do from day to day? How will this look in passing? Does this make sense?

There is a word to describe entire looks that make a statement and photograph really well: editorial. 

lady gaga for V magazine, fall 2013
A vast majority of advertisements in style magazines utilize "editorial" looks. They look great in print, but I always try to picture someone working in a job like mine wearing what's pictured: entry-level, with lots of running around, high visibility, and occasional grunt work. This helps me decide if my clothes will work with what I do from day to day. Plus, show up to work in a blazer and everyone will ask what you're interviewing for...

The most I see of anyone outside of my teammates at work is a passing glance, and in passing, things tend to blur together. Greater contrast in colors and bigger or more unique prints and shapes stand out more than anything else, so I gravitate more toward these when shopping and putting outfits together. This idea of greater contrast helps me narrow choices down when shopping for one of each in every color, too.

Whether or not an outfit makes sense is mostly how it looks and feels on. Before it's worn, it's also a matter of season and/or material, which is something I learned the hard way. The following are just a few examples.

  • Am I wearing a winter sweater in the summer just because I want the coverage of long sleeves?  I could have worn a long-sleeve button-down or Henley t-shirt. Or a lightweight sweater. You can find things if you look for them.
  • Am I wearing linen pants in the middle of winter because they're the right color, and then wondering why I'm so cold? Should have just worn jeans. They make colored denim... or there are also colored khakis. The options are endless.
  • Am I wearing a long wool coat during the rainy pre-winter season because it's "basically a trench coat"? Find me a longer-cut rain-proof jacket. Like a trench coat.
  • Am I wearing full-on dress boots and wondering why I'm having trouble walking on ice? Someone teach me the difference between inside shoes and outside shoes...
  • Am I wearing short, loose layers on top of slimmer-cut pants because "the colors work together"? Get me into loose-fit khakis so my proportions are more balanced like a person and less like a marshmallow water-molecule model.
courtesy of Pinterest
That last point also begs questions of size discrimination in the fashion industry, which is not a new topic at all. Generally, I currently wear a size L (sometimes XL) in tops, and 34x32" or M in bottoms. Fortunately, most stores offer equal options for ranges that include these sizes; at the same time, however, both are sizes common enough to frequently sell out before too long.

This experience, my experience, barely scratches the surface of issues other people of plus sizes face: plus-size or big-and-tall selections from stores that aren't "specialty stores" (like Torrid or Destination XL) are remarkably more limited than men's clothes in general, and are usually plain. In contrast, specialty stores, while welcome, often mostly offer "statement" clothing (i.e. cuts, contrast and prints), which almost implies that anyone that wears big-and-tall or plus sizes needs to dress one way or the other with little in-between if any at all. Such might be why I subscribe to contrast in colors and unique shapes, but not all approaches to style, mine included, are for everyone. Clearly.

I was never good at closing anything that I begin to write. Most of my spoken in-person conversations at work end with my making an excuse to get back to my desk, if anything more than "so... yep!" and a quick turn on my heels. Unless I'm bombing a two-minute presentation or answering a direct question to give the illusion of participation at a department or team meeting, I'm prone to getting talked over and losing everyone's attention, as I have been for most of my life. By this point I'm surprised I made it this far but also feel like I've talked far too much, so I'll wrap this up one last time:
  • My family and I finally made it to Anchorage forever ago, and I "became" an adult because that's something that just happens
  • To work a work job, you need work job clothes
  • I am a wealth of beautiful but impractical knowledge
  • Personal style is driven by personal choice
  • I shop cheap so I can shop more--er, get one of each, in every color if I need it, it's not too much, or too many, among far too many more considerations than are necessary
  • Me taking too long in a store is actually me having gotten better about asking myself things when I shop, along with dressing colorfully yet accordingly both for my station and the weather
  • Bigger people are often left out as far as clothes go, so as a big person, my working with what I'm given is "making a big deal" about clothes
Thank you for your time.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

not amused.

Trying to figure out how to access my billing information for this site was far more complicated than it needed to be. Google made no mention of how to access a Blogger account after it was appropriated and turned into another Google app, so I had to find answers on someone else's blog. I could go into even more detail, but I highly doubt anyone is paying attention, in any case.

Since my last post, I've moved twice. First was from Dillingham to Anchorage, and then came from one house in Anchorage to another. It was a lot of work both times, but my family and I did what we had to do, and got it all done.

Just before leaving Dillingham, I interviewed via conference call for another job in the healthcare field and was hired on despite being on the brink of relocation. My only break in employment was the one week I planned just before the move. I did take a substantial pay cut, especially moving from two jobs to just one, but I'm still doing something I love and with people I get along well with, and the cost of living is much lower here.

This past October I traded in my black '06 Subaru Impreza 2.5i for a white '10 Jeep Compass Limited. This meant an increase on my loan and monthly payments, but not to an amount I couldn't handle.

It has been three, almost four years since I stopped attending college full-time. I've recently collaborated with my supervisors to create an Employee Development Plan, which involved researching requirements for degrees in Human Resources, Human Services, Computers, Information and Office Systems (CIOS), and Office Support. UAA offers an Occupational Endorsement Certificate (OEC) in Office Support, which also paves the way for an Associates degree in CIOS. This is basically the line of work I've been since graduating high school, so this is why this field interests me so much.

As was the case with mapping out degree requirements for Music Performance at UAF, this OEC in Office Support and subsequent AAS in CIOS looks great and simple on paper, but execution will take time and money. For now I'm starting on the OEC by enrolling in a Basic Keyboarding class on my own dime this summer.

Talking about academics, especially where I'm involved, exhausts me quickly, so I'm going to end that there.

I'm racking my brain for more things I need to update everyone on at the same time. I know I need to post updated skin care tips and clothes and style crap because my philosophy on both has changed drastically in the past year, but those are ramblings for another day.

I promise to update more regularly here. I mean, I spend enough time on the internet.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

an ode to my backpack

With a backpack like this, it's probably no surprise
I'm a huge deadmau5/Joel Zimmerman fan.
This is what my backpack looks like: hard-ass shell and decent padding and back support. I keep my life in it: laptop, charger, notebook, pen, gum, lip balm, iPhone cord, forever stamps and an extra pair of shoes.

This morning's dream started when I went to a party somewhere at one of my older brother's friends' houses. It was fun and all, but I moved back to the living room after everyone else moved to another room so I could take my laptop out and use their internet.

Before I knew it, my parents were in the living room with me, talking about how they wanted more coffee but couldn't figure out the setup because the water had to come into the house from outside or something. Not really wanting to help them figure the setup out, I packed up and told my parents I had a work function to get to. And I did, and to that meeting I went.

I got there, put my backpack down and got my work shoes out. The only thing I remember doing at this meeting is standing with everyone and starting to sing "My Country 'Tis of Thee" because whoever was presenting was actually doing a presentation on how easy it is to get everyone to do something in unison in a meeting setting. After he told us that, I realized this meeting was bullshit and packed up and left.

For some reason I thought airport-crashing was a good idea; I'd think I was going somewhere myself but I don't remember getting a ticket. I don't even remember going through security, but that's beyond the point. What happened next was, I came across a food court next to some gates. I don't remember getting anything to eat, but the next thing that happened is clear as day to me.

I was walking away from the food court and noticed someone sitting in their chair, legs up so they can work on what looked like a sketch. The jet-black hair, flawless makeup and star tattoo - it had to be Kat von D. Not wanting to freak out or overwhelm her too much, I calmly asked her, like I would approaching any other friend I haven't heard from in a while, "are you Kat?" She looked up, smiled and said, "yes I am!" I told her I loved her work and asked if I could get a picture with her, feeling for my phone in my pocket before I sat next to her. Thank God, the one time I need it for a picture and it was there. She was happy to oblige, and I turned on the frontward-facing camera.

We posed with our heads together, and took me a while to figure out how to best position the camera so my massive head wasn't the main focus of the picture. We took a few pictures to be sure, and somehow posted it to her Instagram from my phone. We spent the next few minutes talking and laughing about different things, and I even got to watch her do a really quick sketch that someone else at the gate asked her to do. she worked fast! What happened next was inevitable, but still beyond description.

"Yeah, what's happening?" Joel hesitantly asked, half-smiling as he saw I was sitting closest to his fiancée. "Joel, this is Nolan." Kat told him before I said hi and extended my hand for a handshake. He gladly returned the handshake, and apparently recognized me from somewhere since he paused for a second before saying something along the lines of "ohhh, right! I haven't heard [names a couple of my songs] in a minute!" I thanked him and told him I was a huge fan of his. We all went on to talk and laugh about different things until they had to board their flight. How I was able to keep my composure was beyond me because to anyone else, it must have looked like we were all old friends.

But anyway, the next thing I remember doing is packing up and going to a park. I had to take a call from someone so I put my backpack down somewhere and walked around while I took the call. After I hung up, I looked back, and perched on top of my backpack was a huge black and red moth. Being an insectophobe, I immediately jumped back and ran away from my backpack. 

I looked back after running and saw someone else at the park that was walking, and asked them to tip my backpack over (meaning towards them) so the moth can fly away and they can pick it up and bring it to me, but apparently they were just as insectophobic since they tipped it over like I asked but ended up jumping back and running from it like I did after the moth flew off. After they did that, a couple of stray dogs came running through and somehow carried it off somewhere.

I hollered across the park at the person I saw, asking if my backpack was over there, and they answered it was right next to them, so I started towards them. Somehow, all that was left behind was one of my backpack's back support beams. "I think I saw those dogs that ran off with it head for the beach down the hill," they told me. I thanked them and ran to the beach.

Once I got there, I saw tons of people playing in the water, and the waves were littered with silver-colored beach toys. Perfect.

The last thing I remember doing is trying to maneuver myself into an inflated kiddie pool, with an elongated sand shovel in hand. My raft and oar. 

I looked out over the water for my backpack, and never felt more lost in my life.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

the reluctant activist: why so reluctant?

Most, if not all causes, are formed from emotions surrounding an event - whether on a personal or global and historic scale. Causes often go unadvertised or unfulfilled because these emotions are expressed only to be marginalized, written off as something else, or ignored entirely.

I've seen a quote from Hank Green, one of the Vlog Brothers on YouTube, floating around online saying something about how the emotions and other things he experienced as he was growing up were just as real as anything as he experiences today as an adult, and age shouldn't have anything to do with how seriously anyone takes anyone else.

Basically, I now consider "you're just a kid" and "it's just a passing phase" to be cop-outs.

Emotions are nothing to be marginalized, regardless of age or other identity factors. Nothing is to be marginalized.

Words are more than sounds or shapes. What you make of them is up to you, but shitting on what someone else makes of them is a dick move in general.

Sometimes the most anyone can do is talk, ask “why,” or even just listen, but sometimes that’s all people need to get things back on track, whether they’re just passing feelings or an entire life or entire lives and welfare on the line.

I’ve participated in online petitions and worn colors on certain days, but can’t help but feel judged for not personally ending world hunger, personally bringing world peace about, or personally finding or funding entire researches for cures for incurable diseases.

I’m just one person, and all I have are words. And a computer with internet access and strange tastes and preachy opinions I MUST pollute the world with.

(Accurate) knowledge is power. Know and love who you are as a person, or be the change you want to see until you do. And above all, never be afraid to ask for help, or to help others.

Do what you can, with what you have, from where you are, and as much as you like. Someone, somewhere is bound to appreciate it.

Friday, December 28, 2012

to my parents on my birthday

my mom and me, circa 1989-90?
originally my profile pic for mother's day 2011

I already acknowledged on Facebook that it's my birthday on December 28th. In addition to establishing that, I invited my friends to congratulate my mom on 24+ years of amazing parenting on me instead of writing on my wall because it is just as much her day as it is mine.

On Twitter, I went on to acknowledge that my dad gets just as much credit because he was an equally important role model and mentor. What I didn't point out is, my dad doesn't have his own Facebook.

Anyway, from there I mentioned how my brother Ricky would always get our mom flowers on his birthday. I was never gifted with that kind of considerate foresight – because with my birthday being so close to the end of the month, I always managed to spend what was in my account before I could think of getting any kind of gift for her. Looking back, I am mildly disappointed, and always was each time I realized that, but she didn't ever seem to mind.

To most, birthdays signify just officially aging another year. As far as I can see, 24 means just another year until I have to buy my own health and car insurances. For me, the 28th of December, however, just as much as any other day should be, has become a day to be thankful – for the gifts and the well-wishing from everyone, but also being blessed with everyone in my life, including my parents. Especially my parents.

Thank you, Meem (and Didee) – the person that I was, that I am today, and will continue to become, I owe to you both indefinitely. As gifted as you insist I am with words, I cannot express enough how much I love you both.

With how much we've faced, especially in this past year, and with the big changes all of our lives have in store especially in the near future, it has been and will continue to be a team effort. Thank you, again, for everything.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

it needs to be said.

I can already feel my college friends drifting away and losing touch once they graduate in the spring. I probably am just missing the crazy party days, but the thought of eventually going back to college without them there is killing me.

Like, why make new friends when these ones were just fine? Better than just fine - they were a huge part of my life for over three years.

And of course I’m back to feeling like I’m not worth waiting for, but this time it’s mixed in with feeling like I’m not worth keeping around. As much as I'd rather not, it’d probably be for the best that I learn to replace people as they come and go in my life.

I feel like I make a lot of things about me and probably sound like I can do just fine by myself. A lot of my actions can be seen as selfish. And at this point I probably sound like I’m seeking attention or fishing for compliments, but this is how I feel.

No matter how I come across, I’d rather not do anything alone that I can do with friends. In my case, they’re fairly difficult to come by.

Also, it's probably some unwritten rule somewhere that how you think other people feel about you is just as much how you feel about them as it is how you feel about yourself. Trust when I say I don't want to lose them, though. 

Myself, on the other hand, I can do without this existential meltdown BS.

I'd do a better job of keeping in touch with everyone if I didn't feel like a huge inconvenience. Actually going back to college would make a difference in that respect, but so much depends on my family's move this coming spring.

So I suppose there's nothing I can do but hope nobody is getting tired of me yet.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

i came. i saw. i left in less than five minutes.

there was an attempt

Halloween this year felt like a huge fail. Let me elaborate on why, exactly.

I had to close at my second job which took me until about 3:30. As soon as I got home, I had to organize my family's pantry to make room for the COD of food we just got in. By 4, I was free to start on my face.

Now, I had to be ready in time to help "take gate" at the Halloween Carnival, which meant I only had two and a half hours to do what I originally planned to do.
an overly-elaborate plan, as per usual.
I watch more than my fair share of Halloween tutorials on YouTube, so naturally I feel like if I watch the videos enough, setting out to re-create them shouldn't take much. Unfortunately, it does.

I made mistakes, smudged dark colors where light ones were supposed to, tried to smudge light colors over the dark mistakes which made everything look muddy, caked glitter on when it was supposed to be diffused lightly, and the spider web on my forehead didn't get to dry before I tried to do what I did so it ended up smeared all to hell.

Ten likes and seven favorable comments in an hour after posting that picture on Facebook, it's obvious that my shiny sugar skull mask turned out pretty decent for someone who's really out of practice as far as makeup goes. Unfortunately, my insecurity over what I knew was a rushed job outweighed my bravery to go out in public "in face".

On top of that, the people I was supposed to help out looked like they were handling things just fine without me since I actually showed up a half-hour late because I thought I'd be able to do black nails with a white crackle topcoat in under five minutes. Most girls or most anyone with experience with nail polish can't even get their dominant hand to look as good as their non-dominant hand, so mine turned out disastrous.

I could go on and on about how I felt my "costume" (which I feel stupid calling it that because all it is is makeup) fell short this year, but I hate rambling because I know I can't hold anyone's attention for long at all.

The long and short of it: I felt rushed, and I didn't have anyone to spend tonight with. I'll bet things would be different if I was back in Fairbanks, or pretty much anywhere else.