Life at the bottom of the Fashion Caste

Reviews

The New Year’s Way

Image

New Year’s is my favorite holiday of all the holidays! It’s not just a time for reflecting on your previous year but also an incredible opportunity to plan out an entire year of what’s to come.

I’ve been thinking about what I want from this year, and it is packed. I’m starting with a handful of resolutions which I’m sharing here now. Hopefully if they’re written in a place where I’m not the only person who can see them (aka not my journal), I’ll be more likely to actually stick to them. So, here goes.

1. No more ‘fast fashion.’

This includes, but is not limited to, Urban Outfitters, H&M, Forever 21, Zara, etc. I’ve only realized this fact in the last few months (yes, slow on the uptake, I know) but stores like the aforementioned megashops manufacture their clothing to be on trend (okay, great) but to last for 10 washes max. That is despicable. Think of how many $30 sweaters (or 40, or 50!) I’ve bought from UO or elsewhere. One year of fast sweaters could’ve bought me at least two beautiful, made-to-last, staple sweaters that I could cherish for years to come.

This resolution will be all about control and perspective. I’ll have to remember that just because the price is good, doesn’t mean the product is. And I’ll have to remember that the $20 I take out of my paycheck every two weeks is going toward something that I will really value one day, not just a venti latte. This will also give me an excuse to focus on thrift and vintage stores.

2. Keep blogging.

It’s as simple as that. I know there has been a bit of a holiday-induced hiatus in my writing lately but between work and friends and family I just couldn’t squeeze it in! I’m really excited to stick to this resolution because it’s become so important for me to document my thoughts in a permanent-ish way. One day I’ll be able to look back at these posts and realize how much I’ve changed since way back in 2012. That alone is worth it to me.

Aside from all that, I’ve got big plans for this little blog in the new year, including a fresh theme and DIY video series! Keep an eye out for my first edition.

3. Keep that New Year’s feeling.

I always feel so optimistic at the start of a new year. Eventually that high wears off, and I land back in the doldrums of my everyday outlook. But this year I will try to keep the excitement and foresight of a new year, or at least try to keep that attitude in mind as often as I can. Sounds cheesy, but my life has taken such a dramatic reversal in the last year, I need to remind myself sometimes to anticipate the future, no matter the unexpected things that may come up.

Also, I made a playlist that I was intending to post yesterday. But I didn’t. So here it is! It’s designed for a night of all-night New-Year’s dancing. But you can dance around your room to it. Find it on 8tracks AND on Spotify!

And with that, here’s to 2013. I hope it’s the best year yet. Yes, the best year of all the years. Ever.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole

p.s. Do you have any resolutions? Let me know, I’m always inspired by other people’s goals!

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Movie Mania: Heathers

“Dear Diary, my teen-angst bullshit now has a body count.”

– Winona Ryder as Veronica Sawyer in ‘Heathers’

Heathers title card

For those of you who haven’t been transfixed by Heathers’ darkly attractive analysis of the GenX teenager, the film depicts one Veronica Sawyer navigating the social jungle that is high school. Veronica has made it to the top of this hierarchy through admittance into the most powerful clique at Westerberg, a group of three uber-popular, conniving girls all dubbed Heather. The Heathers rule the school through a combination of fear, admiration, and sex appeal (“Everyone at this school either wants me as a friend or a fuck,” Heather Number One, aka Heather Chandler, boasts to Veronica).

Not to give away too many plot points for those Heathers virgins out there, but thee rest of the film highlights the demise of Westerberg’s most despicable characters, largely at the hands of Veronica and the rebellious newcomer, Jason Dean. Heathers is everything I ever wanted out of a John Hughes movie gone very, very wrong.

Heathers

My thirteen-year-old self was instantly drawn to this movie, chiefly based on the absolutely brilliant wardrobe choices. At the time of production, shoulder pads were at their pinnacle; there is no being a Heather without power shoulders. Giant hair, blazers at school, brooches, and monocles were also apparently things that teens wore. At least what the Heathers wore at Westerberg. And don’t forget the all-powerful scrunchie.

Monocle

Each Heather has her own signature colour which, not only affirms her place in the clique, but also conveys her character through non-verbal queues, if only on a skin-deep level. Heather Chandler, the most vicious and deluded Heather of the group, is red. She’s powerful, she commands attention, she’s dangerous. Heather Duke is green; she’s jealous, vengeful, and ironically, bulimic. Heather McNamara is yellow; she’s cautious, delicate, and easily persuaded. Our heroine, Veronica Sawyer, is blue; moody, discontent, and confused.

I love how this detail furthers the surreality of the whole film. Sure, there are dream sequences and a general fogginess about many of the scenes, but the Heathers’ ensembles catapult them from average teens to some kind of bizarre uniformed royalty. Primary coloured outfits never looked better.

Check out my style board inspired by Veronica. I am super into this schoolgirl/collegiate chic trend that’s in the works so I would definitely wear a Heathers-inspired look just about anywhere. College included.

How VERY.
Another reason my particularly angsty self loved/loves this movie is that it effortlessly captures the frustrations of overly intelligent, bored, listless teenagers. Veronica became a Heather because there was nothing better for her to do. “Now I use my grand IQ to decide what color lip gloss to wear in the morning and how to hit three keggers before curfew.” She’s disgusted with the institution of high school, the blind, hypocritical over-guidance of the adults in her life, and even more horrified at her own contribution to the unproductive cycle. When her hand is finally forced at changing things, Veronica’s own apathy overtakes any real emotion: “I say we just grow up, be adults and die.” Que sera, Ronnie, que sera.
True friends
I find Heathers really hits the mark in my book because it goes beyond poking fun at hilarious high school stereotypes. By pulling all the characters toward the extreme ends of their personas, the film not only mocks society at large, but also gives it a big eff you. Despite its dismal box office debut, Heathers has filled the dark teen comedy void and since become a headstrong cult classic. I approve.
Even if you hate Heathers, you can’t deny it’s influence on all teen/high school movies and shows that followed in the two decades after its release. Clueless, American Beauty, Mean Girls, Gossip Girl, etc. Case in point: Heathers cafeteria scene vs. Mean Girls cafeteria scene. Obviously the setup for either scene is completely different, but it is clear that each clique has its own designated table creating social boundaries that are almost never crossed. Thus, Heathers = insta-classic.
Fear not, Heathers-inspired outfit post coming soon.
ttyl,
Maria Nichole

Mawi Sample Sale

Sample Sale Dec 2012

Mawi is having a sample sale! If you’re lucky enough to be in London this coming weekend, get yourself to their East London studio to take a gander at all the incredible pieces they have up for grabs; they span an entire decade of jewelry design. Check out the Mawi London blog post about it here.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


Currently Crushing: True&Co

I cannot tell you how excited I was when I learned of True&Co‘s existence. I’d been reading about the company and how it’s been in the works for a long time on the blog Blushing Ambition by the darling Annabel. I thought it would be just your average middle-end boutique that sells nice sleepwear and pretty undergarments. Boy was I wrong. Everyone and their mother, literally, needs. this. website.

Let’s talk breasts. Mine are small. I have struggled since puberty to find the right bra for me. Believe it or not, I’ve worn the same size bra since I started wearing them. It’s a tiny size. Victoria’s Secret doesn’t even carry it in their stores. Even on the off-chance I do find my size, in Vicky’s mind, all A-cups must wish desperately they were DDs. I like my small breasts, I really really do.

So, for the last few years I’ve been ordering 3-10 different bras from online vendors like Asos, trying them all on, and sending 9-10 of the ill-fitting, overly-padded ones back, then repeating the cycle. But not anymore. Thanks to True&Co’s delightfully positive questionnaire that narrows down your best bra size based on your favorite bra’s fit, your dress size, and a few other factors, I have fallen in love with lingerie shopping once again.

Sign up with your email and the site catalogues your information for future purchases and stocks your personal shop with bras tailored to your needs. The big twist on conventional underwear shopping? For a $45 deposit, True&Co will send five different bras (three picked by you from your special shop, two recommended by True&Co especially for you) directly to your house for you to try on. If you don’t like any, send them all back for free. They return your deposit and you can go on searching for that perfect fit. If any of them do tickle your fancy, great! Keep the best ones, send the rest back. Obviously you have to pay for them but the shipping is free!

Check out my True&Co. Gift Guide ripe with recommendations for your sister/girlfriend/gal pal/mom (?).

Holiday Gift Guide: True&Co

Another huge bonus: they have an impeccably edited sleepwear shop as well. Whether for sleep, play, snuggling, or the holidays, they’ve got your lounge time covered with a great selection of labels that truly fit every budget.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


Winter Wishes

It’s that time of year again. Stores are brimming with gotta-get-em-now deals that seem too good to be true. So in honour of this month of shopping bliss, I took a minute to whip up my Christmas list in an ideal world (i.e. where my wallet is fatter than my never used once credit card and driver’s license combined).

Winter Wishes

And the wishes are: 1. Topshop Longsleeve Collar Tip Shirt (here) 2. Club Monaco Beatrice Pant (here) 3. Urban Outfitters Felt Porkpie Hat (here) 4. The Splurge: Tom Binns Rokoco Dumont Earrings (here) 5. Zara Bowling Bag (here) 6. Need Supply Piping Oxford (here) 7. Dents Bow Detail Glove (here) 8. Madewell Scallop Lace Top (here) 9. Modcloth It’s Good to Be Chrome Skirt (here) 10. Madewell T-Strap Mini Wedge (here)

Coincidentally most of the items go together in one way or another and could be easily remixed to create some off the charts holiday outfits. But fear not! Actual gift guides for those of us on a budget who have more than a few difficult-to-shop-for folks on our lists are in the works and will be posted before you know it! First up: Gift Guide for the Girly Gal.

Until then, HAVE YOU ENTERED THE GIVEAWAY?! There are only a few hours left!! Click here to get lucky.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


Currently Crushing: Smith/Grey

Currently, I’m just about drooling on my keyboard over Smith/Grey fine jewellery.

It’s true, I’ve fallen head over heels for yet another London-based high end jewellery brand. But this one is truly impossible to resist.

The Danish/Austrian duo behind Smith/Grey creates impeccably edited collections driven by highly narrative concepts. Every piece is created through a process of painstaking craftsmanship, and the folks behind the brand, Birgit Marie Schmidt and Sofus Graae, possess an enviable array of expertise that fills their designs with wit, edge, and sophistication.

The real jaw dropper for me was their “I can’t seem to get rid of the horses” collection. Horses bend and meld into one another in surreal beauty. An otherworldly element is bestowed on the Smith/Grey collections through their psychologically-based inspirations. Brigit’s concepts are often based largely in the human imagination, dreams, and storytelling.

As hauntingly beautiful as the collection, here’s what the Smith/Grey online lookbook has to offer in terms of shedding some light on Brigit’s inspiration for “Horses”:

“And when she turned around she saw that the horses kept walking back towards her. Tall horses and small horses, fair ones and dark ones. They still returned every morning and every night, quietly whispering poems in her ear in a language she didn’t understand. But my dear, these words were ravishing. And she kept thinking, “Do they hold on to me or do I hold on to them?”

Uncomplicated by flashy gems or precious stones, Smith/Grey rely on sculptural elements to keep the eye entertained, catching the light at unexpected junctures and providing balance through satisfying symmetry. Did I mention that Brigit has a master’s degree in goldsmithing from the Royal College of Art in London? Yeah, she knows her stuff.

The duo doesn’t only design jewelry for ladies, either. They have a breakout line of baubles just for gents entitled Ivy Noir. The concept for the line is a darker take on classic Ivy League essentials. From signet rings to collar stiffeners, Ivy Noir accessories are staples for a style savvy boy’s club regular who “doesn’t always dress by the book.”

Prices run high for a piece of Smith/Grey bespoke, and rightfully so, considering the intense creative process involved in bringing each collection to fruition. So, in lieu of actually owning one of these beauts, I’ve created a style board showing how I would style my hypothetical Smith/Grey “Horses” hoops and “Peculiar Things” ring on a crisp fall day.

Horse Girl

It’s Vote’n Time

Hey everyone! Just wanted to send out this friendly reminder into the interwebs reminding you to get on out to your local polling place and cast your valuable vote. Only you can do it!

Don’t know where to vote? Check out this website.

Did you miss the last presidential debate? Lucky you, the New York Times uploaded the whole thing to YouTube.

Need a refresher on your local issues up for revision this election cycle? Visit your town’s local news websites to get the full briefing.

Curious about the issues concerning us gals that could be decided by the results of this election? Watch this video (below).

“You Don’t Own Me” PSA -Official from You Don’t Own Me on Vimeo.

Regardless of your political ideologies, it’s more important than ever that women get out to vote. Sorry guys, but you’ve had the power of government on your side for almost always. Consider the points made by former Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles, taken from her November letter from the editor:

“[Women] make up 51 percent of the country’s population but represent only 17 percent of Congress. You do the math….It’s astounding to me that in the history of Congress, only 217 women have held office compared with 11,279 men….if Congress were representative of the population, with 51 percent of seats filled by women, do you think we’d still be debating about contraception? Of course not. We’d be focused on jobs, the economy, education, and the myriad of pressing matters that really need our attention now….Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, having women’s voices heard and represented is something we should all be able to agree on.”

To me, that extremely astute argument is huge. We are leaps and bounds closer to equality in America than when our grandmother’s were our age, even our own mothers, but there is no denying that we still have a long way to go.

I’m not a true blue fan of either party. In fact, most days I have a sarcastic word or two for the political puppet show that massive media makes of our national elections. But I am a fan of my personal voice being heard concerning issues regarding my body, healthcare, gender-equal pay, education, foreign policy, and human rights.

So, I will vote today for the millions of women of the world who do not have the right to vote, and may never live to gain it. I will vote today so I won’t become a statistic of female non-voters. I will vote today in hopes that the world will be a fairer place for my future daughters.

I will vote today, and so should you, sister.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


Marjorie Dean, High School Junior

“‘Only to think, next week, at this time, I’ll be saying good-bye to you, Mary Raymond.’ Marjorie Dean’s brown eyes rested very wistfully on the sunny-haired girl beside her in the big porch swing.”

– excerpt from Josephine Chase’s Marjorie Dean, High School Junior

Lately I’ve been looking back into my family’s history, hard. My great-grandmother recently passed away and I’ve been given the task of sorting through boxes upon boxes of her old things. From figurines to photos, china sets to coupon clippings, I had my hands full.

This massive organization inspired me to sort through some other old mystery boxes in my house, sometimes full of myriad treasures and sometimes full of, well, let’s just say trash. Apparently just about everyone in my family is/was a pack rat.

But I’m thankful for that! Because it’s led me to some really priceless finds, mostly based on sentiment. One such find was a novel by the title of this post, Marjorie Dean, High School Junior by Pauline Lester.

I adore antique books. Like, verging on unhealthy adoration. I would rather buy a used book than a new one any day of the week. My favorite part of cracking open a beautiful used book is the possibility of stumbling across an inscription that gives me a clue to the book’s former life before it came to rest in my hands. Marjorie gave me just that.

Inside the front cover of my copy of Marjorie Dean is scribbled “To Mildred, From Lucille, Christmas 1918.”

Since coming across the book, I’ve picked it up from time to time to read a few pages here and there. Last week I finally came to the end of Marjorie’s junior year saga. I immediately set to work learning everything I could about Marjorie and the author.

“Marjorie entered her mother’s room and dropped dispiritedly at her feet,”

There’s not much to go on but a few half-written Wikipedia pages, but as it turns out, Pauline Lester was a pen name used by author Josephine Chase. Stories about harrowing, golden-hearted young women were such a smash at the time, Chase also wrote another series about title character Grace Harlowe under the pseudonym Jessie Graham Flower. The fake names didn’t stop there, however, and before Chase’s death in 1930, she also wrote a boys series called the Khaki Boys Series under the title Captain Gordon Bates.

The entirety of Marjorie Dean’s high school career was put to paper in 1917. Her success in life is attained based on a strict sense of duty to friends, family, school work, and those less fortunate than she, in her middle class existence. Marjorie is a beacon of truthfulness, fair play, beauty, and moral conscientiousness.

I was ecstatic to learn that not only did Marjorie graduate high school with flying colours, but that she also lived on, in a literary sense, to complete college, have a (short) career, get married to her high school sweetheart, and have a family, all before 1930! Learn more about Marjorie’s rival of her college years in this article.

I also learned a little about novels written for young women during the early 1900’s and their effect on women’s roles in sports, thanks to Dr. Nancy G. Rosoff. Both Marjorie and Grace were avid basketball players and much of the conflict faced in High School Junior was derived from the game.

All of this is even more interesting when you add in the fact that the publishers of Josephine Chase’s works were anticipating these novels to influence the young people in America. They hoped that the girls and boys featured in Chase’s novels would inspire the average reader to follow suit by understanding their places in society and the world. As such, the Grace Harlowe series was widely marketed as “stories of real girls for real girls.”

Read the entire story of Marjorie Dean’s junior year of high school online, right here.

Do you have any favorite antique or used books? Ever come across some beautiful inscriptions? I’d love to hear about em!

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


Currently Crushing: Edward Gorey

Around this time of year, my love for Edward Gorey’s macabre illustrations and stories renews itself and inspires a thirst for all things Halloween.

There’s a stark, depressing reality in his work, especially in The Gashlycrumb Tinies. Arguably Gorey’s most famous book, Gashlycrumb documents the tragic ends of 26 children, one for every letter of the alphabet, in a darkly comedic way.

Besides being an incredibly well known artist and author with an extremely distinct style, Gorey dabbled in television, film, and stage productions. The quintessentially creepy author’s incredibly prolific career is documented in a series of anthologies titled Amphigorey.

Gorey is also my current crush because I recently discovered a book of his personal letters to friends and family. Read this article about the book and check out his amazing envelope sketches.

When asked who his typical fans were, Mr. Gorey responded, “It ranges from dear little old ladies to rather distracted teenagers who sometimes turn up at the door. I go to the same place for breakfast and lunch every day. Most of the people there are regulars, but every once in a while somebody will come up to the table and say, ‘I have a book of yours in the car. Will you sign it, please?’ And I’m thinking, ‘What is a book of mine doing in your car?’ I’m nothing if not terribly amiable, though.”

Gorey passed away in 2000 but you can still visit his home in Massachusetts. P and I are dying to get out east to visit friends in New York (providing it still exists by Christmas) so I think the Gorey House will definitely earn a spot on our travel agenda.

Check out his online community here. I’ve just got to get my hands on one of those prints!

Yet another good reason to have a huge crush on Edward Gorey is summed up in the above photo. He adored his feline friends, I mean, really really loved them. Me too!

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


October Playlist

This month has been barreling through, throwing an unfathomable mix of weather, obstacles, and emotions my way, all the while showing no signs of slowing down.

I’ve had the heavy burden of a long list of life-altering decisions to make, many of which have been made for me by the powers that be. This has made for a rather unorthodox month. As far as my musical mood, I think these fluctuations can be heard in this month’s playlist.

In a last-ditch attempt to get my musical musings for the month of October to you, my ever-devoted reader (kidding here), I’ve squeezed it in at the tail end.  There are some appropriately themed spooky ones thrown in but I think it’s a good mashup of all sorts.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole

P.S. Now you can stream my playlists right from your own computer! Still trying to figure out how to embed them in my actual posts, but here’s the link to the 8tracks:

October from ttylusa on 8tracks Radio.

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I saw Craft Spells around this time last year in London at this tiny above-a-pub venue. My friend April and I got drunk off rum and cokes and danced our little indie hearts out. It was great. See a barely-visible shot of the show below.

The night immediately after I saw the aforementioned Craft Spells, I saw this band at the Roundhouse in London. It was an awesome show and definitely the most badass one I’ve ever been to. Also, another milestone was my first-ever beer shower, thanks to the rowdy crowd of drunken Brits.

  • So Far Around the Bend – The National

“Take a bath and get high through an apple,

 you wanted to cry but you can’t ‘cause you’re laughing.”

Find the album version here, but if you’d like to learn a little more about the most excellent Dark was the Night project, hear this version.

This makes the list because a) ghosts—October, obviously. And b) I heard a sound byte once of Jack White asking a crowd if they ever feel like they belonged in a different time period. A man anachronism.

  • My One Desire – Freakwater

Apparently this is a cover of a Rick Nelson song? Never knew. Either way, I couldn’t find the version I wanted so give Ricky a try.

This is one of my top ten favorite songs of all time. I mean it though. The music video doesn’t do it justice! Lyrics are priceless, to boot. Plus, I do love that Bill Murray man.

“I wanna get home, I wanna get stoned,

Make myself food, make myself good.”

Gosh this song has the power to overthrow me with the blues with the first little guitar riff. Can’t get enough.

Fallish and also mildly creepy. Listen to it in a car going fast on the highway.

Longing for the Big Sur, where the ocean and mountains and redwoods and cliffs and fog make for just the right setting.

This gal has the pipes to be a megasuperstar.

No, Ryan Gosling (who wrote and performed this music with the Silverlake Conservatory Children’s Choir), my body’s a zombie for you. Trust me.

I wrote a script to a short film inspired by this song. Not in a cheesy way.

The mounting energy of this song gives me shivers.

But you’ll fight it and you’ll make it through,

You’ll fake it if you have to

And you’ll show up for work with a smile.

And you’ll be better and you’ll be smarter

And more grown up and a better daughter—

Or son and a real good friend.”

Okay, this song is verging on brutally angst-filled, I realize. And okay, I adored this band during my hilariously moody middle school years.

But, in my defense, I’ve loved this song since the day I heard it and it is oddly (and embarrassingly) fitting at this juncture in my life. I’m not clinically depressed like the assumed subject of this song, just faking it, since I have to.

Also, Jenny Lewis and her parade of vintage/thrifted stage looks were a huge inspiration to me as a youngster. Just look at that ensemble. Holy cats.

My love for this song is never-ending. Learn all the lyrics and blast it at full volume in your car and sing it at the top of your lungs…even at the red lights!

Well, that’s all for now (folks)!

What were some of your go-to songs for the month of October? Comment!