Nike Mesh T-Shirt + Bodycon Skirt.

Aug 31, 2016

Hello and welcome to the deep corners of the personal style Internetosphere. On today's show, we have a very special guest - a suuuuuuper airy and comfortable black mesh Nike crop top. Phew, that was a mouthful! 

Let's just discuss this baby for a second - I purchased it on a whim, one of those "I've been at work for 8 hours so it's time to treat myself" purchases that I could have lived without, but could I have really? Here's the thing about me and summer. Sometimes sleeveless tops just won't do it for a reason or another, but T-shirts seem too prone to pit stains. Well, this shirt is the sweet spot. If I'm feeling sleeves but don't want to commit to that awful pit dampness all day, this is my go-to. 

Not only is it the most breezy thing I own, but it's also perfect to experiment on with a variety of accessories. Today I went with a bit of a girly vibe, but I can see myself rocking it with some joggers for a more casual look, or even hitting some happy hours by adding a sequin skirt! The possibilities are endless. 
Photos by Aidan Bradbury-Aranda
earrings: gifted by mom
sunglasses: Warby Parker
necklace: handmade by my cousin
shirt: Nike (via Crossroads Trading Co.)
skirt: New York & Co.
bag: Zara Basic (via Crossroads Trading Co.)
shoes: Jeffrey Campbell (via Crossroads Trading Co.) 








Thank you the absolute most for stopping by! 

Black Polka Dot Crop + Girly Trousers.

Aug 29, 2016

I understand the basics of marketing and product placements in magazines; therefore, I'm usually immune to them. However, every now and then, something slithers through and haunts my dreams until I cave in. It's all random, really - one time it was a pair of chunky Lulu*s heels that I came across in multiple magazines. I wanted them so much that when I couldn't find them online, I even Tweeted at Lulu*s and attached a photo, continuing to stalk until I got my hands on them. That's a lot of effort for someone who actively tries to not be an involved consumer. 

As it turns out, the shoes aren't particularly versatile (or comfy, for that matter), but the one other item of clothing I put nearly as much effort into purchasing is! This cropped polka dotted baby has put me out of my mundane wardrobe misery plenty'a times throughout college, where I paired it with anything and everything in my closet (see here, and in a surprisingly out-of-character setting, here). Aeropostale is part of those kinds of stores that most of us feel like we have no business scouting out after middle school, but there's some real gems in there, especially during sale season. I bought an amazing winter jacket for $5 a couple of years ago. Can't beat that. Really. 

This look was a bit more funky - maybe an Ariana Grande-type if she was more casual and not as set on wearing heels. Maybe it's the hair that makes me think of her? The pants are one of the few youthful impulse purchases that still linger around years later. They're a bit difficult to take on sometimes, but I find them really fun in this combination, don't you think? 
Photos by Aidan Bradbury-Aranda
sunglasses: Warby Parker
necklace: unknown
top: Aeropostale (Map to Mars)
bag: Rebecca Minkoff (via Crossroads Trading Co.)
pants: Forever 21
sneakers: Adidas (via Crossroads Trading Co.) 

Thank you so much for stopping by! 

Little Maxi Black Dress + Artisanal Choker.

Aug 27, 2016

No analysis or musings for tonight - just a quick look, shot on our date day this past week.

As tough as it's been to take on LA, and as discouraged as I've felt these past few weeks as I fully realized the magnitude of its talent pool and its lack of opportunities without connections, days like that make me feel like it's worth it. 

The fact that you can just get free tickets to a show taping and watch one of your role models (read: Ashely Graham) speak, even for 10 minutes, right in front of you is absolutely crazy to me. As someone who's constantly critical of celebrity culture and the way media feeds into the frenzy and portrays it, I 100% struggle with my feelings of giddiness when coming so close to someone famous. 

I know there's so many other things the world should be focusing on rather than the entertainment industry - and I'm so glad that for the most part, at least in my social circle, that is the case. Ultimately, I do think that media (especially on its social media channels) is slowly ruining celebrity culture and making it reach an all-time trashy high (or I guess low), but that's a discussion for another day. That's also something that as an aspiring journalist and PR professional, I plan on challenging. 

Right now, I just know that little 10-year old me, huddled under a stack of blankets in the middle of the night and watching every single awards show that would broadcast in Romania, would be flipping out if she only knew that one day she'd get to stalk Kevin Spacey on the red carpet or watch Chelsea Handler doing her thing live. 
Photos by Aidan Bradbury-Aranda
earrings: unknown
sunnies: Warby Parker
sweater: Crossroads Trading Co. (orig. Ellison)
dress: Charlotte Russe
necklace: Rachel Rayburn
shoes: Nine West (via Ross Dress for Less) 

Thank you so much for stopping by!

Printed Bomber Jacket + Cobalt Blue Mini.

Aug 24, 2016

Ah, bomber jackets - the gift that keeps on giving season after season. If there's one piece of outwear that LA ladies can go to time and time again and get functionality out of, this is it. As late August creeps around, the temperature is a perfect sunny with a breeze during daytime - getting just a tad brisk as darkness begins to rise. Enter the bomber jacket trend, light and effortless, but perfect for any occasion. 

As you might have guessed by now, I live for colorful summer outfits, but solids can quickly spark boredom if it isn't for the added interest of accessories. At the end of the day, does a good outwear number count as a piece of clothing? I find it sharing the podium with an eccentric bag or a sturdy pair of shoes, as an outfit enhancer. 

This little floral number has been my go-to accessory for the colder nights, and contrary to my expectations of low versatility, it goes with a lot of the items in my closet and makes for an interesting look (see my favorite outfit ever featuring the jacket: here). 

I tried finding this baby on the Forever 21 website, but no luck. Check out the other awesome inexpensive options available, though. I miiiight have to go snag a couple of these soon... 

What are your feelings on the bomber jacket trend? What other types of outwear are you digging for the upcoming season? 

Photos by Aidan Bradbury-Aranda
earrings: Forever 21
jacket: Forever 21 (via Crossroads Trading Co.)
dress: Charlotte Russe
bag: Zara (via Crossroads Trading Co.)
booties: Madewell (via Crossroads Trading Co.)

Thank you so much for stopping by!

Amsterdam Travel Diary: Stop and Smell the Strawberries.

Aug 21, 2016

There is a somber peacefulness in the way the Dutch carry themselves – it mirrors the grey overcast sky of mid-May. I notice this on a sharp midweek morning, the cold air and its wetness seeping through my thin denim jacket.

The air forces me to be aware of my body; to feel it penetrating through my protective layers, a task too daunting for a creature of summer like myself. I try to shift my focus, to become numb to the feelings in my bones and voices that are cussing me out for only packing this one jacket in a nearly two-month long itinerary.

Jetlagged with a lingering case of half-shut eyelids, I try to grasp the city, its bus-friendly infrastructure and compact car lanes. It has a certain movement to it, a state of eternal mellowness, yet somehow the commuter scene is urgent. I notice a woman on her towering, sleek bike. She perfectly matches her vehicle’s aesthetic – tall, slender, with sharp features and rosy cheeks bundled inside a chunky scarf. She’s relying on inertia, miraculously avoiding the crowds that obliviously invade the bike lane. Others have less patience: they ring their high-pitched bike bell once for each nuisance, a laughable expression of road rage in their features.

Even in the midst of rush hour, there’s hardly a traffic jam on the street, but the haphazard way of steering through the city’s nooks and crannies brings my pedestrian body a sense of anxiety as I watch cars fly by.

We  enter Amsterdam’s Albert Cuyp Markt on the brink of 9 a.m. – one of the first couples there, as vendors were still setting up their stalls. Our bodies stuck in the US time zone, we scan the offerings once – fresh fruits and veggies, natural honeys and spices, street foods and souvenirs. The second time around we stop for treats. There’s a batch of strawberries that looks particularly appetizing – gourmet-sized, a red orange-ish tint with black freckles standing out, just like a cartoon. Catching a whiff was what sealed the deal. The watery sugar flavor was in the air, filling our nostrils with nature’s nectar. In the bag they went.

The next stop was the stroopwafel vendor, a handsome young man with just a hint of brokenness in his English. Cupping the first layer of baked dough, he pours warm caramel-like syrup over it and spreads it evenly. It reminds me of the moment a waiter at Bottega Louie cracked the sunny of the egg and spread its yolk on our pizza’s entirety. It was sensual. People laugh whenever I tell that story. The second layer of dough is mounted on and the hardened concoction is passed my way. Breakfast food heaven, I like to call it (Exhibit A; Exhibit B).

The rest of the market outing is relaxing. Although our faces, camera straps, and accents scream tourist, we’re left to our own devices. Other than the occasional “Where are you from?” there’s no acknowledgement of our visitor status. No watchdog merchandizers. No dramatic salesmen insisting that we need this-or-this item. An air of freedom fills my lungs and fingertips.

By the edge of the market, we find a bench to rest on as we munch on our first Dutch meal – overseeing tall, green trees and a hen of parked bikes. How appropriate. I blush a little as I take a couple of Instagram shots. Technology seems to be a stranger to the people we’ve ran across so far. They all prefer face-to-face interaction. Go figure.

Although a public transportation town, Amsterdam’s bus stations are so compact; blink and you’ll miss ‘em. After an exploratory siesta filled with all manner of cheese samplers and walking aimlessly through the Bloemenmrkt (flower market), we were ready for a new adventure. Life hack: when life gives you a string of stores offering free cheese samples in close proximity to one another, make lunch. They even have stroopwafel bits for dessert.

Keeping our journey budget-friendly required some ground rules:

1. Use this time as a means of becoming aware of our surroundings and integrate ourselves in the daily culture of our destinations (i.e. no tourist traps)
2. Rely mostly on street food, samples, and the hospitality of our hosts for nourishment (i.e. pitch in for a homemade meal rather than a sit-down restaurant... with a few exceptions)
3. Choose museum outings, which are pocket maggots most of the time, very wisely

In  Amsterdam, a melting pot of cultural establishments, rule number 3 was a bit of a challenge. The Rijksmuseum came on top as the most culturally relevant and versatile for us, covering about 800 years of Dutch history within its galleries. From boats to teapots and furniture, the museum packs Dutch culture and aesthetics within one convenient, gorgeous building. A bit on the pricier side, I found it to be 17.50 Euros well spent – though I wish I hadn’t felt such a strong need to constantly power nap on their benches (it was a bit past my US bedtime).

My  favorite thing about Amsterdam is its ability to attract the kind of tourists that don’t wear their status on their sleeve. Although bustling, the city’s crowds have a small town feel, noisy yet intimate. A constant farmer’s market in the streets, if you will. Only when we reached the Rijksmuseum’s neighboring Iamsterdam sign was there a touristy commotion. People jumping in front of their initials, grinning their teeth, or letting the letters act as monkey bars.

As  a Netherlands novice, I wanted to explore the parts of culture that constantly mystify the Americas: the coffeshops, the sexual open-mindedness. So it has it that the second morning, after a stroll through the Jordaan neighborhood, we were face-to-face with a coffeeshop, feeling bashful and excited as we pushed through the doorway. The day was young, but there were at least four early risers in sight. With chunky wooden tables and chairs and a relaxed atmosphere, it seems like somewhere I’d enjoy doing homework, or reading about Buddhism.

In  the name of journalism (and local cuisine exploration), it was only right to try some famed coffeeshop merch – this particular sample was one for beginners, carefully recommended by the knowledgeable barista.

Post-morning snack, the five-year old in me couldn’t think of a better time to explore the Sexmuseum, a surprisingly subdued building across from the central station.  What an intriguing attraction! At 4 Euros for the admission fee, the museum did not only make for a hilarious photo backdrop – it was also enriching and accepting, in a way I had never experienced before. Between the waxy mannequins with dangling intimates and clownish features, there were photos – photos dating back as far as the late 1800s. These photos, while pornographic in the subjects’ nakedness, were so raw and fascinating to see from an anatomical perspective.

Before there were societal norms and media representations of the types of people allowed to enjoy sex, and the way these people should look and carry themselves, there was an understanding. The Dutch understood – and thank goodness, continue to understand – that sex is an all-encompassing activity pertaining to all types of people. Their photo library, although female-heavy, shows real people, of many heights and widths and grooming levels, not forcing or exaggerating their body language. It shows heterosexuals, lesbians, gays, and different fetishistic communities. No perverse tone. No agenda. All purely eye and mind opening. (Also, their bathroom game was on point - see sink below.) 

That’s the common theme of this seemingly compact city, aware of itself and its space – eye opening. It takes things that other cultures endlessly debate about, gives them a context, and they’re suddenly just things. It gives a story to actions that some find as lewd or immoral and suddenly they just become choices. It brings a sense of dignity and respect to professions that, although not the most Orthodox, shouldn’t be an end in themselves. It allows a young blonde-haired Dutch bartender, maybe 18 years of age, maybe younger, to dance to reggaeton in the doorway without fear of her moving hips becoming a battleground. Just enjoying her youth in the red strobe lights.

Leaving the city behind, with its subdued canals and boat houses floating on the tranquil water, we embark on new Dutch adventures. Travelling isn’t about acquiring fancy souvenirs or fancy meals or fancy anything. Go in with a plan and an open heart. Take in the sights and sounds of the area, the smell of the streets, the posture of the locals. Explore their neighborhoods. Sweat in the same means of public transportation. And if you’re in Amsterdam, I suppose, eat their pannekoeken and drench your huge fries in plenty of mayo.

Thank you so much for stopping by, and a huuuuge thank you to my friend Tom for hosting us in his beautiful country!
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