I never thought I’d ever credit something so insightful to Ms Monroe GRIN insightful and evergreen with a dose of such unexpected humour.
But it’s so true, yes?
The perfect shoe design equipped with an equally perfect heel height makes for taking the most empowered of strides, figuratively as well as metaphorically. As Michael always tells me, I am my sexiest when I’m feeling comfortable. After all, comfort begets confidence, and confidence is the consequent vessel to sire a sense of power, a sense of empowerment. A sense of f*ck you, self doubt, not today.
T H E P O W E R O F A G O O D S H O E
I’ll be the first to admit to being somewhat obsessed with shoes, I mean, I think the whole world knows that by now so it truly doesn’t behoove the situation for me to even pretend that 99% of my outfits are created from the soles up. They really are. It’s always been that way for me. Pick the shoe first and then figure out the rest of my look. I mean, if there was a mood board created to represent me, a solid pair of shoes would be right smack in the centre!!!
But I was also wondering where this shoe mania came from.
If I am to look back into my growing up years, I know with dead certainty that it wasn’t an influence stemming from my mother. She’s far more practical than I when it comes to footwear. No, in fact, my earliest memory of craving a shoe was a pair an aunt wore. She was married to my dad’s youngest brother at the time, and had these faux suede black pixie boots that were just sooooo cool. Elizabeth, yes, that was her name. I remember that she could tell how my 13 year old self was literally drooling over those boots and, well, gave them to me. We both knew her feet were 2 sizes too small but I squeezed my toesies in, and away we go.
And so it began.
Over the years, I’ve had many a shoe.
When I lived in Singapore, I housed the over 500 pairs I owned into a dedicated shoe room. Each pair carefully wrapped with tissue (or shoe bag), and stored within its original box, with a Polaroid taped to the front of said box so I could see at first glance which pair was inside. True story. Then, my purchasing decisions were a smidge random.
With time, my taste buds have become more discerning. Or, I suppose, you could infer that I’m stuck in a shoe style rut. However you look at it, my choice of sole support is most definitely well defined these days. I like a good ankle bootie. Heels of no less than 4.5″. A slight platform support for the arch. And strong graphic lines.
Suffice to say, I was rather over the moon when Daenel suggested we picked a fave pair of shoes for the July rendition of the Fab 40s. HURRAY. This particular pair I’m showcasing? It’s SO me. In every possible way.
And take a look at those worn by my fierce fashionista friends.
Oh oh oh and please say the warmest of welcomes to DEE!! She is the latest addition to our group and joins us all the way from three continents away. India, to be specific. Welcome aboard, my fellow South East Asian!!
The last time I’d written something on the blog on my birthday was three years ago, in 2016. When I was talking about the wearability of animal prints and how we should all embrace its highly visual power with open arms. What a tizzy the past few years have been, to say the least, but we’re not focusing on that today. No, my friend, today, in honour of my birthday, I’m going to talk about the one person who has played such a vital part in not only igniting my love for clothes but who has also wielded such influence over how I look at style and fashion.
I’ll readily (and ever so happily) admit that I’ve had a ginormous fashion crush on Denise Huxtable since the sitcom I’d rather not name first aired in 1984. The second eldest child who was free-spirited and rebellious with an eccentric sense of style which, I feel, can be best defined as wholly committed. Whether dressed in a power suit or in mechanic overalls or draped in pearls to the floor, she never doesn’t lean all the way in. The best kind of chameleon.
A WILD CHILD CARD
I mean, there are only certain people who can work a certain sense of style.
Not everyone can rock a head wrap, an unexpected hat, patterns on patterns on patterns, African-inspired accessories, a tulle skirt, the list goes on. It may look amazing on one person, and on another, you wonder if they looked in the mirror before leaving the house. Denise Huxtable, however, has proven that no matter how outrageous her outfit or hairstyle may be, she still looks good. How that’s possible, I’m not sure, but it is.
I would watch the show religiously and sketch down her outfits and try and copy her hair (still not sure if I should share that one photo). I remember hunting down an oversized tee, tied a knot to the side (more so to prevent myself from tripping than creating a style statement, if I’m being completely truthful) and wore it as a long tank dress (aka a jersey maxi these days, talk about precursors), over which draped a bunch of white plastic pearls around my neck that hung down to my knees., I thought I was the business, y’all.
The layering and the maximalism and the general refusal to toe the sartorial line aside, if you pay close enough attention, there’s a through-line of unbridled creativity. An incredible attention to how eloquently we can speak through what we wear, a tool (I firmly believe) beautifully perfected by the late Princess Di (perhaps the most articulate of us all when it comes to speaking the language of fashion).
And that’s how I approach clothing and fashion in general.
Often with the preface of, “What else can I create with this?”
And always with, “How far can I push this?“.
Therefore, you can imagine where my mind instantly went to when Jennie announced that our theme for May would be Style Icons. I was THRILLED. I knew immediately that I wanted to really identify the muses behind my aesthetics. I mean, we all know I worship Gwen Stefani but did you know that both David Bowie as well as Prince have prominent seats upon my tabernacle of style? These three influence the way I dress to such a large extent BUT distilling it even further, I knew without a doubt that Denise Huxtable was it. My very first (and strongest) style icon. And to this day, I continue to have very clear references and odes to the way Lisa Bonet styled the character throughout all those seasons.
And so, without further ado, my photos and my style icon since I was 11 years old.
I wasn’t surprised at all when Jennie picked Audrey Hepburn as her style icon. That timeless vibe. A slight touch of tomboyish charm. Elegant but still (always) playful and graceful. An LBD was the perfect choice especially with those adorable floral court shoes, the iconic pearls, oversized sunnies and, ooh lordy, that bubblegum. Well done, Jennie, well done.
I intentionally positioned Jennie and Suzy’s outfits sequentially to demonstrate how two amazing women came up with such different looks based off of one same style icon. While veering more towards the casual Riviera feel, Suzy’s top + pants garment exudes sophistication, ease, and infinite charm. I think she’s beautifully captured that gamine mood.
No hollaback girl is my girl Shelbee!!! She walks the walk and talks the talk, on just about every topic under the sky, and where fashion is concerned, is as maverick as they come. Resplendent boho garbs one day, dominatrix full tilt the next, complete with hosiery and whip (ok, so the whip hasn’t made an appearance on her blog, yet). Today, she’s going glam rock n roll punk without batting an eyelid and doing it SO DAMN WELL.
I feel as though I should’ve seen it coming. That Daenel would channel Nicole Richie because it’s PERFECT for her. That easy, breezy laidback yet polished approach to layering. Pairing the slightly oversized with the form-fittting. The earthy tones. The headwraps. Such a beautiful palette made even more striking with the rich texture of her kimono. I adore how her jeans infuse a fresh, wearable everyday element.
Now join me in welcoming (and thanking) Sherry, our guest blogger for this month. I know her best for the amazing outfits she creates by era. There is such thought and research which goes into everything she’s shared on her blog, such beautifully curated looks that leave me in awe. I am ever so happy to have her here, joining us this month, for my turn, and the fact that she chose Cyndi Lauper as her style icon is perfect testimony to how we must all view fashion as something to have fun with and to play dress up in and to take over the world.
I’ve come a long way from being petrified of the mere mention of prints.
There was a time when putting even a speck of red into an all Black garment meant utter chaos and disruption, let alone introducing anything remotely non solid into my outfit. Even on those rare occasions when I was neither in Ebony nor Ivory, I would still pick one single block of colour to showcase. I mean, I was perfectly comfortable with shine and glitz and colour on hair and/or lips (or on my feet) but somehow, on the body, it was just. not. me.
When I began my foray into the world of patterns, I (naturally) began with my beloved B&W.
Cautiously, ever so cautiously, I ventured into two prints. Just two. Subtle ones. Nothing too clashing, same family (or same colour story). I even achieved one allover print. Or does that not count because it’s, ahem, black with white?
2016 and half of 2017 were very colourless. From every possible perspective. And that feeling clearly translated itself into the outfits I put together. There was barely any oomph let alone vibrancy or spark. Slivers of rainbows and sunshine started peeking through in June, but slivers still. Tiny, modest doses which vanished for the rest of the year.
More than likely coinciding with my mental turmoil with the state of my marriage at the time.
I did, however, end the year with a pop of print!!
Sigh. Another lacklustre year wherein lines and prints and patterns did not quite make an appearance in my life. Save for delicate touches here and here and here.
Accessories, on the other hand, made quite the appearance on this here blog. Wore a Santa hat. Even paraded around in my bikini bottoms during Winter (and gave quite a show to the factory workers across the fence, quite unintentionally, shrug).
Like before, I ended the year with a loud splash of patterns.
(don’t mind Michael, he’s making a guest appearance on the blog today)
I began 2019 with a bang.
Pairing florals with florals, and plaid with camo (and unicorns thrown in for good measure). Ooh twice apparently. Saying it loud and proud just last month with that god-challenging print known as zebra matched alongside stripes.
So when Mary of Curly Byrdie proclaimed florals + plaid for March, I stayed calm and nonplussed and, frankly, excited. How things have changed, huh. What once would have completely thrown me into a flurry of fear no longer does that. Quite the opposite actually. Isn’t that how life is in general though?
Shall we now take a walk in the flower garden? And see what my fab ladies served up?
The queen of delicate touches. Daenel does it again with darling hints of the month’s theme, this time on her pretty ballet flats. Note the plaid and flower combination. So charming.
And then there’s me. I had loads of fun with this one. Clearly. I wanted to challenge myself with creating nuances here and there to reflect the theme and that’s why if you peer a little closer, you’ll see that I’m wearing a sheer, chiffon floral bodysuit under my floral dolman sleeve top. And that there are flowers embroidered on my newsboy cap too. Truthfully, I really did mean to wear my plaid booties to finish the look but I couldn’t find them that day. Sigh.
Rose Dolman Sleeved Top (tiny boutique in Schulenburg) | Floral Chiffon Bodysuit & Embroidered Rose Cap (Forever 21) | Gen Plaid Mini Skirt (thrifted) | Red Leather Cuff (Unearthed) | Snake Ring (Taylor Swift) | Ankle Booties (Bakers)
Have we somehow inspired you to look at florals and/or plaid differently? Which of these looks would you go for? Are you a floral on floral sort of woman? Or does combining different types of plaids together get you all giddy with excitement?
These days, that’d be an emphatic affirmative, I’m certain. Regardless of the nature of what you do, and the environment of your workplace. Be it on a daily basis or as part of Casual Friday attire, denim definitely has a place in your working wardrobe. And isn’t that a lovely thing? Yes, even for someone like me who discovered blue jeans very late in life (hey, I’m making up for lost time as we speak, case in point, this post).
And so, when Debbie and I began chatting about working together (the last time, it was a trifecta of velvet goodness), we decided on good ole jeans.
As is often the case, my mind immediately leapt to several points of irony.
Once upon a time (4 years ago, to be precise), I posted an anti-denim project (with Ann) which, soon enough, paved the way for denim to be seen here but conservatively, i.e., heels. That, in turn, opened the door for this sighting and another here.
Since then, denim (in all its renditions) have made quite the regular appearance in my outfits (here, here, also here and here, here, and here).
Which is why, when Debbie and I agreed upon jeans, I was determined to find a way to wear my pair with as many unexpected elements as I possibly could. To make as different a statement in denim as I possibly could. Hence the varied textures (soft silk + buttery smooth leather + heavy plaid) and jeans tucked into, hurray, embroidered denim booties. Visual as well as tactile impact.
Why, we ended up just about twinning. And I love that.
Take a look for yourself.
Never before, in the course of collaborating with someone, have our looks turned out with such similarities!!! And not once did we share what we were planning. Nary a hint. Has that ever happened to you? I mean, I’ve done plenty a project with Jodie, worked with Patti and Linda and, of course, Eve, but to witness the sartorial styles of all collaborators crossing paths in such synchronicity?
What a visual treat.
One I hope you’ll enjoy as much as we did, putting it together. Which, I wonder, is the look you’d want to wear most?
Come back next week when I’ll have yet another something to share.
A shared insight on one of Deb’s Instagram posts sparked an entire conversation around the topic of grounded. Staying grounded. How we strive to attain it in this mad, mad world. What it means to each of us which, by the way, has had me pondering. What does staying grounded even mean to me? I know I use the phrase on occasion. I’ve heard it spoken around me many a time and am (always) guilty of nodding my head in acquiescence without once asking the one who mouthed those words, what staying grounded really meant to them.
Are we talking about being spiritually grounded? You know, all that warm, fuzzy feeling around the campfire (can you tell I’m a bit of a cynic?)? Or being emotionally grounded (levelheaded, humble)? Or are speaking in terms of experience, education, knowledge? Lord. So much to soak in.
Today, I choose to focus on living a grounded life, staying in touch with my emotions and thoughts, and, well, being as present in the moment as I possibly can. The question is how does that translate into actionable steps I can take on a daily basis?
I’ve broken down what I feel I can realistically do.
1. Live simply and live deliberately. By choosing to do my part to slow down the rat race. By choosing to spend more time to enjoy being alive.
2. Staying in touch with myself. Some soul searching, meditation, and journaling. Staying aware and learning as much as I can about my emotions, reactions, likes, dislikes, dreams, and fears. Working towards gaining a solid sense of self.
3. Support others as often as I can. Form connections with people. No (wo)man is an island and all that is really rather true. There’s being alone and there’s being alone, as most of us know.
4. Be judicious about what I read, see, listen. The media bombards us with visions of hate and pain, biasedness and intolerance. I must choose what I will allow into my being.
5. Acknowledge the beauty that resides around me. No matter where I call home, beauty exists in every corner, just waiting to be discovered.
6. Nurture my ties to my tribe (or tribes). Be part of a circle. Its members will be a source of support, caring, guidance, and companionship in a world which can often seem isolating.
7. See the larger picture. Widen my perspective and remember that the way I choose to live is not the only way to live.
8. Embrace the challenges that life presents to me, and challenge myself often. To never stop learning and absorbing knowledge, experiences, adventures.
9. Move my body. It is oh too easy to be sedentary these days. Movement reacquaints me with my body, and connects me to it in a visceral way.
10. Make time for stillness, silence, solitude. To reacquaint myself with my mind and thoughts.
I think 10 items is a decent, doable number 🙂
On a much lighter (and far more random but not so random) thought, the Fab 40s. This month, it was my turn (hurray!!). I knew from as early on as last November that I wanted to invite alumni member Sam to be my guest blogger when February 2019 swung around. And I did, shot her an email and all that, and was thrilled to bits when her response came back as a resounding yes!!!
Being the gracious hostess that I was (ha, as if, I’m such an antisocial person GRIN), I asked Sam to pick the theme for this month and when she replied with, “Let’s do Spring 2019 Trends Zebra. Or Neon. Or both?“, I swear, my jaw dropped so low I could’ve built a railway track to the underworld. After a spurt of sputtering and gasping, I asked if we could perhaps have a wee bit of middle ground? That perhaps we could make it any animal print, because I honestly don’t think many of us have abstract brush stroke-like patterned items of clothing that are zebra print garments lurking in the confines of our closets.
And that’s how it came to be.
The theme for this month.
L O R D A N I M A L M E E T S L A D Y N E O N
I confess, I did go out and purchase this neon number adorning the top half of my body but you must understand, I do not own a single neon item at all. I’ve always shied away from that particular palette because I’ve been convinced it does absolutely nothing for my colouring save make me look like Grace Jones without makeup. Everything else, I thrifted (so proud).
But enough of me.
Let’s begin the animal parade, shall we? Don’t forget to put on your sunnies first. I slay me.
Subdued isn’t the word I’d use, Suzy, I think you mean classy. Not many of us would consider animal print as being something to be worn during the day, even lesser the number who’d pick neon + animal print, and pull them off together effortlessly as you have. I adore your interpretation of this month’s theme and how you’ve made two very stroke accents work harmoniously together in something very pared down and wearable.
I knew there’d be something pink in Jennie’s outfit, I just knew it. What I wasn’t expecting (which was silly of me given how she completely outdoes herself with each theme) was for an outfit that exuded such a polished, preppy vibe. Clearly those adjectives aren’t typically what you’d associate with neither animal print nor neon!!! But that she did, pairing a statement blazer with sleek top and well-cut pants, adding pops of bubblegum pink along the way.
I always expect the unexpected from Shelbee, especially this month, given the curve ball nature of the theme I’d chosen (profanities abounded on your end too, huh LOL), and she did not disappoint. Serving up a buffet of saucy neon appetisers to whet the appetite for a sumptuous offering of exotic animal prints. Love all that, love even more the adventures you traipsed through to create this look. You’re welcomed GRIN
I was most curious to see how Daenel would go about tackling this theme. Prior months have witnessed her adapt with a deft hand, artfully steering themes into her style, with panache but you know, animal print + neon is rather a different beast of its own. Hasn’t she done it with absolute ease? A bright splash of luminosity in her sweater, tempered with classic denim (such a signature piece) and then touches of the wild side with those pretty flats. Bravo.
Now meet Sam (for those of you who don’t already know the inimitable Ms Fake and Fabulous). She is, to me, a walking rainbow, with a matching spirited disposition. An icon of all hues vivid and bright, both personality-wise and sartorially-speaking. The patron saint of pattern mixology. And my comrade in arms when it comes to saying it loudly, and most proudly. I am ever so happy to have her here, joining us this month, for my turn, and I am even more happy that her outfit is such an authentic rendition of who she is as a strong, confident, sexy woman who wears what she enjoys.
Truthfully, this was hard AF for me too!! But isn’t that the point? To come up with something that would challenge us beyond anything we expected, in the most fun and tribe-bonding fashion possible??? I do feel sorry that some of us had to go out and buy stuff (I am contrite, I swear I am) but I feel that everyone had loads of fun putting their bits together in this delightfully naughty encounter which has Lord Animal meeting Lady Neon (think Lady Chatterly’s Lover, or Lord Byron), and both absolutely fawning over each other.
Bright Lights, Big City, Neon Jacket (New York & Co) | Studded Navy & White Tank (Poshmark) | Zebra Print Palazzo Pants (worn tucked in, thanks to babe for the idea, and for the green zebra print bracelet, who knew, right?), Studded White Ankle Booties & Striped B&W Newsboy Cap (all thrifted) | Pink & Blue Bracelets (What Would V Wear)
I must also confess that I almost went super tongue-in-cheek rogue with a skirt that had teeny tiny zebras in a cute print, but I refrained. I figured that staying grounded also translated into staying true to my style aesthetics, and having zebras prancing all over my hemline wasn’t quite authentically me.
That thought did create a new one (you know me) which was this – just how much does how we dress, what we wear, influence or impact upon how we stay grounded?
Until tomorrow then, when I have a special project with my fab fierce friend, Debbie.
Lately my mind has been preoccupied with the concept of courage. Daring to do things I normally wouldn’t because I’d be too afraid. Be it something as rudimentary as swapping signature red for a softer pink on the lips, or walking up to a complete stranger at an event and saying, “Hello!! I’m Sheela, what’s your name?”.
Admittedly, accompanying that heady rush of adrenaline (aka bravado) is an equally powerful sense of nausea and wanting to throw up but still, courage and being courageous have been taking over my heart, mind and spirit these days.
The courage to speak my mind when I feel my needs are not being met or when I believe my opinions are not being heard. Courage to reach out and ask for something I know I deserve and am fully capable of helping it realise its full potential. And no longer allowing society to dictate whether I can or cannot based on some unfathomable parameters.
Most of all, the courage to recognise fear but refusing to let it cripple me, and hold me back.
Are you on that same path?
Keeping your chin up, above water level so you’re continuing to breathe even as you cautiously step forward into the deep end?
Isn’t it the scariest, most exhilarating thing you’ve ever done though?
E Q U A L P A R T S N A U S E A A N D B U T T E R F L I E S
Afraid that you may be making the wrong choices. Afraid you’ll fail. Afraid that you aren’t going to make it? That you’re just not enough?
When was the last time you told yourself you were enough? That you are brave and fearless and fierce. That you are mistress of your own destiny and that you (and you alone) gets to decide which turn to take at every crossroad. Or not.
When was the last time you told yourself you were enough and that the world is yours to conquer? That you have every right to live the very best life you can, with no apologies. To walk boldly and ferociously, with pride and conviction.
When was the last time you told yourself you were enough?
That in spite of being broken and bruised, you are (and will always be) beautiful and perfectly imperfect in every possible way, shape and form. That you wear your scars like badges of honour.
When you finally realise it’s time to let go and love yourself with all the strength and passion bursting from within every single beat of your heart?
When you believe that you are truly are so much more than you know?
When was the last time you told yourself you were enough and that the world is yours to conquer? That you have every right to live the very best life you can, with no apologies. To walk boldly and ferociously, with pride and conviction.
When was the last time you told yourself you were enough?
That moment is here, the time is now.
I held close to that thought process when I put together my look for #thefab40s last week, the theme being “favourite decade in fashion” as chosen by Daenel.
I knew I wanted to be brave, so to speak, and take a nose dive straight into the decade which has always been my go to for inspiration, and aspiration, and muses. The 90s.
To not be afraid to just do what I wanted, go wild with mixing different types of prints and textures and shapes. To go braless (although it’s completely not evident LOL), why yes, taking ownership and responsibility that this is my body, and mine alone to showcase as I desire.
Essentially, to be courageous and boldly go where I’ve never ventured before in terms of celebrating the 90s and all its eccentric, flamboyant sartorial wonderfulness.
So thank you, Daenel for being the catalyst behind this epiphany of mine.
Onward and forward to what we’re doing collectively today, and that is to highlight an outfit inspired by a particular decade in fashion which has proved influential upon our aesthetics. That one era which has left an unforgettable stamp on how we view garments, and how, consequently, we assemble them into outfits most reflective of who we are as fierce, fashionable females.
Allow me to begin with the purveyor of this month’s theme, Daenel.
If you, like me, have come to associate her style aesthetics with being a somewhat gothic interpretation of bohemian then I firmly believe you we have struck the nail on its head where Daenel is concerned. Whilst this outfit of hers is inspired by the 50s with the silhouette and those Mary Janes, it’s that dark yet utterly feminine palette which beckons me so. Charming but decidedly not Stepford wife girlish.
Woman, you conquered this month’s theme. You really did, with your fresh take on the 40s. First of all, those colours (googly eyes). They could’ve so easily gone Yuletide couture (or Halloween) but you artfully (and successfully) circumvented that cliche with a contrasting print pussy bow blouse and neutral bag. I am so enthused over those palazzo pants to be honest, like seriously infatuated with them.
No prizes for guessing which era takes Jennie’s cake (psst, it’s the 50s) with that body-hugging dress (wiggle, wiggle) and cardigan. It’s clearly a time when womanly curves were celebrated with gusto and aplomb (and rightly so), when snug pencil skirts made for swaying hips, and the pointiest of heels created unforgettable impressions when she left the room. You look amazing, my friend, this is most definitely your time.
There’s something about the 60s being free spirited that thoroughly spells Shelbee. Out of all the styles I’ve seen her experiment with, this is probably my fave (ok, pin-up doll as well). Her exuberance for life is beautifully expressed in the loud graphic print of that mod dress and them decidedly groovy fuchsia tights. Then that fuzzy wonderland of a coat with its slightly exaggerated silhouette makes for the perfect bodacious touch.
Somehow, I did not think Mary would be picking the 70s as her time. I had envisioned the 40s for her, you know, those hourglass peplum suits and pencil skirts. Isn’t that the hallmark of a truly stylish woman though? Constantly surprising everyone with her sartorial picks? I adore everything on this woman’s body today, so many tiny little accents and details which instantly elevate Mary’s outfit from protestor to influencer.
And then there’s me.
I don’t think the decade I chose came as much of a surprise to anyone, really GRIN
It’s Polished Punk for me this month. Specifically, punk and rock n roll, with a healthy dose of ladylike badass boardroom babe (well, that was a mouthful).
Beaded & Embroidered Leather Jacket (Pinko) | Bustier Tulle Dress (Handmade) | White Blouse (Forever21) | Leather Boots (Bakers) | Rings (House of Harlow) | Belt (borrowed from boyfriend) | Beer Bottle (randomly found prop seen in other shots)
Tell me, which decade of fashion speaks to you most?
What do you do to turn the ordinary little things into extraordinary amazing things? By that I don’t mean something divine or perched upon a lofty pedestal. What I mean is that we need to take the time to see within the ordinary, its capacity to be a precious thing. Something utterly extraordinary. A gift.
Steering away from telling ourselves to strive for extraordinary lives. That we can only be happy, only feel fulfilled if we lead extraordinary lives for while that might seem aspirational (admirable perhaps), it can also be rather lofty and fraught with unrealistic idealism. All of which could very well be the path to setting ourselves up for disappointment.
Instead, we should be seeking to find the joy and marvel in living an ordinary, normal life. Once we do that, the most mundane of things (nondescript even) will pulsate and come alive with magic and wonder. The extraordinary will happen on its own then.
Take for instance the act of baking.
With Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s Eve just passed, there have been (far too) many scenarios wherein pulling out the ole mixer, bags of flour as well as sugar, eggs and butter have been called for. Now, I adore baking up a storm but when you need to do it on a weekly basis (and in the instance of the 25th and the 31st, a mere six days), it gets very tiring very quickly. In fact, it escalates into being a chore faster than you could measure a tbsp of vanilla.
I exaggerate but you know what I mean. So, in order to turn this going-from-ordinary-to-killer-mundane activity into something extraordinary, I shared it with the people I love namely Eve and Michael. In every possible way. And by that I mean that essentially we baked an entire flourless chocolate cake together.
Perhaps assemble would be a more apt description. Regardless, we each took ownership of one aspect of the cake-making process, enjoying every little aspect of it from melting butter with bitter chocolate (Eve claiming that she used her fire power to accomplish this) to Michael (gallantly) separating white from yolk, to my gently folding in the (almost flailing) meringue.
It was SO MUCH DAMN fun.
Rediscovering the joys of baking.
Making the ordinary come alive.
Letting the extraordinary happen.
Does that make sense?
As is the case with this photo shoot.
Allowing myself to really be in the moment with Eve, and thoroughly enjoy what we were doing. The cold (it was 1 Celsius that day in Brenham). The blustery wind (I’m certain we flashed quite a number of the townsfolk). The giggles (I always ALWAYS have fun with mah boo but sometimes I get so caught up in documenting our time together that I forget to be truly present) (this time, however, I put my phone away).
My hope in sharing this story with you is to inspire you to sift through life, work, business, to identify what society would deem as the mundane, and then I challenge you to shift your perception of these ordinary acts. Change your perception and change this “ordinary” activity into an “extraordinary” experience.
One that you will remember cherish for the rest of your life.
They don’t have to be complicated, or arduous.
Like reading a book out loud (Eve and I used to do this all the time, changing our voices and enacting roles, I need to start this again), or watching a music video together (we love you, Adam Lambert) (or TV show, we adore Once Upon A Time and Say Yes To The Dress). Singing (or rather she sang, I cackled). Car rides (we’d just drive around the neighbourhood with music blasting, or not, fly over the road bumps for the fun of it, and laugh hysterically).
Just simple things.
A final parting thought.
Imagine the freedom you will experience once you are able to shift those perceptions, and see the world through different tinted lenses. Imagine how fulfilled your soul would be.
And I leave you with these words, “Extraordinary magic is woven through ordinary life. Look around!”
So when one thinks of the word, “Apocalypse“, images of destruction and bloody battles often come to mind. Is it little wonder then that many of us, myself included, regularly miss that part wherein an apocalypse is also a revelation? A discovery, and typically, of knowledge? A vision of heavenly secrets which aims to make sense of earthly circumstances?
For the purposes of this blog post though, I would hazard a safe bet that Shelbee meant for apocalypse to be a revelation about the end of the world.
Doomsday, I’m guessing you could call it.
G O O D V S E V I L
A major confrontation between light and dark, destined to change the course of history.
Depending on which belief system you subscribe to, some anticipate that post the apocalypse, the world will be shattered into particles and cease to exist while others predict that a brand new one will resurface anew and fertile.
Whether you think the collapse of civilisation as we know it is imminent or not, the concept of rebirth and regeneration is a very real one, and applies to all of us. Albeit the vast majority of us tend to leave this chrysalis process to the very last day of the year (read: me, always). That isn’t to say that new year resolutions (as they tend to be named) are bad, they just seem so finite. And life isn’t about that. Life isn’t static. Or stagnant.
Life is an improv show 24/7/365.
U N S C R I P T E D A N D S P O N T A N E O U S
Back to the topic of apocalypses and rebirths.
Tied in together, the two. In order for one to exist, the other must occur.
So the way I look at it, this Apocalyptic Age? It’s vital. Whether we take it literally (please don’t) or figuratively, it’s absolutely vital to our evolution (I hate to use this word but it is legitimately the perfect one for the situation). Our growth. Our advancement as humans in the world as it currently stands.
And because of that, when Armageddon arrives, and the world enters into an apocalypse (which we could, technically, associate with today, the last day of the year), I intend to stay right where I am. Physically and emotionally and mentally and spiritually.
Because this place? This is where I am meant to be.
It may be scary. Boring. Exciting. It may even be heartbreaking but it’s exactly the right place for me at this point in my life. Apocalypse notwithstanding. I’ll ignore that instinctive first response to fight and claw my way out with everything in me. And also pay no heed to the follow-up reaction to flee, flee, flee. Ha. Those last two lines rhymed.
I intend to sit still.
I intend to let go.
I intend to experience it.
I intend to be me.
I also intend to have my Fab 40s Squad with me because we’d kick some serious butt.
I was reflecting upon how our relationship has grown (Jennie is an original founding member of the group, whilst Daenel is our latest fierce femme, and I respect them all equally and dearly for the most different of reasons) and how this group has been one of my constants over the last few years.
Should an apocalypse descend upon us, I’d like to think that we’d band together to weather it, and survive it. Hell, we’d even scrummage through trash and pick wild berries (or mushrooms) for sustenance.
And amidst all this, I feel that we’d be the badass version of Spice Girls, to be honest. I know, I know, those five Brit lasses have absolutely nothing to do with the end of the world BUT they are the embodiment of girl power. And a message of empowerment emphasising the importance of strong and loyal friendship among females. Fits perfectly, with or without the coming of doomsday.
We’re all so distinctly different, and we completely own it that difference.
If you needed more proof, here’s how we decided to dress up for when the Apocalyptic Age strikes.
Shelbee is Sporty Spice in my books. Feisty and gungho and ready to take on the world, be it one bullet at a time or, this is probably far more apt, one word at a time, being the gifted writer that she is. I absolutely adore her outfit and would SO wear it on a regular basis. I really would. Just sans the rifle.
It may seem expected that I would think of Daenel as being Scary Spice but here’s why. Daenel is a librarian and I’ve ALWAYS believed that true power lies neither in brute strength nor weaponry but in knowledge. And that can only be gleaned from books (sorry, Wikipedia). Hence Scary Spice because she’d be the wisest and smartest of us all.
Jennie is undoubtedly Baby Spice. Equally prepared with hugs as well as first aid kit, packed food and bottled water. Plus she has this amazing quality to see (and appreciate) the world with childlike wonder. Plus I love your jacket, I was just commenting to Eve the other day that I don’t own a camo jacket. Like how could it possibly be??
This month, we have Chrissy from Granola and Grace. Such a lovely, lovely lady. Isn’t it wonderful to see that while all our renditions of an apocalyptic outfit are vastly different, we all went with the same colour palette? Just goes to show how we’re really aren’t all that disparate after all, doesn’t it? Back to Chrissy, I adore that fuzzy green vest she’s got on. It reminds me, simultaneously, of Snuffleupagus, the Swamp Creature, and a damn good camouflage for when hiding out in the woods, trying to stay alive. I rather think she’s Posh Spice.
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And then there’s me.
Doing my best rendition of Auntie Entity of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome played by the one and only Tina Turner. It was such a cold day for the shoot, and I was freezing my ass off in those bikini bottoms but hey, the photos turned out perfectly plus a fog was considerate enough to show up during the shoot. Which Spice Girl am I? Well, I’ll be Simon Fuller, the manager, but of course GRIN
Industrial Top (Lumme Designs) | Black Coat (Thrifted) | Bikini Bottom (Calzedonia) | Leather Knee High Boots (I forget) | Rings (Poshmark) | Weapons (scavenged on site)
Which of us would you be more like, friend? Or would you be a new Spice Girl altogether?
Especially growing up in Asia, my idea of Christmas was snow (but, of course), fireplace with flames a-crackling, being bundled up in scarves and beanies (with pom poms, no less), hot cocoa and eggnog, sleighs, reindeer, and jolly ole Saint Nick. The reality was a smidge different. No snow. No logs burning or thick Winter clothing, and most definitely no posse of Santa’s helpers. Still, the absence of those things did nothing to detract from Christmas being one of the most beautiful recollections of my childhood. We didn’t have much, that’s for sure, but my parents worked so hard to give us incredible memories, and that’s what has stayed in me throughout all these years.
That Christmas is truly so much more than presents.
Or lush landscapes of picture perfect snow.
Whilst my heart may go pitter patter pitter patter whenever I hear the sound of bells jingling (is that you, Santa?). Or skip a few beats should unwrapping a box reveal something along the lines of, oh I don’t know, a new messenger bag from perhaps (cough) Prada. And yes, I’ll readily admit, I wouldn’t turn down a massage. Or three.
None of these things create memories.
Or truly defines what I seek during Christmas time.
And all year long.
You probably crave the same thing.
A treasure that can neither be measured nor held. Something far more precious than silver, far more splendid than gold.
Have you guessed it yet?
The most prized treasure of all.
The greatest of all gifts.
Hope for many things.
For courage to look fear in the eye, and live the fullest life I possibly can. For only the bestest, most wonderful of supernova adventures to head Eve’s way. For joy and positivity to surround the people I love, enveloping them in the tightest and warmest of hugs. For patience and empathy to continue thriving in those beautiful souls I call friends, especially when dealing with me (we know how difficult I can be). Okay, so that last one is a hope for everyone who knows me, and has to cross paths with me in one way or another.
Hope is the thread which binds all of us together.
Keeps us sane. Fills our hearts with the desire to keep going. Calms the mind when it wants to throw in the towel and allow the darkness to take over. Folly or fact, it springs eternal. And it is the very greatest of the gifts we’ll ever be blessed to receive. And give.
For today’s post, I am so thankful that I never gave up hope on being happy. On being loved. It has allowed me to feel so free and liberated in loving back. Be it the unconditional, implicit love I have for my (miracle) child, Eve (she is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, conceived against all odds, and I love her with every fibre of my being). Or the man who has brought copious amounts of joy and laughter and happiness into my life in such a short amount of time, Michael (who continues to show me with every passing day that age isn’t a barrier for anything, not just style). Or the friends who light up my screen (it’s the digital age, after all), embracing me with their warmth and authenticity (I’m talking about Jodie and Rob, and Shelbee, and Catherine, and all my Fab 40 ladies), making me feel that I am never ever alone.
On that note, could it be any more appropriate that we (Eve, Michael, Jodie and I) are doing a Santa-inspired outfit collaboration today? I can’t imagine being in better company for this theme, for this time of the year. Please have a look.
There used to be a time when I would get dressed up every day. Perhaps less of dressed to the nines, and more of dressed for work at the PR agency where I led a 7-member team. So yes, I’d wake up by 6am. Feed Eve (told you it was a while ago), make sure she had everything ready and the maid was duly briefed on what to cook for the day. Shower, curl my hair, apply some make-up (which, at the time, was blusher, blue eyeliner as well as blue mascara, and pink lipstick, cringe). Try on one outfit. Take it off. Try on yet another. Still not right, pull on something else.
Nothing worked, and by now, there are piles of clothes strewn all over the floor. A frantic glance at my cellphone tells me it’s past 8:30, I’m still traipsing around in my undies, and if I don’t get dressed right that moment, I’m going to be royally late for work. To provide perspective, back then, I was working in Singapore and commuting was hell. Public transport hell, that is. Some people used the MRT, some (fortunate few) drove (cars cost about the same as a house there) yet some others, like me, cabbed it. What that means is a 20-minute drive would evolve into approximately an hour’s journey, from calling for a taxi to waiting for said taxi, to ploughing through vehicle after vehicle on the highways, to finally reaching my destination. All the while desperately praying I made it there before my (arse of a) boss, but that’s a tale for another time.
These days, I am up anywhere between 6am to 7.30am, depending on what the day looks like in terms of meetings/conference calls and deadlines. Typically, I’ll come downstairs for a coffee (it’s true, you know, what they say when they proclaim, “but first coffee”), check my emails and respond to the urgent ones. Then I take a shower, brush my teeth, and apply my skincare (perhaps it ought to be, “but first the face”?). I continue working, still in my sweatpants (the ones I slept in), until around 1pm when (if I remember), I stop for lunch and another shower (I’m one of those people who shower around three times a day, to be honest). Afterwards, I might put on a cleaner pair of sweatpants (and they’ll be the ones I’ll go to sleep in that night), and essentially that’s my sartorial schedule when I’m working from home.
Blessedly, the style blogger whose daily uniform is comprised of comfy tee with comfier sweatpants, when they’re not posting outfit shots, is nothing new. It’s a line I’ve heard pour forth from many a fashion blogger, admitting that when it’s a no-need-to-meet-anyone-sort-of-day, it’s more than likely that sweats would be de rigueur as they work long hours, in a semi-disheveled state.
Yet, you wouldn’t know it, would you, since everything looks immaculate, all the time, on their blogs and social media. Don’t get me wrong. It’s quite fabulous, playing dress up and adopting all sorts of different characters as well as personas each time I put on an outfit (that isn’t sweatpants, of course). It really is great, and offers me a means of escapism from my messy, unmade bed and even messier bedroom floor (yes, still strewn with clothes but this time, it’s because I recently moved so shush). But it does make me wonder how much of my life can I really share as a style blogger since I’m in sweatpants whenever the camera’s no longer snapping away. It’s rather like the “turning into a pumpkin” effect, I feel.
That after a certain time, I revert back to normal boring. And am no longer interesting. Could it be I’m overthinking things? That people do want real life me? Or perhaps we’re all so jaded and disenchanted with things happening around us that we crave escapisms, even if for only a little bit?
Or maybe, just maybe, everyone, everywhere is simply tired of agonising over what to wear all the time. After all, the pendulum swings both ways. We’ve all seen how, after years of the fashion industry trying to top itself in ridiculousness, or as Suzy Menkes noted, the Circus of Fashion where she complained that people wore crazy clothes to fashion shows in hopes of getting internet famous. Because you know, once you’re internet famous, your life is complete.
Or perhaps, fancy sweatpants are now a staple for fashionistas everywhere? I don’t know, I don’t know. Even writing that sentence makes me feel blasphemous. Akin to committing a sartorial act of high treason. I am very serious.
I feel as strongly about wearing sweatpants out as I do seeing people walking around with the word J U I C Y on their bums. Like why (wait, is this something you guys would like to talk debate in a different post, as in why on earth would anyone want to wear something with the word JUICY spread across their asses??).
Anyway, the point I’m trying to make about sweatpants is that when fashion trends take a turn for the understated, what then happens to the conversation? Does the conversation quiet down too? Do people move on to talk about other things because talking about how this pair of sweatpants is cool, but those pair of sweatpants are terrible, really does sound ridiculous? Or, on the flipside of things, do we all suddenly remember how much more to life there is than looking good, even while wearing sweatpants?
And onward to something decidedly much more fun than my prose. Today, I am immensely pleased to be a part of the Ageless Style Link-Up, an activity bringing together the loveliest of ladies every first Tuesday of the month. There’s Daenel, Debbie, Jennie, Jodie, Janet, Kellyann, Lisa, Paula and Shelly. Truth be told, I’ve legit been dying to be invited as a guest host ever since this party began and when Debbie (finally) emailed inviting me for December, I squeaked and I squealed and I jumped up and down!!! So here I am, all clad in the month’s theme of Festive Outerwear, and absolutely over the moon to be a part of Ageless Style.
Don’t forget to join in the link-up, ok? The party only begins when you’re here. By the by, you may be asking why I’ve gone on about sweatpants, and yet chosen to not wear sweatpants in these photos. It’s to keep you guessing, obviously GRIN plus I’m not quite cool enough to pull off sweatpants as festive wear so I chose to give that one a wide berth.
Come back Monday, friends, but until then, I’m out.