(self) Love for the year

February 15, 2018

 

It’s February 15th and I hope everyone had a very pleasant Valentine’s Day. Did you show your partner how much they mean to you? Or perhaps you had a friends’ day? Or maybe you said “fuck everyone else, today is for me”, drew yourself a bath, and thought about how much you loved you. What was once reserved only for those with an S.O, Valentine’s Day cheer is now being spread to everyone.  I noticed that this year’s non-traditional Valentine’s Days’ were larger than ever, with a huge focus on self-love. Everyone curated their own version of the self-love Valentine’s Day, mostly a magical collection of skin care products worthy of turning even the most modest bathroom into an epic at-home spa.

As someone who has often struggled with self-love in the past, I know it’s a little more complicated than a face mask and rose-scented bath. However, it’s a decent start. But Valentine’s Day is over. So, it’s time get out of the tub and let the real self-love begin. ‘Cuz just like in a two-person relationship, you can’t be nice one day of the year and expect it to make up for 364 days of shit. Self-love should be shown all year round, not just on consumerist holidays.

Start with treating yourself like you would a loved one. I am 100% guilty of not doing this. I used to doubt myself and my abilities often. I used to say the word can’t a lot. But I could always and easily build up a person I care about when they felt unsure or insecure. And while I still struggle, I have been making real efforts to trust and believe in myself. Acting like your own best friend should be the first step on the path to self-love.

Speaking of friends, let’s learn a lesson from Uma: don’t let people who treat you badly have a place in your life. You should only surround yourself with people who support you. It’s not always easy to spot a ‘bad’ friend, but if you are consistently unhappy with the choices you make when you are around someone, then perhaps it’s time to cut them loose. I know we are all responsible for our own actions but there are people who know what buttons to push that activate your self-destruct. And, generally speaking, those people who don’t want the best for you don’t deserve any of your time or energy.

Guess who does deserve your time: YOU. Make time for yourself! In a world where everyone expects something from you, it’s easy to spend every waking hour doing your ‘obligations’ and forgetting to take care of yourself. Proper food and sleep should be obvious first priorities, but it’s important to do things that are just for you. Watching Netflix because it makes you happy, going for a run to clear your head, mediating, or yes, taking that bath and doing a face mask. Whatever it is, try to make it a weekly (or daily) ritual. If you can give your time to everyone else, you should be able to carve a chunk that’s just for you, too.

Hopefully, we (myself included) can continue to ride the self-love train well past Valentine’s Day. And, who knows, if this continues throughout 2018, we could have a humanitarian Valentine’s in 2019.

Spring Wish List

February 9, 2018

 

Making a spring wish list at the beginning of February seems insanely optimistic for a Canadian. A groundhog might have only just predicted six more months of winter and, generally, they are so long and harsh it seems possible that winter will drag on until July. But I’ve been blessed with Europe’s mild seasons and I can’t deny the buzz in the air signalling spring is around the corner.

Since there will be no shortage of spring wish lists containing the latest trends urging you to buy flowy tops and transitional jackets, I’m going to make mine a little different. In an attempt to be less consuming and more doing, instead let’s create a list of stuff you want to do. I mean, have you ever looked back and thought ‘wow what a great spring, I owned so many things’? Probably not.

Instead of thinking about that perfect lightweight coat you’ll wear everywhere, bring your old one somewhere new. Perhaps you already have plans to travel this spring. If not, let’s make some. Personally, I’m super lucky. I’ve got plans to move around my new home country a bit; French Alps to the South West coast. Plus I have two weddings to go to; one in Ireland and then Poland, and I’m hoping for a cheeky trip to Italy as well to visit my boyfriend, who’ll be living there for spring and summer. If you don’t have any plans yet, don’t be discouraged. You have plenty of time to save money and make arrangements, and you don’t have to go far for a trip to be memorable. I’ve had some amazing little getaways by just hopping on a train and going to a nearby town. So, take your car, a bus or your bicycle to the nearest town over, or play tourist in your own city and do something you haven’t done yet.

Dreaming of sundresses you’ll slip into on sunny weekend afternoons to stroll through local farmer’s markets? Let’s put that energy towards the food instead. Spend your money nourishing your body instead of expanding your closet. With so many fresh fruits and vegetables in season, it’s the best opportunity to learn some new recipes and focus on your health. Speaking from experience: a healthy vegan diet will make you feel way better than a new dress ever could.

When spring hits and the weather warms up I feel a sudden surge of motivation. If you’re like me, don’t waste that hunting online, or worse, in malls, for the perfect bag. Use it to achieve a goal instead, we all have them. Perhaps you had a New Years resolution you’ve just about given up on, maybe you’re a student and you want to smash your finals, or you’ve been dying for a career change. I plan to channel my energy into exercising (skating, surfing, snowboarding, yoga, dance, running – ok I’ll stick to those for now) as well as creating content for my YouTube and blog.

Obviously, a new spring wardrobe sounds tempting and it’s so easy to just spend all your money and time investing in new clothes (I’ve done it before, many times) but, after two big moves, I’ve had to come face-to-face with the consequences: waste. Money, resources, your time and energy. I won’t go into how fast-fashion is destroying the planet, but perhaps this season you invest in expanding yourself a person instead of your wardrobe. And if you really need something, buy vintage 🙂

Lessons I Learned Moving Abroad

February 3, 2018

 

 

Happy new year! It’s 2018! I know I’m late but, January has been full on for me that included a very unfortunate incident with my computer that had it in the shop and out of my possession for a large part of the month. My new year’s resolution to blog more consistently will just have to ignore the last 31 days. Regardless, a slow start is better than no start.

Like I mentioned earlier, January was a busy month. Life update: I now live in France. Les Allues, to be exact. And since this was my second leap in two years I thought I’d share some of my wisdom for anyone thinking of moving. Living somewhere is not like being on vacation; it’s way better. And even if you’re not a perpetual dreamer, like moi, even the simplest things you do in a new place like walking down the street and grabbing a coffee can feel new and exciting. Even the sun and the moon will look different. The air feels different, smells different. And YOU get to be different. Well, actually, you’re the same but just as this place is new to you, you are also new to it, and being the foreigner can be fun. It won’t last forever, of course. You will get used to the run of things. The new quirks will become your everyday life; your home.

I’m sorry if you have ever had to move because of circumstance: visa/permit restrictions, health factors (yours or others), or job re-locations. Basically moving for any reason that isn’t 100% your choice sounds less than ideal and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to choose where I live and to be able to move around with relative ease.

Now, here are the general lessons I’ve learned along the way that I hope will help anyone who plans to take a big leap.

1. Goodbyes suck and always will. The weeks and days leading up to moving day will be full of excitement and anticipation, but the grey cloud in the form of goodbyes cast a shadow that won’t go away until you do. Of course, family and friends will be the hardest. Regardless if you’ve known them all your life or if you’ve just met, saying goodbye to someone you care about will never be easy and you wouldn’t want it to be. And then there’s the stuff, your stuff. You won’t believe how much stuff you own and must of it will be easy to toss or donate. However, be prepared to get upset parting with apartments you called home and items that you loved but can’t bring with you.

2. Something will go wrong. It’s unavoidable. It can happen at any time. Hopefully it’s something that can be fixed easily and won’t cost you a lot of money (because in my experience most of the things that go wrong often come with a price that you didn’t originally budget for). But regardless of how big or how small the problem is, you might end up feeling stressed AF. Even if you are a relatively stress-free person, like myself, a little bump in the road could be enough to send you over the edge. Just remember to breath and…

3.  Focus on the why, instead of the how. A friend gave me this piece of advice a few years ago and it stayed with me. When the sh*t hits the fan, it’s easy to get distracted with the how’s; how is this going to work, how will I pay for that, etc. Instead, concentrate on the why’s, your reasons for doing this in the first place. It’ll help you see your goals more clearly and work through the obstacles with a level head.

4. Trust yourself. Moving is tough, and you’ll doubt your decision at least a few times along the way (even if it’s something you’ve dreamt about your whole life). Just remember, it’s not an adventure if it isn’t a little scary, so embrace the fear but don’t let it stop you.

On the Boardwalk

November 10, 2017

Comin’ at ‘cha with another outfit. Everything I’m wearing is second hand except my jeans and sunglasses. I’ve been trying really hard to minimize my consumption of fast-fashion while still satiating my love of clothes. I’ve come up with three rules that have really helped me and I maybe they can help you too:

  1. Sleep on it.  –  I suppose this one is a huge cliché but I use to be a huge impulse buyer, especially if something was on sale. The internet has made it WAY too easy to shop frivolously. And a lot of the time those clothing would end up at the back of my closet never having been worn at all. Walking away (or logging off) and giving myself the right amount of time to decide if I need it or even WANT it has been very successful. A lot of time I don’t even think about it again.
  2. Check Depop. –  This app has changed my life. If I’m looking for something specific I generally search Depop first. You can almost always find what you are looking for like I did with this lace crop top. You can buy what you want at a cheaper price and it’s better for the environment because you are re-using/recycling. Win, win.
  3. Re-visit my own clothes –  I often forget exactly what I own. Things to end up at the bottom of drawers, get lost in the hamper or forgotten in a suitcase. Anytime I’m looking for something new I shop my own closet instead. It really helps to remind myself of what I already have (and the amount), I get to be a little creative thinking of new ways to style my old favourites and sometimes I even manage a little declutter in the process.

Before I started following these rules buying clothes was… mundane. It wasn’t special. For 10 pieces I bought maybe 1 made me feel magical. Then I ended up with a very full and unremarkable closet. Now I try to save my money and my closet space for the items that I want to wear every day. To quote Blair Waldorf:

“Fashion is the most powerful art there is. It’s movement, design, and architecture all in one. It shows the world who we are who we want to be.”

And I no longer want to be a fast-fashion lemming.

CF+V Beauty: Glossier

October 30, 2017

 

 

When it comes to skincare I am a total product junkie. I love testing new things. So you can imagine how annoying it can be when the majority of skincare brands test on animals or use animal derived ingredients in their products. (I mean, it’s relatively annoying, but for the animals, it’s worse which is why I care that my skincare is CF +V). For make-up I am the opposite, I find something I like and I stick to it. So you imagine how annoying it was when I went vegan to discover that all my tried and trues were no longer viable options. I love being vegan and there are so many advantages when you make the switch. Buying beauty products is not one of them.

Companies don’t make it any easier for you either. Sometimes you really have to dig through their parent company’s website to find their animal testing policies if you find them at all (if you can’t assume the worst). And even if they are cruelty-free you now have the hassle of deciphering which products are vegan, which ones have honey, or beeswax, lanolin oil, animal-derived vitamin D, etc. Over the past three (and a half) years I have done some of this painstaking research. So I thought I would share my wisdom by featuring CF beauty brands with vegan products. First up: Glossier.

This brand is a fairly recent addition to my bathroom but a highly anticipated one. An avid Into the Gloss reader and a glossier groupie since day one, I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for international shipping and all I can say is that they were totally worth the wait.

Before I even tried any of their products I became obsessed with the brand’s philosophy. Skincare first and makeup second. Similiar to my own (I grew up with a mother whose personal philosophy was skincare essential and makeup unnecessary) I was immediately hooked.  I have always been a true believer that if you are going to spend time and money on your skin it should be to make it better and not just temporarily look better.

Then they continued their beauty revolution by actively engaging with their consumers over social media and listening to create products that we wanted. Not like most beauty companies who like to tell us what we need. Celebrating our freckles, pore, spots, and marks the things that make us different and human and often what other companies want us to hide.

AND the cherry on the millennial pink Sunday: they are cruelty-free with loads of vegan options. Their current list of vegan products are:

Ok, so no, not all their products are vegan, but in my experience, it’s rare to find a brand who is 100% vegan.  Plus they make it so easy for us by adding CF + vegan labels to every product claim so you don’t have to search for it. I read somewhere that they have no intention of ever selling in countries that demand animal testing. China (being one of those countries) is a huge market and with those dollar signs flashing, lots of countries seem to lose sight of their ethics. Cough *Nars* Cough. It’s always a bonus for me when I know that they won’t suddenly have to boycott products I’ve come to love and depend on. 🙂

I did two videos reviews of my first Glossier products. Watch PART 1: First Impressions and Part 2: A Week Later.

Pleated

October 27, 2017

The fashion equivalent of the Madonna/whore complex. A paradox in itself. Is it girly and innocent or overtly sexy? I’m not here to argue either side because, frankly, it can be both. And what you decide to pair with that skirt can obviously teeter it one direction or the next. So I say; don’t give it any help. Keep them guessing.

The perfect example: Liv Tyler in Empire Records. The pleated skirt paired with combat boots and a loose (albeit it cropped) sweater and no makeup. The perfect combination to keep the paradox alive (it went well with the character’s personal conundrums as well but I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it yet, and you should, it’s a classic.) Don’t go too girly; stay away from Peter Pan collars and knee high socks or you’ll end up looking more Lolita than Liv. The same goes for low cut tops, knee-high boots or anything else overtly sexy. Keep the rest neutral and your attitude will shine through instead outfit.

On me: vintage t-shirt, my boyfriend’s vintage French labour jacket, a 6-year-old American Apparel (rip) skirt, and classic chucks.

*There could be a conversation about whether or not this skirt is age appropriate. One I’ve had with myself several times when I’m walking down the street and I pass girls half my age wearing their school uniform. But then I brush it off because, well, it’s 2017 and if Baddiewinkle can wear wtf she wants, so can I.

Forever Basic

October 14, 2017


I heard a rumour that the Olsen twins spent two years designing the perfect white t-shirt. Caroline de Maigret, queen of French-cool, refers to the white t-shirt and jeans combo as the best first date outfit. The ensemble even appears in the lyrics of my favourite Lana Del Rey song. It’s essential for everyone’s wardrobe. It’s just so basic that it exudes confidence. An I-don’t-give-a-fuck sort of nothingness that shows you don’t need anything extra. It’s effortless. Shown here: an American Apparel (RIP) powerwash Tee, Topshop Mom Jeans, Converse and Asos wide fishnets.

Why We Need Feminism

October 12, 2017

“I’m a feminist. I’ve been a female for a long time. It’d be stupid not be on my own side” – Maya Angelou

It would be stupid, Maya. Thank you for saying it, and so eloquently, too. If you are a woman (we’ll talk about the men later), you should identify yourself as a feminist. It wasn’t until recently that I realised there are still some that don’t. I can’t believe I have to say this in 2017, but you should be a feminist. You need to be a feminist.

With constant reminders, like the recent allegations of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assaults spanning over 30 years, I can’t help but think ‘how could you not be a feminist’? The list of women speaking out against him is growing by the day. These women, just trying to do something they loved (act, write, etc.), were forced to stay silent in fear that this powerful man would ruin their career if they spoke out. I don’t think I need to say that it’s already difficult enough for women in the workplace but sure, let’s add potential career-killing sexual abuse to the mix. The really unfortunate part is that I’m sure it’s not isolated to Hollywood.

So, why would any woman not consider herself a feminist? Does she not believe in equality? Or the right to control her own career? Lifestyle? Body? And then I heard a reason I hadn’t heard for quite a while (since I first started Uni in 2004 and every girl taking women’s studies was adamant that they were “not, like, a crazy feminist”).

Firstly, a male co-worker decided to explain feminism to me and a fellow female co-worker *facepalm*. He had been offered a vegan brownie by some lady standing outside a bakery with a tray of samples. He didn’t like it and told her why he could never be vegan. She obviously felt a little defensive (I can’t imagine why) and decided to tell him why she was vegan: one of the reasons she gave was because she was a feminist*.

He went on to explain to her, and now us, that women don’t like to use the f-word because it’s associated with man-haters and extremists. We both rolled our eyes before exclaiming “I’m a feminist” almost in unison. I’m sure I could see the smoke coming out of her ears. But a man who thinks feminists hate men? Well, that’s nothing new. Closed minded? Yes. New? No. What I wasn’t prepared for was our female manager agreeing with him. She validated everything he said, agreed with the stereotype of feminists. I could just see the picture in their minds of screaming women burning bras (we fucking needed those women, btw). Now, the manager is a strong, smart and hard-working woman (also younger than me so we can’t blame it on a ‘generational’ thing) who agreed with the principals of feminism (equality, equal opportunity, etc.), yet she didn’t want the title.

Saying you believe in equal rights but are not a feminist is in the same ballpark as “all lives matter“. Feminism isn’t about hating men or thinking we deserve more. It’s not about putting down other women, shaming them for what they wear (I’m looking at you Donna Karan) or judging them based on their lifestyle. It’s about equality. We only want to be treated equally, be given the same opportunities as men and the right to make choices about our bodies. But, we aren’t quite there yet and that’s why we still need to promote feminism. With or without the burning bras.

 

*If you are unfamiliar with why a feminist would be against the dairy industry, let me briefly explain: artificial insemination. This is basically the act of raping cows to get them pregnant so we can steal and kill their calves and keep the milk for ourselves for the sake of cheese. They may not be human, but no female should never have to endure this particularly cruel type of torture and cows endure it over and over.

 

 

 

Fashion Dilemmas and a New Wave

October 7, 2017

I started this blog a while back with the intention of documenting my own personal sense of style. In the vast sea that is fashion blogging, it seemed to be dominated by young, white, modelesque girls with perfect hair and perfect bodies wearing perfectly curated outfits, usually carrying the latest designer it-bag. And while these girls were beautiful, chic and unique in their own way, I felt I could bring something different to the table. I was (am) short and not overweight but not particularly thin either, half Asian and older than the average blogger. At the time I was also very into menswear (still am but not the same obsession level that I was) and loved trying to mix tomboy style with femininity. I wanted to start a blog that represented others like me.

It started out well, but I quickly fell victim to what I will call ‘blogger tunnel vision’. An avid vintage shopper and repeat offender (if I loved it I wore it until it fell off me), suddenly I was buying more well-known brands I could tag in the hopes of being re-grammed to gain more exposure. I wore something once maybe twice and then had to move to the next thing. I never fell into trends before unless it was something I genuinely liked and now I felt this need to keep up with all of them. I was buying clothing at an alarming rate. Something I didn’t even fully grasp until we moved to England and donated 12 bags of clothing (that doesn’t include the clothes I brought with me or the two massive Rubbermaid containers I filled to store at my parent’s house).

I wasn’t buying clothing with the same enthusiasm I once had. Shopping and getting dressed turned into a chore. I was thinking about ‘my brand’ instead of what I authentically liked. And of course, I was comparing myself to other bloggers and trying to emulate or keep up with these already established gurus instead of doing what I set out to do: be me. And the really funny part, all the fashion blogs I follow, the ones I would deem successful got there by having their own unique voice (because we all know that style isn’t just about the clothes you wear) and I was slowly becoming a cheap knockoff. I needed a break.

But here we are again, refreshed, lessons learned and passions re-kindled. High fashion is art (I did go to fashion school and I still follow designers and fashion week) but you won’t find much of it here.  You also won’t find much fast-fashion since evil takes a form in capitalism. I still buy the odd piece from ASOS and Topshop but I am consciously trying to buy less and stay far away from HM, Primark, Zara and the like. Instead, you might see more vintage and second hand, especially since apps like Depop make it so easy and from the comfort of your own bed. I’ll still document my outfits and give you styling tips, but fashion is not enough to keep me creatively fulfilled or passionately motivated. So along with style posts, this blog will now contain monthly quips on feminism, veganism, travel, and personal anecdotes or thoughts on the world. Not necessarily in that order and maybe with no order at all.

Welcome to the new AVEC LUI.