April 6, 2015

Feeling Alive

It has been a week. A real long, hard week. Not one that I had expected or anticipated or built into my highly-detailed calendar, either. Last week, I was blindsided by news that completely devastated me and much of my community. A close friend of mine, someone who has been a source of personal inspiration, who helped conceive my entire concept of queer and femme community, who was filled with so much light and sass and unapologetic fierceness, took her own life. Death and loss is always hard, but there is something unique about the way suicide impacts the people left behind - including a multitude of questions that cannot be answered. Even if we can begin to wrap our heads around the "why," the grief is compounded with guilt and anger and the heaviest sadness. I was blown away by how friends and strangers came together to support and love one another, but it was still so much to bear. Each morning I woke up with my heart pounding out of my chest, and with the most innocent of comments triggering me into tears. And I kept thinking about her, and how I would process these feelings with her, and how she'd respond to all the public grieving. And I thought a lot about my own past with depression, and how I was so grateful to still be here. I needed more than anything to disconnect, to be with my friends who also knew her and could share in our memories and pain and grief, and who could help lift the heaviness even slightly. 

Ali and I ventured north to San Francisco, where we spent the weekend with our friend Alysia (a brilliant, soulful writer who is currently fundraising to self-publish her graphic memoir, here). We cried. We cried a lot. But we also laughed, and took in the sunshine at the top of Dolores Park, overlooking the city, and crossed the bay bridge, and climbed to the top of a hill overlooking all of Oakland and the East Bay, and indulged in dumplings and the best ice cream from Bi-Rite and Humphrey Slocombe (honey-lavender and secret breakfast, respectively), and we marched through the mission - a neighborhood which holds so many of my most transformative memories. We promised each other to feel alive and keep ourselves alive and keep our extended communities alive - because we all really need each other. And with that, my chest stopped pounding and breathing felt a little easier. 

Yesterday, Ali and I drove back down the coast. From San Francisco to Los Angeles, through Santa Cruz and through Monterey and through the forests and coastlines of Big Sur. I wanted to feel awestruck. I wanted to be reminded of all the greatness surrounding us, and of how lucky we are to be alive and experience even a tiny fraction of the magnitude of this earth. I wanted to experience the views, to treat myself to the $5 bunches of local flora from a tiny town called Moss Landing, to eat fresh avocados and to smell the crisp air that blended together sea salt and eucalyptus and drops of rain. We saw a beach full of sunbathing elephant seals, and giggled as they made their way across the sand. With so much heaviness in the previous week, I so badly needed to be surrounded by beauty and sheer positive energy - and somewhere between the hills of San Francisco  and the redwoods lining the edges of the sky and the rocky cliffs of Big Sur and the seaside that glimmered in tones of teal and cerulean blue, I found it. 

If you are struggling with your mental health and are in need of support or resources, please, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or access MentalHealth.gov to help find healthcare providers in your area.  

March 26, 2015

{STYLE} Cactus Flower

I know I keep going on and on about my newly bicoastal life, but... it's just been giving me so much inspiration lately! I'm falling in love with LA all over again with a fresh set of eyes (living in a city as an independent adult is very different than inheriting your parents' likes and dislikes as a child), and just as soon as I've discovered something amazing I'm back in NYC falling in love with everything there, again, too. It's been completely spiritually invigorating even though it has also been exhausting, (no, really; I was in NY last week and it was one of the most brutal weeks of my life)! I've found a sort of balanced chaos that completely suits this stage in my life - one that is full of transition, excitement, and newness, and I can't imagine two better cities to act as the backdrop for all of these experiences.

I'm still figuring out what my "LA style" is, exactly. Fashion in LA is remarkably different than it is in NY. It's more relaxed and casual (unless you're rolling down a few particular blocks in Beverly Hills), and the always-close-to-perfect weather means there's definitely less emphasis on practicality. That's something that lends itself nicely to the approach to shoes, too! Not only are sandals perfect about 80% of the year, but more driving and less walking* means I can get away with heels that are just a little bit higher. And damn, do I like it. 

This dress (from the Zelie for She's True Love collection) was a no-brainer for me and my newly minted west coast life. It's simple and casual, but the wrap-around-the-waist detail gives the dress a little extra shape and intrigue. I've swooned about Zelie for She before, and if you haven't already checked out this woman-owned, based-in-LA brand -- run, don't walk. All of her collections are made in a limited batch and always sell out. Wearing it with my new favorite heeled sandals (yes, I confess to buying them in a second colorway, too...), bucket bag, and a killer cactus flower necklace from my favorite costume jewelry brand Lulu Frost made it the perfect look to get around town on a sunny afternoon.

*I'm actually still walking a lot. One of my dealbreakers was being in a neighborhood that was too residential; I've spent way too long in NYC to go from the convenience of leaving my apartment and having everything within a 7-block radius to relying on a car to accomplish anything. All the essentials are still steps away from our new home - restaurants, grocery stores, great bars, coffee shops, shopping (yikes)...

My style has, in part, always been influenced by my surroundings... I wonder where it will take me next! 

March 10, 2015

{INTERIORS} Hollywood Home Inspiration

Image Sources, Clockwise from Top Left: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14

I've always been pretty obsessed with interiors (did I tell you about the time I thought I'd pursue architecture?), but ever since I knew I'd be going bicoastal and needing to find a new place in LA, my obsession has gone next level - and reached nearly full-time job status (except, you know, without getting paid for it). Even though my sister is an interior designer and both my parents work in adjacent fields, I've been going at my new venture in designing my LA home virtually solo - (with Ali's stamp of approval and an occasional thumbs up/down from the fam, of course). Being in an environment that visually inspires me is so vital to my mental wellbeing and my creativity that doing this right is a major priority! 

Because I feel like I'm approaching a new chapter in my life right now, with our wedding around the corner, and my work life and after-hours lifestyle changing rapidly, I'm also approaching my new home with a really different perspective. When I moved into my place in Brooklyn, I was still pretty fresh out of college, and in the beginning stages of my career and my first full-time, post-grad job as a design strategist. I cared about the look of the furniture I bought, but I was still using pieces I bought as a sophomore in college and filled in the gaps with inexpensive (and often disposable) furniture that I knew had a shorter lifespan. Now, I'm more interested in investing in some quality, classic styles that have stood the test of time  - literally. Classic chesterfield sofas (I fell in love with the custom options available at COCOCO), classic light fixtures, wingback bedframes, and silhouettes that harken the Hollywood Regency era - which feels especially apropos as we're now in Hollywood. I first thought we would jump at bright colors and patterns for our large furniture items, but instead we're now planning on injecting color, patterns, and trends in more easily changeable ways -- a great coat of paint, a splashy removable wallpaper, interchangeable artwork, and all of the great home accessories. After all, it's a lot easier to add a new coat of paint or replace a set of throw-pillows than it is to refurnish an entire room. 

Image Sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

As much as I'm tempted to rush to furnish our home so that it feels "done" sooner than later, I know taking a slow, thoughtful approach in order to invest in and curate my home with the right items will create much greater longterm satisfaction. And, honestly, (temporarily) living in a home completely devoid of clutter is giving me some much needed clarity... though it would be nice to have some additional places to sit! 

I'm finding design inspiration from some of my favorite hotels - like the Beverly Hills Hotelx and The Parker Palm Springs, as well as great interiors sites and magazines like Domaine and Domino. Sites like One Kings Lane and Joss & Main have also become daily destinations, and I'm just waiting to load one of their flash sales to find the perfect dining table. It has yet to happen but I'll know it when I see it! 

Where do you look to for home and interiors inspiration? 

March 9, 2015

{STYLE} High & Low

Everything I know about fashion and shopping, I first learned from my mom. Of course, my skills and knowledge were refined by my own personal experience, education, and career - but all of my first ideas about clothing were inherited from my mother - a woman who pursued a career in engineering but probably should have been a fashion designer from the get-go. My mom taught me to shop across all markets - mixing high and low from big box stores, discount chains, and coveted designers. By the time I could shop for myself with my own money, I espoused the same attitude towards mixing high and low - often choosing to invest in a great bag (because for the longest time, "investing" in a cute piece of clothing was not even an option!) 

I decided to invest in this Tadashi Shoji dress a few months ago because I knew it would immediately become a staple of my west coast wardrobe (and true to form, I've worn it a couple dozen times already). The navy color and great (but subtle) details make it a great foundation to mix and match off of - and I thought it would perfectly complement my AVA & VIV anorak for a casual afternoon around town. The jacket is lightweight and versatile, and the drawstrings at the waist allow you to style it in a few different ways - either cinched in for a more form-fitting look or worn loose for the oversized, minimalist effect. The price points are a world apart (the jacket comes in at under $40 and the dress at - er, a lot more), but they balance each other economically and stylistically. 


This post part of my ongoing partnership with Target.
All content and opinions are my own. 

March 6, 2015

{STYLE} Bright White

Dress, Bag, Shoes, Sunglasses, Watch, Belt, Midi Rings 
PS: Get up to 25% off the bag, shoes, and sunglasses here with the code BIGEVENT15!

I know that taking pictures at high noon in direct sunlight is way, way less than optimal - but I can't get enough of this sunshine! Ali and I took a break from our work around lunchtime to head out and shop for her shoes for our wedding and found the perfect pair at Paul Smith... Now I need to find mine, (any suggestions?!) Since we were already there, obviously photos against their pink exterior wall were a must. 

It got up to 75-degrees today - and tomorrow will be in the 80s, so I'm allllll about this breezy white cascade dress made by my friends at Mimumaxi - a design duo of two orthodox sisters-in-law who make cool, modern pieces for the modest set. I fell in love with them both when I read about their decision to continue sharing modest fashion from women of other faiths in spite of criticism from their own community. Their message of sharing more in common than we do in difference and wanting to celebrate those similarities resonated with me, to such an extent that I emailed them just to say hello and thank them for taking such an important stand against their critics. A few emails later, and I eventually got to hang out with these Brooklyn-based babes in their neck-of-the-woods. All this to say - their line of easy, minimalist pieces are great year round, but especially perfect as we approach spring and summer! I'm so excited to remix it a million ways as the temps creep up on both coasts!