Friday, May 23, 2014

Frustrations with Fashion

It's a fact that our society is one that loves to consume. Every year we buy more and more, and the long list of luxury items that directly correlate to our (perceived) social status grows and grows. I'm not here to bash on this, in fact, I am probably a large part of it and a huge offender myself.

This blog started as a fashion blog and I've been slowly attempting to move into the more lifestyle/whatever may tickle my fancy domain. I'm not going to dump on the fashion industry, but I do feel the need to share my frustrations with the state of first world countries, and myself.

We are a society obsessed with consumption. We consume at ridiculous rates, yet produce very little. Its an infectious disease that just creates a vicious cycle of dissatisfaction. It constantly amazes me how back in the day people rarely used/bought more than they could consume for. If you were a farmer, anything that you might need that your crops didn't produce, you would quite literally use the fruits of your labour to trade for. You had to give something up to get something. Today we just get, get, get, but what do we give? What do we contribute to justify how much we expend beyond our means? Not much, if you ask me.

I'm as guilty as anyone. I love fashion, I love pretty things and I absolutely cannot refuse a good deal. Its actually a problem. I have so much stuff, yet time and time again face the age old dilemma of "I have nothing to wear'. Scoring a fantastic deal is a great feeling. You feel satisfied, like you somehow "won" against the system, and to boot you have a pretty new thing you didn't break the bank for. It all sounds rather lovely, right? Well it is, temporarily.

This sentiment of contentment is followed by one of contempt, for me at least. At least once a month I have a complete freak out and look at my closet with utter disgust. When experiencing one of said freak outs I just can't help but be disgusted with how much I actually own. How much stuff I have in my closet that I barely ever wear. Things with the tag still on them. The 10+ little black dresses I own. And so on, and so forth. These freak outs cause me to go through a complete closet purge. When this feeling fades, the pack rat in me surfaces and I cling on to unnecessary items that "I might just need one day". It usually takes about 3 separate attempts to actually make a dent in my daunting closet.

So, where am I going with all this? I've realized that it's a tad overzealous and unrealistic to passionately claim during my fits of frustration that "I'll never shop again!" Instead, I've decided to implement a few of my own rules to live (and shop) by, that will hopefully lead to a more balanced closet and lifestyle.

2 for 1
For every new item I buy, I have to head into my closet and get rid of two. This will really make me think twice when making purchases. 

Donate, Donate, Donate
I don't actually throw any items of clothing in the trash. One woman's trash is another's treasure, so everything that leaves my closet makes it's way into someone else's. 

Swap Shopping 
Luckily, swap parties are all the rage these days. Hosting or attending a swap party is a great way of not only getting rid of some of your old clothes, but getting some "new" stuff for yourself as well. 
P.S if you are in the Ottawa area check out this Spring Swap Shop event on Sunday, June 1st! I'll be there with a good chunk of my closet! 

Quality over Quantity 
When making new purchases, stick with quality over quantity. Quality items will a) last longer and b) be more expensive, therefore making you think twice before purchasing. 

Be Aware
Find out where your clothes are coming from. Try supporting local brands or vintage/consignment shopping instead of the cookie cutter stores that are all made in poverty ridden countries. It's a little daunting and frustrating, I know. One person's shopping habits will not change the world, but I'm a huge believer in the fact that every little bit counts, and the less we buy from those types of commercial giants, the less they will eventually have to produce. Not only that, you'll feel better about your lifestyle choices and chances are most of your pieces will be more unique and come with a story. 

What are your tips and tricks for remaining fashionable and sustainable in a society obsessed with consumption and the latest trends?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Jewellery Organization for the Scrambled at Heart

I haven't posted in a while, and thought what a better way to start the new year off then with new ways to get organized? This new year I told myself (much like I have multiple other years) that this will be the year I get my shit together. Well, the difference this year is that I'm slowly, but surely, actually following through, starting with my jewellery. Perhaps not life shattering, but hey, you gotta start somewhere right?

So to start the new year right, I started by using a Christmas gift. If you're thinking "how efficient", you're thinking wrong. We're talking a Christmas gift not from this Christmas, but the one prior. Yes, Christmas of 2012. The fact that it took me a full year to make use of this should give you an indication to my level of organization. This gift was a hanger necklace/jewellery organizer. It's a hanger with various loops and pockets to keep you organized and tangle free. Another plus is that its already hanging in your closet, thus making outfit planning a breeze.

Alright, necklaces and bracelets down. Now onto earrings. I don't know about you, but my earrings are always a mess. First of all, they come in pairs, which complicates things off the bat. You have not one, but two things to try and keep track of. I have this box that I usually just throw all of my earrings in, but it is by no means a fast or efficient system. I travel a lot and therefore needed something that not only kept things organized, but was portable too. I bought these craft storage boxes at Dollarama and couldn't be more pleased with the results. I organized my earrings by categories, and through this process I was also able to pair them up and figure out who was missing their twin. Two birds, one stone. I even used one of the compartments specifically for ones that were missing their mates. It's not uncommon for me to find the missing earring weeks, or even months or years, later, only to find that I have then misplaced their previously "found" partner. Of course. I also used various compartments for earring backs, as well as safety pins. These craft storage boxes cost me only a dollar each and have saved me more than I'll ever know. Instead of constantly buying new earrings because I (permanently or temporarily) lost one, or worse, both, I now know where they all are, at all times.

As far as traveling goes, life has never been better. These small craft boxes take  up less space then my previous box and keep everything organized in the process. They also allow me to bring all of my earrings, instead of segregating the ones I think I'll wear (wrong choices are always made in such circumstances). Less space, more variety, plus travel friendly. Voila.

This is the best life hack I have seen for ladies in quite some time.

You're welcome.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Arlene's Autograph

This autograph signifies a lot for me, and not just because its from a Canadian celebrity.

That’s part of it, of course, but its not the real reason Arlene fascinates me. Yes, she may be on T.V, but no, she’s not famous for nothing like a Kardashian or because she was randomly selected to be on a reality show. Arlene is famous for her business smarts and her life story, and that fascinates me. 

I’ve always admired and been inspired by her dedication, outlook on life, and realness. Although her struggle differs from mine, I feel like we have similar stances and characters, thus making her someone I can both look up to and relate to. The main point she made in her speech was to have the strength and confidence to believe in yourself. “It doesn’t matter what people expect of you, its about what you expect of yourself.” She openly admitted that this is probably her toughest struggle, and I am not shy to say it is also mine.  We are often our own biggest critic and it is extremely difficult to always believe that not only do you deserve everything that you want, but that you are in fact capable of achieving it. I am extremely terrified of failure and not living up to expectations (whether it be my own or someone else’s). Arlene’s advice that she offers her children is to adopt a mind frame of “What is the worst that could happen?” They then turned the tables on her and offered her a piece of her own advice when she was going to refuse to audtioin for Dragon’s Den, but more on that later.

Another, less obvious, take away that I got from her talk was a common theme in many of her stories, and essentially an extension of her point of believing in yourself: have the confidence to not only believe in yourself, but to be yourself. Most of her success can be attributed to moments where she unapologetically and genuinely being herself. 

She first told us about a job interview she went on for a sales position. The interview was done as a favor to her, and the interviewer made that overly apparent. She went into the interview well aware of this and decided to just get some experience out of it anyway. When the interviewer began really grilling her, he began to also grind her gears with his pretentious attitude and she through caution to the wind and let him know exactly what she really thought.  I’m sure you can see where this story is going. By brazenly being herself, he saw some tenacity in her and to her shock and surprise, gave her the job.

Fast forward to many years later. She's already achieved great success with Venture Communications, and the folks over at Dragon’s Den give her a call and want her to audition. Again, she didn’t really see it as a real opportunity and only went because her kids convinced her to, with a more or less “why not” approach.  She gets on set, focuses all of her attention on helping out the other ladies fend off Kevin’s cynical comments, and finally the producers hint that they actually want to hear from her as well, and boy do they ever. She lost sight of the camera, crews and people and really gave Kevin a piece of her mind (for the first time, but defintley not the last). She didn’t care or have concern for making it on the show, just fought for justice and in doing so, let her real opinions shine through. We all know where this story ended up. Now, 5 years later, she graces our T.V. screens on a daily basis as one of the daunting Dragons.  
Another concept she explained that really resonated with me was that of luck. Not to rely on it, but to recognize it. She admits that some situations she found herself in were due to a stroke of good luck, but what she did with those opportunities was what made all the difference and caused her success. If you want to be successful you can’t just sit back, relax and wait for that stroke of luck to hit. It doesn’t quite work that way. You have to work your butt off, keep your eyes peeled for those lucky chances, and then work your butt off even more to take advantage of them.  

Lady luck was definitely on my side when I won tickets to go see her. I had heard last minute that she was coming to town, but tickets were too expensive, I didn’t want to have to ask for the time off work, and I managed to find millions of excuses not to put myself out there and go after what I really wanted. The truth? I was dying to see her. I entered a few contests anyways, and was secretly hoping the universe would show me that I did indeed need to attend this. Lo and behold, I won the tickets, proceeded to jump for joy (multiple times, in my office, where no one had a clue who she was and everyone thought I was absolutely nuts) because I knew that fate had intervened, and that I was destined to actually see my idol in person. Her message really spoke to me and I know I was meant to experience this today.

I leave you with a few fun facts and quotes that Arlene shared with us:

-She was actually one of the “first” inventors of the fruit roll up. When she suffered from poverty, her sole source of food was from her gardens so she had a machine to dehydtrate them and essentially make fruit roll ups for her children.

-All of the Dragon’s have failed at math. I loved hearing this one and it only further confirmed that yes, I could be a dragon too.

-"My family was quite dysfunctional and that's what made me a great marketer." She explained how this taught her how to hone her listening skills, which leads to "Sometimes what people say isn't' exactly what they mean."For a variety of reasons, people might have difficulty expressing themselves and the art of listening means to also hear whats not being said. Try to figure out what people mean, not just what they say.

-"Stop and look at where you are, not just where you're going." Arlene brought this point home by describing  a visual of her and her father in London, on their journey from South Africa to Canada, and him teaching her how to really stop and smell the flowers, enjoy the moment you are in and appreciate every moment of it. The image she had of the London skyline in that moment is forever imprinted in her mind. 

Of course I am completely biased, but not only is Arlene an excellent storyteller, but an amazing public speaker as well, and I'm not basing this on my biased opinion alone. I gauged the audience throughout her presentation and I daresay that almost every single person in the audience was completely captivated throughout her speech. 

There are not many people on this planet I would actually pay to see, but she is one of them. If I have the opportunity to see her speak again, I will attend, regardless of the cost. Another lesson she left us with: don't attribute a monetary cost to things of sentimental/emotional value. 

A genuine, business minded woman with a warm heart, Arlene is without a doubt an inspiration. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

(Little) Black (Dress) Friday

It's been a while since I've written a post, let alone a fashion one, so what better time to do so than on the shopping holiday du jour (literally) Black Friday?

I have mixed emotions about Black Friday. Emotions that range on extremities, actually.  It's a deadly combination of two of the things I feel strongest about…amazing deals and aggravating crowds. I'm sure you can figure out which I love and which I loathe. Therefore Black Friday is somewhat of an emotional roller coaster for me.

This year I stumbled upon the perfect plan, accidentally. I found myself in the mall on Thursday evening, where all of the pre-Black Friday sales (basically just the actual sales starting early) were happening. Same deals, empty mall? Don't mind if I do!

What did I get? Well, I managed to get not one, but two LBDs. One can never have too many, right? Wrong. I do have too many, and a heck of a lot more than two too many. I did, however, justify these purchases.

This LBD that borders on conservative is from Dynamite, and I justified it because 1) it is such a classic design that can easily take me from day to night, work to weekend, 2) it fits me like a glove. Not to toot my own horn but I daresay it fits me better than the model in the photo (god bless curves). The reason I do have so many LBDs is because this is usually such a problem. None fit perfectly, and if you lose or gain 5 pounds all goes to hell. This one surprisingly fits not one, but all of my curves, and it's stretchy to boot (thus ensuring it'll fit even with the 5 pound fluctuation). 

This second dress is from Forever 21, and well, it was 9 bucks. 
I'm thinking it'll be my holiday party staple this year. 

Two LBDs, two different styles. How many LBDs do you think are too many? 

On a completely unrelated note, the word nerd in me came out in full force this pre-Black Friday. (Black Thursday?) I had bought one of these mugs a few weeks back, and have been coveting the rest ever since. Yesterday they had a fateful #B3G4 (buy 3 get 4) sale and well, I caved. 

I'm a sucker for a good quote and a good cup o' tea, so it's no wonder temptation struck and did it ever strike hard. I felt like each and every single one of these mugs spoke to me. I now own 5 of these bad boys and it is ridiculous how happy they make me. One was even fit for the Eternal Optimist with a quote of "The glass is always half full". 

We couldn't of said it better. Happy shopping!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lots of Luv for Tulum

Ever had so much to say that you don't even know where to begin? That 's what I've been experiencing as of late...I've been here in Mexico for almost one month now and it has been a whirlwind since the get go. So instead of trying to sum up everything and anything that I've experienced thus far, I'll first give a rundown of my "vacation" in Tulum. (Some may argue that my entire time here is a vacation, I would respond with a "enjoy the cold weather, suckers!")

Upon arriving in Mexico on September 1st, the plan was to take a quick, much needed vacation. I spent two nights and three days there and although it wasn't my first time visiting, I have to admit I fell in love with this oasis all over again.

Tulum is one of my absolute favourite places in the Yucatan Peninsula for multiple reasons:

1. It's not too touristy. Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and even Riviera Maya have become way too overpopulated with gringos tourists and spring breakers for my taste. Being in Cancun/Playa del Carmen is pretty much the same as being in Miami, and no, I did not choose to visit good ol' US of A, I chose to visit Mexico. Everything in Cancun is in USD for pete's sake! We are in Mexico, try pesos. The beaches are overcrowded, everything is americanized and it's just not the type of vacation I'm looking for, personally.

2. And the tourists that are there are a different type of tourist.  You won't find the obnoxious americans, or rambunctious college kids in Tulum. What you will find are the hippies, the yogis, the Europeans, the calm, cool and collected tourists that are seeking an authentic and tranquil experience. In my opinion, it's great company to be in and I have met at least one insanely interesting person each time I've went.

3. The closest thing to virgin beaches you are going to get. Any beach that was any where near being a virgin beach has been commercialized and cut up (think Playa del Carmen). In Tulum you simply feel like you could possibly be among the first people there, I am so thankful that they have preserved it to this standard.

Although I could gush for days on how enamoured I am with Tulum, those are my without a doubt the top reasons for my infatuation.  The hotel we stayed at was called Luv Tulum, and I loved it.  It was one of many of the cabaña type hotels in the area. I loved the ecologocial style of the whole place, even though it was a little bit of adjustment to how I usually live. For example, there was barely any light to be found past 8pm, anywhere.  The website even warns "Please note that the hotel's use of low voltage electricity forbids the use of electric hair styling equipment." Goodbye curling iron, helloooo afro. It had approximately 10 rooms and a lovely little restaurant/hang out spot with panoramic views of the ocean. 

It wasn't the ideal climate while we were there, but honestly I didn't mind. September is the rainy/stormy season and boy, did Mother Nature ever rear her ugly head. One evening it was so rough I thought the top was literally going to fly off of our cabaña. That didn't happen but it did rain hard enough to go straight through it and create large puddles in our room, which was rather inconvenient. The best of the storm was the lightening. Experiencing this weather on the ocean brings it to a whole new level. One evening there was no rain, just constant lightening high in the sky over the ocean, that filled the entire surrounding area with an amazing rainbow coloured light show. Not only was it gorgeous, it definitely helped with that whole "no light after 8pm" thing. 

Despite the cloudy weather, Mother Nature did leave me with a nasty surprise The morning after leaving Tulum I woke up with one of the most painful, intense sunburns I have ever had. I'm talking lobster red, hurts to wear clothing burn. I couldn't go out in public for my first week in Mexico, let's just leave it at that. Always wear your sunscreen kids, especially if you are a ghastly white Canadian! 

A few snapshots of lovely Tulum 


Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Different Kind of September

For me, September usually equals a new school year, (hopefully) new clothes, and the coming of the autumn season.

This September holds a different set of cards for me. I will not be returning to school, I will, gasp, finally be graduating. About time, eh? With the closing of one lengthy, diverse experience comes the beginning of a new one.  Although it may not be an academic adventure, I will be embarking on a different kind of quest this September.

Instead of breaking out my cozy sweaters and necessary knits in preparation for the transitional weather, this September 1st I will be heading to the land of eternal summer, a.k.a Merida, Yucatan, Mexico for an undetermined period of time.

Why, you ask? Simply put, because I can.

For the first time in my almost twenty five years on this planet I will be free educational constraints. For the first time I can do whatever  I want, versus what I assume that I need. And what I want, for the time being, is simply that. I want time.

I will be back in Canada for my convocation in November, for a few weeks. Don't ask me the dates because I don't know yet.  Maybe you think its careless, I prefer carefree. Not that I am free of cares, but I am free to do what I want when I want, and that my friends, is a glorious thing.

Ya, now that I'm graduating I could settle into a comfy, predictable government job. But instead of seeing oppression, I see opportunity. I quite literally have nothing holding me back. No student loans, no mortgage payments, heck, I don't even have a car. My largest and longest running responsibility and commitment has been my cell phone bill, and I hate to break it to you Telus, but after these 6 roller coaster years of our relationship I think it's about time we see other people.

So, as my life takes a turn for the uncertain, as does my blog. Of course the element of fashion will remain, you couldn't remove it if you tried. But my blog will now focus more-so on my experiences living, playing and working as a Canadian in the beautiful colonial city of Merida, Mexico.

Stay tuned for tales of tacos, tamales and tardiness. Nos vemos en Mexico!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Change Would Do You Good

I have been neglecting my poor little blog big time lately. There has just been so much going on so quickly that I can barely keep up myself, let alone keep you guys filled in. So, I deemed it an appropriate time to put my blog through a little revamping and rebranding. Don't worry, the fashion stuff will stick around (couldn't kick the fashionista out of me even if I wanted to) but the direction will change a bit to better reflect what is going on in my life.

Change can be a really, really scary thing. One of the biggest lessons I have learned in my 20 odd years on this planet is how to adapt to it. Change is going to happen no matter what, regardless of whether you run from it or embrace it, so why not just go with the flow? You can't conquer anything that you don't accept, right?

So on the subject, I'm interested to know how often do you change? How often do you update your blog, website etc, or rebrand? Have you gone through a makeover of any kind recently? What have been your results? (a.k.a what do I have to look forward to?)

Fill me in! And stay tuned to find out what changes I will be implementing, in both my life and my blog. It's exciting, it's scary, which also means it should be interesting.

Here's to hoping those changes will do me good!