Showing posts with label Personal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Personal. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Great Debate

In-person vs. online

A few weeks ago, I had a most traumatic and contradictory experience: I went to a mall and I hated it. 

To start, let me say that I've always found my excitement for shopping, in any duration, to be similar to my excitement for a holiday. If I had to name my top five holidays, including shopping, from top to bottom, it would be as follows: my birthday, Christmas, shopping, Thanksgiving, New Years.

I've prided myself on being an excellent, if long-winded, shopper. I'm not often deterred by crowds (although I'll never brave Black Friday in person) and have excellent stamina – perfect for rifling through racks, slipping into outfits and spending 90% of the day standing. 

I've tried to examine my unfortunate experience from multiple angles. Maybe I wasn't in the mood. Maybe it was the post-Fourth of July weekend sales that brought entirely too many people to the mall, bringing about that dull headache of annoyance every time you realize you'll have to wait in a line for the dressing rooms, then the checkout. 

But I was in the mood. And, like I said, crowds don't generally bother me. It seems every year I'm out shopping in the brief week between Christmas day and New Years. (And that, my friends, takes patience.)

So what was it? 

My blissful veil of ignorance was pulled back, revealing a number of things that have perhaps changed my view of in-person shopping forever. Going to a mall reminds me of everything that is wrong America: that we are fat, terribly dressed and like to blatantly disregard rules (since when has it become acceptable to walk on the wrong side of the supposed shopping-street, cut in line or indefinitely block off that one section of the rack I'd like to have a look at?).

My (and many others', I presume) preferred method of consumption has now, and possibly forever, shifted to the ever-massive plunders of the World Wide Web. I've always been a huge fan of online shopping, because what's more fun that sitting on the couch with a cup of tea, quickly converting your bank account into incoming packages filled with personally picked presents?

It can be argued that shipping costs and the possibility of something not fitting or not looking as it did in an online picture are deterrents for shopping online. I agree with that. What must be realized is there's a tradeoff that must be made, and it's that convenience has a price (usually, $7.99). 

Fortunately, most websites offer free returns, and many free shipping (shout out to Shopbop, Piperlime, Zappos and Nordstrom). Another plus: if Neiman's doesn't have your desired size in that Equipment blouse you've been staring through the screen at for weeks, just hop on over to Saks, Bergdorf, Bloomingdales, Net-A-Porter or Nordstrom. You're bound to find it somewhere.

I'm sure you've experienced the harried excitement while awaiting a package to land on your doorstep. Not much is more satisfactory than tracking your package from "origin scan" to "out for delivery." (Random facts: Gilt ships from Louisville, Kentucky, J.Crew ships from Roanoke, Virginia and Shopbop ships from Middleton, Wisconsin.) And once it's out for delivery, there's almost nothing that gets me home from work or class faster. 

Our entire lives are being transferred to the Internet. Friendships, correspondence, photo albums, money management, ordering food, watching movies and TV shows, reading newspapers and magazines and any kind of shopping you could think of. I hate the word literally, but we literally do not have to leave our homes (or couches) to do anything. 

So please. Sit back, relax and join me while I online shop.

Photo: Interview Magazine, March 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Oversharing

Thoughts on the tell-all Internet culture

Social media is a creepy thing. 

Like an intimate look into your bedroom window, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Vine allow others to get a good glimpse at what it's like to be you. I don't want to alarm anyone or talk about how unsafe broadcasting yourself across the Web is, because "How to Catch a Predator" aggressively did that. But, it's crazy to think how much our perspectives on online presence have changed in less than a decade. 


I remember in seventh grade when I first embarked on my social media adventure. MySpace was my first conquest, and I loved it. As a shy private school girl, I stalked all the wild older high school kids – a world I was about to enter. I commented on my friend's pages (it sounds weird not to say "wall") constantly: writing about inside jokes, plans for the weekend and filled out questionnaires, signed with a charming (and ingenious, I thought) "LOVElizabeth."


My glory days on Myspace were short-lived. My parents quickly discovered my profile, and while they weren't going to force me to delete it, I was so embarrassed that I did anyway. How could I think it was O.K. to upload information and pictures of myself for the entire Internet audience to see? 


My hours of crafting the perfect profile page were ruined: compiling the perfect list of favorite musical artists, choosing my "top eight," agonizing over the appropriate words for my "about me" section, selecting a few of my best photos to create an exact brand of myself. (Question: how much did everyone hate the "top eight" feature? The act of publicly declaring and un-declaring your best friends always seemed wrong to me.)


I eventually recreated my Myspace profile, although quickly graduated to Facebook once high school hit. (I recently logged on to my long lost Myspace account, and insist you do the same as soon as you can. Nostalgia and self-loathing in its best form.) 


Nowadays online, anything goes. Headed to the beach? Tweet about it. Got a new haircut? Cue Instagram selfie. Not happy with the latest results on The Voice? It's time for a Facebook status. Gone to a concert? Vine it. 


It's terrifying, really. All it takes to learn the details of your everyday life is a quick Google search of your name in quotations. My results include my profiles for LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Etsy, numerous articles from my local newspaper where I'm mentioned, the student newspaper I work at, a camp I attended years ago, Ladies' Home Journal from when I contributed a photo and a couple random websites. 


To avoid being hypocritical, I will say that I'm not at all in favor of abandoning widespread sharing on social media. It's the way of the times, and to ignore it would be archaic. As both participant in and observer of the "social media age," it's necessary to note the change in personal censorship over the last five years. 


"The idea of social media–having an audience and taking pictures for people to see–that's a scary thing. When I was young, things were simpler." 
-Sofia Coppola to W Magazine, June/July 2013 issue



Image: collage by Moshekwa Langa

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Just Because

On indulging oneself

As a college student, it's important for me to pay careful attention to my spending habits. My parents pay for my tuition and apartment, give me a monthly stipend and I do make a bit on my own, but money certainly isn't falling from the sky (and what a shame!).

Often, I become fixated on a certain thing, whether it be a pair of shoes, a beauty product or a specific colored Sharpie Pen, and think about it a little too much until I finally get it. (It's true, I couldn't stop daydreaming about the tropical-hued Sharpie Pens until I finally found them at Target a few weeks ago.) Unsurprisingly, my wallet cannot keep up, and these fixations soon turn into lists.


There are two categories of my mental material lists: attainables and unattainables. Attainables include things like a new Bauble Bar necklace, a silk blouse from J. Crew, a coffee table book, a refill of my favorite Philosophy lotion–affordable things that don't put a dent in my sad, sad bank account. Unatainables on my list are a Chanel 2.55 bag, a pair of black Christian Louboutin pumps and another David Yurman bangle.


O.K., yes, these lists are vastly contrasting. In other terms, attainables can be purchased multiple times a month, and unnatainables can be purchased about once a year. Impulse vs. calculated, affordable vs. expensive, and depending on who you ask, smart vs. stupid.


I think we all battle with the urge to buy. The advent of online shopping is certainly no help. I'll admit I look at Gilt, Hautelook and Shopbop every single day, although rarely buy anything. I often try to reason with myself: How many times will I wear it? What can I wear it with? How much use will I get out of it? It it classic? Will it hold up over time? There are so many considerations when making a purchase. I have to say that my shopping habits are quite calculated.


But what if I want something "just because?" If it makes me happy, isn't it worth it?


Not long ago, I discovered that I really wanted a Moleskine notebook to make lists and take notes in for my university's student newspaper, which I work for. Hemingway used Moleskines, so naturally, I needed one. A hot pink one.


For the uninitiated, Moleskine notebooks are leather-bound, usually small notebooks, sketchpads, journals and what-have-you that are often found in the possession of writers and artists. Since they're made of leather, it shouldn't come to a surprise that they're more expensive than your typical Five-Star notebook. This new friend was going to set me back about $20–hardly anything in the scheme of things, but my more sensible side was trying to convince me otherwise. After moments of inner argument, the hot pink leather notebook was mine.


The moment after I bought it, I thought, "Well, that was dumb. Here I am, a poor and hungry college student, spending $20 on a silly notebook." I was fortunate to have a friend with me who replied, "So what? You wanted it."


She was right. I did want it. And there's nothing wrong with wanting things, to buy things because it makes you happy and not only out of necessity. Besides, if I hadn't bought it, I would have ended up spending the rest of my life wondering what it would be like to own a hot pink leather notebook.
So the answer, wholeheartedly, is yes. Happiness from simple pleasures is indeed worth it.


Photo: Cher Horowitz, "Clueless"

Monday, May 20, 2013

Foiled Plans and Happy Accidents

A dramatic retelling of a personal debacle

I'm very much a supporter of plans. I make plans to make plans. So of course, crisis management has never been a strong suit for me. Welcome surprises are just fine, but the unexpected has me much out of sorts. 

It was quite an unwelcome surprise when I opened my awaited package (I stalk them via tracking numbers online many times per day until arrival) to find not only the wrong size in my ordered dress, but the wrong color as well. My younger sister's debutante presentation was the next day – a full-day family affair and the apex of my hometown's high society. I ordered the dress months in advance (Rent the Runway, yes), and was looking forward to wearing it since it was different than what I usually go for. Any woman can tell you how wonderful it feels to wear a beautiful cocktail dress. Of course, just as your aren't allowed to upstage the bride, I knew I couldn't upstage my sister. (Although, I had little chance of doing so. She was wearing a heavy satin Ulla-Maija gown.)

Nevertheless, I put it on the dress I was sent and felt like a Las Vegas call girl. A little tight, a little short. I've always thought I look good in red, with my fair skin and dark brown hair. I had never felt more wrong. 

Here starts the small town shopping scramble.

Don't get me wrong. I love where I grew up, mainly in that there's plenty of Tex-Mex restaurants and that my cats live there. The shopping, though, is marginal. Sub-marginal. Our mall is terrifying, and what boutiques we do have offer slim pickings and high possibility that someone you are related to owns the exact same dress you just purchased. 

I quickly exhausted my few retail options later that night and the morning of, thoroughly put out by the lack of competence in whoever was in charge of my dress' shipping and that Smalltown, USA had nothing to offer me in terms of acceptable sartorial options. I was utterly helpless, wandering around my least favorite department stores, looping around again and again because there had to be something.

Like a soundtrack to a terrible movie, "I've Got a Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas was playing in Dillard's, and when I got in the car – and this is not a joke – Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" was on the radio. 

I was being dramatic, but for valid reasons. I like to think one of my few redeeming qualities is my innate ability to shop – and with razor sharp focus. Historically, I'm ruthless in the retail realm, scanning racks and fighting the crowds like it's an everyday thing (which, it nearly is). It was embarrassing.

At this point, you've got to be worried. Was I going to be stuck wearing a hideous dress in the face of my judgmental hometown and as the subject of at least a good third of the 1,000 photos my aunt took? (As the only family member with a Nikon, my aunt was the unofficial photographer for the day. She did take around 1,000 photos that day. No, she did not charge an hourly fee.) Or worse, would I have to re-wear a dress from a previous event? As ridiculous as it may be, I'm staunchly against outfit repeating, as I like to call it. (Think what you want. I consider it a fun challenge.) 

Alas, my reputation was spared. Hanging in the back of my old room's closet was a satin strapless BCBGMaxAzria dress. Tags on. Never been worn. A beautiful sight for the sorest of eyes and the weariest of hearts. 

My dear, dear sister had been hoarding a collection of dresses the past year in anticipation of the flurry of events this spring, her final semester of high school. Apparently, she had one too many – a most happy accident.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Perfume Bottles

Can we talk about perfume bottles for a moment? 

While I'm fully aware that it's not polite to judge a book by its cover, it's impossible to say that packaging doesn't play a role in my perfume-buying practices. Yes, it's ultimately about the scent. But I can't have a hideous bottle marring my vintage mirror-and-gold vanity tray, especially since (as you may have noticed) aesthetics are a big thing for me. 


In such a competitive market, perfume packaging, along with that of other cosmetics, is of utmost importance. We've all been there: at the perfume counter, smelling samples, being helped by a pushy saleswoman (or man). After a half-dozen sniffs, they all start to smell the same. And then you sniff the coffee beans to clear your sniffer, and sniff some more, and it's all sort of just a miserable process. 


Not to suggest that we all throw our hands up and go with the prettiest bottle. Because we don't, or not entirely. For those of us whose olfactory senses are not well-attuned to the minute differences in similar perfumes, a lovely bottle sure is an easy way out. Shall we examine the good, the bad and the ugly?



Chanel No. 5 by ChanelIt was the fifth sample scent Mlle. Coco Chanel smelled on sampling for the house's first fragrance. In my opinion, it's more for the grandmotherly set, but you can't deny the classic icon that the bottle has become. And if perfume bottles could talk, not many of them could say they've been silk-screened by Andy Warhol.

Daisy by Marc Jacobs: I'm undeniably under the impression (or spell?) that Marc Jacobs can do little wrong. Starting with his namesake high-end line, to his more affordable, yet still pricey, Marc by Marc Jacobs line, to his fragrance-bottle designs. He's good. He's just too good. 


Girlfriend by Justin Bieber: I don't even like, follow, or obsess over Justin Bieber, but if I had to guess the future name of his fragrance, it would be Girlfriend. This bottle's get-up reminds me of a fashionable yet fragile bowling pin that's trying too hard.

Couture Couture by Juicy Couture: The name in itself is a mouthful. The pink-lined zipper, the crest-like topper, it's all an information overload. While an over-the-top pink princess is definitely the epitome of a "Juicy girl," this bottle might be a little too much, even for the juiciest.


Fantasy Twist by Britney Spears: To start, I will admit that my inner 90s girl loves Britney. I'm not going to lie or be ashamed about listening to the album "Oops I Did It Again" within the last month. I know that once you're a mainstream celebrity, or if you've appeared on the cover of People enough times, having a personal fragrance is essentially a rite of passage. This is bad though. Like a tacky-glamorous-Pokemon-ball bad.  A message to Brit: ditch your product designer!

Pink Friday by Nicki MinajIt was a good thought. It really was. And it's so Nicki, as in it's pink, looks like a robot and is startlingly attention-grabbing. I stared at it for a good couple minutes in the store, and came to the conclusion that if a small child all but glanced at it, there's a good chance they would run away crying.

Image sources: Chanel No. 5, Daisy by Marc Jacobs, Girlfriend by Justin Bieber, Couture Couture by Juicy Couture, Pink Friday by Nicki Minaj, Fantasy Twist by Britney Spears

Monday, December 24, 2012

Implementation


I've been dabbling (at best) with blogging and The Corner Apartment on and off for maybe a year and a half now. It's been great. It really has. I love being able to write whatever I want, research things I'm curious about, connect with others who share my interests, and play around with and teach myself graphic design.

There are so many wonderful sites and bloggers out there. So. Many. It's overwhelming, really, how you could spend a whole day doing nothing but read them. Such an influx of information has lead me to an idea, something that I think fits perfectly with my personality while being unique to the big blogging community.

My main goal is to focus on the writing. I'm going to do longer pieces, researched and well thought-out articles while still maintaining my connection to and passion for history, art and style. I want to learn things, convey them to readers and talk about things that matter. As much as I love putting outfit posts together, it's just not where I want to go.

Additionally, I want to do away with all the consumerism and product-pushing. While I think affiliate programs and brand partnerships are great for some people, I want The Corner Apartment to be a place that stays focused primarily on written content. I am, after all, a journalist (or will be). 

I hope you all are as excited as I am for the changes to come.

Happy Christmas!

Source: top image

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Changes


To be short, it has been quite a semester. A new job, new apartment and (hopefully!) new major have been exhausting, overwhelming and thrilling at the same time. I know you've all ridden that emotional roller coaster before. Such busyness brought about almost completely quashed creativity, despite ideas rolling in left and right. I have some very, very long lists.

To accomodate such ideas, I'm going to make some changes around here (yes, again). I'm not yet sure what they will be, but they will be. I'm officially declaring the deadline for implementing the changes, in full, to be the day spring classes start: January 9. Hold me to it!

Sources: original photo, quote