Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Confessions of a Chronic Blusher

I’ll never forget the first time my very own blood vessels betrayed me. It was a beautiful spring day, and my entire fourth grade class had received the rare privilege of visiting a nearby playground as a treat. I headed straight for the monkey bars, swinging myself to the top and dangling my legs over the rungs.

At that exact moment, our chaperone (a 30-something male science teacher) innocently glanced up.

The poor guy didn’t actually verbalize “I see London, I see France!” but his alarmed expression said it all. Instantly, I was gripped with the crushing wave of a full-body blush. (And this wasn’t the charmingly-pink-cheeked, Elle Fanning type of blush. It was red and blotchy. Like terrible deli meat.)

I desperately wanted to flee the scene, but the physical advertisement of my mortification froze me in place. First my underwear—then my delicate emotions—all exposed in a matter of seconds! Was nothing sacred?

I eventually made my way down from the monkey bars, but the damage was done. I couldn’t look that teacher in the eye for the rest of middle school.

Blushing remains a frustrating boon to my existence. Whenever I feel a modicum of insecurity, I don’t even have the chance to fake confidence. And since I can’t spend my life hiding in dimly lit rooms or wearing ski masks, I’m constantly facing the consequences.

Like the time my sister confronted me about stealing candy from her gingerbread house, and my scarlet cheeks promptly gave me away.

Or the time I tried to play it cool during a (misguided) performance in my high school’s annual lip sync contest, only to bask in a tomato-colored glow for the entire song.

Blushing always, always called my bluff.

Out of sheer exasperation, I turned to Google for answers. I opened my laptop and carefully typed into the awaiting search box:

“How to stop blushing.”  

When I got to the fourteenth page of my search without any luck, I felt a surge of disappointment. I was pretty sure that “breathing deeply” and “managing overall stress” were not going to cut it in terms of effective, long-term cures for blushing.

I ruefully closed out of Google, opened up a Word document, and started to write.

If I couldn’t stop my pesky blood flow from broadcasting my vulnerabilities, I’d simply beat it to the punch. Consider this my 400-word head start.

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

What's in a Name?

“No, Harling. It’s like Darling with an ‘H.’”

My mom made this clarification to her obstetrician on the day of my birth—and the rest, as they say, is history. After laboring for 20 hours to bring me into the world, she gave me a name that I would labor to explain for the rest of my life. Revenge Of The Uterus!

Unbeknownst to my mother at the time, her impromptu rhyme would become a handy necessity for me. I’ve uttered it more times than I could possibly count—to new friends at Kindergarten, work colleagues, Starbucks baristas, regular baristas, dental hygienists, sociology professors, various unassuming customer service representatives, camp counselors, distant relatives from Iowa, bank tellers… you get the picture. I’d estimate that 99.99% of humans mishear my name the first time we meet. They think it’s Harley (“Oh, like the motorcycle?”). Sometimes Darlene, Carly, Helen, Carolyn…

Accuracy varies widely depending on background noise and general lip-reading visibility. If we meet in a nightclub and try to scream out our names over the magically synthesizing swell of Beyoncé’s “7/11,” it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find me on Facebook the next morning. Apologies to all the men who have fallen in love with me on the dance floor.

Despite all of this, I really love my name. Is it annoying to explain sometimes? Yup. But the meaning and history behind it readily make up for any phonetic difficulties.

Harling is my grandmother’s maiden name. In fact, I am the only person in my family to go by Harling as a first name, which makes me super trendy. Its bestowal upon my newborn self effectively renewed the dead nomenclature of my maternal ancestors, which had lapsed briefly thanks to a generation of daughters.

My grandmother, Susan Harling, went back to school in her mid-forties to get her Master’s Degree in nutrition and went on to teach high school students about neat stuff like protein-carbohydrate ratios well into her seventies. Her father, Robert Harling, was starting quarterback for the Texas A&M football team. Later on in life, he helped invent the Brangus breed of cattle, which apparently has superior fertility and disease resistance. His mother, Irene Harling, was the first woman to sing on the radio in Texas.

A universal thread of gumption links this cool cast of characters and their little stories. The fact that I am their namesake is obviously highly entertaining in some respects (mega-fertile cows!!!), but it is also an inspiration. It has motivated me to have a little gumption of my own—to change jobs when it felt right, to ask for help in intimidating circumstances, to wear non-stretchy pants on occasion, and even to sit down and write this blog post.

At the end of the day, the history of my name is a testament to the importance of being bold. I try to keep this in mind whenever I have to announce that my name rhymes with Darling. Sure, it was cute when I was six, but now it makes me seem like some kind of self-obsessed rapper.

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Friday, January 2, 2015

It's Time for a Tight Rant

vintage pantyhose, ad, stockings, tights, itchy, seams

Let's pretend we're sitting in my imaginary therapist's office. The room is small and well-lit with dark green leather furniture and a comfortingly plush ivory rug. It smells faintly of organic almond milk. My imaginary therapist leans forward in her enormous imaginary armchair. She is writing something on a notepad. When she looks up, her facial expression embodies a perfect blend of soothing pragmatism and businesslike determination.

"I want you to go back," she says, her voice lilting. "Go back, Harling. Break open your piggy bank of childhood memories. Unlock the aluminum vault of your selfhood. Unearth the corpse of your past."

I nod fiercely. Things were about to get raw.

"We are going to figure this out together," she says. "This is a safe space. Look within and ask yourself how your aversion might have developed." She glances at her notes. "What can you tell me about your hatred of... hosiery?" She whispers the last word and holds my gaze, her eyes two brown pools of pure concern and understanding.

"Well, that's easy," I say.

My imaginary therapist smiles encouragingly.

"It all started when my mom signed me up for ballroom dancing lessons in fourth grade without my permission. She told me it would be really fun and I would get to hang out with boys my own age, which sounded more terrible than anything ever including death by asphyxiation. I told her no thanks. She told me no choice."

My imaginary therapist scribbles something in her notepad.

"So the day of my first class, mom laid out what I was supposed to wear--a navy wool crepe dress with silk flower appliqués from this store my grandmother loves in Florida, black patent Mary Janes, white cotton gloves, and a pair of opaque white tights." 

"Tights!" exclaims my imaginary therapist.

"Yes. Tights," I say solemnly. "Anyways, dancing school was just as torturous an experience as I had expected. The boys were short. The girls were pretty. I looked like a giant baby doll. No one was wearing deodorant. When I got home, I ran to my room, pulled off my shoes, shimmied out of my dress, and--last but not least--stripped off my tights. Damn it felt good to be naked. I wiggled my bare legs and relished in the joy of their newfound release from captivity. Later that night, I informed my mother that I hated dancing school--and I hated tights.

For the next four years, I attended dancing school--and for the next four years, I protested the necessity of both the lessons and the hosiery. I soon realized that I couldn't convince my mom to let me quit the classes, so I guess I thought persuading her to let me quit tights would be a smaller, easier battle to win? I was wrong. She remained steadfast. Ballroom dancing and its corresponding dress code emerged victorious, as did my mom's best intentions and resolute sense of decorum."

My imaginary therapist underlined something on her notepad and tucked a stray piece of silver hair behind her left ear.

"While I have since forgiven my mother for forcing these lessons upon my tender young self (at the very least, it built some character), I have not forgiven tights for being, quite simply, THE WORST. In my 23 years of existence, I've tried all kinds--nylon, cotton, silk, thick, thin, opaque, sheer, control top, comfort blend, cable-knit...each and every time, it feels like I am encasing my legs in the clothing equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. Sorry dudes. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Not to mention the unavoidable stomach compression, which creates a gastrointestinal sensation resembling the aftermath of eating two overly indulgent Thanksgiving meals back-to-back. Except you don't even get pie." 

I sit up straighter on my imaginary therapist's couch. "Basically, I think we can do better, you know? As a society. To hell with freeing the nipple, what about freeing our kneecaps?? There's just got to be a better option out there--something less itchy--less dated. Something that doesn't remind you of Pan Am flight attendants or I Love Lucy or your grandfather's secretary who died when you were three."

My imaginary therapist clicks her pen a few times and cocks her head thoughtfully. "I hear you," she says, "I definitely hear you. But these days, based on my own experience and what I've observed, it seems that most women aren't wearing tights and stockings for the sake of social or sartorial propriety anymore. Similarly to the dissipation of white gloves, wearing hosiery is no longer a tacitly understood requirement in certain settings like it was a generation ago. More often than not, modern women are generally wearing tights for the sake of leg warmth--or even sometimes as a stylistic choice, don't you think?"

"See, you've clearly been brainwashed," I say, shaking my head woefully. Claiming that tights keep your legs warm is like saying that standing under a spiderweb will stop you from getting sunburnt. It's completely mental. Tights are like .000001 inches thick. There's no way that's gonna protect you from windchill or freezing temperatures. Believe me, I know. I wore tights in a blizzard once and I still have PTSD flashbacks. My legs were cold as eff. 

Actually, I think that when women wear tights in the winter, it's more for the benefit of other people. When a woman decides to wear tights on a cold day, she is essentially sacrificing the overall comfort of her own lower half so that other people can look at her fabric-coated legs and bask in the socially constructed delusion that she has sufficiently protected herself from the elements and all is well. Her tights spare onlookers the burden of sympathy. 

As for women who wear tights as a stylistic choice--great, fine, we've all been there. But how come when I do it, I look like I'm en route to an office party in the suburbs of Pennsylvania, whereas when Alexa Chung does it, she looks like an ineffably sexy French girl??" 

I take a tissue from the box on my imaginary therapist's coffee table and blow my nose, hard.

"Tights are just unfair."

My imaginary therapist nods and pushes her imaginary glasses up on top of her head. "Yes, well, our time is up for today's session. But I'm really pleased with all of our progress. You really dug deep. We'll continue to unpack this next time we meet."

I shut the door to my imaginary therapist's office. I'm feeling a little blue. I just want to live in a world where tights aren't so annoying, which really doesn't seem like too much to ask. But before the weight of these concerns fully settles on my weary shoulders, I suddenly remember that there is a bowl of Hershey Kisses in my imaginary therapist's waiting room. Things are finally looking up.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Living in Fear

I've written many times about the appeal of fashion as a conduit for embodying fantasy. Want to commandeer the disheveled ingenue sexiness of Kate Moss in her 90s heyday? Throw on a suede miniskirt and sheer black tights, topped off with an oversized fur coat. Interested in capturing the edgy and unexpected sophistication of Carine Roitfeld? Drum up a side-slit pencil skirt, artfully wrinkled button down shirt, and strappy high heel sandals. 

Personally, I have always admired the tried-and-true transportive capacity of a matte red lipstick to springboard me into a myriad of fashion fantasies: Alexa Chung Overgrown Schoolgirl, Androgynously Feminine Jenna Lyons, Michelle Williams At The 2012 Oscars, Rochas Spring 2013 Mod, Betty Draper Season 1, Any French Girl Ever....

The options are numerous, and powerful. Which is why I decided to apply a velvety coating of MAC's matte orangey-red Ruby Woo before heading out to a fashion week event at Hudson Yard a couple weeks ago. I was preeeetty excited about the instant effect: good old Ruby Woo took my white Opening Ceremony cutout shoulder top and mid-length Zara skirt from daytime office to evening festive with the seamless ease of a Spice Girls song or an alcoholic beverage.

The event was fun times all around-- it was a collection presentation for my friend Nicole Mellon's Spring/Summer 2015 line of her newly launched brand, Hanley Mellon. The scene was cool, the clothes were cooler, and I rested easy in the satisfying sureness that my lips were popping with saturated goodness.

But then I went to dinner. 

I was meeting up with a large group of high school friends for a mini reunion, and as I joined them at the table and quickly gulped a few haphazard sips from my water glass, I was suddenly stricken with The Schmear Fear. (The Schmear Fear, noun, a feeling of quelling insecurity and concern about the impending high risk of lipstick disturbance--i.e. fading, feathering, transfer to teeth, transfer to inappropriate areas of face--that immediately dawns upon transitioning from the lofty domain of Fashion Fantasy to the cruel kingdom of Real Life).

In the world of Fashion Fantasy, your lipstick remains flawless, your 5-inch heels feel like bunny slippers, your linen blouse maintains its freshly laundered crispness, and your leather motorcycle jacket stays perfectly perched on your shoulders even while you proceed to hail a cab.

Magazine editorials and Lincoln Center runways and Chiara Ferragni's instagram are apt manifestations of this Fashion La La Land. They just make it look so damn easy sometimes. You can wear your crop top and eat your french fries, too!

But the intersection of Real Life and fashion is where things get a little messy--because clothes aren't meant to only be photographed or admired from a distance. They're meant to be worn. Lived in. No matter how beautiful or exciting fashion can be, it is still inextricably tied to the constants of functionality. Real Life is not immune to the whims of cause and effect. If you take a sip of water or engage in a make out session with a nearby human specimen, your lipstick is probably going to smudge.

So where does this leave us? Living in fear--or rather, living in Fear of The Schmear--is no way to live!

When in doubt, I turn to a very sage step-by-step instructional I once read about how to wear red lipstick:

How to Wear Red Lipstick: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step #1: Wear red lipstick.

Sometimes, pals, it's just that simple. As a perfectionist, I'm the first one to admit that letting go is annoyingly tricky when it comes to the appearance of your clothing. Especially when you've spent 15 minutes tucking in your shirt so it precisely resembles a photograph of Emmanuelle Alt you saw on the Sartorialist the other day but as soon as you leave the house a dear friend gives you a surprise bear hug from behind and POOF you're left looking less like a Parisian editor and more like a walk-of-shame-victim...

Nevertheless, I refuse to let reality get me down. After all, fashion is meant to be enjoyed. I will not let a case of The Schmear Fears diminish the infinite pleasures of ice water and old friends and white bread dipped in olive oil. So I ignored my initial concerns at dinner that night. By the time our main courses had arrived and we had begun reminiscing about our favorite weird teachers, I had successfully forgotten about the lipstick.

When I got home, I looked in my bathroom mirror and discovered that I resembled Heath Ledger in the second Batman movie. But dinner was really, really fun.

For further LOLZ, awkward silences, and tomayto throwing, follow me on twitter and instagram or email me at

Monday, August 25, 2014

Shirt Chat

Hi! Back from the grave of post-grad weirdness just to say that I like this shirt a whole lot, and I want to talk about it for a minute. 

Mainly because it is the perfect marriage of Brooks Brothers Classic, Charming Sewing Machine Accident, and Failed Straightjacket Escape. 

Also, it moonlights as a wearable middle finger to the idea of actually taking the time to iron your clothes, which is something I hate doing anyways and consistently deem to be unnecessary after a day spent slumped in an office chair. 

Conclusion: I would like this shirt to be a part of my life in the non-internet sense ASAP please.

For further LOLZ, awkward silences, and tomayto throwing, follow me on twitter and instagram or email me at

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Overthinking a New Dress

Yesterday was the one week anniversary of my graduation from college. In the past seven days, I have participated in numerous Q&A sessions about how it feels to be a real adult. Pretty much every single person I've encountered has asked my this question, from curious neighbors to an Amtrak conductor. It's basically like my 21st birthday all over again, except this time the conversation seems to carry more weight. It demands a concrete answer. If you're a newly minted real adult, you need a real life plan ready and waiting for frequent advertisement.

I was feeling pretty secure about my real adulthood debut and its unfolding. But then, I tried on a dress. 

Not just any dress-- a new one that I had ordered from The Outnet's recent haul of last season Isabel Marant. It was actually sold out at first, but I stalked it relentlessly until it came back for a hot second in my size. So it was an important conquest, you see. 

When it finally arrived in the mail, I put it on pretty much immediately. It fit perfectly. It made me feel like Marianne from Gilligan's Island except slightly less shipwrecked and slightly more St. Barths. 

I was in love. 
Then I showed my mom.

"Hmm," she said, looking me up and down hesitantly. "I like it okay."
"Just okay?" I paused, shifting my legs, giving her ample time to SEE THE LIGHT and change her mind.
"Yeah. That print and that cut--it's kind of done, don't you think?"
"Um, well... I love it!" I responded, grinning widely. 

I love it I love it I love it, I mentally chanted as I headed back to my room. I took off the dress and hung it in my closet. I love it. I love it! I. Love. It.

I was determined to hold onto my initial, pre-mom opinion. Because that's what real adults do, right? Formulate an opinion based on their own unique and individualized sense of taste, knowledge, perspective, and self-awareness and stick to it? Maintain a baseline level of confidence in the validity of their distinct interior judgment, regardless of subsequent encounters with dissent or criticism? I'm pretty sure that's how it goes.

But I couldn't shake the nagging doubt. I'm an over-thinker to begin with, and this dress debacle was giving me considerable material.

For countless situations in my 22 years of life, my mother has been the assertive and confident yin to my hesitant and over-analytical yang. She likes to decide. I like to deliberate. She always knows what she wants. I always need 48 hours to think about it. As a result, I often rely on her immediate, unfiltered sureness to fill the void of my indecision. It's pretty advantageous to have a sounding board with such a dependable degree of efficient forthrightness. She never sugarcoats, and she never fails to speak up. 

However, as I've gotten older, it has occurred to me that I might depend on her extroversion a bit too much and a bit too often. This reality was particularly evident when I recently went to the Apple store to return a pair of faulty headphones and deeply wished my mom was there to conduct the exchange for me. Arguing (politely) with an Apple employee about why I should get a new pair of headphones for free, because I had only purchased the broken pair three weeks ago, was well out of my non-confrontational comfort zone. For my mom, it would have been nothing.

My mom's assertiveness has become my security blanket. She is my constant and cheerleader and advocate. I love her for it, and part of me hopes it will never stop. Even typing these words is giving me anxiety because I don't want her to read this blog post and think to herself HMMMM TIME TO PUSH THIS BABY ADULT BIRD OUT OF THE NEST SO SHE WILL FINALLY LEARN TO FLY WITHOUT MY ASSISTANCE. Because that sounds terrible. I vastly prefer when she flies on my behalf.

But as a real adult, I know I can't always rely on her to fight my battles--even those waged within the confines of my own psyche. In honor of that sentiment, I plan on keeping the dress. I think I might really, truly love it, but if it turns out that I don't, I still have 20 days left until the return deadline. Hopefully that will give me enough time to decide.

For further LOLZ, awkward silences, and tomayto throwing, follow me on twitter and instagram or email me at

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Met Gala 2014

If you ask me, last year's Met Gala constituted the real glory days of this annual event. Mainly because the theme this year paid homage to Charles James, a designer known for his artfully structured ball gowns. So basically the opportunities for hilarity and confusion were not as ample in comparison to 2013's Punk: Chaos to Couture eye-feast extravaganza. 

But fear not, because Marina Rust has come to our rescue with a hastily captured moment that almost makes up for the discrepancy in Met Gala entertainment values. Behold, the only truly important picture from last night:

[Insert praise hands emoji].

For further LOLZ, awkward silences, and tomayto throwing, follow me on twitter and instagram or email me at

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fashion for Life & Weather Transitions

rag and bone talia v-neck sweater

Hello my party people. Greetings from my laziest of fingers. Today's post is brought to you by the Senioritis Express: What to Wear When You're in Transition. (Both literally and metaphorically, of course). With only 12 days until my graduation, and a serious temperature tug-of-war between real spring weather and B.S. spring weather, it seems that the universe and I are both situated on somewhat of a significant borderline. 

rag and bone talia v-neck sweater

So how does one dress for this state of limbo? Personally, I am opting for this deep v-neck Rag & Bone sweater on a highly consistent basis. It has a thick cotton knit, making it the perfect weight for this weird in-between weather. Additionally, it suits my current mood, bridging the fashion sensibilities of preppy youthfulness with the potentiality for sophisticated post-grad pairings.

rag and bone talia v-neck sweater

As of now, I've worn it with this ripped pencil skirt, blue jeans, white jeans, yoga pants (hello to finals week), and floral shorts. As for the future, I plan on combining it with cropped slacks and loafers for a casual office look once I officially enter the workplace (!!), and possibly with a mid-length satin slip skirt and strappy sandals for a slightly more upscale summer evening ensemble. 

rag and bone talia v-neck sweater

Time for some questions: is it crazy that I really want the white version too?? (Or maybe this less expensive Nasty Gal version?) Is the weather ever planning to remain consistently sunny? Will my graduation robes provide a welcome cloak of warmth, or an inopportune black polyester gateway to sweaty armpits? 

Let me know your thoughts. Until then, I'll be wearing this sweater, enjoying the transition(s) while they lasts.

For further LOLZ, awkward silences, and tomayto throwing, follow me on twitter and instagram or email me at

Friday, March 28, 2014

One More Cheer for Winter White

Subtitle: Because it's Still Freaking Winter, Amirite?

Yup, still snow on the ground. But yesterday was actually kind of warm for like a minute. So I made the arduous trek into my backyard and took some blog pictures. It has been far too long since I've been able to do this, mainly because I am wimp and harbor healthy human fears of a) frostbite and b) getting up from the couch.

However, there's nothing like the impending termination of layering season to serve as a motivating factor for squeezing in my insulating outfits while I can.

Not to beat a dead unicorn, but I'm still very much hooked on winter whites. While sartorially interesting even on its own, white (and ecru and ivory and cream ya know) provides a quite literal canvas for getting dressed. I often start with a few of my favorite white pieces (lately: Uniqlo white jeans, enormous sweater by The Cue, and Theory leather jacket) and build from there.

This first outfit feels reminiscent of Serena Van Der Woodsen's mom when she was really into her "luxe neutrals" phase. Except a little less cashmere crewneck and a little more upscale ice age chieftain.

As a bonus snack for your eyeballs, it also features my most treasured new accessory: this orbiting pearl necklace. I am obssessed with it, partly because it resembles the chokers at Chanel's Spring 2014 show (except better), but also partly because it represents the continuation of my recent abiding delight in all things unexpectedly pearl-adorned.

The second outfit is my triumphant solution to the inevitability that white denim pants, when worn multiple times a week, can potentially get stale. So why not add a white denim skirt? Presto voila rebirth Merry Christmas.

I'm also really liking the combination of a sweatshirt and leather. I believe this pairing to be the yin and yang of sophisticated casualness. Much like sneakers and a tiara. Or garbage spritzed with perfume. Plus, this sweatshirt is exceedingly comfortable and I often wear it to bed. Efficiency.

P.S. I am wearing tall black boots with both outfits, in case you were hankering to know that information. 

For further LOLZ, awkward silences, and tomayto throwing, follow me on twitter and instagram or email me at

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The 4 Shoes You Need This Spring

After spending 10 days in Florida only to return to a casual mid-March snowstorm in our nation's capitol, I had a hankering to sit down and type some words about spring footwear. You see, while I am eagerly awaiting spring temperatures and the ability to walk outside without contracting frost bite, warm weather attire does not excite me as much as its winter equivalent. That is the honest truth. I just really really like my layers and wooly plaid and turtlenecks and shearling vests. From a fashion standpoint, throwing on jean shorts and some deodorant is not as thrilling for me, and maybe it never will be. That being said, shoe options are actually way more fun in the spring and summer. I love my boots, but it gets pretty dull wearing them literally every single day for months on end simply because they are sensible and insulating and go with everything. My feet are bored.

Not only does warmer weather proffer numerous opportunities to bare toes, ankles, genetically pronounced insteps and the like, but it also allows us to indulge in our most impractical purchases (possibly involving an uncomfortably large chunk of change and/or white suede) without the danger of experiencing death-by-winter-slush.

Also, in relevant news, summer-ready shoes seem to be experiencing a bonafide renaissance of both creativity and reinterpretation. Tevas are cool again for Pete's sake!!! [ed note: every time I use that expression I think about the man who was Pete and wonder if he feels comfortable with millions of strangers delineating unexpected occurrences at his literal and figurative expense].

So to collectively channel in my excitement and yours in a productive direction, I have cultivated an edit of this season's spring shoe options. I managed to limit myself to four pairs, and I'm reasonably confident that this conclusive quartet will accommodate your each and every ambulatory need from now until next winter.

1) The pump
This leather floral creation by Givenchy wins for its spot-on embodiment of edgy femininity a.k.a. the failsafe formula for items that successfully transition from day to night. Wear them to the office with a white shirtdress perhaps, then rough them up for after-hours activities with dark, ripped-knee skinny jeans and either a sleeveless muscle tee or this top depending on your intended target level for flare. Not that I've thought this out or anything.

2) The mule
Heeled mules are in, people. There's no denying it. And personally I think mules are pretty nifty for a number of reasons, not only because they conjure images of an infertile donkey-horse hybrid, but also because their slip-on style makes for some mightily awesome casual comfort with a twist. I like this pair by Tibi on account of the fact that they could very easily take you straight from a canadian-tuxedo-mandating brunch hangout to a beachside soiree that most likely involves linen pants.

3) The white sneaker
This was by far the toughest category to narrow down. I'm honestly still torn over whether I should have included Nike Air Forces or a pair by Golden Goose. But I cannot deny the infinite appeal of Adidas by Stan Smith. In general, though, white sneakers are quite simply the bee's knees. They are comfortable, they go with everything, and they transform your body into a fresh weapon of human nostalgia harkening back to the days of middle school P.E. class. Or maybe that's just me. 

4) The flat sandal
I was tempted to take the plunge and recommend a pair of Birkenstocks for your warm weather walking pleasures, but I'm still too scared to commit. Ergo, I give you a slightly less gutsy but still decidedly normcore-reminiscent option: these slides by Ancient Greek Sandals. If you don't know this brand, get to know it. I basically want every single pair of sandals from its internet arsenal and that is not an exaggeration. 

For further LOLZ, awkward silences, and tomayto throwing, follow me on twitter and instagram or email me at

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Normcore OK Why


Part of me hopes that you haven't heard of normcore yet. Mostly because in that case I'll have the hilarious honor of explaining it to virgin ears, but also partly because the whole phenomenon is an undeniably absurd concept to begin with, and thusly does not merit much rehashed interpretation. So, for the uninitiated, here is my definition of normcore as culled from various internet memes and sources:

NORMCORE: a style of dress that eschews the peacocking nature of high fashion designs, trailblazing eccentricity, and your typical street style mavens in favor of unbranded anonymity. It is the anti-Anna Dello Russo. Unintentional normcore fashion icons include Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Jobs, Larry David, and middle-aged parents on vacation.


While ugly-is-the-new-pretty has admittedly cropped up in fashion circles before, normcore is a considerably intensified iteration of this mantra. It is more aggressive. It is adidas socks and ill-fitting jeans aggressive, to be exact. In fact, normcore fashion is so very, deeply strange (and okay, dare I say, strangely seductive?) that it begs for some answers. Namely, WHERE THE HAM DID THIS COME FROM AND WHY, O, WHY IS IT STICKING!?!? And on a personal note, why do I suddenly want to own a pair of white Birkenstocks and a faded, oversized denim jacket hmmm?


Friends, I haz a theory. When first I read Fiona Duncan's article in New York Magazine and was hence initiated into the ever-increasing cult of those-who-now-know-what-normcore-is-LOL, it dawned on me that I had glimpsed this trend (if we can call it that) before.


Off the top of my head, the best example I could think of lay nestled in the archives of Into the Gloss: an unassuming photoshoot from 8 months ago featuring model Caroline Brasch Nielson in a Tommy Hilfiger t-shirt and matching athletic socks. I remember the pictures striking a chord with me even when I initially saw them. There was something so captivating about a woman--wearing the kind of clothes you'd begrudgingly pack for summer camp and throw away afterward without a second thought--who still looked...stunning. What's more, the purposefully awkward attire actually emphasized Nielson's stunning-ness. Her entire appearance was an exercise in the power of contrast.


The precision of this contrast seems to indicate that normcore is not a product of laziness or sloppiness. It is deliberate, curated blandness--or, in some cases, tackiness. And it's captivating. Why? I started examining other original normcore denizens. Another model, Hanne Gaby Odiebe, definitely stands out as a contender. There's no denying that her sense of style is ramshackle as eff, replete with visible white cotton sports bras and haphazardly tied bandanas. There's also a number of stylists whose editorials reflect the aesthetic, like Kate Phelan, Joe McKenna, and Corinne Day (famous for some of Kate Moss's earliest pictures--think bare faces, black and white, oversized sweaters, and clunky Tevas). Even some of my favorite online shops, such as The Dreslyn and Need Supply Co., appear to be transitioning toward a normcore uniform with their latest lookbooks and collections.
So yes, normcore is a movement. Months have transpired. It's sticking. It's striking. And it's possible that normcore represents an even more powerful vehicle for standing out than neon sequins and impeccably tailored raffia. It forces the viewer to unpack, to delve, to notice. The awkward fits and outdated labels and aggressive ordinariness of normcore require observers to truly look at the PERSON wearing them. I think this particular outcome is the ultimate reason why models primarily spearheaded the aesthetic, with stylists following suit, and why they found it to be compelling enough to repeat. Normcore is uniquely suited to our current juncture of time and fashion in which the idea of models and people as mere clothes-hangers for garments is becoming less and less prevalent. Much like the 90s, we're embracing our Supers again--Karlie! Joan! Daria! Jourdan! It is the element of stunning quirk that these iconic women seem to possess--the salivating uniqueness of Hanne Gaby Odiebe's nearly invisible eyebrows or Caroline Brasch Nielson's boyish jawline--that we crave. Normcore insists that "it" girls actually have "IT" and then some. The movement is Darwinistic in that sense, delineating who can or can't make Uniqlo khakis look authentically effortless. 

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