Wednesday, October 18, 2017

OOTD: On Growth

*TW* Depression, anxiety, and other themes of mental health.

Last week, my therapist told me that the goal of life isn't to be perfect: it's to grow. This makes sense, and it isn't the first time I've heard it. No one can be perfect, and denying this makes making progress harder. It's hard to work when your goal is objectively unattainable. At the same time, though, this statement hit a little too hard. I've spent my whole life trying to be the best. What am I supposed to work towards if not perfection?

Dealing with depression and anxiety as an analytical person is interesting, because my emotion and reasonable mind are both regularly functioning on high and are often in conflict with each other. My emotion mind screams that I cannot possibly solve any given problem, and that there's no point in even trying because I was miserable before this problem arose and I'll likely be miserable even if I solve the problem. My reasonable mind overcompensates, telling me that I can solve every single issue I'm faced with, so long as I do everything right.

This is how I've tried to address everything in my life for as long as I can remember. Doing everything right, though, is exhausting. Sure, I'm taking good care of myself – I see my therapist weekly, my general practitioner regularly, I get in 30 minutes of exercise a day, I've cut back on sugars and added vegetables to my daily diet, I stretch every day, and I walk around with the most pertinent pages of my DBT handbook to deal with emergencies. But good is not perfection. I don't eat enough potassium, I could exercise more strenuously, I could eat plain oatmeal instead of adding brown sugar, I spend too much time in bed, and the other day, someone told me that I should go gluten-free if I wanted my depressive symptoms to ease up. In my mind, then, it doesn't matter that I'm doing better than I was a couple years ago: I'm not "cured" because I'm still not doing everything right.

And that's just to mention the things I know about that I could be doing better. Another key part of solving problems is being armed with knowledge. I am a firm believer that the more you know, the better you can do. I mean, I have a degree in psychology partially because I wanted to know everything about how to make myself "better" after being diagnosed with depression at age 15. Knowledge is a valuable power, but it's not the only power out there. 

After all, no one can know everything. Neither can you act on everything, as so much of what humanity knows is conflicting. So, striving toward knowing everything and behaving perfectly is inherently a doomed mission, certain only to create failure and self-doubt.

By no measure do I consider myself near perfection. I'm simply so obsessed with obtaining perfection in every aspect of my life that the growth I have made seems embarrassing when compared to my goal. I am so obsessed with obtaining perfection that, no matter what I do, I find myself trying to figure out how I could have done better, and how I'll do better next time. I am committed to growing and becoming a better person, more than I am committed to anything in life. Part of being a better person, I think, means being realistic and accepting of one's flaws and missteps. Plus, over-analyzing everything I do takes time away from actually living life. 

I'm not sure how to end this blog post because I'm still trying to figure out what I'm working towards if I'm not working to be the best. So, I'll end by saying that I've been waiting since the spring to wear this outfit with my denim jacket for the blog. It's the middle of October, but on the day my friend Sydney took photos of me, it was still too hot for a jacket. I'm going to post these pictures without thinking of how I should have worn this outfit another day or powered through and worn the jacket anyways. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

OOTD: On Second Glance

I've written a lot of posts about cycling items through your closet quickly and efficiently. Part of it is that I've moved 7 times in the last 4 years, so I've gone through my clothes fairly consistently since becoming an adult. Part of it is also that I only have the room and budget for a finite amount of clothing, so I really quickly buy and resell a lot of my wardrobe at thrift stores. If I don't wear it, I don't keep it.

I haven't often talked about the merits of keeping something you don't wear. Since moving here, I've found myself looking at old pictures, annoyed that I didn't keep this sweater or this skirt or this dress. I have less storage space here than I've had since I lived in a dorm room, so I've been going through my clothing regularly to take stuff to Crossroads to resell. Every time something sells at Crossroads, on Poshmark, or on Depop, I find myself worrying that I'm going to end up missing that item at some point down the road.

So, I've started experimenting with keeping some clothing that I haven't worn in a long time. This mostly means keeping some special pieces that don't fit me anymore, like these pants or these pants.

I actually totally unintentionally kept this dress despite not having worn it in over a year. I have a LOT of black dresses, and I guess this one just got lost in the mix. It wasn't until I was going through my entire closet this summer, trying to figure out my summer wardrobe, that I noticed it and reimagined wearing it in a new way.

I've owned this belt since I was in high school and this necklace since freshman year of college. You can't see in the photos, but the top is sheer, so I paired it with a bralette that I've had since freshman year of college that I'd kept in the hope that it would eventually fit again (thanks, past Hannah!). I hadn't worn this dress in a long time because it was a little baggy on me and I didn't like wearing a tank top under it to make it school appropriate. With a couple old accessories, though, I was able to wear the dress as a whole new look.

I walk the same route with my dog every day, twice a day. I've walked by this gorgeously growing building every day since I moved here. I've probably looked at it a couple dozen times, but I never really thought anything of it until a particularly sunny day a couple weeks ago. I was immediately drawn to the plants lining the stairs and fence. I thought it only appropriate to pair an outfit I'd once glazed over with a background I'd once done the same thing with.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What Works for One Person

Humans are not content to simply live through their experiences. Instead, we like to learn lessons from our experiences, and pass these lessons on to those around us. I've personally given a lot of advice based on what I've gone through in life, and I've certainly received a lot of advice from others. Some of what works for others also works for me. When I moved to New York, people who'd lived here before told me to move quickly on an apartment because real estate goes fast here, and that it's often just as fast to take the subway as it is to take a taxi. These pieces of advice had worked for them, and I'm here to tell you they worked for me.

But that isn't always the case. I've been subjected to some less-than-appropriate advice given with only the best intentions. I know I'm not alone in this, which is both a sweet and disappointing realization. Someone once told me that the best way to make friends in college is to go to parties and just meet people. This technique definitely didn't work for me, but it had worked for this person, and they'd just been trying to help me however they could. Sometimes what works for us is influenced by our own personal strengths and shortcomings; sometimes it's influenced by our environment; sometimes it's influenced by how and when we act. The truth is, what works for one person won't necessarily work for someone else.

Take, for example, this Bed Head Waveaholic™  2" Tourmaline Ceramic Waver. I was sent this waver by Bed Head, a brand I've worked with before and that I was eager to work with again. They picked this tool for me based on how I said I like to wear my hair. My roommate actually has the same tool, and loves it because it can replicate her natural curls without her having to wet her hair. The product promises "beach house party-ready" waves, minus the frizz and plus some serious shine. 

Bed Head prides itself on creating products, whether they be hot tools, gels, or sprays, that empower the user to be bold and creative in their hairstyle. They're all about helping you find and maintain your personal style, all the while encouraging you to make a statement.

I popped the tool out of the box and starting watching hair tutorials that used Bed Head wavers while I waited for it to heat up. The waver got really hot (400 degrees Fahrenheit hot) really quickly, but I'd still been able to watch as a couple demonstrators showed how to use a Bed Head waver to achieve perfect day-after waves.

So, all signs pointed towards this product helping me achieve the wavy hair of my dreams. It was Bed Head approved, internet approved, and roommate approved. I put the product to my hair, ready to make some serious waves.

I can't say I didn't make some serious waves. In fact, I made some very VERY serious waves. The waves were too serious, if I'm being honest with you. I looked in the mirror and struggled not to frown. This was not the look I'd thought I'd get.

I'd used the tool exactly as Bed Head had told me to: I started at the roots, lightly clamping a small section of hair between the barrels, and I held it for a few seconds before moving down the section. I'd modeled my technique off of that used by the the tutorials online. I must have done something wrong, I told myself, and I straightened my hair and started over.

I found myself staring back at the same reflection that had been looking at me just an hour earlier. I tried shaking my hair, wetting it, running my fingers through it, anything to get different results.

When it came down to it, though, this just wasn't the right tool for me. It was fully capable, having heated up quickly and having worked so well for the people on the internet and my roommate, but I think my hair is too short and the strands are too thin for it to have had the desired effect. Just like much of the advice I've received in life that hasn't worked for me, this tool was still good; it just wasn't for me. It's okay to admit when something isn't working for you, even if everything indicates that it should. Once you've admitted it doesn't work, you're able to move on and find something that DOES work for you... Like maybe the Bed Head product I'll get in the gift bag at College Fashion Week this weekend.

The day I published this post, my friend Natalie said she'd been dying to try a waver like the one I'd used in this post. So, I let her the Bed Head Waveaholic Waver. She showed up at work the next day totally rocking these casual, tight waves. The look didn't work for me, but it sure as hell works for her. 

This post is sponsored by Bed Head Styling and Her Campus Media. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Broke & Fabulous possible!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

OOTD: Self-Expression Through Style

One of my favorite parts about my job is being a member of the INSIDER Spirit Squad. Every 2 weeks, my office dresses according to a particular theme. We take a group photo and give awards to those who best embodied the day's theme. The Spirit Squad takes the office's suggestions for themes and organizes when and what each theme day will be. I actually wore this jacket for our 2nd theme day – Millennial Pink Day (a theme which was chosen based on an article I wrote a while back).

A couple weeks ago, the Spirit Squad was talking about what it means to best embody a theme, and the concept of the definition of style came up. Kyle, another Spirit Squad member and the person behind the camera for the photos in this post, said that fashion is about trends, while style is about wearing things in new and unexpected ways. This definition places emphasis on how something is being worn as opposed to what is being worn. Josie said that one's sense of style depends on wearing what makes them feel best. Personal style, then, could prioritize fashion trends, comfort, making a statement, emanating a particular persona, etc.

I've always regarded style as a form of self-expression, while fashion refers to the industry which chooses and advertises trends each season. That's why I consider myself a "style blogger" instead of a "fashion blogger". My definition of style, then, is a mix between Kyle and Josie's definitions.

For me, self-expression entails a number of different things. First and foremost, dressing to express myself means dressing to show the world who I am. I'm creative, thoughtful, intelligent, and witty. My creativity shows in the unique pieces and combinations I wear. I'm thoughtful in how I put together my outfits, paying attention to detail and dressing appropriately for the weather and whatever environment I'm going to be in. I like to be smart about what I wear, keeping in mind where my clothes and favorite fashion trends come from. I often throw a little bit of whimsy into my outfits, like the dog socks I'm wearing under these boots.

Self-expression also means wearing things that say something about me. This jacket is an obvious example, as it displays my blog name in my own handwriting. You can't tell in these photos, but I'm also wearing a necklace with a scorpion on it, because I'm a Scorpio. Pink is my favorite color, so I wore an outfit composed almost entirely of it. 

While I don't prioritize following trends by any means, I do like being inspired by what's "in" in fashion, and choosing to wear trends that I like outside of their importance in fashion. This slip dress, for example, is a huge street style trend right now. When I saw shots of celebrities walking around in slip dresses, I remembered being in middle school and finding a silk slip (like, the kind you wear under a dress) in a box of hand-me-downs. I tried it on and modeled it for my mom, declaring that I wanted to wear this dress to my Bat Mitzvah. I genuinely don't remember if my mom was horrified or amused, but I can tell you I wore a real dress to synagogue for my Bat Mitzvah. So, learning that this was now an appropriate style to wear in public inspired me to purchase a slip dress for myself.

Comfort and aesthetics play a huge role in my sense of style. I love this shirt because I can wear it without a bra. Wearing a bra always makes me just a little more uncomfortable, whether due to the underwire or the straps. This dress kind of feels like wearing nothing, an ideal bodily sensation. I've been big on leather (well, faux leather) jackets since high school. I couldn't tell you what it is I like about them, but I find them aesthetically pleasing enough to have 2 of them. I've already mentioned that pink is my favorite color, so I've been figuring out how to wear pink since before millennial pink became a ~thing~

Finally, I'd be lying if I said my style was completely unique to me, uninspired by others. I've wanted a personalized jacket with my blog name on it since seeing Payton of Hustle + Halcyon and Dani of Mermaid Waves rock theirs. I had originally intended to embroider a denim jacket with Broke & Fabulous, but I have much more experience painting, and this jacket is just such a perfect representation of my blog.

How do you find and define your sense of style? Comment below to let me know!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

OOTD: In Praise of the Outfit Repeater

Alright, let's be real: who among us has NOT re-worn their favorite outfit (or outfits)? After all, if you love something, why not indulge in it more than once? That's how I feel about these striped pants and white crop top.

Maybe it's just that "The Lizzie McGuire Movie" had a huge effect on my childhood, but I've long operated under the assumption that wearing an outfit (or even a special piece) more than once is ~against the rules~.

This moment shaped my approach toward fashion more than I care to admit.

For the most part, striving to not re-wear the same outfit pushes me to be creative with my wardrobe. I love mixing and matching everything I own to create something new every day. There are, however, a number of reasons to re-wear your favorite outfit.

Sometimes, you buy a piece that only goes with one other thing in your closet. As you might imagine, these pants are a bit tricky to match with. Not only is the pattern a little daunting, but the thin fabric makes it hard to tuck a shirt into them, a trick I rely heavily upon. This shirt is one of the only things I own that works well with these pants.

I also tend to outfit repeat when I know I'm going to be seen by different people each time I wear the outfit. I wore this outfit first to work, then on a weekend outing with friends, and finally on a casual date. Each time I wore the outfit, someone was seeing it for the first time. In their eyes, I wasn't really outfit repeating.

Finally (and this is the most important argument in my case for outfit repeating), you should re-wear an outfit if and whenever you damn well please. Do you like the outfit? Yes? Great, then wear it as often as you'd like. Clothing serves a number of functions: to express ourselves, to cover our naked bodies, to signal belonging to a specific social group, etc. The most important function clothing serves is to please ourselves. If you like it, wear it. If you really like it, keep wearing it.

Someone recently told me about a coworker of theirs who, in an experiment to test peoples' awareness, wore the same outfit every day for a week. By the end of the week, they were still receiving compliments from the rest of the office, even though theoretically they'd seen the dress every day for five days. People are generally too unobservant to care that you've worn the same outfit multiple times, or even multiple days in a row. Just wear whatever makes you feel your best.