Friday, September 19, 2014

Guitar Lessons

I played the piano when I was younger but quit as a teenager. Lately, I've been craving to be a bit musical again and have another hobby that takes me away from computer and television screens for awhile. Playing the guitar seems ideal--laidback and more mobile than a piano! I actually got my little guitar as a present for Christmas but I have yet to effectively take regular lessons or practice, so it mostly sits in its case in my room collecting dust. Still I might be slow at pursuing my goal to learn the guitar but I'm determined to make it happen...eventually. I told Thomas I was getting my guitar out to take pictures and he laughed and told me I should be getting it out to practice--so I'm sure he'll provide some much-needed motivation in months to come.

Outfit details:
music note earrings
H&M top
vintage skirt

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Khumbula is a group of styles and designers from Johannesburg that recently launched a street style site with Lourens Loux Gebhardt of The Vintage Guru. The website that seeks to inspire and explain the merits of vintage fashion. In their own words they are a group "of young visionaries who advocate for a well cut Africa, the sartorial Africa." The site features incredibly stylish individuals in a mix of 50s and 60s clothing--and while retro it's not too restrictive that you won't find young women in trousers and suspenders. "We are an ensemble of young creatives from the city of Johannesburg, we pride ourselves with the beauty of our continent and we aim to showcase the art and science of craftmanship of our continent. We do this to create a different perception of this mysterious continent, for our art is the Africa doesn't normally see on TV." It's street fashion with a perspective and I'm excited to see who and what they'll be featuring next.

Impractical Dressing

I was recently out in Indiana visiting my sister and her family. Since she has a new little baby my mother warned me not to pack any clothes I cared too much about because the baby would probably throw up on me...I mostly took her advice packing older pieces and jeans so I could play around with my niece who is a little older, but I also took this new dress and these heels. They made chasing my niece around the house a little harder, but nobody made a mess on my new clothes and I didn't twist an ankle so I'd say it worked out fine. Even when I'm helping babysit it's hard to dress completely practical 24/7.

Outfit details:
Oasap dress  (sold out, similar)
*pictures by Emily

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Samantha Pleet Fall 2014

My favorite designers have been debuting their new spring 2015 collections at NYFW, but I've got fall on the mind as cooler weather is rolling in on a storm front and I'm anticipating autumn leaves and pumpkin treats. Haunting me right now are the stunning pieces and prints in Samantha Pleet's Fall 2014 collection titled "Visions." Inspired by the visions of Joan of Arc the collection has an almost religious feeling with mystical symbols adorning a cape and delicate unicorns dancing across a tapestry-like shift dress. Some of her pieces are in shops now and I can't wait for more to hit stores.

Books Constitute Capital

Visiting my sister means learning how to be an aunt and exploring her city during nap time. I tell you, hanging out with a two year old can be very humbling when you're told you're playing the game wrong and need to go downstairs. I think I redeemed myself later though at a later point because I was told I was not allowed to go downstairs but had to stay in her room and play. Victory! When she eventually lay down for a nap my brother-in-law held down the fort and my sister took me to their absolutely majestic public library. Since I was little I spent a lot of time in a variety of libraries since my family moved often and despite a few lectures from libraries because I forgot my library card or personal identification number (did anyone else have library number in Elementary school they had to memorize to check books out...?) they have often been one of my favorite places but I've never been in a library as beautiful as this one. Spacious rooms, tall ceilings, ornate bookcases with gilded figures--it definitely puts the libraries I usually visit to shame. We couldn't visit for long, but I'm already looking forward to a chance when I can go back and sit in one of the quiet reading rooms with a good book and no reason to leave.

Outfit details:
UO blouse (old)
old flats (similar)
*pictures by Emily

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Photo Tip Tuesday: Shooting Indoors

*wearing Sheinside kimono c/o & Shop Ruche dress

I'm still figuring out interior photography and working on closer self-portraits for when I want to show a hairstyle how-to or makeup trick, so as always before I start a photo tip post I feel obligated to state "I'm not an expert!" Since I don't have photoshop I have to get creative when taking pictures indoors and finding a large white space to use as a backdrop instead of creating one post-picture taking. Through trial-and-error and one "lightbulb" moment I've figured out a few tricks that will help you create a studio look without the proper equipment or money!

Use as much natural light as possible: One of the reasons I always shoot outside is that my home is not that well-lit. When I do shoot indoors I try to shoot in the early afternoon when a lot of light is coming in through my windows and I face my windows in my pictures. This is essential when you don't have any lighting equipment. Overhead lights don't tend to offer a lot of dramatic light anyway and using natural light from your window gives you a better opportunity to get purer colors (instead of a yellowish tint) and a sharper image.

Start at a higher ISO: You can read more about going manual here, but if you already play with your settings then it's a good rule of thumb to have a higher ISO when shooting indoors. I typically set my ISO at 500 which gives me more flexibility with my other settings but doesn't make my pictures too grainy (the higher the ISO the more grain).

Use inside out wrapping paper as a basic backdrop: I turn the bright red wrapping paper I got for wrapping Christmas presents last year to the inside (which is plain white) and tape it to the back of my door. The door is a clear space free of clutter and it faces my window so I'm better able to use the natural light from that. It is a smaller frame than a professional works with so it isn't necessarily the best for full-body photographs, but in a pinch it is a super easy and cheap backdrop for self portraits. Avoid wrinkling the paper and tape it a few inches above your head; you can turn it sideways if you're shooting a landscape photo and keep it long for a portrait image.

For self-portraits invest in a remote: I have long resisted getting a remote and I'm not entirely certain why I was so attached to my "set the self-timer and run" set-up, but while that works ok outside when I can use a prop to set the focus--indoors against a plain white backdrop I have nothing to set a focus on. So if you're shooting indoors a remote will make self-portraits 100% easier. The remote I use only cost a little more than $20 and has been priceless in its usefulness.

Move around: Although you might be in a tighter space and merely trying to shoot detail or beauty shots, it's still important to show different angles/expressions to keep things interesting. Shooting a hair style: are you showing all the angles of how the hair looks? Consider also taking a few shots further away and few closer photographs to show details. I always think you want to avoid that stiff "yearbook photo" look that comes from being afraid to move/blink/sneeze.

Inside out wrapping paper also works for accessories: Set the paper on a smooth surface (like your floor!) for a flat white backdrop for other detail shots as well. When working with accessories it definitely provides enough space and helps you achieve that "indoor studio" look without any professional equipment. A plain white backdrop really helps focus the attention on whatever detail you are photographing from accessories to makeup.

Turn your paper around for a patterned background: If you have fun patterned wrapping paper that can also become an easy backdrop! Experiment! For this photograph I borrowed my housemate's star printed wrapping paper; out of focus it looks like pastel polka dots.

Read all of the photo tip posts here.

Vintage Barbie

This dress reminds me of vintage Barbie. You know the classic Barbie in the striped swimsuit? Yeah that one; of course my proportions are different and my makeup is less fierce. Still a graphic dress like this combined with my pink hair makes me feel like a cartoon character if not a doll. Right before I studied in Japan a friend told me I wanted to go to Japan because I "wanted to look like an anime character" and he wasn't far from the truth. More than fashion magazines or pop groups and actors my early visual influences were definitely anime. I mean I read a lot of books, but they didn't have pictures so when I think about the clothes I aspired to wear or the people I thought were attractive it was usually an anime character. What I didn't know then was some animators were being inspired by runway collections. Naoko Takeuchi the creator of Sailor Moon created different costumes and manga pages inspired by 90s runways and ads. A villain was clad in Christian Lacroix while Sailor Pluto wore Chanel. It's interesting when you re-visit things that made an impression on you as a child and realize how they relate back to what is inspiring you now. I've watched a couple of the Sailor Moon Crystal episodes, but right now I'm more likely to be digging through the latest runway collections on Style.com than reading manga.
P.S. This dress is described as a navy and white on the website, but mine definitely arrived pure black and white.

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