Styleaholica

The Obligatory Election Day Post.

Posted in miscellaneous by bluewellesleyblue on November 4, 2008

election-day

Photo from New York Times.

I sent in my absentee ballot a whiles back. I’m not too worried about whether my home state goes unambiguously blue when it comes to the presidential election. There are a few ballot measures in California that I’m worried about since I’m a little out of the loop on the political situation back home. If I haven’t made it obvious already, my politics are very liberal. I was a Hillary supporter originally, but I gladly voted for Obama. I will, however, admit to initially being very skeptical of Obama’s actual capacity for generating change. This despite less knowledge of Obama as a politician than I should have. Maybe I will be proven wrong. Regardless, I know he is the best candidate in my mind, given my political views, and in general. (You’ll find that I regard the argument that Democrats in general are better for the economy with considerable glee. This is least among my reasons for pretty much always going blue.)

That being said, even if I’m a political science major, my specialty is still comparative and international politics. My knowledge of the intricacies of each candidate and the difference between what they will likely be able to do and what they or my favored news sources say is… not as perfect as it could be. Outside of some very unpleasant verbal gaffes McCain made during the debates on the one hand and a fair amount of knowledge on his political history as a moderate on some issues on the other, I don’t know that much about McCain. One of the main deciding factors in my vote, whenever it applies, is the issue of what is better for the right to choice. It just so happens that the right stance on that also tends to coincide with the right stance on everything else important to me. McCain’s choice of running mate made my choice very easy. Pretty much everything about Palin is anathema to me, given my political views, and I could never vote for a ticket with her on it.

Oh, but enough of my ponderous, cynical, and rather self-indulgent musings on American politics. I’ll be keeping a close eye on election coverage as I work on amassing research for my papers here in central London. Hopefully, a few hours after I wake up (election results will be fully confirmed around 11 AM London time, apparently), I’ll soon find that I have considerable reason to celebrate.

EDIT: Candidate, not client.

What’s Your Story?

Posted in miscellaneous by bluewellesleyblue on October 15, 2008

I’m getting a gigantic taste of application-process related stresses lately, between assisting my younger sister with her Early Action application to MIT – wish her luck! if she succeeds we will be a brief bus or commuter rail ride away from each other, which might be too close and will hopefully allow me to poach her older male friends as a dating pool (just kidding!) – and doing some applications of my own. Again, this is going to be a kind of self-indulgent, and very off-topic (relative to fashion) post.

Fun fact for those of you with an academic interest in international relations: the State Department application comes due at the end of October the year before you want to intern. That one is particularly difficult unless daddy dearest is an ambassador, but oh well, I must do what I must. Formatting and writing up my resume is one of my least favorite tasks in the world, even if it’s pretty much only done once a year. This begins my application season for next summer.

My personal strategy for applications in general is not a particularly lofty or exciting one, but then again, when it comes to schools and larger programs I’m always in a position where I can only really hope to be one of the under the radar candidates who rounds out the general group. (more…)

Decisions, Decisions.

Posted in non-fashion by bluewellesleyblue on October 7, 2008

I’m trying to very slowly transition this blog to being a slightly more personal blog with a continuing emphasis on fashion. Besides the fact that I’ve been getting a little “fashion fatigue,” I have a near insatiable compulsion for talking about myself online. I’ve been blogging since Xanga was popular when I was in late middle school and early high school, and though I’ve switched blog providers and site names several times, I’ve more or less been blogging constantly since then.

Having a single-topic blog, I’m finding, is still very useful since I easily lose focus or fall into the trap of over-sharing. Though I’ve never been involved in real cyber-drama, it is a little awkward to realize that subtle, cryptic post on your current unrequited crush might well not be subtle enough. (True story from an embarrassingly¬† recent point in time, but embellished a little for dramatic effect since there were plenty of little things I was doing in real life that could just as easily have given the game away.)

This post is admittedly more than a little self-indulgent. I just wanted to give a little heads up.

TV Season Premieres are Starting, Nouveau Riche in India, etc.

Posted in fashion and society by bluewellesleyblue on September 2, 2008

Gossip Girl’s new season debuted yesterday, and Fox series are premiering this week as well. Everyone else who’s even vaguely more interested in Gossip Girl has probably already seen it. I haven’t, but I’ll probably catch it online soon. I’ll be watching the Bones season premiere tonight. It became one of my favorite shows over the summer. The title character and most of her co-workers are just so geeky, which is fun, and it’s this quirky blend of comedy and forensics/murder mystery show.

This New York Times article is not so much about Vogue India and a possibly miscalculated editorial as it is about how the incredibly rapid economic growth there has led to a similarly immense rich-poor gap. While the author considers it a misstep, and the response of Vogue India’s editor in chief: “lighten up… you can’t take [fashion] that seriously… we weren’t trying to make a political statement” suggests it might be, I feel like it isn’t. The fact is juxtaposing luxury goods, which some people there can enjoy and are flowing in through luxury malls, with the fact that many of the people there are still very impoverished could be a very potent bit of social commentary.

I was in Taiwan about three or four years ago to visit family, and while it is a very different animal – growing quickly yes, but richer on average than mainland China or India by far as a result of a longer and slower history of growth – I feel like some things are similar about most economically robust parts of Asia. There’s a sort of obsession with luxury among the wealthy in China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea among others. It’s not necessarily about being stylish, it’s about monograms and the brand name. At one point my dad commented on how practically every person in Japan even approaching the middle class had some Louis Vuitton piece or another, based on his business trips there.

I wonder if it’s something that will eventually be true in India as well, if it has anything to do with pride in a growing economy (for the movers and shakers contributing to that growth) and the appearance and assertion of new wealth. Anyway, I don’t know this for sure – I’m not a sociologist and I’m not even that familiar with Taiwan – but it’s something to think about.

Edit: Oh, and Jezebel scooped this story less than an hour ago. They absolutely hate it and think it’s indefensible. I say that, to a limited extent, that the point of effective journalism is to make people think? In that light if it were done with better intentions, this might have been a somewhat defensible editorial decisions. As it is, the editor’s comments cement the idea that this editorial was a bad move, what with the well poor people can look good with these things too stance she took. Right, because they can afford it on little more than a dollar a day?

The “Downside” of Fast Fashion?

Posted in fashion and society by bluewellesleyblue on August 21, 2008

There is a discussion on Jezebel (one of my favorite general blogs, by the way!) about the downside of “fast fashion” retailers like my dearly beloved Forever 21 and H&M. By now, the preponderance of posts on my blog end up touching on one or the other. The idea of “fast fashion,” because of the cheap more than the fast, obviously holds considerable appeal for me as a shopper. Many of the comments are very insightful, and it seems clear that this is a sort of ambiguous issue.

The consensus on Jezebel is that the Daily Mail, source of the article that set off this discussion, is a kind of crappy newspaper. Indeed, the “con” perspective on “fast fashion” contains some rather amusingly badly argued places. My favorite is the analogy comparing such purchases to “cheap, factory-farmed chicken and salmon” and arguing that they apparently devalue the “special” things in our lives until we’re all unhappy automatons who only ever want more. It’s a god-awful analogy, but let’s run with it. It begs the question: if someone cannot afford the “real thing” in terms of organic, free-range chicken or freshly caught wild salmon (it’s no small thing to buy that for a family of four), does that obligate us to eat potatoes and bread?

Of course, the discount-discount retailers Liz Jones of the Daily Mail mentions, Primark and Asda of the 3 GBP (6 dollars!) pieces, don’t exist in the U.S. context. Some of the issues there do apply to the “fast fashion” options we do have, however.

I do have some qualms about Forever 21 especially, for the occasional very exact knockoff, the fact that it is a big company that will necessarily have the power to edge out community interests when it wants to, and also for the sweatshop labor that contributes to the cheap prices. That being said, on the moderately rare occasion when I find a top or dress there that I really like, I do not treat it as “disposable” at all. Fine, the materials are cheap and I will be lucky if it survives five washes with its integrity intact, much less ten or twenty. However, until the day it falls apart, I will cherish it and incorporate it into many an outfit. Like many people who shop a bit too much, I do have enough clothes that ten or twenty washes worth of wear-times could take a while to get to. My clothes will not be finding their way to a landfill anytime soon. I, and many of the sorts who write fashion blogs or read them, do not really consider any purchase lightly. “Fast fashion” then is not so much an indication of unfortunate cultural trends.

As for the still-thorny issue of sweatshop labor? My opinion on this is probably a bit too cynical, by the way. Still, even if many a would-be fashionista of modest means is contributing to the market for this sort of cheaply manufactured by people without a living wage thing, people like that are hardly the powers that be behind a free market economy or capitalist culture that makes the people behind the big companies think it’s ever alright to pay their workers less than a living wage. Young consumers are products of this sort of culture and world economy, not the cause. Additionally, a lot of more upmarket stuff that is not anything close to “fast fashion” is also being manufactured in more or less the same sweatshops.

One Month Before London!

Posted in london calling by bluewellesleyblue on August 18, 2008

In exactly one month, I will be packing my bags and flying from SFO to London Heathrow for my fall semester abroad. I am so incredibly excited. I think it’ll be an inspirational experience for me from both the academic and sartorial perspectives. The School of Oriental and African Studies seems to be a very specialized institution catering to many of the topics I hope to specialize in, and though it is a major research university, it’s undergraduate population is not much bigger than at the liberal arts college that is my home institution. They offer several African and South Asian languages as well as Arabic, Chinese, etc. which you’re more likely to find at your average American college or university. The fact that it will be academic inspiration, then, goes without saying.

I don’t know too much about fashion in the UK except that if blogs like the always-interesting Stylebubble are any indication, there should be plenty of inspiration to be seen. Either way, it’ll be the first time I’ve lived for any real period in a major city – Boston barely counts and I go to school in the suburbs anyway – which should offer some excitement all its own.

I ordered the Moleskine city notebook for London – and will soon be filling it with a personal list of must-see places and other must-experience things. Once again, the exchange rate is still such that I likely won’t be shopping there, though I’ll still want to explore that kind of thing.

In my Bag.

Posted in miscellaneous by bluewellesleyblue on July 29, 2008

My version of an “In my Bag,” post. This summer especially, I’ve tended towards using larger bags since I usually bring some of my research with me and then I also need a notebook to take notes in. I also have a kind of fatty wallet as opposed to a small one, which you can also see. Moleskine notebooks are awesome and worth every penny, as someone who has gone through a bajillion and a half other notebooks, never using any for as long as I’ve been using my Moleskine. At any given time, I usually have more than just old Commuter Rail receipts hanging out as litter in the bottom of my bag – movie ticket stubs, receipts, and hastily scrawled notes about this or that, are usually in there as well. That is, indeed, my cell phone. Our family plan contract expires later this summer, and this time I’m opting for a newer and shinier choice from the ones that come free with the contract. At the time I got the phone two years ago, it was already old, egads. Music on my commute or on my walks is something I can’t live without.

My choice of bag also marks me as one of those horrible, terrible, no-good purveyors of counterfeit goods. In my defense, the differences between my bag – a gift from my beloved Papa from a business trip to China – and the one it is ripping off are fairly vast and easily recognized by anyone familiar with the real Miu Miu Coffer. The leather on the authentic Miu Miu is far, far nicer-looking from ten, twenty, and probably even fifty paces away. This color was never used on any authentic Miu Miu bag that I know of. Additionally, there is not a single ill-gotten and fake logo anywhere on this bag. Even so, the people familiar with the designer prototype that I pass while using this bag on Newbury Street are probably judging me anyway, but I find that I don’t care. This bag looks nice with most of my winter and summer wardrobes both, and I’ll likely keep carrying it until it falls apart.