AKG

Posts Tagged ‘April Muse’

On Nails Nails Nails

In On Details, On Muse-of-the-Month, On Nails, On Style on April 27, 2012 at 12:06 am

Art, management, events, food – every specialty has little nuances – the experts are keen observers of the minute and have achieved finesse in the details. Fashion, too, is in the details. Season to season, I used to be wonder – what changed? Up until a few years ago, it all looked the same to me. Every season there was glitter. Every season had fits and flares. Every season came with prints, black, the “new black”, color, neon, white, and neutrals. That is until I went to Milano, Italy for training in Image Consulting. I realized there, that the changes are all in the details. It’s in the bohemian fringe vs. the lace. In the leather details vs. the velvet. In the crochet vs. the embroidery. And so the list goes on.

I’m absolutely positive that there is very little in the world more detailed than nail art. They say that the world judges a women’s hygienic tendencies by the state of her toenails and fingers. I’m assuming that Arshia Arora is one of the elite, in this case – she has definitely put her “slight ambidextrousness” to good use. I personally think great hand-done nail art is a sign of great patience, stability, concentration, attention-to-detail, and talent.

On Nails Nails Nails, by Arshia Arora

On Nails Nails Nails, by Arshia Arora
(Fantastic Nail Art - I wish I was even half this ambidextrous)

Every time I see one of her new creations, I either feel embarrassed at the cuticles I continue to chew down, or inspired to take better care of them. My nails are always neat, clean, and well treated – but the cuticles are dry. At the rare occasion that I get a manicure, I trepidatiously inch my hands forward, ready for THAT look from the esthetician before he/she cluck his or her tongue. “You have good, strong nails – but dry cuticles. You should take care of them! You must try – insert the esthetician’s favorite – oil.”

The question I always had for ALL nail artists is “what’s the point?” One of the reasons I’ve stopped getting a manicure is that I find myself more at ease when all I have to do is clean, file, cut, and buff. Maybe there’s a layer of clear shine. I can’t imagine the dread I’d feel every time I’d wash my hands or do the dishes – “What if this polish rubs or chips off?!” I couldn’t justify the time and/or money to myself that it takes to create these designs on nails.

That was until I saw this adorable nail art Arshia Arora did on one of her closest friends. Such adorable-ness. Could you be rude to anyone with nails like this? Such creativity.

My favorite nail art by Arshia Arora

My favorite nail art by Arshia Arora - if I had that cute face on my fingernails, I doubt I'd be able to stop smiling.

So, plan a lunch at home, girl’s night, “sleepover”, or anything with your best gal pal – and do what we did for years when we were little. Do each other’s nails. There’s a world of inspiration and tools out there. The list of types of nail polish finish has grown. There’s: Matte, Shine, Shimmer, Micro-shimmer, Glitter, Micro-glitter, Chrome, Creme, Frost, Lustre, Powder, Shattered, and more. There are over 20 nail color brands I can think of just off the top of my head.

I personally am a huge fan of http://www.alllacqueredup.com/ and http://www.lacquerized.com/ for inspiration. Choose whatever you feel drawn to. Nails are a huge sign of personality, as well as a great place to experiment with style.

Mostly, just have fun with it!

AKG

P.S. For work, make sure you’re keeping it professional. Chipped, inappropriate, or glittered/sparkly nails may actually delay your promotion. Please be wise.

On Borrowing from the Boys, Guys, and Men

In On Details, On Menswear, On Muse-of-the-Month, On Style, On Styling for the Individual on April 26, 2012 at 1:30 am

First there was Coco Chanel and then there was the Le Smoking from YSL. Then came the la garconne dressing, and fast forward a few decades – the androgynous looks became popular. Now borrowing from the opposite gender’s wardrobe has become commonplace. The blazer, anorak, leather jacket, cargos, and boyfriend jeans – and now the boyfriend tee – pieces we have borrowed from the men – are all officially found in women stores now. There are tuxedo jackets for dresses – Glenn Close in Zac Posen at the Oscars. Menswear inspired womenswear is now seen on the street, on screen, and on the red carpet all the time now.

Borrowing from the Boys, Guys, and Men - As Seen on the Red Carpet

Borrowing from the Boys, Guys, and Men - As Seen on the Red Carpet

Take note, that menswear is never synonymous to baggy, no matter what it may seem like on the street around you. Take inspiration by mixing slouchy and feminine pieces with structured, tailored, and more angular pieces. It’s all in the balance. If you’re wearing a tailored jacket or trousers, make it your own by adding a sparkly, soft, or sensuous piece to the mix. Wear sky high heels and/or a statement necklace. Soft neutrals, jewel tones, or bright neons – they all look fabulous with black and nude alike – also consider the beautiful black & white combination with one other color in accessories.

Every book of style talks about the men’s shirt and how its cut looks so great when it finds its place on feminine curves. So many movies will showcase a man’s button down shirt on a woman. The key is finding an oversized shirt in a color (or white), print, or pattern that works for you – and defining your waist to ensure you don’t drown in it. Higher thread counts will look great thrown over your swimsuit at the beach.

Borrowing from the Boys, Guys, and Men - As Seen on the Street

Borrowing from the Boys, Guys, and Men - As Seen on the Street

The true borrowing lies in getting the details, and accessories right. I love men’s watches, especially those by Kenneth Cole and Michael Kors. There is something about the juxtaposition of a men’s large watch on a woman’s wrist that is very today. Sure, there is room for the delicate watch bracelets, but that isn’t for a contemporary look. Wear both, and see which you like on yourself more. This isn’t a costume. You should feel at home in what you’re wearing. Maybe try mixing it in with a bunch of bangles in similar tones or material. Work the watch into your look – make sure it doesn’t stand out like an awkward teenager.

Before investing in Michael Kors and Kenneth Cole, I borrowed my brother’s automatic Tommy Hilfiger watch for a while. Maybe borrowing from the boys may mean shopping in a closet without spending any money at the mall!

Waistcoats and vests. Black, colored, or denim – slouchy and/or tailored – these are always useful to throw on over a shirt or tshirt – especially in the summer when you don’t have to wear a jacket over the look.

Ties. Love love love ties. The ascot ties Miu Miu, featured in “Incorporating Androgynous Runway Fashion”, can be found in gorgeous bold prints to wear with printed or solid color shirts. Slim, bold colored ties look really great on women. I was working with a manager at Rugby in their operations, and she came wearing a white shirt with a slim navy tie and denim – the look was powerful. Themuseflash will someday make a post just about ties. But until then, just know that you can wear them pretty much anyway you want. And if you’re not into that, wear them as an interesting belt! (seriously)

Cufflinks are really interesting accessories. These are very personal pieces that I have to try on with what I intend to wear them with. For men and women both, cufflinks are usually best when they’re quirky, and very related to the wearer’s personality – they look best on simple french cuff shirt that suit or are tailored to your body.

Collection of Menswear Inspired Womenswear

Collection of Menswear Inspired Womenswear
^ So much love for these cufflinks ^

Oxford shoes are something I saw on Arshia’s pinterest. Whether in flats or heels, fabulous colors or neutrals, oxford inject ‘contemporary’ into your look. The upcoming post, we’ll devote entirely to shoes.

Until next time, make styles and pieces borrowed from the boys your own.

AKG

On Defining Personal Style

In On Style, On Styling for the Individual, On the Self on April 25, 2012 at 1:00 am

It’s important to feel inspired by the people and objects we see, hear, touch, and smell. Without inspiration, we wouldn’t be able to move forward in life; life would remain static. It is just as important to experiment and try new things in life. Without this, one cannot grow and remains limited within boundaries, both imagined and real.

It is equally important to not lose sight of the goal of experimenting however, which is to: discover where it is that you feel most comfortable, and to define that.

I recently discovered a love for maxi dresses. Most people advocate wearing flats when wearing a maxi. At my petite height, wearing flats would mean that I would likely drown in my dress. I wear wedges with my maxis, without caring about what people are thinking. I discovered in this process, that Jennifer Aniston and many other celebrities have it right: people are always going to judge you. You will always be too skinny, too fat, too tall, too short, too simple, or too flashy. When you feel comfortable, you look the most stylish. I discussed this in detail in “On Being Comfortable”, something I believes applies to my current muse, Arshia Arora, as well.

The goal, after finding where you feel best, is definition. Being inspired by everything doesn’t mean that you look like 30 different personalities in a month, unless of course that is who you are. It means accepting where you feel good, and letting go of what doesn’t feel right to narrow your wardrobe choices.

Forget the labels, and what people think of you. Who knows what “androgynous”, “feminine”, “royal”, “chic”, etc. mean anyway? There are multiple definitions of each, because these are born in personal opinion. There is no blanket definition. Once you recognize your style, you can build your wardrobe to synchronize and maximize what’s in it.

That leather jacket you have. Is it going to be an experimental style, or is that something you feel at home in? Then you can combine it with denim, workwear to evening wear, sundresses, etc. Are you a pants girl, or a skirts girl? I made a friend at a conference last weekend, who mentioned to me that she loves wearing tshirts. She wears them with a blazer and pencil skirt for work. For her, investing in quality skirts, blazers and basic tshirts gives her wardrobe synchronicity, and flair. Investing in shirts wouldn’t give her as much mileage.

As a recent exercise, I starte”d to think of characters: “Blair” – Leighton Meester in Gossip Girl, “Serena” – Blake Lively of Gossip Girl, “Miss Pillsbury” of Glee – imagine dressing one in clothes from another. Each of these women is stylish, and incredibly unique. That is the goal.

I recommend that Arshia, and all of us experiment to define our individual style fearlessly, and find our unique space. With this definition, it’s easy to be stylish. Without this definition, you remain in a place where you’re unsure of yourself, and unwilling or unable to make attempts to express who you are without fear of judgement – this shows in wardrobe choices.

Let’s choose to be bold.
AKG

On Incorporating Androgynous Runway Style

In On Fashion, On Muse-of-the-Month, On Style, On Styling for the Individual on April 24, 2012 at 12:31 pm

As androgyny in fashion becomes more commonplace, we see a strong variation in how much women want to borrow. Some women wear a tuxedo better than men – we saw this on Carrie Bradshaw at her best gay’s wedding in SaTC (btw, tuxedo jackets are a piece to hold onto this Spring/Summer 2012). Other women with a more feminine style feel that investing in a men’s watch or oxford shoes is a commitment. It’s worth taking a moment to study fashion history, as discussed in “Androgyny in Fashion” to figure out what degree of menswear fashion styling is best for you. There is no right or wrong here – simply a need to experiment and find where you feel most comfortable. The goal is to create a seamless transition that makes your style seem effortless.

Early on, high fashion designers, such as Helmut Lang, Giorgio Armani, and Pierre Cardin hit the public mainstream with androgynous clothing. The trend that Coco Chanel started has now spread far and wide all the way to high volume, low cost stores such as Forever 21, Zara, and H&M.

Have you noticed the trend over the last decade? Men are seen sporting longer hair with hairdyes and highlights while women are seen sporting shorter hair – notice the variations of the pixie cut that Victoria Beckham and Halle Berry were seen sporting? Women are increasingly wearing boyfriend jeans and blazers while men are starting to wear “girlfriend” skinnier jeans. It’s hard to talk about modeling without talking about Andre Pejic and Agyness Deyn. And these are just some of the examples of how the line between genders has blurred considerably over the years.

Menswear Inspired Womenswear from 2012 Runway

Menswear Inspired Womenswear from the 2012 Runway - focus on the details.

This year, take inspiration from 3.1 Philim Lim, Helmut Lang, Derek Lam, Chloe, Alberta Ferreti, Max Mara, St. John, Theysken Theory, Prada and many many others. See how the structure is balanced with sensuous fabric and color, and in some instances sparkle. There are ties, oversized jackets, trousers, waistcoats, and hats in a multitude of colors, plaids, prints, and fabrics. At Peter Som, Jason Wu, and Tadashi Shoji, the looks for Fall 2012 are inspired by Marlene Dietrich – a woman who “wore pants, but still looked like a woman.”

Take inspiration from Miu Miu Fall 2012 - Menswear Inspired Womenswear

Take inspiration from Miu Miu Fall 2012 - Menswear Inspired Womenswear

Miu Miu’s runway had oversized, boxy jackets, waistcoats, ascots (ascot ties) – all in bold colorful prints. There will never be any excuse for a pantsuit to be boring every again. There are waist hugging belts, newsboy caps at Jen Kao, tilted fedoras at Giorgio Armani, and collars with ribbon “ties” at Barbara Bui and printed ascot ties and workwear at Miu Miu – while the ensembles on these runways are more difficult and expensive to incorporate into your wardrobe, these details will set you free.

AKG

On Androgyny in Fashion

In On Entertainment, On Fashion, On Fashion History, On Menswear, On Muse-of-the-Month, On Style on April 18, 2012 at 7:55 pm

I don’t know about you, but I have heard “androgyny” in various contexts, varying from a scandalous or heated discussion to casual daily use. Androgynous traits are usually asexual or are qualities attributed to the opposite sex. There is physical, psychological, and fashion-related androgyny. To be clear, my inspiration is found in androgynous fashion and styling. Some people accept the idea, whereas many are steeped in traditionalism, focused on the idea that men and women are both supposed to look certain ways that are unique and separate of each other.

A rulebook from the older days for dressing and fashion etiquette (from 1965) includes rules that sound ludicrous today.

“It is disrespectful and unwise to deviate from the norm of those around you. It is not polite to stray from the costume worn by your date. If he is in street clothes, you are to wear a day dress or a dressmaker’s suit. […] You must always compliment your man.” “Mules, open-toed shoes, and ankle straps are in poor taste at all times.”

The writer and followers of this book would probably end up in shock if they ended up in any kind of gathering, party, restaurant, or department store today.

Prince & David Bowie - Challenging Norms

Prince & David Bowie - Challenging Norms

Considering that these were the rules, consider how nonsensical the idea of finding pieces in “your man’s” wardrobe would be. Performers like David Bowie, Boy George, Prince, Grace Jones, Marlene Dietrich, and Annie Lennox challenged the norms back in the 1970s and cross-dressing continued to become more elaborate through the 1980s. Leonardo DiCaprio wore the ‘skinny’ look in the 90s, resulting in a fad known as “Leo Mania”. Marilyn Manson wore female clothing and PVC suits that made him seem genderless. These entertainers started trends so that men and women could think outside of conventional styling and start to explore where they felt at home outside of the limitation of their own department at the store. In high fashion, Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent became pioneers by encouraging women to dress in a minimalistic manner, freeing them from the bind of corsets and stockings. In 1966, YSL created the “Le Smoking” tuxedo, the first of its kind for women. Now, fashion on the street was changing and women were freer to find and wear what they liked most.

There is considerable societal redefinition of traditional gender fashion norms today due to the popularity of these artistes and the trickle-down effect of high fashion. Menswear inspired womenswear (and visa versa) has become commonplace: boyfriend blazers, boyfriend jeans, oxfords, and more.

Androgynous Women Fashion Styling

Androgynous Women Fashion Styling
Disclaimer: All pictures are sourced - not mine.

Experimenting with androgynous fashion doesn’t mean you have to dress like David Bowie when he performed. But it’s certainly inspiring, isn’t it? See Diane Keaton in “Annie Hall” or Cate Blanchett in “The Aviator”. Remember Katherine Hepburn? As current style inspiration, we have Ellen Degeneres, Agyness Deyn, Kate Moss, and Diane Keaton to look to. These ‘celebrities’ incorporate menswear pieces into everyday dressing all the time. In the next post, we’ll talk about how they borrow from the boys. Arshia inspires me to learn to borrow from the boys, and experiment to define our individual style further.

AKG

On Introducing the Sporty Muse, Arshia Arora

In On Muse-of-the-Month, On Personality, On Shopping, On Style on April 10, 2012 at 7:23 pm

She’s Riley to my Alan.
Her mother calls her Buttons, for her eyes. This woman shares my inability to find and see things right under her nose.
Others still modify her name into “Arsh, Arshi, and Arshu.”
Some of her closest friends call her “happy camper” because of her indomitable spirit, her love for life, and unending enthusiasm, joy, and energy.

She’s a little ambidextrous, and her application of that skill in nail art leaves me slightly jealous, yet mesmerized. Another skill that leaves me a little jealous is the insane knowledge bank of random trivia and fun facts that resides in her brain. She pulls them out like a magician pulls out the unending pocket square of ribbons – randomly. And of course, I take advice from her with graphic design all the time – no jealousy there – only acceptance of her greater skill in that field.

To the casual eye, at a quick glance, people may classify Arshia as a tomboy. But it really isn’t true. The truth is that Arshia borrows from the boys and incorporates their pieces into her style effortlessly. She softens the look with bracelets, charms, fabulous nails, and other feminine details.

An ideal day in Arshia’s life is a great, fulfilling morning and afternoon doing work she loves, followed by an evening spent with the people she loves and her dog. Her philosophy is simple.

“Be happy and always have someone around you to share that moment with.”

Arshia inspires me to dream, to list 21 things I want to do in my life. And she inspires me to share my joy with everyone I love when a dream comes true.

Arshia's Bucket List

Arshia's Bucket List, with the red dotted numbers already complete.

If I painted an abstract to represent her, it would be formed by:

structured, simple, classic, and clean lines. These lines would be completely random, zig zagging from point to point, turning in the opposite direction even when in might seem logical to continue forward. No clutter – lots of white space. Black & White, followed up with bright bursts of color. No pastel shades – only the brightest hues of red, navy, sky blue, and green.

It gives Arshia pleasure to be there for the people in her life. She’s my number 1 supporter and is always by my side whenever I need her, no matter how much I may annoy, baffle, or try her patience. She’s there, always, to offer a wonderful and beautiful balance of friendship and constructive criticism. She’s always a team player first, “a good sport”, and amazingly active. She’s sporty, in her style, in her life, and in the actual game.

Sporty Muse, Arshia Arora

Introducing the Sporty Muse, Arshia Arora

Themuseflash presents to you, our April muse, the Sporty Muse, Arshia Arora. “Miss” just doesn’t sound right – our muse is not the type to be a damsel in distress. In fact, she’d be the one doing the saving in a novel.

AKG

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