Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

On I for Inspiration

In On Entertainment, On Muse-of-the-Month, On Personality, On Style on August 30, 2012 at 8:52 pm


I often felt that it’s an overused word.

So I tried to go through a day without feeling any inspiration from anywhere to do anything. Not only was it difficult to do, but I realized that life is flat without inspiration. It’s important to be receptive to avail what this world has to offer.

Often people wait around to feel inspired. That, I find, is a problem. Opening yourself up to feel inspired is an active task – not a passive one. In fact, this blog is based on the muse – to actively learn from stylish men & women.

Some days, I may find myself wanting to channel a sartorial era – other days, I’m inspired to sing, even if it’s just around the apartment or in the shower. The late Anna Piaggi and Lady Gaga are inspirations for people to express themselves freely. My mother’s paintings are each based in inspiration, as are most DIY projects.

Inspiration is a powerful motivator. Inspiration to create. Inspiration to dress a certain way. Inspiration to feel joy. Inspiration to shop. Inspiration to make a change. Inspiration to find purpose!

Meha Bhargava can find inspiration anywhere, and she shares with us some of her ways:

“People watching has always been my favorite thing to do. Other things that inspire me:

  • A healthy, intellectual conversation
  • The rain – my brain works rather smoothly then
  • Fashion magazines
  • Newspaper
  • A well lit room
  • Colors
  • Home/ Family
  • A happy vacation

There’s inspiration in the tiniest of things.”

On I For Inspiration

On I For Inspiration: To be inspired is great. To Inspire is incredible.
Meha Bhargava’s Style Inspiration

For sartorial-specific inspiration?

  • Watch a TV show like Gossip Girl, Glee, or Sex and the City. Mirror a look you like. No, I don’t mean you have to buy the same pieces the character is wearing. But look in your wardrobe – can you create a similar look? Recently, I found I’m often missing a leather jacket to create the looks I like. Finding the perfect leather jacket for the fall is a piece that could potentially pull many looks I like together – that’s inspiration I’m using to make a change in styling.
  • Watch a movie or (music) video with distinctive styling. Example – watch an Audrey Hepburn movie. Or, for example, watch something unique like Annie Hall. Pictures from Annie Hall or of Katharine Hepburn often inspire me to celebrate menswear-inspired-womenswear. For more on that, read “On Borrowing from the Boys, Guys, and Men“.
  • Celebrities! Whether they’ve styled themselves, or have stylists doing the work, celebrities often wear creative looks pulled together by several unique pieces. For example, Brad Goreski’s got Jessica Alba wearing color every day, everywhere. Meha often feels inspired by Nicole Kidman’s perfection and by the Duchess of Cambridge for her royal, clean, and chic style sense. And I think mostly everyone who loves fashion is inspired by Sarah Jessica Parker for her eccentric style.
  • Fashion shows and magazines. Create a scrap file of the looks you love. When you’re feeling uninspired, refer to your scrapbook for looks you’ve liked – this makes dressing creatively stress-free. Pinterest, and several other web services make this easy if you don’t like paper clutter or are trying to be green!
  • Be in awe of something – anything. It will inspire you to make a change.

What are some places you could look for inspiration?

  • Nature
  • Meditation
  • Web-surfing
  • People
  • Thinking about possibilities
  • Scrapbooks
  • Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter – basically any form of social media
  • Browse through an inspirational book
  • Attend a conference with people with similar goals
  • Watch videos of keynote speakers

To be inspired is great, and to inspire is incredible. Have you felt inspired today? Have you inspired anyone today? If not, take a moment now.


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.

On We’ll Miss You, Miss Parker

In On Muse-of-the-Month on April 4, 2012 at 1:29 pm

On where Miss Parker finds inspiration:
“I can’t honestly pin point any more! It’s not like college where I was always on the look out for something. These days just about anything gets me – going from simple thing like a doodle, to good typography poster, to quotes to even a good recipe!”

What does a typical day in Soumya Parker’s day look like?
Everyday is something new. I am either running out to do some errand or the other for my parents, working on some stuff for them, filling out forms for Soven. Sometimes I do a bit of drawing or painting. I have discovered a new love for baking – so at least once a week I try out something new! And weekends are spent with friends.”

If you had the opportunity to go on an adventure, where would you go – or what would you do?
“To be very honest, I don’t think I am too adventurous. Through out the whole Rishikesh trip I was scared beyond reason (imagine a person who doesn’t even know how to swim being plunged into the rapids of the Ganges!) And when I went to Leh, I will not lie to you I thought I was on my deathbed. That is until they discovered that I had turned blue and was given oxygen – felt much better after that. But nonetheless, I do love to travel. I love visiting new places and learning something about them! I would love, love, love to travel extensively, both across India and abroad! And what I would do once I reach these places? That’s simple. I would eat!!! And then I would go shop like a maniac!

Describe your dream vacation.
“I have grown up in North India – so my parent’s idea of a summer getaway, was to head to the hills. And although I like the hills, I have come to realize that I actually have an inexplicable love for the sea/ocean. Having never seen a beach before in my life, when I went to kerala the sight of one took my breath away! So any dream vacation will have to be on a beach or an island (not that I know how to swim or anything – nor do I have the figure for a bikini. It’s just the sights and the sound! I love it!) Sitting under a giant umbrella with a giant glass of something yummy to drink (non-alcoholic, I have sworn off it! They just make me sick) and a great book (no vacation is complete without a book!). I think I should add here that I would like to go on this vacation with the people I love. I don’t think I can manage a holiday on my own. I’d probably get lost and stranded on an island!

What are your favorite fabrics?
“Silks in winter, for example gorgeous raw silk kurtas. And in the summer, the thinest pure cotton I can find.”

Quirky Muse, Soumya Parker

A heartfelt thank you, and goodbye to my Quirky Muse, Miss Soumya Parker. We'll miss you!
(Picture put together by Alka Narayan, BFOM)

A note from my Quirky Muse, Miss Soumya Parker

“Anu, You can’t imagine how incredibly touched I am! It is very rare for anybody to have the privilege of knowing how their friends perceive them. One only learns about how people view them in passing, and even then it is never this articulately put! And I dont think you realize what a big deal it is for me. Because when you write these posts I don’t just get to hear about your view of me. People like Alka, Tinu, Neha, Kohli all call me and say “Oh, my god! Did you read what Anu wrote? It’s sooooo sweet, and sooo true!” I consider myself honored to have friends like you in my life and please know that I am sooo sooo sooo touched that you are doing this whole muse of the month thing!”

“You know doing this whole thing with you has really cleared up my head! It’s really strange but it’s all organized in my head now. I thought I just pulled stuff out of the cupboard and didn’t really consciously dress a certain way. But then when I started answering your questions, it got me thinking that I was always working around certain parameters and my choice of clothes always reflected that. Little things like the material of what I wore, the places I would visit during the day, and its appropriateness.”

I’m beyond thrilled we could do this for you Soumya, and we will miss you being our muse.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for being my inspiration.

Hugs, & Love,

On Being Comfortable

In On Muse-of-the-Month, On Personality, On the Self on March 31, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Soumya Parker inspires me to be comfortable, not only in my skin and being, but in my life and with myself. When asked about the staples in her closet, she says,

“Kurta, jeans (black and blue), T- shirt, Stoles/dupattas, one great pair of indian footwear and one pair of good black heels. And I can’t live without my earrings! Also pajamas man! What is life without comfortable pajamas?”

I couldn’t agree more. People, asked about their ideal days, will give you a laundry list of things that will happen. And that’s perfectly fine, because rarely to do people admit that a day of peaceful me-time is just what they need. Miss Parker’s ideal day is “[lounging] alone with a good book and nibbling on an unending supply of good food.” Such simplicity and lack of duplicity is rare. I honestly can’t define what an ideal day for me will be, but I’m encouraged to openly embrace and admit whatever I find that may be.

Notice this around you – people look the way they feel, even with the makeup. When I think back to the NIFT years, it’s apparent to me that Soumya has always been effortless. She never apologizes for who she is and moves with grace even when she is behaving like a monkey in the courtyard. Soumya is confident, and has always been able to move with poise. I recognize this more now, as I have become more comfortable in my own skin as I’ve grown into it.

There are actually a few stages here – there is the uncomfortable, neutral, and the comfortable. To be clear, saying “I’m not uncomfortable” is not the same as “being comfortable”. It’s okay wherever you may be in that, but let’s make an active decision to become entirely comfortable in our skins.

1) Be good to yourself, and to other people. Start to focus on what you absolutely love about yourself. Instead of seeing the zit or blemish when you look in the mirror, look for the best in you.

2) Give that woman in the mirror some support. Get your best friends together – and instead of lamenting about how “fat” you are or how scragly your hair looks, raise a toast to what’s fabulous about each of you. No more bashing.

3) Image matters. No matter how much we claim otherwise, there is a definite “feel-good” quality to looking in the mirror and liking what you see. So, find fashions, and hairstyles, and makeup that fit you. Don’t try to fit into styles – find the one that works best for you.

4) #3 actually doesn’t just apply to fashion; it applies to anything in life if you want to excel. Find out what’s a good fit for you. As Debbie Ford often says, “Anything that you can’t embrace about yourself gets to use you. Any part of you that you deny, hide, or suppress will come back to use you or haunt you. You can’t get rid of it completely – ever. Either you’re going to use it, or it’s going to use you. […] There is a reason you are the way you are. In order to deliver the gift that you’re meant to deliver to the world, [to your family, to whomever or wherever] – you must be at peace with yourself.

5) Work through your mistakes – trust me, I make the most mistakes in my family. I recognize that it’s not always easy, but the goal is to learn from your mistakes and move forward. You WILL feel better about yourself, having done this. And then, with your family and loved ones, feel free enough to be honest about your shortcomings and your talents. They will love you no matter what.

6) Get to know yourself. Use a journal to log your thoughts, freely. Or whatever helps you become one in your thoughts and actions. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities you have. That’s right. Do the SWOT analysis for yourself, or your style, or anything. Whatever works.

7) Move your body. Dance, cycle, run, walk, swim, jump rope, or do yoga. Do whatever it is that you enjoy doing to use your body constructively. Not only will you feel more comfortable in it, you will also grow/age gracefully.

8) Prioritize yourself – Love yourself – Treat yourself. Take a bubble bath, or treat yourself to a massage and steam room. Buy lotion in a scent you love. Eat dark chocolate, or whatever makes you feel good inside. Take time for yourself – it will do wonders. Create a personal space and time for “me time”. Everyone needs time for themselves – it’s not a luxury, but a necessity. To feel at home in your own skin, taking time and space for yourself (however that may be), is important.

9) Always always – drink lots of water. It has healing powers that we will never truly be able to recognize.

10) As my father always taught me, laugh loudly. And as mother always says, stop slouching and make eye contact!


On Nine Rules – ‘Tops’ for the Inverted Triangle (Part 4)

In On Fashion, On Muse-of-the-Month, On Style, On Styling for the Individual on March 28, 2012 at 8:38 pm

They say every gift comes with a curse. While the inverted triangle is often gifted with long legs and an ample bust, the inverted triangle (especially the petite) is “cursed” with a short torso and a lack of curve at the hips. So Rule #1? An inverted triangle must define the waist. This is key for ‘tops’ – by which I mean pieces for the upper body: blouses, shirts, dresses, sweaters, and jackets. Examples are: flare hems; nipped and waist paneled styles; belted outerwear; vertically pleated styles; wrap styles such as wrap cardigans and sweaters. Waist-defining pieces will also add curves to your hips.

Indian Kurtas, as Soumya Parker correctly notes, are a very forgiving choice of clothing. A kurta is typically a loose tunic shirt worn in India – it may be collarless, or with collar. Worn at a hip to knee length and form-fitted, kurtas soften the shoulders and nip in at the waist to create a cleanly defined waist. This leads us to Rule #2. Kurtas and Western knitwear made out of cotton fabrics, linen fabrics, and/or silk fabrics with a fine gauge will be better because thick knits will add bulk to your upper body.

Rule #3. Widening necklines bad. U-neck, V-neck, and scoop necklines are good. Especially compared to the wide scoop, square, and other widening necklines, they will slim down and elongate your torso. Keeping the top relatively simple and smooth will help you avoid drawing attention to your upper body. Wider necklines must be accessorized with something slim and vertical down your chest. Try a long pendant necklace or a simply styled scarf. Rule #4. Showing more of your skin, as with a deeper neckline, will elongate your frame. There’s less contrast to visually cut you up. Conservatively, try wearing clothing similar to your skin tone or wearing a fitted camisole (also similar to your skin tone) underneath; these will give you the same long and lean look.

Rule #5: soft and drapey fabrics will soften the shoulders. Raglan, dolman, dropped shoulder point, shoulder slit and cutout sleeves will all minimize your shoulders. Try to stay away from shoulder pads and strong shoulder details, unless it’s for costume. In a professional setting, make sure your sleeves aren’t even half an inch shorter than your arms. It’ll distort the length of your arms visually to make them appear shorter. Showing off some skin makes you look longer and leaner, but not when the extra skin is your wrist in what is supposed to be a long-sleeved blouse.

Have you ever noticed that thin straps make your shoulders and upper body look relatively wider? So for sleeveless, Rule #6 – try wide or large straps, or even multiple thin straps. You could layer a few tanks in complimentary colors one on top of the other to achieve this look.

Strategically work with prints, shapes and details to make the eye go up and down. Trust me; vertical details are your best friends. And that’s rule #7. This means: Zip fronts, cable knit patterns, pleats, visible vertical stitches.

Soumya Parker mentions, “I always wear long tops or layer with a long camisole. Other wise, my torso looks too short; this, at least adds an illusion of length.” She is absolutely right. Rule # 8. When these ‘tops’ extend past your hip-line, they balance out your wide shoulders by drawing attention away from that area, as well as elongating your torso. She’s also right about putting short tops on her list of things that don’t work that well for her, unless worn with high waist jeans as a look. There are better alternate options that would balance Soumya’s body type because these both would deter from elongating the torso. Her two lists, as mentioned in On the Two Lists, already look pretty sound.

Of course. Last but not least. Rule #9. Simplicity is key. Less is more. You’ll look taller without too much fuss. This matches Soumya’s personality and style anyway – classic, simple, and fuss free.

Celebrity styles to inspire the Inverted Triangle Body Type

Celebrity styles to inspire the Inverted Triangle Body Type: try to observe the nine rules here.


On Genuinity

In On Muse-of-the-Month, On Personality, On Style on March 15, 2012 at 7:48 am

I don’t know if she ever realizes it, but Miss Parker is concise, clever, and succint – she has just enough humor and sweetness to balance any snark and sarcasm. She’s the best friend, with designer flair, and the kindest heart. You are just as likely to find her chasing (or being chased by) her friends, or very seriously planning, designing, or presenting creative work. Most people have a personality that fits best either in a professional, or personal realm – Soumya manages to be herself in both situations. She inspires me to understand and learn how to separate and merge the two effectively and naturally.

It’s obvious in day-to-day interactions with Miss Parker that she’s a total drama queen – she’s constantly entertaining. She’s full of energy, and her dynamism is contagious. Despite her many talents, she is modest to a fault – regardless of her “industry child status”.

On Genuinity - Soumya Parker

On Genuinity - put together with help from Alka Narayan, BFOM (Best Friend of Muse)

Though I knew all of this about Soumya, I wondered what drew people most to her – beyond her obvious creative genius. I realized it is because of her beautiful personality and simplicity. She makes people feel special, and she’s the one who is always there for you. Even though she isn’t a social butterfly, Soumya Parker is often the link that binds two people or more together. She’s unashamed and completely comfortable in her own skin. When she wants something, she blatantly admits it – and she always, always has a genuine compliment for you. And that’s really one of the main reasons Soumya is so stylish.

Genuinity never goes out of fashion, or style.


On Introducing Miss Soumya Parker

In On Muse-of-the-Month, On Style on March 1, 2012 at 5:30 pm

I had wanted to become a cardiologist since I watched my father perform his 100th angioplasty; I’d been watching him since before I could walk. When I was studying medicine, I always had my family for advice and help. In fashion, I’ve had to find my own way. Sometime during my first year of fashion school, I decided I was going to be cleverer in both, my writing and speech. References to television, designers, styles, and fashion eras were going to come with ease. Tim Gunn, Anna Wintour, the writers in TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, scriptwriters, Carrie Bradshaw – these were my inspirations. And well, even though I didn’t realize it until recently, there was also one Soumya Parker.

Witty. Quick. Talented. Beautiful. Intelligent. Sexy. Crazy about shoes. Poised. The best friend you can ask for because she’s there for you no matter what. A firm believer in “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Many may know her as Som, Soumie, and/or Parker – we’ll be talking about this Quirky Muse in detail this month.

AKG @themuseflash presents the first muse-of-the-month ever, Miss Soumya Parker.


On Style and the Muse

In On Style on February 28, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Style is not just in the way you dress. Style is in your personality, your characteristics, your choice of attire, and in your mannerisms. Style may be in interpreting the spring/summer collection brights and incorporating white jeans into your wardrobe with a nod to the trend this spring 2012. Style may be deciding to wear one blouse in 30 different ways in a month, or to not repeat any article of clothing for an entire month. Style may be in the way you say hello, or in the way you sign your receipt. “Style”, is open to interpretation.

As an image consultant, I have learnt that there are three components of image – ABC: appearance, behavior, and communication. And I plan on studying each of these in my muses.

At themuseflash, I plan to muse about a muse-of-the-month each month in the upcoming year. I may choose a character from entertainment, a friend who you know, or someone who has always influenced me – my muse will be someone I find inspirational, creative, and stylish. Inspiration is a necessary part of life, and I have been writing about it here since the very beginning. Inspiration is what leads people to explore, achieve, and reach for more.

I was inspired by a dark brown chocolate truffle (mint flavor) to dress in those colors the next day – have you ever tried wearing a white shirt, brown trousers with a mint colored scarf or mint heels? They’re beautiful together. Emma Pillsbury of Glee inspires me to find a way to incorporate details which use bows and bright colors, and Addison Forbes Montgomery of Private Practice inspired me to wear more printed dresses. Inspiration can be found anywhere – in food, in art, on the street, on television, in your friends – you just have to keep your eyes open.

For the rest of the year, we’ll talk to inspiring people about what inspires them. Although January and February have just whooshed by before I realized it, the year is still new – there is much to achieve and always room for growth. Somewhere, somehow, I hope my muses will inspire you the way they influence me.

It’s going to be a great year!


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