Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gifts that Give Back 2014 - Holiday and Black Friday Shopping for Charitable Causes

Can you believe I've lasted more than 11 months without buying any new clothes? Over time, it became easier and easier. The true challenge lies ahead though with the holiday shopping season. I'm tempted to buy my girlfriends, sisters, and mother all the pretty clothes I know they want and don't need! And because I like to torture myself, I decided to make my shopping challenge even more difficult by promising myself that a portion of all gifts I buy this year contribute to charity somehow.

I've been reading about the President of Uruguay and am so inspired by his views on society, kindness and anti-consumerism. While I may not have the balls yet to live the way he does, I do feel that consumerism has been, ahem, consuming us more than ever, especially with how easily we can purchase products online now. So at the very least, I'd like to make sure that whatever I purchase this holiday season also gives back to a community that needs help.

Oh, one more thing. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I've found that some charitable gifts are not always very attractive. I don't know why. All I know is sometimes I don't want to give my friends a weird ugly ceramic piece just to feel like I donated to charity and then have it end up as someone's white elephant gift a year later.

So the challenge here is finding something that is not only charitable but also something your loved one will enjoy receiving.

If you'd like to do the same, I've compiled a list of NICE gifts that give back for 2014.

1. LSTN Headphones

LSTN Troubadours
Every purchase of one of these headphones made from reclaimed wood helps restore hearing to a person in need through the Starkey Hearing Foundation. Gift these to the music snob in your life so he can look down on your music and look good while doing it. More about LSTN here.

2. Laughing Man Coffee

Peruvian Coffee
CEO David Steingard and actor Hugh Jackman developed this company together in order to help create and develop new businesses for communities. 100% of Laughing Man Worldwide revenue goes back to education, community development and new business development. Laughing Man also carries tea, chocolate, and coffee gift packages for your caffeine-addicted coworker.  Read about Laughing Man here.

3. Catherine's Table
Beyonce Mug
Catherine's Table sells unique handcrafted table goods for the soulful chef and donates a portion of all sales to Meals on Wheels Association of America. With quirky gifts like the Beyonce mug pictured here, the only challenge would be giving them away when you actually want them for yourself. Read more about the cause here.

4. The Animal Rescue Site

Puppy Love 2015 Calendar
Every purchase on this site funds at least 14 bowls of food for shelter animals in need. If you can't make time to adopt a puppy yet, this will do for now, and your favorite animal lover will swoon when she unwraps this gift. More about The Animal Rescue site here

5. Shopping for a Change

Bamboo Fruit Bowl

Shopping for a Change (SFC) works directly with artisans to promote their talents and encourage a fair trade marketplace. 50% of its net proceeds go towards funding Community Improvement Projects abroad and the other 50% goes toward a nonprofit or nongovernmental organization of SFC's choosing. They have a huge selection of women's accessories and home goods so you can check several lucky ladies off off your shopping list. Read about SFC here.

6. Global Goods Partners

Blue Paisley Block Print Scarf
Global Goods partners with artisan groups around the world to bring us beautiful handmade scarves, handbags, and other accessories and channels resources back to low income communities with product sales and technical grants. These beautiful items are definitely mother, grandma, and mother-in-law gift material; they'll appreciate the excellent detail that went into each piece. Read more about Global Goods here.

7. Out of Print

A Clockwork Orange Tote
I saved the best for last. This one is my favorite finds because I'm a huge book nerd and also love the cause that Out of Print supports. For each product you order, Out of Print donates a book to communities in need through Books for Africa. The selection here is excellent, just find your loved one's favorite book and shop away!

Thank you all for your help and support. Happy shopping and happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Secondhand Sites, Charitable Shopping, and a Note on Necessity

Sorry for my absence, but I've been traveling a lot and just busy at work and radio (while doing some online shopping too haha).

I wanted to share with you a couple of nifty sites I've found for selling, buying, and donating your clothes:

1. Poshmark

This has been my go-to site for summer gear (thanks to the ever-helpful Jack Chen for this rec)! You need some good online shopping stamina to wade through the voluminous search results but thankfully you can narrow things down somewhat by filtering your clothing size, shoe size, or favorite brand. Tons and tons of Jeffrey Campbell shoes, Brandy Melville dresses, and other popular name brands on this site!

This is me in my first Poshmark conquest while filming at YouTube Space LA:

I think the sweater is a Wildfox knockoff, but it was in perfect shape, almost brand new for $25!

Another cool find were these Jeffrey Campbell sandals

They're JC for real, and they were priced at under $60, with barely any wear on the soles.

Finally, my favorite purchase from Posh is this tan Seeger leather bucket bag, in awesome vintage condition:

I use this as my every day summer bag. Vintage leather is one of the best investments when thrift shopping because you know they'll last. 

2. Vaunte

Vaunte is a somewhat ritzier version of Poshmark, with a lot of high-end name brands and "Featured" closets from well-known socialites, models, and fashion bloggers. I haven't bought anything from this site so far because I haven't found a need for anything in that price range yet. Definitely worth checking out if you want a pair of secondhand Versace sandals in excellent shape though!

3. Fashion Project

My brilliant friend Angira linked me to Fashion Project (thanks, Angira!) and while I was initially jealous I hadn't thought of this idea first, I immediately began to mentally catalog clothes I could donate toward this cause!

Fashion Project combines the best of charity, retail therapy AND a rewards program to guarantee the most gratifying shopping experience I've found online so far.

This is how it works: you donate clothing/shoes/jewelry/accessories to FP in the name of a charity that you choose, FP repackages and markets the clothes off their site and donates proceeds to your charity AND if five pieces of what you donate are on their "qualifying brands list" (trust me, the list is so long, you definitely have stuff on that list), you receive a $40 Nordstroms gift certificate!

You get $40 to shop with for every FIVE pieces you donate. Even if your stuff isn't on the list, they'll still sell it for you in the name of your charity. PLUS, they send you a free shipping label, so you just pack it up and send those babies out.

How wonderful is that?

Oh, and did I mention you can shop the site for secondhand stuff too?

Badgley Mischka for $79. What! Get it here.

If you can buy goods and do good at the same time, why wouldn't you?

And a final thought on all the summer sales going on: I keep seeing e-mails and ads that say "Necessities for Summer" or "All You Need for the Beach."

I want to remind everyone, and myself too because I'm guilty of this temptation, that we have everything we need already. Sure, you need sunblock for protection, you need a swimsuit that won't fall apart in the water, but you definitely don't need another pair of $350 sunglasses. You want them, you don't need them.

I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting pretty things. Just remember that you have everything you NEED to feel complete already. Love your self, not your things.

And now, shop, sell, and donate away, my friends!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Bitch on Bitch Crime: 6 Things We Can Do Right Now To Unite As Women

A popular tongue-in-cheek hashtag has been making its rounds across the Internet over the past year: "#firstworldproblems." While this meme primarily pokes fun at the trivial challenges of middle-to-upper-class lifestyle, there remains one very real first world problem that should be taken seriously: sexism.

Women make up an inordinately huge group that faces discriminatory treatment all across the world, whether they live in first, second or third world countries. This is not to discredit the fight against racism or homophobia, but the surprising fact about sexism is that women, worldwide, are not and have never been a minority. There was never a time in society where men had to "get used to" the presence of women on their land or in their lives. Women weren't brought to America or some other nation; women didn't have to come out of the closet as women. Women have been around all this time, so why do women only make 67% of what men make in the working world? Why do women hold only approximately 25 percent of the world's government positions? Why is there a 25 percentage point difference in the employment-to-population ratio between men and women?

Argh, where'd YOU come from?!

To draw the problem simply, after 43 terms of presidency, we were able to elect a Black president in America. After 45 terms of presidency, we still have yet to elect a woman as President. While the position of President doesn't necessarily define where women stand professionally, the fact remains that we, women, are not there yet.

Of course, the reasons for sexism on a sociopolitical level are numerous and far-reaching but the goal of this article is to address a very specific and pervasive problem amongst women. It is one that I strongly believe keeps us from long overdue progress as a gender: what I call "bitch on bitch crime."
My money's on Barbie.

I use the term "bitch" to describe those moments when we treat other women like bitches by acting like bitches. When we choose to take sides against women who have made decisions different from ours, when we blame women for a relationship gone awry, when we talk shit about a scantily dressed woman, we are treating them like bitches and we ourselves are acting like bitches. For all intents and purposes, the term "bitch" here means an unfair way to act towards women and an unfair way to react as a woman.

Although Lincoln was referring to the nation's stance on slavery when he famously said "a house divided itself cannot stand," the phrase speaks very poignantly to what women do to each other on a day to day basis. The more we fight amongst each other, the less time we have together to work toward making our group heard.

We can stop some of those crimes right now. There are things we can do every day to fight the hatred that divides us. Here are six ways we can stop hating and start communicating:

1. We can start seeing other women as equals.

We can stop seeing any woman as being above or below us. That hot famous celebrity with the perfect body and jaw-dropping talent? No better and no worse than you as a woman. Admiration is in order, appreciation is in order, and inspiration is in order, but putting another woman on a pedestal means you no longer relate to this woman as a human being but as a commodity and a novelty. The same goes for that hoochie at the club drunkenly hitting on your boyfriend. Maybe you've made more positive choices thus far, but you're no better than her as a woman. She may be going through a rough time and is handling it differently than you would. But this does not mean you get to demean her by calling her a slut. She is going through difficulties just as you are and she deserves just as much love, understanding and human rights as anyone else on this earth.
Can someone get her some water?

2. We can be happy for each other. Like really, truly, happy.

No, I don't mean like you're happy for your girlfriend getting a part in that play and then you asking her to hook you up with free tickets. I mean you feel happy for her without there being any benefit for you at all. And if you feel that admittedly human twinge of jealousy in your stomach, you tell that little twinge to shut up and move on toward congratulating your friend, spreading the good word, and concentrating on your passions because you're just so inspired and excited by her success. Another woman's gain is a gain for us all and not a strike against our own efforts. The sooner we can get this through our heads, the better.
That bi- I mean, hugely successful woman that I admire!

3. We can hook each other up.

If you're the one that got that part in the play, why not hook your girl up? I often see women hoarding their many successes in fear of another treading on her territory. The truth is, if you're that good, no one can take that away from you. And by helping another woman out, you and the rest of us have everything to gain because our numbers are that much stronger. You can be the one bringing more women to your company. You can be the one electing a qualified woman to council. You can be the one that makes a difference in the statistics.
Finally, someone to borrow a tampon from!

4. We can stop listening to the bullshit.

Don't listen to others' ideas of what women are supposed to be. There are too many opinions flying at you at once. In music, we hear men saying they want a good girl. We see a girl with big boobs getting 50 likes on her profile picture. We read articles about supermoms with six pack abs and three kids. We get e-mails promising a fabulous date night if only you'll buy their stiletto pumps and pencil skirts. Our moms tell us to be one way, our dads tell us another. Not that your parents are feeding you bullshit, but figure it out on your own who and what you want to be. Don't take bits and pieces from people and media surrounding you to define who you are because that's all you'll become, a fragmented person with no glue holding those parts together.
I'm all broken up about this.
Side note: And what the fuck is a "good girl" anyway? That's what you say to a dog when it does a trick correctly. You're a woman, not an animal. Figure out the best version of you and strive to be that best version every day. That's all you need to do because no one knows you the way YOU know you.

5. We can stop blaming each other.

In my experience, women blame women first when relationships go wrong. When a husband strays, women typically become angry at the mistress and figure out a way to work things out with the man for a period of time. Why do we blame the other woman when it's the man who made the pledge to be faithful?
Oh no she dint.
Another appalling phenomena is when I hear "yeah, I know it was bad of him to react violently, but she probably did something to piss him off." Really? I've heard this in several instances regarding domestic violence. I see no gray area here: there is no action that justifies physical violence against a woman. Why, in this instance where women need to fight back together, why do we shift the blame back toward women?

Whether the cause is deep rooted, like the Adam and Eve story, or pop-cultural, like the demonizing of "homewreckers", this sort of thinking is toxic for womankind. When we make other women the bad guy, we spread hate amongst ourselves and lose hold of that goodwill and solidarity we so desperately need in order to stand up against inequality.

6. We can figure out what we're really scared of.

When we feel disrespected or jealous or angry at another woman, we need to ask ourselves why.
"Because she's such a bitch" is not a deep enough answer. Deep down, we've been taught that the gain of another woman is a loss to ourselves. We've been taught that admiration and validation is currency and that form of currency is limited and that we have to fight each other for that limited amount. We take in that currency and hoard it as if it were some definition of how valuable we are to the rest of the world.

There are such innocuous ways this need for validation is hammered into our conscious minds that it seems almost normal. When we praise a woman for her looks rather than her accomplishments. When we ask our girlfriends to "get us in the club" because they're showing more skin. When we objectify each other and put a price on our sexuality and identity, we teach ourselves over and over again that our bodies either validate or invalidate us.

We need to figure out each time we fight another woman what we are fighting for. Once we determine our own fears, we may finally understand there is nothing to lose. Once it becomes clear to us that validation from our peers means little more than an idle finger clicking the word "like", we can strengthen our resolve to improve.

If we can finally cure ourselves of bitch-on-bitch crime, we can start fighting together against sexism, because, seriously, the REAL bitch in life is not getting as good as what we deserve as women.
And two cross-dressers.

 Happy International Women's Day! Let's get there, ladies :)

"Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke. That’s their natural and first weapon. She will need her sisterhood." - Gloria Steinem

Sources: UN Women, Washington Post

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sustainable Love: The Valentine You Can Always Count On

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you!

As you may have noticed, my last post had nothing to do with secondhand clothing. It was one of those moments where I just had to make a statement and that statement was not going to wait.

In a sense though, my last post "What Kim Pham's Death Tells Us We're Doing Wrong" relates to the general sentiment of this blog in that it seeks to promote a universal outpouring of love. At their core, the posts on shopping vintage and recycling clothing are a celebration of abundance and love for the earth. The entreaties to support fair working standards are a call to loving compassion for those that toil to make our first-world lives more comfortable. The true goal of this blog, beyond the clothes and shoes and op-eds, is to act as a love letter to love.

To that end, today's post pays tribute to the greatest love of all: self love (Sorry, Whitney, but children scare me sometimes).

On this Valentine's Day, a day already replete with flower-filled Instagram posts and sassy single-friendly status updates, I ask you to send love to the Valentine you can always count on: you, yes, you.

Wah, wah, you might say.  I DO love myself: I take bubble baths, I eat chocolate, I buy myself treats, I laugh at my own jokes, I drink wine and kick up my feet when I get home and treat myself to a night filled with my favorite TV shows.

That's not what I mean by loving yourself. That's superficial-type loving yourself. That's what you do on a third date with the stoner you fell for during your second year of college. What do you do for the person who has been there for you your entire life, shouldering your troubles, consoling you while you cry, and stuffing your face full of pizza on lonely nights? I'm talking about you, yes, you.

How do you continue to love yourself unconditionally, sustainably, and honestly?

It's the same answer I'd give you if you asked me how we can keep on loving everyone and everything on Earth: by believing in a better version of that person/self/thing and acting on your beliefs.

The beauty of sustainability lies in a lasting desire for better; something that is constant yet constantly changing. This is how you grow and continue to love yourself despite outgrowing a previous version of yourself. This is recyclable, sustainable self love. It is abundant, it is eternal, and there is more than enough for everyone.

Now, I don't have all the answers to this universal need because I'm not your wise 90 year-old grandma, but I know it's a need and I know where I'm starting. I hope you'll try it too. Here we go.

1. Think of the qualities you look for in a mate. I asked a number of Facebook friends to answer this for me. The top three answers that came up repeatedly were: "a good companion," "generous," and "loyal."

Side Note: I chose to throw out answers such as "can drink" or "eats meat" because I see those as lifestyle habits and choices. Those qualities may speak to compatibility on a daily level, but I was looking for what people seek in another's mind, heart, and soul.

2. Apply those qualities to yourself. Be the person you want to fall in love with. So if what you want is a good companion, do the things it requires to be a good companion. Read to become more informed, expand your interests to become more cultured, polish your skills to become more disciplined, and basically encourage yourself to grow. You will naturally become a more interesting and companionable person.

Loyalty seems most important to men and women across the board. If that is what you value in another, then start with loyalty to yourself. Do not waver in that love for yourself. It will not be easy to keep on loving yourself at times. You will have to show yourself the same understanding you'd show a loved one who is going through changes. You'd tell a loved one "hey, I understand life is crazy now, but I love you and I'm here for you." Do yourself the same favor. Constant change does not invalidate constant love.

Please note I am not giving you license to stroke your own ego or use this to justify how you treat others. Loving yourself doesn't mean making excuses for yourself, i.e. "I'll do that later" or "Well, I didn't really mean it." Being loyal to yourself means being unabashedly honest with yourself about your expectations and standards and holding yourself up to your highest potential.

It means constantly telling yourself: I have all the qualities I want in a person.

That's important because you don't really understand those qualities until you've made that journey yourself. You probably can't even spot them properly in someone else until you can see them in yourself.

This is the hardest step. If you skimmed over this section, I'm talking to you. Read it again carefully and try it again and again.

3. Give yourself time. Take each quality seriously and work on it. This will take more than two weeks. This will take your lifetime to complete. Loving yourself is a constant journey because you will grow and get better and then set your standards higher. As you mature, you will want more out of yourself and others. As you encounter more people, more experiences, and new places, your ideas will expand. Accordingly, your standards for love should expand too.

4. Recycle, reuse, reinvent. Take that love and re-imagine it around new people and new settings. Make it stronger and less affected by external influences. Can you still love yourself after a bad audition or a hurtful fight with someone close to you? Yeah, it's hard for me too. That's why I'm working on it constantly.

5. Start over. Like the love song mixmaster Brian McKnight once said "then you start back at one." Every once in a while, re-evaluate those qualities you think you want in a mate. They may not ring true a year from now. You might go on a few dates and realize you want someone who will save the last French fry for you rather than someone who can drink you under the table. So now you have a new quality to work on for yourself as well.

I wrote this because I saw so many varying emotions online today. I understand the disappointment and bitterness as well as the exalted joy of being loved and appreciated. But because self love is the most impervious to all external validation, I just wanted to share this with you, the loved, the unloved, the happy ones and the sad ones. Let your own self determine when you feel loved.

I don't know if this will soothe the ravaged single souls out there tonight or not. It's a long ride and it sure as hell won't feel as immediately satisfying as a bouquet of roses you can rub in your girlfriends' faces all weekend long. But it's something really great you can do for yourself and you can start right now. See that beautiful person within you and know that you are your own greatest love.

Again, a Happy V-day to you and yours and, most of all, to ME!

 P.S. Thanks to all of you who commented or messaged. You were all very helpful ;)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What Kim Pham's Death Tells Us We're Doing Wrong

Since the brutal beating and subsequent death of Kim Pham in Santa Ana on January 18, everyone on my Facebook and Twitter feed has been posting links about the crime. As with any other sad story, my first reaction was horror at the violent episode and then the usual anger and sadness, followed by appreciation that my peers were helpful enough to post this news up on Facebook. Then I closed my Facebook page and started checking my work e-mails. And unexpectedly felt disgusted.

I opened the Facebook page back up and there were five new re-posts of the same story. This time, I read all the comments. Everyone is sad and chilled by the crime. Everyone hopes the video will help the police identify suspects and bring justice to Ms. Pham's family. Everyone hopes someone will come forward and name the people who hurt her so that we can try them and send them off to jail. Everyone is glad there was one arrest and maybe it will lead to further arrests.

I'm disgusted because in reading all of these heartfelt thoughts and condolences, all I could think was: that's not good enough.

Our system of tracking down the "guilty ones," putting them on trial, and locking them up behind bars is not solving the true problem here. Our criminal system is one based on deterrence. Basically we're saying, if you mess up, we're gonna punish you. But that's not enough.

On January 1, 2009, Oscar Grant III was held down by two police officers and then shot in the back in Oakland, California. People could argue the story has two sides, but there's no question something brutal and angry happened that day.

Two years later, in July of 2011, Kelly Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic man, was killed by two police officers even while stating he “couldn't breathe.” This is on video. The internet population was moved. They thought it was “so sad.” The officers were put on trial and then acquitted.

February 2012: George Zimmerman shot the unarmed Trayvon Martin during an altercation. Was that any less brutal than what happened in 2009 or 2011? We put Zimmerman on trial, we condemned him online, we had race wars, we bitched about justice like it was supposed to make things right. If Zimmerman had gone to jail, would justice have prevailed once and for all?

In Koreatown, on the night of March 17, 2013, Kim Nguyen “fell” out of a police car with her dress pulled down to her waist, all her teeth knocked out, and her face bruised and bloodied. People on Facebook vehemently defended either Nguyen or the officers. Whatever happened that night, again, there is no question that anger and brutality prevailed.

Shortly following a Giants-Dodgers game near the Giants' ballpark in September 2013, two men stabbed 24 year-old Jonathan Denver to death because they got into a fight. Police arrested the suspects and charged them for the stabbing. The internet world was scared and saddened. And the internet world moved on.

Now we have Kim Pham, January 2014, beaten to death by a group of men and women. As I said, my Facebook is jam-packed with pictures of her and videos of her getting beaten, followed with pleas for people to “speak up” with information leading to the suspects' arrests. I'm seeing numerous comments about how sad it is to see a young life taken away so brutally and with such a lack of respect for human life. We talk about how it's “not right.” We talk about how it's not just.

"Let's get those monsters that beat her up and left her for dead." 

"Let's put those men on trial for hitting and killing a girl." 

"Let's hope and pray for justice."

That's what I'm seeing. And then what next? We know what's next. Another bout of anger and violence, case opened, emotions spent, money spent, police forces spent, legal fees spent, jail time spent, taxes spent, case closed. We close our browsers and sleep better at night until the next crime.

If the system is working, why aren't things getting better? The same evils are happening over and over again, just with different people in different places.

This cycle of violence is not getting better because we are leaving it up to the justice system to fix the ills of society. We are living by that Hollywood blockbuster movie idea that once the cops arrive on the scene, everything is going to be okay.

Sure, posting up information on Facebook or other media outlets holds value for us. Being informed is the first step to change. I am glad that people are emotionally moved by sad stories and brutal crimes and that they have platforms on which to discuss it and air their thoughts.

But that's not good enough. We are sitting here pointing fingers at the police department or security guards or violent men or angry youths or bystanders who were videotaping but not helping. We are letting the police and court system address the crimes of these people and hoping it will all go away so we can get on with our lives.

In short, we are asking the system to pick up the pieces for us. We are letting them do our dirty work.

That's right, I said OUR dirty work.

The deaths of Grant, Thomas, Martin, Denver, Nguyen and Pham (and those are just the ones we heard a lot about, there are so many more) are on ALL of our hands because we are simply not doing good enough and not enough good.

It's not enough to let our justice system say what's right and wrong in this world. The law is the minimum standard for acceptable human behavior in our society. The lowest common denominator. Yeah, maybe that's good enough to keep us feeling sort of safe but it is not good enough for what we need to improve as a people. We are setting a bottom line for action but not setting a standard for quality of action.

Leaving crime and injustice up to the authorities is like saying you don't deserve quality human behavior in your life. And you do. We all do!

Instead of pointing fingers at one or a group of individuals for blame and saying we need to lock them up, we need to start asking ourselves this question: why is there so much anger and why does it translate to brutality and violence? What have we done as a society to breed assailants like the ones that killed Kim Pham?

For one, we have been sitting back and waiting for the good guys to come flying in and save the day. Come on, we are the good guys. We're the ones looking up information to share with one another. We're the ones trying to pick out suspects in a grainy video. We're the ones bombarding each other with sad stories online in order to feel something together. So let's take the next step.

If you feel something, anything, for any of these people that have been hurt or killed throughout the years, ask yourself what you can do to make us better as a whole. Every single day.

Don't talk about the old lady you helped across the street that one time. Don't linger on the homeless guy you gave food to last week. That's good. But not good enough. What can you do every day to make this world a more loving place? What can you do to make this world a world that is not going to put up with bullshit like what happened to Kim Pham?

Ms. Pham was beaten up by a group of people who were angry, so angry they lost the ability to appreciate the beauty of human life. This happened because we as a people are angry. It doesn't help to shove them behind bars and ignore them. The anger must be dispelled before it escalates into a group of people kicking the life out of a solitary human being with no one to help her.

The only real way to pay tribute to Kim Pham is to live and act with the kindness that would have saved her life on the night of January 18, 2014.

Whatever you personally think it takes to dispel anger in our society, take the time to do it, whether it means reaching out to mentor at-risk students, tutoring illiterate youths and adults, collecting and organizing food for shelters, giving away your goods and clothing, teaching your children about peace and tolerance, or just plain ol' being a better, kinder person to everyone around you.

I don't mean do that once a year for spring cleaning or Lent or Valentine's Day. I mean, every damn day, believe in a world that can get better and then live like it. Be that world. Be kindness and love and compassion, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Maybe it's impossible but it's a hell of a good thing to strive for.

Live less angrily and live more lovingly. Think twice when you call that other driver an “asshole” or a “bitch.” Take an extra deep breath and smile even if you're having a terrible day. Give your leftovers to that guy sitting on the floor when you walk by. Ask your annoying co-worker how her day was. Spread some joy.

I know this sounds idealistic. Realists would say the world is always going to have crime. I say: we've been doing it your way for a long time, realists, and I don't see things getting much better.

Realists of the world, you haven't been doing good enough with all your philosophies on how the world
is. Don't give me that “it is what it is” crap. Realists and idealists alike stood by and let Kim Pham get beaten to death.

It is what it is.
That's kindergarten-level humanity.

Realism is simply not getting that job you wanted, or your baby vomiting on your new dress, or reading news about finance, crime and war on Accepting reality is the easy part. It's just seeing what's there. Believing in something better takes imagination and hope. It's advanced learning for humanity.

It's time to stop accepting what
is and start seeing what we could be.

Let's stop thinking what we have now is “good enough.” Let's ask for more. Let's get what we deserve as a human race. Let's start doing more good so we can get better.

Now put a smile on your face and go ask your co-worker how she's doing today.

kim pham, santa ana, witnesses, vanesa zavala, death, awareness, love, peace, unity
More on Kim Pham here.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Top 3 Vintage Finds of the Day and Daily Inspiration

Hi guys,

Just a short post for today because I'm working on a much longer one to post later this week! I promise it will be good. Thanks for your patience :)

My top three vintage finds today are all from Rusty Zipper. Rusty Zipper is based in Oregon and describes itself as "the web's first vintage clothing store." It has been online since 1995, way before it became cool to shop vintage! So legit!

On top of that, the company is committed to helping the environment by purchasing all energy through Portland's clean energy program, using carbon neutral packaging through UPS for shipments, and taking an active stance toward recycling clothing. Read more about it here.

The site is very well organized and classified according to type or genre of clothing, for example, 70s Dresses or Disco Dresses. I immediately clicked that link and found this adorable number:

3. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!!!

70s, 1970s, american hustle, brady bunch, dress, retro, vintage, cute, sexy, pretty, shopping, retro, thriftshop, portland, oregon
Get it here!
 I'm quite sure that with the success of the American Hustle movie, especially after it scoops up some Oscar awards, disco-inspired pieces such as shirt dresses and wrap dresses will be hot for spring. Like Marcia Brady, this dress is authentically vintage and timelessly sexy.

 2. Mandarin Collar, Make Ya Holla

floral, dress, vintage, secondhand, shopping, thrift shop, rose, roses, mandarin collar, chinese, asian, traditional, evening, dress, dressy, sexy, cute, fun, retro, hot
Get it here!

This dress reminds me of that Wong Kar Wai film, In The Mood For Love, which was set in Hong Kong in the 1960s. The style was a very refined sexiness, replete with tight-fitting cheongsam (traditional Chinese dresses) and western-style pin curls with lots of red lipstick. I've been seeing some Asian-inspired dresses on the runways recently, with a lot of brocade and embroidery, so this dress would also be a wise investment. And finally, I just love the faux-conservative look of the mandarin collar, just waiting to be unbuttoned!

1. Jacquard of All Trades

dress, 90s, 1990s, 90's, jacquard, floral, evening, dress, cute, sexy, fun, formal, shopping, vintage, thrift, retro, secondhand
Get it here!
 Man, I love the 90s! Look at the shimmery jacquard! It looks like my high school winter formal dress! Again, I've seen a lot of jacquard dresses on the runway, so here's your chance to get in on the ground floor with an original vintage 90s piece. And that slit is so much more manageable than the ones threatening major southern exposure on Nasty Gal lately. Do I sound old? I totally aged myself there...oops.

Anyway, enjoy your shopping. Rusty Zipper is fun to look through even if you aren't buying. And finally, I'll leave you with my inspirational retro 90s song of the day:

 I like to listen to this and think about what has and hasn't changed since this song came out. Can a brother get a little PEACE?!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Vintage Styling for Oscar Academy Awards 2014 Nominees

Did you guys watch the Golden Globes this year?

I just watched the intro with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on YouTube. They looked fantastic!

BUT, I can't say I loved what EVERYONE wore to the Goldies. I would have styled certain actresses differently. Like, I would have put Jennifer Lawrence in a Dior dress that didn't look like a piece of sushi wrapped with seaweed.

No worries, though. She can redeem herself again soon. The great thing about Hollywood is that everyone gets a second chance after the Golden Globe Awards, because after that is the Oscar Academy Awards, where dreams are made and crushed...permanently! (Until next year)

Anyway, since I'm doing the whole secondhand thing this year, I decided to check online for good vintage options for fancy events like the Oscar Ceremony. A very cursory search revealed TONS of great vintage evening gowns online for all budgets and occasions! Etsy is a great source for all things vintage, including accessories, and Fab-Vintage has wonderful designer vintage pieces in great condition!

Feeling inspired, I took the liberty of styling the Best Actress nominees for this year, with almost all vintage dresses and accessories!

As you'll see below, I included pictures of what they wore to the Golden Globes this year and why I'd style them differently for the Oscars.

Sandra Bullock (for Gravity)

Golden Globe Outfit: Prabal Gurung Gown. With her dark eyes and hair and strong facial features, Sandra Bullock is a great subject for styling. However, I thought the color-blocked Prabal Gurung dress she wore for the GGs failed to play up her best assets. The pink bodice on her Prabal dress looked sort of blah on her skin.
sandra bullock, oscar, golden globes, 2014, dress, vintage, gravity, shopping, style, hollywood, cute, pretty, sexy, gown, gucci

 Proposed Oscar Outfit: Blue strapless embellished gown from Etsy with Nicholas Kirkwood pumps and Edie Parker clutch. I like bold primary colors on Sandra, since the colors need to be strong enough to compete with her features. In addition to the blue dress, I also envision her with canary yellow diamond earrings, a brightly colored clutch, and a vintage diamond ring.

Judi Dench (for Philomena)

Golden Globe Outfit: I couldn't find a pic of Judi Dench at the GGs, so here she is in a Stella McCartney dress over the holidays. She usually has no problems choosing a distinct, attractive, and age-appropriate outfit so I'm not too worried about her. Nonetheless...

judi dench, oscar, golden globes, philomena, 2014, dress, vintage, shopping, style, hollywood, cute, pretty, sexy, gown, chanel

Proposed Oscar Outfit: I'd try to accentuate her coolest feature which is her cropped silvery-white  hair. Having had this style wayyyyyy before Miley ever copped it, I think Judi should draw more attention to being the leader in this short-hair trend. With that said, I would put Judi in a frosty white silk dress like this vintage gown from the 1930s from Timeless Vixen. Paired with vintage Chanel pumps from Fab Vintage and spiked with vintage ruby accessories and red lipstick, Judi could steal the show back from all the young'uns at the ceremony.

Cate Blanchett (for Blue Jasmine)

Golden Globe Outfit:  Armani Couture Gown. Cate Blanchett wore a very elegant black lace Armani dress for the GGs. While she looks stunning in most dresses, I feel she has an unconventional beauty that can be enhanced with intense colors and avant-garde accessories.

cate blanchett, couture, oscar, golden globes, blue jasmine, 2014, dress, vintage, shopping, style, hollywood, cute, pretty, sexy, gown, armani, lanvin, gucci, chanel, rolex

Proposed Oscar Outfit: Because Cate is one of those rare fair-skinned women who can pull off bright colors, I'd put her in a red paint-splattered Basso Brooke gown, black Chanel sandals, and ornate Chanel earrings, all vintage from Farfetch. A quirky seashell-shaped (say it six times) Lanvin purse and vintage Rolex round out the outfit and pay tribute to Cate's unique style and talent.

Meryl Streep (for August: Osage County)

 Golden Globe Outfit: Vivienne Westwood Couture Gown. The most defining thing about Meryl's GG outfit was, first, her confidence, and second, her cool glasses. It takes a strong woman to dress her age at a star-studded event like the Golden Globes and Meryl wears these glasses like a G! It's like she's saying, "yes, I'm in my 60s and people in their 60s wear glasses, so what?" I really can't criticize the glasses choice and they look good with the silk gown she wore, but I'd personally like to see her in lighter colors for the Oscars.
meryl streep, august, osage county, oscar, golden globes, 2014, dress, vintage, shopping, style, hollywood, cute, pretty, sexy, gown, vivienne westwood, chanel

Proposed Oscars Outfit: A sparkly gold vintage Emma Domb gown from Farfetch, and gold and black vintage Chanel accessories with some lighter glasses to match the dress. Meryl has a sort of East Coast actress style, so I kept all of her accessories distinct-looking and with a whole lot of black!

Amy Adams (for American Hustle)

Golden Globes Outfit: Valentino Gown. Amy's dress for the GGs was rather fun, exuding a sexy disco vibe with the low V neckline and long pleated skirt. The dress was the perfect piece to remind everyone of her nomination for American Hustle, which is set during the 1970s. My only issue with this dress choice is the color; the dark red dress made her strawberry-blonde hair color look dull and lifeless.
amy adams, redhead, oscar, golden globes, 2014, dress, vintage, shopping, style, hollywood, cute, pretty, sexy, gown, valentino, oleg cassini, american hustle, 70s, disco
Proposed Oscars Outfit:  To keep the disco party going, I'd dress Amy in a long green vintage Oleg Cassini dress with a sparkly neckline. The satin bodice and strapless sweetheart neckline will still evoke the 70s mood, and the emerald green color would offset her pale skin and red hair rather than upstage it. A vintage tassel necklace, beaded clutch, oversized cocktail ring, and glittery nail lacquer add to Amy's disco ball charm.

Which Golden Globes dress did you guys like the most?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Top 10 Signs You're Addicted to Shopping

Hi everyone! I just wanted to share this list that I wrote for Buzzfeed today. Enjoy! Oh, and if you like, here's the Buzzfeed post for you to share ;)

10 Signs You're Addicted To Shopping

1. You get overly excited when you receive an e-mail about a sale.

shopping sales ohyes buzzfeed


2. You need to check out EVERYTHING on sale before you do any work.

shopping sales meme buzzfeed hyperbole clean


3. You do this when your boss walks by so he doesn’t know you’re on 5 different shopping sites right now.

shopping sales meme buzzfeed house gif

“Oh, um hiiiiii!”

4. You’re ecstatic Christmas is over so that you can start BUYING STUFF FOR YOURSELF AGAIN!!!

shopping sales meme buzzfeed beyonce bra gif


5. You turn into THIS when you see the words “Only One Left”

shopping sales meme buzzfeed beyonce wolf gif


6. And after you make your purchase, you’re like

shopping sales meme buzzfeed beyonce whoot talk show gif

Whoot whoot!

7. You feel SO accomplished, you want to dance around your office!

shopping sales meme buzzfeed puppy dog funny gif

Suck it, everyone!!

8. And then you’re like MOOOOORE…I. WANT. MORE.

shopping sales meme buzzfeed cute animal duck funny gif


9. You love your purchase even if it looks insane when you wear it.

shopping sales meme buzzfeed mean girls funny gif

Whatevs, I look hot.

10. And then it starts ALLLLL OVER AGAIN!

shopping sales meme buzzfeed mean girls funny gif


So are you addicted? BONUS: Here’s THREE ways you can try to SOLVE your problem!

1. Read this article on “fast fashion” and how it destroys lives.

shopping fast fashion problems

How Your Addiction to Fast Fashion Kills

2. Make a Resolution and STICK to it!

fashion shopping new year resolution

Even if the clothes are SO. YUMMY.

3. Make your resolution public so that you’re accountable for your actions!

fashion shopping new year resolution

Your friends will support you eventually!

Good luck and happy (socially responsible) shopping!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

5 Vintage Inspired Festival Outfits

The line-up for Coachella 2014 came out this week!

For those of you who don't know, Coachella is a big annual music festival held in Southern California every April, near Palm Springs. It's three days straight of musical performances from the morning until 12 at night!

I went for the first time last year and I loved seeing the different styles that people wore. It's quite a challenge to dress fashionably yet comfortably and to somehow prepare yourself to be out in the desert sun all day and then face the cold breeze at night time. Definitely bring a picnic blanket and a backpack with bottled water and sunblock for the day and a jacket for night.

Practicalities aside though, looking stylish was important at Coachella. See some pics from last year here!

For your fashion inspiration needs, I signed onto and put together a few outfits based on vintage pieces that I think would be cute and comfy for an all-day festival.

Fun and Funky

super mario, mario, aviators, sunglasses, shorts, boots, hunter, festival, coachella, 2013, 2014, parka, anorak, dior, handbag, logo, trend, shopping, fashion, cute, fun, funky, playful, retro, vintage

Sexy Sophisticated Flapper

gold, real, green, retro, vintage, jazz age, art deco, flapper, great gatsby, daisy, chandelier earrings, silk, bolero, lanvin, dress, floral, feminine, sexy, classy, hat, floppy, loafers, oxfords, black and white, shopping, trendy, fashion, cute, sexy, funky, retro, thrift, sexy, fun, fringe

Feminine Floral and Romantic Rose with Vintage Chanel Accents

floral, feminine, dorsay, sandals, flats, comfy, chanel, earrings, frine, flapper, sexy, girly, cute, fun, shopping, trendy, fashion, shopping, festival, coachella, 2013, 2014

Glamorous Bling and Sexy Shorts

red, black, beaded, embellished, bling, lipstick, aviators, rihanna, boots, sexy, cool, funky, festival, coachella, 2013, 2014, fashion, shopping, music, jewelry, shiny, sparkly, rhinestones

Flirty Summery Tropical Print with Stripes

tropical, aviators, chanel, floral, stripes, nautical, outdoors, green, dorsay, flats, trendy, shopping, fashion, style, cute, feminine, playful, fun, bracelet, wooden, festival, coachella, music, 2013, 2014, outkast+

Finally, here is the Coachella line-up!

lineup, line-up, coachella, coachella2014, cochella, music, festival, outkast, arcade fire, use, motorhead, calvin harris, beck, disclosure, duck sauce, flosstradamus, quens of the stone age, skrillex, pharrell, zedd, girl talk, ellie goulding, chromeo, neko case, gareth emery, lorde, forster the people, mgmt, empire of the sun, kid cudi, as, sleigh bells
What sort of outfit do you plan on wearing and which bands are you looking forward to seeing?