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?