Working for a Scarf

To any of the long-time readers of this little blog/confessional/style diary that I have here (and all of my friends), you will know what has been the driving force behind my dreams in fashion for the past five years of my life. A scarf.

Yes, it is a scarf of all things that has been the driving force behind all of my photo shoots, runways, styling, and stressful nights. But it is not just any scarf. It’s an Alexander McQueen skull scarf. McQueen, as I have discussed previously on this blog, was what showed me that fashion and style was something more than just getting dressed in the morning. That is is an outward projection of the inward being we are and are sometimes cautious to reveal. That fashion and what we wear project not only our socio-economic levels, but our dreams, insecurities, fears, and hopes for ourselves– whom we really want to be or who we see ourselves as. Fashion is more of a mixture of psychology and art than it is just clothes.

After five years of watching countless amounts of his runway videos, cutting out editorials from Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar that are featuring his latest collection, and convincing my economics class to invest in his stock for our project, I finally decided I was going to purchase an Alexander McQueen scarf before the end of the summer. I picked up a second job to work evenings and early mornings– basically the only times I wasn’t interning– and started to budget every cent I had and what I would be earning in order to purchase this scarf.

To be honest, I could have purchased the scarf sooner than now. I have worked jobs where I could have bought two of his scarves in a month and still would have enough left over for some food. But it was something that I just never thought about pursuing. It was like the green light in the Great Gatsby– it was beautiful from afar but I worried it wouldn’t be as grand once it was in my hands.

But despite all of these concerns and with the positive support from my boyfriend, I decided I was going to save up every cent and buy that scarf for my semester in London (starting in late August). I subscribed to all the discount websites– that I can trust of course– and just prayed for a sale on one of those $300 scarves I had wanted since my sophomore year of high school. I worked late evenings, early mornings, multiple shifts on my “day off” (when I wasn’t at my internship), and as many weekends as I could. I would be the first to respond to the emails about an available shift and I would change any plans so I could just buy this damn scarf with my own money.

And then an email came. It came from Shop To Me and I briefly looked at my phone before going back to work. And then, like a ton of bricks, I realized in the subject line it said that wonderful name: “Alexander McQueen”. I immediately logged onto the site and saw that there was in fact a sale on McQueen scarves and that I was in reach of my dream. After looking through the five that were on sale, I finally decided on a bright orange one with gray skulls, blue and pink hummingbirds, dragonflies, and flowers scattered throughout and little flowers writing out his name in the center. I then placed an order and still didn’t believe I had done it when I got the confirmation of my order in an email. My brain just wouldn’t compute. It didn’t seem real that this item I wanted to bad for so long was going to be in my mailbox in less than a week.

I hadn’t slept the night before it came. I was up all night texting my boyfriend telling him how concerned I was– what if it didn’t feel right, the color was a bad pick, or if it wasn’t unique enough in my wardrobe? All of these thoughts and concerns raced through my brain throughout the night and I just worried about both my money and this scarf together. When I finally was able to pick up the package that afternoon I simply stared at the unopened box for a while, not quite sure what to do. I was worried it wouldn’t live up to my expectations and would be a disappointment. When I got back to my apartment I decided to open it. It was wrapped in this cheap clear bag, like how I get underwear from Forever 21, and I was disappointed it wasn’t in something more elegant. That this man and his vision could just be thrown into some cheap-ass plastic bag and then into a box.

I carefully removed the scarf from the bag and box and looked at it. I was confused with the style, length and whether I could really wear it. I felt like the green light wasn’t as cool as I was expecting it to be. I stared at it a while in my room, pondering whether it really was worth it. Was an entire month of late night shifts and no sleep worth this scarf? Was it really?

I decided to just try wearing it in as many ways as I could. I was going to make this work and not give up on this scarf nor him. He had gotten me through so much before, he could help me now too. Maybe it was just time, or finding the right ways to wear it, or just me realizing money isn’t everything, but I grew into loving the scarf. I haven’t worn any of my other ones since and look forward to wearing it in London. Perhaps it wasn’t love at first sight, but I am proud of myself for finally doing it.

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What do you think? Do you have a favorite designer? Or just something you have worked very hard for and it didn’t initially live up to expectations?

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Summer Trend #1: Infinity Bracelets

To kick off the season of Summer Trends, I decided to talk about my favorite one in terms of accessories– the infinity bracelet.

What is the infinity bracelet? Well, it is simply a bracelet with an infinity symbol. They range in styles of leather bands, jeweled, beaded, single stranded, double stranded, bangle, cuffed, and so much more.

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Infinity bracelets range in price from twenty dollars (like some on Etsy.com) to over 200 dollars (like one from Tiffany & Co.). Keep in mind your budget when looking at infinity bracelets, the quality you want, and whether you want individualized details added to it.

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So, how do you wear the infinity bracelet? Well, these are usually delicate pieces of jewelry, which makes them look best when worn with other simple or delicate bracelets. The infinity bracelet I have is a simple and delicate piece designed by Jewelry Craft Studio (http://jewelrycraftstudio.etsy.com) and was personalized to include my initials on one tag and my boyfriend’s initials on the other tag. I wear it with a Zoppini bracelet– aren’t I old-school, huh?– and a C Wonder bracelet, which my boyfriend gave me for my birthday. Image

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But, if you are wearing an infinity bracelet that has additional bracelets attached to it– like the one below– then wear it by itself, otherwise it becomes too much. As well, try to keep your colors in alignment with those of the bracelet. Make it all come together, not oddly stick out.

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What do you think of the infinity bracelet? Will you be wearing it this summer? Or do you already have one? And, if so, does it have a special meaning?

Do Fashion Ads Make Sex Suck?

There have been countless studies showing that fashion advertisements have effected people’s self-esteem, but could fashion ads be effecting your love life and relationships? What about your sex life?

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Let’s talk about the one thing everyone seems to agree on in terms of fashion advertisements– the affects on self-esteem. There have been countless studies and research done to show that these ads do make people have a lower self-esteem because people are subconsciously (or even consciously in some cases) comparing themselves to the people in the ads; but there has been a recent study by professors at the University of Michigan and the University of Manitoba showing that it depends on the advertisement. Ads that have blatant displays of female idealization– so, makeup ads for example– make women feel better about themselves because they consciously realize what the ad is trying to do. But other ads that feature beautiful people but in a more subtle way– let’s look at a jewelry advertisement, like this one below from Bulgari– are what hits home for our self-esteems. Apparently, when it is obvious, we are immune to the displays of beauty and therefore an integral part of the ad, but if the model is selling us something we can physically can differentiate from them (more than makeup; like clothes, perfume, or accessories), we begin to question our own beauty and feel negativity.

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We all have seen these advertisements that show that “sex sells”– but does it effect our perceptions of love and sex? Does it create new expectations and perceptions of sex? Well, to begin this concept, let’s look at fashion in general. In a documentary done by the BBC, they showed that people buy from specific brands– such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry– because we want to show we are successful and therefore can have the best partner (or, “mate” to be scientific). So, automatically, the fashion industry is effecting whom we are attracted to and want to have a relationship and (eventual) children with– and this applies even if you don’t want children, your body is subconsciously controlling this.

Now, let’s starting looking at a deeper level at advertisements. There are many fashion brands that use blatant sexuality– such as the Versace ads I have at the top of this post– and there are arguments that these ads make it subconsciously okay for sexual abuse and violence (Versace is heavily criticized and said to encourage “gang bangs” through their ads). But does this all set us up for expectations in terms of sex, sort of how pornography has for decades? Do we expect by purchasing one of these products that our sex lives will immediately become steamy and so hot that we not only have one hugely-muscled man lusting after us, but four? Does this also make us think that if we are with a person who owns these products that means they are some wild, crazy animal in bed that will satisfy our every desire? Let’s be honest, just how not every women can do a split like a porn star, not every Calvin Klein or Versace wearing-man will have more abs than Gerard Butler in 300 or be the best partner ever. Maybe he is some guy that looks more like someone on The Big Bang Theory; or maybe he is incredibly hot, but is not that great in the bedroom. What if we are just left disappointed in the end?

Even advertisements that don’t feature overly buff and oiled men can create this sexual friction with reality. Such as this Chanel ad from 2009– it features two women standing very close, which inclines the viewer to think the women will kiss.

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Or there is even this Gucci campaign from the Summer of 2012 collection that alluded to both sensuality between the two female models, but with a third member as well (threesome reference, anyone?)

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Or even an ad with one model can effect our perceptions of sex. There are obvious ones like the Burberry ad for their perfume, which features Rosie Wellington completely naked except for a trench coat and you can clearly get an reference to her pleasuring herself. Or, there are even less obvious ones like the this one by Prabal Gurung– the model is alone and fully clothed, but her expression and body position allude to something completely different.

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So, I am just curious whether fashion advertisements are setting expectations for people in terms of their sexual relationships. That by purchasing these clothes we can have four men wanting to have sex with us at one time, we will have men and women lusting after us (maybe even leading to threesomes?), and even our feeling of self-pleasure will become better. That by buying a $6,000 coat or dress will make me so desirable and every aspect of my love life orgasmic. Really? I mean, I love fashion and the advertisements like a lot of people, but some of them go too far. I would still want the dress even if the model wasn’t going to get gang banged; or I would still want the jacket even if the models weren’t on the verge of making out with each other. Do I need to be shown this and it possibly make me have silly expectations for sex in order for me to buy something? Really?

Do I really need to see this to buy your product? Shouldn’t I be wanting it and buying because I want it, not because I want it?

What do you think? Do you think ads, especially fashion ones, are effecting our love lives and sexual expectations? Please comment below and let me know.

Photo of the Month: May

Photo of the Month: May

Well, currently popular culture is swarming with 1920s fashion and references due to the release of the highly expected film, The Great Gatsby. Rather than picking one of the many current editorials of 1920s inspired fashion, I wanted to pay tribute to fashion history. Despite my upkeep of current trends and styles, I am a huge lover of fashion history. I am usually reading a biography on a designer (Chanel is one of my favorites to read about) or an era and how fashion impacted it.

This particular image is from the Vogue’s March issue of 1922. The cover is drawn by Georges Lepape (1887 – 1971), who was a big fashion illustrator from France. His career was at its peak from 1912 to 1925. He was also the first illustrator to introduce movement to images– he would draw models walking in and out of the image.

Vogue was the leading fashion magazine at the time and worked with such artists as Lepape and Salvador Dali. They showed both European and American fashions and showed the epitomization and wealth and desires of the era.

What do you think of the photo? Do you have a recommendation for June? And what do you think of all the 1920s fashion?

Photo of the Month: April

Photo of the Month: April

This photo, which features Puerta Rican super model Joan Smalls, just says “summer” to me– and I need that really bad right now after a snowy winter season. The flowing dress, from Narcisco Rodriguez, is just plain gorgeous and makes me want to wear it to the beach. The simplicity and romanticism of the shot is what makes this photo so great. It brings back that nostalgia of being at the beach or being on a boat for the first time, when it was amazing and new.

This photo was shot in the April 2013 issue of American Vogue. The photographer was Patrick Demarchelier.

What do you think of April’s photo of the month? And are you looking forward to summer?

Fashion Star: Season 2

With long lasting fashion-reality shows like Project Runway and What Not to Wear struggling to keep viewers (WNTW will air its last season this summer), NBC seems to have hit a mark with its business-meets-fashion show Fashion Star, which returned for its second season on March 8. The show is where designers compete for their designs to be bought by one of three companies– Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Express– and then immediately sold within select stores and online within minutes of it airing on the show. Designers on the show are working in one of three teams, each one mentored by a different judge– either billion-dollar celebrity designer Jessica Simpson, menswear designer John Varvatos, or best-dressed winner and designer Nicole Richie–but their designs are bought individually.

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The show is currently only in its second season and has already made an huge impact with viewers. Perhaps what makes this show so marketable and popular with viewers is that 1) it is on a major, basic cable network and is thus more accessible to all audiences and 2) that the viewer can purchase the clothes. This show is breaking down that invisible boundary that has existed between the designer and the consumer– the viewer can immediately purchase what has walked down the runway– and it creates a connection. But another great aspect to this show is that, unlike Project Runway, the show displays that while a designer may design, it comes down to the buyer whether that item actually is seen and bought by customers. Essentially, Fashion Star combines the creativity of the design world and the reality of the business market.

I like the season thus far and many of the designers’ works. There are some truly creative and innovative designers (some with incredible resumes, I may add) who are on this season and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next. Below I have included the photos of some of the winning designs.

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What do you think of Fashion Star? And do you have a favorite fashion-related show?

Keep Calm and…Rape Shirts?

Keep Calm and...Rape Shirts?

I try not to rant on this website too much; I designed 1st on Trend to be a forum for fashion and pop culture, not rants. After all, I am just another college student in America– how are my rants any more effective than any other person’s in the world? Quite simply, they’re not. However, I just couldn’t let this topic go. It bothered me down to a point where I had to write about it.

Whether I have been noticing more of these events due to me taking a Women’s Studies course or just the fact these events are happening more recently, I have no idea. But, no matter how or why these events are happening, there seems to be an increase in sexist comments being produced in pop culture recently. Whether it is the fact that women have made some legislative advances (women now being permitted on the front lines in military combat and the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act) or whatever, there have been some equally wrong things to be happening in popular culture.

A few days ago the clothing company Solid Gold Bomb, which is known for t-shirts sold on Amazon, released some t-shirts with sexist slogans based on the over-done World War II phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On.” The slogans included “Keep Calm and Rape A Lot” and “Keep Calm and Hit Her.”

Really? I mean, come on, really? These slogans completely make no sense and beat out the whole “Cool Story Babe, Now Make Me a Sandwich” shirts– or even the infamously moronic “YOLO” shirts (I only like the Lonely Island song, personally)– in stupidity. These shirts not only make no sense but are demeaning towards both genders. It is demeaning towards women for the obvious reasons of it making rape and domestic abuse a joke, but it is demeaning towards men in that it completely ignores the fact that men are beaten and raped in relationships too. It also continues the inaccurate notion “don’t get raped” rather than “don’t rape.”

With shirts and slogans like this being released (although they were recently taken down by the company with an apology letter) it is no wonder that there are still sexist comments and beliefs still being put out. Such as, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs recently published an amended Student Handbook with edited gun-control policies…and a “ten tips on how not to get raped” section. These “tips” included peeing yourself, vomiting, and telling your rapist that you have a disease or are on your menstrual cycle. It only took CNN, the Huffington Post, and Cosmopolitian Magazine to publish articles on it for UCCS to take the list down and say it was originally from 2006.

Nevertheless, this is silly and amazing that there is this amount of sexism still occurring. Women have been attending public educational institutions and voting for at least a century and yet women still are not being treated equal. Yes, the Hill is debating over the important issues of whether I, as a woman, have the rights to equal pay and legislature over my own body as a man does, but what about the idiotic things my generation seems to encourage? No one seemed annoyed by the “I (heart) boobies” wrist bands or even the “Cool Story Babe, Now Make Me a Sandwich” shirts, but does it take an extreme like this to make us realize that the current generation has sexist comments and beliefs too? Do they all have to be this extreme for us to even react anymore?

What do you think of the shirts? And what do you think of other possibly sexist comments/slogans that are in pop culture?