What I’m Thinking: Social Media Democracy and the Power to Judge

Tee shirt | jeans | loafers | sunnies

Comment. It’s an interesting word- as an English teacher, I teach my students to look for “connotations” of words- meaning the “feeling” (positive, negative, sometimes neutral) that a word gives off; kind of like it’s “vibe”. What connotation would you say that the word “comment” has?

Pretty negative, no?

Before the age of social media, the word “comment” seemed pretty much relegated to social situations where people were sharing unsolicited opinions about someone or something. The actual definition of a “comment” is “a written or verbal expression of opinion or reaction”. More times then not, when someone shares an opinion or reaction, it’s critical ( or else it would be called a “compliment”, right?). The idea of commenting on people, places, occurrences and experiences is nothing new- but since social media has become the all-powerful democratizing platform for expression, “commenting” is so much more PERMANENT, VISIBLE, and relentless.

Before social media and the internet, if you wanted to “comment” on something, you had fewer, less appealing options that required either more work or less impact:

1. to get out a pen and paper and write that sh*t down, seek out an envelope and stamp and walk yourself to the nearest mailbox to mail said comment to the desired recipient- chances are you had to REALLY want to comment on something in order to take all of these steps- so maybe that coffee you had at the overpriced cafe wasn’t so bad after all…

2. Just say it out loud, either to the present company, who either agreed or disagreed, then you not moved on, or mutter it under your breath to yourself, in which case the comment went nowhere really other than to let off whatever steam you had brewing over that less than satisfactory cup of overpriced coffee.

Fast forward 20 years…

Now, it’s way too easy. Had a bad cup of coffee? Anyone and their grandma who has Instagram or Facebook can publicly criticize that less than stellar cup of overpriced coffee in a very (semi; sure people can delete comments but people can’t unsee them!) permanent, rapidly spreading way with absolutely NO restrictions!!! ANYONE CAN SAY ANYTHING THEY WANT.

The coffee analogy is a tame subject to illustrate my point- we’ve all seen social media comments that WOULD NEVER and COULD NEVER have been made, let alone given attention years ago, aimed at other human beings’ physical attributes, political opinions, careers, upbringings, cultures- an endless barrage of opinions and reactions.

Most would argue, myself included, that democracy, in terms of giving “the people” a voice, is a positive thing. Humans across all cultures and time periods have fought and sacrificed so that they could have “a voice”.

BUT WHERE DO WE DRAW THE LINE?

Where does having a voice end, and commenting just because you CAN begin?

What are the consequences for us ALL having the constant ability to hit “like” and “comment”, with such ease and purposeless? What is it doing to our societal expectations, to our individual psyches and to our relationships with each other?

Just because you have an opinion or reaction to someone or something, does that mean that we have to or even SHOULD share it?

Imagine 20 years ago, flipping through the pages of a magazine or watching actual TV or a movie, and coming across a model, advertisement, commercial, actress or actor or product that you had an (probably negative, bc after all, we love criticizing what we can’t attain for ourselves) opinion or reaction to- what could you do?! Yell at the magazine?! Scream at the TV?! Chances are that you were not going to write them a letter expressing how you didn’t like their hairstyle or politics- you just muttered to yourself or “commented” to your present company. And the negative thought died there in that moment.

My mom, who is now close to 70, actually inspired me to write this post. She’s made the the observation more than a few times that “people nowadays” feel like they constantly have a “right” to express their opinion- whereas “back in the day” people knew when and what to keep to themselves. She believes it made for a more pleasant society— and while I do absolutely acknowledge that society back then was more repressed, and the opinions of all people were definitely NOT acknowledged or respected or dammit even HEARD- I do feel like power to “comment” and “like” has given us a weird sense of entitlement to constantly be judge and jury of every. Single. Encounter.

***so at this point, I had originally stopped writing and had my husband, Tim, read over what I had so far***

His feedback included:

“Don’t you see the irony in that YOU and your blog are part of the comment culture- just writing this post is a comment in itself”

“Why do you always glorify the past as if it was a better time? You have to change and move with the times instead of getting angry about “how things are now.”

To be completely honest, his feedback hurt. I had to process what he said and really think about if I even still wanted to hit publish on this post- AM I being hypocritical by writing this? Or being old fashioned and angry at the changing times?

I tried to get to the heart of what I was originally trying to say in this post.

I suppose it’s not that I think we should all silence and censor ourselves and each other— social Media really has empowered so many groups and individuals that otherwise would have no platform to express themselves. Tim is right- The ability to comment and voice our opinions has helped shape everything from political and social movements to fashion trends.

Maybe what I mean is that we should perhaps use caution when commenting- to try and not forget that just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean it’s to be taken lightly. Maybe a good rule to live by is to comment online only what you would say out loud. And maybe to remember that just because you can easily show approval or disapproval in the digital space, doesn’t mean that that constant and instant level of judgement needs to transfer to “real life” encounters as well.

This post isn’t ending in a comfortable place- and I’m actually ok with that. After all, some aspects of life just remain unresolved, and that’s alright. There’s no conclusion, and as Tim clearly reminded me, I definitely don’t have the answers- actually, I’m leaving this post with more questions than I started out with. To add to the irony, if actually live if you guys would leave a COMMENT (!) , share or discuss this idea with me- positive, negative or neutral reactions are welcome!

Xo,

Christine

What We’re Doing: Eating in Restaurants with a Toddler

Guys, I don’t know if it’s a New York thing (what’s cooking?), or a working mom thing (oh so I’m supposed to go grocery shopping after work THEN cook dinner; NOPE * ), or maybe it’s because I (we?) crave a little outing/adventure and I just love being in a social atmosphere for the most part (+ really hate doing dishes)… but we EAT OUT, like A LOT. If you’ve been a reader/follower for some time now, you know that my little fam and I may as well be restaurant critics at this point lol… and one of the most frequently asked questions I get in response to my Instagram stories is “how do you keep Nolan entertained at restaurants ?” (or something to that effect)- so I figured I’d share here what works for him and us, all in one spot that you guys can go back to if needed!

So first off, let me give the *disclaimers*:

Nolan is 2 going on 3 in a few months as I write this post.

No, he is not always well behaved and far from always perfect when out; however, I have to be honest- he just has a chill little personality and really is “good” in restaurants 90% of the time. In regards to the scary 10% though, he usually can be calmed down and refocused within a few minutes.

Lastly, I am by no means an expert!! Just here to share what works for him and us😁

1. We’ve been taking him out to restaurants with us literally since birth- we chose to not follow the “wait till the shots at 8 weeks rule” bc to be honest, I couldn’t go that long without going out for brunch and dinner!!! Also, I’m a big believer in that the world is a dirty, loud, uncomfortable place- the sooner they can adjust, the better! I remember stowing him under the table at many a dark, loud, crowded restaurant in his little car seat carrier- and I really do believe this helped!

2. We don’t let him have our phones for entertainment. Now PLEASE, if you do let your kids use iPads or phones at the table PLEASE DON’T FEEL BAD OR GUILTY!! Not here to judge AT ALL- do what you need to do!! For us though, we didn’t want him to rely on a device that needed charging- bc god forbid the day came when the battery dies and he doesn’t know how to entertain himself- we were more afraid for ourselves to be screwed lol. So please, no judgement- but I will say, bc he never was given it, he doesn’t even know it exists as an option, and seems to have developed pretty good social skills so far in terms of table skills. I will say, not giving him a “device” does mean more work on our part as adults at the table to engage with him, converse with him ( no matter how boring the topic he brings up is🤣 “sooo… let’s talk about CARS AGAIN”)… but it’s worth it to us in the long run.

3. We play lots of verbal/visual games— “EYE SPY”, “Name your favorite _____” (food, color, animal etc and we just go in a circle around the table!), we make up stories, retell old stories, play guessing games (describe an object and he has to guess), and always have each person tell how their day was- old school, but I swear they really work!

4. We bring plenty of table activities (will share links and visuals below!) and try to rotate which ones we bring so that they always feel fresh. We leave a few in each of our cars for cases of impromptu meals out (which happens frequently for us!).

5. Order bread/crackers/chips/whatever the restaurant provides immediately + decide quickly what we’re all having and order when the server comes for the drink order- time is of the essence with a toddler!

6. Lastly, we like to have Nolan be a part of be whole eating out process- a trip to investigate the bathroom, wash our hands and (hopefully) use the potty, greet and talk with the waitstaff or hostess, and give his own order to the server- we feel like making him do most of the things the adults do helps to keep him occupied as well!

Some of Nolan’s favorite table activities:

Shop them here: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9

And before I go, I’m sharing some unedited videos of his current fave restaurant activity- all you need is a roll of dot stickers (can even use reinforcements or those color coded garage sale stickers!) a sheet of paper and a writing utensil! Easier to see visually than for me to describe lol:

Hope this all helps! At the end of the day, practice makes it all better- also “practice” means less dishes to clean also so…💯💯💯

Xo, ❤

Christine

What I’m Wearing: NYFW February 2019 – Truths about what ‘Fashion’ people and Bloggers Wear to Fashion Week

Do you ever wonder about the (crazy) fab outfits that bloggers and fashion industry people wear to Fashion Week? This season, multiple references to old Chinese ladies in Chinatown came up regarding the sometimes over-the-top streetstyle looks that appear at fashion week season after season. If you follow me on Instagram, you may remember me sharing on stories how once I got off the train back in my regular neighborhood and away from the NYFW mayhem, a random guy passed me on the street and goes “what the hell are you wearing?! You look completely crazy!” For reference, here is what I was wearing:

Hot pink Marc Jacobs tee | brown faux leather puffer | brown patent skirt | white mules | bracelet handle bag

Now, in the realm of fashion week looks, this one isn’t even anywhere NEAR the craziest! However, I totally get what he was saying (and was in no way offended- he’s kind of right- and ended up sort of inspiring this post {thanks random guy outside the train station!} )

I’m going to aim to answer the three main questions I get about dressing for fashion week here:

1) why the crazy outfits?

2) where do the clothes come from/ what do you do with them afterwards?

3) how do you ‘plan’ your looks so that they reflect what’s happening with streetstyle in general?

Here we go!

1) So why the crazy outfits…to be brutally honest, most fashion people, bloggers included, are aiming to get photographed by streetstyle photographers, online publications, other bloggers etc. The opportunity to get “noticed” for your outfit in the age of social media has really changed the fashion week streetstyle game- one of the most controversial parts of fashion week is the streetstyle aspect- is it outweighing the focus on shows themselves? Maybe. When you arrive to a show, there’s always the inevitable try-hard girls parading back and forth outside the show hoping to get snapped by a photographer- not to hate on them or anything- being picked up by an online publication can really boost your career in this industry- girls, DO YOU- I, in the other hand am usually A) running late B) have to pee C) would rather catch up with friends before the show (although I did get interviewed and snapped by two streetstyle photogs this season and I have to admit it felt pretty damn cool!). The other main reason, at least for me, that we dress in EXTRA EXTRA outfits is because it’s kind of my only chance to play fantasy dress up! As a teacher, it’s not like I’m going to wear the looks I wear to fashion week on the daily- so getting to plan outlandish outfits, wear and photograph them is just plain old FUN- and let’s me (and us, if I’m speaking for industry people) step out of reality for a week.

2) So… where do the clothes come from and what do you do with them after you wear them for shows?

Anine Bing tiger sweatshirt | red leopard midi skirt | white combat boots | tan teddy jacket | pearl clips

To answer the first part of the question- sources for clothing: there are basically three ways bloggers/ industry people get clothes for fashion week.

1. Designers send/ gift them clothing and accessories (for free usually) to wear to their own show. This really only happens to big time bloggers with hundreds of thousands (or more) followers or celebrities/ socialites.

2. Designers LOAN them clothing or accessories, allowing bloggers/ fashion people to do “pulls” (you’ve prob heard every blogger and her mama posting “doing pulls for fashion week today!!!” on her stories the weeks leading up to fashion week. You basically get to pick from the showroom, “borrow” some looks for (usually) free in exchange for covering that brand/designer in your social media posts during the week. This process is more open than straight gifting, meaning that even smaller bloggers can make this happen- I’ve done pulls with a few designers for fashion weeks in past seasons, some through me reaching out with a proposal, and other times the designers/ showrooms/brands have reached out to me.

3. We BUY THE CLOTHING OURSELVES or GASP use something we already have! 75% of my fashion week looks are self purchased- I’m very particular about having control over what I wear; also I like to be sure that what I buy isn’t a one time piece- it must be able to be remixed in my wardrobe after fashion week has come and gone!

Oversized pinstripe blazer | high waisted jeans | brown suede shoes | pearl headband | tortoise bag

As far as the second part of the question – what do you do with the pieces after fashion week is over: if you’ve borrowed from a brand or designer, obviously you return the clothing or accessories. For any gifted items, some bloggers sell or donate them; some probably keep them and maybe rewear them. Personally, like I said above, I make sure that anything I buy myself to wear for fashion week, I know I can and will remix into regular life outfits. For instance, the pieces in the “crazy” pink and brown look: the puffer I wear as my regular winter coat, the neon pink t/shirt I’ll wear under blazers with jeans or with denim shorts come summer. The patent skirt was on loan, so I sent it back.

For the tiger sweatshirt/ red leopard skirt look: I purposely saved the white combat boots for fashion week, but bought them bc I know I’d wear them all the time this winter and spring. I already love and wear printed midi skirts, so the red leopard one was a no-brainer- I’ll rewear it with sweaters and tees in the coming months. The Anine Bing sweatshirt, while pricey, is a hero piece of my wardrobe- it can be dressed up or down and I’ve already worn it with a leather mini AND leggings with sneaks on two different occasions.

As for the brown blazer and jeans look, which was prob the “tamest” of my fashion week looks: you guys know I love a blazer, so I’ll obvi rewear it with tons of tees and jeans, with tights and boots or over a dress. The jeans and shoes I already owned, and the pearl headband and bag were both under $100 and I know they’ll be pieces I reach for to make basic outfits feel special and current (if you didn’t know it, headbands and all hair accessories are having a MAJOR moment right now).

3) How do you plan your fashion week looks, in terms of being “on trend” but also standing out, AND fitting in?

Neon green sweater | green polka dot drill skirt (sold out, similar here) | white combat boots | croc and clear bag | leather moto jacket | white sunnies

I probably start planning my looks a month or so in advance. To be REALLY honest, I’m not a super organized planner; I kind of just let ideas come to me based around pieces I see that excite me and jot them down in a notes tab in my phone! Usually what happens is I come across pieces I know will be good for fashion week- based on current or upcoming trends or just standout pieces that I LOVE – and screenshot them in my phone. Then, as fashion week comes closer, I build looks around those pieces. Also, you have to remember that fashion week designers show for THE FOLLOWING SEASON- meaning the shows that just happened last week (February 2019) are looks for NEXT FALL, not this coming spring. So what bloggers and industry people do is go back to look and shows’ images and runways from last fashion week to kind of see what will be relevant style-wise NOW, if that makes sense? Also, being aware of streetstyle and reading current streetstyle blogs like WhoWhatWear keep us apprised of what’s going on in fashion as well. So for instance, I already owned the neon green sweater above. As fashion week drew closer, I purchased the green polka dot skirt to pair with the neon sweater bc I knew that bold colored monochrome looks were very current, green is having a definite moment, AND head to toe monochromatic looks tend to do well with streetstyle photographers. I paired the green pieces with white accessories (boots and sunnies) for a modern pop, and added the clear and croc bag as kind of the one “non-matching” item of interest. The moto jacket I already owned and literally goes with everything.

So that’s it! I hope I answered some of your “burning” (haha!”) Fashion week related questions here! Shoot me an email, dm, or comment if there’s anything I didn’t get to in this post- and stay tunes for the next post where I’ll be sharing what I learned from the runways this season in terms of upcoming/ staying trends and styling tricks!

Xo, ❤

Christine

What I’m Wearing: Brown and Brights

One color combo that I cannot get enough of recently is brown (in varying shades) and brights (neon, pastels, and even primary shades that I haven’t worn in years!).

Brown hasn’t been in the fashion spotlight in like EVER, so I’m pretty pumped that it’s having its heyday- we all have 86296927 black outfits- now, brown, tan, taupe, caramel, coffee suddenly feel SO FRESH. I’ve been loving pairing shades of brown, particularly outerwear and accessories with bright colors- mostly sweaters in fun colors– it feels like I’ve opened up so many new outfit possibilities by injecting brown into my wardrobe– black is obvi a classic for a reason, but brown feels less harsh when paired with a colorful counterpart; more NOW, more chic. I’m currently planning most of my fashion week looks for this season around this color combo– shop some of my fave pieces below to start creating your own “brown and bright” looks!

Lavender sweater | brown teddy jacket

Teddy jacket | beanie | boots

Green sweater | leopard skirt | white bag | white mules

Blue sweater | brown mules (sold out, similar here!) | fur bag (old J.Crew; similar here!)| jeans

Pink sweater | jeans | brown faux fur bag (old J .crew; similar linked!)

Neon sweater | black jeans | brown headband

Shop my fave bright items:

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15 / 16 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 21

…and my favorite brown items:

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15 / 16 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 21

Xo, ❤

Christine