I’m not a good friend… But then again, are any of us?

I’m not a good friend… But then again, are any of us?

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Friendship seems like a skill or topic I was never really keen on. I’m not really sure why. It’s something I am still learning about.

Yes, I had to learn how to be a good friend.

Don’t we all? I don’t know. Some people seem to be born with it. All these questions hit me when I found a quote about friendship from “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran:

“And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit. For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need but not your emptiness.

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”

What is a friend?
What is true friendship?
How do we choose friends and why?
How are friendships so complex and yet so simple?

Pretty sure it was Voltaire (or another French philosopher) who said that friendship is like a garden to be cultivated. And it makes sense. Humans are pretty selfish creatures (the paradox being that we equally crave human connection), so we have to learn to give to others.

But I think that is precisely what makes friendship so beautiful. The sacrifice. The deepening of the spirit. The mutual care and cherishing. Even the Bible talks about the beauty of friendship. (I mean, look at Jesus and his disciples. The bond they shared was evident throughout the New Testament.)

“A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.” Prov. 17:17

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13

So, in short, I’m still learning what it means to be a friend. A good friend. One who is willing to fill the needs of others, not their emptiness.

What is friendship to you? Would you consider yourself a good friend? I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you want to leave a comment below.

Until my next existential crisis,


Live from France: A country in quarantine.

Live from France: A country in quarantine.

I remember reading a news article about the Coronavirus to my roommate on January 4th.

“So apparently, they found this pretty deadly new disease in China, and now there’s a confirmed case in France…But I’m sure it’s fine?”

Now, on day two of total confinement, we look at each other from across the room.

“When you read that article to me, I never thought it would turn into something like this.”

Me neither.

I never imagined I would be taking part in a nationwide quarantine. If you had asked me last month (heck, even last week) if I thought my life would change so suddenly, I would’ve laughed.

But it’s true. Our lives here in France changed in the blink of an eye.

When Real Life Feels Like a Movie… But not in a good way.

Thursday, my roommate and I watched as Macron announced that all schools will be closing for an undetermined amount of time.

Friday, I walked to work and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine. Everyone was on edge. Work conversation was solely centered around what would happen as the virus progressed.

Saturday, I was out in the city with friends when we got the text saying the country passed into stage 3 of the epidemic. Just like that, all the bustling bars and restaurants were indefinitely shut down by midnight, and the streets were deserted.

Monday, Macron announced a total quarantine/lockdown throughout the country, following in the footsteps of Italy.

Today, I walked into the grocery store with our government mandated papers, a mask and protective gloves to do grocery shopping for the elderly. I was terrified I might touch something that could infect them.

The atmosphere of our town has completely changed.

It’s eerie hearing the church bells ring when no one is around. It’s comforting seeing the older woman in the apartment across from us reading her book on her balcony. It’s weird thinking how we will be stuck in this apartment for at least another two weeks.

I don’t say this to scare anyone, but I can’t help but notice many of my American friends who believe it’s a simple cold/flu and will pass easily. I’m not a medical professional, nor can I pretend to know the ins and outs of the virus, but it seems to be quite a bit more dangerous than a common cold or flu.

From Me to You… Whoever You Are

To those who are currently unaffected by the pandemic,

To those who don’t believe it’s “that bad,”

To those who aren’t sure what to think or do because of previous work or family or life commitments,

Please, stay at home. If you are at all able to work from home without it severely harming your financial/life situation, do so.

Some of you aren’t so lucky. Some of you are on the front lines, fighting the virus. Some of you have simply lost your work altogether. And I am genuinely heartbroken for all those who are losing their jobs and livelihood with this pandemic. But it is not too late for the United States.

It is too late for Italy.

It is too late for Spain.

It is (almost) too late for France.

It is not too late for you, America. Do not take this lightly.

Flatten the curve.

If you have any questions pertaining to my experience here during this time, or if you are interested in statistics/data/other informative news articles, please comment below. I would be more than happy to give out as much information as I can.

Les philosophies de la mode: Mathilde

Les philosophies de la mode: Mathilde

Salut mes abonnés français, je voulais vous écrire mais je suis toujours en apprentissage de la langue française et du coup mon écriture n’est pas toujours très éloquente. Mais je vous présente une amie à moi qui a écrit un post pour vous! Cela fait partie d’une série que j’ai fait sur mon blog (cliquez ici pour les autres). Bonne lecture!

Je m’appelle Mathilde, j’ai 25 ans et suis professeur des écoles, remplaçante en attendant l’obtention de mon concours. Je suis aussi danseuse et j’assure des cours de danse fitness. 

J’ai toujours aimé la mode et m’y suis toujours intéressée. Étant petite je prenais les foulards et les chaussures de ma mere. Elle tenait un magasin de vêtements pour enfant et faisait toujours en sorte que je sois bien habillée. Elle m’a appris à ne pas mélanger les imprimés ni certaines couleurs comme le bleu marine et le noir ou le rose et le rouge .

Si aujourd’hui tout est possible dans la mode et ces règles ne sont plus vraiment d’actualité, elles m’ont enseignée à prêter  attention à ma tenue et à éviter d’envoyer un mauvais message aux gens car la mode c’est pour moi un moyen d’expression et de présentation, mon style  donne une première idée de qui je suis. 

Je vis à 100 à l’heure donc je ne pense pas seulement à l’esthétique mais aussi au pratique lorsqu’il s’agit de m’habiller. En tant qu’addict du shopping j’adore faire les magasins et surtout fouiller dans les friperies ou je trouve souvent des trésors. Ce que je préfère dénicher sont les vestes.  Je collectionne les vestes surtout les perfectos en cuir et les vestes en jean. Le fait qu’elles soient vintage, qu’elles aient déjà vécu des moments de vie sur les épaules de quelqu’un d’autre les rend encore plus belles a mes yeux. au delà d’un moyen d’expression j’aime le fait que du tissu puisse mettre en valeur un corps et une personnalité.  Les vêtements donnent de l’assurance. Lorsque je suis sure de ma tenue je suis sure de moi, c’est plus que du simple « materiel ». Au même titre que la danse, la mode est un art dont j’apprécie les couleurs, les matières et le mouvement des tissus sur le corps.

Etant danseuse je suis souvent en tenue de sport. j’adore porter des sweat larges, des joggings et leggings avec des chaussettes qui dépassent des baskets. Je suis très inspirée par les années 90 avec beaucoup de couleurs, les vestes larges en matière parachute, les baskets à plateforme etc… A l’inverse je m’habille aussi de façon plus classique pour le travail car , en tant qu’enseignante je me dois de porter une tenue plus adaptée face aux institutions et aux parents d’élève. Dans ce cas , a l’inverse de ce que je disais plus haut, j’aime porter des couleurs nudes comme le blanc, beige, crème , rose pâle et bien sûr le noir. J’ai donc deux styles complètement différents mais ce qui reste commun sont le confort et la simplicité.

Mathilde is a replacement professor and fitness instructor in Normandy, France. For more information, check out her Instagram here! This is a French blog post that is part of my Fashion Philosophies series.

Is celebrity culture killing fashion week?

Is celebrity culture killing fashion week?

As I finished dinner with some friends near the Trocadéro plaza, we rushed over to get a glimpse of the YSL show for Paris Fashion Week. Before we knew it, we were just another one of the faces in the crowd pushed up against the barriers. I kept joking about how it felt like The French Revolution 2.0, with us as the peasants and the elites of fashion week as the bourgeoisie. “Let’s storm the bastille!”

I mean, it was totally worth it though. I saw Anna Wintour a mere 10 feet away from me. Joe Keery (Steve from Stranger Things) waved at me. We also caught a glimpse of Hailey Bieber and Rami Malek. So, we walked back to our hotel super excited at all we had experienced.

The next day I was reflecting on everything I saw.

Why are we so obsessed with people? People who are just like us but rich?

I would venture to say it’s human nature. We admire, add perceived value to, and aspire to be like those people because it’s glamorous (amongst other reasons).

The conversation continued when I sat down with LA photographer (and newfound friend) Jason Renaud in a Paris café a couple days later. We discussed celebrity culture, fashion week, social media, and everything in between. Here’s what he had to say about it all:

“As a photographer for 6+ years now, it’s been interesting to watch the phenomenon of influencers explode (and begin to wane), especially having only been on the fashion week circuit for just a little over a year now. 

With the rise of Instagram and overall accessibility to fashion in general, it opened up a new market–a market for people. The day-to-day person is so busy, so influencers became a way for someone to open their phone, and go to a trusted source for fashion advice, trends, and soon enough, fashion week itself. 

While there’s no inherent problem with people sharing fashion week and the experience of fashion week online to their fans–it soon became clear that half of the influencers going were only there for the “clout,” to make money, and to just show off outfits that they were wearing. And as more and more influencers emerged, it became even harder to tell who was genuinely there for the love of fashion, and who was there to capitalize on the trend of influencing in general. 

Having worked directly for many influencers before, I’ve seen both the good and the bad–those that care about fashion and have followed it since they were young, and those that just liked the prestige of going to shows and getting their photos taken. In order for influencers to be viable long term, I think something has to change.

In order to truly influence someone (the term influencer I think has been taken far to liberally in the past couple years), you need to have true care and understanding behind wherever it is you’re coming from.

Which doesn’t mean that you know the most recent Gucci make up and go to its event. It means you understand the overall ethos and style that Gucci Beauty has tried to curate over the years.

The term influencer needs to be redefined and reshaped, by those who truly care. 

It’s slowly begun to change I think. The over-saturation has begun. There’s only so many angles of a fashion show you can watch in a row. And with that comes fatigue and, soon enough, disinterest. With a lackluster AW20 season, I think brands will be forced to reconsider the role of influencers in overall brand messaging. It’s a crossroads, and I think next SS21 in September will be the true indicator of where this influencing culture is at, or if it’s time for fashion to move on.”

What are your thoughts on celebrity/influencer culture? Leave a comment below! Featured image by Jason Renaud. To see Jason’s work from PFW, check out his Instagram here.

FPWTF: Kristen V.

FPWTF: Kristen V.

I figured I would end this fashion philosophy series with some brief thoughts on my personal style evolution.

Anyone who knows me knows I love fashion. I always have. I think if I could have chosen the outfit I wore out of the hospital at my birth, I would’ve.

In elementary/middle school, I was obsessed with gauchos and platform flip flops and rainbow earrings that touched my shoulders.

In high school, I wore a choker necklace and converse high tops with my private school uniform and I tried so hard to fit that “soft-grunge” aesthetic.

In college, I could count the number of times I wore leggings to class. (Three. Three times. All three because I woke up insanely late and practically walked into class crying.)

I have tried every print, color, and fit of clothing possible throughout the years. And yet I still have a hard time defining my fashion sense. It probably doesn’t help that I tend to completely rotate my closet once every four to six months. I’ll come home with giant Goodwill bags full of clothes, only to find myself making a giant pile to give back to Goodwill the next month.

I love a good vintage blazer with shoulder pads, but I also want to sport a floral sundress with espadrilles. I want to look edgy and girly and simple and extravagant all at once. Sounds about right.

I think the main thing I realized from this series is that fashion is so dynamic and fun. My fashion inspiration can come from anything and everything, making it that much more spontaneous and exciting. Like all of the people that contributed to this series, I find myself seeking expression through the clothes I wear. And whether I’m rocking my leather mini-skirt or my favorite men’s Levi’s, the goal is to feel comfortable with myself. And to look good while doing it.

P.S. Enjoy these cringe-worthy photos of me. Quality content.

If you’d like to see more of my style, check out my Instagram @kristen.v!

Thanks so much for tuning into this series. Hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I did! And thank you to everyone who participated. If you would ever like to contribute to my blog, feel free to DM on Instagram or shoot me an email.

FPWTF: Grace Fries

FPWTF: Grace Fries

This series is called “Fashion Philosophies and Where to Find Them.” After spending time in many corners of the world, I constantly come back to how amazed I am at people’s ability to express themselves through something as simple as the fabric they wear. My contributors come from all over the world, and this is how they have shaped their own personal style as it relates to their identity. 

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been intensely fascinated with the history of fashion. Specifically, the fashion of the latter half of the twentieth century.

Stevie Nicks.

Jane Birkin.

Janis Joplin.

These are just a few of the women who have shaped and contributed to my personal style. I admire these women for their courage to quite simply be themselves.

The art of not caring what others think is intricate and much more than what it sounds like on the surface. In my experience, it takes a great deal of bravery and spirit to put aside the opinions of others and completely be yourself. Over the past year or so, I’ve begun to discover the importance of individuality.

My Fashion Identity

August 18, 2018.

I walked through the doors of my high school for the first time.

I was determined. I was ready to make a name for myself.

But I quickly realized that my expectations were much higher than they should have been. Actually, my expectations were quite the opposite of what you might assume from the average freshman.

Nearly every day, I walked in the doors in eccentric, Joni Mitchell-esque outfits. As the weeks went by, I found that I was just about the only one dressing like this. I let unspoken peer-pressure overcome me and I tried to dress like “everyone else.” I put too much makeup on my face. I tried too hard to please others without letting it show. I couldn’t come off as desperate for attention, of course. 

Later that year and into the summer, I started listening to ’70s music almost exclusively. The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Tom Petty, Elton John. But more than anything, I listened to Janis Joplin. I fell in love with her music. Her voice was so unique, nothing like what I’d heard before. One day, I sat down and googled “Janis Joplin.” I scrolled through some pictures and read a few articles and fell in love with not only her music, but her style, too. From that moment on, she has been the biggest inspiration behind my style. I found what she chose to wear to be so inspiring, but more so, I was inspired by her unflinching courage to wear whatever she wanted to wear without giving attention to what others thought. (Disclaimer: I do realize that there are components of Janis’ life that I don’t approve of and don’t want in my own, but nevertheless, I still find her eccentricity and independence inspiring.)

I also let my environment have an effect on how I dress. Tennessee is full of art and–you guessed it–thrift stores. I do the bulk of my shopping at thrift stores around town. I love to take the culture of Chattanooga and incorporate it into my style.

What I love about my style is that it’s never monotonous. One day I’ll be wearing one outfit, the next day my outfit might look completely different. Much like Chattanooga, there’s always something new but the classics are still there.

There is a quote from Alexander McQueen that I’ve always found inspiring. “I think there is beauty in everything. What ‘normal’ people perceive as ugly, I can usually see something of beauty in it.” 

Above all, my goal is to inspire others with the way I dress. To show the world that it’s okay to be yourself. It’s okay to be different.

For more of Grace’s style, check out her Instagram @sarahgracefries!

FPWTF: Jared Powell

FPWTF: Jared Powell

This series is called “Fashion Philosophies and Where to Find Them.” After spending time in many corners of the world, I constantly come back to how amazed I am at people’s ability to express themselves through something as simple as the fabric they wear. My contributors come from all over the world, and this is how they have shaped their own personal style as it relates to their identity. 

When Photography and Fashion Collide: A Fresh Perspective

I started getting into fashion not long after starting photography actually. As I was doing different creative shoots, I realized that certain types of clothing photographed really well and were flattering on the subject while other types of clothing didn’t present well in picture format. Before each shoot, I started talking with the model and suggest ideal style for the shoots I was doing.

From there, I almost became their personal stylists. I practically chose their outfits. And I started building a mental catalogue of the types of clothing that I thought looked good in pictures. 

When I took a look at my own wardrobe through this lens, I realized many of the pieces I owned wouldn’t look good in a photograph, nor were they particularly flattering. So, I decided to change that.

Virginia-based photographer Jared Powell.

I quickly realized that many of the clothes offered at your local mall or outlet just were not anything special. In fact, very few retailers carry trendy or stylish guy’s clothing. Many of them tend to play it safe and just offer very basic outfits (i.e. H&M).

I turned to Goodwill. I still didn’t know a ton about fashion at this point and hadn’t branched out much before this, so I didn’t know what might look cool versus dated/out of style. However, I didn’t let fear stop me from trying on anything that caught my eye.

The Thrifting Effect

Anything that piqued my interest, I would grab off the rack and sling over my arm. It’s incredible how freeing it can be to go shopping with this mindset. You just let your creativity loose. And you end up making a purchase decision based off how it actually looks on your body (as well as paired with other clothing you may own).

Another bonus to thrifting is you can find unique pieces that no one else is wearing, and oftentimes the quality is so much better than what you would find at a fast fashion retailer. 

Jared’s thrifted outfits are a major part of his style/expression.

Through this process, I have created (and continue to create) what I would consider my personal style.

I like white, black, tan, beige, and grey.

I particularly enjoy making monochromatic outfits out of these colors. I tend to favor beige though.

I love different interesting textures and usually like one piece of my outfit to be more flowing or oversized.

In photos, clothes that are flowy can add interest or movement to the composition.

The end look I try to achieve is something sophisticated, well-thought-out and creative, often oscillating between outfits that are eye-catching/fashionable and outfits that are more subtle.

For more of Jared’s style, check out his absolutely aesthetic Instagram @jareddpowell!

Be sure to subscribe to see more from this series! Looking forward to sharing these stories with you all.