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: 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.

 

Life Moves Too Slow

Life Moves Too Slow

I walk very quickly.

It’s almost impossible for me to walk at a normal pace.

I bustle through my tiny town like I’m rushing through the streets of New York trying to get on the subway before rush hour.

But I’m just going to the post office.

I can’t slow down. Ever. Even when I try to sneak off to the beach for a quiet moment or two, my mind is always right there pestering me with a thousand thoughts.

What needs to be done this week?

What are you cooking for dinner?

Have you gone to the grocery store recently? Wait, what do you need?

Do you have a to-do list?

Should you reach out to him/her? Why haven’t they contacted you? Do they even care?

This week on my way to work, I was deliberately trying to walk slow. It took everything in me. Literally. I clenched my fists. I strolled and sighed as I realized how much I missed out on by moving so quickly. I felt the crisp November air and smiled. November was a rough month, which is somewhat amusing because last November was one of my favorite months. I boldly determined it was the best month of the year. I was wrong.

It’s funny–in a somewhat melancholic way–how things change so quickly. You go from snuggling warm bodies and filling your days with laughter to walking alone on a windy, dreary day surrounded only by the company of the cars passing by.

The change of scenery and pace, however, was necessary for me. Had I stayed where I was, I would have become a shell of myself. My potential would have been trapped under the weight of former obligations. My new obligations, though exhausting sometimes, are nowhere near as daunting as dealing with the looming cloud of the former.

So, maybe life doesn’t move too slow. Maybe it moves at just the right pace, but I sometimes move too fast to appreciate that.

The Side of Paris Fashion Week No One Talks About

The Side of Paris Fashion Week No One Talks About

Strolling through the streets of Paris with my Starbucks in hand, I felt extremely American. In my defense, I knew it was only my first coffee stop of the day. I made my way to the metro station, grabbed a seat and waited for my stop.

Upon walking back up to ground level, the grey Parisian sky was waiting for me. And so was the Champs-Élysées. I strolled down the street, gawking at all the luxurious shops and ran right into Fenty’s pop up shop in the Galaries Lafayette.

A quick walk through the park led me to the Grand Palais, where I saw my first fashion show ever. The photographers were lined up on the sidewalks to capture all the ultra glamorous people wearing giant sunglasses, half of whom I did not recognize at all. They all had one thing in common though: these gorgeous people strolled perfectly through the bustle of the photographers directly into the Elie Saab exposition. The music started. The show began.

After being dazzled by all the beauty I witnessed, it was time to make an essential stop at the Café de Flore. We walked in and sat down.

More Instagram influencers. I didn’t think it was possible to see so many chic people.

My friends and I sat and discussed whether the fashion industry is truly superficial or not. After all, these Instagrammers aren’t really… doing anything. They’re just here. Taking selfies and tons of pictures (in outfits that are, admittedly, super cute).

Are they following trends or are they creating them?

Who actually is creating the trends?

Do the designers and runways shows have control of the fashion world in 2019?

We dipped into a small cobblestone alley because we were tired of walking through crowds of tourists and photographers. At that moment, a Parisian woman walked by me–sunglasses on and purse in hand.

An everyday woman, yet still great style. I could totally recreate that outfit. I turn toward my friends, “All these French women own a pair of jeans that fit them just right and a great blazer. That’s really all you need.”

Maybe these are the people who create what’s new.

The everyday people. The ordinary people. I don’t know about you, but most of my outfit inspiration comes from people I see on the streets.

Sure, huge fashion houses and designers still have an obvious sway in the trends. But I think it’s becoming more common to draw inspiration from one another simply as human beings.

And I love that.


What were your favorite PFW looks? Comment below and I’ll share all my faves!
(Featured photo from Unsplash.)

Five Things You Should Know Before Visiting France.

Five Things You Should Know Before Visiting France.

For as long as I could remember, I’ve been a Francophile. I grew up dreaming of going to Paris, decided to study French in college, and I currently call this beautiful country my home.

But if you’re planning on taking a trip here, there are some things you should know.

1. France isn’t Paris.

This seems simple, but the amount of times I’ve had someone ask me “How’s Paris?” when I live nowhere near the city is… astounding? Sad?

For anyone still confused, here’s a map of France.

Map courtesy of Mapswire.

See that little star? That’s Paris.

Mainland France has 96 departments, so there’s definitely a lot more to see than Paris. The French often consider the countryside more “French” than the city anyway. So there’s that.

2. The French are very kind.

Contrary to popular belief, the French are not rude. They just don’t like tourists. It’s nothing personal, really.

If you are planning to take a trip to France, simply avoid looking like a tourist. This means no super bright colors, no crossbody Kavu bags, and yes…no Chacos.

Oh, and maybe learn a couple French words to at least prove you’re trying. Knowing simple words like bonjour/s’il vous plaît/merci can go a long way.

3. When it comes to restaurants/touristy stuff, you pay for the environment.

Unlike the Americans chugging their Venti Starbucks as they rush out the door, the French prefer to take things slow.

But it comes at a cost.

Getting a meal à emporter (to-go) is cheaper than staying sur place. For example, a coffee could be 1 euro, but it will be 2.50 if you stay to drink it.

I’d recommend indulging the extra euro and just staying to enjoy the atmosphere. There’s truly nothing better than people watching outside of a café as you sip your tiny expresso.

4. Public transportation is your best friend.

Typically when I envision public transportation, I think of Elaine Benes stuck on the disgusting NYC subway and having a mild panic attack.

But in France, the majority of people use public transportation. It’s actually clean (yes, even in Paris). It’s also pretty affordable if you’re a young adult. Anyone under 26 is considered a youth in France and receives discounts on pretty much any public service (museums and movies included).

So don’t be afraid to hop on the bus, metro or train!

5. Prepare for late nights.

The French love their soirées. They typically don’t eat dinner until around 8 p.m. and meals last two (or more) hours. They eat and talk and eat more and talk and eat and are still somehow super skinny…

In short, don’t plan on the next day’s itinerary being jammed pack if you’re eating dinner with a bunch of French people the night before. After dinner and drinks are all said and done, you’ll probably be getting home around 1 a.m.


French culture is fun and wildly rich, so try to enjoy it in as many nonconventional ways while you’re here! Bonne chance!

Got more travel questions? Leave a comment below. I’d love to start doing some travel blog posts, so tell me what you want to know!

Ras de Terre.

Ras de Terre.

My leftover soup was cold (and in a paper bowl nonetheless). I was sitting on the floor of my childhood bedroom, flipping through January’s issue of Vogue. As I gazed out at the cold winter sky, my heart longed to be in Paris.

All it took was one giant sneeze to plunge me back into reality. Until I remembered the postcard Pascal sent me. I picked it up.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre.

I smirked. He wrote of the rainy Parisian skyline. My smile dissolved as I recalled how much I missed the dreariness of the city in winter. My mind began to wander, and when I looked back at my own bleak horizon, it was as though a piece of Paris was peeking through.


The gentle breeze blew through my hair as I walked through the park. My eyes were fixed on the desert sand beneath my feet. It was nearly sunset, and I was astounded that it could get so cold so quickly. So much was on my mind. So much could be said. So little was.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre.

I knew it would all be okay. I knew that the inexplicable, inexpressible array of emotions I felt in that moment would disappear just like the dust that covered the ground.


I stood on the shore, letting the water barely touch my toes. I desperately stared at where the ocean meets the horizon, searching for something, anything. I thought of my new life. I was happy and sad and scared and content. The phrase shot into my mind again.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre. Ça veut dire qu’on n’est pas très loin, l’un à l’autre.

After all that time, I remembered the postcard. “We aren’t so far away from each other after all.”

Watching the same sky. Feeling the same emotions. Thinking many of the same questions. Living and breathing and loving and hoping. The sky begins at ground level, and we aren’t so far away from each other after all.

“You can be young and bitter. Just maybe not as bitter as I’m gonna be ten years from now, but I’m bitter. Anyway, don’t tell anyone.”

“You can be young and bitter. Just maybe not as bitter as I’m gonna be ten years from now, but I’m bitter. Anyway, don’t tell anyone.”

One year ago today I said goodbye to the best year of my life. I cried while boarding a plane because I knew I was leaving a piece of my heart in the French Alps. To reveal a bit of my perspective, here are some excerpts from my final days in France.

June 3, 2017.

It’s my second to last day in France and my heart shatters with every beat… As I packed, I couldn’t help but think about how funny it is to fit one’s entire life in a suitcase. (Talk about compartmentalizing.)

June 4, 2017.

I never thought this day would come. I can’t believe we’re already here… We all caught a glimpse of the sunset and ran outside to see the most beautiful view I’ve ever laid eyes on. Genève looked stunning and the whole valley reflected orangey pink hues. An extremely prolonged admiration of the sunset made us realize it was time to begin parting ways… We looked at the glittering lights of the city as I held my breath… I felt the desire to cry choking me. I was happy and sad at the same time and didn’t even know how that was possible… I am perfectly at peace.

 

I look back on those journal entries as though I’m reading someone else’s diary. The girl writing this post does not feel like the girl who spent an entire year traveling France, indulging in the beauty of their language and culture.

Bitterness has been one of the few words to describe how I’ve felt since being home. Even thought I joke about it now, I spent the entire summer (and most of this past school year) in a gloomy headspace which seemed to provide no way out.

I just recently came to a realization that much of my sorrow is self-inflicted. I can’t stop living in the past, and that’s what’s torturing me. So no, I will probably never stop talking about France. It was the most influential year of my life thus far. But I will also no longer live in the past, reveling in the romanticized reality of my mind.

KV

(P.S. Title is from Season 3 Episode 17 of Seinfeld.)