Sunday, March 30, 2008

East coast college visits, part 1

As I pulled my two suitcases down the stairs, I heard my mommy crying in her bedroom: "I can't believe she's going to college soon -- we're not going to be a family anymore."

I closed the front door without even saying a final goodbye to her -- not because I wasn't going to miss her (of course I miss my mommy!) or because I was in a rush, but because I couldn't bear to say goodbye to her.

On the plane from California to Pennsylvania, I worked on my college counseling questionnaire -- a mini college application with questions such as "How have you pursued your academic interests outside of school?" and "What are your academic interests? Why are you interested in these areas?" The latter question led to memories about being five-years-old and getting bullied everyday for my clothes and for being Asian (I was the only Asian at my school) -- so humiliated one day that I hid in the public library and read five books in one sitting. Every week, I started lugging home 20 books to devour by myself by the next week -- I was determined to master the English language and prove to the bullies that I could read and write just as well as then. By 3rd grade, I was reading at a 7th grade reading level -- a devoted bookworm I was.

I stopped working on my questionnaire after recalling this memory -- the pursuit of perfectionism apparently started at a very young age for me. It was spring break, and yet the first thing I did was work on my college counseling assignment -- for once in my life, I needed to slow down.

The next morning, my daddy and I ventured on my first two east coast college visits: University of Pennsylvania and Swarthmore College.
University of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, PA
My friend, who is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, gave me an informal tour around the urban campus in West Philadelphia.
He was going to be a biology major and played clarinet and swing danced in some college organizations. The quad, pictured above, is absolutely gorgeous and is definitely the most beautiful landmark on campus. My friend chose UPenn over Duke University, University of California-Berkeley, and John Hopkins University -- mainly for its wonderful balance and diversity.

"I'm so happy that you're so happy, oh my gosh!" I squealed as we sat in Starbucks together.

He smirked and grinned at me in a teasing way -- "You're such a six-years-old," he said, "But it's okay, it's good to be bubbly like you." I giggled and hoped he was right.

The school has such a wonderful history -- founded by Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century because poor ol' Ben was rejected by Harvard University. Traditions include throwing toast down onto the turf after the third quarter of football games and staying up until midnight before the Economics final and screaming on the balcony to let out the stress.

Swarthmore College: Swarthmore, PA
The Swarthmore College campus is actually an arboretum -- all the plants have name tags. The campus is absolutely gorgeous and even contains its own patch of woods and a hiking trail! Founded by Quakers, the school stresses community and only has one dining room and common hall in order to unite the students -- all 1,500 of them. Professors are extremely helpful and even invite the inquiring students to dinner to discuss intellectual subjects further. An alumni from my high-school gave me an informal tour of the school -- the students here are very nice and cheerful, although they are also very passionate about their subjects and can get stressed out very easily. Students actually work to be the best at their passions -- not for the grade (GPAs are not even calculated by the school). The girl who showed me around is pursuing a double-major in biochemical engineering and film -- she wants to write science-fiction films.

My only problem with the school? It's only double the size of my high-school and everyone knows everyone -- just like my high-school. However, if I studied art history and English here, I would have great opportunities to conduct research and work with my passionate professors. There's even an Alexander Calder mobile sculpture on campus! Fabulous. It would be very interesting to attend a school where everyone is extremely devoted to their interests.
I'm extremely excited for the future -- at the same time, I'm haunted by the words my mommy said to me when I turned 17 last December, "When you almost died, I prayed to God and told him that all I wanted was for you to stay alive -- I didn't care if you were ugly or stupid. It never mattered to me if you were nobody to the world." I spent the first year of my life in the hospital because I was deathly sick -- so sick that I received shots on a weekly basis and everyone in the hospital knew my name.

If my mommy never expected anything from me, why have I always carried the mentality that I must make something extraordinary of myself?

Humbled and awed by the extraordinary things my friends are doing in college, heartbroken by my mother, worn down by jet lag -- my mind wants to focus but prefers to wander.

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Miss Couturable

P.S. Please forgive for not responding to all of your comments. The last time I checked my comments, I had 32 new ones. I promise that I read every single comment and I remember everyone's names (the readers that state their names, at least) -- the number of comments just have been too overwhelming to respond to individually anymore.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

'Tell Me' where to begin

Many young Americans know Soulja Boy's 'Crank That' dance -- but on the other side of the world in South Korea, everyone knows the Wonder Girls' 'Tell Me' dance.The Wonder Girls aren't brimming with vocal talent and their famous dance is easy enough to become a phenomenon, but they have unforgettable bold styles and adorable personalities.
For multicultural assembly at my school today, a couple other girls and I decided to perform the 'Tell Me' dance dressed as Asian schoolgirls -- think Clueless with only one visible blonde.

It was the perfect way to kick-start spring break -- in a pair of knee-high socks, a plaid miniskirt, and a cheesy smile.

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Miss Couturable

P.S. I'm going to be flying to Philadelphia tomorrow morning, so The Sunday Six will be on hold until I'm back from the east coast. Instead, I will be updating about my experiences on the other side of the country.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Behind the lens: Annie Leibowitz

I didn't paid much attention to photography until recently -- recently as in two months ago. Splendid photography nestled within glossy magazine pages always caught my eye for a split second, only to be overshadowed by my careful scrutinizing of the clothing. "Pish posh, the only thing that matters is that the clothes look good," I thought to myself.

The problem with my logic is that oftentimes, the clothes look better than they do in real life because the photography is phenomenal. Yesterday in yearbook class, we looked over photographs by Annie Leibowitz -- she takes personal portraits, especially of women.
(Photo Credit -- Annie Leibowitz)
Most people have at least seen her work on the covers of Vanity Fair, and yet her talent isn't merely limited to shooting the glamorous starlet in a beautiful ballgown -- but on capturing the woman you'd see if you were to have a conversation with her. She magically captures the sparkle in every woman -- from the Iraqi soldier to the wealthy supermodel.

I'm going to start paying more attention to the photograph and the artist behind the lens from now on.

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Miss Couturable

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The math teacher's recurring comment

Excerpt from third quarter teacher comments:
"After almost two years teaching Noel I can confidently say that she does not get my sense of humor. Although she always seems to be having a good time in class, I have to be careful to let her her know when I am telling a joke, and when I am doing serious mathematics."
My adviser laughed at me when she read this paragraph from my calculus teacher -- but hey, if you don't understand what's going on -- you might as well smile and have the time of your life.

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Miss Couturable

Let this be the last time

To be very honest, I am rather exhausted of defending myself to anonymous readers who criticize me for my "elitism".

Yes -- the truth is, I was brought up in an "elitist" environment. My parents never allowed me to buy vintage clothes (even if it was a Gucci bag) because they were "used" -- when I went to check out a thrift store, they forbid me from touching anything on the racks. This is one of many examples of how I was brought up -- from getting a Lexus sports car as my first car to being allowed to buy only real leather bags and shoes. I suppose I did grow up -- and am growing up -- with a "pretentious" life.

But the way I'm brought up isn't an excuse for me. It does hurt to know that while I'm revealing my identity to my dear readers (some of you even figured what school I attend!), many of my readers are anonymously criticizing me. Mind you, some of the criticism is quite useful and wonderful -- but terribly exasperating at the same time.

I absolutely do not take my life for granted. I do not ask my parents for money -- they spend enough money on my prep school education every year. My pocket money that I use for expenditures is generated from Christmas and Chinese New Year presents and compensation as Contributing Editor for doesthislookstupid.com. While I'm living in New York City this summer, I'm keeping a record book of every single one of my expenses -- and trust me, I will be scrimping because I don't want my parents to receive a ridiculous credit card bill.

I'm ashamed and embarrassed when my parents brag about my achievements -- and I want nothing more than to prove that I can make it on my own. My parents did not even know that I was working in fashion until last summer, when I told them that I had an internship with a local fashion designer. My parents do push me in academics -- and thus I force myself to maintain a perfect academic record to show that I can (almost) do it all and please my harshest critics.

The criticism is exhausting me -- not because I don't think I deserve them because I'm biased to judge, but because Miss Couturable began as a blog that I only used for personal enhancement and never expected to received hundreds of readers from every day.

I love all of my readers -- I blush feverishly when I receive sweet emails asking for advice or just looking to start a conversation. I'm hoping that my readers will enjoy my blog as a lighthearted escape from pressures and struggles -- as I do.

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Miss Couturable

P.S. Why can't I ever keep my weekly resolutions like Gala?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Say no to drugs, eat cupcakes

I almost choked on my cupcake in laughter after finding this photo on Cupcakes Take the Cake.

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Miss Couturable

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Why Gisele still reigns

(Photo Credit -- Getty Images)
My favorite magazine blog is New York Magazine's daily fashion blog -- it's so amusing and unaffected.

My copy of the April 2008 issue of Vogue is still sitting on my desk, completely untouched with the plastic packaging still intact. When I get to it over spring break, I know the first section I'll flip to is the editor's letter -- and New York Magazine's recap of this month's phenomenal message from Anna Wintour gives me more reason to do so.

In the letter, she praises Gisele Bundchen for her "athletic and curvaceous" body (at least compared to the waifs on the runway today) -- and everyone knows that Anna Wintour is not a force to be reckoned with.

I never dreamed of becoming a waif. In 7th grade, my unsuccessful goal was to get Gisele Bundchen abs.

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Miss Couturable

Monday, March 24, 2008

Salute to the teachers

Simply stated, I'm obsessed with my teachers. Not everyone can inspire you and push you to learn, but my professors are amazing at their job.

Take my American literature teacher for example -- he was educated at Swarthmore and Yale Drama school, and you can tell that his passion for learning has pushed him to challenge us. Every day in English class, I am scared -- scared because everyday I learn something frightfully extraordinary about the human psyche and about myself.

Or my calculus teacher -- he used to be in the navy as an aerodynamic engineer (i.e., he flew planes). He also used to be a cruise ship host and bakes as a hobby. My best friend Janet and I always sit at the front of his class -- we don't particularly enjoy calculus as a subject, but we stay engaged in his class because he's always entertaining us. In fact, the one day he wasn't in class and we had a substitute teacher instead, we both fell asleep.

It seems so easy for most of us to complain about our teachers -- but for me (and Janet), it's so much easier to praise our teachers. There are so many stories about our teachers that we don't see when they're standing next to the whiteboard or sitting behind the desk. I'm blessed to have teachers who are so enthusiastic about their classes -- who see that their students are more than just test takers and essay writers.

Sometimes, I'm convinced that we're more fascinated with our teachers than the respective subjects that they teach.

What do you love about your teachers?

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Miss Couturable

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Sunday Six: March 23rd, 2008

Happy Easter, cutefaces! Even if you're not Christian, I hope you feel some sort of revival this season -- I'm definitely fatigued and in desperate need of a clear mind and new wardrobe.
  1. Last night, I went to my guy friend's church in a dress and a pair of heels. I wasn't trying to dress up -- it was an outfit I've worn to school a few times. My friend took one look at me as I got into the car and said, "You're way too overdressed. I'm going to have to do some explaining to my friends at church later." Perplexed, I demanded that he tell me why he was so "ashamed" of what I was wearing. Turns out he's the only student from our private school at his church, and he's been trying to dispel the image that we're "rich" and "spoiled" for the past few years -- and I was cementing the stereotypes that was already ingrained in his friends' minds. I laughed at him because we were driving to church in a Mercedes-Benz and talking about our summer travels around the globe -- aspects of our lives that we take for granted. We both agreed on one point though: our school definitely has a different culture than most other schools in the area, but the people are amazing and determined to prove themselves to the world.
  2. Thanks to Newsweek, you might think twice about eating the whole box of Peeps today. You might disagree with me, but I think calories ruin all the fun in holidays.
  3. Gala's Easter outfit is so adorable -- I wish I remembered where I placed my bunny ears from first grade.
  4. Perhaps I'm only thinking this because I'm completely worn-out from school, but Stephanie's suggestion that we bring high tea to the United States sounds very pleasant. Why don't we serve high tea at my school? We come to school looking haggard and absolutely demolished every morning from the previous night's amount of homework.
  5. I finally mailed in my summer housing deposit to the Brandon Residence for Women in New York City this week -- procrastination is my worst habit. As my peers are stressing about securing limited spots in competitive science research programs, I feel extremely relieved that I've know my summer plans since December.
  6. Every three months, I use up my containers of Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil and Bare Escentuals bareMinerals SPF 15 Foundation. Thus, every three months, $50 worth of new make-up ends up in my bathroom cabinet. I always wince every time that I'm at the Sephora checkout counter because I'm thinking about the pair of shoes I could have bought for $200 instead.
One more week until spring break (a.k.a my trip to the east coast)! I've still yet to plan out my outfits.

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Miss Couturable

Friday, March 21, 2008

If The Little Mermaid attended the Great Gatsby Ball

Fish scales stood in for sequins on a dress that was "the latest to be worn by women," according to notes accompanying this photo. The image arrived at the Geographic in June 1921 but was not published. It may have been acquired for the magazine's January 1922 story "Certain Citizens of the Warm Sea," in which author Louis L. Mowbray noted: "The writer has seen an evening gown made wholly of bonefish scales which was indeed a thing of beauty. The scales were bored and laid on a fabric base like shingles on a roof. The resultant effect was like that of the natural body of the fish."Margaret G. Zackowitz, April 2008 National Geographic
Before I picked up my first issue of Vogue, I was reading National Geographic -- the combination of phenomenal photography, in-depth journalism, and global insight is unmatched. It opened up my eyes to a bigger world -- a world that I wanted to embrace and needed to understand.

Flipping to the back of this month's issue, I discovered the photograph of a 1920s dress made entirely out of fish scales. I'm currently reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in my English class right now, and the dress seems to be a perfect example of excessive opulence of the Roaring '20s that is captured in the novel. This dress, both an example of lost craftsmanship and a symbol of the reawakened generation, expresses beauty within mankind's lust for ethereal perfection and control of nature.

Like the fishbone scales evening gown of 1921, the $12.5 million Victoria's Secret Fantasy Bra of 2008 is a reminder that luxuriant opulence continues to prevail -- alluring us with its glint and threatening to spin us out of control like Gatsby.

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Miss Couturable

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Insomniatic cupcakeholic

Because the scores for the March 2008 SAT Reasoning Test came out last night, I didn't sleep at all.Instead, I spent half the night baking coffee-flavored cupcakes with chocolate sour-cream frosting for my classmates. Surprisingly, I was too nervous in anticipation of the SAT exam results to eat one myself.

At 3:00am, I checked my College Board account:
Critical Reading: 800
Math: 740
Writing: 790
Total: 2330
I sighed in deep relief because 2330 makes me competitive for all of the schools that I'm interested in. For the rest of the night, I didn't sleep -- I studied and worked on fundraisers for the March of Dimes. I couldn't sleep -- it was as if the SAT score made me realize that jumping over one hurdle in life means the next hurdle is approaching soon.

In spite of my sleepless night, I pranced around school the next day in a pair of heels and a flouncy white dress, handing out cupcakes to anyone who needed a dose of sugar to kick-start his or her day. In fact, my friend, who is a fashion design major at California College of the Arts, came to visit today. "Turn around, dear," she said -- both critiquing and praising my outfit. I was amazed that I was still able to spin around in a pair of heels after not sleeping for over 24 hours.

After class, I called my hairstylist to schedule a haircut and perm appointment on Saturday. I figure I deserve a new hairstyle after relentlessly pushing myself as a perfectionist -- my harshest critic will always be myself.

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Miss Couturable

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Iraqi fashion returns and aims to preserve

(Photo Credit -- Sabah Arar)

A friend from Maryland Institute College of Art emailed me this CNN video today, just as I was going to view another runway video from Paris Fashion Week on mute -- only half-heartedly paying attention as I jotted down bullet points in class. I had never heard of Iraqi Fashion Week -- I didn't even know there was an Iraqi House of Fashion -- with over 300 designers, models, embroiderers, and artists!

My heart broke when hearing the Iraqi models talk about getting death threats from radical Islamic groups in their country, my jaw dropped in awe as I gazed at the translucent handmade fabrics sprinkled with intricate embroidery, and my lips curved into a smile at the poised courage of all the workers in the Iraqi fashion industry.

They work to preserve the beauty of their culture in a country that has become weakened and ravaged by war. Day and night, the Iraqi House of Fashion strives to be a haven for the country's creative minds -- preserving the ancient glory days of Iraq while facing persecution from radical groups. They refuse to be birds in cage, and they refuse to give up on their culture.

When the models walk down the runway, they do not pout their malnourished lips and strut their angular hips like Russian waifs do in Milan. They glide down proudly in garbs of iridescent color and serenely wave their hands in a dance-like manner.

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Miss Couturable

Monday, March 17, 2008

Shoe clips aren't just for shoes

For the past few seasons, nouveau-riche-looking flats and heels embellished with jewels and silk flowers and other thingamabobs have been everywhere, from Neiman Marcus to Nine West. Admit it, you didn't buy these Stella McCartney flats because they were comfortable. I know I've refused to invest in a pair of plain flats -- why spent $200 on a pair of shoes when they don't look $200?

Upon discovering shoe clips from Absolutely Audrey, I've grown an urge to buy simple Repettos or Lanvins. I even want to buy the $12 Rebecca Taylor ballerina flats that I spotted at Costco two weeks ago. For only $30, I can buy a pair of one-of-a-kind vintage shoe clips to decorate my plain flats -- and no one else will have the same shoes as me ever again.These vintage leather bows with gold lacing could be used to make gorgeous headbands too -- "Excuse me, didn't I just see that bow on your flats two days ago?" Why yes indeed, and it just might be on a pair of satin pumps next week!

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Miss Couturable

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Sunday Six: March 16th, 2008

I wasted my entire Saturday afternoon watching Sex and the City -- and I could easily spend my entire Sunday watching the next season if I didn't have homework.
  1. I've always believed that good literature is a work of art -- but who knew that the book itself is art too?
  2. Miss at la Playa made a fabulous post about imitations of art masterpieces in fashion advertising. For an art history enthusiast like me, these are the type of pictures I want to print out and paste all over my room. I sent the link to my art history professor -- I think she'd love them.
  3. Susie Bubble introduced me to Alexis Mabille -- I've seen plenty of high school boys in bow ties at prom, but I couldn't fathom the idea of men embracing the oversized bow trend until now. Still, my favorite piece is Mabille's white bow tie headband -- the bow doesn't always have to be on the side of the head.
  4. French is universally chosen to be the most romantic language, but I think Spanish gives it a run for its money. Elegant rolling r's are so much sexier than nasal vowels. Just listen to 'Yo Canto' by Laura Pausini if you're skeptical.
  5. Speaking of bows (again), I need this Felted Wool with Tulle Bustle Coat from Betsey Johnson. One can never have too many coats to cover up unfortunate spills and forgot-to-do-laundry-days.
  6. This postcard from PostSecret resonates with me because it's such a simple secret that so many of us share and none of us will admit. In 6th grade, I promised myself that I wouldn't become the type of girl that had to wear make-up before leaving the house. Six years later, 40% of my purchases is spent on MAC eyeliner, Dior lip gloss, Bare Minerals face powder, and other palettes for the face. Can I ever feel beautiful again without make-up?
Oh dear, Sundays never last long enough to take a real break.

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Miss Couturable

Ever ever after

I spent my Saturday night with one of my best friends -- a "girl date" we call it. We joked that we're going to exchange roses next time, but I have a feeling that we're going to do just that. It was the first night in many months that my world stopped spinning -- that I didn't have to prove myself or impress someone.
While stargazing in the park, we drank Baskin Robbins ice cream shakes and ate garlic and spiced potato Naan, stuffed Indian flatbread. Oops, we forgot napkins -- but hey, who says you can't wipe your greasy fingers on grass?

At a moment in my life when sleeping at 4:00am and still traipsing to school in a pair of heels and a dress in spite of a lack of sleep is normal, when Moleskine agendas have replaced reminders written on the back of my hand, when Rockstar and Diet Coke are drank more than orange juice, when the first things that cross my mind when I wake up are the tasks I need to complete, when 24 hours in a day is never enough, when the pressure to maintain a slim physique overrides any desire to dinner, when my maid has to clean my room because I'm always busy --

-- it was absolutely sublime to lie on a hill under the stars with someone I know I will be friends with forever, talking about being bridesmaids at each other's weddings, talking about the future, talking about the past, and giggling at the petty complexities of the world while gazing at the infinitely vast universe beyond us.

In mid-conversation, we heard police sirens and drunk people started crawling up the hill, yelling profanities at each other. We gathered our purses and ran -- holding our breaths and clutching each other in hurried fear. We drove away and sang cheesy love songs in order to calm our nerves and gasped in relief at having escaped the ordeal -- until the car engine started breaking down. Of course, we got home safely.

To all the cutefaces who dream of"bigger" things out there, I suggest lying under the stars with your best friend. Nothing is more beautiful or infinitely unexplainable than who is right beside you and what is right above you -- it's immensely humbling.

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Miss Couturable

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dazzling tassles

Even though this Emilio Pucci Orchis Tasseled Ballerina flat resembles a Lanvin flat with party streamers glued on, I'm refreshed to find a pair of flats that combines the slipper-like flexibility of a Lanvin with whimsical touches that don't resemble Tory Burch buckles for once.
Although for the $325.00 it costs to buy a pair of the Pucci flats, I could pick up two pairs of these similar flats from J. Crew in two dazzling bright colors ($148.00) -- and have enough change left over to scoop up two pairs of argyle knee-high socks on my way out.

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Miss Couturable

P.S. My contact at CosmoGIRL! just confirmed the visit to the office with me today! Seventeen, CosmoGIRL!, and Teen Vogue office visits with the editors and assistants in one day -- I probably won't be able to fall asleep the night before.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spring break plans -- best impressions needed

An older friend once said to me, "Senior year is a sprint, junior year is a marathon, sophomore year is a practice run, and freshman is -- what the hell, I just entered a race!"

My spring break in about three weeks is definitely going to be a marathon of all sorts, testing my endurance, resilience, poise, and best efforts as I meet with college admissions officers, college professors, college students, and magazine editors on the east coast. Perhaps it's the cheerleader in me -- but I say, bring it on.
Miss Couturable's Spring Break Itinerary (no 'Girls Gone Wild!' here)
Sunday
♡ University of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
♡ Swarthmore College: Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
Monday
♡ Princeton University: Princeton, New Jersey
Tuesday
♡ Meet editors and assistants and tour Teen Vogue office, as invited by Fashion News Director, Jane Keltner (a complete sweetheart who makes time for me in spite of her busy career!)
♡ New York University: New York City, New York
♡ Meet editors and assistants and tour Seventeen office, as invited by Assistant Sittings Editor, Betsy Mullinix (the editor I'm working under this summer -- amazing and the epitome of sweetness)
♡ Meet editors and assistants and tour CosmoGIRL! office (tentative since the amazing editorial assistant who originally invited me has yet to confirm with me)
Wednesday
♡ Columbia University: New York City, New York
♡ Barnard College: New York City, New York
Thursday
♡ Yale University: New Haven, Connecticut
♡ Connecticut College: New London, Connecticut
Friday
♡ Vassar College: Poughkeepsie, New York
Saturday
♡ Wellesley College: Wellesley, MA

The plane tickets are already purchased, the rented car is reserved, the hotel rooms are (almost) completely confirmed -- the only question left is, "What should I wear?"

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Miss Couturable

Guest blogging about chick lit

(Photo Credit -- Kate Spade)
Today I'm guest blogging on Trashionista.com about chick lit (thanks to Keris!), so please check it out and tell me what you think!

Reader Luisa wrote: What a brilliant post! I loved reading that!

Her words are too kind, but they did leave a bright smile on my face past fifth period.

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Miss Couturable

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rags to riches

When I was in middle school, I was obsessed with United Colors of Benetton. I longed for the belts made of silk neckties and the dark blazers in the store, but I was too small to fit into anything. I probably can't pull off these rags in my hair like I can with the necktie belts, but I'm still fascinated with Benetton.
Truth be told, I never know what I can pull off from Benetton until I try it on in the store (and the sales associates always seem to love to drown me in piles and piles of "suggestions").

Yet, the store is always my first stop at the local shopping center. Perhaps it's because Benetton does such a great job with incorporating ethnically-distinct models into its ad campaigns or because Benetton's has such a controversial advertising history -- or maybe it's because I just can't get enough of their rich colors at very affordable prices.

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Miss Couturable

Monday, March 10, 2008

Envy isn't attractive

I am usually never jealous of other people. While there are plenty of students who get better grades than me and lots of girls who are more attractive than me, I am not truly jealous of anyone because I am extremely proud of who I am and very happy and grateful with what I have in my life.

However, I did feel a twinge of envy today, after speaking to my amazing friend (also a high school junior) who is interning with Condé Nast marketing for two weeks during her spring break. Not only does she get to work with the top executives in marketing at the corporation, she's also been invited to eat lunch with the Teen Vogue editors and intern for Teen Vogue for a few days. Needless to say, I'm very happy for my friend because she is very hardworking and luckily her adviser used to teach one of the marketing executives at Condé Nast -- when do high school girls ever get a chance like this?

Still, for a moment there, I felt inadequate. Interning with the Seventeen fashion department all summer is already a very big deal for a high school girl, and yet I wonder if I'll ever get to eat lunch with any editors this summer. I love working, but at the same time, I love meeting people and learning about them. My friend gets to prove herself not only to the marketing department, but also to the editorial and fashion departments. Will I be able to prove that I am all-around very capable too?

I have extraordinary friends, as you can tell -- I'm so proud of them! I'm crossing my fingers though, that I will also get the chance to prove myself this summer. I've finally realized how easy it is to forget what you already have when you see something else that you want -- but at the same time, knowing what you want and knowing what you have is very important to success.

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Miss Couturable

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Bow dresses for the young'uns

If you've been reading my blog long enough, you already know that I'm obsessed with bows -- and little day dresses. They're youthful and dressy at the same time -- which I think is an appropriate look when you're 17-years-old. I know some girls who dress really professional for their age and admire our teachers' style, which I think is very interesting but is definitely not the look for me. I'm exceedingly wary of looking too old for my age -- I have a friend who shares the same style as one of my professors, and they comment on how "cute" each other looks. They're adorable people, but I personally don't want to dress like my own instructor.This Marc by Marc Jacobs dress is made for me. The moment I saw it on Shopbop.com, I knew I wanted it but won't be getting it. My parents are extremely wary of the fact that they recently bought me a Nanette Lepore day dress and I haven't worn it yet -- but the weather has been so erratic lately! I don't want to wear heels and a silk dress to school right now when I could either sweat through the heat and ruin my dress or trample through the rain in a pair of platform heels.
YesStyle.com however, offers a lot of bow-embellished dresses only a fraction of the price of the Marc by Marc Jacobs dress ($428.00). Even though I can't even pick up wontons with chopsticks (shh, don't tell!), sometimes I think I need to shop in Asia more. A girl from my school transferred from South Korea and she has cute clothes that you really can't find in the United States. Plus, the last time my mommy brought me to Wangfujin (the place to shop in China -- maybe, that's actually disputable), she let me roam around and buy anything to my heart's desire. The prices there are as expensive or more pricey than at home, but she's more lenient with me over there because the clothes actually fit me.

I'm crossing my fingers for American retailers to catch on to the bow dress trend (how could they not?), but I think I'll order a few dresses from YesStyle.com just in case. It's not every season that I find a trend that I love this much. I thought I loved ponchos in 7th grade, but luckily I was just badly mistaken and confused.

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Miss Couturable

The Sunday Six: March 9th, 2008

I woke up to discover that I lost a hour due to daylight saving time, which feels like I overslept. I'm an early bird so waking up at 7:30am is rather disappointing in terms of all the book reading, studying, television watching, online shopping, and cooking I could have done from 6:00am to 7:30am.
  1. It's Girl Scout Cookie® season! On Friday, I bought a box of Thin Mints and almost bought a box of Peanut Butter Patties. By Saturday morning, I had finished the entire box of Thin Mints for breakfast. Yum -- even though I felt gross for the rest of the day. Buy your cookies now and support your local Girl Scout troop -- you know it's springtime when the cookies start selling.
  2. Sophia from Chic and Charming gives us a rundown of the new Abercrombie & Fitch lingerie store: Gilly Hicks Sydney. The store concept is highly sexualized -- literally to the point of blatant porn. The quality of the lingerie looks to be good and I think it would be a fine place to shop for comfortable and flirty underwear, but at the same time I'm having the horrendous anticipation of seeing preteen girls with their Gilly Hicks Sydney thong sticking out of their Hollister jeans. The corporate office can't not expect the little ones to tag along with their big brothers and sisters. I think I would blush if I entered the store -- even though I own plenty of underwear from Victoria's Secret and Agent Provocateur that would make my mommy blush and have no trouble walking into those stores. While to me Victoria's Secret and Agent Provocateur have always symbolized empowering yourself and looking great for yourself to the most minute details, Gilly Hicks Sydney distinctly feels like it's more about what you do with the lingerie off.
  3. I'm guessing that many of you don't subscribe to RSS feeds and instead click around to your favorite blogs everyday. In case you ever get sick of that, I recommend Google Reader (my personal favorite) or Bloglines. They're both extremely easy to use and RSS feeds allow you to subscribe to any type of blog, from Livejournal to Xanga to Blogger. This way, you can access all the latest entries from your favorite blogs on one single page. Google Reader is especially convenient if you already have Gmail.
  4. On the New York Magazine homepage, there's a headline that says "Blair to Teach at Yale". Obviously it was about Tony Blair (more reason to apply to Yale!), but one reader commented on the article: "I've been so Gossip Girl deprived, I thought this post was about Leighton Meester at first." Me too, me too.
  5. Speaking of Blair Waldorf, does she not put the rest of us to shame? As the article from the Official Gossip Girl Blog reads:
    Blair Waldorf is just seventeen years old but she is remarkably mature and accomplished for someone so young. Ms. Waldorf lives on the Upper East Side and attends the Constance Billard School for Girls where she is active in SGA, yearbook, French club, the Youth Against Cancer group, peer leadership and the equestrian club. She is also part of countless event committees. [...] Ms. Waldorf's statement stated she was hoping to be part of the Yale class of 2013, as well as 'continue to summer in Southampton, perfect her French, and volunteer her time to children's charities.'"
    I've always been proud of the fact that the characters from Gossip Girl are in the same class as me.
  6. For one of my friend's 17th birthday this week, I tried to bake her strawberry-sour cream cupcakes with lemon-sour cream frosting. I used this frosting recipe and omitted the vanilla extract because I wanted it to retain a sour lemon taste, and then used Gala's cupcake recipe as a base and added a cup of regular sour cream and replaced the water with strawberry juice. The cake part tasted fine -- but I thought my frosting wasn't as appetizing. I wanted to color the frosting dark green like strawberry tops but the color remained mint green no matter how much food coloring I put in.
It is now 9:00am, but I think it should be 8:00am.

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Miss Couturable

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Gimme an S for 'style'!

Most people don't know this, but the competitive cheerleading world has fashion trends of its own. Gone are the days of pleated skirts, body-hugging sweaters, and big scrunchies -- nowadays the most fashionable cheer teams wear short bold a-line skirts, flashy cropped tops, and sequined animal print hair bows.
As you can tell, they don't leave much to the imagination. It's like bathing suit season, 10 months a year.
I was very surprised to find the McQ-Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2008 ad campaign to be cheerleading inspired, circa late 1990s. The platform sneakers are ridiculously impractical and pleated skirts don't look as clean as straight a-line skirts, but Alexander McQueen at least has the right idea. I'm actually surprised and pleased that the designer of a collection called "Highland Rape" could portray cheerleading and sportsmanship in such a positive light, especially in fashion.
Much better than how cheerleading is satirized in Jeremy Scott's Fall 2004 collection, don't you agree?
My all-time favorite designer endeavor into cheerleading is Vera Wang's exclusive design for the NFL Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders -- definitely a step into high fashion, from the discarding of the skirt for shorts to the black cropped jacket.
Still, when it comes down to bold flashy uniforms that look great, Varsity surpasses any high-end designer.

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Miss Couturable

Will the indoor palm trees ever hit the roof?

I spend about 12 hours of my day at school -- so why not introduce you to my sanctity of book learning? We started as a feeder school for Stanford University about 100 years ago, but since then we've emerged and reemerged several times under different heads of school and names.
(Photo Credit -- Mark Tantrum)
Welcome to the first building at my school, where I hung out as a freshman...
(Photo Credit -- Mark Tantrum)
...under real indoor palm trees. Only in a private school in California, right?
This is the waterfall dedicated to one of our best English professors, who died of cancer last July. She would always bring her English classes to this area to read Thoreau, "because you have to read Thoreau outside".
(Photo Credit -- Mark Tantrum)
This is the building where the juniors (a.k.a. me) hang out. Note the couches -- they're convenient when you're a worn-out junior and in desperate need of a nap.
(Photo Credit -- Mark Tantrum)
The football field is no stadium -- but oh well, we just got bleacher seats and this isn't Friday Night Lights.The kitchen, which looks better when it's stocked with food at lunch time. Yesterday I had a delicious butternut squash soup with maple syrup whipped cream. Our food is really good compared to other high schools or even colleges -- and it's all-you-can-eat. Tired students make hungry eaters.
This is the dining room where you can sit if you don't feel like sitting on the patio outside. I don't know why we have Picasso prints on the multicolored walls, but I guess it's because a Monet would look out of place.

I used to complain that my school doesn't look like a traditional prep school, but then again, this is California.

What is your school like?

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Miss Couturable

Friday, March 7, 2008

Good thing I don't live in England

If I was British, I'd eat chocolate everyday. Ever since my British literature teacher brought our class some brightly-colored Cadbury chocolates from England (she was visiting family), I've been absolutely obsessed with all chocolates from the land of the Spice Girls. In general, the chocolate from over there is creamier and less waxy than what we have over here.
The mass-produced Cadbury chocolates from England (not to be mistaken for American Cadbury!) are taste sensations beyond the likes of Hershey's. I wanted to steal the whole box of Cadbury Roses Chocolates at our English class tea party (isn't my school so adorable?) but I knew there wasn't any way that my teacher wouldn't notice the cardboard sticking out from underneath my shirt.

"Please say Z again! It's so posh-sounding," I begged my British literature teacher a year ago. Apparently the British pronounce "Z" as "zehd" instead of "zee" like us Americans. She was probably perturbed at me, but luckily she's also very used to my strange antics in class.
Today in Spanish class, I received a Cocoa Deli Citrus Chocolate from my teacher after taking an exceedingly painful exam. The individually packaged bits are shaped like Popsicles, or "lollies" as the website calls them. My Spanish professor isn't British though, so I am in hopes that I can find these delectable treats around here somewhere.

I'd become rather chubby if I had easy access to such delectable chocolates -- luckily I don't reside in England. Oh, but please bring me back some chocolates if you happen to go there.

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Miss Couturable

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Colleen Quen: Queen of Hearts

The one fashion designer's atelier that I've always wanted to visit is Colleen Quen's in San Francisco. My dream could even become reality, since it's right in my vicinity -- maybe I'll send her an email and cross my fingers.

Colleen Quen's designs are every art history lover's sartorial fantasy -- from her swirling Georgia O'Keeffe gown to her impressionistic and architecturally genius couture dresses. She is a real-life couturier who studied French couture -- needless to say, she's honest and organic.

Her husband, Rick Lee, is an equally ingenious industrial and furniture designer -- and her atelier in San Francisco definitely combines the best of the two minds.
I couldn't fit in this black hearts gown without a pair of stilts, but I imagine the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland would fall in love with it.
If only I had a closet with suspended coat hangers! Did you notice that the pretty marigold prints on the Karma Sutra dresses are actually hand prints? Whimsical, once again --- but undeniably gorgeous.
I'm a sucker for hanging mobiles and anything ostentatious -- so this big swirling hanging mobile probably designed by Rick Lee makes me realize that Colleen Quen has very good taste in men.
Since when has lying on a carpet in the middle of the room ever been this classy?
I'm distraught because I don't know which gown I like the most -- there's something sculpturally simple yet beautiful in all of her pieces.
Lastly, isn't the fashion designer herself so adorable? You can tell that she really experiences pure joy in her work -- none of the "I'm too avant-garde cool to smile" attitudes that you see from some other designers after their shows.

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Miss Couturable

P.S. America's Next Top Model fans, I'm sure you've seen her on the show.