Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Miley in Balmain

(Photo Credit -- Vanity Fair)
I should be on hiatus -- but as my journalism teacher said to me today, "You go to class everyday. You don't need to relearn the material as much as you need to review it."

So there's word circulating about Miley Cyrus's Vanity Fair Shoot -- from Jezebel to WWD. I'll be honest -- I like watching Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel. My little sister and I love to sing along to "Best of Both Worlds" in off-key voices while bouncing up and down on our mommy's bed.

This gentle controversy aside, the texture of Miley's Balmain dress is exactly how I think the texture of any jewel-toned dress should be. It's not overtly shiny in spite of its many glistening baubles, and the gentle folds are expected of a fashion house that continues Pierre Balmain's expertise in drapery.

I imagine that Miley's barefoot in this photo -- a dress this luxurious in such a minimal amount of space doesn't need many accessories.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Some of my favorites

I might be taking a break from blogging -- but I can't resist reading my favorite blogs. Hopefully you'll enjoy a few (but definitely not all) of my favorites:

Fashion
Style Bubble
Inspiration
iCiNG
Teen Fashion Cravings
Teen Fashionista
Witty Commentary
Jezebel

Please check out all of the blogs on my blogroll if you're interested too -- I wish I could list them all but I must prepare a friend's birthday present right now.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Hiatus until May 16th!

Testing schedule for the next three weeks:
May 3rd: SAT US History
May 7th: AP Calculus AB
May 9th: AP US History
May 15th: AP Macroeconomics & AP Microeconomics

I shouldn't complain -- I have no right to. There are students who are taking five AP exams and three SAT Subject Tests, as well as students who do not have access to the breadth of testing opportunities that I have.

However, I am overwhelmed with work. I average two hours of sleep every night, and every school day I have at least two tests and one quiz. I only wore heels once this past week -- and I tripped down the stairs for the first time as a result of fatigue.

Consequently, I think people have too much faith in me -- from my journalism adviser who tells me that I don't give myself enough credit to the bloggers at Step into College who recently called me a "budding superwoman".

Indeed, I do get straight As -- but I am not naturally gifted at any particular academic subject. As I stated before, I average two hours of sleep a night. I don't let myself "take a break", per say -- when I'm not studying, I'm working in fashion journalism, volunteering, cheerleading, baking cupcakes for my friends, or reading a good book. Other than watching Gossip Girl, I honestly do not allow myself "idle time". Being idle makes me very unhappy and restless, in fact.

At lunch recently, a friend said, "Calculus AB is so easy. I don't even study or do the homework and I have an A+ in that class."

I looked down in shame and excused myself from the table with a shy giggle and a blown kiss. I was struggling for hours every day just to maintain a grade in that class within the borderline of an A- and an A. I came into class for extra help at 7:00am on a regular basis, stayed there for designated Extra Help sessions, asked for help after-school, and even had a classmate tutoring me sporadically. I felt incredibly stupid.

At another instance during lunch, the same group of friends I was eating with was exchanging answers for the biology test next period. I covered my ears because I didn't want to hear -- I studied for six hours the night before. It wasn't fair that they always earned better grades than me on the biology tests, no matter how I studied -- they always exchanged the answers with one another.

Or perhaps, they are just smarter. I have no claim to academic greatness anyway.

When my classmates, who raise thousands of dollars to save the world or who win national science awards, congratulate me on being one of Seventeen's "Best-Dressed Girls in America" or attaining my coveted fashion internship with Seventeen or on winning national cheerleading championships, I'm actually rather confused because they have achieved such greater things compared to me.

"Why do you work so hard?" sighed my mommy at 3:00 in the morning, as she saw me memorizing Spanish vocabulary in nothing but underwear and an oversized bright orange Princeton sweater.

"Because I can," I replied curtly.

Feel free to email me, cutefaces! I'm rooting for each and every one of you.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

P.S. I mention that my "accomplishments" aren't very impressive compared to that of a national science or math or writing award or single-handedly raising thousands of dollars for charity because 1) Being chosen as one of Seventeen's "Best-Dressed Girls in America" didn't merit any hard work or effort. Or achievement, for that matter -- I just enjoy dressing up. 2) Attaining my internship as a high-schooler probably entails that I've worked hard -- but at the same time, I refuse to consider it to be any position of "prestige" because it is just another platform to learn from more amazing people. I have a long way to go before I earn my name in the fashion publishing industry. 3) I was only one of 30 cheerleaders on my team at nationals -- my team as a whole is extraordinary. 4) There are plenty of things in my life that I am proud of, but I do not consider myself to be special in any way. I am lucky, hard-working, and grateful.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

High tea

(Photo Credit -- Anna Arefin, Nylon Magazine)
I love tea parties so much that I celebrated my sweet sixteen at Lisa's Tea Treasures, a tea room. I also love shoes -- I always spend most of my birthday money on flashy patent pumps and dainty ballerina flats.

Imagine my delight when I flipped to page 48 in the May 2008 issue of Nylon -- aren't these heels by Miu Miu the most darling shoes you have ever laid eyes on? The unsuspecting eye would almost think the patent leather Miu Miu pump was a porcelain table accessory!

Perhaps next time, I'll skip the tea party and invest in the shoes. On second thought, I'll take both -- one can never drink too much tea, and one can never have too many shoes.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pristine white for prom

My original prom ensemble plan revolved around a vintage cocktail dress -- unfortunately, I'm picky about every detail on my dress and I've yet to find a dress that fits my specifications. While I'm still hunting for the perfect vintage cocktail gown that murmurs Grace Kelly and doesn't scream '80s, my last minute alternative would be a white strapless cocktail dress with an oversize bow -- I can still pull off the top hat and commit to the rest of my outfit.

I seriously pondered over the Jay Godfrey Satin Bow Dress -- and then I discovered the As U Wish Bow Dress, which is over six times cheaper than the former. I'm undecided between the two dresses as I'm still looking for a 1950s style gown, but now I've realized that I need not worry about any girls wearing the same dress as me. Even if any other particular girl chooses to dress in a pristine white strapless cocktail dress too, a white dress represents a blank slate -- and a girl can personalize her blank slate.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Please give me another 8 hours

Within every 24-hour period, I always come across two or three situations that I find to be wonderful topics to write about -- unfortunately, I usually end up writing up only one of them, while leaving the rest of my ideas to ferment in my brain for a few more days.

Today especially has been extremely hectic -- from a luncheon with my journalism mentor to my end-of-the-year calculus exam (in preparation of the AP exam) to my eye-opening (both literally and figuratively) photoshoot for Seventeen today as one of the "Best-Dressed Girls in America". My daily schedule (not as exciting as it may seem, I must add) is both routine and exhilarating at the same time -- but whether one is going through the motions of life or living vicariously in one's pursuits, fatigue will inevitably set in.

That said, feel free to check out my latest post about headbands on the doesthislookstupid.com blog as I recuperate from the past few days.

I want to tell you about my prom dress revelations, my pursuits in asking a particular boy to prom, my new insight into the college application process after a session with Harvard and UPenn admissions directors at my school, and oh, my determination to find my place in the world (hint: my place is everywhere).

But first -- I need to get some sleep. Unfortunately this pile of homework next to me needs some tending to too.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tonight is the night

Normally I don't watch television on school nights. Normally I don't watch television at all. Normally I wouldn't advocate putting homework aside for an hour of television.

But really, my dear cutefaces -- either stop procrastinating and finish your homework by dinnertime, or leave your homework on your desk for an hour because Gossip Girl is back tonight!

I'm desperately hoping for Lily and Rufus to magically reunite again, for Blair to get the revenge she deserves (while looking fabulous, as always), and for Chuck to find true love -- but happy endings don't come that easily.

Won't you please join me and celebrate in a pair of knee-high socks and a sparkling headband today?

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Sunday Six: April 20th, 2008

It's midnight and I'm sitting on the floor eating a chocolate bar while my parents are miffed at me downstairs for breaking curfew without advanced notice. Here's to nights like this.
  1. Gossip Girl is back on Monday, April 21st -- and I'm hoping to finish my homework by showtime. In the meantime, check out this potential spoiler from Fashionista. Lucky Vanessa.
  2. When I was in middle school, I always had chapped unglossed lips because I was too lazy to put on chapstick or lip gloss. Nowadays, I carry my Lorac Lip Polish in Kiss wherever I go -- never thought I'd say this, but I need my lips to be glossy now. I've never cared much for the actual color, but all of a sudden luscious high-shine lips have become crucial to my daily routine.
  3. Casey of teenfashionista makes me so excited for New York City this summer. Yes -- I'll repeat this over and over again. I'm craving Pinkberry that much.
  4. I haven't even bought my prom dress yet, but I'm already looking for a bathing suit. I was hoping for something simple -- but maybe daring cutouts are feasible too?
  5. liebemarlene is absolutely adorable. I actually never cared much to look at other people's outfits -- but I can't stop backtracking through her blog!
  6. This morning as we drove through a nearby town, I saw infinitesimal numbers of people standing on the curb next to Home Depot. "This is what the economic recession has caused," Daddy said, "They stand here every morning, looking for a job helping someone build something." I hung my head in shame as we turned the corner -- because I will never have to wake up at the break of dawn just to stand at a sidewalk curb in hope of a temporary minimum-wage job. My life is sheltered -- there I was, sitting comfortably in the backseat of a leather seat in my Daddy's BMW, with the only pressing urgency being what I was going to wear tonight. Later tonight, I attended a friend's sweet sixteen bash -- in her absolutely magnificent estate home in the hills, with a plentiful of catered food, uniformed waiters, a DJ, and beautiful decorations.

    Freshman year, my friend told me about the time that her parents took their gardener home while she sat in the backseat with him, and she felt immensely guilty because he was going to take the city bus home, and she was on her way to a Chinese New Year party where she could easily get $200 from relatives within ten minutes.

    I came home thinking about all the things I take for granted in my life -- because I can say I work very hard but even if I do have a lot of work, my life is very easy and free of burden. Nothing seems fair anymore. Sometimes I wish good things in life could be parceled out evenly to everyone in society. Then again, I'm an absurd and naive idealist with a lot to learn, and usually my personal views are just...personal. I'm very inarticulate when I'm lost.
I have a feeling that I'm going to be grounded tomorrow morning.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hello and good-bye

Dear Incoming Class of 2012,

Earlier this week as I led your hyperactive faces around the school, I heard a variety of remarks from your mouths that betwixt me, amused me -- but didn't surprise me:
"Are you kidding me? There are no hot people here -- they all go to public school!" "Häagen-Dazs ice cream?! I love this school!" "So I'm just wondering -- how short can our skirts be without getting in trouble?"
And so I walked you through the hallways, into the administration's offices, to the quad, through the dining hall, into the skybox, through the journalism room, past the lockers -- and back to the gym, where you received a black goodie bag engraved with the school's logo in gold leaf.

It saddened me to realize that as you begin your high-school journey this fall, I will be close to the end.

You will learn a lot in your next four years at this school. Despite what you may have heard from outsiders, there are lots of extremely good-looking people at this school -- take a look at our stunning homecoming princesses -- who go on to schools such as Stanford and Harvard. Short miniskirts and halter tops do not make a person beautiful -- and neither do designer clothes. You will learn more about beauty here than you can ever imagine -- beauty in its pure essence, underneath the cloaks of make-up and fine clothes. The people here glow -- because they have goals and dreams to achieve.

Your high-school is one of the top 20 schools in sending their graduates to top schools according The Wall Street Journal -- even though the school has only been around for about 6 years. Of course, this study only considers eight colleges and is highly inaccurate because there are obviously hundreds of wonderful and enriching high-schools in the world that are not on this list -- but talk to any college admissions director, and he or she will know your school. You are extremely blessed to have the privilege (yes, privilege -- no one is entitled to a prestigious prep school education) to attend such a fine institution, with some of the top AP programs in the world (according to College Board).

Not surprisingly, you will never think you're good enough. You will be surrounded by a student body with dreams just as big as yours -- but with little expectations. You will be humbled, stressed, overwhelmed -- and proud.

But really, as I bid you farewell after your campus tour (I'm sorry if I was rather incoherent) -- I wanted to embrace each and every one of you. I sat in advisory yesterday, with a group of classmates I didn't really know but chatted with every Thursday as we munched on hot chocolate and strawberry shortcake. I saw people crying from the stress at our school, people talking about struggling with depression -- and I realized that no school is perfect.

Yep, you'll probably get detention if you don't do your homework -- but the teachers are so nurturing and determined to help you succeed that you'll want to do your work even if you don't enjoy the subject -- because you'll respect your teachers that much. Yes, you're going to be working really hard -- but you probably already know that, given the reputation of the school around here.

This school has its flaws -- but you will learn to embrace it, even if you graduate with relief. This is a school where all the teachers know your name, even if they've never taught you. This is a school where your peers know your name, even if you might not. This is a school that nurtures your intellectual growth -- but no, you're going to learn so much more than that. My friends are like family -- and the hallways are as familiar to me as my own bedroom.

Welcome, my dears. Hope you enjoyed the Häagen-Dazs -- because some days you're going to be too busy to eat lunch.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Less t-shirts, more classic white shirts please

In almost every Associated Student Body election speech this morning, the candidates spoke of working with the school administration to allow t-shirts into the dress code.

While we don't wear uniforms, we have a dress code that forbids t-shirts, too-short skirts, and skimpy tops -- sandals aren't even allowed unless they're dressy. Blue jeans were only allowed about two years ago. Personally, I love our school dress code -- it compels many students to dress up for school, from wearing platform heels on a regular basis to wearing a silk tie on top of a slightly tucked-in Oxford shirt.

Thus, I'm against the addition of t-shirts to our dress code. I enjoy the creative ways that our student body has learned to work around the no-tees rule, and I feel that the rigorous academic ambiance is reduced when one is wearing a band tee instead of a cashmere v-neck sweater. We're allowed to wear t-shirts underneath a dress or button-up shirt -- it's not like we don't have the chance to enjoy the comfort of a James Perse tee. I have not worn a t-shirt by itself for three years so far, and don't plan to any time soon.That said, Gap's recent Design Editions white shirts (in collaboration with the 2007 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund) are the perfect alternatives to t-shirts for me. No, I can't work out in the Bell-sleeve shirt by Phillip Lim -- but it's easy to toss on underneath a dress or over a pair of jeans.

I like my soft cotton James Perse v-neck tees -- but I still prefer to dress up in crisp shirts and fitted blouses at school.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Speed shopping meets bargain shopping

On Sunday, I intended only to pick up a black scrapbook and some colored paper from Michaels within the one-hour time block reserved for my little sister's ballet class.

However, it's a given that if I'm dropped off in front of some stores, I'm not going to be satisfied with just craft supplies for a school project. Even though I had carried only enough money for craft supplies -- not including the credit card, but I have enough self-control not to use my credit card for impulse buys.
With 40 minutes left before my sister pranced out of ballet class, I picked up this adorable polka-dot wristlet from Target -- on clearance for only $10! As prom approaches in a month, I've finally picked up the first piece from my prom-ensemble plan. I snatched up the wristlet, power-walked to the cashier, and exhaled floods of relief as I realized I had just spent $10 for an accessory piece that I used to spend $300 on. What good is a Marni clutch that doesn't complement my dress anyways?While browsing some other stores, I snatched up a pair of these Sam Edelman polka-dot flats -- on sale for only $40! The canvas upper and light construction functions well in the spring and summer -- especially because I disdain most sandals because they're too casual for my taste. Two years ago, I bought a pair of pink Kate Spade jelly thongs that I rarely wore because I felt like I was obscenely wearing shower slippers -- they still make wonderful "just-in-case" packing necessities though, as they came with their own clear plastic carrying bag.

By then it was five minutes until my time was up, but I was already in line with my new flats and a pair of DKNY black knee-high socks (only $3).

Three steals on a craft supply budget within 45 minutes -- not too shabby for someone who completely avoided sales racks for six years.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Sunday Six: April 13th, 2008

I lounged in bed this morning far past my capacity for shut-eye, convinced that I was oversleeping and finally experiencing a lazy Sunday. With reluctance, I checked my alarm clock: 6:30am. Hm.
  1. My junior prom is still a month away (and uh oh, I've yet to get my dress!), but I know a lot of other schools have already had their junior proms -- and many senior proms are coming up! Instead of keeping your prom dress in your closet for eternity, I've written up a few alternatives on the doesthislookstupid.com blog. My personal favorite is the prom dress drive -- two wonderful prom nights shared with one dress!
  2. I'm applying to be a member of the Nordstrom BP. Fashion Board -- it's a program for rising high-school seniors to learn about the fashion industry in terms of retail. While I don't have any career aspirations to work in retail, I do believe that I need to experience all facets of the fashion industry.
  3. Tears streamed out of my eyes like frozen comets veering off their celestial path as I closed The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Almost every high-school student has read this book -- but if you haven't by some divine mistake, I suggest you buy a copy from Amazon right now (mine only cost $4.00!). To spin out of control like Gatsby, to have everything luxurious and nothing valuable -- I could not help but whisper, "I'm sorry, Gatsby," as I read the last line of the book.
  4. Speaking of reading, dear Melissa Walker sent me a copy of her book, Violet by Design, a couple weeks ago. When I initially began the book, I assumed it would be a lighthearted young adult piece -- and in many ways it is -- but it was eerily interesting to read about Violet's struggle with losing five pounds when Ali Michael was recently sent home for gaining five pounds. You've probably read Melissa's work in Teen Vogue, ELLEgirl, Seventeen, and other magazines -- but reading a novel from a former magazine editor is a completely different experience.
  5. Trendinista discusses the burgeoning trend of childhood girliness -- the only doll I ever treasured was a porcelain wedding doll, but apparently there are some doll aficionados who read HauteDoll Magazine!
  6. Gala hosts the iCiNG Transformation Challenge, beginning the 21st of April! I signed up for the mailing list, but I've yet to figure out what my goal will be.
"I have to make to-do lists," said Stephanie after school on Friday, "But then I spend so much time making them that I have to re-make them again." Making to-do lists must occupy a lot of time, but they definitely make me feel better as I'm shifting through a pile of work.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Jazzi of all trades

(Photo Credit -- Jazzi McGilbert)
I thought I was getting ahead when I seriously began interning and working in the fashion and publishing industry at age 15, but dear Jazzi McGilbert puts all of us young fashionistas to shame!

This beautiful lady started working for Teen Vogue at age 13 after she attended a discussion panel with the editors -- before The Hills glamorized fashion magazine internships. Now that she's 19-years-old, she attends The New School in New York City -- while interning and working at the same time. Feeling unaccomplished yet? I am.

You may have seen her wonderfully witty posts on Fashionista.com, or perhaps you've gained some gems of wisdom from her on Teen Vogue. Yet, even though she's unbelievably busy -- she offered to answer some questions for Miss Couturable:
1. How did you know that you wanted to work in fashion publishing?
As you can tell from my blog, I have a major interest in, well, anything creative. Since I pursue (or have pursued) more than a couple of these avenues-- namely Writing, Styling, Graphic Design, Creative Directing at the moment, but Makeup, Music (singing), Film/Acting, Directing, etc. in the recent past-- Magazines were the only viable career option for me.

Unlike a lot of people, my array of interests doesn't come from a lack of focus, but rather a lot of skillsets (gosh that feels weird to say about myself). I feel like my "calling" is to start my own magazine, a place were I can combine my talent and my love of people into one place. No other career would allow for my kind of creative schizophrenia!

2. What is the toughest thing about working in this industry?
I can only speak for myself, but the toughest thing about this industry for me is my age. I started working at 13, and as driven as I am, I still find myself at dead ends at times because people think I'm "too young". For "those people" I have two words: Edward Enninful, and fists full of young people with tremendous talent.

3. What is the biggest misconception about this industry that young aspiring fashionistas have?
The Hills.

But really, the biggest misconception I see is people who think that Money = Style = Talent (and a sense of Entitlement). Or any combination thereof.
There are plenty of fashion interns in New York City who could string together a few smart pieces of advice, but I've admired Jazzi since the beginning of my fashion endeavors because she is a self-made fashionista. There are some people who dress well but cannot write well -- and vice versa. Jazzi, however, is witty, down-to-earth, genuine, and ambitious -- with a tastefully chic wardrobe.

It's easy to be in awe of figures such as Anna Wintour because they have become godly figures in our minds (and surely, Anna Wintour is quite an ethereal figure), but it's a greater pleasure to become acquainted with those who have not reached the top yet -- but "burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars," as Jack Kerouac would say.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Are fashion blogs the new black?

A girl on an online forum writes, "Are fashion blogs the new black?"

Perhaps writing about fashion blogs being the new black is the new black -- I've read quite a few articles and commentaries about the growing popularity of fashion blogging in the past six months. I've seen threads on popular fashion forums that are solely dedicated to advertising fashion blogs -- some blogs don't have photos, some blogs don't have any writing, some blogs freeze my computer, and some blogs make me feel ashamed of mine.

Miss Couturable is definitely not original -- I wish I could provide entertainingly brilliant fashion commentary like Susie Bubble or inspiration like Gala or witty daily-life banter like Melanie, but alas, Miss Couturable is my stream of consciousness, based mostly on fashion and the occasional teen-life topic. That is, if streams of consciousness ceased with "ex.oh.ex.oh".

I'm addicted to blogs and I'm constantly checking my Google Reader for the latest updates from my fellow stylish bloggers -- reading new blogs is especially a pleasure for me because sincere words are inklings of the human condition.

"Everyone and their mother has a blog," said my college counselor after I told her about the work I put into developing my blog. There might be a ridiculous onslaught of blogs on the internet today, but certain fashion blogs such as Style Bubble may be as much of a wardrobe staple as the little black dress.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Thursday, April 10, 2008

If I can make it here

As fellow bloggers such as Connie from Pretty Legit and Casey from Teen Fashionista are preparing for their summer magazine internships in New York City, I'm reminded that I, too, must start prepping for my internship in the fashion department with Seventeen. After finding out that I'd be the only high-school intern among the other college interns, I was very intimidated at first -- only to realize that being a high-school intern is even more incentive to stand out. National magazines don't ever accept high-school interns (I've inquired all over Manhattan), and I'm just going have to prove to my editor that even though she took a chance with me, a 16-years-old girl at the time of my interview -- and could have just hired one of many wonderfully qualified college-aged applicants, I will work extremely hard as I am very grateful for this opportunity.

Casey recently asked for tips on enjoying the best that New York City has to offer -- my dear cutefaces, what are some of your New York City tips that you can offer me this summer? My plan was to pick up a copy of Lonely Planet, roam around the five boroughs, shop (potentially with Casey?), and visit the Met. Then I realized that I needed more concrete ideas.

If I can make it in New York City, I can make it anywhere -- is that the correct saying? I've always dreamed of living and working in New York City -- I just didn't think it'd be before my 18th birthday.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

It all started with a little black dress

If I could wear only one label for the rest of my life, I would contact Serge Cajfinger and purchase every single piece from his Paule Ka collections. The company profile starts off with a charming line about a little black dress that foretells the rest of the company's history:
This is a story about a dress, a little black dress that reflects the mythical couture of the 1950's, the essence of Audrey Hepburn, and the taste of pure, contemporary refinement.
From the giant bow headband, more demure and sophisticated than the Juicy Couture bow, to the strapless bustier dress, reminiscent of Grace Kelly but resounding of bold modernity -- Paule Ka is a label designed for the lady with a penchant for vintage Christian Dior silhouettes and screenings of Breakfast at Tiffany's.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Monday, April 7, 2008

Head-to-toe black

At the Teen Vogue office last Tuesday, I saw many stylish fashionistas dressed head-to-toe in black, even though spring traditionally dictates a brighter wardrobe palette. Jane Keltner, Fashion News Director, especially dazzled me in a black long-sleeved shirt, black knee-length tulip skirt, skinny multi-colored belt to cinch the skirt at her waist, black tights, and black pumps.

Since that formidable visit, I've been wondering how one pulls off this head-to-toe color palette (or lack of?) while still appearing radiantly delicate like Jane Keltner -- worn in the wrong way, black can be too severe in the birth of spring. Perhaps it's her fair skin complexion or her cornsilk hair -- characteristics that I lack.

I recalled New York Magazine's Spring Fashion 2008 feature on "Five New Yorkers Who Wear Only One Color Every Day" -- perhaps there is a way for me to wear head-to-toe black. Black is suppose to be slimming, right? Head-to-toe black outfits could be wardrobe solutions to my I'm-feeling-fat-days.
Taking a hint from Jane Keltner, perhaps the key to pulling off this look is to add a splash of color: a bright belt cinched around the waist or a fluorescent headband framing the face -- or as modeled by Audrey Hepburn: a bright and sweet smile.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Sunday, April 6, 2008

East coast college visits, part 6

My last college visit on the east coast was Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA. I thought I wouldn't like an all-girls school, but it was surprisingly appealing!
Wellesley College: Wellesley, MA
We arrived late to my interview with admissions -- 45 minutes late, to be exact. My daddy and I got completely lost as we drove from Westford to Wellesley -- and then we couldn't find the admissions office when we finally arrived. I apologized profusely to the admissions department and had a 15-minute interview instead of the normal 45-minute interview, where I became introduced to Wellesley and introduced myself to Wellesley.

I never thought I would love an all-womens college -- but this school is so amazing (obviously)! Even though there is no cheerleading squad, they have a partnership with MIT, so that I could be a cheerleader for MIT (go beavers!). The academics are extremely rigorous and top-notch, the campus is the most beautiful I have seen all week, and the students are serious about their studies and ambitions.
I met with a friend who currently attends Wellesley College, and we chatted for about 1.5 hours about her experiences at the school. Obviously she was having a great time at the school, but the most useful tidbits I gained from her weren't actually about Wellesley:

She warned me of the extreme tension in college admissions that begins second semester junior year at our school -- that I should keep quiet about my college applications decisions.

Therefore, this will be my last college post until next March -- I understand that students from my school read my blog (thank you lovelies!), but I'm more comfortable keeping my college application decisions to myself until the decision letters actually come out! With enough pressure at school, discreetly applying to colleges seems to be the least nerve wracking option. Qué será, qué será.

That said, as much as I love the east coast -- I still think we got more bounce in California. "Cherish your time at home," said my Wellesley friend. Right now, I'm not a college student -- nor am I ready to be one.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Friday, April 4, 2008

East coast college visits, part 5

Today the tension between my daddy and I began to crack again, as we discussed (debated?) where I wanted to go to college and where he wanted me to go to college. It started immediately after my visit to Vassar College:
Vassar College: Poughkeepsie, NY
Vassar College has almost everything I could ever want in a college -- two of their best academic departments are art history and English! All of the students rave about these two departments, even the ones who aren't majoring in these fields. The art history department organizes an exclusive study abroad opportunity in St. Petersburg, Russia -- which I heard is quite phenomenal. The only distribution requirements are foreign language, quantitative reasoning, and freshman writing seminar -- the rest of the classes are free range for all students in the liberal arts tradition!

Vassar College is truly top in the humanities. My tour guide actually founded the school's fashion magazine -- apparently much of the student body is fashion forward. Poughkeepsie isn't the most exciting town in New York, but New York City is only a 1.5 hour train ride away! The campus atmosphere is very vibrant too -- I spoke with a student there who claims that there is always something to do on campus.

In fact, Melissa Walker, former features editor of ELLEgirl and Seventeen Prom, and Evonne Gambrell of Teen Vogue both attended Vassar. Not too shabby.
So I left the college feeling extremely pleased because this is a wonderful liberal arts college with so many undergraduate research opportunities for me to pursue -- and of course, I proceeded to tell my daddy with a beaming smile.

He frowned at me -- "Are you kidding me?" he said, "You'll have no future if you attend this school."

He launched into his speech about how students who attend Harvard, Yale, or Princeton are at the "top" of the world and there is only so much room at the very "top" -- and that attending one of these three institutions would help me network with some of the most successful and powerful people in the world. That may very well be true -- but I grew more and more frustrated by the very minute as my at-the-moment enthusiasm for Vassar was immediately thrown out by my dad's preferences for Harvard, Princeton, and Yale.

"You need to think about your future ten years down the line," he said, "Internationally, employers only recognize Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Stanford."

...Do I want to be hired by someone who only recognizes four colleges as top institutions? I asked my daddy this question, only to be responded with a sigh and a deathly glare.

"Vassar could offer me so many undergraduate research opportunities!" I said. My daddy replied in a very stern and irritated tone of voice: "That's why you need to go to a large research university like Yale."

The frustrations continued to escalate throughout the day -- until I locked myself in a study room at a friend's house in Massachusetts and cried. Yes -- Yale, Princeton, Harvard -- these schools are wonderful and I am going to try my best in college admissions, but who I am in a sea of ambitious and dedicated students? I do not have national awards or innate talents in musical instruments or dance, nor am I a particular genius in any academic subject at school.

What happens if I don't get in? I asked my daddy this question -- he responded coldly, "That's why you cannot let yourself go for the rest of the year."

Right now, my daddy is in the next room, chatting with his friends about my chances of getting into various colleges. "The perfect daughter," his friends call me, vastly overestimating me. I will not lie -- I am in love with Yale and Princeton and I'm relieved that my daddy and I agree on at least some colleges -- but the pressure is frightening me.

I tossed my Vassar brochures on a nearby table afterwards -- I don't want to read the glossy inserts if I can't even discuss them openly with my parents.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Thursday, April 3, 2008

East coast college visits, part 4

Scott Schuman, The Sartorialist, was at Yale yesterday -- unfortunately I missed him. On my tour, I kept on glancing around campus, hoping that he was still around but alas, he's back in New York City.
Yale University: New Haven, CT
Yale University is a phenomenal institution -- I love it so much that I tentatively want to apply early-action to this amazing school. New Haven obviously isn't as cultural as New York City or as quaintly elegant as the town of Princeton, but it does provide plenty of vibrant opportunities to Yale students. Oh, and New York City is only an hour away by train anyways. The Yale campus is so gorgeous -- the publisher of the Harry Potter series (who was at Yale a couple weeks ago) said that it was the closest to Hogwarts that she had ever seen. Mark Twain even said that Hilhouse Avenue, a street in the university, was the most beautiful street in America -- disputable, but I can see where he's coming from. I met with an alumni from my high-school and several members of the Yale cheer team -- all of whom are thriving at the school and having the best four years of their lives (I made sure of this fact by asking them, "Is this the best four years of your life?").

Of course, the academics are world-class -- no explanation needed. The unique aspect of the academic program is the two-week "shopping period", where students can "shop" around and try any classes they'd like before they register. I can always say yes to more shopping!

The residence college system is very interesting -- when you matriculate into the school, you are randomly sorted into one of twelve colleges. In the summer, you receive a letter welcoming you into your college. Each residence college has its own gorgeous dining hall, beautiful common room, fitness room, gym, etc -- and some even have recording studios and movie theaters!
Afterwards, my daddy and I drove to Poughkeepsie, NY, where I will be visiting Vassar College tomorrow.

Upon checking my email in the hotel room, my editor from Seventeen notified me that I've been chosen as one of Seventeen's "Best Dressed Girls in America"! While visiting the magazine office on Tuesday, my editor snapped a photo of me to submit for the contest. Unfortunately, the next day she asked me if I could submit some more photos, but my camera broke on that day. I decided that I had no chance in being chosen, and lightheartedly set off for Yale -- feeling quite flattered that one person (my editor) thought I dressed well.

Hopefully my outfit isn't too disappointing when I appear in the magazine -- I'm quite proud of the large leaps I've taken to develop my wardrobe since freshman year, and I'm still learning how to cultivate style.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

East coast college visits, part 3

I forgot to mention this -- but I saw glimpses of Amy Astley, editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, in her office yesterday. "We have to be quiet around here because the editor-in-chief is right across from us," whispered Evonne. I immediately turned my head left, only to be so surprised and amazed that I actually clasped my hands over my chest and sighed really loud. I'm ridiculous.

A lot of models and actresses are gorgeous -- "drop dead" gorgeous even -- but people like Amy Astley and Jane Keltner are beautiful in a different way. They shine and illuminate the room with their confidence and presence -- they're soft-spoken but firm. You see them as leaders and role models not for their perfect abs or paparazzi sightings -- but because they have an aura that draws you to them and brilliance that actually illuminates outward. Amy Astley did not attend an Ivy League school -- she attended Michigan State University. Nor is she British. Anna Wintour handpicked her to be the editor-in-chief of Vogue's little sister publication -- which is a reminder to all of us that when it comes down to achieving our dreams, it's about our character -- and Amy Astley is definitely an amazing person.

I must say, all the ladies I saw at Condé Nast are much more glamorous and poised than I could ever fathom in my imagination. The woman I shared the elevator with works at Cookie -- and she was extremely elegant looking even in a pair of casual corduroys.

The security guards at Hearst are so friendly and always up for a chat with tourists -- "It's mandatory to take photos once you're here," they joked. As I walked up the steep escalator, one of them said, "Have a ball, darling!" They are so adorable.

I did visit New York University, Columbia University and Barnard College -- all three left very different impressions on me.
New York University: New York City, NY
The truth is, New York University didn't impress me as much as I thought it would. My college counselor expected this school to be one of my top choices -- but I'm a cheerleader, and I love traditional rah-rah schools. Don't get me wrong -- I love the city so much and I feel like I belong there, but NYU just doesn't seem to provide me the academic experience I am looking for. There is no campus -- which means there is a disjointed fragmentation around the school. It's still an interesting school with lots of opportunities to offer me (because of the city) -- and I will definitely apply, but it does lack the school unity that I seek. That said, I met with my friend who is at NYU Stern (an extremely prestigious business school) and she said, "The great thing about students from our high-school is that we learn to adapt and make the best of what we have. So if you come here, you'll learn to make it your own."

Barnard College: New York City, NY
Barnard College is very interesting -- it's a liberal arts college for women, affiliated with Columbia University. There is a separate administration and admissions process, but the two schools are free to use each other's facilities and take each other's classes. I'm not too keen on women-only colleges, but Barnard is definitely an interesting alternative. The advising program is absolutely fabulous and much more personal than that of Columbia -- someone like me who loves her classes so much would enjoy this. My daddy however, is still obsessed with Wellesley College.

Columbia University: New York City, NY
I love Columbia University -- it is the closest to a close-knit college town environment that I can get in New York City. The resources are endless and the students are incredibly driven with New York City attitudes and brilliant minds. The Core Curriculum is very appealing -- when you are officially enrolled as a freshman, the school sends you a copy of The Iliad to read before you start class. A lot of the focus is on Western civilization, but luckily New York City offers a wide plethora of cultures and opportunities. The campus is much larger than I expected because some rooms are six floors under the ground.

I spoke to a friend at Columbia who majors in Economics, and she gave me one of the best pieces of advice I've ever heard: "When you get to New York City and you're living by yourself, pick up a copy of Lonely Planet. Roam around the five boroughs by yourself -- see the city. It doesn't end at West Village."
This summer, I had originally planned to spend most of my weekends (when I'm not helping out on photoshoots) at the Met or shopping. I'm sure I will do some of that -- but I'm also going to pack a pair of sneakers and walk around the five boroughs of New York City with my copy of Lonely Planet.

Behind the vacant gazes in the subway station, there must be lots of stories in uncover -- and I'm inclined to find them.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

East coast college visits, part 2

So I sprained my ankle on the steps of Clio Hall at Princeton University -- but that didn't keep me from my preset plans. Well, except for wearing heels -- I only packed a scruffy pair of yellow patent leather flats as my alternative to pumps.
Princeton University: Princeton, NJ
I absolutely adore Princeton -- it is my number one choice so far. The history behind the school is so phenomenal -- for the information session, we sat in Nassau Hall where the British troops stayed during the Battle of Princeton during the American Revolutionary War. As we drove around Princeton, I couldn't help but gaze at the gray woods in the background and think about Revolutionary troops marching to battle.

I met with two alumni students from my school who now attend Princeton -- a boy and a girl. The girl is unbelievably stylish and beautiful and is in an exclusive eating and sorority. Princeton doesn't have official sororities, but they have eating clubs -- student-owned clubhouses for upperclassmen to eat and socialize. The clubs own mansions along a particular avenue in Princeton.

The art history and English departments are amazing -- Princeton boasts one of the top college art museums. Undergraduate education is the focus of this university, and there is so much funding available to pursue academic interests.

The students are kind and beautiful, the undergraduate academics are phenomenal, the school campus is gorgeous, and as my friend said, "We party in goddamn mansions."
Afterwards, my daddy and I drove to New York City -- but not before getting lost in a small town in New Jersey, where we mindlessly wandered around for an hour until we discovered Five Guys Burgers and Fries. My dear Californians, I'm sorry to betray you but Five Guys is arguably more delicious than In-N-Out Burger. Cajun spices on french fries, yum -- that beats Thousand Island dressing any day.

This morning, I was invited by Fashion News Director, Jane Keltner, to visit Teen Vogue. I must say, Jane Keltner absolutely beautiful and flawless in real life -- so much so that I was sweating profusely in front of her and Evonne Gambrell. Her beauty and poise honestly awed me. I completely made a fool of myself, as you can tell. The wonderful Evonne gave me a tour of the fabulous office, where I got to speak with many of the assistants and editors -- such as EJ Sampson, the web editor, who asked to see Miss Couturable! Hello EJ, in case you ever read this.

The Teen Vogue staff is incredibly talented and smart -- as well as good-looking and stylish. I was absolutely shocked and in awe the whole time because I've never met such an interesting group of individuals. I'm crossing my fingers for the opportunity in intern with the Fashion News department someday.

At Seventeen, I met with Betsy Mullinix, my editor for the summer! She is such a darling and I could not have asked for a better boss! I toured the office and was intimidated to hear that I was the only high-school intern -- so many expectations, so much excitement.
I met with Kristen, an intern, at CosmoGIRL! upstairs afterwards, where she also gave me a tour of the office! It was absolutely amazing to see the beauty closet -- I was so shocked that interns had prepared a bag of beauty closet freebies for me with the latest issue, a t-shirt, and a fitness DVD included too! They are really too kind and I'm determined to buy them lunch when I'm in New York City again.

Obviously I'm awed and humbled by what I've seen and who I've met lately -- but after these extraordinary encounters, I'm more than ever to be the best that I can be: Lose the extra weight, become more toned as a cheerleader, improve my grades to consistently perfect straight As and A+s, work very hard in fashion, smile at strangers more often, and continue to enrich myself both socially and intellectually.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

P.S. I'm generalizing, but everyone is better looking on the east coast.